weekend away - Copenhagen
Written by Charles Ferro
A little treasure trove of fine dining, art, design, shopping, and sightseeing, the Danish capital is a compact, manageable city with most attractions within a 30-minute walk of Copenhagen City Hall.
Copenhagen is arguably the bicycle capital of the world, with hundreds of kilometres of bike lanes. Each day city residents ride the equivalent of 30 times around the world, with 37% of commuters cycling to and from work, school, the shops, and even black-tie gala nights out! Get in on the action, and borrow a free City Bike, or upgrade to a rented bicycle. You can take a bike on non-rush-hour trains, and all taxis have bike carriers if your legs get wobbly. (Cyclists must observe traffic rules – no mobile phones, no drinking, always signal, and lights required when dark. Helmets are not compulsory.)
Pedestrian-only Stroget is the city’s prime shopping artery where you’ll find the design emporium Illums Bolighus along with major international and Danish shops. Scour the limited-traffic or pedestrian side streets to find uniquely Danish treasures among a vast mix of fashion and design boutiques.
Rosenborg Castle, home of the crown jewels, stands majestic in the King’s Garden in mid-city. The national gallery, Statens Museum for Kunst, is across from one of the garden entrances, or you might head to Bredgade for a slew of larger art galleries, classic Danish furniture shops, jewellers, art auction houses, finer antiques, and the Museum of Art & Design. The royal residence Amalienborg is just around the corner, and from there you can follow the harbour-front to the ever-popular, picture-perfect canal Nyhavn for some light refreshment.
Hop-on-hop-off buses, a canal-harbour excursion, or the municipal waterbuses are great ways to view the city from the water. To experience real salty atmosphere, meander around Christianshavn, the 17th-century artificial island across the harbour, a blend of new hip with maritime tradition. Nearby is the 40-year-old former hippie colony Christiania, where you can view alternative living on your own, though a guided tour is recommended.
Book far in advance if you want to dine at Noma, the eatery Restaurant Magazine ranks as the world’s best. Along with 11 other Michelin-starred restaurants, Copenhagen offers a broad variety of ethnic and domestic cuisine. Or to enjoy a home-cooked meal with a Danish family, try www.meetthedanes.dk.
where to stay
Exactly 50 years ago Denmark’s premier architect, Arne Jacobsen, created the world’s first designer hotel, the Radisson Blu Royal. The tallest downtown building, Alberto K restaurant offers fine dining at the very top. Close to the centre of town is the Radisson Blu Scandinavia featuring several dining choices and a casino.