The Best Way To Spend A Day In This Stunning European City, According To Anthony Bourdain

Years after his death, Anthony Bourdain remains a household name for his many roles: chef, author, and professional foodie. However, he might be best known as the host of "Anthony Bourdain: Parts Unknown." This CNN TV series flew the chef to hidden and sometimes dangerous destinations to uncover local foods and the rich culture behind them.

However, Bourdain didn't always veer off the tourist path. In some episodes of his show, he visited popular cities and dug up the best food on offer, from overlooked street food joints to highly coveted five-star meals. Case in point: His trip to Copenhagen. The adventure debuted on Parts Unknown in 2013 and was the only time Bourdain visited the Danish capital for TV cameras.

Copenhagen is far from being a hidden gem — the city recorded 9 million overnight stays by tourists in 2018, according to Danmarks Statistik (via Aviation Week Network). It was also much tamer than many other places Bourdain featured. As he jokingly quipped at the start of his Copenhagen episode, "I usually try to avoid clean, orderly countries without massive social problems." But just like he would anywhere else, the TV personality searched for delicious food and discovered that a perfect day in the city is filled with eating. Specifically, Bourdain concluded that tourists should "come to Copenhagen, [eat at] Noma for lunch, John's for dinner."

Noma and John's are must-visit food spots

Anthony Bourdain wasn't shy in admitting his real reason for visiting Copenhagen: He wanted to dine at Noma. The eatery has been crowned William Reed's World's Best Restaurant five times and has earned three Michelin stars. And Noma doesn't just serve a fancy feast — it relies on sustainable sourcing and local ingredients to produce creative and vibrantly flavored dishes.

When Bourdain visited the acclaimed restaurant, he sampled a variety of menu items, including reindeer moss and mushroom, Danish pancake balls filled with herring, and pork skin and chocolate with freeze-dried blackberries. The restaurant has continued serving similarly inventive recipes since Bourdain's visit, but foodie travelers hoping to dine like the TV host won't have much longer to book a table. Noma announced that it would shutter its Copenhagen restaurant at the end of 2024 and turn it into a food lab.

John's, the spot Bourdain recommended for dinner, is a much more relaxed culinary experience but delicious nonetheless. The eatery is a hot dog stand that serves sausages with various condiments, from remoulade to pickled vegetables. On "Anthony Bourdain: Parts Unknown," Bourdain snacks on a deluxe hot dog made with organic sausage, wild garlic, bacon, mustard, and beer-pickled onions. Travelers can grab their own hot dog just around the corner from the famous Tivoli Gardens.

Other ways to spend a day in Copenhagen

The food brought Anthony Bourdain to Denmark's capital city, but there are plenty of other ways to spend a day in Copenhagen. The area is relatively walkable, though most locals rely on a bike to get around. Try renting a two-wheeler of your own and cycling around to get some of the best views of Copenhagen. Not sure where exactly to go? Take in the beauty of the historical Rosenborg Castle before biking southeast to Nyhavn, the city's picturesque canal. Then cross the Inderhavnsbroen bridge and make your way to Freetown Christiania, a sovereign village with a bohemian flair.

Copenhagen is surrounded by water, so besides biking or walking around the city, booking a boat tour is a great way to get a feel for the area. The tours take you through the canals and offer a different perspective of attractions such as the Copenhagen Opera House, Christiansborg Palace, and the Black Diamond Library. If you haven't maxed out your Copenhagen vacation with food and sightseeing, spend a few hours at Tivoli Gardens, one of the oldest theme parks in the world. It's still just as magical today — if not more so — as it was when founded in 1843.