With its stunning architecture, groundbreaking culinary scene, and sustainable approach to innovation, Denmark’s capital of Copenhagen has an enviable livability. As the cultural and design powerhouse of Scandinavia, the city represents timelessness over trends; with a laid-back elegance that seeps into all corners of its urban fabric.
There are many reasons as to why Copenhagen is such a desirable city. From its walkable and bikeable compact size—thanks in part to its revolutionary urban planning scheme, a movement led by pioneering architects and city planners including Jan Gehl—to its pristinely clean harbor waters, iconic art galleries, and mix of royal history and architectural pearls. Originally a Viking fishing village in the 10th century, the site became the capital of Denmark in the early 15th century, and quickly consolidated itself as the cultural and economic center of Scandinavia. Despite its often harsh weather, today’s Copenhagen is a city of infinite pleasure; perhaps because it has perfected a sound work-life balance and the concept of ‘Hygge’, a mood regarding comfortability that cannot be translated to one single word in English. In the guide that follows, we’ve composed a list of our favorite locations for you to visit for each of the five IGNANT Travel categories: Eat, Sleep, Shop, Art, and Culture. Narrowing them down was effortful, considering the city is brimming with venues filled with wonder and delight—so here are our top picks: come with a curiosity for experience, stay for the cultural marvels.
Gråbrødretorv 16 1154 Copenhagen, Denmark
Nyhavn 2, 1051 København, Denmark
Refshalevej 96, 1432 København K, Denmark
Århusgade 130 2150 København, Denmark
Skudehavnsvej 1, 2100 Copenhagen, Denmark
Vipp Chimney House
Strandøre 5, 2100 Copenhagen, Denmark
Ny Østergade 11, 1101 Copenhagen, Denmark
Frama Studio Store
Fredericiagade 57, 1310 Copenhagen, Denmark
Studio Oliver Gustav
Kastelsvej 18, 2100 Copenhagen, Denmark
Louisiana Museum of Modern Art
Gl Strandvej 13, 3050 Humlebæk, Denmark
Refshalevej 173A, 1432 Copenhagen, Denmark
Ny Carlsberg Glyptotek Dantes Plads, Copenhagen
På Bjerget 14B, 2400 Copenhagen, Denmark
The Round Tower
Købmagergade 52A, 1150, Copenhagen, Denmark
Copenhagen Harbour, Denmark
WHO: Apollo Bar
WHEN: Wed – Sat: 10:00 – 24:00, Sun, Tues: 10:00 – 17:00
WHAT: Tucked away in the picturesque courtyard of the historic cultural institution Kunsthal Charlottenborg is Apollo Bar: a seasonal bistro, cafe, and restaurant by celebrated Danish chef Frederik Bille Brahe. The venue is located within the walls of the arts complex along the iconic Nyhavn canal, with two bright rooms featuring double-height ceilings and generous windows: the main building, available for breakfast all the way through to night caps with live music, and the Kantine, where a vegetarian lunch is served on weekdays for the students from the academy of fine arts (and everyone else).
WHEN: Wed – Sat: 10:00 – 24:00, Sun, Tues: 10:00 – 17:00
WHAT: We couldn’t talk about Danish cuisine without mentioning Noma—who has yet again received the world’s best restaurant title. René Redzepi’s groundbreaking destination restaurant showcases some extraordinary Danish craftsmanship through its complex design details—yet more impressive still is its overall aesthetic: an understated and atmospheric space more akin to that of a chic farmhouse than of a traditional hospitality venue. Enlisting the design expertise of BIG Architects and Studio David Thulstrup, Noma exemplifies that beauty doesn’t require cutting-edge innovation to be impressive; it lies in the attention to detail in craft, materiality, and execution.
WHEN: Mon – Sat: 17:30 – late
WHAT: Yaffa takes its gastronomic concept and its Arabic name from the ancient port city in Tel Aviv; offering a Middle East-inspired sharing menu in an inviting, contemporary setting. The Danish design studio Frama was responsible for its interior, which was transformed from a concrete basement into a refined yet relaxed eatery, with warm tones and textured surfaces. Plates range from cold starters like codfish ceviche with fresh figs, dukkah and chilli-dusted hummus, and salty halloumi with parsley and zaalouk, to warmer dishes including grilled octopus with harissa cauliflower, and roasted chicken with eggplant and coriander.
WHO: The Audo
WHAT: A hybrid hotel and concept store, The Audo consists of 10 refined boutique hotel suites, a café, restaurant, co-working space, concept store, and headquarters of Danish design brand MENU. Designed in collaboration with Norm Architects, each room is filled with a gallery of artworks and custom-design objects— think white boucle sofas, marble coffee tables, and richly-colored velvet and leather armchairs. Each of the sophisticated, earth-toned suites complement the building’s historic character.
WHO: The Krane
WHAT: Among the industrial landscape of the harborside of Nordhavn sits this hotel, named for its obvious visual and designed and built by Mads Møller from Arcgency. The former coal crane has been renovated into an immersive and multisensory experience, comprised of a private retreat, meeting spaces, and a spa, all in an old engine room. In contrast to the dark design that envelopes the majority of The Krane’s interior, the spa is clad in stone, with two oversized bathtubs aligned against an immense glass wall, which offers a singular view of the ocean and the harbor.
WHO: Vipp Chimney House
WHAT: Within the walls of a century-old water pumping station with a 35-meter tall towering chimney, lies a two-bedroom guesthouse designed by renowned architect David Thulstrup, the aforementioned interior designer of Noma. With this project, Thulstrup created a 200 square-meter loft apartment featuring two bathrooms, a study, a library, and a large open plan space, with a fully equipped Vipp Kitchen and a dramatic U-shaped steel staircase dividing the dining and living zones. A stay inside this historical landmark offers a one-off design experience in a home-away-from-home setting.
WHO: Rue Verte
WHAT: A stunning interior design studio, showroom, and boutique showcasing the best of Danish design, with timelessly handcrafted furniture, lighting, and understated objects. The studio casts its focus on designing residential and professional spaces that are both contemporary and classical, serene and sophisticated, and balance beauty and function with a sense of wellbeing. The Copenhagen boutique is decorated with multiple home spaces for visitors to preview as potential living areas, with custom offerings in addition to their interior and decorating services.
WHO: Frama Studio Store
WHAT: The celebrated multidisciplinary studio Frama has a beautiful showroom and headquarters housed in an Apotek from the late 1800s. Here, Frama hosts a full calendar of open events and collaborative gatherings, as well as art and design installations. The space is the physical embodiment of the brand: here, the original dark wood interior and delicate antique shelving contrasts against wood, concrete, and steel. Within the stunning shelves lie Frama’s apothecary collection: including hand care, hair care, and their premier eau de parfum range, with scents like earthy sandalwood and herbaceous florals.
WHO: Studio Oliver Gustav
WHAT: A remarkable showroom and store in Copenhagen’s upscale neighborhood Østerbro. The space, still fitted with its original arched skylights and wooden floorboards, has a moody atmosphere that perfectly complements the sophisticated, textural pieces. A truly unique space to visit in Copenhagen, here you can find one-off pieces such as the iconic 1970s Ultra Fragola squiggle mirror by Ettore Sottsass, sandstone sculptures, and vases by Rick Owens.
WHAT: Half an hour north of Copenhagen in the sleepy coastal village of Humlebæk, lies one of the world’s most respected and sensational art experiences: the Louisiana Museum of Modern Art, a groundbreaking institution set inside a major work of Danish modernist architecture. What makes the Louisiana so unique however is not only its world-class art collection, but the unassuming setting in which the works are presented. An 1870s villa, surrounded by three modernist pavilions, is connected by glass-walled passages set amidst a sprawling sculpture park at the edge of the Øresund, called the Sound in English; a strait which looks out to southern Sweden.
WHAT: One of Scandinavia’s largest venues for modern art, Copenhagen Contemporary occupies what used to be a welding hall in a former factory area, offering over 7000 square meters of industrial halls as minimal backdrops for the artworks on display. Inside, large-scale installations, performance art, and monumental video works are featured; immersive art that can be experienced with all of the senses. Check out permanent works by Bruce Nauman, Yoko Ono, Claudia Comte, and Elmgreen & Dragset, among others.
WHAT: An astonishing art museum in the capital—revered equally for its elegant architecture as it is for its ancient sculpture collections and iconic paintings. The focal point of the grand museum is the compilation of over 10,000 sculptures from ancient cultures, along with the French Collection—French impressionist and post-impressionist artworks, such as masterpieces by Matisse and Monet. The museum’s form comes together through three buildings built as a series of galleries that connect via a Winter Garden with mosaic floors and tall palms. The museum is located centrally just a five minute walk from Copenhagen Central Station and City Hall Square.
WHAT: A sustainable, moveable, open-air bath for swimming that floats in Copenhagen’s crystal clear harbor—a cute, safe, and clever concept for year-round bathing in the city’s waterfront. The structure is equipped with an adjustable bottom which can be lifted up and down according to season and needs. As opposed to the permanent bathing zones in the Port of Copenhagen, Dyppezone is a small mobile unit that can easily move around the harbor, either in the existing bathing zones or in connection with events and saunas set up on the quayside.
WHO: Grundtvigs Church
WHAT: The Protestant Grundtvig’s Church is a monumental Gothic-style church built in the 1920s and 1930s. The exterior is constructed from six million bricks laid by hand; a single pillar alone contains roughly 30,000 bricks. They are assembled together to form a shape reminiscent of a church organ, creating a distinctive and towering facade. Inside, the nave ascends to a soaring 72 feet high, presenting an awe-inspiring space for quiet contemplation. To this day, the church remains a unique example of expressionist architecture and a fascinating stop on your day out.
WHAT: This former astronomical observatory tower was built by King Christian IV of Denmark in 1642. It is known for its curving geometry, beautiful windows, and spiralling staircase: with a 7.5-turn helical corridor leading to a rooftop viewing platform, measuring at 34 meters above ground. Head to the top for expansive views out over Copenhagen’s old town. The 17th century Rundetårn as it is known in Danish, is the oldest functioning observatory in Europe. As a new attraction, visitors can now see the core of the tower when you stand on the glass plate that hovers 25 meters above the ground.