Today Lucy invites us to tour an old industrial and port area that has given rise to an emerging area that attracts artists, creatives and entrepreneurs: Refshaleøen. This street food market opened in 2018 and has more than 50 stalls distributed in a large area where it is possible to find all kinds of food, drinks and creative workshops, a meeting place between start-ups that offer cultural experiences, innovative projects and culinary events.
While planning my getaway to Copenhagen I read that it had been voted one of the happiest cities in the world. The motives? Education and health are free, it is one of the greenest cities on the continent and with an almost perfect economy without political ups and downs or corruption. I started my journey very excited with another very clear premise: keep in mind that it is a small country, so I did not expect to find large metropolises. But I did count on the cordiality in its small towns and a wonderful gastronomy. Because if you like food, experimenting with different specialties and delicatessens, then Copenhagen is definitely a place to visit.
And my first taste of food was visiting the Reffen food market in Refshaleøen, a perfect Sunday program.
How did I get to Reffen?
I think getting to Reffen is an adventure in itself: on the 9A bus from the central station to Refshalevej or the port bus to Reffen, or a canal cruise, which will take you to Refshaleøen. However, I recommend that if you visit Copenhagen in the summer like I do, you do so by bike. Bike rental is fairly straightforward and convenient. From Nyhavn, it takes about 15 minutes to reach Reffen, via the famous bicycle 'highway', and is the fastest way to get around the streets of the entire city. That is why 63% of the population of Copenhagen chooses it for their day-to-day life.
In spring and summer, Denmark is picnic country, which is why this picturesque market - that closes in the winter months - becomes the preferred place to enjoy its traditional 'street food'. Measuring around 6000 square meters, it is a relaxed place where you can also enjoy a beautiful view of the port, exhibitions by local artists, talks, concerts or creative workshops for children.
When shipbuilding left the area decades ago, many of the department stores and factories were left deserted, where all kinds of businesses have settled, from gourmet bakeries to craft breweries. And on the premises I was marveled by the Copenhagen Contemporary, where the welding room of Europe's largest B&W shipyard used to operate. Today it has been converted into beautiful rooms with an industrial aesthetic dominated by black and white colors where art exhibitions are held.
I discovered a market with sustainable criteria and organic products
Already in the market, they told me about their dogma of "reduce and reuse"; promoting the use of ecological packaging, reducing food waste and giving space to businesses that offer organic and local ingredients, among other measures. All stall owners are carefully selected for their skills, quality and concept and must work diligently according to this concept. The green and recycling mindset also extends to the food stalls themselves as most of Reffen is built from recycled material, and the stalls are made from old ship containers that are no longer in use.
Time for lunch ...
After touring the market where more than 50 chefs of 18 nationalities coexist, and soaking up aromas as delicious as they are varied, I decided to have lunch at Nordic Hotdog - a certified organic bronze stall - an imposing "hot dog" of handmade sausages from the Funen butcher in Nørre Søby and organic bread fresh from the oven, starring the craft beer Broaden & Build.
After a moment of relaxation contemplating the pier, it was time for dessert and I got carried away by the flavors of Fabiola & Virginia, both originally from an area of Italy that is specifically famous for its ice cream and sweets and one of the busiest "sweets" stalls.
A tour of Refshaleøen won't be complete without a stop at La Banchina, an Italian waterfront café with a private sauna and an idyllic pier.
A different spa experience?
In summer, the main attraction is the water, where market visitors are encouraged to swim before or after their meal (their motto is "dip, eat, repeat").
And of course I couldn't say goodbye to the place without discovering CopenHot, and navigating the canals of Copenhagen while enjoying a spa in an open-air bathtub. If you want to live a different experience in front of the sea and taste food from anywhere in the world, do not miss this place, extremely pleasant.
The key to Danish happiness lies in the concept called “hygge”, which began to be used in a massive way in the nineteenth century, and comes from a Norwegian word which means “well-being”. It is pronounced "hu-ga" and is often translated as "cozy." But as those who know say, hygge is much more than that: it is a total attitude towards life. Knowing this market is the perfect excuse to start feeling part of that hygge.