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Fantastic walks in Copenhagen by HOLIDAY MAGAZINE & DELSEY PARIS
Copenhagen is an eminently walkable city thanks to its small size and concentration of attractions. These three areas definitely merit a stroll: Værnedamsvej, or Little Paris, a chic shopping street with restaurants and cafés; Kødbyen, the meatpacking district, with its industrial architecture, effervescent nightlife and wealth of galleries and restaurants; and the picturesque Nyhavn and Christianshavn canals, where cultural venues abound. Walk on!
A street only 200 meters long, Værnedamsvej is known as “Little Paris” not because of any real connection but because it reminds the Danes of the special atmosphere of the French capital, with its small clothing and food boutiques, cafés and restaurants.
To take full advantage of the Francophile ambiance, start your day with breakfast at Granola (no. 5), where old French advertising posters on the walls and the display of croissants and pains au chocolat on the counter will immediately transport you to Paris, although you’ll also be able to indulge in omelets and healthy yogurt-granola-fruit bowls and, in another French touch, croque-madames or monsieurs. Granola is also open for lunch and dinner.
Now that you are fueled up, it’s time to shop. If it’s jewelry you’re after, backtrack a few doors to no. 1, where Maanesten sells kicky Danish-designed costume jewelry and accessories at reasonable prices.
You can’t go home without a sample of Danish design and a few gifts, so pop into Dora (no. 6), an interior design shop that carries a delightful selection of both vintage and new objects. If you want to brighten up your hotel room, pick up an original bouquet at Blomster Bjarne (no. 4A)
A number of international brands can be found on Værnedamsvej, but for a more Scandinavian look stressing simplicity, durability and quality, visit the store of the popular Samsøe Samsøe (no. 12).
Restaurants of every national cuisine abound: American, Italian, Thai, Chinese (at the highly rated and highly popular Kiin Kiin Bao Bao, no. 14), and other Asian (at the cozy, lively Hanzō, no. 14), but if you want to stay in Parisian mode, try Les Trois Cochons (no. 10), with its French bistro decor and classic French cooking.
The redeveloped industrial area Kødbyen (Meatpacking District), in Vesterbro, still retains some of its original character as a center for the meat industry, with butcher’s shops continuing to operate alongside trendy galleries, restaurants, bars and nightclubs that attract a youthful, creative crowd.
Kødbyen is divided into three sections, identified by the color of the buildings and developed at different times: the “brown” meat city (Brune Kødby, 1883), which housed the original slaughterhouses and cattle markets; the “white” city (Hvide Kødby, 1934), famed for its functionalist architecture; and the smaller “gray” (Grå Kødby) city, an extension of the brown city. Because the buildings in the brown and white sections are listed as national industrial heritage sites, their facades cannot be altered, which means that you may not see the name of the building’s current business on a sign outside.
Take the time to explore the many tempting places you pass on this walk. Start by paying a visit to the Eighteen Gallery at Slagtehusgade 18c in the gray area, still the most authentically “meaty” part of the district. This gallery with a cool vibe shows contemporary art by emerging and established artists.
Stroll around Slagtehusgade to soak up the atmosphere, then head toward Flæsketorvet in the white section. If it’s time to consume some of the local products, stop at Warpigs (no. 25-37) for melt-in-the-mouth Texas-style barbecue and craft beers, with 20 on tap.
If meat is not your bag, try Kødbyens Fiskebar (Flæsketorvet 100), which serves nothing but high-quality Danish seafood and knows how to pair its inventive fish dishes with wine. Located in a former slaughterhouse, it has a minimal-chic interior with a circular fish tank in the center, black tables and white china.
To capture a little of the spirit of the area when it was still full of abattoirs, have a drink at Mesteren & Lærlingen (meaning “master and apprentice,” Flæsketorvet 86), a small bar (where a real butcher might actually show up after work), which turns into a popular club at night.
For more culture or just a rest and a coffee after eating, stop in at Space 10 (Flæsketorvet 10), a research and research and design lab with a library, gallery (with shows like “The Ideal City 2040”) and various events open to the public Monday-Thursday, 9 AM-5PM.
Nyhavn and Christianshavn
The canal in Nyhavn, once a rough-and-ready area where sailors from around the world took their shore-leave pleasure, is now one of the most picturesque spots in Copenhagen, lined with brightly colored 17th-and-18th-century townhouses overlooking restored historic ships in the canal.
A good meeting place and starting point for a walk is the Mindeankret (Memorial Anchor, Nyhavn 1F), located at the foot of the canal, a real anchor from a naval frigate installed in 1951 in honor of sailors who died during World War II.
Stroll down the left (northern) side of the canal, noting that the oldest building, dating from 1681, is at no. 9. and that Hans Christian Anderson (1805-75) himself lived here in three different buildings at various times (no. 18, 20 and 67).
This side of the canal is lined with cafés and restaurants. Take your pick or bring a picnic or drinks and enjoy them while sitting by the water.
When you get to the end, turn left on Kvæsthusgade and walk past the impressive modern building of the Skuespilhuset (Royal Danish Playhouse), which juts out into the water. Built in 2008, it was designed by the Danish architectural firm Lundgaard & Tranberg, which also redesigned the pier Ofelia Plads, just beyond the theater, a staging ground for all kinds of cultural events. The wide steps of the Kyssetrappen (Kissing Stairs) lead down to the water and provide audience seating for concerts held on boats and a convenient spot for sunbathing in the summer.
From the bridge over the Nyhavn Canal, it’s a 15-minute walk to Christianshavn, which has its own canals lined with restaurants and houseboats, and is home to the Royal Danish Opera House (another amazing modern building on the water, designed by Henning Larsen Architects) and Freetown Christiania, the famous car-free, self-governed enclave on a former military base (squatted by hippies and anarchists in 1971), where still-illegal marijuana is sold openly.