A Fashion Person's Guide to 24 Hours in Copenhagen

Make the most of a layover in Denmark's capital with good shopping, great design and plenty of hygge.
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Showgoers during Copenhagen Fashion Week. Photo: Christian Vierig/Getty Images

Showgoers during Copenhagen Fashion Week. Photo: Christian Vierig/Getty Images

Copenhagen has racked up quite a bit of attention from the fashion media over the past year or so, and it's long overdue. Not only does Denmark's capital play host to the Nordic Region's largest fashion event, Copenhagen Fashion Week, but its distinctive Scandinavian street style culture is being replicated all across the globe thanks to a bevy of big-time bloggers and influencers. Then there's hygge (pronounced hue-gah), a now-ubiquitous Danish lifestyle trend that comes from making ordinary, everyday moments more meaningful. It's been cropping up everywhere and for good reason: it helps to explain why the Danish are known to be the happiest people in the world. (More on that later.)

With all the buzz Copenhagen's getting, we rounded up a few of the city's must-see spots for any fashion, beauty or design junkie making a quick Danish pit stop. Skål!

Hit up the city's best shopping

Start by browsing Copenhagen's best shops, boutiques and department stores, all of which run the gamut from tip-top luxury retailers to European-beloved vintage sellers. Traditional shoppers will have a field day at concept store Storm, Copenhagen's answer to Colette, as well as Apair, a popular luxury footwear retailer. Illums Bolighus serves as the city's most esteemed department store, while customers at all price points will enjoy Flying Tiger for cute, smartly designed knickknacks. Thrift store junkies will find success with Time's Up, the best vintage store in Copenhagen (which has a killer e-shop and Instagram feed to boot). Finally, don't miss Acne Archive, the Swedish brand's 700-square-foot outlet. It's located just outside the city in Nørrebro, but ask anyone who's been able to score a shearling jacket at an 80 percent discount: it's definitely worth the trek.

Get your Danish interior fix

The Danes are known for their chic, minimalist design talents, the products of which can be seen from retailers and industrial design brands all over the city. Put Normann Copenhagen, a Tumblr pink retailer that displays the latest in Danish design, at the very top of your must-see list; in 2014, The New York Times named it one of Europe's 12 shopping treasures. Hay House showcases the best of modern furniture and decor, and Tivoli-located boutique Made in Denmark only carries products designed and manufactured in Denmark. Other notables include Designer Zoo, Gubi Store, Vipp Concept Store, Paustian, Designdelicatessen and Nordic Nesting. Wrap it all up at the sprawling, internationally acclaimed Danish Museum of Art & Design, founded in 1907.

Check out the local labels

With the Copenhagen fashion scene picking up international steam, now's the time to tune into those labels based in Denmark, many of which have brick-and-mortar shops reflecting their brand. With stores located throughout Copenhagen and Berlin, cool-kid retailer Wood Wood epitomizes that effortless Scandinavian vibe; bookmark its booming e-commerce business, too. Baum und Pferdgarten brings avant-garde contemporary design to wearable womenswear, while Henrik Vibskov is known for his chic, streetwear-inspired men's pieces. But the most internationally renowned Danish talent right now may be By Malene Birger, whose pieces are carried in Birger's own Copenhagen flagship, as well as on Net-a-Porter, Shopbop and Forward by Elyse Walker.

Take a bike ride

Due to narrow streets and difficult traffic patterns, most Copenhagen residents opt to bike rather than drive. Two-wheelers are everywhere at all times of the day; very few wear helmets and many cycles don't have lights, making them treacherous to ride at night. But biking is still the best, most local-approved way to get a feel of the city, and it's easy for visitors to participate. Go for a rental via City Bike, Copenhagen BicyclesDonkey Republic or Baisikeli, the latter of which rents secondhand vehicles to finance an annual shipment of bikes to Africa. Guided bike tours are also a great option, with Cycling Copenhagen being the leading company at a cost of 299 DKK (or $43) per day.

Experience hygge

Hygge was born as a means to survive the nation's dreary seasons, and it now represents many aspects of the Danes's rich domestic and personal life. Hygge House describes the concept best, saying: "With so many cold, dark, days, the simple act of a candle glowing with a cup of coffee in the morning or a home-cooked evening meal with friends can make a huge difference to one's spirit." There's no one word that hygge directly translates to in English, but consider it a combination of "coziness," "happiness" and "comfort."

Visitors can participate in these simple rituals all over Copenhagen, from watching the sunset over the docks in Nyhavn to bringing a picnic to King's Garden. Pastries and coffee are a sense of excitement throughout the city, too. Get some world-famous Vienna Bread or Cinnamon Snails at Andersen Bakery, Leckerbaer, Brød or Mirabelle, and enjoy a latte with friends at Bevar's, Paludan, Bertels or Norden. But the only way for tourists to truly experience hygge? Put your damn phone away and be present.

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