Danish actor Vibeke Hastrup gives her tips for the best things to see and do in Copenhagen.
Even though I have travelled to many exciting cities all over the world, Copenhagen is still something unique and quite special — a smallish, big city with culture and nature readily at hand.
On the eastern fringes of the city, not far from the airport, you have the vast natural expanse of Amager Faelled, while just north of the city centre, a half hour on the train to Klampenborg, you have the magnificent Dyrehaven, a large expanse of open woodland where hundreds of semi-wild deer roam among the century-old oak trees and undulating hillocks; and where each season has its own special charm. I often go there for an early-morning walk.
Taking the train further north, you reach Humlebaek, the home of Louisianna, one of the most beautiful art galleries I know, where the world-class exhibitions go hand in hand with magnificent gardens sculpted into the coast. In the city centre there are also many beautiful parks. Kongens Have (the King's Garden) is my favourite, with its little castle Rosenborg Slot that houses the crown jewels in the basement.
If it is a culinary experience you are after, Copenhagen is a mecca of food trends and tastes. Crossing the water via the pedestrian bridge to Christianshavn at the Royal Theatre you reach Restaurant 108 and their little coffee bar by the water (the Corner). Both the coffee and the Danish pastries (we call them Vienna Bread) are outstanding. And right around the corner, in the former premises of the world-renowned restaurant Noma, is Restaurant Barr, the creation of my favourite chef, Torsten Schmidt.
If you are more into street food, you need go no further than the waterfront area a few steps away. Or you can go to Refshaleoen, a vast dockland area recently given over by the navy, where street-food park Reffen offers a wide variety of food choices in an other-worldly landscape of old warehouses and shipyards. But Refshaleoen is more than just street food. It is here that the re-incarnated Noma has chosen to relocate. It is also the home of Amass, the exciting restaurant of former Noma chef Mass Orlando.
Not far from Noma and Amass is the quaint watering hole of La Bancina where you can enjoy breakfast, lunch and dinner, or just a cup of coffee or glass of wine by the water. And you can even take a dip from the floating deck there, as you can from many spots in the city, given the good quality of the water in Copenhagen's harbour.
Christiansborg is our parliament — a beautiful old palace with a commanding copper dome. Take the lift up to the tower to get a wonderful view of the city in all directions; and in case you get hungry on the way up, a beautiful restaurant at the top (brainchild of my uncle, the former Speaker of Parliament) offers a wide selection of traditional Danish open sandwiches (smorrebrod). After your meal, don't forget to visit the charming gardens of the Royal Library, the entrance to which is hidden away just opposite Christiansborg.
Denmark is also known for its design, which you can get a sense of all over the city. A visit to the Danish Design Museum is well worthwhile.
Tivoli Gardens is one of Copenhagen's better-known landmarks — well worth the visit for the enchanting gardens more than the amusement park, especially at dusk. The Free City of Christiania is also worth a visit. It's an experiment in alternative forms of living, where those who don't feel they fit into mainstream society have chosen to set up home. Be prepared to be open-minded.
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And last but not least, you must take a canal trip where you can experience Copenhagen from the water in all its glory.
Vibeke Hastrup stars in Straight Forward, TVNZ's first Danish/New Zealand co-production, playing on TVNZ OnDemand from June 24