København at a Glance
Immerse yourself in New Nordic cuisine! It might sound cliché (after all, no other food movement has received this much attention in years; thanks, Rene!), but not only will it change the way you look at food but also the lens via which you soak up the Danish culture, which is as airy, colorful, fresh and storied as the ingredients on the dozens of plates (and glasses of glögg, “snaps” and natural wines) you’re bound to consume at Manfreds and 108 (both of which tied for my #1 food spot during my fall-time visit). And for the love of all that is delicious, do not forget to order a traditional smørrebrød (or four; true story). These open-faced sandwiches topped with everything from prawns and tartare to salmon and eggs are an absolute Copenhagen must, and you’re bound to find them at any local restaurant. The best from my visit were at Almanak at The Standard – the canal views of Christianshavn and neighboring Nyhavn were the ultimate bonus! For an opportunity to really dive in to the culinary scene from a local’s perspective, head to the Torvehallerne Market to explore more than 60 stands, serving everything from seasonal produce and seafood to gourmet chocolates and delectable to-go bites.
Public transportation – not because it’s not accessible but because there are so many corners and nooks to explore, you won’t want to miss out on the opportunity to get lost and acquainted with roads and neighborhoods not on your itinerary by foot. Ditch your phone and carry an old-style city map. With Danish street names being among the most complicated I’ve ever seen, and with the nature of an old-city grid, you’ll be thankful for the backup guidance. Regardless, dare to venture out of your comfort zone, get lost, walk into public buildings (the primarily Renaissance- and Baroque-style architecture is stunning!) and engage with the locals, who are friendly, warm and speak English comfortably and excitedly (they seemed to genuinely enjoy getting to know me, as much as I was drawn to them!).
…to watch out for bicycles! Treat them as you would a motor vehicle, and when the light turns green, get out of the way! Bikes are the primary form of transportation for locals, and they take their active commute seriously. It’s not surprising to see a family of four aboard a tandem bike with their little ones – and a dog – tucked in a cozy cart in front. Watch them go by in awe, but whatever you do, do not jaywalk!
What I Walked Away With
Wanting more! Copenhagen was a dream: captivating, colorful, cultured and – despite having been there in near-freezing temperatures – especially warm (in fact, that cozy, cold-season charm is called “hygge, and it’s real!). The locals are hospitable, patient, disciplined, culturally rich and diverse and impeccably dressed (that Danish style is what décor dreams are made of, after all). While it was its colorful waterside neighborhoods (once Viking villages), so iconic in the travel industry, that first placed Copenhagen at the top of my “wanderlist,” after having had the chance to immerse myself more fully, I have a newfound sense of appreciation for what has consistently made Copenhagen one of the happiest places in the world. It made me smile, to say the least, and I’m already planning a return trip during the spring months.