Where, When and Why
I went to Copenhagen in early July 2017 with a friend and we really enjoyed our time there! Undeniably, the weather was perfect for that time of year up in the nordic country of Denmark. We caught long, sunny days (weather in the low 70F/20C) and had a really wonderful time during CPH’s jazz festival.
About the destination
Copenhagen is known as the happiest city in the world! It is one of my favorite European cities. While it’s pretty, and it’s also practical and easy going. Futhermore, it’s at the top of my list for places to live in Europe. If you’re planning a trip, I can’t recommend going during their summer jazz festival enough. You don’t even have to like jazz! The city just comes alive, with music of all genres on every street corner, and a joyous atmosphere all around.
The national language is Danish, but English is readily spoken, especially in Copenhagen. Copenhagen is the capital of Denmark and the country’s most populated city. The currency used is the Danish Krone, not the Euro. As of late 2023, the $1 USD is worth about 6.97 Danish Krone, €1 Euro is about 7.46 Danish Krone. I highly recommend exchanging your currency to the Danish Krone, and making sure you have a credit card that works overseas with no fees. I loved using my Capital One Venture card because I don’t pay any overseas fees and earn travel rewards! Use my link for a $100 bonus upon approval. Truth be told, now would also be a fair time to warn that Copenhagen is a very expensive city!
An Eco-friendly, Foodie Paradise
Copenhagen is one of the greenest cities in the world, with plans in place to be carbon neutral by 2025! It is a foodie paradise, with several Michelin star restaurants. Copenhagen is surprisingly eco-friendly, with the majority of its hotels certified as such. Over 3/4 of all food served in public places is organic. Its busses are electric, it has won numerous awards, and it is aiming to become the world’s first carbon-neutral capital! The city boasts over 250 miles of bike lanes. Moreover, it’s also very clean, and you can find plenty of places to swim right in the city, like in Copenhagen Harbor.
Since we went during summer, we missed the famed hygge (pronounced hooga), which translates to coziness in English and is a time during the colder months when Danes wear cozy wool sweaters, hats with earflaps, sit by the fire and light candles – all to achieve the ultimate feeling of coziness!
Getting & Staying There
I took a 75 minute flight from Stockholm, Sweden (ARN) to Copenhagen, Denmark (CPH) for $49 one way, inclusive of a checked bag, through Norwegian Air. To sum up public transportation in Denmark: it is very reliable and easy to use. Therefore, use it to your advantage! Flying into ARN is going to give you the easiest access to downtown.
We really enjoyed our stay at Downtown Hostel (their real website is here, but we booked through HostelWorld) in Copenhagen. It was perfectly located in the center of the city, and everything we wanted to do was within walking distance. The hostel has a great social atmosphere; most patrons congregate at the downstairs bar for their great happy hour specials and to mingle. I would definitely recommend staying at this hostel, as it was clean and really well located. For two beds in an all female dorm room for a 4-night stay, we paid $405. In addition , it’s important to note that we did stay in the summer and during Jazz Festival: prime tourist season in Copenhagen.
To get the hostel from the airport (ARN), you can take a 10 minute taxi ride for around $25-30 USD, or jump on the train from the airport to København H, and hop on the bus from Hovedbanegården, Tivoli to Stormbroen, Nationalmuseet, followed by a 2 minute walk to the hostel. This train/bus combo will cost about $9-15 USD. I always use Rome2Rio to plan my transport!
Try This There – Things to Do
- My first tour in any city is always some sort of Free Walking Tour to get a better feel for where I am and learn new and interesting things. Copenhagen is a pretty level, flat city, making it very walkable.
- Buy the Copenhagen Card to save money if you plan to do a lot of the typical “tourist” things! I purchased it and did end up saving a lot of money. It also encouraged me to do a lot more touristy stuff than I normally would. Providentially, this was fun because Denmark has a really interesting history to learn about! You can even use this site to calculate if the card will be worth the cost. I bought mine at the airport.
- Rent a bike to get around! Here is a great app: Bycyklen
- The Tivoli Gardens amusement park actually served as an inspiration for Disneyland! Walt Disney visited in the 1950s and took notes to create his own park.
- Fairy tale lovers will fawn over the H.C. Anderson Fairy-Tale house. I loved visiting, and took pictures of the fairy-tales (as he wrote them!) to read on my plane ride.
- Viking Ship Museum
- The Design Museum
- Stroll around Magstraede and Snaregade, which are two of Copenhagen’s oldest streets. For example, they still have their original cobblestones and an array of different-sized, brightly-painted buildings.
- Experimentarium City is a world class science center with lots of hands on exhibits and interactive activities. By and large this place is great for families and science lovers!
- Copenhagen Zoo (and here is their Facebook page)
- National Aquarium Denmark
- Climb the Church of Our Saviour for a view of the city. However, it will take 400 steps to get up the spire!
- Shop along Strøget, which is one of the world’s longest pedestrian-only shopping avenues. Visit the LEGO flagship store here! LEGO is Denmark’s most famous export.
Iconic Sites – Things to See
- Nyhavn is a gorgeous, recognizable canal and harbor. Beautifully colored homes, restaurants and bars line either side of the old port. Hans Christian Anderson lived in homes n. 20, 67 and 18! By the same token, don’t forget to walk across Inderhavnsbroen, the kissing bridge!
- Christiansborg Palace – This palace is home to Denmark’s executive, legislative and judicial powers. It is the only building in the world that houses all three of a country’s government branches. You can visit the Royal Reception Rooms used by the Queen and Prince Consort for special events. Futhermore, you can visit the Royal Stables to visit the 20 or so horses housed there. Climb the tower here for great city views.
- Amelienborg, the home of Danish royalty that resembles a miniature Place Vendome. The Danish monarchy is the world’s oldest monarchy! To that end, visit the museum, too. Don’t miss the changing of the guards.
- Little Mermaid Sculpture, which, for anyone who was disappointed by the size of the Mona Lisa in France, get ready for round 2. Nevertheless, this tiny little statue has endured a lot of wear and tear over the years – decapitations, graffiti, saws and glue – but she’s been in Copenhagen for over 100 years.
- Gefion Fountain is one of the largest monuments in Copenhagen. It represents an impressive history, inclusive of the energetic Norse Goddess Gefion and how she created Zealand.
- Churchillparken is a public park that hosts Kastellet military fortress; St. Alban’s Church, the Anglican church in Copenhagen; and the Museum of Danish Resistance
- Visit Freetown Christiania, which was started back in 1971 when squatters took over an abandoned military base in Christianshavn and established their own commune. In a nutshell, they operate as a self-governing society of less than 1000 residents. In addition, they have outlawed hard drugs, weapons, theft, and cars. In essence, the sale of marijuana is also technically outlawed, but on famous Pusher Street they certainly seem to forget to enforce that. Here, you’ll find art galleries, cheap organic cafes, and workshops.
- Rosenborg Castle is a beautiful castle to visit, especially if you’re interested in seeing Crown Jewels and other royal regalia. The Crown Jewels displayed here are actually still in use too! Furthermore, be sure to visit the King’s Garden there as well – it’s beautiful.
- Copenhagen Opera House is a modern opera house, and one of the most expensive ever built!
- Copenhagen City Hall
- The Royal Library is a beautiful building
- Amager Strandpark if you’d like to relax at the beach just outside the city
- Copenhagen has park spaces all over the place – including in cemeteries. To that end, you can visit Assistens Cemetery, where writer Hans Christian Andersen and philosopher Søren Kierkegaard are both buried.
- King’s New Square is a pretty plaza just outside of the Royal Theatre, the D’Angleterre Hotel and the Kunsthal Charlottenborg.
Things to eat & drink –
- Restaurants: Visit the famous Noma for their 20 course meal, War Pigs, Coffee lab, Pate Pate, Mad & Kaffe, Bollyfood – Indian, Mother – pizza, Cafe N, Grod, 108, Relae, Torvehallerne Market, Gorm’s pizza, Restaurant Kronborg for Skagen toast, Restaurant Gorilla, Stella, Bistro Royal
- Bars: Moose Bar, Mojo Blues Bar, Ruby – one of the top 50 cocktail bars in the world 2016, Gothersgade (area), Lidkoeb cocktail bar, Balderdash, 1656 cocktail bar, Curfew, Mikkeller bar, FUGU
- For beer lovers: Carlsberg Brewery
- Reffen Copenhagen Street Food (Previously called Papirøen / Paper Island). This is a must visit multiple times kind of place! Moreover, it’s the largest street food vendor in the Nordic region, and all of my favorite meals in Copenhagen came from vendors here.
On the whole, Copenhagen is a must visit place in Denmark. I think a long weekend there would suffice!
Let me know if you go in the comments below!
Looking for something more adventurous? Try a road trip around Iceland instead!