Denmark is almost as flat as the Netherlands and its capital city, Copenhagen, resembles Amsterdam with her abundant canals and bikes. For refreshingly, car is not king here. A third of Copenhageners cycle to work and the comparative lack of motor traffic means I could hear church bells toll while walking breezily along the cobbled streets that comprise the spacious pedestrian shopping district of Stroget. With the skyline mercifully devoid of high-rise constructions, I could also appreciate the variety of church steeples, from the Oriental to the Western.

I loved visiting Vor Frue Kirke (Church of Our Lady), with its expansive coffered nave and white, uncluttered interior adorned simply with statues of the 12 apostles. Presiding over the altar is the simple but imposing figure of Christ fronting a backdrop of gold as the one hint of colour.

The NH Collection Copenhagen ( is close to both the airport and metro station and within walking distance of the Opera, Royal Library and Nyhavn. It looks over one of the city’s main canals and is a listed building that still reflects modernism with its straight lines, flat roofs and simple, classy contemporary Danish design.

From here I walked along Christiania, a former military base and now commune, past bike rental and bric-a-brac shops along the canal with its houseboats to the bridge across to Nyhavn, a 17th-century canalside district lined with brightly coloured townhouses. Beautifully located on the waterfront is Kompasset ( Here, I sat outside amid the sights and sounds of the harbour, where shops’ awnings wavered and the sails and masts of moored boats flapped in breezy harmony like one resounding orchestra. With a choice of three or five set courses paired with wines, each offering was presented like a gift and the Montvillers Champagne tasted like a bouquet of flowers.

The Design Museum ( is housed in a magnificent 18th-century Rococo building that was formerly Denmark’s first public hospital. Beautifully styled and presented, the rooms of the museum surround a square garden lined with gorgeous linden trees.

Tucked away along a trendy shopping street in the city centre off Strogen, I came to 42 Raw Vegan ( Its comprehensive menu is based on a healthy raw diet which is offered with real creativity. I enjoyed a sea green poke bowl consisting of brown rice, broccoli, cabbage, radish, avocado, edamame, seaweed salad, goma and mango dressing. I then reached Tivoli Gardens, one of the world’s oldest amusement parks and so full of wonder that it inspired Hans Christian Andersen and Walt Disney. On Tivoli Gardens’ western side is Nimb Brasserie ( Here the impressive and airy black and white interior was offset by vivid foliage and a breathtaking array of flowers arranged by the hotel’s own florist. I enjoyed the lemon sole meunière served with summer greens, new potatoes and bread sauce.

Helsingør, the second leg of my journey, lies only 40 minutes away by train. Once Denmark’s second-largest town, it’s reminiscent of fairytales such as Hansel and Gretel the Gingerbread Man with its yellow and terracotta painted houses.

At Café Olai (, a warm and accommodating husband and wife team attend with unflustered and consummate skill to the needs of the many Swedes who take the 20-minute ferry two miles across the Øresund to enjoy “smørrebrød”, the traditional Danish open rye-bread sandwiches. Here I too tucked into the delicious crispy salad consisting of hand-peeled cold-water prawns, eggs, cherry tomatoes, grilled asparagus, caviar and topped with homemade dressing.

North Zealand, nicknamed the Danish Riviera, is where Danes come for their summer holidays.

More bikes and boats than bucket and spade, there’s a joyful sense of multi-generation families collected around pontoons with diving boards and amongst the boats, the picnic tables and the villas with their private beaches.

I stayed at Hotel Villa Brinkly: a hidden gem sandwiched between the sea and a forest. Indeed the Egebæksvang Forest is perfect for a proper stroll or “forest bathing”, the simple and modern method of being calm and quiet amongst the trees. Meanwhile, the beach on the Øresund strait offers an uplifting vista across to Sweden.

The hotel is set on Strandvejen, the 40-kilometre beach road, which winds along the coast from Copenhagen to beyond Elsinore. It’s in the village of Skotterup, “the old Snekkersten” as the estate agents have it, and is full of former fishermen’s cottages that are now summer residences.

I couldn’t recommend it more highly: a quaint 19th-century, low-rise wooden boutique hotel with a homely style and even a magnificent personal chef.

I felt instantly becalmed by the neutral and serene colours and the peaceful vibe. Originally opened in 1933 for retired seafarers whose culture is reflected in the antiques and artefacts, this airy hotel has a real heart. The relaxed, calming vibe is the result of the loving care of its hosts, Annette and Erik.

The real magic takes place within the charming dining room with its chandelier and tasteful French furniture. This is where Annette serves dinner. A gourmet chef, she focuses keenly on local produce and her food is outstanding. Dishes are light and spoiling, and the chef is personally on hand to talk you through each one. It has to be experienced.

As does her husband Erik who offers his time and very British sense of humour to all and sundry. The peaceful setting is equally perfect for a solo traveller. Non-guests need to book the restaurant in advance.

I went on a shortish bike ride down to Humlebæk to the Louisiana Art Gallery ( It’s very good value at DKK 145 (around £17) and is a full day out. I loved the American Alex da Corte’s current exhibition with his installations and videos showing his fascination with consumerism and human behaviour.

I had lunch across the road at Gamle Humlebaek Kro ( Dating from 1682, this former staging post along the Strandveje is nicknamed “the nobleman’s highway”. Steeped in antiques and history, the restaurant is very popular with locals, which is always a good sign. I sat outdoors among the green gingham tablecloths to enjoy a delicious clay pot with herring and tart red lingonberries.

Back from the coast, streets of identikit bungalows provide homes that are rigorously neat, minimalist and full of designer touches possessing a Danish aesthetic that’s heavily influenced by the German Bauhaus school. They use plenty of natural materials like leather and wood and lamps, with natural shapes like fir cones, are typically placed in the middle of rooms.

Open from March to October, which encompasses the full Danish holiday season, is Café Vitus. Set in a modest hut and overlooking Snekkersten harbour, it’s where local celebrities gather in a low-key environment, seemingly anonymous among the pink hydrangeas and outside the simple shed-cum-chalet that belies the artistry of the food.

Here I enjoyed the freshest of shrimp and avocado salad before a deliciously naughty treat of hot chocolate with cream. A hidden gem.


Travel Facts:

Adam stayed at the Hotel Villa Brinkly, rooms start from £172 per night.

Easyjet fly direct from Edinburgh to Copenhagen, prices start from £42.