Ever wish you could text the most stylish people in the world to ask them for their lists of things to do in the places they know best? W’s new travel column can handle that for you. We’re bringing you all of the insider intel you crave, from the destinations you’re dreaming of—broken down into the categories that really matter: Who, What, Where, When, and Why. These are travel tips for those who would never be caught dead in a tourist trap. Bon voyage!
We asked three of Copenhagen’s most stylish denizens for their thoughts: Ditte Reffstrup, Creative Director and Co-founder of the ultimate cool-girl label Ganni; Stine Goya, a designer whose eponymous brand is known for its colorful prints and shimmering textures, and Cecilie Bahnsen, also a fashion designer, whose playfully voluminous party dresses have become a staple for creative types worldwide.
What to Bring
Layers, layers, and more layers. Even during the summer months, “you can never be too sure about the weather,” says Goya, so pack a warm sweater or a light jacket in case. Also essential: a pair of comfy sneakers for walking and biking, a swimsuit for impromptu harbor swims, and a tote bag for all of your shopping.
What to Keep in Mind
There’s no Uber in Copenhagen, but it doesn’t matter: the capital city’s intimate scale makes it perfect for exploring on foot, via metro, or on two wheels. Bahnsen recommends using the bike share app Donkey Republic, which has deals on rentals ranging from a single day to a full week. But make sure you follow the laws of the land: “A little tip is to raise your hand when you want to stop on the biking lanes, that goes a long way in the flow of the biking traffic,” says Goya. Reffstrup, on the other hand, recommends avoiding bike lanes during rush hour altogether. “Danes can get pretty feisty and temperamental about traffic,” she says. “It’s no joke!”
Where to Stay
The Sanders Hotel, located just behind the Royal Danish Theater, was at the top of both Reffstrup and Goya’s lists. With several restaurants and bars and a warm, high-design vibe, it’s the perfect launchpad for a visit to the city. Also on their lists: the colorful, eclectic 25hours Hotel (near the Noerreport Station) or Central Hotel on Tullinsgade på Vesterbro. “It quite literally just has one room on top of a tiny café,” says Reffstrup. “It’s a really cute stay.”
Where to Start the Day
Chef Frederik Bille Brahe’s Atelier September is a go-to breakfast spot for the fashion crowd. “The coffee is as perfect as the food, and the matcha green omelet is a must-try,” says Reffstrup.
For a fantastic cardamom bun (a local specialty), try Flere Fugle Bakery, in the northwest part of the city (“They serve sourdough pizza and natural wine in the evenings, too,” notes Reffstrup.) Goya picks up her morning cup at Original Coffee, which has several locations around town. Bahnsen’s young son favors the blueberry pancakes at Dallas Coffee, a cheerful spot with a diner-inspired interior.
Where to Eat
“I love Italo Café on Værnedamsvej—they are famous for their octopus panini—and their sister restaurant Italo Thai, which is a fusion kitchen of Italian and Thai,” says Reffstrup. “It sounds a bit out there, but it’s the best.” For Goya, Lunden, a restaurant in a courtyard in Nørrebro is the perfect embodiment of Danish culture. “It reminds me of traditional garden and street parties, where local communities gather around a fresh meal and a glass of natural wine. Their grilled sea bass is a must-try.” Nearby, there’s also Cleo, “a casual eatery with a very affordable 8-course menu,” says Goya. “The ambience goes from casual dinner vibes to a more festive mood, with DJs playing later in the evening.”
For the best vegetarian food in town, Bahnsen recommends Baka D’busk. Her go-to lunch spot near her atelier is Et Cetera, a casual canteen that serves the best Tamago Sando (a Japanese egg sandwich) in town. Also not to be missed: the casual Vietnamese spot Pho Hanoi, Iluka for an amazing seafood tasting menu, and Goldfinch for elevated Cantonese fare (“the Lychee Martini is not to be overlooked,” Bahnsen says).
Where to Shop
Vintage lovers will be pleased to hear that the city has an excellent selection. Reffstrup and Goya both point to Jerome Vintage as best in class. They stock home decor, contemporary accessories and chic beauty products in addition to hard-to-find pieces by Chanel, Gaultier, and Saint Laurent. Reffstrup also loves Time’s Up Vintage (for a more colorful, high-glam edit) and Paloma Vintage (for an eclectic yet wearable mix).
Looking for pieces by Bahnsen, Goya and their high fashion contemporaries? You’ll find them alongside the likes of Missoni and Rachel Comey at Lot #29, or Nanushka and Proenza Schouler at Damernes Magasin. (If you’re on the hunt for some Ganni straight from the source, there are several boutiques around town, including the flagship.) For a dizzying array of art books displayed in a chic, minimalist space, Le Petit Voyeur is Bahnsen’s choice. She also loves Paustian, for the best of Danish design and homewares.
Where to Look at Art
Some of the most exciting museums require a quick trip outside of the city. The Louisiana Museum of Modern Art is a 45-minute train ride from Copenhagen and home to a spectacular collection that ranges from Giacometti to Kusama, displayed both inside the Danish modernist building and spread across gardens that stretch down to the coast. “Their exhibitions are always so captivating and the place itself is breathtaking,” says Goya. “I would definitely prioritize going there on a sunny day to get both the art and the panoramic experience — you can see Sweden from the garden!” The Arken Museum of Modern Art, in Ishøj (40 minutes by train in the other direction) specializes in Danish and Scandinavian postwar art in a striking architectural setting.
There are also plenty of places to peruse within the city limits. For contemporary art, Bahnsen loves V1 Gallery in the Meatpacking District; the recently opened Sharp Projects, run by the American curator Ilethia Sharp; or Galleri Nicolai Wallner. For design, Goya says Etage Projects is the place to spot up-and-coming talent.
Where to Unwind
If you’re looking to get a massage or a facial while you’re in town, both Bahnsen and Goya recommend Ara’kai Beauty, in the city center. “It’s such an oasis,” says Goya. “They offer an array of treatments that focus on mindful clean beauty with natural products.”
Where to Get Some Fresh Air
Copenhagen is known for its abundant green spaces and pristine waterfront. Goya recommends Østre Anlæg for a quick dose of nature, or, for a day trip north of the city, Dyrehaven, a preserve known for its regal oak trees and wild deer. Bahnsen loves the Botanical Gardens, the sprawling Frederiksberg Gardens, or the Kastellet, a former citadel where visitors can explore historic buildings, including a 19th century windmill, and walk along shaded paths. If you have the time, Reffstrup recommends booking a boat ride along the city’s coastline. “I love being on the water and seeing the city from that angle. There is something so magical about all the fresh air and water that surrounds Copenhagen.”
In most major cities, locals might balk at the idea of taking a dip in any nearby body of water. But in Copenhagen, the harbors and canals are famously clean. Bahnsen swims year-round, off Nordhavnen harbor (For the most peaceful experience there, Nordhavnstippen is a bit calmer than the surrounding area). She also likes Charlottenlund Søbad, or, when en route to the Louisiana Museum, making a pit stop for a dip at the Skodsborg Spa Hotel.
Where to Have a Drink
Bahnsen loves Bird for experimental cocktails in a beautiful wooden interior. She also recommends Bar Vivant, a casual, vibey spot with a great natural wine selection, or Ved Stranden 10, for canal-side seating. For a stellar list of Italian bottles, head to Nebbiolo, a cozy bar near Kongens Nytorv (The King’s New Square). “During the winter, their indoor space is perfect for a date night, and during the summer, you can sit outside and people watch. If you get hungry, they serve a delicious aperitivo board,” says Goya. For a nightcap, Reffstrup recommends Amigo Bar. “It’s a bit of a time capsule. There’s a jukebox in the corner and you can still smoke inside,” she says. “The mood is always good and you are guaranteed to see someone dancing on a table.”
Where to Stay Up Late
For a big night out, Goya recommends heading to the Meatpacking District in Vesterbro. “There are many bars, restaurants and clubs, so you can just pick and choose a place depending on your mood. I like the brewery Åben. During summertime, you can sit outside on their benches and enjoy a cold beer.” If you still feel like dancing when it closes at 2 A.M., you’ll be near all of the best dance spots.
Everyone agrees that summer is when Copenhagen comes alive. It doesn’t get dark until around 11pm, so days have an endless feel, and the cultural calendar is packed with events like the 3 Days of Design in June and CHART Art Fair in August, which Bahnsen says are not to be missed. “The streets are so lively, there are concerts around the city, people swim in the harbors and the nights are light and sprawling,” says Goya. Reffstrup notes: “We rarely travel over the summer because there is nothing quite like it here.”
“It’s Copenhagen’s many facets that make it so special,” says Goya. “Copenhagen is ideal for someone who wants the vibrancy of a capital city, with the healing and soothing qualities of nature in close proximity.” For Reffstrup, it’s all about the people and the atmosphere. “We are a tiny little village in comparison to cities like London, Paris and New York and I guess that’s the charm,” she says. “We are the cheeky little sister, the one you have all the fun with!”