Lagkagehuset (The Cake House)
Danes take bread seriously. On Saturday mornings, expect lines but also delectable rewards at this popular bakery. Situated by a canal in historic Christianshavn, Lagkagehuset sells several versions of rugbrød, the dark and savory rye bread that Danes so love. Top tip: don’t ask for “a Danish”—in Denmark, pastries are known as Viennese bread.
Torvegade 45; lagkagehuset.dk
Not far from Lagkagehuset one can find more alternative pleasures. At this 41-year-old commune, a few kilometers from Parliament, the pot dealing is prolific; the hippie spirit remains pungently alive, and supporters of the utopian ideal can show their love by buying recently issued shares in the Christiania commune. The place includes restaurants, music venues, and a famous bike shop.
Bådsmandsstræde 43; christiania.org
Why are the Danes consistently ranked as the happiest people on earth? The answer may be Carlsberg: “probably the best beer in the world.” Cheeky understatement aside, the brewery has the royal seal of approval and has donated significant pieces of art to the city, among them The Little Mermaid.
Gamle Carlsberg Vej 11; visitcarlsberg.dk
The David Collection
Founded by a lawyer who came to prominence (and wealth) defending the director of Landmandsbanken, the Lehman Brothers of the 1920s, this museum has one of the world’s most important collections of Islamic art. The work spans the eighth to the 19th century and covers the entire classical Islamic world, from Spain to India.
Kronprinsessegade 30; davidmus.dk/en
Champagne recently flowed through Danmarks Radio’s corridors—well, almost. The publicly funded Danish Broadcasting Corp. is flush with success: first came the crime series Forbrydelsen (The Killing); now the political drama Borgen has become the latest international hit. Music lovers should head to DR’s controversial concert hall designed by Jean Nouvel.
Emil Holms Kanal 20;dr.dk/koncerthuset/English
Den Sorte Diamant (The Black Diamond)
The Royal Library’s contemporary wing sparkles on the waterfront. Inside the brilliant building is a treasure trove of material from the 6th century to our present time, including the Søren Kierkegaard Archives. Founded in 1648 by King Frederick III, the library today holds both parchment and e-books.
Søren Kierkegaards Plads 1; kb.dk/en
This gem of a bar is one of the city’s few remaining brune værtshuse, or “brown bars,” where patrons can still light up. (Hence the name—the walls have that lovely nicotine-residue hue.) They offer expansive open hours and a cheap buzz—indeed, as the motto goes: “Everyone can afford to enjoy themselves at Eiffel Bar.”
Wildersgade 58; eiff elbar.dk
Slotskælderen hos Gitte Kik
Forget NOMA. This 1910 lunch restaurant near Parliament offers tried and true herring delicacies, eel and egg sandwiches, and “the veterinarian’s night snack”—black bread with liver pâté, aspic, and salt beef. Thorvald Stauning, the prime minister who won the 1935 election with the persuasive slogan “Stauning or Chaos” before introducing the social-welfare state, was a regular.
With a view of the sea, this is the most visited museum in Denmark—for a reason. Its superb collection of modern art,including significant works by Rauschenberg, Lichtenstein, Giacometti, and Yves Klein, was ingeniously seeded by its founder Knud W. Jensen, who divided the beautiful museum according to his own “sauna principle”: “hot” rooms for well-known artists; “cold” rooms for newer, more “difficult” ones.
Gl. Strandvej 13; louisiana.dk
Rundetårn (The Round Tower)
Built in 1642 by the master builder of Copenhagen King Christian IV, this iconic tower, which houses Europe’s oldest functioning astronomy observatory, rises more than 34 meters above street level. The tower has neither elevator nor stairs but a unique spiral ramp, ascended on horseback by Peter the Great in 1716.
Købmagergade 52A; rundetaarn.dk/en