While Denmark may be known for its indulgent pastries according to Danish olympian Micha Østergaard, its capital is also filled with myriad opportunities to be active. Most famous for holding the Danish and Nordic record in the 200 m butterfly since the 2008 Beijing Olympics, Østergaard now lives and works in Berlin as a Nike trainer, but often travels back to Copenhagen to visit family and friends. From tasty porridge shops to up-and-coming running brands, here are her recommendations for the best places in Copenhagen for gym rats, clean eaters, and fitness enthusiasts.
A Bowl of Porridge a Day...
“I would say we have a strong porridge culture in Denmark,” says Østergaard about her nation’s love for the oaty-snack. It is fitting then, that the world’s first porridge bar, Grød, opened in Copenhagen’s Nørrebro district in 2011. Founded by Lasse Skjønning Andersen after eating porridge daily helped him battle obesity, the chain of health-conscious eateries offers a wide variety of dishes using seasonal ingredients from berries to seeds, sauces to sprinkles. According to Grød, porridge is for life, not just for breakfast, as they also offer a range of savory dishes –such as pea risotto and an Asian rice porridge with chickenm, peanuts, and spring onions—on their lunch menu.
Reflecting Denmark’s long tradition of minimalist aesthetics, Saysky is a performance sportswear brand aiming to provide premium kit for a new generation of athletes who are both design-conscious and serious about sport. Founded in 2013 by former professional windsurfer Lars C. Pedersen, the brand specialises in apparel for runners and triathletes, making their products the perfect gear to don before an energetic run around Copenghan’s lakes.
Situated at the heart of the Danish capital, Copenhagen’s triptych of lakes really sets the city apart. Allowing residents and tourists alike to easily escape into nature, the areas around the lakes are often filled with motivated joggers, cyclists, as well as brunch enthusiasts enjoying a morning snack at one of the many nearby cafés. Their proximity to the city center also means that you can easily segue back into town if you fancy cutting your run short to do some shopping. While particularly popular in summer, Østergaard maintains winter visits are just as enjoyable, especially when followed by a hot cup of cocoa in the snow.
Beyond the health of its customers, 100% organic vegan café The Organic Boho also aims to inspire visitors to be conscious about sustainability and the health of our planet. Offering a healthy menu of rainbow-coloured, seasonal, plant-based food, the café runs cooking classes so you can make your favourite dishes at home, know their nutritional value, and learn how to limit food waste. “It’s also completely Instagram-friendly,” says Østergaard, in a nod to their rainbow-coloured smoothies and treats.
Another organic snack spot that will make your insides radiate happiness is Gló. Offering a range of salads, wraps, healthy burgers, and shakes made with fresh ingredients, the café’s location inside department store Magasin Du Nord makes it an ideal spot for a clean eating pitstop amidst a shopping marathon.
Fancy a free boat trip along Copenhagen’s waterways? With Green Kayak, you can head out on a no-cost kayaking trip in return for collecting trash in the water and sharing your experience on social media. Founded with the aim of combating plastic pollution in our oceans, the organisation has collected 25 tons of waste to date. So, if you want an exciting day out that also helps the environment –and gives you a unique view of the city –pick up your paddle, life jacket, and trash bag and get collecting!
Located in an old butcher’s shop, complete with stylish white-tiled walls, Butcher’s Lab is a popular crossfit gym in Copenhagen. Aiming to build a sense of community, the gym runs a variety of social gatherings and competitions, and welcomes anyone who wants to train, regardless of their experience. Head over to fit in your daily workout with one of the gym’s trainers, or to take one of their gymnastics or weightlifting classes before enjoying a restorative meal in the surrounding restaurants of Copenhagen’s famous Meatpacking district.
Want to take your workout routine to new heights? Why not check out Konditaget Lüders, a recreational space on top of a multi-storey car park in Copenhagen’s Nordhavn district? Providing you with 2,200 m2 to use as you please, this alternative urban space and playground boasts a wide range of equipment to facilitate your training, from a 60-meter sprint course to trampolines, swings, and a climbing spiral.
Did you know that the popular sushi chain Sticks ‘n’ Sushi—which now has restaurants in London and Berlin—started in Copenhagen? The restaurant was founded by brothers Jens and Kim Rahbek and Thor Andersen, who took inspiration from their Danish-Japanese heritage to create a unique menu combining both countries' culinary traditions. Cooking up a storm with their fresh fish and grilled yakitori sticks—the latter of which they initially included on their menu “in case the Danes weren’t ready to eat raw fish”—Sticks ‘n’ Sushi is regarded as one of Denmark’s leaders in Japanese cuisine. Check out one of their twelve Copenhagen locations for a nutritious meal to revitalise you after your energetic escapades. “It’s not just the sushi—they also have delicious salads and cauliflower!” says Østergaard.