If you’re looking for the perfect city break, look no further. Copenhagen is an excellent destination for a long weekend! Cosmopolitan and chic, the city also has its bohemian and hippy vibes and there are plenty of things to do.
What was once a fishing and merchant harbour town is now the trendy, buzzing city of Copenhagen, attracting millions of tourists annually with excellent shopping, sleek design, vibrant gourmet food scene and bicycle friendly lifestyle. In fact, Copenhagen is one of the greenest cities in the world, leading the way in sustainability with alternative energy such as wind and solar power and recycling.
Home of the concept of “Hygge”, or “coziness”, Denmark was rated the happiest country in the world in 2013, rating highly as one of the best places to live in the world, here we will show you why the Danes are so happy with our comprehensive and ultimate guide to experiencing the best of Copenhagen!
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Table of Contents
How to get to Copenhagen
The easiest way to get to Copenhagen is by plane and over 60,000 passengers pass through Copenhagen Airport daily. The international airport is well connected with both metros and trains, despite the difference in language; locals are incredibly friendly and helpful in assisting you with the purchase and navigation of the public transport system. The metro system is really easy to use.
The metro runs 24-hours and stops at Kongens Nytorv, Nørreport, Frederiksberg and Vanløse. The trip from the airport to the city centre only takes 15 minutes by train or metro and a bit longer by bus. The train, bus or metro journey usually costs around DKK 38. Travelling by taxi is the most expensive method of transportation and it can cost around DKK 250 or upwards to travel from the airport to the city centre.
The best option is to get a Copenhagen Card where you get unlimited transport in the entire Capital, including transfers to and from the airport. It also gives you access to more than 70 museums and attractions and discounts in restaurants as well as sightseeing activities. You can buy cards for 24, 48, 72 and 120 hours, purchases can also be made online for pickup upon your arrival at Copenhagen Airport.
The best time to visit Copenhagen
Springtime and summertime are the best times to visit Copenhagen, between March and May or between June and August the temperature is warmer and sunnier. The springtime is when the streets come alive and there is live music in the streets and festivals and celebrations. From October onwards the city goes into hibernation and the winters are often bitterly cold.
What to expect in Copenhagen
Expect a vibrant and young city where everyone cycles! Here you will need to pay attention when crossing the road or idling in a cycle lane as people cycle pretty fast! The best way to experience the city is to get on a bicycle yourself.
It is an extremely safe form of transportation in the city and you will find that the cycle paths are full of cyclists, children, business people and adults and no helmets! In general, drivers are courteous, being outnumbered with 62% of people using bicycles instead of cars!
The Danes are very friendly but are quite reserved, though they may seem not very warm or approachable, the people are very helpful and will be more than happy to give you directions or pointers on where to go. In fact, when asking for directions it was the first place where someone has asked, “do you want the scenic route or the fast one?”
Danish people also speak impeccable English so you will not have any issues communicating during your visit. The native language spoken is Danish.
You will notice that the people are incredibly chic, even cycling in heels and suits! To fit in with the Danes, dress stylishly and conservatively in muted colours and they combat the cold with lots of layers.
The currency used in Denmark is the Krone, be prepared as prices are quite high in Copenhagen, especially in terms of hotels and eating out. Hotels cost between 89 euros and 200 euros per night. Airbnb is a slightly cheaper option and you can live like a Dane in a typical Danish home! For the cheapest option, you can find hostels for around 40 euros a night.
For eating out you should budget a minimum of 50 euros a day per person. The best way to keep your budget down is to eat street food and avoid restaurants. Thought Copenhagen has excellent restaurants and lots of Michelin starred places, eating in one of these will set you back significantly. Tipping is not common in Copenhagen but feel free to leave a tip for exceptional service. Also be aware that in Copenhagen most places accept payment by card and cash is not commonly handled.
Budget for around 20 euros for museum or attraction entrance prices. If you have the Copenhagen Transport Card you will find that admission to some museums will be included in your ticket.
How to get around Copenhagen
What other way to move around Copenhagen but by bicycle? If you had to choose one thing to fit in with the Danes it would be to get on a bicycle. There are many places to rent bicycles and it is a healthy way to get around the city, there is even an amazing cycle route that will take you across the Dybbølsbro bridge, criss-crossing the harbour and giving you excellent views of the harbour and city spires and even goes as far as Copenhagen’s Islands.
Cycling is safe and many cyclists don’t even wear helmets! You will see entire families travelling by bike. Bicycle rental places rent out bikes for less than 10 euros a day and you can even get an electric bike if you don’t fancy peddling all around the city. Most bicycle rental places will even have guided bike tours. Check out Copenhagen Bicycles for their tour options and bike rental options.
For those who don’t feel like hopping on a bike, public transport is excellent in Copenhagen. The metro is the easiest way to get around and trains run every 2 to 4 minutes and a little longer during rush hour and weekends. Your Copenhagen transport card will cover all your travel needs whilst you are exploring the city.
The 24-hour transport card is 80 DKK, which is approximately just over 8 euros. The 48-hour pass is 150 DKK (roughly 15.41 euros). The 72 hour pass is 200 DKK (roughly 20.55 euros) and finally a 120 hour pass costs 300 DKK (30.82 euros approximately). This makes getting around very cheap and good value for money!
Where to stay in Copenhagen
Below is a list of a few of our favorite hotels, however, We have also written an extensive guide on Where to stay in Copenhagen.
The Avenue Hotel – The Avenue is a two-star boutique hotel in the centre of Copenhagen with charming furnishing and modern interior design, the hotel is located between Nørrebro and Vesterbro and there is the possibility to rent bicycles from the hotel for 150 DKK per day. Rooms start at 70 euros per night.
Comfort Hotel Vesterbro –This hotel is situated in the cool Vesterbro district a short stroll from Copenhagen Central Station and Tivoli Park. The hotel is modern and rooms are minimalist but comfortable and clean. The area where the hotel is situated is arty and bohemian and the price of rooms starts from 96 euros a night and includes breakfast, which helps budget travellers save money whilst eating out. Bonus!
Hotel Alexandra – If you want to live and breathe vintage Danish design, this hotel will fulfil your design dreams. The whole hotel is decorated with pieces of Danish mid-century vintage furniture. It is situated just around the corner from the City Hall Square, Latin Quarter and the shopping area and Tivoli Park is also nearby. This stylish hotel will transport you back to the 50s and 60s and you can enjoy their selection of vinyl records with a free glass of wine. This place is ideal for a stylish city getaway! Prices for rooms start from 105 euros per night.
Danhostel Copenhagen City – The best option for those on a tight budget who don’t want to sacrifice style, the Danhostel is the only hostel in the world designed by furniture designer of the Danish company Gubi in collaboration with the MOMA in New York. The hostel overlooks the central canal and is a short stroll from Central Station. There are shared rooms for 4,6, 8 or 10 guests which is ideal if you are travelling in a group and these rooms are ensuite with their own shower and bathroom.
Things to do in Copenhagen
See the little mermaids! Yes two of them!
Yes that’s right. Mermaids, plural! Hans Christian Andersen, one of the most beloved local celebrities, penned his famous woeful tale about the Little Mermaid and you can visit the statue of the Little Mermaid at Langelinie, 2100 Copenhagen. This sculpture has suffered a lot of abuse over the years and has even had her head chopped off at one point. The bronze sculpture of the Little Mermaid is one of Europe’s most visited statues and is over a century old! Be prepared as the Little Mermaid is VERY little and you will have to jostle past the queues of tourists to the front to get a picture of the sculpture. *Word of caution, don’t get on the rocks next to the mermaid, it can be very dangerous*
There has been some backlash to the original mermaid and Bjørn Nørgaard, a fine arts professor, created a Little Mermaid for the modern day in 2006. His Little Mermaid is a distorted nightmare with an abstract body and elephantine head and is called the Genetically Modified Little Mermaid. You can visit it at Langelinie Allé 17.
Check out the street food scene!
Copenhagen has excellent street food markets and casual dining. You can check out the foodie paradise of Torvehallernekbh where you can find everything from baked goods to bánh mì. In this melting pot food market you can find something to suit every taste. Don’t forget to try the authentic Danish pastries from Granny’s house!
An offbeat food market is the district of Koedbyen, the meatpacking district; here you will find excellent stalls and food trucks selling everything from burgers to Italian cuisine and seafood! To try some of the best seafood in Copenhagen, head to Kødbyens Fiskebar. Flæsketorvet 100 1711.
Reffen is now Copenhagen’s latest trendy spot for sustainable food and culture. Here you can find more than 40 food stalls selling a wide variety of cuisine as well as upcycling workshops and different activities. Don’t forget to try the delicious roast pork-crackling sandwich known as flæskestegs.
Get on your bike!
When in Rome, do as the Romans do! In Copenhagen the thing to do is cycle! There are excellent bike routes for cycling and you can venture down the Havneringen route, which will take you on 13km past some of the most popular sights of Copenhagen. On this route you will pass the Black Diamond Library, ride the famous elevated bike lane, cross the harbour bridges and head down to Christianshavn to see the houseboats bobbing in the harbour. Just further on you will find Amager Fælled where the city meets wild nature.
Escape to nature at Nokken
Just between the harbour and Amager Fælled is Nokken, a hidden gem full of allotment gardens and hobbit houses. Here you will find jugglers, human statues and a chilled-out vibe, perfect if you want to escape the crowds in the city centre.
In the spring and summer you will find lots of people lounging around in the parks around Copenhagen. There are some excellent parks where you can have a picnic or even have a nap.
One of the best gardens in Copenhagen is the Botanical Gardens, which has more than 13,000 species of flora and fauna and a butterfly house. There are 27 glass greenhouses to explore and the Palm House has a narrow spiral staircase that takes you to a walkway where you can get an aerial view of the palm treetops.
Another impressive park is the Royal Library Gardens in Søren Kierkegaards Pl. 1. This park gives you a chance to escape the crowds and its centrepiece is the large water fountain. Another park worth visiting is the romantic Frederiksberg Park, Frederiksberg Runddel 1A, where you can explore the beautiful lakes, canals, nature trails and the Frederiksberg Palace, built in the Italian Baroque style. This park is beautiful and charming and is perfect for an afternoon stroll!
Row, row, row your boat
Copenhagen has a myriad of harbours and canals. The Go Boats are solar powered boats that patrol the waters and can take up to eight people at a time. You can bring your own lunch and enjoy the views whilst having your very own picnic! See the Opera House and Skuespilhuset, or Christianshavn from a different perspective. Best of all, no boating license is required!
Places to visit in Copenhagen
Known as Copenhagen’s Paris this neighbourhood is full of cafes, restaurants and little shops with a very chic and Parisian feel during the weekends. Here you can sit and have breakfast or enjoy a coffee at the world’ smallest hotel, Central Hotel.
Visit the Hippy Free State of Christiania
Christiania, situated at Bådsmandsstræde 43, is considered a free state and is basically a town within the city. Originally built by hippies in 1971 on the site of a former military base, it follows its own rules and people who seek to escape the conventional city life flocked there to establish workshops, organic allotments, creative homes and is also famous for being a place where people freely buy weed. This is ideal destination to head to on your bike, once there you can park your bicycle and walk around for a few hours, exploring the nature around Christiania.
Rub shoulders with Danish politicians at Toga Vin & Ølstue
This bar is one of the oldest institutions of Danish politics. Here you can find people from all branches of government. Here all conversations are strictly off the record! You will see parliament and cabinet ministers openly debating over beers and discussing politics and current affairs.
Have a drink in a café hidden in a bridge tower
Kulturtårnet is a bar close to Christianshavn, on the same side of the Knippelsbro Bridge, and many Danes are not even aware of its existence. Tucked away in the bridge tower, and market by a white flag, this unassuming café is almost submarine-like, with its circular windows with views over the river. The tower itself has been standing for around 80 years but the café was only recently established in the last few years. Here you can grab a coffee and even enjoy a nice meal. It is also used for cultural events and is definitely worth a visit!
Explore the Gallery of Noses at Glyptotek
In the 19th century, reconstruction of damaged antique marble statues was a common practice before there was no more demand for restoration. As a result, an excess of appendages and limbs were left discarded and unwanted, no longer being required to patch up broken statues. Ny Carlsberg Glyptotek decided to create the Nasothek, a display of over 100 noses, which you can wander around and learn about the historical process of art restoration.
Cabinet of Curiosities
The Geological Museum has a permanent exhibition made up of original pieces from Denmark’s first museum entitled “All Things Strange and Beautiful”. Ole Worm demonstrated that unicorn horns were actually the tusks of narwhals in 1638 and you can see narwhal skulls and other curious taxidermy animals, such as a polar bear, in this collection of curiosities from the 17th century. While you’re there it is worth exploring the Geological Museum as well and you can easily spend an hour or two exploring the museum and its varied exhibitions as well the surrounding Botanical Gardens.
Carlsberg’s Elephant gate
In 1901, Carl Jacobson constructed the Elephant Gate as part of the new Carlsberg Brewery. Two large elephants flank the side of the gate and were chosen by Carl Jacobsen as symbols of good luck and prosperity. There is also a lot of other imagery in this gate, including some swastikas, which he used as the official symbol for Carlsberg, as they once symbolised good fortune.
However, their symbolism took a sinister turn in 1930s with the emergence of Nazism and Carlsberg discontinued the use of the swastika in 1940. Each elephant also bears initials of each of Carl’s remaining children (four of his children had died by the time the gate was finally constructed).
Carl’s love of elephants was such that he sponsored the elephants at Copenhagen Zoo and even launched a beer in 1959 called “Elephant Beer”. The facility has been long abandoned and on-site production of beer stopped in 2008 and the area was designated for redevelopment into a residential neighbourhood.
Visit the backdrop to “The Danish Girl” in Nyhavn
The highly-acclaimed film, “The Danish Girl” was filmed around Nyhavn, one of the most beautiful parts of the city with its multi-coloured houses and canal side coffee shops, here you can admire the charming 17th century buildings at sunset or hop on a boat ride along the canal. In the film, the protagonists Gerda and Einar, live in Nyhavn, transformed into the fish market it once was.
Nowadays, this area is bustling with bars and restaurants and is one of the more upmarket places around to eat and drink. This was also the territory of Hans Christian Andersen who used to live at no. 20.
Visit the famous Tivoli Park
Just next to the Central Station is the world famous Tivoli Park at Vesterbrogade 3. One of the oldest amusement parks in the world and has been running continuously since its doors opened in 1843. You can ride the Rutschebanen, a wooden rollercoaster that dates back to 1914! There are also modern rides such as swinging galley ships and bumper cars and a trip to this vintage park is a must for amusement park lovers!
Visit the burial place or many great Danes at Assistens Kirkegaard
Assistens Kirkegaard, at Kapelvej 4 is the final resting place of many historic Danes including Hans Christian Andersen. This place is a great place to cycle and in fact is a local hangout; you will find lots of people having picnics, BBQs or even lovers trysts alongside the gravestones. The cemetery is located in the trendy Nørrebro district and is a place where you can observe Danish people chilling out and enjoying their weekend.
Check out the graffiti at Bolsjefabrikken
The burgeoning street art scene can be found at Bolsjefabrikken, Ragnhildgade 1, a cultural institution run by volunteers set in a large old abandoned warehouse. Here you can find live music, workshops and lots of graffiti as well as small exhibitions of young, upcoming artists from Copenhagen.
Head to the beach
Copenhagen is home to Amager Stranpark’s man-made beach, where you can enjoy the summer with the Danish crowds, indulge in water sports or take a beachside stroll.
Dive into the culture at Huset-KBH
Huset-KBH, situated in Rådhusstræde 13, is part of the flourishing cultural scene of Copenhagen. Here you can find live music, burlesque shows and cult cinema. They even have showings of the cult film “The Room” where you can throw plastic spoons at the screen during the showing!
What to eat in Copenhagen
Copenhagen has a lot of great food on offer for travellers on a budget and their street food scene is vibrant and eclectic. Here is a list of the top 10 things to eat in Copenhagen!
Rød pølse or red sausage
The Danes love their sausages! No trip to Copenhagen would be complete without savouring one of the many hot dogs in the city. A delicious, filling and cheap meal whilst you’re on the move they are usually served inside a fresh bun. The most
Roast pork sandwiches in The Meatpacking District
The food scene at the Meatpacking District revolves around meat; here you must try the local favourite with juicy pork served up with pork crackling.
Denmark’s traditional dish consists of an open-face sandwich of fish or meat with sauce on a crusty slice of rye bread. You will find this at almost every restaurant in the city. Head to the Royal Smushi Café, 6 Amagertorv København K, 1160 (www.royalsmushicafe.dk) and check out the smørrebrød app to find other places in the city to enjoy this local delicacy.
Enjoy breakfast like a Dane and nourish your soul with a bowl of porridge in Copenhagen’s trendy Nørrebro district at the city’s first porridge café where you can find the humble dish with all flavour combinations such as chestnut puree, apples or kale-parmesan risotto among them.
The Danes love their meatballs also known as frikadeller, steaming and freshly tossed in butter; they are served with boiled potatoes or on smorrebrod.
Marinated or Pickled Herring
For true Nordic food you have to taste the local favourite: herring. Surrounded by the sea, Denmark serves up a delicious array of seafood but herring holds a special place in their heart. Served with crusty rye bread and eggs, this dish has survived decades and still is one of the popular dishes in Copenhagen. Drop into Musling Bistro near Nørreport Station in the city centre and see what the hype is all about!
Salmon can be found on every menu and is served in all manners. Taste some delicious cold smoked salmon served up on a piece of buttery bread or try some salmon fishballs at Restaurant Kronborg, Brolæggerstræde 12.
Burgers are the ultimate street food and in Copenhagen, the excellent beef takes burgers to another level. A thriving burger scene has grown in Copenhagen and you can find great burgers at a great budget in stalls in the Meatpacking District such as Haché Gourmet Burgers, Rømersgade 20 and theGasoline Grill, Landgreven 10.
Copenhagen had an immigration policy decades ago that was not as strict as it is today and many small businesses sprung up in Nørrebro serving delicious food from all over the world. You can find tasty Turkish durum in Nørrebro’s main street such as Beyti and Konyali. You can also enjoy Falafel, the delicious Middle Eastern dish made of chickpeas such as the Falafel Factory. There is also a great Bao dumpling place called Gao Dumpling Bar to satisfy any Asian food cravings.
Tours to do in Copenhagen
If you want to savour the best the city has to offer, join a food tour! A culinary walking tour takes around two and a half hours and will give you insight into the local cuisine, culture and history of Danish food. Prices start from 35 euros per person.
See Copenhagen from your bicycle and get some exercise at the same time! A half-day tour will let you enjoy the scenery and architecture of the city and take you past sights such as Rosenborg Castle and Amalienborg Palace. Prices start from 48 euros per person.
You can do a canal tour to see the city from a different perspective. A one-hour boat tour will show you the picturesque scenery whilst gliding along the canals of the city. You can see the Amalienborg Palace, the Little Mermaid statue, Copenhagen Opera House; and discover the canals of the Christianshavn neighbourhood
Day trips from Copenhagen
Take a trip into the past with a tour of Frederiksborg Castle, home of Denmark’s Museum of National History. Here you can find out about King Christian IV and explore the royal rooms such as the Coronation Chapel, stroll through the beautifully manicured French Baroque gardens and discover Fredesborg Castle, the Danish royal family’s summer residence. To make the most of the trip go on a guided tour.
You can reach the Castle by public transport, taking the S-train’s line E heading to Hillerød, and then walking 15 to 20 minutes to the castle along the lake. Guided day trips depart from the City Hall Square at 10:30 am from May to September and will take approximately 6.5 hours.
The Island of Fyn
The Island of Fyn is a wild romantic landscape and has served as inspiration for many fairy tales. It was the plae where Hans Christian Andersen was born and is home to some stunning castles such as Egeskov Slot, Nyborg Slot, Holckenhavn Slot, Broholm Gods, and Harridslevgaard Slot.
Wander the hundreds of acres of orchards and visit the old fashioned farm houses and enjoy the natural beauty of the Garden Islands. There is a direct train from Copenhagen to Odense that runs every 30 minutes and costs between 19 and 29 euros. You can arrive in less than two hours.
The City of Aarhus
One of the most popular day trips from Copenhagen is the historic city on Denmark’s western peninsula called Aarhus. The best time to go is in July for the Viking Festival where you can see recreations of life in early Denmark complete with markets, sword fighting displays and themed events.
You can also visit the Contemporary Art Museum called ARoS, the Viking Museum and the botanical gardens whilst visiting Aarhus. You can take a train for the three-hour journey to Aarhus from Copenhagen; trains leave every 30 to 45 minutes.
Savour local whiskey on Hven Island
Take a trip to the beach and visit Hven Island, situated between Denmark and Sweden, where you can see stretches of pristine beaches, the remains of an observatory from the 16th century and indulge in the local whiskey at Spirit of Hven Distillery. You can easily travel there by ferry from Copenhagen and the journey takes 90 minutes.
Discover the historic village of Dragør
To get a sense of what Denmark was once like, travel to Dragør where you can see a preserved fishing village from the 12th century. You can experience an open-air recreation of life in ancient Denmark at the Amager museum and visit the harbour museum to learn about the life of fishermen in this historic harbour village. Frequent buses and trains leave Copenhagen and will take you there in just 30 minutes.
Head to Sweden!
From Copenhagen, Sweden is a short distance away and you can visit Helsingborg, Lund, and Malmö to see a different culture and country, which you can do in a day! There are regular trains departing from København H, the Central Station, every 10 minutes and the journey takes around 35 minutes to get to the centre of Malmö. Alternatively, you can take a guided tour, which will take you to all three cities in a day, and you won’t have to worry about getting there and back.
Recommend budget tours in Copenhagen
- Copenhagen Card
- Aarhus 3-hour Private Bike Tour
- Copenhagen Private Walking Tour
- Grand Day Trip around Copenhagen (highly recommended!)
- Grand Inner City Tour of Copenhagen
- 2.5-Hour Guided Walking Food Tour in Copenhagen
- Copenhagen Canal Tour with Skip-the-Line Entry to Tivoli Gardens
- Copenhagen Canal Tour
- Copenhagen Small-Group Bike Tour
- Sweden Daytrip: Lund & Malmö City Tour
- In the Footsteps of the Vikings – daytrip from Copenhagen to Roskilde
- Danish Hygge Culture and Historical Copenhagen Walking Tour
- Private Half-Day Frederiksborg Castle Tour
Get your guide is a great company that often offers heavily discounted tours! Check out a few options below:
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