COPENHAGEN (Reuters Life!) - Got 48 hours to explore the charming Danish capital of Copenhagen.
Reuters correspondents with local knowledge help visitors get the most out of a visit to the city that will play host to the International Olympic Committee in October.
FRIDAY 6 p.m. — Start your evening with dinner at Den Lille Fede (Store Kongensgade 17, +45 33 33 70 02), a chilled-out restaurant with creative French and Mediterranean food at reasonable prices in a quiet interior courtyard off one of Copenhagen’s main arteries. On the way out, walk one block to Amalienborg Square and gaze upon the futuristic Opera House on Holmen Island, rising in stark contrast across the water from the venerable Amalienborg palace, the Queen’s winter residence, and Frederiks Church. Also known as the Marble Church, tourists can climb into its magnificent dome for a view of the city skyline at 1 p.m. and 3 p.m. on weekends.
9:00 p.m. — Get a drink at Orsted (Norre Farimagsgade 13, +45 33 93 65 75). Danes are known for their Carlsberg and Tuborg beers, but in recent years they have acquired a taste for microbrews and this bar has a wide selection on tap and in bottles.
11:00 p.m. — Check out Copenhagen’s club scene, spiced up lately by semi-exclusive parties such as Laekker (literally translated, “hot” or “good-looking”), where top DJs spin tracks in little-know clubs or, on occasion, in secret locations (www.neoncph.com).
Laekker is notorious for attracting celebrities such as Mick Jagger and for once denying entry to Denmark’s Princess Mary and model Helena Christensen (although they were later smuggled in through a back door).
If there is no Laekker party during your time in Copenhagen or you can’t get in, head to the down-to-earth club Culture Box (Kronprinsessegade 54A, +45 33 32 50 50) and dance away to electronic beats.
If you’d rather just chill out, get a taste of the fading aura of Copenhagen as a 1970s jazz mecca at La Fontaine (Kompagnistraede 11, +45 33 11 60 98), a smoky dive featuring live jazz bands that jam until the wee hours.
9:00 a.m. — Start the day with a cup of coffee at the small but perky Estate Coffee (Gammel Kongevej 1, +45 38 11 12 11), which buys coffee directly from farms around the world and roasts the beans at a small facility in Copenhagen. Estate’s Klaus Thomsen won the 2006 world barista championship.
10:00 a.m. — Take a boat tour of the canals around the old city (book at www.canaltours.dk). The tour starts at Nyhavn, a touristy but charming small harbor excavated by King Christian V to give his newly built central square, Kongens Nytorv, a connection to the sea. Seventeenth century buildings line the cobblestone streets while tall sailing ships rest at the quay. Fairytale writer Hans Christian Andersen once lived at No. 67.
The boat will also stop at the Little Mermaid, the statue of Andersen’s fairytale character and arguably Copenhagen’s top tourist attraction.
12:30 p.m. — Settle down for a traditional Danish smorrebrod lunch at Restaurant Sankt Annae (Sankt Annae Plads 12, +45 33 12 54 97). Opened in 1897, the restaurant has an aura of old nobility, elegance and discreet charm, but the prices are reasonable. It specializes in the open sandwich with elaborate toppings that is a daily lunch staple for many Danes. Try the smoked salmon on white bread or the various herring specialties on rye bread. All dishes are served on hand-painted Danish Royal Porcelain plates.
2:30 p.m. — Walk up the Round Tower, the oldest functioning observatory in Europe. Built in the 17th century, it has a 209-meter spiral ramp inside its hollow core that Russian tsar, Peter the Great, once ascended on horseback while his wife followed in a chariot. After you take in the magnificent view of old Copenhagen from the top, browse the venerable boutiques and department stores on the Stroget pedestrian street below for vintage as well as trendy clothes, sleek Danish design furniture and home accessories.
Follow Stroget to Christiansborg, a former royal castle that now houses Denmark’s parliament and walk though the garden to the old Library, which has now been fitted with a modern glass addition called the Black Diamond. Don’t miss the nearby stock exchange building, Borsen, built by King Christian IV in 1620 and adorned with a beautiful spire designed to look like the twisting claws of a dragon spiraling skyward.
6:30 p.m. — Cross the bridge into Christianshavn past old wooden warehouses now housing Foreign Ministry offices and have dinner at Noma (Strandgade 93, +45 32 96 32 97).
The only Danish restaurant boasting two Michelin stars, Noma revels in its elegant rustic atmosphere and offers a spectacular view of Copenhagen harbor at dusk. Founded by 31-year-old chef Rene Redzepi with the ambition to revitalize Danish cuisine, Noma serves tasty and inventive Nordic dishes with a modern twist, such as monkfish in truffle sauce or Greenlandic musk ox steak.
9:30 p.m. — Walk off the calories in Tivoli, the famed 19th century amusement park (Vesterbrogade 3, +45 33 15 10 01, open April-September and around Christmas). Tivoli’s gardens have a near-magical vibe ideal for a romantic evening stroll under the lights, but unless you have children in tow, don’t bother with the rides. Most are too small for thrill seekers used to gargantuan rollercoasters in the United States and elsewhere.
11:00 p.m. — Hop in a taxi to Vega in the Vesterbro neighborhood (Enghavevej 40, +45 33 25 70 11), a nightclub, bar and live music venue into one. The building used to house political parties and trade unions and its wood-paneled rooms with high ceilings still bear names such as “United Nations Hall” or “Congress Hall.” But there’s nothing old and stuffy about its main concert hall, which holds 1,500 patrons, boasts excellent views and has the best sound system in Copenhagen. If you’re lucky, you might catch a big star performing in this intimate atmosphere. Past acts that have foregone their usual stadium audience to play at Vega include David Bowie, Prince and Nine Inch Nails. If live music is not your thing, wander off through the several bars and dance floors in the trendy but tasteful nightclub Lille Vega next door. Entrance is free between 11 p.m. and 1 a.m.
10:00 a.m. — Stroll through the lovely Kongens Have (King’s Garden) on your way to Rosenborg Castle (Oster Voldgade 4A, +45 33 15 32 86). This 17th century red brick beauty has recently been renovated and shelters the royal jewels, including the stunning crown of castle founder King Christian IV. If you wake up earlier, you can take a 45-minute train ride to Hillerod and visit Frederiksborg, a larger and even more imposing former royal castle on the outskirts of Copenhagen (www.frederiksborgslot.dk, +45 48 26 04 39). 1:00 p.m. — Eat a brunch of poached egg, smoked salmon and organic yoghurt with homemade cereal at Quote, a stylish two-floor restaurant overlooking Kongens Nytorv (Kongens Nytorv 8-16, +45 33 32 51 51).
3:00 p.m. — End your Copenhagen visit with a trip to the impressive Ny Carlsberg Glyptotek art museum (Dantes Plads 7, +45 33 41 81 41, free on Sundays). Founded by 19th century beer magnate and philanthropist Carl Jacobsen, the museum has an enormous collection of ancient Egypt, Greece and Rome sculptures. It also is a repository of the works of Danish Golden Age masters as well as French artists like Monet, Manet, Gauguin and Rodin. Before leaving, sample one of the museum’s famous homemade cakes in the lush and airy winter garden.
Editing by Paul Casciato