Living abroad has its pros and its cons. Pros: I get to live out my dream of doing life and working in another culture and country. Cons: seeing friends and family is hassle and few and far in between. So when my college friend Mimi texted me saying she was coming to France in a few months, I was delighted. Moving to France during Covid meant I’ve had few visitors. She said she’d be spending some time in Paris and then flying over to Copenhagen. As much as I love Paris, I adore exploring new places. I said, I don’t have much time off, so let me join you for Copenhagen! So, I jetted off to Copenhagen for 48 hours and made the most of it with an old friend. Here’s some of the best things to do in Copenhagen, Denmark.
Where we stayed in Copenhagen
I’m usually an Airbnb girl, but I switched it up this time. Mimi and I stayed at the Generator hostel. We booked a private room with a private bathroom, and although it wasn’t the most glamorous, I’d definitely still recommend the Generator. The location is fantastic; it’s close to the metro and lots of restaurants and sights. The room was, well, cozy, but it was still clean and had everything we needed. The Generator isn’t just a hostel; they also have a bustling bar on the second floor and therefore a nightlife of its own. Nevertheless, I felt safe and very much appreciated the small price tag of this hostel. We spent so little time in the room, so I wouldn’t have changed staying here.
On our first morning, we set out for a day of sightseeing, but first things first: fuel. We stopped by the cutest and smallest coffeeshop I ever did see along our way. Their slogan is “slow coffee,” and I loved my latte and the teeny tiny shop with its knick-knacks. We took our coffee to go and enjoyed it in the Kongens Have park right behind one of this store’s several locations.
Kongens Have park
Enjoy a stroll and your Kafferiet coffee in the Kongens Have park, or the King’s Gardens. You can sit on a park bench and people watch those taking a morning run or walking their dog. Or you can pack a picnic and enjoy the well-maintained grounds with its flowers, statues and castle views.
If you’ve been following this blog for any amount of time, you know that I’m a castle girl. (Let’s never forget the time I befriended a French person with a family castle.) So naturally, the Rosenborg Castle was at the top of my list of things to do in Copenhagen. The longer I live in Europe, the more I kick myself for not paying more attention in my AP European History Class. But hey, I get to visit it with my own eyes and relearn with my own eyes. That being said, if we covered Danish history during my sophomore year, it is a very vague recollection.
I thoroughly enjoyed visiting the Rosenborg Castle. You literally step back into history as this castle dates back 400 years under the direction of Christian IV. From buck heads hanging over door frames to the ancient toilet, the lion statues to the framed floral prints in the winding staircase, I enjoyed rewinding the clock several hundred years. And you can even explore the treasury with its crown jewels, which are absolutely stunning. I loved seeing the old crowns up close and personal and still attest to the fact that I would’ve been a great princess!
Statens Museum for Kunst (SMK)
Modern or classic art? At the Statens Museum for Kunst, you don’t have to pick. The SMK prides itself in being the country’s biggest art museum. I admired its temporary exhibition on Carl Bloch, a Danish artist who painted exquisite yet emotion-packed pieces. His paintings of the life of Jesus particularly struck me, as he painted emotion of these classic religious scenes with a different perspective.
The SMK showcases Danish and Nordic art as well as western European pieces with names such as Picasso, Matisse, and C.W. Eckersberg. One wing is mainly classic art, and the other wing is more modern art, which offers a large selection of surrealist pieces.
I love seeing artists’ renditions of cities, especially ones I’ve been to or happen to live in. I love imagining what life was like decades or even hundreds of years ago. It’s not surprising to stumble upon renditions of French towns in French museums, but at the SMK, I found several paintings of Marseille, where I live.
Out of all the blog posts featuring things to do in Copenhagen, Nyhavn is undoubtedly on the list. Not only do the colorful buildings make a beautiful backdrop for a postcard, but the spot also boasts historical significance. Fairytale author Hans Christian Andersen lived on this street where he penned The Princess and the Pea, among other classics. There are lots of restaurants along the canal where you can soak up the view and the sun.
Do not ask me to pronounce this, but we enjoyed a spot of ice cream at Vaffelbageren, which was right on the Nyhavn. We grabbed our cone and cup of ice cream to go and sat along the canal in the sunshine.
Church of our Saviour
Before my trip, I’d read on blog posts that the Church of our Saviour is something to add to your list of things to do in Copenhagen. I made the trek to this spot, where you can climb up and have great views of Copenhagen. However, I didn’t feel like paying to go into a church, so I simply walked around the grounds.
From the outside, Strøm is nothing extraordinary. You walk down several steps into the entrance of the bar from the street and immediately meet this cozy yet chic cocktail bar. A friend of Mimi’s recommended this spot, and it did not disappoint with its creative cocktails including ingredients such as creamy pumpkin spice and homemade plum caramel. I opted for the Bubble Tea-quila with its tapioca bubbles waiting for me at the bottom of my drink.
Stefano’s Pizza Bar
On Saturday night, we had planned to go to Torvehallerne, a popular food market, but it was closed when we wanted to go. We had a hankering for a pizza and found Stefano’s Pizza Bar, a place that also had gluten-free options for me. The gluten-free pizza was just alright, but Mimi loved her pizza and the restaurant’s vibe was cute.
Mimi and I did research on both ends for things to do in Copenhagen. And we had separately put Madklubben on our list, so we knew it was fate. We went to the Vesterbro location and enjoyed BBQ pork burgers with fries perfectly seasoned with rosemary. It’s the ideal spot for a classier dinner in Copenhagen. We were more adapted to Western European dining times aka 8 or 9 p.m. to start dinner. However, the restaurant was nearly empty by 9 or 10 p.m.
Mad & Kaffe
We had also ready great things about Mad & Kaffe’s brunch selection. We booked a reservation for 1:30 p.m., and unfortunately, they were no longer serving brunch. However, we enjoyed burgers in the bright cafe. Next time in Copenhagen, I’ll be sure to book my table further in advance so I can get one of their coveted brunch reservations!
Overall impressions of Copenhagen
I really enjoyed exploring more of northern Europe, and my weekend in Copenhagen reminded me of my trips to Amsterdam and Prague. Copenhagen was very easy to get around, and I felt safe. I also chuckled at seeing so many blondes in Copenhagen because normally, in Marseille, my hair color is a rarity. I flew into Copenhagen, and getting from the airport to downtown was painless and quick. However, everything was in Danish crowns, so it was hard to have an idea of how much I was spending unless I converted it directly on my phone. I was floored when I realized one metro ticket corresponded to more than 3 euros. So be sure to properly assess your budget as you’re planning your trip to Copenhagen.
A girls’ weekend in Copenhagen was exactly the break I needed during a difficult season. So, yes, living abroad does come with its challenges. But when the “halfway point” is Copenhagen with your gal pal from college, I’m not complaining.