Roskilde Day Trip: Copenhagen, Denmark

posted by Rose Mardit on June 20, 2013

Photo: Copenhagen courtesy of Copenhagen Daily Photo

Copenhagen, Denmark -- Since Roskilde is situated a mere 30 minutes west of Copenhagen, not spending some time in this beautiful city would be a shame. It’s a design capital, rooted in history (people like Hans Christian Andersen and Søren Kierkegaard have called it home), and has one of the most human-centric approaches to urban planning of any place in the world.

This is a place where bikes and pedestrians rule the streets, greenspace abounds, and residents seem to have a genuine love and appreciation for life. Summer is absolutely the time to go. There are so many things to see and do, but here are the ones that make my shortlist if you only have one day to spare.

9am: walk in Nyhavn. Widely considered one of the most vibrant areas of the city, its reputation as a must-see for tourists is deserved. Meaning “New Harbor,” it’s colorful and simply a beautiful place to go for a walk. There are dozens of cafes and restaurants if you want to grab a quick bite for breakfast.

10:30am: scope some architecture and Kierkegaard. Check out the Black Diamond. It might be a library, but it’s still awesome. The building itself is stunning: the distinctive silhouette, a reflective black granite facade, and it’s located on the water, so the exterior itself is worth seeing. Inside, you can see the Søren Kierkegaard Archive, where the philosopher’s manuscripts are on display. You can also get your photography fix (there’s a National Museum dedicated to it.) Then, have lunch at Søren K, the library’s restaurant, either indoors for a more formal atmosphere or at the cafe area outside. They serve regional specialties made with fresh ingredients, which are organic and free range, whenever possible.

12pm: soak up the sun. Do as the Copenhageners do and relax in one of the city’s many green areas. The King’s Garden, sometimes referred to as the Rosenborg Castle Garden because the castle is situated in this space, is my pick: it’s historical (we’re talking several hundred year old royal gardens here) but not stuffy (people still sunbathe in the grass.)

1pm: make like a tourist and look at some art. Let your tastes dictate which of these destinations you check out next: classic or modern. If it’s the former, check out The Statens Museum for Kunst or "National Gallery" (not to be confused with the National Museum, which you should skip). This is the largest art museum in Denmark, and features an extensive collection of Danish and international art, a body of work which spans some 700 years. If it’s the latter, head to the Danish Design Center / Design Society, which is not a traditional museum but instead home to changing exhibits of current Danish design. The shop inside is a lovely space with unique products too.

4pm: go shopping. There are countless boutiques, but a few of my favorites are the small but impressive CMYK kld (where you can pick up posters from Danish illustrators, graphic designers, etc. that make awesome gifts), Henrik Vibskov (colorful, well-made digs, with collections for men and women), Wood Wood (another destination for the fashion conscious but perhaps more visually accessible than Vibskov), and Norse Store (menswear shop featuring brands like Norse Projects, Soulland, Our Legacy, and more.)

6:30pm: take it all in with a gorgeous view. Head to the top of the Rundetaarn, or “Round Tower," for unobstructed views of the city.

8pm: dinnertime. The culture around food here is no joke. It is a city that boasts lots of delicious restaurants, but I narrowed it down to a few noteworthy spots. For some of the best eats available, look no further than the Michelin starred Relæ, though you’ll want to make a reservation and be prepared to pay for this level of quality. Located in the Nørrebro area, it’s an intimate space with warm-toned, sleek Danish design, and a menu that will make anyone’s mouth water. Alternatively, the nearby Manfreds & Vin has the same owners, and is just as foodie-friendly without being as pricey. They are known for their wine. Finally, Nose2Tail is a solid option (though vegetarians and vegans should stay at home!), and it is not short on deliciousness or on concept: the entire animal is used to avoid waste, which is where the name comes from.

10pm: unwind with (unpretentious) drinks. For cocktails, I like Salon 39. For a seemingly run-of-the-mill bar with an amazing selection of beer, go to Ørsted Ølbar.

If you're headed to Denmark for Roskilde, consult our Roskilde 2013 Festival Guide for convenient places to eat, sleep, shop, party, and explore convenient to the festival site.

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