Compact and virtually car-free, downtown Copenhagen is a great city for shopping
By Jane Graham
Copenhagen Local Expert
Copenhagen is a great city for shopping, thanks to its compact downtown area, most of which is pedestrian. Walking street Stroget stretches from Radhuspladsen at one end to Kongens Nytorv on the other, with a couple of squares along the way, and contains Danish high street fashion, department stores, toy stores and cafes. For more interesting shopping however, head off the well-beaten path and check out the alternative music stores and vintage clothing boutiques of the Latin Quarter, or creative souvenirs on Kompagnistraede.
Shopping can be expensive, but sales in January and July can offer some great bargains. Visitors from outside the EU are entitled to tax-free purchases. Service is generally friendly and staff will often take their time to gift-wrap, even during the busy holiday season.
Grand old Magasin du Nord has to be top of anyone’s list here on a shopping trip: Scandinavia’s largest and oldest department store, it can be found right on Kongens Nytov Square. Around the corner on Ostergade, rival department store Illum comes a close second.
Fans of timeless Danish design should check out Royal Copenhagen and Georg Jensen (luxurious china, crystal and silver), or for the best in simple functionality, stores like Hay and the harborfront Paustian. Those who can never get enough pairs of shoes will swoon at the decadent range of Danish footwear boutique Apair.
Shopping malls also exist in Copenhagen. High-end fashion is in focus at small arcade Galleri K, while large malls like the out-of-town Fields and waterfront Fisketorvet are a little more provincial in their ranges. Norreport’s covered gourmet market Torvehallerne is a must for visiting foodies.
Fisketorvet is a shopping mall situated on the waterfront in the Vesterbro district, across a footbridge from Dybbolsbro S-toget station. In addition to more than 120 stores and 15 cafes and restaurants, there is also a 10-screen movie multiplex, CinemaxX. One of Copenhagen's handful of harbor bathing spots, Copencabana, can be found directly in front of the movie theater. The mall is named after the site's history as a market place for fishmongers, who plied their trade here between 1958 and 1999. (33 36 64 00)
Formerly a rather tatty shopping mall known as City Arkaden, thorough renovation has witnessed the center reborn as Galleri K; a small but exclusive collection of shops in an internal square bordered by Ostergade, Pilestraede, Antonigade and Kristen Bernikows Gade. Some of the hottest names in Danish fashion have flagship stores here, like Samsoe and Samsoe, Sand, By Malene Birger and Day Birger et Mikkelsen: International brands meanwhile include G Star, Adidas, Urban Outfitters and hot London lingerie store Agent Provocateur. Should you feel the need to take the weight off your feet after all that shopping, cool cocktail bar and restaurant The Lot is onhand to provide a pick-me-up. (70 22 96 01)
Danish footwear store Apair is one of the most exclusive shoe shops in Copenhagen, and undoubtedly total temptation to any woman who just can't get enough shoes. In addition to Apair's own glamorous and high-heeled designs, the boutique sells lines from a number of select European brands for men as well as women. Decorated a gorgeous shade of turquoise, the spacious store also sells bags, jewelry and other accessories. Apai''s own shoes are designed in Denmark and manufactured in Italy. (33 91 99 20)
A must for anyone interested in Scandinavian design, Paustian specializes in modern, functional furnishings and interiors from internationally-recognized designers. The white waterfront building was designed in 1987 by J�rn Utzon (known for the Sydney Opera House), who took his inspiration from the Danish beech forest. It's located a little out of the downtown area a fair walk north of the Little Mermaid, but take your time and enjoy an hour or two in the house restaurant. In addition to Paustian's own team of designers, the store also sells smart and functional chairs, tables and even wastepaper bins from equally trendy Swiss designers. (39 16 65 65)
Copenhagen's covered food market on Israels Plads by Norreport Station is a must for foodie travelers. The purpose-built marketplace opened in September 2011 on the site of the city's old produce market, which moved out to the suburbs in the 1950s. In their design, architects looked to the bustling markets of France and Spain, as well as to Seattle's Pike Market, for inspiration. Local restaurateurs and food producers have stood in line to grab a stand in this new gourmet edition, where take-out versions of some of the city's finest cuisine can be purchased. In addition to the fresh fish, meat, fruit, vegetables, cheese and bread, other stalls offer fresh coffee, ready meals, cupcakes and even high-end kitchen utensils. Outdoor booths complement the two covered areas. (70 10 60 70)
The Georg Jensen brand has been synonymous with expensive Scandinavian design and quality craftsmanship for more than a century. What started as a small store to showcase the designs of a talented silversmith is today a brand of exclusive lifestyle products that includes ornaments for the home, jewelry and watches. Along the same drag as another world-famous Danish brand, Royal Copenhagen, Georg Jensen's flagship store may be a little out of your budget, but worth taking a peek as an example of Danish design at its best and most luxurious. (33-11-40-80)
A furniture and interiors store arranged with the perfection of a gallery to show modern Danish design at its very best. Hay harks back to the glory days of '50s and '60s Scandinavian design, when artists like Arne Jacobsen and Vernor Panton became known all over the world for bringing together form and function, but sells new products by cutting edge designers - and the prices are more down to earth than in other designer boutiques. Products include chairs, tables, textiles, storage boxes and accessories - the latter having the most chance of fitting in your suitcase home. Prices range from DKK 20 (a couple of bucks) right up into the thousands. (42 82 08 20)
The flagship store of the world-famous Danish kitchenware design house is worth a visit even if you're merely window shopping, and includes a small museum floor following some of the most influential of the royal blue porcelain designs. Considered by many to be the most famous porcelain in the world, Royal Copenhagen still hand paint their trademark blue fluted cups, plates and bowls much like when the firm started back in 1775. The most expensive line, Flora Danica, is - literally - fit for a queen and will set you back at least DKK 5,000, but with at least 135 more lines, you might just find something in your price range. In the run-up to Christmas, the store is decked out with the traditional tables set creatively by local artists and designers. (33-13-71-81)
Located centrally on pedestrianized Østergade, Illum is a classic department store that - with Magasin du Nord - a Copenhagen landmark that dates from the end of the 19th-century. Everything here is wonderfully arranged and can be packed just as impeccably for you upon request (without rushing, even in December). Illum's many floors contain stylish Scandinavian brand names in menswear and women's clothing as well as designer outfits for kids, a ground floor cafe and bakery, Denmark's only branch of London toy shop Hamley's on the fourth floor and, right at the top, stylish cafe-restaurant Spisebaren. (33-14-40-02)
Magasin Du Nord
This historic department store is the oldest (and largest) in Scandinavia and sits grandly on Kongens Nytorv square. Established in 1890, Magasin du Nord was previously Hotel du Nord - writer H.C. Andersen once rented a couple of tiny attic rooms. You can find everything in here, from Danish brand names in womenswear, menswear and even kidswear, to a lavish perfume and cosmetics area and a vast array of stylish Danish design and souvenirs. The basement level food and wine department rivals Harrods of London for its range and quality, and Magasin's own brand of chocolate is handmade at the store's own factory. If you're feeling like a refreshments break, there are several options: Organic meals to go or eat in from Meyers Deli and Meyers Bakery in the basement (there's also an entrance from Kongens Nytorv Metro station) or the casual, canteen style seating of the top floor restaurant - plenty of room for strollers makes this popular with families. (33-11-44-33)
About Jane Graham
After touring most of Europe in her twenties, Jane was charmed by Copenhagen's relaxed tempo and moved there from her native northern England in 1999. Four young children at home has meant there's no shortage of taste testers for her traditional Danish cuisine – or excuses for missing out on the country's vast array of family-friendly activities. Armed with diapers, stroller and snowsuits, Jane continues to find art and culture wherever she goes.
Read more about Jane Graham here.