I’ve returned to Basel with high spirit and a considerably lighter wallet, struggling to push my overweight carry-on bag past the elevator door and into my flat. A family girls-weekend away to Copenhagen had been my mother’s idea, and having returned to normal life after yet another awesome weekend traveling, I can really feel how good these kind of trips are for the spirit (and not just for your wardrobe).
Copenhagen is by far one of the most alive cities I have ever been to in Europe. It’s remarkable for its architecture, its food scene, its art galleries and design shops, its friendly royal family and of course – and this is for you grown up men who pretend you don’t do it but we all know you do – for its Lego.
Unsurprisingly so, Copenhagen is also famous for its fashion and shopping scene, so, if you just got your paycheck and fancy a weekend away with your girls, here are some reasons why you should make Copenhagen your destination for a “shop-till-you-drop girls weekend abroad”
THIS CITY IS SMALL AND COMPACT: Copenhagen is a very pedestrian friendly city. You can pretty much walk anywhere with ease, and its main shopping areas are very concentrated and fool-proof. These are 1) Strøget, one of Europe’s longest fully pedestrian streets, with more shops you could possibly visit in a weekend (we did give it a good try though…). This street has everything from luxury fashion to high street and interior design. Here you’ll find every interior design freak’s paradise Illum Bolighus, as well as original Scandinavian fashion stores like COS, Moss of Copenhagen and my personal favorite “& Other Stories”. If you are a little bit of a hippy and you’d rather die than wear mainstream clothes, you can check out Straedet Kompagniestraede or you can head out to CHP second biggest shopping area 2) Jægersborggade in Nørrebro. Here you will find vintage stores, handmade jewelry and organic eateries. So ladies, whether you walk, hop, or decide to rent a city bike through Bycyklen (white bikes available pretty much everywhere. You simply create an account here, and then you can rent these bikes at one location and leave them at the closest official parking to your destination. They even have a built-in GPS!) you will never have to worry about having to drag your shopping bags too far.
Because it is compact, it also means that many of the tourist attractions like the iconic Nyhavn or the Royal Palace are well blended within the centre of the city, and because they are fairly small and easy to visit, you don’t have to feel guilty about skipping all the cultural stuff, but can easily fit them in for an hour or so as a break from shopping.
THERE ARE HOT MEN EVERYWHERE: Now I don’t want to seem shallow and superficial here, but as pleasant as an experience shopping can be, it will be made even better if it is coupled with a healthy (and not at all creepy) session of local fauna watching. We all know Scandinavian people are famous for their good genes. They are tall, fair, with sun kissed skin and endless rows of perfectly white teeth. So it is only understandable that walking around Copenhagen feels like you accidentally have been given a free backstage pass at a male modeling convention. So girls, be prepared to gawk a bit and suddenly get your credit card pin wrong as you look up at the till of H&M or forget what juice you wanted as you try to order at Joe and the Juice (please, for the love of God, GO TO JOE AND THE JUICE).
BRUNCHING AND MUNCHING: We all know that there is only one reasonable excuse to pause an intense shopping session, and this is to EAT (or if the guy at the till of H&M suddenly asks you to go for a coffee with him or run away and live in the country side herding sheep, see above). Copenhagen’s food scene is almost as hot as its men, with restaurants pretty much everywhere, including famous Michelin’s starred Noma, one of the best restaurants in the world. If you don’t really want to blow up the budget so much, but you’d rather try something traditional, we had dinner at Det lille Apotek, Copenhagen’s oldest restaurant, set in a quirky old building which used to be, you might have guessed, an old pharmacy from 1720. The food is earthy and good, but you definitely go there for the experience.
If you want to try traditional Nordic cuisine with a modern twist, in very fashionable surroundings, try Höst. For lunch stop by at the Illum terrace, where you can choose between several different restaurants and more casual dining options, as well as getting a view from above. On our last night, we stumbled upon another little gem, called Flottemhimer cafe. it was cozy and served delicious food and one of best carrot cake i’ve ever eaten. Perfect for lunch or also for an informal and rather intimate dinner.
I am a big breakfast and brunch lover, so I must recommend you kick off your shopping day with a brunch at Cafe Norden, a Copenhagen institution just by the entrance of Illum Bolighus. Their brunch has quickly gone up to second place in my mental ranking of best breakfasts (second only to Lou Mitchell’s pancakes stack in Chicago), and they even have a healthy brunch option if you’re keeping an eye on your weight.
I have the impression Danish people enjoy wining and dining out A LOT, so make sure you book your tables for dinner well in advance, especially at the weekend. For brunch at Cafe Norden you won’t need to 🙂
SHOPS OPEN LATE: Shops don’t open until 10 between Monday and Saturday, and not until 12 on Sunday, so there will be no pressure for you to get up early. So you can sleep in, or simply visit a Museum or the Royal palace while you wait for the real reason you’re there to open. Be warned though, shops do tend to close fairly early, usually between 5 and 6, so try to maximise the shopping experience, especially if you want to visit different parts of the city (see, just like I did below).
AN ALL GIRLS TRIP IS GOOD FOR YOUR SPIRIT: Let’s face it, as much as we care about the men in our life, be them boyfriends, fathers or friends, shopping with them is a massive pain in the ass (Unless they are gay and have a keen eye for colour combos). Who hasn’t experienced that constant nagging “are you done?” or felt their eyes drilling the back of you skull silently begging to go home while you are trying to figure our if this Zara bag goes with your new coat. Men are best left out of serious shopping trips, be them in Copenhagen or down the high street at home. Going with girls means you are sharing a sacred right for all women with people that would ACTUALLY understand if you have a minor breakdown in a changing room cause your butt doesn’t look exactly like you pictured it in the jeans you are trying on. I have to say that despite the fact that my family is able to drive me crazy from time to time, spending quality time with my mum, auntie and cousin was one of the best travel experiences I have had in a while. I think I rarely laughed so much or felt so much in touch with my roots (for example, seems like me and my mum share the superpower of being able to identify the most expensive thing in a shop by smell, being automatically drawn to it). Last but not least, please see point 2 (AKA, Hot men everywhere) to understand another advantage of traveling to Copenhagen as a girls only squad.
Some additional information:
- Hotels are pretty expensive, so airbnb is definitely a great option. Be warned though that houses tend to be very small and if you decide to stay in the city centre you will most likely not have a quiet night
- I found this website very good when planning the trip, it has a lot of info on places to see, shops and restaurants
- I know you all want to see the little mermaid, and if you have the time by all means, do. I found it a rather unassuming sight, and a bit of a let down to be honest. funnily enough I enjoyed much more the replica of the DAVID of Michelangelo that you can find by the docks on your way there. I am not sure why is there or who put it, but sure enough they spelled Michel Angelo like this and it made me giggle quite a lot