15 reasons to love Copenhagen
Copenhagen’s canals are the perfect way to view the city. (BBC)
Surprising, artistic, experimental and cosmopolitan, the Danish capital overflows with cafés, culture and history.
1. Art blooms in the city ‘Florist’ doesn’t do justice to Tage Andersen. Over a glittering 40-year career, the renowned Danish artist has carved out an international reputation through his ground-breaking garden sculptures, and a visit to his Copenhagen shop is like stepping straight into the pages of a Hans Christian Andersen fairytale. Every inch of space is covered with Tage’s outlandish creations: exotic blooms, weird foliage, sinuous sculptures and twisted trees, while hidden away behind the shop is a secret courtyard, complete with a Gothic gazebo and tweeting songbirds. Genius is really not too strong a word for the mind behind it all. Tage Andersen (Ny Adelgade 12; tage-andersen.com)
2. The Danes know how to play Founded in 1843 by the entrepreneur Georg Carstensen, Tivoli Gardens remains one of the city’s most recognisable landmarks, not to mention an integral feature of every Danish childhood. ‘Everyone in Denmark has been to Tivoli at least once,’ explains Maria Poulson, who works at Tivoli. ‘We get all from toddlers and teenagers right through to people in their 70s and 80s looking to recapture a little piece of their childhood.’ In contrast to the commercial clutter of most theme parks, Tivoli has clung on to much of its 19th-century atmosphere. Alongside the modern rides and Michelinstarred restaurants, the gardens are dotted with antique dodgems, vintage Ferris wheels (above) and twirling merry-gorounds. The oriental theatre, built in 1874, stages ballets and Pierrot pantomimes, while oompah bands serenade visitors from beneath the willow trees, and Chinese lanterns twinkle in the branches overhead. ‘Visitors are often surprised by how different Tivoli feels to other theme parks they have been to,’ continues Maria. ‘You only have to look at people’s faces as they walk through the gates to realise there’s something really magical about this place.’ Tivoli Gardens (Vesterbrogade 3; tivoli.dk)
3. There’s an urban beach You might not think of Copenhagen as a beach destination, but three miles south of the centre is one of Denmark’s finest stretches of sand: Amager Strandpark (right), a vast white beach extending along a sheltered lagoon, backed by gentle dunes and marram grass. It’s popular all year round with cyclists and rollerbladers, and come summer it’s awash with sunbathers. Be warned, though: swimming is best left for the steely, as the water temperature is only ever bracing at best. Amager Strandpark (amager-strand.dk)
4. Food is a performance Copenhagen’s gastronomic reputation has undergone a quiet renaissance over the last decade, a fact underscored in 2010 when Réné Redzepi’s Noma, in the canal quarter of Christianshavn, was named Best Restaurant In The World by the influential industry journal Restaurant Magazine. It’s now almost impossible to score a table at Noma, but it’s just one of many places pushing back the city’s culinary boundaries. At 1.th (the name means ‘first floor to the right’), lodged inside a luxurious apartment just off Copenhagen’s harbour front, owner Mette Martinussen has created a dining experience halfway between a posh dinner party and a piece of live performance. Diners are sent their ‘invitation’ by email and mingle over drinks in the retro drawing room, before being ushered through to watch the head chef and his team at work in the kitchencum- dining room (above). The food is as flamboyant as the concept, taking in everything from pork with seaweed and horseradish foam to beetroot and liquorice ice cream. ‘There’s a move towards a more adventurous, creative style of cooking,’ notes head chef Jonas Christensen. ‘It’s important to keep pushing to discover new ideas.’ l Noma (Strandgade 93; noma.dk), 1.th (Herluf Trollesgade 9; 1th.dk)
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