Mermaids, Vikings and raw vegan food: Denmark

Flowers in January.

At once both cool and stylized and Scandinavian, yet home to fairy tales and wistful mermaids, Copenhagen is a wonderful city to explore— and get lost in. On the top of my list were renting a bicycle and wandering through the museums (Tivoli Gardens and canal tours a bit too cold!) If you have time, check out the Viking Ship Museum in Roskilde. It’s about a 20 minute train ride from Copenhagen, but so worth it. Five 1000 year old Viking ships are reconstructed there, and the museum even has it’s own modern day shipyard (with cute Danish men working on modern-day versions!)

Falafel, hummus and carrot soup at Botaniq.
Falafel, hummus and carrot soup at Botaniq.

However, while Copenhagen is beautiful, it’s also expensive. My advice: treat yourself to a dinner and a brunch at a good raw vegan cafe, then scope out some Thai or other Asian places, which tend to be much cheaper.

Salad at B
Salad at Botaniq.

For raw food, I recommend Botaniq, near the Nørreport train station. Delicious, healthy food and a light, airy atmosphere, it’s a great place to refuel for lunch before heading out for more sightseeing. Their hummus is delicious and is great with their raw, gluten-free falafel. I was a little leery about raw falafel, but the taste was wonderful, and flax seeds gave it the proper crunch. Also, don’t miss their salads— the brussels sprouts was a favorite of mine. Their soup portions are generous as well. (The simpleRAW cafe also looked good, but I ran out of time.)

Food at Thai Asien Take Away.
Food at Thai Asien Take Away.

For Thai food, Thai Asien Take Away is a good choice. It’s a little hole in the wall basement cafe, but the portions are big, the prices are cheap and the food is flavorful and spicy. Plus, it’s on the way to the Little Mermaid statue. If you’re near the long walking-street Strøget, I’d suggest checking out Scurry Hub for quick, inexpensive Thai takeout. They also have a small dining room. (A note for vegans: none of the places I stopped at had tofu. Scurry Hub did have chickpeas, which was an interesting addition to curry.)

Peeking in the window of Naturbageriet.
Peeking in the window of Naturbageriet.

Too often I’ve walked past bakeries in Europe and could only smell the delicious things baking inside— so I was delighted to find Naturbageriet, a gluten-free bakery! For sweets, try the small pastries with poppyseeds. I’d recommend one of the whole-grain rolls with nuts. They’re small, delicious, and make a great filling snack to take with you on the train. Also good: the cheese focaccia bread. If you’re vegan, ask about vegan specials— they have vegan treats as well.

Another restaurant to check out is Riz Raz. They’ve got several locations and a fantastic vegetarian buffet. (And if you’re traveling with meat-eating friends, this is a good place to go.)

The Rainbow Walk in ARoS in Aarhus.
The Rainbow Walk in ARoS in Aarhus.

For a day trip from Copenhagen, check out Aarhus. It’s a beautiful Scandinavian town about 3 hours from Copenhagen. The scenery is just lovely— the train crosses part of the sea on its journey!— and a good way to see the country. Huge art museum ARoS Aarhus Kunstmuseumis a very cool stop, filled with art, with both funky modern and oil paintings from Denmark’s “Golden Age.” Bonus: a rainbow-hued walk at the top where you can see the city and countryside. Also, I stumbled across an excellent gluten-free pizza place, Mackie’s. The Americana kitsch is a bit over the top, but the gluten-free pizza is tasty, and piled high with a variety of veggies.

Gluten-free veggie pizza at Mackie's in Aahus.
Gluten-free veggie pizza at Mackie’s in Aahus.
Salad from ARoS's cafe.
Salad from ARoS’s cafe.

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