Copenhagen is beautiful, clean and charming. The city is lively – especially at night with people drinking and celebrating in the streets but…it seems a bit muted. I can’t compare it to hectic cities in Asia but it was a pleasant trip that I thoroughly enjoyed and found a bit relaxing despite all the walking I did!
Where to stay:
I stayed in the center of Nørrebro – which is a pretty hip neighborhood. It’s vibrant with a mix of cultures. Being in Europe, I was keen to use Airbnb and you will find lots of clean lines and modernistic style that so represents Denmark design these days. Vesterbro is also now a lively place to live (formerly full of sex shops and the like) but now it’s hip with lots of cafes.
Osterbro is supposed to be nice albeit a little quiet if you prefer that or going with small children.
What to see and do:
+ Stroll the streets of Copenhagen or better yet, rent a bicycle and roam around like the locals do! Just be aware of the rules and don’t get in anybody’s way. I found it hard to navigate while riding around myself so opted to walk a lot of the time.
+ Explore the food markets: Torvehallerne food market in the city center is open year round and totally modern and luxurious with groceries, bakeries, coffee, wine, beer, delis and fast food – most of it organic. Don’t expect cheap prices here. You can sit outside or if you are lucky, find a spot inside. Copenhagen Street Food is an entirely different experience, still in city centre, but across the harbour on Papirøen (Paper Island). The food market Kødbyens Mad & Marked is located in Copenhagen’s Meatpacking District – definitely smaller and a more chill and relaxed atmosphere. Be prepared to eat and drink until your heart’s content.
+ The Little Mermaid: I suppose it’s a must see if you’re in Copenhagen but I personally skipped it since it was out of the way.
+ Nyhavn: This little part of town I absolutely do NOT skip. The restaurants along the street are touristy and expensive but walking along the opposite side of the canal makes for great views and pictures. This is the same time I met a new friend – another solo female traveler and all because she needed her picture taken.
+ Tivoli Gardens: It’s a must-visit. It’s the second oldest amusement park but don’t think it’s gaudy or over the top. It’s great to take a stroll around the gardens and lakes. There’s also fireworks at night with a dazzling and fun soundtrack. If it’s a beautiful day, I recommend getting a beer or a glass of wine inside and people watch while getting some sun.
+Freetown Christiania in the district of Christianshavn: Everybody who’s anybody knows about Christiania. It’s basically a freetown created in 1971 by a group of hippies who occupied some abandoned military barracks on the site and developed their own set of society rules, completely independent of the Danish government.
It’s a society within a society and it allows for people to live freely and how they want. You can tour the whole place and see funky homes – which are free (you can’t buy a home in Christiania, you have to apply for it and if you get it, you get it for free).
There’s obviously infamous Pusher street where there’s weed and hash dealing. You will see drug dealers in huts wearing scary ski masks to protect their identities. When you get on Pusher street, do NOT take pictures. Do not even have your phone or camera out if possible. Once you get off Pusher Street, pictures are allowed.
It’s a very safe area but just keep your wits about you. I was taking a picture of the stage once (allowed) and had a guy come up next to me talking to himself because he was high. There’s NO buying/selling of hard drugs but I’m sure some of it happens anyway when it shouldn’t.
I recommend going to the local grocery store and buying the official Christiania beer and walking around the whole place.
+ Church of our Savior – The Spire: This is a church with a sprawling spire outside on top of it. To get sweeping views of the city, you need to pay a small fee and climb up the stairs. To get to the very top though, the staircase goes up OUTSIDE the spire itself. It’s incredibly windy up there and not for the fate of heart or anybody with a fear of heights.
+ Kronborg Castle: You can’t go to Copenhagen and miss out on castles! Kronborg Castle in Elsinore, north of Copenhagen, is one of northern Europe’s finest Renaissance castles. It’s super famous because it’s known worldwide from Shakespeare’s Hamlet. I have a thing for castles and history so this was fun.
+ Frederiksborg Palace: Is another castle you can tour in northern Denmark. I loved going down inside the ruins underground here. It’s a bit creepy and fun to roam around in the dark. Be prepared for a lot of walking inside as usual!
+Have dinner with a Danish family! At Dine with the Danes, you can have a nice home-cooked dinner with a Danish family and enjoy the “hygge” (coziness) of the country and vibe. I had a GREAT time with my host family and I still keep in touch with them today via Facebook. After dinner, us “kids” went to Tivoli Gardens together!
+Enjoy dinner at one of the Michelin starred restaurants that Copenhagen has glittering about. If you can’t grab a reservation at Noma, there’s plenty other places to have a delicious (and expensive as hell) meal.
Tips & Tricks:
+ The Danish use the Krone – not the Euro. Grab some cash for small purchases from the ATMs at the airport but almost everywhere accepts credit card.
+ People here are super nice and friendly! and quite tall. They’re also quite happy. 🙂
+ Stay out of the way of the bicycles!
+ Stay away from the tourist traps – especially bars and restaurants on the main roads.
+Get the Copenhagen card – comes with a slew of discounts and free public tranportation.
+ If you don’t have the time or the energy to plan your Denmark trip, check out my services at Up & Explore where I take the pain & stress away from planning your vacation. 🙂