THE MIDDLE EAST'S NEW TRAVEL MAGAZINE: FOR BEAUTIFUL DESTINATIONS, HOTELS, THINGS AND EXPERIENCES
THE MIDDLE EAST'S NEW TRAVEL MAGAZINE: FOR BEAUTIFUL DESTINATIONS, HOTELS, THINGS AND EXPERIENCES
THE MIDDLE EAST'S NEW TRAVEL MAGAZINE: FOR BEAUTIFUL DESTINATIONS, HOTELS, THINGS AND EXPERIENCES
THE MIDDLE EAST'S NEW TRAVEL MAGAZINE: FOR BEAUTIFUL DESTINATIONS, HOTELS, THINGS AND EXPERIENCES
THE MIDDLE EAST'S NEW TRAVEL MAGAZINE: FOR BEAUTIFUL DESTINATIONS, HOTELS, THINGS AND EXPERIENCES
THE MIDDLE EAST'S NEW TRAVEL MAGAZINE: FOR BEAUTIFUL DESTINATIONS, HOTELS, THINGS AND EXPERIENCES
THE MIDDLE EAST'S NEW TRAVEL MAGAZINE: FOR BEAUTIFUL DESTINATIONS, HOTELS, THINGS AND EXPERIENCES
THE MIDDLE EAST'S NEW TRAVEL MAGAZINE: FOR BEAUTIFUL DESTINATIONS, HOTELS, THINGS AND EXPERIENCES
THE MIDDLE EAST'S NEW TRAVEL MAGAZINE: FOR BEAUTIFUL DESTINATIONS, HOTELS, THINGS AND EXPERIENCESM
THE MIDDLE EAST'S NEW TRAVEL MAGAZINE: FOR BEAUTIFUL DESTINATIONS, HOTELS, THINGS AND EXPERIENCES
THE MIDDLE EAST'S NEW TRAVEL MAGAZINE: FOR BEAUTIFUL DESTINATIONS, HOTELS, THINGS AND EXPERIENCES
THE MIDDLE EAST'S NEW TRAVEL MAGAZINE: FOR BEAUTIFUL DESTINATIONS, HOTELS, THINGS AND EXPERIENCES
THE MIDDLE EAST'S NEW TRAVEL MAGAZINE: FOR BEAUTIFUL DESTINATIONS, HOTELS, THINGS AND EXPERIENCES
THE MIDDLE EAST'S NEW TRAVEL MAGAZINE: FOR BEAUTIFUL DESTINATIONS, HOTELS, THINGS AND EXPERIENCES
THE MIDDLE EAST'S NEW TRAVEL MAGAZINE: FOR BEAUTIFUL DESTINATIONS, HOTELS, THINGS AND EXPERIENCES
THE MIDDLE EAST'S NEW TRAVEL MAGAZINE: FOR BEAUTIFUL DESTINATIONS, HOTELS, THINGS AND EXPERIENCES

Swap the Med for this dreamy European city destination this summer

With long sunny days, cool coffee shops, clean waters, a new wave of design hotels with rooftop pools, and direct flights from the GCC, Copenhagen in summer is a true delight

Near+Far

9 May 2024

Copenhagen in summer

In summer, something special happens in Scandinavia – days seem to never end. In June, the month of the solstice, the sun rises as early as 4 am, setting as late as 11 pm, creating an unfolding of warm, honey-hued hazy days. In the Danish capital of Copenhagen, locals and life changes – spilling outdoors, onto rooftops, into the clean waters of the Nyhavn river. Locals flit between coffee shops and markets and cram onto waterside docs to sun tan – their oily limbs glistening in the sun. A general air of happiness and sophistication radiates through the city, making it one of the most wonderful European summer destinations.

Located on the waters of the Øresund strait, Copenhagen is one of the world’s most recognisable capitals – marked by colourful historic waterside buildings, Edvard Eriksen’s Little Mermaid statue and charming hygge eateries (not to mention the former home of best restaurant in the world, Noma), and boasting a great bicycle culture and some of the world’s happiest locals. As the weather warms up, the city becomes more accessible, feeling more like a big village than the capital city. The city also sets the benchmark for sustainable living – bikes are more common than cars, the air feels clean, and hundreds of eco shops, hotels and cafes are cropping up.

In Denmark, the concept of hygge –a warm feeling of good vibes and good people – is omnipresent. The concept governs summer living, evident in the interiors of cafes, bars and restaurants, with furnishings and softly lit spaces. Also official? There are more bikes than people, and while the city is marvellous for exploring on foot, there’s nothing more freeing than jumping on two wheels and heading out to explore.

There are more bicycles than humans in Copenhagen
There are more bicycles than humans in Copenhagen

A foodie capital

There’s an insatiable buzz in Copenhagen in the summer. Still, things never feel too crowded – and to travel here in summer is to experience a quintessential summer vibe in Europe, but with a stylish edge. Danish people live in cafés and coffee shops, and an affinity is shared with travellers from the GCC, and coffee and breakfast are a priority. In the neighbourhood of Refshaleøen, organic café and bakery Lille serves steaming espressos with warm buttery Danishes – the embodiment of hygge. Mornings are for coffee and wanders, with a cinnamon bun in hand, to the Nyhvvn – the iconic view of Copenhagen with its colourful rows of historic houses (once of Hands Christian Anderson) and its 18th-century Rococo district home to the royal Amalienborg Palace.

Danish food is traditional and wholesome, cool and conceptual; after all, its restaurant scene is one of the most lauded in the world. Wander to restaurant Møntergade for a trad Danish lunch of smørrebrød open-faced rye bread sandwiches, or book into Alchemist for a mystical world in an old shipping yard. There are no bad restaurants in Copenhagen, or bad taste, for that matter, and every corner is buzzing with style and activities. In the trendy meatpacking district of Kødbyen (literally translating to meat city) in Vesterbro – a new surge of nightlife and restaurants have arisen in the district’s warehouse serving Nordic and Mediterranean cuisine. Come sip on more coffee and flick through Indie magazines at a specialty coffee roaster, Prolog Coffee.

Life spills onto the water in Copenhagen
Life spills onto the water during summer

The village city

Summer living in Copenhagen centres around the water – the Nyhavn River runs through the city and the Öresund strait is the gateway to windswept, beachy Danish islands and Sweden. But in the city itself, locals make the most of the season by packing onto terraces and deckings, leaping off into the strait to cool down. The Danish capital has an industrial harbour where people swim and fish without health risks. In the Islands Brygge Harbour, there are five basins specially designed for swimming, with a children’s area and springboard diving. In Krøyers Plads, a trendy sharp-edged brick development in the heart of Copenhagen harbour, locals bring their towels to sunbathe and swim. In fact, it’s not uncommon to see paddleboards gliding down the Nyhavn and harbour.

Long, warm days give way to lots of walking: meandering the streets and exploring, but also walking with purpose. Head through the botanical gardens to see its butterfly and palm tree houses and a living museum. This route leads you to Torvehallerne, a marketplace loaded with fresh local produce and home- brewed coffee, typically Copenhagen, a gourmet deli. Sundays in the Danish capital are for visiting flea markets, and many pop up across the capital throughout the year, especially in summer. Det Grønne Loppemarked, ‘The Green Flea Market’, in Nørrebro, epitomises relaxed, chilled Copenhagen style, selling everything from vintage lamps to secondhand Ganni pieces and plant-based dishes.

The city’s maritime heritage adds to the summer feeling, mainly on the historic waterways themselves. Visitors can kayak, enjoy boat trousers, and captain their own private sailing boat or electric boats down Copenhagen’s charming canals. There’s nowhere more fairytale-esque for summer strolls than Copenhagen than the Tivoli Gardens – the world-famous amusement park with manicured gardens and rollercoasters, attracting visitors since the 19th century. This is a fairytale, an ode to the likes of native Hans Christian Andersen and a world of faded grandeur. Century- old wooden rollercoasters lie next to modern rides like The Demon, and The Orangery is one of a dozen gardens with exotic plants. In summer, open-air stages pop up for concerts with local and international artists from 10pm on Friday evenings – illuminated by the last rays of sunshine.

Elmgreen & Dragset installation at the Louisiana Museum of Modern Art
Elmgreen & Dragset installation at the Louisiana Museum of Modern Art

Culture and museums

As the weather warms up, so does the city’s desire for culture and enlightenment – museums, galleries, and the city’s many palaces are must- do summer activities. From the old harbour, the reflections of the Royal Danish Playhouse’s glass front shimmer on the waterfront, hosting plays and recitals throughout the year. From the playhouse, it’s a short stroll down the Langelinie waterfront promenade to the Amalienborg Palace, the grand seat of the Danish royal family. For the price of a ticket, you can wander its gilded rooms and manicured gardens.

For those on an extended stay, the Louisiana Museum of Modern Art is a must – a 35km trade ride north of the city, overlooking the Øresund with views of Sweden, designed for Danish modern art but expanded to showcase works by Andy Warhol, Roy Lichtenstein, David Hockney and Pablo Picasso – the dramatic coastline serves as a spellbinding background to its Sculpture Park, where 60 sculptures blend with the rugged surroundings.

When it comes to a European summer, Copenhagen poses as a sun-dappled destination of note; far from the perennially popular, sometimes scorching and sometimes overcrowded spots of the Med, this dynamic and magnetic city is polished and, contemporary, slick and understated, inviting travellers to long summer nights and mornings where the smell of fresh coffee and Danishes fill the air. This, along with a host of stunning design hotels with sunny gardens and rooftop pools, makes Copenhagen the summer destination for 2024.

Copenhagen in summer: top hotels

Villa Copenhagen

Right by Tivoli Gardens, in the city’s former Central Post and Telegraph Head Office, lies one of the coolest design hotels in Scandinavia – Villa Copenhagen. In 2020, a new life was breathed into this 1912 heritage landmark, and its now buzzing social spaces designed to resemble a grand Copenhagen residence. There are all the classic hallmarks of these coveted residential spaces: high ceilings, gold accents, herringbone floors and soaring windows overlooking the cobbled streets below. Suites are stand out: The Shamballa suite is all cocooning in navy and slate grey; the Earth Suite is terracotta and earth-hued using only recycled materials and with design touches like statement lighting and a punching bag suspended from the ceiling. The most coveted is the Universal Penthouse – a two-storey grand residence with a dramatic spiral stairway, exposed timber beams and limewash walls. Guests enter directly to the Courtyard Bar – a showstopper of Nordic design with its glass canopy and serving local and sustainable produce. Breakfast is also a highlight: freshly baked pastries and bread baked onsite at the Rug bakery each morning. On a hot Copanhagen summer, there’s nowhere like the rooftop pool – 25-metres, sunbed framed and sustainably heated with beautiful views of the capital.
villacopenhagen.com

25hours Hotel Indre By

25hours Hotel Indre By

Dubai’s cool crowd will be familiar with the 25hours brand. The same year the group launched 25hours Dubai, it opened 25hours Hotel Indre By, housed in a 19th-century porcelain factory turned university building. Centrally located near the Kobmagergade shopping street, the brand has brought its same cheeky Euro-cool energy to 243 rooms and suites – enlisting the help of Swedish designer Martin Brudnizki (think London’s Sexy Fish and Annabel’s) to create a riot of expressive artwork and colour. Rooms are approachable and diverse, ranging from medium singles to aptly named Gigantic – some have sunny little private gardens with wildflowers. The hotel is full of vintage finds from the archives. Café Duse is sage green with mustard poofs, while the Rendezvous bar is scarlet red with a roaring fireplace. 25hours and Copenhagen share a love for bicycles, and the brand’s Schindelhauer bikes are available for guests to use free of charge. A highlight is the wellness floor, with an outside sauna, both indoor and outdoor lounges with sun loungers – plus the Seek & Find concept store with local Copenhagen brands. 25hours-hotels.com

rooftop terrace at Grand Joanne

Grand Joanne

Tucked away in the trendy Meatpacking district of Vesterbro is Grand Joanne – set in a revamped 19th-century building and a testament to great Scandinavian design. Occupying six floors, the hotel feels more like a private members club or cool Copenhagen hangout, thanks to neighbourhood initiatives, pop-ups and classes that attract both guests and good-looking locals. Period touches have been meticulously left behind – the lofty stained glass windows and high ceilings – and each room is slightly different, from the cosy doubles perfect for couples to the Penthouse suite – a chic Copenhagen apartment with parquet floors, artwork and its own private terrace. All rooms are delightfully soothing shades of yellows and oranges, pinks and beiges reminiscent of long Scandi summer days and boho textures like boucle, wicker, brass and quirky headboards. In the summer months, a typically Danish breakfast is served at Joanne’s terrace, which doubles as the spot for cocktails and Italian cuisine in the evening. A rooftop terrace and garden cap the hotel in style – a buzzing after-work drink and nibbles spot with beautiful views over Vesterbro and the epitome of stylish Copenhagen in summer.
grandjoanne.dk

This article originally appeared in the Spring/Summer 2024 issue of Near+Far

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