It’s probably not something you eat back home. The Danish people aren’t known worldwide for their cuisine like the Italians and French. Still, when you’re in Copenhagen, you have to try some local dishes.
There are a few ways to enjoy the tastes of Denmark – food tours, pastries, New Nordic cuisine and open-faced sandwiches are just a few. Copenhagen food doesn’t have to be complicated, but don’t just blindly walk around searching for traditional Danish food. Use our recommendations and food guides to make the most out of your time in Denmark and experience Danish cuisine.
Copenhagen's Food Scene FAQs
Danish food is something you should try when you’re in Copenhagen. There are essentially two ways to try Danish food in Copenhagen – traditional and New Nordic.
Traditional Danish food is meats – often pork – and root vegetables like potatoes, carrots and beets. There’s also a lot of fish, especially pickled and smoked fish, served with sauces. New Nordic meals use traditional Danish recipes and ingredients prepared with modern, gourmet techniques. New Nordic cuisine became popular in the early 2000s and it’s delicious. Copenhagen has the most Michelin stars of any Scandinavian city so there are many great places to try Danish food.
In Denmark, tipping is not necessary. It will seem weird for some travelers, especially Americans, but you may not even have the option to tip if paying by card. Dining out can be a little pricey, but when you factor in a 20% tip (like in the states) you won’t be paying much more. Service staff is paid a high enough wage that tipping is not necessary. You’ll get used to it after a few days in Copenhagen.
There are a lot of food options in Copenhagen. Some will not require a reservation, but it’s smart to always make one – especially in the summer months.
Because wait staff and kitchen staff are paid a higher wage, restaurant owners schedule only the staff they need for dinner reservations. Many restaurants are even closed for lunch due to the same reason. Make a reservation if you want to be guaranteed a dinner.
Many restaurants are smaller than some travelers are used to. Copenhagen is an old and historic city, so many buildings are not suited for large dining rooms. This makes for an intimate meal, but less seats available for dinner – so reserve yours.
Service in Copenhagen is typical of Europe, but may be different than some non-European travelers are used to. Many guests will linger at their dinner table for a long time, so fewer tables will be available through the night. This contributes to the need for a reservation.
In the summer months, especially July, it’s common for restaurants to close for the month. Supply and demand will dictate the need for a reservation in the summer months when it is peak travel season. Just be safe and make a reservation.
Restaurant service in Copenhagen is similar to dining service across Europe. Servers will often share tables, are comfortable with you waving them down for help and generally leave you alone while you eat. It’s a bit different for Americans who are used to servers being extremely attentive. In Copenhagen, a server will often assume you are happy unless you speak up or wave them down for something. They don’t find this rude, and you shouldn’t consider it bad service for them to allow you to eat your meal in peace. It’s just a different dining culture for most Americans.