Copenhagen Contemplations

As I sit in a cafe back in Stockholm, I have begun reflecting on my time in Copenhagen. A beautiful city sitting on the eastern coast of the Danish island Sjælland, it is filled with signature colorful houses and a maze of canals and ships, constantly moving against the cool summer breeze and endless sunlight. Throughout my time there, I was able to discover a variety of unique cafes, restaurants, and some of the best museums I have visited.

As an art lover, Copenhagen certainly was the place to be. I was able to go to two of the best art museums in Scandinavia, the Glyptotek and the Statens Museum for Kunst (National Museum of Denmark). Both museums focused on different art and offered a unique experience.

The Glyptotek museum is a famous “safe haven” from the hustle of downtown Copenhagen. The building itself is a work of art. Renowned as one of the greatest statue museums, the museum has hundreds of statues and paintings I could have spent many hours exploring. I went there as a Field Study for my class “The Good Life”, but after class was done I found myself wandering, admiring the stunning architecture and gardens outside.

I’m lucky enough to be living near the center city in Copenhagen for session 2, so it was only a few minutes walk from my dorm to the Statens Museum for Kunst, often called SMK, which is the national museum of art. This national gallery holds European, Nordic, and French paintings from as early as 1300 b.c. I was also lucky enough to see the temporary “Baroque: Out of Darkness” exhibit, which featured baroque art that personified the best and worst of humankind. I loved this museum, and I would be lying if I said I did not spend many hours there, including the amazing café and gift shop.

I think I could live there amongst the art. 

One place that felt like an art museum was the Christiansborg Palace. Since the palace is still used for state functions, the staff are strict about cleanliness, and will ask you to wear shoe covers and refrain from touching anything. It felt very surreal walking through the rooms where royalty, presidents, ambassadors, and great minds have walked, ate, and danced. The palace is very ornate and houses a plethora of art and tapestries that makes it an intriguing place to visit, especially for an art lover like me.

My favorite museum for history was a rather underrated one, the Museum of Danish Resistance. The museum has guests follow through the lives of five Danish citizens during World War II, who became resistance fighters and contributed to the cause in different ways. The museum looks through each year of the war, and depicts what daily life was like for Danes, Germans, and vulnerable populations such as Jews and Communists.

For me, one of the best ways to get to know Copenhagen is through food and coffee. I am a coffee lover, so I made it a mission to eat and study in many different cafés throughout the city. As a vegetarian, I also wanted to explore veggie-friendly food spots. I discovered a few favorite (veggie-friendly) food and coffee spots throughout the city center.

One of my favorite cafés is on the more expensive side, but if you have a sweet tooth like me it is well worth it. Conditori La Glace is only a few blocks from DIS, and houses some of the best gourmet sweets and pastries in town. I had a slice of the raspberry Forårskage (Spring Cake), as well as a rum-iced Mazarin shortbread.

The Bastard Café is the place to be if you have a knack for gaming or have a large group. With ample seating, the café houses board games and card decks, many of which are free while others can be played for a small fee. The café has a laid-back feel, and is a great place to both study and spend time with friends. On top of it all, they make some of the best vegan chicken nuggets and fries I’ve ever had!

The best place to get street food is Reffen, which is just a short ferry ride up the harbor from Nyhavn. The market is made of old storage containers and decorated with lights and graffiti. There is food from every region of the world, many veggie-friendly options, and an entire stand selling only cheese-based food (including fried mac and cheese!). Not only can you get food, but also tattoos! There is a great tattoo parlor in Reffen, where I got my most recent addition.

Another benefit of my dorm location was living close to Rosenborg Castle and the King’s Garden. The gardens are a large park that is one of the best places to enjoy fresh flowers and have a picnic. I was able to have a picnic in the park multiple times, and I walked through the rose garden everyday to go to DIS, all while admiring the stunning castle and statues.

Copenhagen offers something for everyone. I now have a fondness for colorful buildings, strong espresso, and vast rose gardens on every block. Between amazing food, fascinating museums, and vast collections of art, I discovered something new about the city each day. I hope that everyone going to Copenhagen has as great of a time as I did.

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