Need to escape the summer heat? Northern Europe is a perfect place for a luxe city vacation. Team Max recently visited Copenhagen to scope out the Danish capital’s best offerings. Here are some postcards from Copenhagen.
With Noma named the world’s top restaurant several years running, it’s no secret that Copenhagen is one of the best cities for dining out. It’s tough to get reservations at Noma, but the restaurant’s alumni chefs have spun out their own network of eateries throughout Scandinavia, many of which are right here. (Noma helpfully lists them on its own website).
One such place, Restaurant Bror, is the brainchild of Samuel Nutter and Victor Wagman, former sous chefs at Noma. The menu, which features the sort of hyper-local, ingredient-centric, carefully-sourced New Nordic cuisine that lures foodies to town, changes every night. Every table gets the tasting menu (there’s a vegetarian option available), and diners can add on extra courses or wine pairings at will, in addition to a short a la carte wine list.
On a recent summer night, the menu at Bror featured a garden’s worth of vegetables and herbs; wild mushrooms; minted new potatoes; grilled plaice with spring onions and garlic; and homemade lavender ice cream with berries. The fresh butter for the bread came with either pine salt or smoked bone marrow mixed in. The bright, art-filled space on a quiet street in the center of town was bustling and casual, with diners in jeans and even families in attendance.
In addition to restaurant dining, food trucks and market stalls have become the harbingers of food trends worldwide, and in Copenhagen these are some of the best places to sample chefs’ experiments. Check out the Copenhagen Street Food market, an assortment of carts and stalls in a giant hangar-like space on tiny Papiroen island in the canal-laced neighborhood of Christianshavn. Lunch could consist of cod and chips, tacos of all descriptions, or Thai noodles, all washed down with beer and eaten at picnic tables by the water’s edge. Or visit the Torvehallerne market for a less ad-hoc experience, with permanent stalls selling produce, fine ingredients, and chefs’ tools as well as restaurants serving sushi, tapas, and moules frites.
If contemporary art is your passion, you’ll want to hop 40 km north of Copenhagen to the Louisiana museum, which boasts a world-class collection of both indoor works and outdoor sculpture set in a beautiful villa and gardens. The museum, designed by noted Danish architects Jørgen Bo and Vilhelm Wohlert, opened in 1958 in the coastal town of Humlebaek. Overlooking the Oresund, the sound between Denmark and Sweden, the museum features greatest-hits artists (Giacometti, Moore, Calder, Johns) as well as a series of sweeping spaces for traveling exhibitions (a comprehensive retrospective of Emil Nolde and a look at Philip Guston’s work were both up in the summer of 2014). On the grounds, site-specific works stud the gardens and woods, many of which are designed for visitors to climb.
Copenhagen’s best-known tourist attraction, Tivoli Gardens, is the original theme park experience. Go at night, when the whole park lights up, and stay for the 10:45PM illumination show on the lake.
Anyone interested in architecture, royalty, or European history will want to visit Amalienborg Palace , where the Queen and her family live. Visitors can tour one wing of the palace, which showcases not only the rooms and objects associated with past monarchs, but also the intertwined family tree of European royalty, virtually all of whom call Queen Margarethe II cousin.
Shopping is less of a draw now that many of the best Danish brands are easily available in New York or London, but there are some uniquely Danish design stores like Illium Bolighus and Hay along the Stroget pedestrian shopping street.
Because Copenhagen is a canal city, a boat tour – ubiquitous on the waterways – is the best way to see landmarks like the old stock exchange building with its entwined dragon-tail tower. Visitors can also rent kayaks (Kayak Republic offers this service) or bikes for a more authentically local experience.
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