I spent five days in Copenhagen in August, but already I want to go back! This is a city that impressively blends old architecture with new. Beautiful, clean design is everywhere. Also impressive: about half of the population commutes by bike — and they do so stylishly. People bike in their suits or skirts and heels, which is not a sight I ever see in San Francisco. Getting around by bike is one of the joys of Copenhagen and I recommend renting a bike for at least one day if you’re up for it. Today I’m sharing a few places that I saw during my visit.
Design & Architecture
Yes, it’s touristy, but so what? It’s a great way to see the city and its wonderful buildings and architectural gems, like the Cirkelbroen (circle bridge), a bike and pedestrian bridge designed by Olafur Eliasson.
This 17th century tower was commissioned by King Christian IV for stargazing. There’s no stairs (except at the very, very top), just a wide spiral pathway, which was originally build to accommodate horses hauling astrological equipment. Along the way up, you can stop by various points of interests, like the gallery space or an ancient toilet. After making your way to the top, you’re rewarded with a lovely view of the city.
Once a royal residence, Christianborg palace is now home to the Danish Parliament and the site of official events. Tour the gilded royal reception rooms and the kitchen.
The Royal Library (aka the Black Diamond)
The Royal Library is the national library of Denmark and the university library of the University of Copenhagen. It’s among the largest libraries in the world. In 1999, a new addition designed by Schmidt Hammer Lassen Architects opened. It’s known as the Black Diamond for its shiny, black, faceted exterior, facing the water. It’s quite nice from the inside too. I just wandered around, but if you time it right, you can see a talk or an exhibit in its gallery.
Design Museum Danmark
If you, like me, love design, spend a few hours at this museum. My favorite exhibit is the Danish chair exhibit, where chairs are set off in cubicles in the wall, as if they were framed.
I lost hours of my life in this department store, blissfully looking at everything. There are floors of Scandinavian furniture, housewares, decor, lighting, women’s clothing, men’s clothing, kids stuff.
If you love minimalist design, then a stop to Hay House is a must for its furniture and decor.
If you’re visiting in the spring or summer, don’t miss out on Copenhagen’s many flea markets. I stopped by the Frederiksberg Loppetorv, which is known for its clothing, though there was plenty of other treasure as well. I scored an awesome crystal-covered panther necklace. Here’s a list of flea markets on Flea Markets Insiders.
If you don’t get your fill at the Frederiksberg market, just down the street is Loppenhylder. Its shelves are stocked with retro and flea market-esque goodies and some furniture as well. I wanted to take home a chest of drawers. Alas, they don’t ship.
Copenhagen is a great city for vintage shopping. The Nørrebro neighborhood has many vintage shops and Ravnsborggade is one street known for antiques and vintage finds. It’s also the site of a flea market on Sundays.
Along with the old is the new — sort of. Pelechecoco is a sustainable brand that makes leather jackets of every color from recycled leather.
Before I left on my trip, I bought two guidebooks. The Lonely Planet Pocket book is handy for learning the lay of the land. But I especially love the Citix60 guide, as it’s full of recommendations from local creatives.