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Experience modern muses in Copehagen

With so many museums, galleries and attractions offering a glimpse of the future, experience modern muses in classical Copenhagen.

Home to legendary fairy tales of old it may be, but Copenhagen is certainly gaining precedence when it comes to cutting edge urban travel.  Seamlessly blending royal heritage with modern ambitions, the Danish capital makes for an exciting yet affordable adventure with access to discounted flights and holidays.

Nowhere does contemporary style meet traditional Scandinavian charm more clearly than in Copenhagen’s centres for culture and exploration.

Discover how to see this for yourself in our top pick of Copenhagen’s visitor attractions capturing its past and pinpointing a vision for tomorrow.

Art

Around the world, art has played an integral role in capturing a nation’s culture in time and foretelling its future. In Denmark’s capital, the same could be said of its impressive art galleries where visitors can see the story of Copenhagen as portrayed by the country’s foremost artists. This list includes two prominent galleries shaping the modern art scene in Denmark today.

ARKEN is home to iconic contemporary works such as that of controversial Brit Damien Hirst and rising prodigy Anselm Reyle from Germany. International collections aside, this modern art museum houses several permanent and temporary exhibitions by Danish masters from the last two decades. The gallery’s exterior is a work of art in itself and visitors who walk across the bridge to its prime location in the beach park on Køge Bay are greeted by a striking shipwreck-like sculptural building and the infamous Elmgreen & Dragset giant statue of a boy on his rocking horse.

Likewise, Louisiana Museum of Modern Art’s coastal location, half an hour outside of Copenhagen’s city centre, lends itself to providing a tranquil setting in which to take in some of the most prolific artworks in recent times. Mixing the old with the new, nature with manmade, Louisiana’s peaceful sculpture garden and period architecture juxtaposes the progressive collections within. Visitors can spend hours perusing current exhibitions at Louisiana, making the most of its outdoor space and scenic views. Thomas, responsible for the gallery’s Communications and Marketing, explains why Copenhagen is a must for anyone looking to escape to continental Europe on their next adventure abroad:

I think the reason why Copenhagen has become such a popular destination is because it is so unpretentious – there is a sense of straightforward, uncomplicated and genuine democratic nature which permeates the city and in many respects the Louisiana Museum too, which is built on our social-democratic heritage.”

Science

It’s hardly a surprise, given the country’s significant contributions to the worldwide scientific community, that Copenhagen should be an archival centre for some of Denmark’s best known achievements. The likes of Nobel Prize winner physicist Niels Bohr, a key contributor to our understanding of quantum theory and atomic structure, and Inge Lehmann, who became a world-renowned seismologist for her work in identifying the Earth’s cores, have left their mark in the science and history museums of Denmark’s capital.

One visitor attraction helping to mould tomorrow’s scientists is Experimentarium City, an exciting museum that actively encourages families to learn about the many different areas in science with fun displays and hands-on activities. Built with educational purposes in mind, Experimentarium’s exhibitions are designed to entertain little ones and give parents food for thought. Its new exhibit PULSE – everyday life turned upside down, for example, is an interactive experience that shows visitors how everyday tasks can be the basis for leading an active lifestyle and raising your pulse at home. Families must navigate a colossal 600m² house, completing the challenges in each room to find out how they can translate this fitness into their own routine.

Design

Few objects better represent past eras than those that we choose to decorate our interiors or adorn ourselves with. At Designmusuem Danmark, history is brought to life through its cleverly curated collections of furniture, clothing, posters and other curiosities that have been an everyday fixture at one time or another. As well as preserving design heritage, Designmuseum is a celebration of the contemporary developments in Scandinavia and all things design-related, including the interior, decorative and applied arts.

So what gives Copenhagen its unique sense of history coupled with today’s style? Designmuseum’s Nikolina explains:

I think Copenhagen is a popular destination due to several things. It is geographically a very easy city to travel round in. You can either get around by foot or bicycle very quickly. The distances from one end of the city to the other are not far at all, which makes it easy to do a lot of things in one day.

“Design, architecture and city planning is also something unique for Copenhagen and Denmark. Names like BIG and 3XN, Norm Architects, JDS, Henning Larsen Architects, Dorte Mandrup Architects and Jan Gehl are among the very talented companies well known in Denmark as well as internationally.

“Within the last 5-10 years, Copenhagen has experienced a boom in gourmet restaurants and the concept of New Nordic has changed the dining scene completely. Popular TV-dramas like Borgen and The Killing has also been part of the phenomena of Nordic Noir."

Other attractions

Those looking to take in past, present and future in Copenhagen won’t be disappointed. With the regal Rosenburg Castle, fantastical Rundetaarn tower and the ever-popular Little Mermaid statue to discover, the capital’s long and classical heritage is easy to connect with. This, interwoven with decisively modern trends, makes Copenhagen a truly timeless city to visit.

Fortunately, Visit Copenhagen has put together its list of the top things to see and do in Copenhagen to inspire first-timers and returning visitors alike.

“Copenhagen is a big city (in our standards!) and it’s not easy to define why it’s a popular destination,” says Visit Copenhagen’s Henrik. “But I believe it’s a good mix of old and new, new Nordic cuisine and traditional open faced sandwiches (Smørrebrød) – royal palaces and modern bike culture.”

Not sure where to start? No other area is as quintessentially Danish as that of Nyhavn, the street adorned with brightly coloured buildings sitting pretty on the water’s edge.

Nyhavn is the perfect introduction to Copenhagen and it’s a lively place where old-time naval roots meet the bustling energy of today’s passers-by. If you enjoy people-watching, this is the place for you. Take a break from sightseeing and stop for lunch along this street at Denmark’s first organic restaurant - Cap Horn.

Once a busy commercial port, Nyhavn has inspired Cap Horn’s maritime flair and its appearance remains faithful to what it would have looked like in the 1670s.

“The old wooden floors, the fireplace, the different chairs and plates as well as the curious knick-knacks here and there, all have a story to tell and contribute to the special, laid-back and inviting atmosphere in the restaurant,” explains Cap Horn’s Cathrine.

Originally a favourite hang-out for sailors, today Cap Horn is better known as a restaurant with a focus on fresh, locally sourced organic ingredients. Chefs prepare a varied menu, inspired by French and, of course, Scandinavian cuisine that draws on the location’s connection with the sea.

Image Credit: Ramblersen, Patti Manolis, Dennis Jarvis, Grey Geezer (wikimedia.org), News Oresund (flickr.com)

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