Copenhagen’s most famous shopping destination is Strøget – a string of five linked pedestrian streets that runs through the city centre from Rådhuspladsen in the west to Kongens Nytorv in the east, getting progressively more upmarket along the way. The big designer names and international brands are all here, but you’ll find more interesting shopping if you head off into the side streets or venture a little further afield to Vesterbro and Nørrebro, where there’s always some cool new independent boutique to discover.
From an interiors shop filled with chic Nordic brands to a clothing store that pays attention to eco credentials, Telegraph Travel Expert Suzanne King knows the best places to pick up some souvenirs.
'Do one thing and do it well,' they say. This is a philosophy the founders of Rains clearly took to heart when creating the company. Their thing is waterproof jackets, coats and accessories, and they are all showcased in the brand’s flagship store, opened on Amagertorv in late 2020. Inside the spotlessly white and immaculately styled showroom you’ll find neatly arranged rails of simple but stylish wet-weather gear – proof, if it were needed, that the Danes can design even the most unlikely of products into objects of desire.
The buyers at Holly Golightly have created a carefully curated world of high-end fashion and accessories at their smart city-centre boutique. They cherry pick their favourites from the current collections – and not just from big international labels such as Rick Owens and Marni but also from cool local designers, including Stine Goya and AF Agger. They also source one-off vintage finds, so you could pick up anything from an original YSL dress to an antique Chinese skirt.
Copenhagen isn’t short of cool interiors shops but few are as striking as this. A relatively new addition to the city centre shopping scene, the Paustian store on Niels Hemmingsensgade (just off Strøget) was converted from a former bank and has grand palazzo-style interiors. Gold fluted columns and marbled pillars support a high vaulted ceiling and you can pass through the mighty metal safe doors to find items displayed in the old vaults. It’s worth a look even if you’re not buying - but if you are you’ll find a covetable mix of furniture, lighting and homes accessories from both classic brands and up-and-coming design labels.
Cross the Inner Harbour Bridge (Inderhavnsbroen) from Nyhavn and it’s just a few minutes’ walk to Kuglegården, a listed 18th-century property that was once home to the naval arsenal and is now turning into a bit of a design hub. In 2020, Copenhagen interiors brand ferm Living opened its first store here, with lofty beamed ceilings and huge arched windows creating an impressive backdrop for furnishings and home accessories that add a contemporary edge to classic Scandi style. Across the courtyard, you can also browse collections from leading Italian and Danish designers at D Studio, including lighting from Louis Poulsen, who’ve made this historic building their HQ.
Hats, Boots & Bourbon
Just when you thought Vesterbro couldn’t get any more hipster, up popped this menswear shop-cum-bar at the edgier end of trendy Istedgade, towards the station. It’s the brainchild of former bartender Erik Persson, whose love of the prohibition era shines through in the styling, with bare brick walls, a montage of black-and-white gangster movie stills, and American spirits behind the little counter at the back. Browse the shelves for shirts, headgear, accessories and grooming products, then lounge back on one of the brown leather Chesterfields to peruse your purchases over a bourbon-based cocktail.
This basement shop is hidden away at the end of a residential street and is so tiny, there’s barely room to swing a Kit-Kat. Or, for that matter, a prune and whisky-flavoured marzipan bar, encased in rich dark chocolate – which is much more their cup of cocoa. Chef Mikkel Anker previously worked in Michelin-starred restaurants Kiin Kiin and Søllerød Kro and brings that level of quality to his seasonal collections of interestingly flavoured pralines and truffles, which are all handmade on the premises from Fair Trade chocolate. This is the original shop; there are also branches in Nørrebro (Jagtvej 125) and Østerbro (Østerbrogade 25).
The name is short for Respect Resources – and sure enough, every single one of the many desirable items you come across on the shelves of this Nørrebro boutique has been selected because it comes from sustainably minded producers. As well as cool clothing (for children as well as adults), they carry homewares, accessories, candles (of course) and toiletries – including organic, vegan skincare from Yroli, a growing young Danish brand that follows the responsible philosophy of the ‘blue beauty’ movement.
At this cool little Østerbro ice cream shop, the freezer cabinet is filled with neat ranks of homemade (and highly photogenic) ice cream and sorbet popsicles. There’s usually a new flavour or two to taste, and they’re not afraid to take risks when it comes to trying out unlikely combinations – but there is always a delicious staple for the less adventurous too, such as hazelnut gelato dipped in milk chocolate and sprinkled with nut brittle. They do mini 'tapas' versions as well, which is great news for indecisive minds who can opt for two smalls rather than one full size. Ice cream in hand, take a wander down the street (Olufsvej), an Instagram-friendly stretch of prettily-painted houses with hollyhocks and roses growing by the doors.
A few rolls of wallpaper might not be your average holiday memento – but you’ll be sorely tempted at Retro Villa, which moved from the city centre to new premises in Østerbro in 2019. Owner Mette Helena Rasmussen (an interiors stylist, writer and TV presenter) has amassed a large selection of original vintage papers, from dainty flower-sprigged patterns to bold orange and brown swirly styles that could only come from the 1970s. Buy enough to cover a wall or room, or just pick up a metre or two to copy some of their DIY crafty ideas. While you’re there, check out the other vintage (or vintage-style) items, including door knobs, coat hooks and cushions.
If you’re planning to pick up some retro Danish design pieces while you’re here, you might want to check whether or not B&W Loppemarked will be open before you even book your flights. This vast warehouse at Refshaleøen is stuffed to the gills with old chairs, light fittings and assorted bric-à-brac. It’s not particularly cheap and you’ll need patience to sift your way through the piles, but put in the legwork and you might unearth the retro lamp or vase of your dreams. Which, by the way, you’ll need cash to pay for. You can also find more of its stock at Funky Junky, a Vesterbro vintage shop.
There’s every chance you’ll have to queue at this Frederiksberg bakery, especially at weekends. The good news, though, is that the excellent breads and pastries are well worth the wait, especially the sourdough loaves (which they supply to noma) and the divine double-baked croissants topped with almonds. Owner Richard Hart was head baker at Tartine in San Francisco before moving to Copenhagen to open his own bakery with support from René Redzepi. There are a few tables for eating in but if they’re all taken and the weather is fine, take your paper bag of goodies and head for Landbohøjskolens Have (about 10 minutes’ walk away) for a picnic in the park. Across town, you can also sample Hart goodies at a newer outpost in Holmen, opened in November 2021.