Updated: Dec 28, 2020
My first trip to Copenhagen, the capital of Denmark, was short but absolutely incredible. Originally a Viking fishing village established in the 10th century, the city is now the center of Danish culture, design, economy, and innovation. Danish architecture is going through a new golden with world-class contemporary designs, innovative buildings, and urban spaces across neighborhoods all over the city, and lately with a strong focus on combining sustainability and high quality of life. The architecture legacy in Copenhagen is strong, all-pervading, and built on the international success experienced by the New Modern architecture movement in the 1960’s - but is more relevant than ever. Ever since then, Copenhagen has been shaped by several booms of new, innovative buildings and urban spaces across neighborhoods and lately with a strong focus on combining sustainability and high quality of life.
My four-day trip was solely dedicated to my love for design and architecture there. The neighborhoods are full with designs for people, beauty and functionality that are related to our everyday life. From the small community center, to the pedestrian Circle Bridge (Cirkelbroen) to the Lille Langerbro by the Danish Architecture Center, every structure is a piece of art that integrates into the city's heritage and landscape. Here are my personal favorites for the first time, and I know the second visit is calling me already.
Place to See
Located in central Copenhagen in picturesque surroundings, the iconic Nyhavn harbour is a great introduction of the city's history. Originally, Nyhavn was a busy commercial port where ships from all over the world would dock. The canal is lined by brightly coloured 17th and early 18th century townhouses. The atmosphere is absolutely upbeat and refreshing.
Address: Nyhavn 17, 1051 København K
CopenHill Urban Mountain
Living into the future! Copenhagen has just opened the world's first skislope on the roof a huge incinerator that produces power by burning through the waste. The CopenHill allows visitors to soar down a 450-metre ski slope with views of Copenhagen, while the waste is being burned underneath. Designed by Danish architect Bjarke Ingels & BIG, the plant is launched as an important step in realizing Copenhagen's ambitions to become the world's first carbon neutral capital. It promotes both recreation and sustainability. Was such a privilege to see the project before it opened! Address: Vindmøllevej 6, 2300 København, Denmark
Phone: +45 71 96 71 97
Designed by the talented Lene Tranberg from the award winning Danish architect firm Lundgaard & Tranberg Arkitekter., Axel Towers is a new landmark stands out in the city center of Copenhagen, offering a new urban experience with its flowing composition of the five circular towers. It is a mixed use complex with lots of public access and amenities which creates an inviting setting for the locals and tourists.
Address: Axeltorv 2, 1609 København, Denmark Phone: +45 33 36 61 61
(Now The Radisson Collection Royal Hotel) The long lived 60s at the iconic Room 606 by Arne Jacobsen. The SAS House, built for the Scandinavian Airlines System in Copenhagen in 1960, is often considered Arne Jacobsen's masterwork. The building combined the modern, high-rise, luxurious hotel and an airline terminal in a way that had never been seen before. 50 years later, the SAS House is now the Radisson Collection Copenhagen hotel and has been completely renovated. Only Room 606 has remained untouched since the world-famous Danish architect designed it back in 1960. All the details from vanity table, bathroom to bedroom, are frozen in time. It is such a privilege to get to experience this masterpiece and suite, my heart was beating off the chart!
Address: Hammerichsgade 1, 1611 København V Phone: +45 33 42 60 00
Copenhagen Opera House
A masterpiece standing by the harbor. The Copenhagen Opera House is located just opposite the main castle Amalienborg. Designed by famous Danish architect Henning Larsen, the Opera House is built in alignment with Amalienborg and The Marble Church, so that if one stands in the main entrance of the Opera House, one can see the Marble Church over the water along the road through Amalienborg. This stunner is one of the most modern opera houses in the world, and probably one of the most expensive ever built!
Address: Ekvipagemestervej 10, 1438 København K, Denmark
Tel.: +45 33 69 69 33
Another masterpiece by Bjarke Ingels and BIG Architects. The park is designed to bring refugees and locals together, promoting tolerance in one of Denmark's most ethnically-diverse and socially-challenged communities.
Address: Nørrebrogade 210, 2200 København, Denmark
Cirkelbroen (The Circle Bridge)
In august 2015, the pedestrian bridge Cirkelbroen opened for public use. Behind the design of the bridge is world-renowned and award-winning Danish-Islandic Olafur Eliasson. The bridge consists of five differently sized circular platforms, each with its own mast, and it is from these circular platforms, the name of the bridge arises. Cirkelbroen encourages bicycles and pedestrians to reduce their speed and just take a small break, but on a larger scale, the circle refers to the circle drawn by inner city of Copenhagen, which the bridge helps to complete by connecting the Christiansbro area to Appelbys Plads.
Address: Applebys Plads, 1411 København K
Normann is a prize-winning design store located in an old cinema in the Østerbro area. Inside this design wonderland, you can find a wide and ever growing range of versatile furniture, sculptural lighting, stunning textiles and clever home accessories. It is surely one of my favorite stores in town!
Address: Østerbrogade 70 2100 Copenhagen Phone: +45 35 27 05 40
Kastrup Sea Bath
The Danish design is truly incorporated in each detail of every day living, even at the beach! One of my favorite structures in Copenhagen is the Kastrup Sea Bath located off-shore in the Øresund Sound, has great views of the Saltholm Island and Sweden. It is an architectural piece of art and a magical place that offers great swimming opportunities with protection against the wind. Imagine you dive in the water from the middle of the seashell-like swirl, how chic would it be!
Address: Amager Strandvej 301, 2770 Kastrup, Denmark
Design Museum Denmark
Follow the time tunnel through all the iconic Danish designs over the past few decades. It is indeed a big surprise to learn how strong the Danish Modern influences our daily life, culturally and aesthetically. The Danish chair especially, is a well recognized international affair. At Design Museum Denmark, everything tells a story of how Danish design became a global brand. There are many types of chairs that illustrate the 20th-century Danish success story.
Address: Bredgade 68, 1260 København, Denmark Phone: +45 33 18 56 56
Danish Architecture Centre
Danish Architecture Center (DAC), is Denmark’s national center for the development and dissemination of knowledge about architecture, building and urban development.
Address: Bryghusgade 10, 1473 København, Denmark Phone: +45 32 57 19 30
Place to Stay
Stay in a true Danish icon – Two iconic Carlsberg Brewery buildings are home to Hotel Ottilia, adding original character and extraordinary architecture.Unique interior, designs and original elements complement each other throughout the hotel.
Address: Bryggernes Plads 7, 1799 København, Denmark Phone: +45 33 38 70 30
Living in a fairy tale in Copenhagen. Located in the popular and iconic Tivoli Gardens, the Nimb Hotel is situated in a historic building from 1909, built in a Moorish-inspired Historic style by architect and Tivoli director Knud Arne Petersen. Since its inauguration and reopening in 2008, the property never loses its popularity and has been a favored hang-out for the city's establishment.
Address: Bernstorffsgade 5, 1577 København, Denmark Phone: +45 88 70 00 00
Place to Eat
A place where you follow your ingredients from start to finish. The farm-to-table concept with a kitchen that receives weekly information on the ingredients that are the very best in the season, and then to determine the menu for the coming days. It creates a playful and creative menu offering which knowledge and craftsmanship ensure the guests an uncompromising gourmet experience.
Address: Frederiks Allé 105, 8000 Aarhus, Denmark Phone: +45 50 51 26 51
It is all about homemade food and coziness here. This local and tourists'favorite spot is known for their traditional Danish open sandwiches (‘smørrebrød’) in many varieties. It is a must visit spot when in Copenhagen.
Address: Brolæggerstræde 12, 1211 København, Denmark Phone: +45 33 13 07 08
No. 2, is a sibling of renowned restaurant AOC, with two Michelin stars. Being located alongside the quay gives a great view of the harbour bridges and spires of Copenhagen. Being named No.2 doesn't mean less or a secondary taste, you can still find the same uncompromising approach to ingredients combination of flavors, and the same attention to detail as the one, but in a simplified version.
Address: Nicolai Eigtveds Gade 32, 1402 København, Denmark Phone: +45 33 11 11 68
From the Australian root to the Danish modernity, Iluka is all about super-fresh, super-delicious seafood and vegetables, made with care and commitment and served as if you’re family or best mates.
Address: Peder Skrams Gade 15, 1054 København, Denmark Phone: +45 30 30 95 89
Things to Do
Get lost and get loose in The Forbidden City of the Military, so-called the Freetown Christiania, in Copenhagen. Christiania has been a source of controversy since its creation in a squatted military area in 1971. The objective of Christiania is to create a self-governing society whereby each and every individual holds themselves responsible over the wellbeing of the entire community. The people in Christiania have developed their own rules, independent of the Danish government, and it was closed to the visitors and outsiders by the residents at one point. The rules forbid stealing, violence, guns, knives, bulletproof vests, hard drugs, and bikers' colors. The spirit of Christiania quickly developed into one of the hippie movement. The Green Light District, Pusher Street, is definitely an eye-opening experience with its established cannabis trading open to the public. The alternative and specific neighborhood is definitely a destination to witness the progressive and liberated Danish lifestyle.
Hey Captain - Canal & Harbour Tour
Since I had a very limited time in Copenhagen, but so many buildings and areas to see, I joined Hey Captain for the 2hr Hidden Gem Tour. The reason I picked them is because they are Personal, Social & Informative throughout their services. Hidden gems is about showing local's favorite spots, which are off the beaten track from the standard path. Expect to get an introduction to areas that are cool, local, and where you get a great a sense of what the life in Copenhagen is all about. I enjoyed the Northern route a lot where you can see many dramatic architectural masterpieces in the old industrial harbour area, Nordhavn, and have the option during the route to stop and get out of the boat to explore an abandoned Trekroner Fort island. It was a great way to get an understanding of how design and living play and essential role for the new development of Copenhagen and an essential part of the Danish lifestyle.
Address: Kvæsthusbroen 1, 1252 København, Denmark Phone: +45 61 68 45 70