My Top Five Places to Eat in Scandinavia

Earlier this year, I was whisked away from work to accompany some friends to Europe on their business trip/vacation. They were headed to Denmark and Sweden, and I was lucky enough to be invited along. We had a grand time strolling through Copenhagen, Denmark, and Malmö, Sweden.

After Malmö, I was to travel with my friends to Stockholm for a day of sightseeing then to Amsterdam, Netherlands, to visit some European friends that I hadn’t seen in five or six years. I convinced my husband, Landis, to join me for the day and a half I had left on the trip. He’s a pilot, so he scheduled a route that would put him in Amsterdam at the same time as me.

Here is a list of the five places/experiences we most enjoyed for small and large eats and drinks.

Café Norden – Copenhagen, Denmark

A cocoa drink sits in the foreground with a muffin-like pastry with pink frosting on a plate.
Café Norden, Copenhagen. Photo © Kat Bennett.

After strolling along the Strøget in Copenhagen, my travel mates and I took the recommendation from our guidebook and ducked into Café Norden. It was bitterly cold and the wind was biting; all the Danes I spoke to were upset that there had been a warm spell a fortnight before. This arctic blast was not making anyone happy.

We, however, were ecstatic to be in Copenhagen in a nice upstairs window seat at the café. My friends were enjoying an afternoon kaffe and I had chokolade with a cupcake muffin—I don’t know how else to describe it. There was frosting like a cupcake (but it wasn’t too sweet), the crumb topping was more like that of a breakfast muffin, and there were cherries throughout. I’d definitely order that again. I would perhaps change the drink to a kaffe for myself as the chokolade was a little too rich and wonderful to pair with the cupcake muffin—but it was definitely one of the best hot chocolates I’ve had in my life.

Davidshall – Malmö, Sweden

A trio of lamb chops curve over a dipping sauce at an intimately lit table.
Davidshall, Malmö. Photo © Kat Bennett.

I found this tapas bar while wandering around my hostel area. It was dark and comfortable—just the right place on a snowy day to have a glass of Laphroaig. I like it neat with a drop or two of water to open up the liquor. (This is something I actually learned about from a friend who took me out for a whiskey tasting in San Francisco.)

I’d had a rather large repast for lunch in the early afternoon, so tapas seemed the best around 8pm that night. I ordered the small plate of lamb (Timjan- & vitlöksmarinerade lammracks m. plommonchutney) to be followed by a chocolate square of divine invention (Mjölkchokladtryffel m. rommarinerade). The lamb was truly nice, but the dessert blew my socks off with the Laphroaig. I wish I’d had a chance to go back with my mates to taste more of their menu.

Café Blue˚ – Amsterdam, Netherlands

A beautiful espresso drink with a swirl pattern in the foam poured into a white cup with a biscuit on the side.
Café Blue˚, Amsterdam. Photo © Kat Bennett.

Café Blue˚ wasn’t so much of an eating spot, but more of us just getting out of the snow and cold for a late morning peckish kaffie warm up. The fact that it is up a slanted glass elevator and has a commanding view of Amsterdam was terrific! Landis and I watched the snow flurries come in from the North, glad to be viewing the weather indoors rather than outside experiencing it.

We had been using a walking tour downloaded from a free podcast app. Instead of using one set of headphones and one device, I downloaded it to both of our devices. As we walked, we made sure to keep the outside earbud in and our inside ears free to hear ourselves talk to each other, and we pressed start/stop in tandem. If you can get this to work, it’s a great way to tour together without getting tangled. The tour itself was great as well—Café Blue˚ was an off-hand recommendation from it.

Bistro Bij ons – Amsterdam, Netherlands

A plate of pan-fried mussels with chips and salad.
Bistro Bij ons, Amsterdam. Photo © Kat Bennett.

In Amsterdam, my husband and I met with some friends that we haven’t seen since 2006 when they attended a conference in Berkeley. Being Dutch, they wanted to take us to a traditional Dutch restaurant, but they made a disclaimer that the place we were headed may be too Dutch even for them.

Bistro Bij ons is a cozy establishment, and the staff/owners are talkative and friendly. We had a mother (with short, pink hair) and daughter serving us and recommending what was best for our experience on the menu. Landis and our friend Tessa decided on the Stamppot with smoked sausage. I ordered Essie’s pan-fried mussels, and our friend Aldo picked the Shipper’s Delight. All the dishes were very good. I don’t usually go for mussels, but trying out new things is part of why I love to travel.

Starbucks Schiphol Airport

A white Starbucks cup with a beautiful rosetta in the foam.
Schiphol Starbucks, Amsterdam. Photo © Kat Bennett.

I know, Starbucks really shouldn’t be on the list, but Landis and I can’t seem to find a good Flat White anywhere in the US. With one on the menu, Starbucks is the last chance to order it before going home.

We discovered this delicious coffee drink on our honeymoon in New Zealand. I’m not normally a coffee drinker at all, preferring tea at all times of the day, but there is something about the Flat White that I find just perfect. I feel it’s somewhere between a cappuccino and latte. It’s just sheer heaven in a cup.

Standing on a cobblestoned street, Kat holds up a piece of herring speared with a pickle on a toothpick.
Kat enjoys some fresh herring. Photo © Kat Bennett.


Bonus eat: Fresh Herring outside of the Westerkirke – Amsterdam, Netherlands

We tried the herring with onion and pickles on a recommendation. We had ours toothpick-style, but I hear another way to eat it is to grab the tail, tilt your head back, and chomp away.

We didn’t get a choice, as the guy at the stand immediately hacked it for us. However, we were fine with that… now we have something to go back for!