This compact and environmentally conscious city of 1.2 million people has a bountiful urban environment: miles of harbourfront promenades, lush parks and a striking blend of contemporary and historic architecture. It’s also the birthplace of New Nordic cuisine and Danish Modern design, and the quality of the food, drink and shopping upholds these legacies.

Need to know

Get to grips with the basics

  1. Feeling good: There’s one Danish term you’re guaranteed to hear during your stay: 'hygge' (pronounced hu-gar). The word most often used by way of explanation is “cosy”.
  2. The ride stuff: As you’d expect in the hometown of lauded urbanist Jan Gehl, Copenhagen is a cyclist’s paradise. Hire a ride from a bike shop rather than sticking out like a tourist on a clunky (though admittedly user-friendly) Bycyklen bike.
  3. Polite society: When greeting a group of Danes shake hands with all parties (even children), starting with the women. Punctuality is paramount and bring a small gift if invited to a Danish home for a meal.
  4. Time to head out: Many visitors are caught out by early dining times in Copenhagen; peak reservation time is 18.30 to 19.30 and people are usually wobbling home on their bicycles by 21.00 or 22.00.
  5. A little something extra: Hospitality staff earn decent pay so there’s no need to tip. If you insist, 10 per cent of the bill is fine.

On sale now – part of the Monocle Travel Guide series

Watch the film


Hospitality at its finest

  1. Hotel SP34, City Centre

    Contemporary Cool

    Like any good Danish design hotel, there’s furniture from revered names but also some surprises. During renovations the team found a 1950s chair of unknown origin and put it back in production. It’s now a SP34 signature.

  2. Hotel Alexandra, City Centre

    Stay in a design museum

    Managed by Jeppe Mühlhausen, the Hotel Alexandra is a temple to Danish Modern design – so much so that a few nights there almost negate the need to visit the Design Museum.

  3. Babette Guldsmeden, City Centre

    Danish design meets Indonesia

    The Guldsmeden group operates four hotels in the city but Babette is the most refined. Rooms are small but bright and tactile touches and lively art create a warm, slightly bohemian effect.


Local lingo

  1. Hej: Hello
  2. Hej hej: Goodbye
  3. Tak: Thank you
  4. Skål: Cheers
  5. Spis lige brød: Calm down
  6. Tak for kaffe: No way/really?

Food and drink

Smart bites and top stops

  1. Café Atelier September, City Centre

    Simple pleasures

    This light and airy vegetarian café is attached to a small furniture and accessories boutique. It’s headed by former Saison chef Frederik Bille Brahe and a favourite with the brunch crowd; don’t miss the signature dish, an open-faced sandwich of thinly sliced avocado on rye.

  2. Spise\Bar Nr 20, Nørrebro

    Without borders

    This cosy wood-panelled neighbourhood haunt serves tapas and a weekly menu of two dishes: one meat and one vegetarian. From jerk chicken with corn purée to gazpacho with goat’s cheese, the changing menu warrants multiple visits.

  3. Baest, Nørrebro

    Well worth the wait

    Baest has diners lining up for its impeccable wood-fired pizzas, charcuterie (the pork rillettes are hauntingly good), mozzarella made fresh in the on-site dairy and big-city atmosphere.

  4. Copenhagen Street Food, Papirøen

    Printing menus

    A world of fast food is now under one roof, with everything from pulled duck burgers to tacos. Take your pick and find a table outside, with a glass of something chilled in hand, for one of the best harbour views in the city.

  5. Lidkoeb, Vesterbro

    Laidback libations

    This super-hyggeligt three-storey cocktail bar is a place for grown-ups. There are cocktails – both classics and in-house specials – and a whiskey bar, with more than 200 bottles in the rafters on the top floor.


Shop talk

  1. Stine Goya, City Centre

    Bold geometrics

    Stine Goya set up her namesake label in 2006 and opened a shop eight years later on Gothersgade. Her signature geometric prints, bold accessories and bright colour palettes are tempered by easy cuts.

  2. Legends, City Centre

    New kids on the block

    Legends has gained traction for its impeccably tailored clothing and refined collection of trainers, boots and caps. Expect clean Scandinavian lines combined with easy Californian style.

  3. Roxy Klassik, Frederiksberg

    Top drawer

    Vintage emporium Roxy Klassik began selling authentic designer mid-century wares in the early 1980s in this small space along Godthåbsvej. The superlative selection of chairs, coffee tables, silverware and more hail from greats such as Mogensen, Wegner and Jensen.

  4. Playtype, Vesterbro

    Buy the letter

    This slender space furnished with bold typefaces is thought to be the world’s first physical shop selling fonts. As well as the multitude of typefaces available, we recommend the posters printed in Denmark on Swedish paper.

0:00:00 0:01:00

Drag me