At the beginning of March I spent a few days in Copenhagen. The first words that come to mind when describing Copenhagen are aesthetically pleasing. It’s a colourful city with lots of interesting architecture; alive with good looking stylish folk and a whole lotta bikes. Like, loads. Loads of bikes.
The Danish have been crowned the happiest people on earth, and I would tend to agree, based on a few days experience and a chat with a fair few locals. They’re a super chilled out bunch (remarkably so) with impeccable English, just in case you’re feeling a little out of your depth. I certainly did…some of my pronunciation of the street names was shameful enough, but I did give it a shot!
Copenhagen seems to be a wildly popular choice for a short city break at the moment – I saw so many images on Instagram of amazing looking food and cute little coffee shops that a trip was on my mind; and I booked some very reasonable flights mid February for about €60 with Ryanair.
We jammed quite a bit into four days, there’s so much to see! I was disappointed that the Tivoli Gardens were closed while we were there as they look like so much fun (rollercoaster, aquarium, music, food!) and so close to our hotel. Tivoli Gardens reopen again next week, on April 6th.
Here’s what we got up to and some tips you might find useful if you plan on visiting wonderful, wonderful Copenhagen…
Two things you need to know when going to Copenhagen. It gets unbelievably cold, the weather is insane. It’s also expensive, so preparing for those two things first as much as you can will make your trip all the more pleasant. Pack plenty of warm clothes, or clothes for layering. Pack gloves, a scarf…a hat, I’m not joking around here. If you think you’ve packed enough warm clothes, re-evaluate your suitcase! You’ll be walking around a lot (the city really isn’t that big) so you need plenty of protection against the elements. Pack a thick moisturiser to protect your face from the biting cold – broken capillaries will make you sad.
Other essentials are sunglasses, and a good sturdy umbrella. It’ll be an extension of your arm for a few days. So much so that your phone will be giving your new spoked bestie the side-eye.
Prices are high, so sure, there’s not a lot you can do about that. But some places are naturally better value. Prices really do vary when it comes to food and coffee and pastries; alcohol too, depending where you are. I went just after payday, which I think was a very wise decision on such a last minute trip!
As I’m not familiar with Danish Krone I downloaded a free app called ‘Currency Converter Plus’ which I used plenty of times when I was there to get a sense of pricing. You can use it offline which is great – it just needs to pick up the conversion rate that day just once, so open the app in the morning at your hotel to get a pretty accurate conversion rate. It came in handy when I chose a margarita that worked out at about €12 compared to a Long Island Ice Tea for €27. I’m all for spending money, but two margaritas with change left over is better than one Long Island, don’t you agree?
Botanic Gardens – Øster Farimagsgade 2B: The best way to see a city is to explore! We walked everywhere, coming across things serendipitously. We had a few places we wanted to see but in a small city like this it really was the best way. On our first day we came across the Botanic Gardens, which is part of the University of Copenhagen and the Natural History Museum of Denmark. The gardens contain over 13,000 species of plant. It’s such a pretty spot, and you can take the stairs to the top to see the plants below in some of the glass houses.
The Little Mermaid – Langelinie Pier: A little bit out from the city is The Little Mermaid, from Hans Christian Andersen’s fairytale. You’ll find her at the waterside at Langelinie Pier, with plenty of people taking her photograph. There are quite a few landmarks in Copenhagen related to Hans Christian Andersen but The Little Mermaid is by far the most popular. As my second favourite Disney princess I simply had to go!
Museum of Military History – Tøjhus Museum – Tøjhusgade 3: Close to The Little Mermaid, we walked around the peaceful grounds of Tøjhus. The museum reopens in May and is home to more than 8,000 military weapons.
Nyhavn – Nyhavn: A spot you’ll often see on postcards from Copenhagen, Nvyhavn is a cute little spot – brightly coloured buildings along the canal. The quay is pedestrianised so you can walk along the waterfront, go for dinner, hear some jazz or sit outside wrapped up in a blanket with an Irish coffee. Almost every spot in Nyhavn sells them! Another Hans Christian Andersen spot – he lived in number 20 where he wrote some of his stories, later moving to number 18. A canal tour will take you to Nyhavn too; most start at Holmens Church.
Church of Our Saviour – Sankt Annæ Gade 29: Although truly TERRIFYING, we had a great time making it to the top. You can see an image of the church below, a tall black tower with gold detailing. Anyway, it’s a gorgeous little church in a quiet area of Copenhagen. To gain entry to the top is 45KR (about €6.) You ascend countless wooden steps past a collection of church bells. On each new floor the steps are that little bit narrower than the last. Then you find yourself outside, really, really high up, where you can climb the metal stairs to the top. The final step is enough to hold a tiny person.
Anyone who knows me knows I’m ridiculous with heights. I had jelly legs the whole time we were on the metal steps, and my fingernails were bent from digging them into the handrails. This was the second height related thing that scared me; the first being the upper deck at the Botanic Gardens, which seems like its for babies once you conquer the Church of Our Saviour! I was glad I did it though, I felt accomplished and the views were fantastic.
Freetown Christiania: This place is so unique, it was worth a visit. It’s a green light district established in the 1970s by hippies. Freetown Christiania has it’s own set of rules, independent of Danish government. Photography is not allowed, for instance. Its a little tiny town made up of art galleries, cafes, workshops and music venues. It’s a peculiar little place and quite surreal! R.I.P. bad vibes.
Torvehallerne – Frederiksborggade 21: Torvehallerne is an amazing food market with over 60 stands selling everything from coffee to chocolate, olive oil, spices, oysters, fresh seafood…the list goes on. There are quaint little eateries in there too where you can get fancy porridge, tapas, sushi, tacos or you can simply stop for a cup of coffee or glass of wine.
We also took a walk to Frederik’s Church (The Marble Church) and Amalienborg Palace, which is home to the Danish royal family. I really liked this whole area (Frederiksgade) the atmosphere was cool and there are lots of little streets with nice cafes and shops around here.
It’s easy to see that the Danes are heavily influenced by American culture. When they speak English it has an American accent to it, and a lot of their food spots and offerings are definitely that of American cuisine. There’s a TGI Friday’s and a Hard Rock Cafe in the city too. The most traditional food we came across were ‘smørrebrød’, the Danish take on open faced sandwiches which you’ll find in most cafés, and on every street corner or square you’ll see a hotdog vendor, which are considered a symbol of Danish culture for the last 80 years.
Jensen’s Bøfhus – Vesterbrogade 11A: We arrived quite late on our first night, so went to this late night steakhouse around the corner from our hotel. Jensen’s offer steaks, ribs, burgers, wings, onion rings, all that kind of stuff! They also have a salad bar and a soft serve ice cream machine where you can serve yourself and add all sorts of toppings. A selection of beers, wine and cocktails are also available.
Barburrito – Gothersgade 27: A small burrito bar in a lovely area that serve HUGE burritos, tacos, burrito bowls, lemonades and beers. One of these will most definitely set you up for the day. I had the chipotle chicken which I would recommend. Cheese and guacamole cost extra.
Atelier September – Gothersgade 30: Cosy and very minimalistic café (many cafés in Copenhagen are!) with lots of rustic food on offer. Homemade breads, soups, salads. Good for a healthy breakfast (good coffee, avocado toast, yoghurts) and close to Nyhavn.
Neighbourhood – Istedgade 27: A very hip pizza and cocktail bar. Another minimalistic spot but it’s quite dark inside. The pizzas are organic served with fresh herbs and organic or cured meats. They also do a really unique brunch serving various ‘plates’ that include a breakfast pizza, muesli, meats and cheeses, fresh fruit and waffles.
Nose 2 Tail – Flæsketorvet 13: Meat and seafood restaurant with great service, atmosphere and of course food! In a weird location but worth a visit. The menu varies depending on what comes in fresh each day.
Urban Cafe, Urban House – Colbjørnsensgade 11: Urban Cafe is the bar at Urban House, a hotel/hostel that was right across the road from our hotel. The hostels in Copenhagen are really impressive. Because I booked so last minute, the most popular hostel (which look way better than some of the cheap hotels!) private rooms were full, but if I return to Copenhagen they would be my first choice.
Urban Cafe is modern with great music, cocktails, coffee and general useful amenities. When you log in to their WiFi, you get a city guide for exploring and eating which came in handy – it’s how I found Neighbourhood! They also host Happy Hour for a couple of hours each evening which is good in such an expensive city.
Café Vivaldi – Axeltorv 1: A large and bright café/restaurant with a huge variety of food and drinks at really good prices.
Lagkagehuset – various locations across the city: A bakery franchise which are located in various spots all throughout the city. They serve great coffee and have a huge selection of fresh pastries, cakes, bread, muffins…it’s difficult to make a choice. My friend Stephen suggested this place to me and I wish I had known sooner than my last day, as I would have went every morning for selection and price.
If you simply scrolled through the pictures and didn’t bother reading, feel free to check out more visual stuff in the form of a short video of the city below…you’ll find me in there a few times too!
Peter filmed our trip and did the same recently on his trip to New York, and will soon be posting some videos on India. His channel is here.
I took all my pictures with my iPhone 6S and he filmed the entire video using his iPhone 6S Plus. Y’know, in case you were curious.
And that’s it for my guide to Copenhagen! We didn’t do any shopping but there are plenty of excellent shopping districts with Zara, Tiger, H&M, & Other Stories, the list goes on. Copenhagen is a very safe city which is always great news; beware of bicycle lanes and above all have a good time!
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