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First Impressions of Denmark

O my goodness the Danes are cool. Fashion, design, their attitude to cycling – all intrinsically COOL. The aptly named Wondercool, Copenhagen’s winter festival, highlights so much that is cool about the city that the slightly chilly weather is irrelevant.

Danish Fashion

The Danes know how to dress. Most impressively they know how to dress for the weather. When freezing temperatures and chilling winds hit the UK we tend to react by wearing everything we own. The Danes, however, know how to look cool whilst staying warm. They don’t let the weather or fashion hold them back either. People were still whizzing around town on bikes; looking chic, staying warm, and going about their very trendy lives. Brits take note!

Currently at the Danish Design Museum you can take in a bit of Haute Couture with a Danish twist. The ‘Northern Women in Chanel’ exhibition is just what it says, a collection of snaps of stunning Nordic and Baltic women in Chanel clothes, a photography exhibition curated by Peter Farago and Ingela Klementz-Farago. The series of breath-taking images are backed up by an adjoining exhibition of photos taken behind the scenes of the shoot, when the models were stripped of clothes and makeup. This exhibition is named ‘Bare Moments’ and shows the models in all their beautiful vulnerability.

(The exhibition runs until 8th April 2012.)

Danish Design

I always had a feeling Danish design was cool but I had never seen it in action in the way I did in Ørestad . Ørestad is a new urban development in-between Copenhagen city centre and the airport. Danish architects have designed the area so impressively it feels like you are walking through an open air architecture museum.  From the outside the quirky buildings look like works of art, and peering into the homes I could see they looked like real life interior design magazines on the inside.

As part of the Wondercool festival we took part in a walking tour of the Ørestad area, which explained not only the creative design behind the area but the pros and cons of creating a new urban development out of nothing. The modern school contains no classrooms and no school gates and as such feels like a much more inspiring space. This school is crucial for the area to attract urbanisation, along with the shops which are currently in a mall but being redesigned with more open space to make sure people stay around for longer.

Our tour was concluded at the Bella Sky Tower, a funky conference centre and hotel which was first to be constructed in this area. Stepping out of the bracing wind into the white space the first thing I noticed was the smell. The whole reception was scented with soothing floral tones. On closer inspection I discovered a whole wall made of plants. Taking the lift to the top floor the Bella Sky Bar was waiting to wow us.  I couldn’t decide between the round sofa, hanging egg seats or piano to rest my feet but when I looked up I realised that was hardly the point. The whole of Copenhagen was on display, a 360 degree view of it. This is a very cool spot to take in the city skyline.

Danish pastries

A lot of my posts always come back to cake don’t they?! (Remember Fika?) One of my lasting memories of my first visit to Denmark will be of the Danish pastries – I had 3 for breakfast on the very first day. Interestingly they are not known as Danish pastries in Denmark but rather Viennese, named after the man from Vienna who first bought them to Denmark. Copenhagen is famous for its Hygge  (best explained by me as a feeling of cosiness but best explained in detail by Abigail King!) and I find nothing cosier than a warm coffee shop, candle light, blanket, coffee and pastries.

In Torvehallerne – Copenhagen’s food market – you will find even more cake and other delicious goodies. Torvehallerne opened just last year and reminded me very much of Madrid’s Mercado San Miguel in its concept and design, except it had more fish and less tapas. Not to be missed is a cupcake from Agnes and fresh brew from Coffee Collective.

Water

When I think back to Copenhagen, I will think of water. The city is surrounded by ocean and interlaced with canals that give it a fresh-feeling, flow to life there. Cycle paths line the water’s edge and during our visit we raced along the frozen canals, watching swans tip-toeing on the surface. Magical.

We stayed on the waterfront in the nautical Admiral Hotel.  Mirroring its location with its decor, the hotel is decorated with rope and raffia, rounded windows, exposed beams. The building is an old grain-drying warehouse from 1787 – you can feel the history seeping through the walls. In our room the sliding door was pushed back to reveal a direct view to Copenhagen’s Opera House, the bright sunlight bouncing off its silver roof and causing a glittery reflection in the water.

Just around the corner from the hotel is Nyhavn; where the crayon coloured buildings lining the barge filled canal provide the quintessential Copenhagen photo.

 

Kroner

Everyone said Copenhagen would be expensive and they weren’t wrong. I’d been burnt before, upon landing in Copenhagen on my trip to Skåne in Sweden which is just across the water, I had put a Starbucks purchase on my credit card with no knowledge of the exchange rate (I know, bad traveller, serves me right!) A £13 coffee and cake later I was worried about my return to Denmark.  Outside of the (admittedly swanky) Copenhagen airport there are ways to economise – you could survive on coffee and cake from the bakeries for a start!

If you go to Copenhagen prepared to spend London prices and happy to look for ways to save, you can easily avoid it being the most expensive weekend ever. Public transport from the airport is speedy and good value for money – although the ticket machines wouldn’t accept our foreign cards and don’t take notes so come prepared with coins or pop into the newsagent to ask for some. We managed to find a burger and beer in Nyhavn for less than £20 and a pub charging £4 per pint. For me the best things about Copenhagen though- the atmosphere, people, architecture, cycling and canals – are all FREE. Plus you can’t put a price on coolness, can you?

I visited Denmark as a guest of Wonderful Copenhagen, but I thought it was cool all by myself! For more details on the Wondercool Copenhagen event see previous post.

About Author

I'm a freelance blogger and writer who loves boutique hotels, brunching and shopping. I've been blogging for 11 years, visited 60+ countries and called London, Sydney, Melbourne and (oh so briefly) New York home at various points during the last decade. We purchased our first home during the pandemic & have been infusing it with a feeling of travel while we wait to see the world again.

11 Comments

  • Andy
    March 13, 2012 at 11:23 am

    Glad you enjoyed both Copenhagen and Denmark – I’m a Brit but have been living in Norway for 14 years; I travel regularly to Copenhagen as I love the place. There’s plenty to see and do and the food and drink are great as well. If you want some ideas for your next trip (some more unusual tips) have a look here: http://grownuptravelguide.com/been-there-havent-done-that-5-things-you-shouldnt-miss-in-copenhagen
    All the best,
    Andy

    Reply
    • Jayne
      March 13, 2012 at 11:28 am

      Great post Andy, thanks for sharing! I loved the indoor food market and architecture in Orestad. Also I have been to Hache in London but didn’t realise it is Danish – do you think the Copenhagen restaurant is the original?!

      Reply
  • Andy
    March 13, 2012 at 11:44 am

    Thanks Jayne – good you got to the food market as that’s quite new, they were still painting it and taking promo shots when I was there. No apparently the London Hache chain is unconnected to the Danish one – I guess they both just had the same idea when coming up with a name 🙂

    Reply
  • Andrea
    March 13, 2012 at 12:56 pm

    I only ever spent a brief weekend in Copenhagen but would love to go back to Denmark to see more. I love the design and culture.

    Reply
  • EurotripTips
    March 13, 2012 at 1:09 pm

    Indeed, Copenhagen does look very cool. I love those balconies – we would never see anything like that in North America. Too bad the exchange rate scares away lots of potential visitors.

    Reply
  • Jaillan Yehia
    March 13, 2012 at 3:53 pm

    Very inspiring post! Its so true what you say about Danes looking stylish even in freezing weather! I think its all about high-quality, well-cut pieces, they may be expensive but it shows. I always say that Denmark may be a little pricey as a tourist destination but the best things about the place are free or only cost a few crowns: people watching, delicious pastries (!) and the unique sense of light and space.

    Reply
  • Andy
    March 14, 2012 at 7:36 am

    I think it’s safe to say that you could sum up the whole of Scandinavia by saying that it’s a very expensive place but you get your money’s worth of experiences – you can’t really see the kind of things you can here anywhere else in the world.

    Reply
  • A Lady in London
    March 14, 2012 at 3:50 pm

    Very cool! Sounds like you had a great trip. My aunt is from Denmark, so I will have to send her a link to your post!

    Reply
  • Emily in Chile
    March 15, 2012 at 7:29 pm

    I love it! I really wanted to spend a couple of days in Copenhagen in December while we were in the UK, but sadly the scheduling just didn’t work out. Next time I hope to make it happen – something about the city just intrigues me.

    Reply
  • […] of 40Before30 and Justin of 48 Hour Adventure both recently visited […]

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  • […] Jayne shares her first impressions of Denmark. […]

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