I came to Copenhagen with a few ideas of what to see and what to eat, but mostly curious about figuring out what hygge was; I’d read about it in magazines, been scolded by Pinterest posts for not being hygge enough, and almost been duped into buying my most perfectly hygge life. All without really understanding what it was and why I needed to buy wool sweaters and learn how to knit to have it. Turns out, I won’t have to overcome my wool allergy to have a more hygge life, because it just means being comfy, cozy, or just generally content (readers, give me a shout out in the comments if I’m wrong or if I do need to overcome my wool allergy for this! I want to do it right!). In Denmark, where in late June, I experienced rain and temps in the 50s every day, I can see how this means warm sweaters, knitting by the fire, or a few lil green, living plants in the house. In Spain, where I spend most of the year, I’d find that feeling of content and warm happiness in a tinto de verano on a terrace or sharing a tapa at my favorite hole in the wall, or leaving my windows open to hear the flamenco bar down the street—different climates and cultures call for different forms of comfort. All that said, I found plenty of ways to feel comfy and cozy in Copenhagen even with the terrible weather, so without further ado: my Copenhagen hygge list.
What to See:
If we’re talking about feeling warm and fuzzy in Copenhagen, we kind of have to start at Nyhavn, the cute harbor that you’ve seen in photos a thousand times. Yes, it’s frequented by tourists and yes, it’s in every Instagram post you’ve ever seen, BUT it’s so cute and photogenic you can’t not go. Unlock maximum hygge achievement by grabbing a few supermarket beers and doing what the Danes do: drink in public (it’s legal)!
Lots of Copenhagen canal cruises leave from Nyhavn. The first one you come to when you get to the port is more expensive and goes through all the same stops as the others—I know because it was just ahead of our canal cruise for the whole tour. Save that extra money for a pint and keep walking to find the cheaper cruise. It was a great way to see the city in a short amount of time and dropped us right back off near our lunch stop. If you have little interest in seeing the Little Mermaid statue, catch a glimpse on a canal tour and cross it off your list. Be warned though, if you want a photo, you’re better off venturing out to see the statue yourself, because the angle you’ll get for a photo from the water is… not ideal.
Meander up or down Strøget, the city’s pedestrian street that starts at the Town Hall Square, swings close to the university area, and gives a home to shops from Tiger (my favorite low-budget store to decorate my apartment with) to Louis Vuitton. If you enjoy history like I do, I suggest you grab my homeboy Rick Steves’ guidebook where he can give you an informative walk-through of the whole area with fun and interesting tidbits along the way. Love you, Rick.
You can’t go to Copenhagen and not go to Tivoli Gardens; even the most mainstream-phobic among us can’t resist the charm of this Danish Disneyworld (although really we should be calling Disneyworld “American Tivoli Gardens,” because supposedly Tivoli Gardens was one of Walt Disney’s inspirations for his theme park. Also because Tivoli Gardens came first). There are shops, restaurants, rides, pirate ships, mirrors that make you look skinnier than you are… I mean really, Disneyworld, get with the program. Give in to your impulses and buy that overpriced hot chocolate—I even got extra marshmallows! We gallivanted around the park for several hours before getting set to see the evening light show across the water, one of those types of shows that you know recording on your iPhone won’t do justice to, so you just sit and soak it all in. That’s what I did, but the elderly lady who got her phone entangled in my hair while trying to record was really harshing my hygge vibes. Make sure you check the schedule on their website; they have light shows, fireworks, and all kinds of fun events going on most nights.
Rosenborg Castle is a fun stop for Americans who are obsessed with royalty of European countries or anyone who enjoys a bit of history; the castle itself is not too big, meaning that if you’re dragging your friend along with you like I did to my friend, they will have a very short period of suffering and then you can go frolic in the Castle Gardens, surrounded by Hans Christian Andersen and Danes soaking up all the sun they can get.
What to Eat
My inner happiness is deeply connected to food, both the cooking-it and eating-it varieties. Naturally, once I learned what hygge was, I felt that the food scene was where I was most likely to find it. I was right!
Whether by accident or by design, we spent a lot of our time in Vesterbro, a Meatpacking District undergoing a renaissance of food and nightlife. Our first stop was a long-overdue post-airport lunch at Hyggestund, a simple, laid back breakfast-all-day spot with friendly service and simple, cozy food that’s made well. Did you catch it? Hygge! As a Tennessee girl, if I see a spicy fried chicken sandwich on any menu, that’s what I’m ordering. Add kimchi to it and you’ve made me a very happy girl. And a very happy girl is exactly what I was when I left Hyggestund and went next door to Mikkeller Bar Viktoriagade, based on a tip from a friend in Spain. Mikkeller Brewery is a non-negotiable stop for anyone who loves beer or anyone who wants to learn more about it. I like beer but don’t confess to know a lot, and I happily drink Mahou, the closest beer can get to water, in Madrid almost daily. The staff at Mikkeller Bar Viktoriagade were helpful, let me taste a few different types, and helped explain the flavors and process that was used for each beer. Their cherry wine ain’t half bad either!
Now that we had recuperated some of our body heat via alcohol, we were prepared to venture outside again to find our next meal (this was, in fact, only about an hour and a half after we’d finished the first meal. Don’t tell me how to find my hygge.). I’d read on the interwebs about what I thought was a bar-with-snacks called Warpigs Brewpub. There was a lot I didn’t know about Warpigs. One thing was that we were now three-for-three on visiting places connected to Mikkeller—both Hyggestund and Warpigs are projects related to the brewery. Another thing was that Warpigs was not just a bar. It was a BBQ joint mixed with a biker bar rolled up in a very rock-and-roll ambience, and it was awesome. Let me tell you, as a Memphis girl who’d hadn’t tasted real barbecue in 7 months, that meat was magic to me. I understand how serious it is to make a bold statement like this, but Warpigs barbecue was truly the best barbecue I’ve had outside of Memphis; their only fault is that, of their wide selection of barbecue sauces, they are woefully lacking in Memphis-style sauce. I’ll give them a few months and then try them out the next time I’m in Copenhagen.
If you’re in the meatpacking-district that Warpigs is in and are looking for something more upscale, don’t miss Kødbyens Fiskebar, where the prices are a little higher but not bad for a Michelin-listed restaurant. My pal and I split oysters, the super-fresh chef’s special of fish with potatoes and asparagus, and a Nordic cheese plate for dessert, and we were happy with every last bite. The restaurant manages to feel sophisticated but relaxed at the same time—not somewhere to see and be seen, but just a place to enjoy some nice, fresh seafood.
Don’t leave Copenhagen without eating a hotdog with everything on it. I saved my almost religious hotdog experience for my last night, which was good because the money I had left was only enough to buy a hotdog anyway (I know this isn’t a hot take but Copenhagen is expensive, y’all). If you’re only gonna eat one, make it a hotdog from John’s Hotdog Deli. What started as a hot dog truck outside the central train station now has a brick-and-mortar location as well, which we discovered was right next door to both Warpigs and Fiskebar the whole time. Round three in the meatpacking-district was not disappointing. Imagine getting your sizzling, delicious hotdog and then being unleashed onto the toppings bar, where everything from relish to fried onions to mustard made from Mikkeller beer is waiting for you to create your masterpiece. Hey Mikkeller, I’m noticing a pattern here and I want you to know, I support your quest for world-dominance. Ply the people with good beer and we will bow to you.
There were other staples of Danish cuisine that we couldn’t forget while we were in the capital city; one of them is smørrebrød, Danish open-face sandwiches, usually served on rye bread and with some combination of fresh fish or cheese or veggies. Smørrebrød, like hygge, has turned into quite a popular trend in the US, but that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t try it where it started. Our pick for the Danish delight was Aamann’s Deli & Takeaway, where we each opted for the smørrebrød tasting menu—four small sandwiches, each with a totally different flavor. You can also try the bite-size sandwiches at Copenhagen Street Food, an immense conglomeration of different food truck-style setups with everything from traditional smørrebrød to Moroccan flatbreads or fresh Italian pasta. A great spot for people watching, so I recommend you grab a beer and settle in for a while!
Another food market you can’t miss is Torvehallerne KBH—my pal who studied in Copenhagen recommended a few stalls inside the greenhouse-reminiscent market. The Coffee Collective is a very cool, but still very friendly coffee spot where they do all the fancy things that you’re supposed to do to make great coffee; this part of the blog is making me realize I need to take a class about coffee, but I’ll leave you with this: my latte was great, and I went back the next day for another one!
GRØD is the world’s first porridge bar and has also opened a stall inside Torvehallerne market; I’ll be the first to tell you that food that sounds overly “healthy” usually isn’t my scene, and artisan porridge sounds like it falls into that category. While you might be eating healthy at GRØD, you are definitely not missing out on good food; my porridge was stuffed with apples, homemade caramel sauce, and roasted almonds, and the whole milk made it super creamy and luxurious-feeling. If you like to hit the ground running on your travels, this is exactly the kind of breakfast that will really keep you going.
Don’t just pass by these two stalls—the whole market is teeming with activity and really good food. The cheese stall particularly called my name, and obviously I had to indulge in a few Danishes at Laura’s Bakery—but you can check out Spanish tapas, rye breads, smørrebrød, fish, gelato… you name it.
So, there you have it! You know how and where I found hygge in Copenhagen—I hope this helps you enjoy your next trip to CPH, and be sure to leave me recommendations in the comments for my next stop in the Danish capital!
Hyggestund, Viktoriagade 6, 1655 Copenhagen V, https://www.facebook.com/Hyggestundmikkeller/
Mikkeller Bar, Viktoriagade 8, 1655 Copenhagen V, http://mikkeller.dk/location/mikkeller-bar-viktoriagade-copenhagen/
Warpigs Brewpub, Flæsketorvet 25, 1711 Copenhagen V, http://warpigs.dk/
Kødbyens Fiskebar, Flæsketorvet 100, 1711 Copenhagen V, http://fiskebaren.dk/en/fiskebaren/
John’s Hotdog Deli, Bernstorffsgade 5, 1704 Copenhagen V, https://www.facebook.com/Johns-Hotdog-deli-1692157194448311/
Aamann’s Deli & Takeaway, Øster Farimagsgade 10, 2100 Copenhagen Ø, https://aamanns.dk/?lang=en
Copenhagen Street Food, Hal 7 & 8 Papirøen, Trangravsvej 14, 7/8, 1436 Copenhagen K, http://copenhagenstreetfood.dk/en/
Torvehallerne KBH, Frederiksborggade 21, 1360 Copenhagen K, https://torvehallernekbh.dk/
Coffee Collective, Vendersgade 6D, 1363 Copenhagen K, https://coffeecollective.dk/
GRØD, Stand A8, Linnésgade 17, 1362 Copenhagen K, http://groed.com/en/
Laura’s Bakery, Linnésgade 17, 1363 Copenhagen K, http://laurasbakery.com/