For all its design flair and superb sense of style, Copenhagen's ability to deliver when it comes to must-have souvenirs has always fallen a little short. Visitors often berate the Viking helmets and mass-produced snow globe replicas of The Little Mermaid for failing to live up to Denmark's reputation for quality. One reliable option, then, for those on the hunt for memorable, quality keepsakes is the museum shop; in this area, Copenhagen gets top marks.
The shop of Designmuseum Danmark is packed with all manner of things you never knew you really, really wanted — Photo courtesy of Designmuseum Danmark
Kick off year search at Designmuseum Danmark, located on the site of what was once Denmark's first public hospital, and a beautiful building with a pleasant courtyard cafe and leafy garden out back. The museum's well-stocked shop shares the relaxed ambience and has plenty of unusual gifts that mirror the permanent exhibits, with pocket-sized replicas of some Scandinavian design classics.
Find just what you never knew you really, really wanted in the fields of industrial design, ceramics, glass and fabrics - from the bold textiles of Finnish Marimekko to retro dinnerware and stylish wooden ornaments - and feel free to browse as you listen to the cool jazz tones filtering through the speakers. Note the museum cover charge is not a requirement for those wishing to visit the shop only.
It's customary to see kids grabbing excitedly at the goods on offer in the shop of Denmark's National Museum. Like the exhibits, the Nationalmuseet shop is a treasure trove of "finds" from the Viking Age. Among the fun, good-quality pieces are rune magnets and miniature longboats, along with the wooden and wind-up toys of more recent childhoods.
Prices vary from the change in your pocket for impulse buys to a few thousand kroner for a pure wool, runic jacket. Highlights include the original historical jewelry, such as a bronze brooch in the design of the Sun Chariot (1400 BC).
During holiday season, unusual Christmas tree decorations include a replica of the Golden Horns of Gallehus, which became legendary after being stolen and melted down a century after their discovery, in 1802.
Some of Copenhagen's best bookstores are also located under museum roofs, and have a great selection of English language books and art journals. Check out art museums Statens Museum for Kunst, Kunsthal Charlottenborg and Kunstforeningen Gammel Strand for English versions of exhibition books, quirky coffee table reads, art and design magazines and some killer painting and drawing sets for young, budding artists.