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copenhagen guide

by Grace Bonney

illustration by julia rothman

today’s city guide is taking us all the way across the pond to copenhagen, denmark! our guide for today is allan from bungalow5 and allan is taking us through the city to check out the best shops, restaurants, sites, hotels, fashion, and must-see spots for your next visit to copenhagen. i don’t think i needed another reason to want to go to copenhagen, but now i have an entire guide full of them. thanks so much to allan for sharing this guide with us- i hope you’ll enjoy it as much as i did.

CLICK HERE for the full guide after the jump!

Copenhagen Guide

Open sandwiches in hidden lunch restaurants. Deluxe hotdogs and ice cream from paradise. A newsstand and pizza houses. Library bar and metrosexual hangouts. Peculiar shops and top designs. Fashion. Beer and cocktails. Secret clubs and Murky brown bars. Tivoli. Café Latte and royal tea. City bikes or walking.

Copenhagen has it all. Find your inner glow. Ignore your age and others. Explore the city! It is never too late to fall in love, nor in Copenhagen. We fell in love years ago. Visit the city, you know you want to. It is right here – the best city in the world.

Copenhagen is truly a beautiful city. For visitors it can seem a bit small and especially very expensive, but for the inhabitants it´s like a dream that you can go on your bike from one end of the city to the other in about 30 min. And you will see us riding a bike all the time. Everyone living in Copenhagen has a bike, and we use it – also when it rains and snows! Again Copenhagen can seem quite expensive for tourists – just remember that we rarely tip, only when dining and only if you get an excellent service.

Before you visit Copenhagen and the many parts of the city, remember to download Audiowalks for you Ipod.

We have divided Copenhagen into 6 parts; Copenhagen K, Nörrebro, Vesterbro, Österbro, Christianshavn, and not to forget the small city in the city, Frederiksberg.

Copenhagen K

Is what we call downtown Copenhagen! This is where you’ll find the longest pedestrian street of the world “Stroeget” with a lot of small shops, big department stores and a lot of tourists. However, you should definitely explore the parallel streets where you’ll find the real Copenhagen.

Illums Bolighus – An interior Mecca – one big department store where you’ll find everything you need for a designer home. Here you can explore everything from Georg Jensen to Arne Jacobsen, in other words, all the jewels of Scandinavian design. All of it are new originals, so do remember the big wallet, nothing comes cheap here.

Hay House – has only existed for a few years, but is already selling its furniture in 20 different countries. In the shop you can find a lot of furniture in unconventional shapes, but there is also something for you if you are looking for small, special things for your home – from designer pillows and towels to wall clocks and vases.

Stilleben – A small shop which has specialized in ceramics, glassware and décor from both Danish and foreign artists. Another great example why you should not only stay on the main shopping street, Stroeget, but walk in the small parallel streets.

Casa Shop – One of the major – and most expensive – furniture and homewear stores in the city, packed full of modern, international (well, mostly Italian) brands beloved of the childless and well-heeled.

Rue Verte – Has developed a unique cozy lifestyle Mecca with two clothing sections and an interior section called Rue Verte Plus. You can also enjoy a freshly pressed juice in the juice bar, Joe & the Juice in the middle of the shop.

Illum – Apartment store with a lot of fashion brands, but on the 3 floor you can find a lot of Danish interior, don’t miss it if you walk down Stroeget.

Tivoli – One big and very historic amusement park. Fantastic adventures for all ages. Enjoy the sight of the many flowers, try the many rides and enjoy a delicious dinner at one of the park’s restaurants.

Danish Design Center – Is located in the heart of Copenhagen in a five storage building, designed specifically for the Danish Design Centre by architect Henning Larsen. In addition to the Gallery, “Ovenlyssalen” and knowledge centre, the building also houses exhibitions; a café, of course with great designer furniture and a shop where the main concept is “Travel Light” where the products are characterized by being light and compact and often have more than one function.In the centre you will find both Danish and international design. There are often 3-4 exhibitions at one time with as different themes as environment, children, young designers, commercial and industrial design.

Ny Carlsberg Glypotek – French and Danish art and sculptures in amazing surroundings. Look at the amazing ceilings and eat your lunch and nice cakes in the café in the big winter garden.

Kongens Have and Botanisk Have – Take a break from all the shopping and other tourist, if the weather is good, then take a break with many of the Copenhageners that often meets in The King’s Garden. After the break, you should find your way to the Botanic Garden, take a stroll between all the amazing flowers from all over the world and smell the exotic flowers in the giant greenhouse.

Nyhavn – One of the most visited place in Copenhagen. The canal was dug by hand in the 1870’s and is definitely a place you should spend an afternoon in the sun with all the other tourists and natives. Enjoy a beer at one of the many sidewalk restaurants looking at the more than 300 year old buildings, in some of which the famous writer H.C. Andersen lived for more than 20 years. Nyhavn is also the place where you find the canal boats that take you around Copenhagen. If you have nice weather you should really spend an hour on the water, but take the one called Netto-bådene as these are a lot cheaper but just as good as “DFDS canal tours”.

Amalienborg – The palace and property of the royal Danish family, counting 4 mansions. One has recently been renovated for the Crown Princeand Princess, Frederik & Mary. Visit to see the amazing view with the cupola church at one site and the new Opera at the other, and remember to take a picture with the royal guard patrolling here.

The little mermaid – As you may know, the little mermaid of Denmark is lend out for the big EXPO in Shanghai, so if you are here this summer, you cannot see her. But to be honest, there is not much to see, if you really want to see her, you can see her body double in Tivoli. Normally you can also see the little mermaid from the canal tours, see “Nyhavn”.

La Glace – If you are in Copenhagen to lose weight, stay away from La Glace. They make and serve the best and biggest layered cakes. Step back in time in the oldest confectioner’s shop of Denmark.

Café Viktor – Have at least one lunch at Café Viktor, where you can sit outside and spot the Danish celebrities that often visit this historic café, order my favorite fried beef tartar (Pariserböf) with garniture.

Riccos Kaffebar (Studiestraede) – If you want to sip coffee with the locals, visit this downtown coffee bar with the best simple buns with cheese. Very simple down to earth, and the waiters only speak English!
Madklubben – Get yourself a very delicious dinner for a very fair price. It is just good, straightforward and unpretentious food.

Damindra – Japanese lunch and dinner, the very best sushi outside Japan. It is just to die for. Amazing service from the owner, Damindra. Make sure to try the homemade ginger & lime juice and the sizzling sashimi with sweet shrimp, you just do not want to eat and drink anything else for the rest of your life.

Ruby’s – End your day with the best cocktails in town. If you do not find what you like on the menu, just talk to very talented bartenders who will come up with a special drink with ingredients you like, try for example one with redcurrants.

Summerbird – This is heaven of chocolate! Just entering the shop makes your mouth watering. Make sure to try the mini cream puffs with white chocolate and in the summer one of their ice creams covered with chocolate.

Perchs – Enjoy a cup of tea in the historic surroundings, where you can select tea from around the world and buy some to take home in small containers in their famous green color. Perchs have for many generations delivered tea for the royal Danish family.

Nimb – Here you find not only one of Copenhagen’s best restaurants and hotels but also the greatest hotdog in town. It is big and gourmet, with the best ingredients. Not to miss. Get one before visiting Tivoli.


Nörrebro is the most multifarious part of town; here you will find everything from the ethnic kitchens. Get falafel with homemade pita pockets for less than 20 DKK. Walk around Elmegade and Ravnsborggade to find vintage clothing stores and secondhand design shops. Sit in the sun at Skt. Hans Torv and make sure to taste a special brewed beer from Nörrebros bryghus.

Ravnsborggade – Visit this street and the side streets for interesting shops with retro furniture, antiques, secondhand Danish design, French long tables and candlesticks.

Bungalow – In the middle of Ravnsborggade you’ll find Bungalow, the shop that is famous for their amazing printed textiles.


Is the place for everyone; the young and trendy, prostitutes and addicts. Vesterbro is “delicate trash”. At Vesterbro you will find the meatpacking district of Copenhagen, which within the last few years has been renovated into a very trendy place to be seen at night, with some of the best clubs and fish restaurants. Take a walk down Istedgade and end your day at Halmtorvet with a café latte.

Designer Zoo – If you want something unique you should visit Designer Zoo. This is a shop and workspace for different designers, who produce furniture, glassware, ceramics, etc.

Raun – Raun is known for their couches. However, you can find a lot of really nice small decor accessories in the shop too.

BoConcept – Is another big shop where you can find furniture, but you can always find some very nice accessories to brighten up your living room.


Österbro is the place where you dress a bit casual nice and eat a nice dinner. This is where you find the grown-up families just before they move to Frederiksberg. Österbro is the resident for a lot of embassies, incl. the American. Grap a takeaway coffee and start you day with a walk around the city lakes or in the big town park “Faelledparken”.

Nordre Frihavnsgade – On this street you will find a variety of shops with everything from floral china to old advertising signs and furniture designed by top designers of the 50s as Eames and Arne Jacobsen. Try “Props Gallery” No. 90 with a poster gallery in the back or “Oldies” in No 73, who specializes in retro radios.

Restaurant Noma – Since 2003 they have offered the guests a very modern and lavish Nordic cuisine. This is simply a must on your trip to Copenhagen. But it’s really experience – and will cost you the same as a week’s holiday in New York!

Are you planning to visit Noma for an evening , you must book in advance, as there is at least 3 months waiting list for a table.


This part of town is not actually a part of Copenhagen, but is surrounded by it – a small city in the city. This is where you find the elder generation, the rich and politicians. You will not find that many new cafés and design shops, but more the very historic pubs and special shops, living because of their good names. It is definitely a part of the city that many forgets, but you should spend a day here, just walking and looking at all the great historic townhouses, and maybe even the Zoo by the park Frederiksberg Have.

Aniel – A small shop with the cutest baby and children’s clothing, wooden toys and interior accessories in organic or natural materials.

Designdelicatessen – This is the place for all the new funny things from around the world. Visit this small shop for a fun item.

Anna Olivia – Get ceramics from this upcoming artist. She sells ceramics from her fantastic little shop, where all her products have been made with a narrative or informative element. They tell a story that will definitely lead to conversation when used on the dinner table.

Frederiksberg Loppetorv – If you are into flea markets and visiting a Saturday during the summer, then do not miss this free flea market with a lot of locals selling out.

Copenhagen, a fashion capital

You cannot visit Copenhagen without visiting some of the Danish fashion brands. There are so many, so I will just name a few: Inwear , Matinique , Bruuns Bazaar , By Malene Birger , DAY Birger et Mikkelsen , Designers Remix Collection and Mads Nörgaard Copenhagen

And finally where to stay:

Radisson Blu Royal Hotel – This 5-star hotel were entirely designed by the Danish architect Arne Jacobsen everything from the facade and all the way to the chairs “Swan” and “Egg” in the lobby. This resulted in one of the world’s first designer hotels. The building which was completed in 1960, “Landmark of the Jet Age” was Copenhagen’s first skyscraper and a breakthrough in design of buildings. Indeed a very nice hotel and a great location with an amazing view of Tivoli on one side.

71 Nyhavn Hotel – Very charming 4 star hotel with a first class location at the end of Nyhavn. The hotel is originally one of the harbors storehouses. Do not expect big rooms, as this is not the case, however you will stay in a little bit of history.

First Hotel Skt. Petri – If you want to stay like a celebrity this is the hotel to choose, many of them often stay here, like Paris Hilton and Justin Timberlake. You do not find a hotel that has better interior and the best personal service. In the lobby you also find one of Copenhagen’s many cocktail bars, which is frequently used for events for the trendy Copenhageners.

Fox Hotel – You do not find a more arty hotel anywhere in the world. 21 international artists in graphic design and urban art have turned the hotel into one of the world’s most exciting and creative lifestyle hotel. All rooms are different and represent small universe in itself. I have stay in the room #506 very Octoberfest.

StayCopenhagen – Don’t want to stay at hotel? Well then you should try having your very own apartment in the city. This is a new top designed apartment hotel. You get all the facilities the Copenhageners get on top of that the best view over Copenhagen. I have not had the pleasure of STAY yet as a hotel, however before it was renovated; it was one of the best places to be seen at night time for clubbing.

Suggested For You


  • Some of the locations are wrong. Noma and Raun are not located on Vesterbro and none of Inwear , Bruuns Bazaar , DAY Birger et Mikkelsen , Mads Nørgaard Copenhagen are located in Frederiksberg

  • What about Christiania? That was one of the most interesting parts of Copenhagen for me when I visited. Thanks for the summary of the rest, though!

  • Perfect timing! Im heading out there next week! PS–the audiowalk.dk link is broken perhaps too many spaces…

  • I’ll save this for the next time we visit! We were there for a few days after Christmas and loved everything especially the fantastic New Year’s Eve fireworks.

  • Oh me oh my. Finally! Well done. Also a must, the thrift shops around Vestergade in downtown Copenhagen. This will be great when I move there in the fall!

  • Thank you for posting this. Copenhagen is one of my favorite cities in the world. I was just there in November, Copenhagen is absolutely beautiful and super easy to get around by foot. I do want to add a couple of things: KODBYEN: the meat packing district, 2 amazing restaurants, PATE PATE and FISKEBAR where they serve the most amazing fresh ingredient cocktails and another amazing Danish designer is Violise Lunn, she makes beautiful clothing out of paper as well as home accessories for Royal Copenhagen.

  • sorry, not trying to be a “know it all’ but those heading out to CPH soon, check out the Louisiana museum of modern art. It’s about a 25 minute train ride outside of the city and well worth the adventure.

  • Great guide! Having gone to Cph all my life to visit most of my famly, it is a second home to me. We stay in apartments when we go now. We use hay4you or citilet. I don’t think I would recommend STAY because it’s a bit far removed from the old center of the city. It’s nice to have an apt in the old section (think French Quarter) and immediately walk anywhere.

    Don’t worry so much about having a list of places to hit. Being in Cph is, I swear, walking one step at a time, with each step in a wonderland of fantastic (anti mediocre) design…and great food nearly everywhere.

    One tip. There is an amazing crafts fair in early August. The most wonderful crafts fair I have ever seen. http://www.visitcopenhagen.com/content/tourist/what_to_see_and_do/events/event_calendar/major_event_-_information?EventID=343&EventName=Crafts%20market Just go and walk!

  • Great guide from my hometown!
    A trip to Christianshavn (and Christiania) and a walk along the canals are a must as well.
    Interested in modern jewellery with a twist, check out the new galleri Bærbart in Nybrogade 26, Cph K.

  • I´m currently living in Copenhagen and it really is a beautiful, clean, safe city. A kind of utopia. But it is also super expensive for an American. The only shopping I can afford to do is at thrift stores and flea markets. Fortunately, they have really cool stuff for incredibly cheap prices. I especially like to buy hand-embroidered tablecloths–they´re available at every thrift store, usually for less than 5 bucks, and are beautifully decorated with Scandinavian patterns.

  • One more thing: the thrift stores are identifiable by a sign saying Genbrug or Kierkegenbrug (they´re all run by old church ladies, it seems–who usually speak NO English). Also, you´ll see a couple Danish flags flying out front. Mmmm…genbrugs and loppemarkeds…so irresistible.

  • Nice round-up of my home town – Copenhagen. I now live in SF but I sure got homesick after reading this article!! So glad to see that Danish design is catching your eye here on designsponge.

  • I have just been to Copenhagen and I want to add a few things: If you do not have small children then Tivoli is too expensive for what you get – at least if you buy tour passes.
    But if you love Jazz consider going to Jazzhus Montmartre (http://www.jazzhusmontmartre.dk/), they got some amazing international and Danish artist playing five nights a week. It might seem expensive, but the money is well spend if you love jazz.

  • I love CPH. Affable Danes (who are modest about their English but speak it perfectly), bicycles all around you, cheap beer, trains that run everywhere, amazing ice cream, a city designed for people and not cars — what’s not to love? I recommend renting bikes for a day and getting around like the natives. And, if the weather is nice and you have extra time, a train ride to the beach at Hornbæk.

  • Noma is not places in København Ø, but on Christianshavn… there is quite the bit of a difference..

    Kiin Kiin an Asian gourmet restaurant is very recomendable along with before mentioned Kødbyen (meatpacking district) many cool and down to earth places in that area (Copenhagen V)

  • Yes, change those ö’s to ø’s! The names look very “udansk” (un-Danish) with the umlauts over the o’s. Great guide, though! Copenhagen is a wonderful city.

  • Definitely go with the ø.

    I’m surprised no one has mentioned the fascinating Ørestad district, along Ørestads Boulevard and the metro line south of the city centre. It is a feat of contemporary residential architecture that amazes, and next to Kødbyen the most interesting thing I have seen in all of København. [That’s not to say that I would want to live in one of these ultramodern “machines for living”. Nope. I think I’ll find me a villa aparment in Starten af Amager, or maybe a pre-war apartment in Carlsberg Kvarteret…]

    And by far my favorite art is at Kunstindustrimuseet, in Bredgade [København K, near Kastellet and the Mermaid]. The best of Scandinavian industrial design, poster art from around the world, great temporary exhibitions – and free admission on Wednesdays.

  • Check out the amazing Normann Copenhagen store in Østerbro for some great Danish design products and fashion. You won’t leave empty handed.

  • I’m from Denmark, not from Copenhagen though. Yet I learned a lot og new things about capital reading this guide. Good info. Thanks

  • I agree with SAM check out the amazing conceptstore Normann Copenhagen on Østerbrogade, they have very cool furniture, children’s wear, designer toys, designer clothing, books, shoes etc. To be honest, I think it’s cooler than MOMA in N.Y…
    Also, the Michelin restaurant called NOMA is not situated on Østerbro, but on Christianshavn…

  • We stayed at the Fox Hotel last weekend and we had several problems (overbooked and room given away, dirty walls, first room hadn’t been cleaned from the last guests). I wouldn’t recommend it to anyone expecting anything nicer than a hostel. The staff were all very friendly, though. I think it’s more of a management issue. It’s a nice concept, and great environment, but it needs a lot of polish.

  • This is a great guide. I have lots of these places in my own Copenhagen guide on my blog, but I will have to check out a few of the places where I haven’t been yet. I have wanted to check out Designer Zoo for so long but every time I go home (I live in Italy) I never manage to go there. Maybe next time!

  • This is super brill, along with Justina Blakeney’s Copenhagen stay and write up I am super excited that I may be off to live here this year.

    Design minded Copenhagers, I have a question for you. What area of town is good for a family to live in, all who hate living in suburbs and like to be closer to areas of beauty or interest. Nice coffee shops too :-) It is hard to find somewhere to live when you know nothing about the town!

  • Just got back from a week in Copenhagen. This post was super helpful while meandering about the city. I wanted to add a great shop featuring home goods called Hill Street in Norrebro (hill-street.dk). They carry a variety of items and different price points. There was so much I wanted to take home with me. This neighborhood is home to many great little shops including Bungalow, mentioned above. I also loved Skipper Stoffer, Gl. Mønt 19, 1117 København K for their beautiful organic cotton knit fabrics – lots of stripes and solids and the owner is a true gem.

  • I live in Copenhagen. Normally. Right now I am in San Francisco for half a year and just stumbled across your article while browsing. Copenhagen is a wonderful city. I can even say that sitting here in unique San Francisco (I do not mean to compare the two).

    Frankly I think the guide is a little lazy. It is mostly clichée things. Like most other cities the interesting part (at least when it comes to shopping) is not inner city. Strøget is terrible. You will find much more interesting shops at outer Vesterbro and at Nørrebro – and actually also more and more at Frederiksberg.

    I live in the center of Frederiksberg – and your post really needs update there. Yes, Frederiksberg used to be the place for the old. The apartements are bigger here and traditionally it was a rich area. It is still quite rich (especially the inner part), but you won’t see many old people there. It is actually a Young and more and more vibrant part of town, escpecially around Falkoner Allé. And actually one of the most international ones. Main drive behind that is the big business school in the center of Frederiksberg (CBS), but also many international schools are situated at Frederiksberg.

    It is, however, popular and one of the more expensive areas of town. But if I was an international Family moving to Copenhagen and wanted to stay in the city, I would definitely recommed Frederiksberg. In our Building there are 8 flats and 5 nationalities for instance. And no old ladys. I kind of miss them though. ;)

  • I can really recommend eating at Mother ( http://mother.dk) in Vesterbro. On Sundays there is an amazing brunch, pizzas (always those) amazing salads, potatoes, buns cheeses nutella YUM. I live in Osterbro which is a little Osterboring in comparison.

  • Best bar in the city: Kind Of Blue, in Ravensborrgade. Great interior, and the owner has fantastic taste in music and great stories to tell about bands he’s seen and met.

  • In Copenhagen for a few days and a local friend met for dinner at this restaurant: The chef’s menu was amazing….
    formel B
    Vesterbrogade 182
    1800 Frederiksberg C