Denmark See And Do
Søren Kierkegaards Plads 1
Tel: 45 33 47 47 47
This waterfront extension to the Royal Library opened in 1999 and stretches from the original 19th-century structure to the harbor's dockside. The name gives it away: The cubist black monolithic landmark, designed by the Danish firm Schimdt, Hammer & Lassen, looks elegantly inscrutable and a little sinister. Inside, though, things turn warmer. The library now shares space with a multipurpose exhibition center, a concert hall which co-hosts the spring Copenhagen Opera Festival, a book shop, and the National Photographic Musuem. The Photographic Museum is famous for its major collection of early-19th-century photographs (including the largest daguerreotype collection in Scandinavia) along with an ambitious range of contemporary global photography. If all that busy culture works up an appetite, minimalist restaurant Søren K specializes in seafood, so the library's scholars can dig into a plate of grilled halibut with beetroot risotto betwen bouts of arcane research (45-33-47-49-49; www.soerenk.dk).
20 Emil Holms Kanal
Tel: 45 3520 3040
Jean Nouvel's Copenhagen Concert Hall (opened in January 2009, in a commercial district that skirts the inner city) is a study in architectural ambition that's worth visiting even if you don't have concert tickets. At night, images of musicians and instruments are projected onto the vivid blue, semitransparent skin that covers the Cubist steel frame, and the building itself becomes a performance piece. In the central hall (there are three other studios), 15 cantilevered balconies give the space a more intimate vibe than traditional performance spaces. Classical concerts by the Danish National Symphony Orchestra are augmented by jazz concerts, chamber performances, and rock and pop concerts. Since concerts in Copenhagen tend to sell out quickly, purchase your tickets as far in advance as possible from either the Concert Hall Web site or the general Danish ticket office.
Tel: 45 33 69 69 69 (Royal Danish Theatre Box Office)
Opened in 2005, Denmark's first purpose-built opera house, a striated, bulgy glass module with a "floating" slab of a roof, asserts its presence on the harbor. The production calendar is equally aggressive: Elvis Costello's The Secret Songs, inspired by Hans Christian Andersen's platonic relationship with songbird Jenny Lind, debuted in spring 2007, and the company regularly offers a mix of restaged warhorses like Tosca and adventurous surprises like the 2007 musical Matador, based on a Scandinavian television show. The Opera's main theater is sheathed in a glossy wood globe, suspended like a Tibetan bead inside the exterior glass walls, and the seamlessly revolving stage means there is always something to look at. Unfortunately, the projected supertitles are in Danish. Because tickets sell out fast, it's safest to survey the upcoming calendar before your trip and order online. Any last-minute discounts, though rare, are posted on www.kglteater.dk.
Tel: 45 33 11 22 18
Designed by Daniel Libeskind, one of Copenhagen's newest museums is fittingly located in the former Royal Boat Houseit was built by Christian IV, the king who in the 16th century first invited the Jews to Denmark. Libeskind's trademark slanting walls and sloping wood floors in the exhibition space simulate the unsteady, rocking boats that carried Jews escaping Nazism first to Denmark and then on to neutral Sweden during World War II. But the museum's collection of Torahs, portraits, and family photos also tell a partly happy story, and the Hebrew word "Mitzvah" (a good deed) inscribed on its massive front doors pays homage both to a people who thrived for centuries and to their Danish allies, who helped many escape the Holocaust.
Closed Mondays, and on Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur.
Tel: 45 33 74 84 94
After its renovation, completed in 2006, Denmark's most extensive museum of art now displays a new approach. While some works in its massive collectionembracing everything from Rubens and Rembrandt to Picasso and Munchare grouped chronologically, other canvases are now organized by theme. One gallery may hold several centuries' worth of portraits, allowing the rows of faces, variously framed by stiff Elizabethan collars and soft 18th-century lace, to build a cumulative power. Even so, the museum's golden-age Danish paintings remain the real revelation: bittersweet, contemplative landscapes lit by a falling, pearly Nordic light, and domestic scenes of elegant interiors that suggest the start of Danish Modern style.
As part of Copenhagen's harborfront revitalization, the first city-center bath opened in 2002 opposite the Marriott Hotel in the Islands Brygge area (Kalvebod Brygge 5; 45-88-33-99-00; marriott.com/hotels/travel/cphdk-copenhagen-marriott-hotel). The following year, a second harbor pool opened, in hip Vesterbro, beside the Fisketorvet Shopping Center (Kalvebod Brygge 59; www.fisketorvet.dk). After closing for a season, the Islands Brygge reopened bigger, better, and more permanent, with three pools—one each for swimming, diving, and children—and an impressive view of the new Black Diamond Royal Library extension. After a major investment in its sewage and drainage systems, Copenhagen harbor's water quality has improved so much that the water is now as clean as that at the beaches outside the city.
Tel: 45 39 64 11 83
Laid out like a stately country manor when it was first completed in 1918 in a Copenhagen suburb, this modern-art museum recently added Zaha Hadid's spatial, snail-shaped extensiona fluid addition that morphs into a grassy knoll at the rear, and merges with the surrounding, lush parkland. But the extension isn't just a study in aesthetics. Functionally adding galleries for special exhibitions, the new space also allows more breathing room for the museum's premiere collection of Danish 19th- and 20th-century realist and naturalist paintings, as well as its star line-up of French artists. Degas, Gauguin, Manet, and Renoir are all represented, though it's Corot's Windmill, which sits under a sky swagged with heavy clouds, looking almost Nordic, that seems most at home.
Closed Mondays; Tuesdays, Thursdays, Fridays 1 p.m.5 p.m; Wednesdays 10 a.m.6 p.m.; Saturdays and Sundays 11 a.m.5 p.m.
Øster Voldgade 4A
Tel: 45 33 15 32 86
Christian IV's 17th-century summer palace sprouts like a Renaissance mirage in the center of the city, its red-brick turrets and towers rising above an oasis of parkland, gardens, hedgerows, and a moat with swans. Although the palace, like many other Copenhagen landmarks, is currently undergoing renovations, some of the showiest rooms remain open to the publicamong them the Winter Room, paneled with Flemish landscapes of the changing seasons, like a lowlands book of hours, and the basement vault, which houses the crown jewels, including a gold goblet balanced on a fierce ivory skull base. The royal portraits hanging everywhere underscore the odd Tweety Bird physiognomy of the early Danish royalsa mixture of bulbous forehead, pursed rosebud lips, and beaked nose, which found its climax in schizophrenic Christian VII's haunted, horsey face.
Closed Mondays from November to April.
Tel: 45 33 15 10 01
Only a city as whimsical as Copenhagen would bill an amusement park as its main attractionbut of course this isn't just any amusement park. Forget bumper cars and carnival barkers. Opened in 1843, Tivoli encompasses a 20-acre garden, a Chinese pagoda, a merry-go-round of Viking ships, and an open-air pantomime theater, all lit by colored lanterns at night. There's also The Paul, a Michelin-starred restaurant (45-33-75-07-75; www.thepaul.dk). Tivoli used to open in high season only (mid-April through September), but the garden now unlocks its gates for a holiday market of garland-draped cottages selling peppermint sticks, marionettes, and candy apples during the Christmas season. And, for the first time in 2006, Tivoli opened around Halloween, to coordinate with the fall Danish school break, though its take on the holiday is less fright night than gourd lanterns and pumpkin men.