Copenhagen is a city of quiet grandeur. It isn’t known for its romance, like Paris, or its food, like Rome. It doesn’t always make the ‘Top 10 Places in Europe to Visit’ lists. It doesn’t have Greece’s white sand beaches or London’s underground music scene, but there is still something incredibly unique about it. It’s Europe’s best-kept secret, and it’s stolen my heart forever. If each city is a person, Copenhagen is the effortlessly cool young man sitting in the corner of a candlelight restaurant, dining on delicious food and craft cocktails.
I moved to Copenhagen in the summer of 2014 and to say I went there kicking and screaming is the understatement of the century. For six months, all I dreamed of moving abroad to Europe, but as the date inched closer and closer on my calendar, I freaked out. I had panic attacks daily, wondering how I would make friends, where I would live, and most of all… what if they don’t have sushi?! (I just can’t live without my avocado and cucumber rolls). But as hard as it was to step off a plane into a new foreign city and call it my home, leaving was 10x harder. I had fallen in love with this place of bicycles, brunches, and blondes.
I lived in Copenhagen for a year and was lucky enough to be able to try all the vegan food the city had to offer (which is A LOT). Because it’s impossible to fit all the amazing options in one article, I’ll take you through two days I spent with my friend, Roxy, when she came to visit.
The Copenhagen airport is called CPH. I’m not joking when I say the amount of love I have for this airport almost rivals the amount of love I have for the city itself. It’s clean, organized, and never more than a ten-minute line in security (something us LA folks aren’t used to). Getting to and from the airport is remarkably easy (even the most geographically-challenged travelers can figure it out). The subway picks you up inside the airport, and from there you can take it to the city center.
Roxy landed early Friday morning. We had a few days in Copenhagen before heading to Prague together (another amazing vegan-friendly city), so I wanted to make the most of it.
Before I continue any further, I would need you to know that Copenhagen is the city of brunches. Everywhere you look, restaurants are offering you a ‘brunch plate.’ For around 100 DKK (about 15 USD), you’ll be served an array of cheeses, dips, smoked salmon… you get the picture. The downside is, it isn’t exactly vegan-friendly. Enter Kalaset. My brunch in shining armor. I discovered Kalaset while biking home one day. The retro sign out front made me stop and take a second look, where I could see old fashioned radios mounted on the walls, through the windows.
Upon entering, I was immediately greeted by a condiment bar with homemade jams, ketchup, mustard, and VEGAN NUTELLA. Yes, you read that right. While not entirely vegan, Kalaset offers a fantastic vegan brunch plate and burger. I found Kalaset a few weeks before Roxy’s visit, and I knew this had to be our first stop on the vegan tour of Copenhagen.
After brunch, we headed to Nyhavn, the most iconic view in the city (think colorful buildings along the harbor). We biked there from the city center, taking us about 7 minutes (you can rent a bike on almost any corner in Copenhagen). After snapping a few obligatory touristy pictures, I dragged her past Nyhavn, where they have trampolines built into the sidewalks overlooking the water. Sidenote: Denmark is named the happiest nation in the world, and I like to think that has to do with these trampolines.
After a jumping session and walk along the water, it was time to think about lunch. Neither of us was super hungry after brunch, but we wanted a little nibble, so I took Roxy to 42RAW. A small place on the main shopping street (Strøget) 42RAQ is half takeaway, half eat in and is completely raw and vegan. I went for the veggie lasagna, and I was not disappointed one bit.
It was about 2 when we got on our bikes and went to the little mermaid statue. This statue is one of the most underwhelming, yet strangely famous sites in the world. It was built in honor of Hans Christian Andersen (a fairy tale writer and Danish legend), most famously known for writing the original fairy tale of the little mermaid (spoiler: this one doesn’t end in happily ever after). When we arrived, I could see on everyone’s face that it wasn’t quite what they expected; the statue itself is tiny, and the base area is surrounded by a lot of seaweed and trash (odd for a clean city like Copenhagen). But nevertheless, it is something everyone should see, at least once (or in my case, every time someone came to visit me).
After a rest, we were ready for a night out, so I suggested the restaurant Halifax. I discovered this during my first couple months in Copenhagen, and it became my go-to when I wanted a boozy dinner out with some friends. Its menu is a create your own burger, where you choose a bun, a patty, and toppings. They have a vegan and vegetarian patty, and all the buns are vegan. I had one friend tell me the vegan patty was the best burger of his life (and he’s a carnivore).
Because we had such a big eating out day yesterday, Roxy and I decided to head to Naturbageriet, a vegan bakery in an eastern neighborhood of Copenhagen. They offer a variety of choices, including danishes (which of course, you must have in Denmark).
Pastries in hand, we headed to the harbor near the city center, where we wanted to do some boating. There is a company in Copenhagen called GoBoat, where you can rent a small motorboat (no sailing experience needed) from anywhere between 2-8 people. For a couple of hours, you cruise around the harbor and enjoy the sites. It’s a blast, and an amazing way to see the city. Did I mention there is a picnic table on the boat, so you can eat lunch while on board?
It was our last night in Copenhagen before flying to Prague. For such a special occasion we chose SimpleRaw. A raw, vegan restaurant with beautiful interiors and a sophisticated ambiance. They have an amazingly diverse menu, from poke bowls to burgers, to juice flights, to raspberry cheesecake. Every last thing was scrumptious — two years later and my mouth is still watering at the thought! A must try in Copenhagen!
When you live somewhere, it can be easy to get into a routine and to stop appreciating the beauty of everything around you. Luckily for me, I had friends dropping in and out throughout my year in Denmark, so I always had the chance to see it from a fresh perspective. Copenhagen, I love you.
Have you been to Copenhagen? What cool places did you dine at?
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Photo: Pixabay, Wikimedia Commons, Respective Restaurants