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Copenhagen - capital of cool

April 14, 2011, 10:17 am Sally O'Brien Yahoo! New Zealand

A quintessentially waterfront city, Copenhagen makes it all but impossible not to swoon as you explore charming half-timbered streets, elegant public spaces, happening neighbourhoods and contemporary architectural gems.

Copenhagen - Scandinavia s capital of cool
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A quintessentially waterfront city, Copenhagen makes it all but impossible not to swoon as you explore charming half-timbered streets, elegant public spaces, happening neighbourhoods and contemporary architectural gems.

It’s compact enough for walking or cycling, yet it plays host to famously fairytale sights and enough Michelin-starred restaurants to count on two hands. Copenhagen - Scandinavia’s capital of cool - is brimming with stylish dining and design.

For Saturday-night fireworks, flower gardens, fairy lights and squeal-inducing amusement rides, hightail it to the famous Tivoli. But if you think that condemns you to the usual theme-park food, then you’re in for a Michelin-starred surprise at airy-but-intimate Restaurant Herman or super-chic The Paul. You can even rest your head at Tivoli’s own Moorish-themed hotel, Nimb, replete with elegantly minimalist suites and Tivoli Gardens views.

The famous mermaid


For many, the Little Mermaid remains a symbol of the city, despite leaving some underwhelmed. Find her just northwest of Kastellet, a moated fortress on Copenhagen’s busy working harbour.

Another waterside attraction is the gaily painted 17th-century canal known as Nyhavn, with plenty of herring buffets and beer taps on offer.

On a grander, modern scale, the city’s key architectural statements include the impressive Black Diamond, an extension of the Royal Library shaped like a parallelogram and glistening with black granite and smoked glass. It’s situated on the Slotsholmen island in the city centre. From the Black Diamond to the shimmering blue cube, Jean Nouvel’s extraordinary 2009 Copenhagen Concert Hall lords it over Emil Holms canal in the revamped Ørestad area and has some of the most impressive acoustics in the world.

The local gift to lunchtime is the smørrebrød - a piece of rye bread garnished with various toppings. Two places that excel in the art are Aamanns, which attracts locals keen to sample seasonal offerings and Ida Davidsen, a sober, business-lunch favourite where over 250 recipes for the open sandwich have been catalogued.

Those looking for the ultimate Copenhagen bragging rights should make reservations at Noma. Recently proclaimed the World’s Best Restaurant and possessed of two Michelin stars, diners here are treated to seasonal, local ingredients that, thanks to the skill of René Redzepi and his 20-odd chefs, are transformed into ‘New Nordic’ delights such as sea urchin with dill, cucumber and cream. The restaurant’s decor is also a fine example of Danish subtlety and low-key elegance.

Nyhavn Canal


Copenhagen also boasts the world’s longest pedestrian street, Strøget, a 1.1km-long thoroughfare lined with shops, cafes and street performers.

Shopping-wise, the jewel in the crown is without doubt Illums Bolighus, a four-storey cache of beautiful home wares and nicely edited fashion pieces. If you’re after Danish jewellery and porcelain, it’s impossible to overlook prestigious brands such as Georg Jensen and Royal Copenhagen, both of which can be found on Strøget.

For the biggest names in 20th century Danish design, stroll along Bredgade, festooned with furniture and lighting shops, the best of which is Dansk Møbelkunst, specialising in Danish furniture from 1920 to 1970. If you’re not in a mood to buy, keep going along Bredgade until you reach Kunstindustrimuseet (the Museum of Art and Design), where a fascinating crash course in Danish design awaits.

More on Denmark

Here's a gallery on why Denmark is described as a 'Scandinavian Fairytale'

Denmark: beautiful in more ways than one

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