Just before Christmas we were lucky enough to have a short break to Copenhagen. We’ve been to Finland a couple of times before, lastly when Big S was about 9 months old and I remember being so amazed at the amount of dairy-free foods in supermarkets in a Scandinavian country. My Finnish friend explained it was partly due to the fact that lots of people who originate from Lapland cannot tolerate lactose, so we were hopeful of equally good provision in Denmark.
Despite knowing that Danish people often speak amazing English (and this is so helpful if you’re navigating allergies in another country) we still ordered a downloadable Equal Eats card which is fantastic not only for ordering in restaurants and feeling confident that your message is getting across but also for comparing allergens on food packaging. You might imagine you’d be able to recognise some semblance of a word for an allergen, but this isn’t always the case, and in particular in Danish the word for peanut is nothing like other languages we are familiar with.
We flew with British Airways who were fantastic with allergy announcements and asking for no nuts to be consumed on the flight. The journey home was particularly good with one cabin crew, Jodie, going out of her way to ensure Little S was ok, didn’t need anything and the nut announcement was adhered to. It was also better that they made the announcement once everyone was on board and just before the safety demonstration – we’ve had previous flights where the announcement has been really early, before some people have boarded and when people are getting settled and not really listening. It works so much better when there is a captive audience! One thing though is that as a family with serious milk allergies it is disappointing that BA serves Tyrells salted crisps as their meagre offering to the non Euro-travellers. The crew proudly announced that these crisps are gluten-free but if you avoid may contains (which is obviously a really good idea on a flight) and you have a milk allergy you cannot eat the only snack on offer. There are plenty of allergen-free crisps out there which would perhaps be a more inclusive option to offer….
We, as is our preference, stayed in a self-catering Airbnb in the Vesterbro area which was ideal for reaching the Central Station, shopping area and Tivoli Gardens. Our first outing was a trip to the nearest supermarket, which is also a big holiday highlight for us! We love to see the local produce and find new exciting things to try. The local supermarket was rather lovely, an Irma store which turned out to be a bio/organic shop. We were expecting food to seem very expensive but it was no worse than the UK right now. The range of dairy-free milks, yogurts, butters and cheeses was really impressive – there was no need to have brought our own (which we had!). Alpro, Violife, Naturli and Oatly were the brands we recognised.
Bread was as difficult as it is in most countries and we didn’t find any that wasn’t a ‘may contain’ at the very least for sesame, same with cereal which nearly all contained traces of nuts. We didn’t find any suitable biscuits or chocolate either. Luckily we’d brought plenty of supplies from home – breads, wraps, biscuits, chocolate spread, Tartex vegetarian pate and snacks. We also came across Netto and Lidl supermarkets – both were less well stocked for free-from products but they all had at least a small range. Gluten-free was well served in all the shops we visited.
Despite our adventurous intentions before travel we often end up choosing to eat in, take sandwiches for lunch or opt for familiar options. Copenhagen is a real foodie destination but we didn’t feel brave enough to attempt any traditional Danish food, and most restaurants we checked didn’t have obvious allergen menus. Maybe we should have been more adventurous, but we can find that quite stressful and as we wanted a relaxing mini break we ended up being extra careful. Rather than meals out we went out for a glogg or fancy drink and then had safe home-cooked food instead.
One evening, we visited Tivoli gardens which are a true winter wonderland – yes it is a theme park, but it’s classy and as pretty as a picture with all the twinkling lights and historic rides. You can see why it was the park that inspired Walt Disney; it really is a must visit.
Luckily for us one of the restaurants in the park (you can also enter without paying for park entry) was a Wagamama. Brilliant, a trustworthy chain! Maybe it’s boring, but it’s safe, not too edge of the seat stressful and we all love a good Wagamama, so we were all happy diners. Of course, the food and service were as good as ever and how fabulous to be able to get good quality, reliably safe food in a classy theme park!
Unfortunately for us our trip was Sunday to Wednesday and many of the museums are closed on Mondays, with a few shut on Tuesdays too, so our options were more limited than could have been; beside the December weather was cold and wet so not ideal for outdoor sightseeing. We did do a really good river/harbour boat tour from the historic area of Nyhavn, walked the shopping street (Klostergangen) and many Christmas markets, went to the fantastic design museum and the classic Glyptoteket which has the most wonderful inner courtyard with tropical trees and fountains.
It was a whirlwind trip but we felt we got a flavour of this beautiful and easygoing city. It was lovely and Christmassy with all the twinkling lights, but I also think a summer visit would bring the outdoor aspect of the city to life too. Would I recommend Copenhagen as an allergy destination? Yes I would, there was loads to do and everyone we came across was so friendly and welcoming. Whilst we were less adventurous than we could have been, we managed to shop well and also eat out. If I went back I’d definitely take plenty of bread, chocolate, biscuits, as well as our Equal Eats cards!
Have you been to Copenhagen, or another part of Denmark? How was it for you and your requirements?