In early November, Jean Philippe and I had the chance to visit my sister in and spend three days in Copenhagen.
My sister, Kelly, was studying there and showed us all around one of the happiest cities in the world.
I think one of the biggest misconceptions friends and family members back home have is that I’m always traveling because I live in Europe. While geographically it is much easier to travel around, I really don’t get the chance to explore so much, at least not as much as I would like to! If it were up to me I would be jetting off to a new city every weekend, but I am in no position to live like that financially, so when I do get the chance to go somewhere new it is a very big deal.
Suffice it to say, this trip was so hyped up for me!
Jean Philippe and I began planning things out months in advance.
We live in Bordeaux and the airport here is relatively small, meaning that flights can get pricey really fast.
After researching, we found that flights out of Charles de Gaulle were significantly cheaper with EasyJet.
With OUIGO by SNCF, taking the train into Paris has never been cheaper. We were able to find trains directly from Gare de Bordeaux Saint-Jean to the Charles de Gaulle airport for €10 each way. Add on around €70 each for our round-trip flights from CDG to Copenhagen, and this was a steal compared to the €300 tickets from Bordeaux!
Because we planned this so far in advance, it really gave me time to research what I wanted to see and do in Copenhagen, which made the trip that much more special.
My sister’s program had students housed at a hotel (she’s a #privateschoolgirl) and she was staying at CPH Studio Hotels.
To make communication and meeting up easier, JP and I booked a room here for our trip.
The hotel was decent but I feel like it was a little bit expensive seeing as it wasn’t right in the city. (Though with the metro it only took about 7 minutes to get into town and it was only a 10-minute ride from the airport which made things very convenient). Each night there including taxes was about 90 euros for a basic room which also included a little kitchenette. Copenhagen is quite an expensive city, but you can find hotel rooms on Hotwire which are more central for about the same price or even less in some cases (though it depends on the time of year). Normally, I go the Airbnb route when planning out trips, but I didn’t find any listings that looked too interesting this time.
Our first morning, we took a little walk from the hotel to Wulff & Konstali for brunch.
Like I said, Copenhagen is a pretty expensive city. But, I feel like for all of the food you get at Wulff & Konstali, their prices are fair. Sadly, I didn’t get any pics from this place but our brunch was delicious! You can mix and match what kind of dishes you want (5 pieces for 129 dkk or around 18 euros or you can choose 7 pieces for 159 dkk around 21 euros). And their poppyseed croissants were amazing. JP is insanely picky when it comes to croissants and pastries around the globe (he has a French superiority complex when it comes to these things and he’s a very harsh critic) but he could not stop talking about these poppyseed croissants. So, if you do one thing in Copenhagen make sure to try these guys out. We went back again the next morning for them.
After filling up on brunch, we headed out to do some sightseeing.
Of course, historical monuments were a must.
We started off by visiting the Rosenborg Castle. Walking around the sites and reading about the famous monarchs that used to roam the halls was really fascinating. For most trips, castles for me are a must. I don’t know what it is but I’m always intrigued by the previous royals and all the scandals and stories that happened within the castle. (Sidenote: the real-life drama that happened in the late 1700s between the mad King Christian VII, his English wife, Princess Caroline Mathilde and her lover/the king’s physician inspired the film The Royal Affair).
After this, we went to visit the Rundetaarn aka the Round Tower, Copenhagen’s 17th-century gem. The tower was built as an astronomical observatory and features a riders’ staircase (no stairs aka horse and carriage friendly) which winds around 7.5 times. At the top of the tower, you’ll find the observation deck and observatory with pretty views overlooking Copenhagen.
After working up an appetite, we went out for lunch to Paper Island. Unfortunately, this insanely cool place is no longer open and closed down in December, which is really a shame because the food and ambiance here were so unique.
Paper Island was a food market inside an old warehouse building. There were tons of food trucks where you could get delicious street food from all over the world for really great prices. Such a shame they’re not around anymore, but a new food market is set to open up somewhere else in May 2018!
(If you want to find out more about the history of Paper Island and why the food market had to move, click here.)
Following lunch, we explored Nyhavn. The houses and views here were so cute, I loved walking around and taking it all in. The three of us went out for a little apéro before having dinner with Kelly’s Danish homestay family.
Before showing up for dinner though, we were in search of flowers for our hosts! We found a beautiful bouquet at Torvehallerne, a glass market in Copenhagen with over 60 stands selling anything you can think of and a few little spots to grab a quick bite.
We still had time to kill, so we walked over to Bootleggers Cocktail & Craft Beer Bar. The bar has two different entrances depending on what you’re looking for and we decided to try out the beer. Honestly, I do not have a refined enough palette to explain the differences between different types of craft beer, but they had a really wide range of selection and options to do a beer tasting. The staff was nice and the setting was a really cool mix between grunge and “hygge.”
We then got on our way for dinner at Kelly’s homestay family’s.
I thought this “homestay” family aspect of her program was really cool. Even though Kelly was living independently with her own studio-esque setup, she still had the chance to go to a Danish family’s home for dinner throughout the semester. I loved having a homestay family when I was studying in Bordeaux, but having the chance to both live independently and still make a connection with a local family is such a great idea. Meeting Kelly’s Copenhagen family was such a treat and it made the trip so much more immersive to hear more about Danish culture and history from actual locals.
The next day, we took the train out to the Louisiana Museum which was about an hour away from the center. To be completely honest, I’ve never really understood or appreciated modern art but this museum really made an impression. It was kind of weird, kind of cool and very trippy. The only bummer is that lunch here was really pricey, so either eat before or after your visit!
Before coming to Copenhagen, I had done a lot of research about New Nordic Cuisine. I’m obsessed with Anthony Bourdain and he has an entire episode dedicated to the movement, featuring the chef and creator of the famed Noma, René Redzepi. Of course, I could never afford Noma let alone get a reservation, but the episode was great at getting to the root of what New Nordic Cuisine is and how Redzepi came up with the concept. I definitely recommend checking out the episode (Parts Unknown season 2 episode 4) if you’re a foodie or about to visit Copenhagen.
I also really love the Vagabrothers on YouTube and saw they had a whole segment dedicated to their Copenhagen adventure and New Nordic Cuisine! They tried the restaurant, Höst and after seeing their meal and checking out the fantastic reviews on TripAdvisor, I knew we had to try it out.
That night we had an amazing dinner! One of my favorite things to do when visiting a new city is experiencing the cuisine. This is also why I’m not great at budget traveling–I feel like missing out on the food is missing out on the culture of a new city, so when I’m exploring I have to try a great local meal!
Höst is known for New Nordic Cuisine and they did not disappoint. A big idea behind New Nordic Cuisine is foraging for your food and innovation. The new and complex combinations were so mindblowing and delicious. We’ve had some great meals around Europe, but what we loved about Höst was how unexpected and different everything was. We couldn’t get over it and now New Nordic Cuisine has become one of our absolute favorite types of food. I would love to go back to Copenhagen for this restaurant alone. Though, be warned they get packed so make sure to book ahead.
After dinner, we ventured out to Amalienborg Palace where Denmark’s royal family lives. I was bummed we didn’t get a chance to visit here during the day as you can see the changing of the guards and visit the museum, but I guess I’ll just have to come back next time! (JP and Kelly did not understand why I wanted to see the changing of the guards but I think it’s interesting??? Anyone else? Or am I just a royal nerd?) We were able to walk in front of the palace and hang out in the courtyard area as it started to get dark, then went back to the hotel and took in some last views on the rooftop deck.
And our trip was over just like that. The next morning, we headed back to France. Even though we were only in the city for a few days, I feel like we were really able to take advantage of the time we had. Still, I would love to go back because there’s still so much we didn’t get a chance to see and I really adored visiting Copenhagen!
P.S. Thanks to Jean Philippe for taking the majority of these photos and Kelly for showing us around and taking all our obnoxious couple pics 🙂