Hangouts don’t get any hipper than Refshaleøen, an ex-industrial island across the harbour in Copenhagen. Shipbuilding’s loss has been creativity’s gain. Cool bars are popping up, ex-Noma chef Lars Williams has set up a distillery, and the area is anchored by Copenhill – a waste-management centre that doubles as an artificial ski slope. Here’s our guide to a day spent dockside.
Stop 1: Alchemist
Furthering Copenhagen’s status as the exciting-eating capital of Europe is Alchemist, an insanely innovative and in-demand restaurant. It’s the brainchild of radical chef Rasmus Munk, and promises a ‘holistic’ dining experience that involves art and technology, and stimulates all the senses.
Stop 2: Baghaven
When the sun comes out and Refshaleøen springs into party mode, revellers flock to Baghaven, a waterfront bar that’s part of the Mikkeller brewing empire. Grab one of the award-winning fruit beers plus a smørrebrød (open sandwich) and soak up the rays amid the pastel-coloured Chevys and Trabants stationed outside.
Stop 3: Copenhagen Contemporary
Artists were among the first to colonise Refshaleøen after the Burmeister & Wain shipyard closed in 1996, so it seems apt that a 7,000 sq m former welding hall on Refshalevej now houses the sprawling Copenhagen Contemporary art gallery.
Stop 4: CopenHot
Follow the scent of smouldering wood to CopenHot, an ingenious spa offering saunas with panoramic views across the waterfront and floating hot tubs that putter around the harbour. Feeling brave? You can offset the sweat with a quick dip in the sea.
Stop 5: Empirical Spirits
It’s hard to categorise what former Noma chef Lars Williams and his team are up to at Empirical Spirits: their barley-based booze goes deliciously off-piste, using ingredients such as quince, Douglas fir and oysters. Sample the spectacular results at Empirical’s tasting room by booking an appointment via their website.
Stop 6: Copenhill
Amager Bakke (also known as Copenhill) is the kind of idea that could only have been dreamed up in Denmark: a waste-management centre flanked by a 400m artificial ski slope, hiking area and giant climbing wall. Whatever you choose to get the blood pumping, you won’t forget the experience in a hurry.