I’m part of the ‘avocado on toast generation’ so of course I had to go for brunch when I visited Copenhagen early this year. I’d read about Mad & Kaffe and its brunches while doing some food research for my trip because it was recommended by a few Danish bloggers and I’m happy to say that this little cafe in the cities trendy Vesterbro district didn’t disappoint.
Mad & Kaffe have three restaurants in Copenhagen located in the Vesterbro, Amagerbro and Frederiksberg areas. I went to the one in Vesterbo, the city’s meatpacking district. The address is Sonder Blvd. 68, 1720.
I’m not a big fan of winter but Mad & Kaffe is the kind of place that makes me appreciate the colder months. Although we almost got hypothermia queuing to get in, once we did the cafes homely atmosphere was the perfect respite from the bitter cold. It’s decor is clean but not sterile, homely but not shabby, bright but not imposing and loud enough that don’t feel awkward to talk but you can still happily hold a conversation.
If you’re looking for somewhere authentically Danish yet modern then this is the perfect place to go for food. Being a little bit outside of the centre, we were pretty much the only tourists there and everything about the cafe celebrates what it is to be Danish, from its simplistic modern decor to its food selection.
Mad & Kaffe’s menu keeps in simple, focusing on local, organic and wholesome food. I really loved the brunch concept where you mix and match your own food by selecting small plates from different categories on the menu like bakery, dairy, meat and fish. You can choose to have three, five or seven small dishes plus a range of drinks meaning that it’s ideal for every dietary requirement and varying levels of hunger. I went for the buttery eggs with chives, sourdough bread and chilli avocado which were all fantastic.
Prices are high, (brunch options for three, five and seven dishes cost around £10, £15, £18) however these are fairly average prices for the city.
I am a massive fan of lifestyle guides. Any book promising to make me seem anything other than British is right up my street, and a few weeks ago I found myself strangely drawn to a little Danish lifestyle guide on Hygge.
For those of you that don’t know, Hygge is a Danish well-being concept that loosely translates as cosiness. Its claimed to be the reason behind the Danes dizzying high levels of happiness, so I thought that it was something I could really on board with.
However as I read all about it, I started to get really confused. Surely there was more to Hygge than just turning the lights down?
I decided the only sensible thing was to plan a visit to Copenhagen and search for Hygge myself.
As soon as I landed in the city I was on full on Hygge hunting mode. Danish lifestyle guides will tell you that Hygge comprises of Cosiness, togetherness, food and the simple things, but I thought surely there had to be more to it than that. I headed to a little cafe in the city centre because the cold weather had made me absolutely starving and I ordered a bowl of tomato soup.
The food was warming and on each table were little tea lights, giving the place a cozy ambience. I looked around the restaurant at everyone socializing and it seemed very Hygge, but it was also no different from what I do at home with my friends, and the large bill definitely didn’t make me feel very happy.
Copenhagen’s streets are beautiful. They’re romantic and colourful and even a little spooky, maybe even a little Hygge, but I wasn’t quite sure what I was getting at. I went to the Design Museum and admired the brilliant simplicity of Danish design. If celebrating the simple things is integral to Hygge than this is no clearer than its decor, but there’s a trend for minimalistic furnishings at home so I was a little confused on where we were going wrong.
As the day came to an end I’d completely knackered myself out searching for evidence of Hygge. Then it came to me: if Hygge is a Danish mindfulness concept, then how can it be photographed? In fact by searching for Hygge I’d missed the very point itself, because Hygee has less to with what’s around you and more to do with yourself.
So maybe sometimes we don’t live Danishly. Sometimes we rush, we consume and we argue, but we don’t need a book on Hygge to tell us that we need to slow down. I know that anyway. I don’t think that I’d get through the winter months if I didn’t get exercise a little mindfulness, I don’t think any of us would.
So it seems that you don’t need to go and buy a whole load of candles and a whole load of lifestyle guides to live Danishly. Just slow down, make a cup of tea and see your friends because your life’s already Hygge, you just didn’t have a word for it.
A two day travel guide for foodies in the Danish capital
There are a lot of destinations on my travel bucket list, but Denmark has been up there for a while now. A perfect blend of old and new, Copenhagen’s colourful streets merge old tradition with modern innovation. Repeatedly voted one of the happiest countries in the world, take one look at the Danish capital’s colourful townhouses and anyone would be hard pressed not to feel bright.
With its awe-inspiring architecture and fairytale streets, this city will bring out the photographer in everyone. While you’re not ticking the cities’ famous attractions off your bucket list- the beautiful harbour of Nyhavn and the Little Mermaid statue to name a couple, explore the city like a local and head out to one of the cities many galleries, cafes and restaurants.
Foodies will love the authentic Nordic cuisine, with a modern twist. The Danish have some of the lowest obesity rates in Europe, but that by no way means that their diet is boring. Dine like a local and head out for brunch in the trendy Vesterbro area, or try one of the Smørrebrød, (Danish open sandwich) and of course, it would be criminal to leave the country without trying a Danish pastry, in their very own country.
I’m in love with the Danish concept of Hygge, a term loosely used to describe togetherness, family and a celebration of the simple things. Any country that has a word for cozying up in the winter months gets my vote.
Although prices in the country are high, flights can be cheap. I was browsing for last-minute flights last week, while looking for a place to go and it was one of the cheapest. So If like me, you’ve only got a couple of days in the city, there’s more than enough time to soak up the sights and enjoy the Danish lifestyle. Here’s my guide on how to spend 36 hours in Copenhagen.
Starting point: Copenhagen Central Station
Once you land, take the train or metro to Copenhagen Central Station and head to the beautifully ornate city hall square to orientate yourself. From here you can walk down the Strøget, one of the longest shopping streets in Europe, and make sure to visit the original Lego Store.
Fuel up at Cafe Norden
About halfway down the street, gourmet eatery, Cafe Norden shouldn’t be missed. Its impressive architecture will draw you and its heavenly pastries will keep you there. Cafe Norden is not budget friendly but its the perfect place to grab a cup of coffee and a bowl of tomato soup and watch the world go by.
Take your snaps at the iconic Nyhavn Harbour
With a much lighter pocket, and a full stomach, your next port of call has to be the iconic and beautiful harbour Nyhavn. Take your snaps, and then take it in. If you’re visiting in the winter months, then prepare for the cold, the area by the harbour gets chilly.
Wander through Snaregade and Magestraede Streets
As it starts to get dark take a walk via the beautiful streets of Snaregade and Magstraede. These winding, cobblestone streets are some of the oldest and the most colourful in the city, and you’ll start to get a feeling of what Hygge is all about as you wander down these streets, past cosy little cafes lit by candlelight.
Check-in to Accommodation: Steel House Hostel
If you’re only staying for a quick break, I’d recommend staying near the central station. From here its easy to get to and from the airport, as well as walking to the main city sights and to trendy Vesterbro. Although accommodation in Scandinavia is not cheap, you can still find plenty of budget places to stay. I stayed at Steel House which was technically a hostel but really more of a hotel. You can opt to stay in a dorm or private room and it is super modern and clean with a nice computer area, pool, kitchen and common area. I really liked its minimalist Danish decor, and it was only five minutes walk away from the station.
Paludan Bog & Cafe for food with a literary twist
After you’ve dropped your bag off, it’s time to eat again. Quirky cafe, Paludan Bog & cafe is a good place to grab a bite to eat. This bustling place is half cafe, half bookshop, although really it’s more about the socializing than the reading. They serve coffee, cake, along with a large food menu and alcohol so it’s the perfect place to settle down for an hour.
Late Night Cocktails at Bar 1105
It’s not a city break if you go to bed early and Copenhagen has lots of cozy bars to pass the time. We went for cocktails at cozy bar, 1105 in the city centre. Be sure to try one of their takes on a Gin and Tonic.
Brunch in trendy Vesterbro
The next morning, wake up slowly and join the locals at popular brunch spot, Mad & Kaffe, in Vesterbro. Expect a little wait, this place is always packed and for good reason. The brunch menu contains lots of small dishes such as sourdough bread, scrambled eggs with chives, homemade cinnamon buns and chilli avocado, that you can mix and match. You can choose between three, five or seven dishes. The decor is cute and the atmosphere is infectious.
Visit the Design Museum
If you’re after something a little different from your regular museum then be sure to give the Design Museum a visit. This showcases the best in Danish design, from furniture to clothing and is a great place to get interiors tips. Entry is 115 DKK, or free if you’re under 26 or a student.
Stop by The Little Mermaid
You’re in the right part of town to pay a visit to the little mermaid. Head to the water, and walk along the coast and you’ll find her sat on the rocks, sadly gazing out.
Tuck into some Danish Pastries
Before you leave the city it would be a crime to not make a thing out of Danish pastries and coffee. Apparently, the best cafes are Leckerbaer and Brød, but I just settled for a little bakery with seating, on my way back to the train station. The apple Danish was delicious but the stodgy and sticky cinnamon bun was definitely the one for me.
The local currency is Danish Krone
Getting to and from the airport: Catch the train from Terminal Three to Copenhagen Central Station. The trains run every 10 minutes in the day, or three times an hour at night, and the journey takes 13 minutes.