With the weather at its very best for exploring Northern Europe right now, Time Out gives you the lowdown on two of its capitals, Copenhagen and Amsterdam.
Once a rough seaport, Copenhagen retains a boho spirit among its temples of New Nordic dining and modern art.
You could walk around central Copenhagen in a morning, but explore a little deeper and it’s easy to spend a whole day doing just one thing. Browse the full length of the pedestrianised shopping street Strøget or take the kids to the Experimentarium – a vast, fully interactive attraction. Take a walk into Christiania, originally set up as a hippy commune that set itself apart from the Danish authorities in the 1970s. It’s cleaner than it used to be, but there are still small workshops, galleries, music venues and cafés to mooch around.
The famous Tivoli Gardens amusement park is a great day out with kids, but it’s expensive; grown-ups should head for the galleries. From the Den Frie Centre of Contemporary Art to the elegantly presented Hirschsprung Collection of nineteenth and twentieth-century Danish work, the city has some great galleries. But the most spectacular is the Louisiana Museum of Modern Art, a short train ride north in Humlebæk. This world-class gallery hosts superb visiting exhibitions and has stunning collections of American and European art, plus a three-floor children’s wing busy with free craft activities. Make sure you spend time by the waterside in Copenhagen, too. It’s an amazing city for canals and its central Lakes (Søerne).
Serious nightlifers head for the meatpacking district in Vesterbro to megaclub KB3 or Bakken, but in the centre, places such as Culture Box attract a cool crowd for live music, art house cinema and even fashion shows, and Vega’s 1950s interiors make a welcoming setting for live music and DJ events. You can tour places like the cosy and unreconstructed bar Lidkøb, in an alley off Vesterbrogade Street, or have a sample at Mikkeller brewery with locations in Vesterbro and Nørrebro, which supplies the city’s top restaurants, including Noma and Kiin Kiin. Or if you have a taste for something more complex, the former quayside of Gammel Strand has swapped its fish sellers for bars.
New Nordic is the thing to order. The two-Michelin-starred Noma, recently voted the second-best restaurant in the world, is situated in a renovated harbour-side warehouse in Christianshavn. It reopens this month, but advanced booking is advised. Geranium might not have made the international splash that Noma has, but it also boasts two Michelin stars, and the views from its eighth-floor location in Fælledparken in the centre of town are as fine as its modern menu. Locals take dining seriously – open sandwiches (smørrebrød) for lunch look like layered works of art, fresh fish seems almost to beckon from glistening dishes and you’ll find a good restaurant if you explore any of the central hubs such as picturesque Nyhavn and trendy Jægersborggade.
High fashion and homegrown designs thrive here. Head to Nørrebro district and go shopping on Elmegade and Jægersborggade. Istedgade is also lined with boutiques and cafés, and runs from Copenhagen Central Station to Enghave Plads.