In 2018, I returned to Northern Europe, this time to Copenhagen, the capital of Denmark. The “happiest city of the world” had been on my list for a while now and when the opportunity arrived, I jumped right on it. What I found was a relaxed, peaceful, well-organized city, without big ostentatious luxury but with the presence of the famous “hygge”, the Danish art of knowing how to appreciate the small pleasures of life in a simple and relaxed way. Was one of the trips where I felt the most relaxed and in peace and I wouldn’t mind coming back again.
Below you can find some useful trip tips to help you enjoy the most of Copenhagen.
Denmark is a country composed of a big peninsula and several islands. The capital, Copenhagen, located in the Zealand island, extends itself all the way to the Amager island.
The Best Time to Visit Copenhagen
The best time to visit Copenhagen is during Spring and Summer to get the best out of the open air areas of the city. Spring is a good time to take advantage of the lowest costs of accommodation and flights, whereas the Summer shows the best side of the city, in a time in which several cultural events are held.
How to get to Copenhagen
There are several options for direct and non direct flights leaving to Copenhagen from most of the main cities in Europe. You can search for flights here: Flights to Copenhagen
From the airport you can reach the center of Copenhagen via the following transports:
If your final destination is Copenhagen’s central station (KØbenhavn H), the train will be your best option. Comfortable, fast (about 16 minutes to the center). The train depart from Terminal 3 and run every 10 minutes. The tickets can be acquired at the automatic ticket offices found in the airport, just by the entrance of the train station. From the airport to the central station (2 areas) the ticket costs 36 kr. (about €4,80). Take note that you can only pay with coins or debit/credit cards. There is always an employee near the machines to help you in case you have a hard time buying the tickets.
If your destination in Copenhagen is some other station other than the Central Station, the subway is a good option for you. It’s also located in Terminal 3 and runs every 4-6 minutes during the day and every 15-20 minutes at night. Just like the train, tickets can be acquired at the automatic ticket offices near the station.
The bus is another option to get to the city center. You should take either the 5A or 5C buses that run every 10 minutes, in Terminal 3, and take about 30 to 35 minutes to reach the Central Station. The ticket can be acquired directly from the bus driver, but bear in mind that only coins are accepted.
You may also take a taxi from Terminals 1 and 3 which will cost approximately DKK 250 to 300 (about €33 to €40) and takes nearly 20 minutes to reach the city center (depending on the traffic, of course).
Where to stay
There are areas more central than others, but because Copenhagen is such a “walking-friendly” city (such as Helsinki), there aren’t exactly any poorly-located areas. The accommodation is very expensive in this city compared to other European cities, but of course, the price will always vary depending on the area and type of accommodation you choose.
During my stay, I ended up staying near the central station, in the Hovedstaden area, in a hostel called Steel House Copenhagen, which I 100% recommend. The hostel has a great design, interior pool, gym, a big kitchen eqquiped with several counters with cookers for the guests to cook, a work area (perfect for Digital Nomads), trendy interior design and a friendly environment. I chose the female dorm for 6 people to try to control my budget during the trip, but the hostel also has private bedrooms if you prefer. The dorm was always clean, it had a very modern decoration and the beds offered more privacy than other hostels.
Below there is a list of the areas in Copenhagen for you to choose from:
This is the area where you’ll find one of Copenhagen’s most typical sceneries: the boats in the canal surrounded by colorful houses. This is where the boats depart for the famous tours in the canal. It’s a tourist area, well known for its big quantity and variety of cafés and restaurants.
Christianshavn is a residential and peaceful area, separated from the rest of the city by a canal, but accessible by the many bridges that cross it.
Vesterbro is the area known for the artists it accomodates, art galleries, ethnic restaurants and stylists. Once the “red light district” of Copenhagen, this area is now full of bars and nightclubs. It was considered one of the most hipster neighborhoods in the world in 2014. It’s perfect if you`re looking for a more exciting and dynamic atmosphere.
- Indre By
This is the old area of the city. Here you’ll be near some of the main museums and historical attractions of Copenhagen. It’s also where most of the stores are located, concentrated in the Strøget and Købmagergade streets.
Transportation in Copenhagen
Copenhagen is indeed a walking-friendly city, however, there is always the option of traveling from one place to the other via public transportation. With a single ticket, you have access to the train, subway and buses. There isn’t a place to validate the ticket but there’s a regular inspection made by inspectors who go through the subway and train lines. You can use the site journeyplanner.dk to plan your travels within the city and to know exactly what transport to take.
- Subway: Works 24 hours a day. Runs every 2 to 6 minutes depending on the time of the day. In July 2019, there will be 17 new subway stations. Website: m.dk
- Train: The trains marked with the letter S are the ones which within the city.They run every 4 to 20 minutes depending on the line and time of the day. They work between 5:00 am and 00:30 am. Website: dk
- Buses: The A buses are the ones which circulate within Copenhagen. They run every 3 to 7 minutes during rush hour and every 10 minutes during the rest of the day.
The tickets can be acquired at the automatic ticket offices located near each station (it only accepts coins or credit/debit cards), directly from the bus driver (only accepts coins), online (trains website) or through the app DOT Mobilbilletter (App Store | Google Play)
As an alternative to the single ticket and if you plan on travelling a lot on public transportation during your stay at Copenhagen, you can acquire the following special tickets:
- City Pass: The City Pass allows you to travel in every public transport within areas 1 and 4, for a period of 24, 48, 72 and 120 hours. Website: dk/citypass
- Copenhagen Card: This card gives you free access to all public transports and a large number of tourist attractions, as well as discounts in several restaurants, shops and car rental. It’s available in periods of 24, 48, 72 and 120 hours. Website: copenhagencard.com
- Children under 12 years that are accompanied by adults don’t need to pay for a ticket
- Children between 12 and 16 years old pay for the children ticket
- You can carry your bike inside the trains (on the first and the last carriage) and in the subway for an extra fee of 13 kr.
Where to eat in Copenhagen
Eating out in Copenhagen is expensive. Really expensive. The prices for a simple street food meal start around €12. In a “medium” restaurant, prices will go around €30 per person. But, in fact, there are really really good restaurants in Copenhagen, actually one of the best restaurant in the world is located there: Noma. I didn’t went to Noma (you have to make a reservation with a minimum of 3 months in advance and almost sell a kidney to be able to pay for the bill) but I went to others which I can recommend:
The Gorilla restaurant is located in the Meatpacking District. With zero pretentiousness, the restaurant is divided between a bar, which serves snacks, and a restaurant where you can either make your selection of the menu à la carte or go for the tasting menu made of 10 to 15 dishes. I chose the tasting menu and I really liked it. Very tasty and surprising food, with a magnificent presentation. It isn’t cheap but no other restaurant in Copenhagen is, any way.
Address: Flæsketorvet 63, 1711 København | Website
La Vecchia Signora
If you´re looking for authentic Italian cuisine in Copenhagen (why not?) then the La Vecchia Signora will be the place to go to. A restaurant with delicious food (at least the pizzas are more than recommended) and a charming terrace in the back. The staff is extremely friendly and welcoming.
Address: Grønnegade 12 – 14, 1107 København K | Website
A pizzeria and a bar, located in the Vesterbro district, based on an organic concept. Don’t be expecting your typical Italian pizza, here you`ll find very unique versions with unexpecting combinations of ingredients and flavours.
Address: Istedgade 27, 1650 København V | Website
Apparently, I couldn’t resist Italian cuisine in Copenhagen! This is another restaurant that is based on the gastronomy of the boot shaped country and belongs to the same company group as the Gorilla restaurant. It isn’t a pizzeria so don’t expect to find wood oven pizzas there, but they make up by having a series of fantastic pasta dishes. Serves meals until late.
Address: Store Kongensgade 34, 1264 København | Website
As an alternative to the traditional restaurants, you can always go for the street food that exists in several places spread across the city. Below there’s a list of some of those places:
What to see and do in Copenhagen
Below you’ll find some suggestions for things to do and places to visit in Copenhagen. There are many more, of course, but if you add these suggestions to your travel itinerary, you’ll definitely make the most out of this city!
Take a boat tour across the canals
Get into one of the boats that leave every day from Nyhavn and take you through the canals which go around the city. There are several companies and different types of boats offering this tour, you only have to choose the one that suits you the most. Before embarking, take the opportunity to have a drink or a coffee in one of the several esplanades that surround the canal in the Nyhavn district.
If you are looking for a more alternative side of Copenhagen, Christiania is definitely your must go to destination. This community of artists, musicians and hippies, live by their own rules, hence the name “Freetown”. Here, art surrounds those who live there and those who visit it. The cannabis smell is everywhere. Even though it’s illegal in Copenhagen, its consumption is viewed with tolerance inside the limits of Christiania.
Spend a day in the Tivoli Gardens
This theme park, which celebrated 175 years in 2018, is located in the heart of Copenhagen, right in front of the central train station. The Tivoli Gardens are the second oldest theme park of the world which still attracts visitors of all ages. Concerts are also frequent during the Summer. Each ticket costs 120 DKK for adults and 50 DKK for children from ages between 3 to 7 years old.
Take the “mandatory” picture of The Little Mermaid
You cannot leave Copenhagen without taking a picture of the popular statue of The Little Mermaid. There is no actual reason as to why it’s such a big attraction, but the truth is that it became an unquestionable symbol of the city. This statue, with more than 100 years old, was inspired by the tale from writer Hans Christian-Andersen, and was offered by brewer Carl Jacobsen to the city of Copenhagen.
Watch the changing of the royal guard at Amalienborg Palace
Every day, from September to April at 12pm, the changing of the royal guard takes place at the Amalienborg Palace. The Guard leaves the Rosenborg Castle at 11:30am, and arrives at 12pm to the Palace for the ceremony itself. The number of guards and the musical accompaniment depends on who is residing at the Palace at the moment.
Rundetaarn (Round Tower) is one of the oldest Observatories still functioning in Europe. Built in the 17th century, a time when Denmark made remarkable achievements in the study of astronomy. From the top of the tower, you’ll find an amazing view of the city, but for that you need to walk up the spiral path for about 209mt. The ticket costs 25 DKK.
Visit the Design Museum
The Nordic design fascinates me, so I couldn’t escape the opportunity to visit the Design Museum in Copenhagen. Here you can find, in addition to the permanent exhibition that takes you on a journey of centuries through the History of Danish design, several temporary exhibitions. Each ticket costs 115 DKK. If you’re less than 26 years old or if you’re a student, the ticket is free.
Eat a smørrebrød
Smørrebrød is a popular and traditional open sandwich in Copenhagen. In the West Market, for example, you’ll find a counter with dozens and dozens of different types of smørrebrød, all absolutely delicious of course!
Visit Roskilde and the Viking Museum
Roskilde is a city located about 30 minutes by train from Copenhagen. It’s the Viking capital of Denmark and it’s here where you can visit the Viking Museum and see what’s left from some boats that they used for fishing and traveling across the seas looking new lands and treasures. You can also go a trip in one of the replicas of the Viking boats that are located next to the museum. The prices of the tickets vary depending on the time of the year, between 90 and 130 DKK. The historical center also deserves a visit, it’s fascinating! It’s also in Roskilde where each year one of the biggest music festivals in Europe takes place, the Roskilde Music Festival, at the beginning of July.
Visit the Carlsberg Factory
Just like Heineken in Amsterdam, in Copenhagen you can visit the Carlsberg Factory. Here you’ll discover a little bit more about the famous beer brand through interactive experiences and beer tastings. The museum provides one free daily shuttle that runs every hour from 11am to 4pm near the central station in Copenhagen (Vesterbrogade 6). The tickets cost 100 DDK and includes one drink.
Take a walk on the Kongens Have Garden
If there’s one thing that is not missing in Copenhagen it’s garden and magnificent parks, where Danes enjoy spending their time with friends and family during Spring and Summer, having picnics, some drinks, or just laying down on the grass enjoying the sun. I especially liked the Kongens Have Garden (The King’s Garden) for its cared presentation and amazing flowers. It was built at the same time as the Rosenborg Castle at the beginning of the 17th century.
Visit the Kastellet (The Citadel)
The Kastellet (or Citadel), is a military complex located in the Østerbro area, built in 1626 by order of King Christian IV, for the purpose of protecting Copenhagen. Nowadays, its buildings (the majority impeccably preserved) are still used as military facilities and offices and have a lovely architecture.