Birthday Ideas in Copenhagen: Must Dos in the Danish Capital
How to spend a special-occasion break in the capital of the world's happiest country
With a reputation as the world’s happiest country, Denmark is a go-to for those celebrating a special occasion – and nowhere is this more true than in its capital, Copenhagen, where world-class restaurants, boundary-pushing design and, um, floating hot tubs make sure that every traveller can raise a toast in a way that gets them giddy.
Need ideas for mini-break to mark your birthday? Surprising a loved one with a smørrebrød-fuelled romp around the city? Put these Plum Guide approved eateries, Scandi shops and under-the-radar neighbourhoods on your itinerary of birthday ideas in Copenhagen.
Kick off with a birthday brunch
All good birthdays start with a great brunch, and Copenhagen serves some of Europe’s best. A pleasant amble from Nyvhan, pull up a sheepskin-covered chair for smørrebrød at father-and-son-run Far’s Dreng or enjoy a celebratory breakfast with a side order of art and design at Atelier September, where project rooms host work by local creatives. Come weekend, knock elbows with Danes at TorvehallerneKBH market as you sip a strong java and weave between stalls peddling local produce – here, we recommend honing in on Grød, where an all-day porridge menu changes with the seasons. Its mushroom barley-otto is a must-order, as is the lime-thyme lemonade for that matter.
Splurge on Scandi style
If there was ever an ideal time and place to treat yourself, this is it. Copenhagen has a knack for effortless cool and understated beauty that manifests in its New Nordic food, high-street fashion and world-famous furniture. If you’re in town for a new wardrobe, skip the Danish exports you’ll find at home – read: Acne and Ganni – and shop underrated Scandi labels and stores such as Holly Golightly and Nué. For covetable homewares, Illums Bolighus and HAY House are good entry points to Danish design, but for the style-savvy (aka you), we suggest branching out at Frama, &Tradition and Stilleben. Concept store The Apartment is a must-visit for fans of the avant-garde. Head back to your stylish Plum home and try on your new wares ready for your stylish Plum home celebratory dinner later in the day.
Explore the locals’ locales
In a compact city where minimalism is de rigueur, there’s much to be gained from pootling around neighbourhoods as opposed to hot-footing it from one big-ticket attraction to another. Hugging the harbour, colourful Nyhavn (once home to Hans Christian Andersen) is worth a wander, but we recommend escaping the touristy crowds (as always) for the creative quarter of Refshaleøen or Freetown Christiania – founded by squatters in the early Seventies, this renegade commune is a labyrinth of cafés and music venues flanked by street art. If the weather’s fine, rent a bike and avail of the city’s sprawling network of cycle lanes – the 13km Havneringen route takes in architectural marvels such as the Black Diamond library and Olafur Eliasson’s Circle Bridge as well as the wildlife-rich Amager Nature Park. Should you want to release your inner child, visit Tivoli amusement park – best enjoyed after dusk.
Celebrate like a Dane
Danes adore birthdays. While some of their traditions verge on the bizarre – singletons are doused with pepper on their 30th – there are several rituals with which we can get on board. Locals often mark their special day by flying their national flag, though in this instance the Dannebrog represents a party attitude rather than patriotism. Meanwhile, celebrants are also believed to be responsible for the weather. Been good for the last year? Expect glorious sunshine. Of course, cake features high on the birthday agenda too – a common iteration includes the kagemand (literally ‘cake man’) which is decapitated by the birthday boy or girl. For a less morbid sweet treat, head to Mirabelle, Juno or Hart Bageri.
Soak up the sauna life
Between copious food, shopping and exploration, it’s perhaps a good idea to take a little downtime in Copenhagen’s hottest waters – figuratively and literally. In summer the five basins of Islands Brygge Harbour Bath and the white-sand beaches of Amager Beach Park are great for a dip, but we love CopenHot all year round. It’s a pioneer of what they call ‘New Nordic wellness’ that encourages reconnection with the wild through clean seawater heated with firewood. Pitch up in its panoramic sauna or sailing hot tub and soak up every last minute of your special day.
Dine at New Nordic restaurants
As the birthplace of New Nordic cuisine, Copenhagen has a culinary prowess that extends across the globe. With no less than 15 Michelin-starred restaurants in its collective trophy cabinet, the city is prime territory for a blowout meal to mark an occasion. Yet while the likes of Noma – four-time winner of Best Restaurant in the World – and Relæ often steal the headlines, you’ll find a host of eateries where farm-to-table fare is served with a more affordable price tag too. We love Barr, Noma’s casual-dining sister restaurant, and Selma, an offbeat smørrebrød diner that made culinary history when the Michelin guide awarded it a Bib Gourmand in 2019. Hungry for the hottest table in town? NaturallY, so book a spot at Alchemist, where chef Rasmus Monk curates a ‘holistic’ menu inspired by art, science and technology. You won't have to worry about bringing the dinnertime conversation here…
Raise a toast with craft beer and natural wine
To wrap up your day, ringing in a new trip around the sun with a celebratory
bottle of the priciest vintage champagne tipple comes top of our list of birthday ideas in Copenhagen. The city is awash with old-school drinking dens and Scandi-chic wine bars – though it may be far from Europe’s sun-soaked vineyards, this Danish city is considered among world’s best when it comes to natural plonk. For a glass of the good stuff, make a beeline for laid-back Pompette; at the heart of bar-filled Nørrebro, it’s the perfect launchpad for a hedonistic evening. The city’s finest cocktails can be enjoyed at Kyros & Co, while Mikkeller is a beer lover’s nirvana where craft brews reign supreme. Our favourite spot? La Fontaine, Copenhagen’s oldest jazz bar. Drop in for impromptu jams and a night you won’t forget in a hurry. (We can't promise you'll forget the morning after's sore head in a hurry either, though.)
No birthday celebration in Copenhagen is complete without a stay in your dream home-from-home, so stay in one of Plum Guide's penthouses in CPH to guarantee just that. And if you really want to stay somewhere truly memorable, The Old Coal Crane (yes, that's right – a crane) should tick that box.