For the second edition of our travel tips series, discover the Danish capital with Rebecca Thandi Norman, editorial director at Scandinavia Standard.
I moved to Copenhagen as a university student in 2008, for what would presumably be five months of barely going to classes and enjoying my newfound, European-style independence (I felt this mostly consisted of wearing all black and drinking cheap wine). While working as an au pair and finishing my studies, I met the wonderful Danish man who is now my husband. So after hopping through three countries (US, UK and South Africa), we finally settled in Copenhagen in 2011. Then in 2013, I co-founded the website Scandinavia Standard.
Scandinavia Standard is an English-language digital platform that showcases the lifestyle and aesthetic of Scandinavian cities. We’re based in Copenhagen with coverage in Stockholm, Oslo and Reykjavik. It’s for locals, travellers and people who just love the Scandinavian vibe – we call them ‘Scandiphiles’ and I happily count myself among them. I believe you can connect with a city the way you connect with a person; sometimes you just click. That’s how I feel about Copenhagen, and I love sharing a slice of the city with visitors.
I always recommend that people start with the canal tours that leave from Nyhavn. The tour takes one hour and, if it’s sunny, this is a lovely way to see most of the touristy spots around Copenhagen while enjoying the water views. Once you’ve got that out of the way, you can make room for everything that’s off the beaten track.
Make yourself at home in Copenhagen by renting a bicycle. Cycling is the best and fastest way to get around; it’s also a wonderful way to get to know the city.
The picturesque Louisiana Museum of Modern Art in Humlebæk makes for an inspiring visit, but it is a day-trip (35 minutes by train) for those staying in Copenhagen. Instead, check out Ordrupgaard, where you can see the architecture of the legendary Zaha Hadid as well as Danish designer Finn Juhl’s house – a design lover’s playground. Other museums worth checking out are Statens Museum for Kunst for its modern Scandinavian art collection, Glyptotek for its incredible seasonal courtyard and Thorvaldsen Museum for its corridors of marble statues.
Eating in Copenhagen won’t be a problem; you can’t throw a rock these days without hitting the latest New Nordic bistro concept or a new speciality bar. So what’s really worth trying? Amass Restaurant, run by Noma-alum Matt Orlando, is top of the New Nordic-but-not-weird game and their backyard garden, complete with canal views, is the perfect spot to enjoy your drink between courses. For something more casual but still outstanding, Manfreds is consistently one of the best spots in town. If you’re looking to cure a hangover, Gasoline Grill in the centre of the city has the greasy, tasty burger and fries to get your hands on. If you’re in need of a good cup of coffee, head to direct-trade roastery, Coffee Collective, with a few locations around the city. For bars that’ll serve cocktails to knock your socks off make a beeline for Ruby, Lidkoeb and Sidecar.
And don’t forget that Copenhagen has a beach. If you catch good weather (in which case, praise the gods!), take a stroll down Amager Strand with an ice cream cone in hand, wait for the sun to set and soak it all in.