A long weekend in Copenhagen is one of life’s great pleasures, especially for foodies. Brimming with everything from streetfood stalls and markets to casual cafes and fine-dining establishments, the city has it all. If you’re after some culinary inspiration this is the place to come. It’s the epicenter of the not so new New Nordic Cuisine movement, as well as a whole host of fantastic restaurants and food markets from cuisines across the globe. Bring a full wallet and a hungry belly and prepare for 48 IDEAL foodie hours in Copenhagen.
Breakfast in Denmark is a wonderfully wholesome affair and an amazing way to kickstart your day. Breakfast for the Danes isn’t just a quick fix to provide fuel for your daily commute. It’s a state of mind. They believe that starting the morning in a certain way will set the tone for the day ahead. If you wake up late, rush to get ready and have breakfast on the go, then the rest of your day will be the same – rushed and stressful. Start your day with a bountiful spread of rye-bread and cold cut, and the rest will follow. So take time to enjoy a Nordic breakfast the Danish way, which any half decent hotel will supply – we love the spread at Hotel Kong Arthur. Alternatively, any of these joints for breakfast in Copenhagen are just perfect.
After breakfast, head to Tivoli gardens for a stroll. The gardens are beautiful any time of year. If you want to add some excitement to your morning, have a ride on a rollercoaster. Tivoli Gardens is home to one of the oldest amusement parks in the world and is full of magic and whimsy. Feeling peckish? Have an elevenses snack at Grøften. Opening it’s doors in 1874, it’s one of the oldest restaurants in the city, serving traditional Danish fare. Their peeled baby shrimps are enduringly popular.
When it’s time to start thinking about lunch, think Papier Island. Treat the journey as a highlight in itself. Whether you walk or bike there, be sure to take in a stroll down Nyhavn on your way. It’s that picturesque street with a canal in the middle, filled with masted ships you seen in all the travel guides to Copenhagen. We love this street. The whole length of it is lined with outdoor tables filled with revellers drinking and eating. Join in and have a coffee or blonde beer- it’s five o’clock somewhere in the world, after all, as if you needed an excuse. If it takes your fancy, Copenhagen’s most famous monument ‘The Little Mermaid’, created in tribute to the writer Hans Christian Andersen, is close by.
Just across the Bridge from Copenhagen, you’ll find Papirøen (“Paper Island”), once home to warehouses which stored rolls of newsprint for the Danish press, hence the name. This place has now become Copenhagen’s most popular street food market, serving up food from all over the world. This area is also a creative hub, with architects in situ and art showrooms well worth checking out. You can also visit the original site of Noma, once the world’s most famous restaurant, now Restaurant Barr, a great dining option in its own right. The market is open all year round. Come winter this place is the epitome of hygge – think roaring fires and candlelit tables, but in summer the party moves outside with throngs of foodies enjoying snacks and beer in the sun.
Walk off lunch by heading to Freetown Alexandra Christiania, a bastion of hippie life. If you’re still hungry, this area is a haven for vegetarian food and Morgenstedet, a cafe with a lovely garden, is worth a visit if you’re feeling peckish. If you’re in the mood for an afternoon coffee, head to Sunshine Bakery and pair one with a snegl (snail); a swirly, cinnamon-laced pastry. Or try the Romkugle (rum balls) made from leftover pastries or Denmark’s famous drømmekage (dream cake) which is essentially a caramelised coconut sponge cake. While you can’t buy any hash cakes in this particular cafe, this place is perfect if you’ve got the munchies.
108 first started as a pop-up within the walls of Noma, and was successful enough to warrant its own space next door. The best thing about 108 is that it isn’t simply in thrall to its big brother’s ethos, it manages to stylistically differentiate itself and is all the more interesting for it. Taking the best of the laid back service of which the New Nordic has so expertly honed, and channelling something altogether unique, it’s a real cracker of a restaurant in a city already spoilt for choice in this field. The cooking is so thoughtful and delicate, yet still leaves you satisfied and sated. If you’re to choose one place in Copenhagen to experience the ever-evolving Scandi food ethos – go to 108.
If you’re still full from yesterday’s eating extravaganza, use the morning to rest your belly. Head to Det Vide Hus (one of Rene Redzepi’s favourite places) next to King’s Garden, have an espresso and a pastry and walk around the park. Spend the rest of the morning in this area wandering around the streets, aimlessly; the best way, sometimes.
Torvehallerne market is where you’ll find stalls selling everything from seafood to craft beer. Offering both Danish and international food stalls, excellent local charcuterie and cheese, and local seafood and vegetables, the choice is vast and the vibe welcoming. A trip to Copenhagen wouldn’t be complete without sampling an open faced sandwich and Torvehallerne market is our favourite place to experience this quintessential Nordic delight. Or if you want to have a proper sit down lunch, simply have a snack at the market and then head to Schønnemann. This old-fashioned lunch-only destination in the city centre has been open since 1877; you’ll feel like you’re stepping back in time. Come here to drink schnapps and eat a freshly made smørrebrød,
Walk to Vestebro, our favourite area of Copenhagen. Like London’s Shoreditch and New York’s Williamsburg, Vesterbro heeds the hipster call and, appropriately, is number 4 on Thrillist’s top 10 most hipster neighbourhoods on Earth. Have a cup of coffee at one of the numerous cafes along the way, and simply luxuriate in the good vibes. Located in Vesterbro is the Meatpacking District – one of Copenhagen’s most popular places to go out. Hungry? Go to John’s Hot Dog Deli and eat a famous Danish hot dog (Polser), or if you see one on the street, get one . Topped with crispy fried onions and thinly slice pickles, they’re a culinary phenomenon in Denmark and considered among the best in the world by many a hot dog connoisseur.
It’s time for a drink at Warpigs in the Meat Packing District. Based on traditional American barbeque joints, with a heavy metal soundtrack to match, its no frills location in the popular meatpacking district matches the atmosphere perfectly; this place is a hoot. There are up to 22 craft ale and beer taps, provided by its onsite brewery, ranging from session strength to one-sip-will-blow-your-rocker-off, and long tables reminiscent of a Bavarian beer hall. The food is not an after-thought to the beverages, it stakes a claim to being the main event. Try the beef brisket and burnt ends. Delicious.
Based in the same, gritty Vesterbro district as Warpigs, Kodbyens Fiskebar is a Copenhagen institution, famed for its super fresh, intricate yet simply presented seafood dishes. The fish is the star on every plate, caught from the surrounding waters and treated with according respect, and is presented beautifully. It’s a large restaurant with a bar running through the middle, creating a buzzy atmosphere where you’re equally at home having a feature-length meal as you are a glass of wine and a snack. Although fish is the undoubted headline act, we have to mention the desserts. They are highly original and utterly stunning on both palate and eye – worth a trip for one with a glass of sweet one alone.
The Meatpacking District is the hottest nightlife destination in town so to squeeze the last drop of fun from your weekend, across the way is Jolene’s, where drinks and dancing carry on late in to the night.
After that you may well be hungry again and in need of some food to soak up all the shots of schnapps and beer. A 20(ish) minute walk from Jolene’s is late-night taco-joint Barbaritto, open until 2am on Friday’s and Saturday’s. And with that, job done – a foodie’s 48 hours in Copenhagen.