Copenhagen is a great city to explore by foot or by bike because it isn’t very big. Denmark is the most liberal country in Scandinavia so you will find that they are able to do things (like drink on the streets and throw crazy street parties) unlike the other Scandinavian countries. The city is one of Europe’s oldest capitals with the oldest monarchy in the world.
When to Visit
The best time to visit are the summer months of June, July and August as it is the warmest. Although if you go in July, be aware that this is the vacation month for everyone in Denmark so many stores and restaurants close down for the month. During the winter, the scenery is supposed to be spectacular but you will get shorter days. If you want to avoid high season prices (from May to October) and still get decent weather, April would be a good month to visit as it is at the end of their spring.
Norwegian Air just started flying a 10 ½ hour direct flight Monday, Wednesday and Fridays from LAX to Copenhagen for very reasonable prices, and you can find them as low as $350 round trip if you book well in advance. They also fly direct from Las Vegas for as low as $320 (only Saturdays), New York for as low as $450 round trip (Tuesday, Wednesday, Friday, Sunday) and Orlando for as low as $450 (only Mondays). SAS flies direct from San Francisco, Chicago, Boston, New York, and Washington DC but prices run quite a bit higher than Norwegian Air. US and Canadian citizens don’t need a visa to visit if going for less than 90 days but make sure your passport is valid for at least 3 months after your departure date otherwise the airport authorities won’t let you get on your flight.
What to Pack
If possible, pack a carry on as it will allow you to walk from the metro stations to your hotel much easier and will save you a lot of money. Most places are very casual, even the bars and clubs. And for the girls, because the streets are usually cobblestone, I would suggest packing flats or sandals instead of heels. Like most other European countries, Denmark uses the two-pin continental plug which has two round pins and operates on 230V and 50Hz AC so make sure you bring a converter.
Currency & Payment
In Denmark, the Danish Krone is used as their currency. 1 USD is about 6.60 Danish Krone. Generally, Denmark is very expensive so be prepared to spend a lot. Food, drinks and cabs can be up to double the amount in Canada or the US. Tip isn’t expected here but people will usually leave their loose change. Credit cards are accepted almost everywhere.
I would avoid taking cabs when you can because they are so expensive. Copenhagen is a great city to explore by foot or by bike because it isn’t very big. If you are staying in the city center, there is a place called Cykelsmeden (around the corner from the Skt Petri hotel) where you can rent a bike for 75DK for the day. If you rent bikes from your hotel, check the price first as they sometimes charge about double this price.
Another great way to get around the city is by using a City Pass which allows you unlimited use of all public transportation in Copenhagen (metro, trains, buses including to and from the airport). You can buy a pass for either 24 hours (~$12USD) or 72 hours (~$30USD) at any metro station and it can also be delivered to your cell phone. If you don’t want to purchase the city pass but fly into the city, I would recommend taking the metro to and from the airport. It is very easy and quick (~15 minutes) and will cost only ~$6US. Also, 2 children under the age of 12 may accompany an adult free of charge on public transportation in Copenhagen and 2 children between the ages of 12 and 15 may travel together on one adult ticket.
If you plan on getting the City Pass but will also be visiting many of the museums and attractions around the city, it would be good to look into purchasing a Copenhagen Card which provide you with all the same transportation plus free admission to 74 of the museums and attractions around the city and discounts on restaurants. You can also bring along two children under 10 for free to all of the attractions. A 24 hour card costs around $55USD and a 48 hour card costs around $75. If this is something of interest, you can visit the Copenhagen Card website to calculate how much you would save if you know which attractions you want to check out.
Things to Know
Service in restaurants is not like the service in America, it is very slow and relaxed. Almost everywhere has free Wi-Fi so there is really isn’t a need to put your phone on a plan. Also, museums are usually closed on Mondays so make sure you plan for that. Some will give you free entry on Sundays.
Where to Stay
- Radisson Blu Royal Hotel
- Skt Petri Hotel – located in the central Copenhagen neighborhood of Latinerkvarteret and is a 6-minute walk from the Nørreport metro station and the 17th-century castle of Rosenborg.
- Hotel Sp34
- Axel Hotel Guldsmeden
- CPH Hotel – this is a boat hotel located in Copenhagen city center that consists of 12 double rooms that have panoramic views of the water and Copenhagen city center. They also have a sun deck that would be great for the summer months.
Where to Eat or Grab a Drink
- Dine at one of the many Michelin star restaurants – you will need to make a reservation at the earliest time possible in order to get into any of these though, and most are usually closed on Sundays and Mondays. If you are dead set on going to one of these restaurants, I would suggest seeing what reservation you can get and then book your trip around it.
- Geist – delicious unique dishes and great atmosphere (this was my favorite)
- 2 – sister restaurant to Michelin star restaurant AOC
- Torvehallerne market for breakfast or lunch
- Café Paludan for breakfast or lunch – this is a bookstore café that has very delicious food and has a homey feel
- Morgenstedet café in Christiania for a great homemade vegetarian lunch
- Go to a Danish bakery and try some Danish pastries – the most famous Danish pastry is called Kringle and it is amazing!
- Eat a Smørrebrod, the open-faced sandwich that is the most typical of Danish foods – you can find these almost everywhere
- Sticks & Sushi – great sushi with a bit of Danish fusion (there are a few around town)
- If you are in need of a quick healthy, North American fix in the morning or as a snack, go to Joe & the Juice – known for their smoothies but also have really good grilled sandwiches
- Have a drink or ice cream in Nyhavn while listening to jazz music (food here is overpriced and nothing special but it is a great atmosphere on a sunny day)
- Drinks at Ruby Bar or Underwood Ink – it will feel like you are in someone’s living room
- Drinks at Bo-Bi Bar – one of the oldest bars in Copenhagen, having been open since 1917
- Aamanns Etablissement – minimalist décor, homemade akvavit (licorice liquor) and microbrew beer; serves herring in a number of ways
- Café Victor – great bar in the city center to get drinks and is also open late for food
- Gammel Stand is a street in a nice area that has a lot of good bars
- Zefside is a fun bar in the city center that has more of a club atmosphere because of its dancefloor
What to Do
- Visit the Tivoli Gardens and go on some rides! The entrance fee is 100DK with no rides or 300DK for unlimited rides. If you are going on 3 of the big rides, it is worth getting the unlimited ride pass. The ride Star Flyer is worth going on just to get a view of the city!
- Shop on Strøget, the world’s longest pedestrian shopping street
- Take a sightseeing boat canal tour (cost ~$13US/80DK with Canal Tours) or DIY version on a kayak if the weather is good. If you are there with a group, it also might be fun to rent a GoBoat (cost 400DK for one hour or 1000DK for three), powered by solar energy, and take it around the canals yourself. You are allowed to drink in public in Copenhagen so if you do this, pack lunch and drinks for the day or you can pre-order a picnic basket.
- Rent bikes and bike around the city. If you are staying in the city center, there is a place called Cykelsmeden (around the corner from the Skt Petri hotel) where you can rent a bike for 75DK for the day. If you rent bikes from your hotel, check the price first as they sometimes charge about double this price.
- Walk around Christiania, a small “city” within Copenhagen where marijuana is legal. It is legally free from the government. There are no photos allowed here though.
- Go to the top of Cor Frelsers Kirke tower in Christianshavens for a great view of the city (45DK)
- Go to Distortion if you are in Copenhagen the first week of June. This festival consists of massive street parties in the daytime, an intimate club festival for new music (Distortion club) and an awesome two-day rave in the Copenhagen harbour.
- Visit the Carlsberg Brewery
- Visit the Design Museum
- Visit the Rosenborg Castle
- Visit the statue of the Little Mermaid
- Visit the Danish Maritimes Museum and the Kronberg castle in Helsingor (a 50 min train ride north of Copenhagen, 108DK per person for a one-way ticket)
- Visit the Louisiana Modern Art Museum
- Visit the National Aquarium of Denmark (northern Europe’s largest aquarium)
- Visit the Roskilde’s Viking Ship Museum (about 30 minutes outside of Copenhagen)
- Take the train to Malmo, Sweden one afternoon
- There is a five-mile Öresund bridge and tunnel connecting Copenhagen and Malmo
- Go see the Turning Torso, Scandinavia’s tallest building
- Hang out with real Vikings at the Foteviken Viking Reserve (20 minutes south of Malmo in Skanors by bus)
©2016 Christie Lee