Culture In Copenhagen

Food, Danish design, cycling, jazz and sustainability are just a few of the unique facets that make up Copenhagen culture.

Highlights
Øster Farimagsgade 10, 2100 København, Denmark
A visit to Denmark must include trying the country’s famous, impossible-to-pronounce open-faced sandwich, smørrebrød (I’m fairly certain that only native Danish speakers can pronounce it properly -"SMUHR-bruth”). Smørrebrød translates to “buttered bread,” and a traditional smørrebrød lunch usually includes three or four small sandwiches ranging from potatoes and radish to egg salad. The once working-class lunch gets a chefy makeover at Aamanns where the smørrebrød is served on homemade rye bread. The restaurant design is charming, with big stencils of radishes and cows on the walls. Order the smørrebrød trio for lunch, and ask to have it paired with a biodynamic wine.
Hay
29-31 Pilestræde
This is my favorite design shop in Copenhagen. Dedicated to contemporary Danish design, Hay occupies a historic building overlooking the car-free Strøget district. You’ll find furniture and accessories inspired by midcentury design and pieces by designers including Leif Joergensen and Jakob Wagner.
Niels Hemmingsens Gade 3, 1153 København, Denmark
Browse contemporary and classic Danish design at Stilleben Shop in central Copenhagen. Objects include the Angel—a sculptural stool by architect Gry Holmskov (pictured)—and the reissued wooden birds originally made by the late industrial designer Kristian Vedel in 1959. This appeared in the July/August 2011 issue.
Jægersborggade 27, 2200 København, Denmark
It’s easy to spend half a day exploring Copenhagen‘s street Jægersborggade. The block is lined with some of the city’s best shops and restaurants including Coffee Collective, Manfreds, Meyer’s Bakery, and my favorite ceramics studio, Keramiker. Ceramicist Inge Vincents can often be seen through the window carefully shaping her delicate white vases, cups, and bowls. Her pieces are so paper-thin that they take on an ethereal, translucent quality. While Inge’s pieces may look fragile, they are definitely still functional. In fact, chef Christian Puglisi uses her pieces at his famous restaurant Relae, located just up the street. I didn’t dare take a cup home in my suitcase, but lucky for me Inge ships to the United States.
Bådsmandsstræde 43, 1407 København K, Denmark
In 1971, squatters moved into the barracks on an abandoned military base and established Freetown Christiania, an autonomous district in the middle of the city. Later, many dwellers built their own homes on the 86-acre property. Although the Danish Supreme Court ruled this year that the state owns the land, the area’s nearly 1,000 residents have yet to be evicted. Today, visitors can bike along tree-lined paths and check out the handmade structures before they disappear. christiania.org. This appeared in the July/August 2011 issue.
4 Forbindelsesvej
Located in Copenhagen, where Hans Christian Andersen called home for many years, sits a tribute to one of his greatest literary works: The Little Mermaid. Commissioned in 1909, the Little Mermaid resides as a solitary figure on a single rock in Langelinie, a solemn bronze soul, sulking by the waters edge. I love this statue because it captures the true essence of the original story. Most people are familiar with the ‘amended’ version of the tale, or the Disney movie of the same name that had everyone walking out of the theater with a smile on their face. But the original story written by Andersen did not have a happy ending at all. In fact, our heroin simply dissolved into the sea, never to be seen again. Not exactly the uplifting children’s tale we all know and love now. So venture out to Langelinie via car or boat and pay a visit to our mermaid friend, I’m sure she’d appreciate it.
Sankt Annæ Pl. 36, 1250 København, Denmark
Copenhagen has a staggering array of museums, concerts halls, and opera houses. The one captured above (while getting rained on during a boat ride in the harbor on our way to see the Little Mermaid statue), is of the Royal Danish Playhouse. Opened in 2008, the playhouse was designed to complement the nearby Copenhagen Opera House, as well as the original 1874 playhouse venue located on Kongens Nytorv. The bluish-green glass-enclosed area affords visitors panoramic views of the harbor, and also has a restaurant and cafe if you want to accompany your view with food or drink. Or considering the weather I was in, it’s a nice pace to simply protect yourself from the elements.
Gl Strandvej 13, 3050 Humlebæk, Denmark
If you’re visiting Copenhagen, don’t miss a visit to the Louisiana Museum of Modern Art. It’s an easy 1/2 hour train ride from the city followed by about a 10 minute walk. Everything about our visit was excellent but a highlight is spending time in the sculpture garden which overlooks the Sound (and you can see the coast of Sweden in the distance). This is a great outing with kids. The children’s wing does a fantastic job of creating interesting ways for the kids to plug into modern art and the museum. On our visit there was a sculpture garden detective kit where kids had to seek out certain sculptures and examine different aspects and make some discoveries. Our kids loved it and it kept them engaged -- and it allowed me to leave them with my husband while I viewed the galleries in peace. There is also a great winding slide near the children’s wing that they spent a lot of time on. At the end of the day we got a bite to eat and and a glass of wine (for the adults) on the terrace overlooking the Calder sculpture garden and the Sound. Don’t miss the gift shop with lots of great modern design items to tempt you.
Located next to the old offices of the Danish National Public Radio and Broadcasting, Restaurant Radio takes on a very locavore approach and incorporates many ideals from Claus Meyer’s New Nordic Food Movement (not surprisingly, Meyer is a co-founder of Restaurant Radio). You’ll enjoy a set menu food and wine pairing, with dishes playing with unique flavor combinations and textures for a meal that is both delicious and entertaining. Bonus: The wait staff, chefs, and sommeliers are all extremely attractive.
Frederiksborggade
Foodies, rejoice. Torvehallerne is a one-stop shop for several meals, snacks, and gourmet groceries or gastronomical gifts. It’s an airy, light-filled building with all kinds of purveyors, from fantastic coffee shops, chefs cooking fresh pasta and serving it hot to you at the counter, a farmers market outside, a tapas bar, you name it. If you’ve ever been to Florence, think of Mercato Centrale, but in a nicer setting and housing more variety. Ride your bike there to grab a bite or to spend the day enjoying its bounty.
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