Insider tips: Explore Copenhagen like a local
Megan & Aram is a travel blog that focuses mostly on travel in the Nordics and Eastern Europe with the occasional trip beyond those regions. We love coffee, promoting small businesses, and sports.
What should I do on my first trip to Copenhagen?
Visiting Denmark for the first time? There are many amazing things to do in Copenhagen, the country's most famous city. One of the most notable things to do is to pay a visit to Tivoli Gardens. This amusement park opened in 1843 and is the 2nd oldest in the world! It is open most of the year and offers rides and fun during the summer months and Christmas magic during the winter months. It is in the heart of the Danish capital city and is not to be missed. Another thing one must do in Copenhagen is to walk along Nyhavn, the city's recognizable harbor. It is colorful and brimming with cafes and restaurants. You can even take a canal cruise of the harbor, which is one of my top recommendations! While it is smaller in real life than imagined, Den Lille Havfrue (The Little Mermaid) statue is worth a visit since Denmark is the home of Hans Christian Andersen, the author of the fairytale.
What are some hidden gems to see in Copenhagen?
Copenhagen has a lot to offer visitors and not everything there sits along the tourist drag! The Cisternerne is an underground museum that focuses on contemporary art, for example, and is worth a visit. It is located beneath Søndermarken park in an old water reservoir. Another place that is not exactly a hidden gem but many people don't add to their itinerary is Rundetårn (Round Tower). The 17th century tower actually is one of the best places in the city to get panoramic views! Lastly, summer visitors to Copenhagen will love the Kastrup Søbad (Kastrup Sea Baths). This is an off-the-path area to most tourists, but it is a popular local hangout in the summer months, offering open-air swimming opportunities!
How much time should I spend in Copenhagen?
You can easily see the main sights of Copenhagen within 3 days. But, merely three days doesn't allow you to explore much more than the main highlights. The city is super walkable and bikeable, but there are some really cool neighborhoods worth visiting, as well as some fantastic day trips. I would suggest spending a couple more days in the city - around 5.
What food is Copenhagen known for?
Danish food is delightfully simple and seasonal. But one thing that the country (and Copenhagen!) are renowned for are the smørrebrød. These open-faced sandwiches are synonymous with Danes and you can find some of the tastiest ones in Copenhagen at the many food halls and markets. Smørrebrød comes in many different variations - from toppings of eggs to toppings of pickled herring. Other typical Danish fare includes frikadeller (meatballs), stegt flæsk (a crispy pork with potatoes and sauce), herring, and Æbleskiver (Danish pancakes that are common during the holiday season). And while it is not food, Danes love a delicious cup of coffee - so be sure to hit up one of the many cafes throughout the city.
What is the best way to get around Copenhagen?
The best way to get around Copenhagen is by bike! Like the Dutch, the Danes are famous for their biking culture and the best way to really experience the city is to hop on one of your own! If biking is not your thing, you can explore a lot of the city on foot. As for public transportation options, you will have a metro, S-trains, and buses at your disposal. There are also waterbuses throughout the city. The public transportation is super efficient and it will save you a lot of money in the long run.
What are the best months to visit Copenhagen?
Denmark is best visited during the summer months. The winters are long and relatively dark (although nothing is cozier than a Danish cafe during the winter season!). However, the summer months allow the cafes to put tables outside where you can enjoy a beer or baked good under the sun. Days are long in the summer and you can really maximize your trip by visiting then.
What are the best neighborhoods to visit in Copenhagen?
Every neighborhood in Copenhagen has its own perks and reasons to visit. Nørrebro has traditionally been one of the most diverse neighborhoods of Copenhagen but these days it is hip and home to some of the best artisanal bakeries, coffee shops, and more. If you're looking for something upper-class and trendy, Østerbro is a great option to check out. The neighborhood is home to gourmet shops, exclusive restaurants, and more. Freetown Christiania is also an area of the city worth visiting. This micronation is actually located in Christianshavn and the commune began in 1971. Today, it is filled with street art and greenery and is worth a walk-through.
What are the best neighborhoods for food?
You can eat your way around the world in Nørrebro, one of the most diverse neighborhoods in Copenhagen. You'll find everything from ramen to tacos and beyond. And while diversity in people was what the area was known for traditionally, today it is also known for its diversity in food and affordability. You can find a small shwarma shop close to a Michelin-starred restaurant.
Østerbro is in Copenhagen's business district and you will find plenty of options to suit all palates there. Valby may be a bit off-the-path, but you will find some delicious eats there as well, including a Mikkeler concept of a ramen and craft beer bar rolled into one!
What are the best neighborhoods for shopping?
Copenhagen is a haven for fashion and design lovers and even though it is the most famous place for shopping in the city, it is still essential to head to Strøget, the main shopping street in the Danish capital. The street spans across the city center from Radhusplasn to Nyhavn area. You will also find plenty of food options along the street. If you're looking to shop for food items and products, check out Torvehallerne, a central market that has plenty of gourmet groceries and more. There are many Danish brands that are internationally famous and you can find the flagship stores for several in Copenhagen. Some of these brands are Georg Jensen, Royal Copenhagen, Samsøe Samsøe, Bang & Olufsen, Hay, and Lego. Kids will love visiting the Lego store on Strøget.
What neighborhood should I stay in when I visit Copenhagen?
If you are a first-time visitor to Copenhagen and merely have a few days in the city, opt to stay downtown or closest to the sites that catch your eye and are on your itinerary. If you don't mind commuting a bit, try to find lodging in Østerbro, Vesterbro, or Nørrebro. All have so many cool restaurants and places to enjoy in the evening.
What's are 4 best tips for a person traveling to Copenhagen?
1) Danes speak impeccable English (some of the best in the world) but you can really impress them by learning a few words of Danish before your trip. It will go a long way!
2) If you're a budget traveler, you can save a bit of money by heading to the grocery store and purchasing homemade bread with cheese and some toppings and make your own smørrebrød for a fraction of the price you'd pay buying it out. Grocery stores are cheaper than kiosks and gas stations - just remember that!
3) Visiting Copenhagen over the Christmas season? Be ready for Christmas everything! You'll find gingerbread, Christmassy drinks, and more in the city. It makes the darkness of this time of year feel a bit lighter and more enjoyable. Also be sure to check out Tivoli Gardens during the holiday season - there are plenty of activities and things to see for travelers of any age.
4) The Copenhagen Card can be your best friend! Purchasing this card will give you free public transportation as well as free or reduced entry into many of the museums in the city. It is an essential for visitors!
What should people avoid doing in Copenhagen?
Avoid hopping on a bike without understanding the rules of the road. Copenhagen is a great place to cycle, but they have systems in place that must be adhered to! Research what these are and make sure you understand them so you don't upset the locals or throw off bike traffic! If you don't feel comfortable getting acquainted with these rules, opt for public transportation instead.
Also, don't assume that Denmark uses the Euro... because they don't. They use the Danish Krone (DKK). But, you may never even need to see a bank note because Denmark is as close to a cashless society as it gets!
What are your top 5 favourite GetYourGuide experiences in Copenhagen?
1) Copenhagen: Canal Cruise from Nyhavn
2) Lund & Malmö: Guided Tour of 2 Countries in One Day
3) Copenhagen Card-Discover: 80+ Attractions & Public Transport
4) Copenhagen Highlights: 3-Hour Bike Tour
5) Copenhagen: Roskilde, Frederiksborg & Kronborg Day Tour
What is one thing that surprised you about Copenhagen?
I previously lived in Norway and have spent a lot of time in the Nordic countries and what surprised me the most about Copenhagen was how it felt far less conformed than other Scandinavian cities. The residents were creative and all had their own flair and style. It made Copenhagen such a cool place in the north and it makes me appreciate how locals inject their personality and uniqueness in their small businesses and everyday life.
What are the best beaches around Copenhagen?
While Copenhagen isn't world-famous for its beaches, you will certainly find plenty near (and in!) the city. One of the most popular beaches in Copenhagen is Amager Beach Park and it is merely 5km from the City Hall. Another popular option is located in Østerbro and it is called Svanemølle Beach.