Europe

Copenhagen city break for a calming holiday in a Hygge hotspot

For me, Copenhagen epitomises effortless Scandi chic, clean living and free-spirited thinking.

The last time I was on a Copenhagen city break, I took a brisk dip in the open-air Islands Brygge Harbour Baths, wandered around the self-governed commune of Christiania and bobbed across the water in a floating hot tub.

It was easy to see why Denmark is regularly reported to have the world’s happiest residents. Its capital just has so much going for it: from its waste-management plant with hiking trails and a ski slope on its roof to the wide cycling lanes and pedestrianised streets.

Every time I visit there’s something new to discover, but for now here are my happy places in the hub of hygge.

What to see in Copenhagen

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From a self-governed commune to coral-shaped harbour baths, interesting days here are guaranteed.

Don’t miss:

Amalienborg Palace

If you’re a first-timer in the city, get your cultural fix at the more than 200-year-old home of the Danish royal family. Visit around noon so you can catch the pomp-filled Changing of the Guard ceremony.

Nyhavn

This is hands-down the most colourful area of Copenhagen. The Crayola-hued 17th-century townhouses lining the canal in the tourist centre of Nyhavn never fail to brighten my mood (or my Snapchat Stories). Rent a solar-powered, self-drive GoBoat to see the famous buildings from the water.

Drop by:

Strøget

As one of the longest pedestrianised streets in Europe, shop-filled Strøget in the Old Town is a dream for sourcing Scandi-made staples. Check out the Danish designer Mads Nørgaard store – it’s where I stock up on sleek wardrobe-essentials. I love heading to Illums Bolighus for artfully made homewares, too.

Freetown Christiania

This curiosity-piquing enclave within a 30-minute walk of the city centre is technically its own country. The self-governed – and pretty gritty – the area is a hub for artists and hosts funky workshops that you can dip in and out of. Support the community at the veggie cooperative café, Morgenstedet, just outside the main thoroughfare.

Escape the crowds:

CopenHill

Newly built in 2019, the CopenHill waste-management plant has a dry-ski slope on its side and hiking trails offering soul-stirring views of the Øresund strait. Make sure to swing by the climbing wall – it’s the tallest on the planet!

Sluseholmen

This up-and-coming district south of the old city has a set of harbour baths inspired by the shape of coral. Cycle to the area via the 13-kilometre Harbor Ring (Havneringen) for glittering water views all the way along.

Top tip: During a cooler Copenhagen weekend break, head back to the main harbour to swap bracing swims for a hot soak in CopenHot’s floating hot tub.

Hotels in Copenhagen

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Where to stay in Copenhagen

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Copenhagen boasts an impressive number of hotel experiences – from a fairytale hotel inside an antique theme park to a contemporary classic.

Hotels in Copenhagen

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Moorish architecture in an antique theme park

Forget the Little Mermaid statue: this classic fairytale hotel is where the magic’s at on a Copenhagen city break. Outside, it’s all handsome Moorish arches and towers. Inside, the grand arched windows, cosy four-poster beds and crackling fireplaces instantly draw your eye.

But my favourite part? The rooftop pool (closely followed by the cake shop). Take time out at the retro Tivoli Gardens theme park, which now opens in winter. This hotel’s right inside!

Nimb Hotel

Top rated
Copenhagen, 2.7 km to Amager Centret
9.1 Excellent (315 reviews)
Excellent Cleanliness 9.5 / 10
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Contemporary design and Nordic decor

All glass and aluminium, the AC Hotel Bella Sky is quite the futuristic addition to the city’s landscape. Its twin towers are connected by a bridge suspended high up in the sky. Step inside to appreciate the Scandi interiors in light tones and streamlined shapes, from the spacious lobby to the Nordic restaurant. Details in rooms are as Danish as the design scheme – expect Arne Jacobsen lamps, Bang & Olufsen TVs and HAY sofas.

AC Hotel Bella Sky Copenhagen

Copenhagen, 3.1 km to Amager Centret
8.3 Very good (18372 reviews)
Excellent Building 8.9 / 10
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A modern classic with a rooftop restaurant

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Hotel Ottilia is an easy pick for Copenhagen city breaks in the new Carlsberg district of the city. It’s right inside the Danish beer brand’s old brewery with repurposed grain silos and malt chambers contrasting against a triple-storey X-ray light display.

Sip sundowners at the stylish rooftop restaurant and bar – it hosts a free wine hour every day! A fun fact to share with your travel partners as you sip: this is one of the first hotels in the world with self-cleaning rooms.

Ottilia

Copenhagen, 4.5 km to Amager Centret
8.7 Excellent (388 reviews)
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Stay right in the city centre on your Copenhagen city break

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With its chic rooms livened up by exposed wood beams and twisting staircases, 71 Nyhavn exudes a sense of laidback luxury. Choose a space with harbour views to admire the water from your bed. Or linger in the lobby checking out the art: the hotel has an impressive collection of Cobra movement works.

The in-house SEA by Kiin Kiin restaurant – a spinoff of a Michelin-starred eatery – is a must-visit for innovative Asian food. I was blown away by the tender lobster topped with a frozen curl of red curry ice cream.

71 Nyhavn Hotel

Copenhagen, 2 km to Amager Centret
7.6 Good (4062 reviews)
Excellent Location 9.4 / 10
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Where to eat and drink in Copenhagen

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From a rooftop garden to a politically minded restaurant.

Don’t miss:

Reffen

A former shipyard on the old industrial Refshaleøen island has been given a new lease of life as the largest food market in the Nordic nations. Feast on Danish open-face sandwiches liberally topped with aromatic herbs from S’morebread (very possibly my most favourite thing about Copenhagen!).

Ørsted Ølbar

Craft beer’s risen stratospherically in the city, making room for one of the best bars in Copenhagen with its choice of 20 taps and 200 bottles. Try a super-informative tasting session at this spot – it’s the main reason I now know my IPAs from my APAs!

Drop by:

Noma

This boundary-breaking Michelin-starred restaurant closed in 2017 but has now reopened with a fresh seasonal concept. Word of warning: you’ll need to book a table months in advance!

The Alchemist

This much-talked-about eatery is receiving fanfare for its political statements as well as its food. Head Chef Rasmus Munk recently served diners fish coated in edible plastic as a commentary on our polluted oceans. Experiences here can last six hours!

Escape the crowds:

ØsterGRO

Initiatives like ØsterGRO are cementing Copenhagen’s status as a sustainable city. This community-based rooftop also serves food at its Gro Spiseri eatery. Sit down for a six-course meal inside a greenhouse between opening months March and November.

Kulturtårnet

For panoramic harbour views on a cold day, I cosy up in Kulturtårnet, a café set in a 1930s copper bridge tower. The last time I was there on one of my Copenhagen breaks, so was a cutting-edge pop-up restaurant. Check the website to see if you can time your visit for one of the regular events.

Hotels in Copenhagen

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Feature image courtesy of studiolaska / stock.adobe.com


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