I had the luxury of going on a trip to Copenhagen last week, I thought I’d share some of the things I did/advice for anyone wanting to go there.
Here are a few things that I’d recommend doing:
Go on a free walking tour.
We really enjoyed this part of our trip. The tour guide was great and really engaging. It was pretty cold when we were there so walking around was good to keep us warm. I’d recommend walking everywhere in the city, there are lots of buses but walking means you’ll discover things you might not on public transport.
We went on the ‘Grand Tour’ first, this was 3 hours and covers all the lovely sights to see in Copenhagen. If, like me, you have very little knowledge of Copenhagen’s history then this tour is perfect. The guide gave a really good and interesting overview of the history of the city, key figures and important facts. At the end of the tour, the guide also gave some suggestions of places to eat which was really useful. In cities, it’s always difficult to find somewhere with traditional food so recommendations from locals make things easier.
Later in the day, we joined the Christianshavn Tour. This was only 90 minutes and shows an alternative side to Copenhagen. We got to walk through and learn about Christiania. Originally, abandoned military barracks were there which were squatted in. Now, it is like a large commune which is mostly independent of the government. This was said of Christiania in 1971:
“The objective of Christiania is to create a self-governing society whereby each and every individual holds themselves responsible over the wellbeing of the entire community. Our society is to be economically self-sustaining and, as such, our aspiration is to be steadfast in our conviction that psychological and physical destitution can be averted.”
So yes, it’s somewhere really unique to visit. I would definitely recommend it. Just be wary that there are rules about photo taking among other things and you should pay attention to them out of respect.
Find out more about the walking tours here.
Visit the National Museum.
Whether you’re a history fan or not, this museum is free and good for a rainy day activity. While some of the exhibitions are pretty boring, there’s some cool stuff there. They currently have a ‘White Buses’ exhibition about the part Denmark played in WW2 and it is really good. It’s unsettling and informative which you’d expect from something about concentration camps. Even as a history graduate, I knew next to nothing about Denmark’s history because it’s kind of ignored in classes. But, it is really interesting, particularly in regards to the second world war. The museum also had a toys exhibition which had a bunch of doll houses made up with everything inside. If you like miniature things, which I do, then you’ll love it.
Eat at Kobenhavner Cafeen.
We went here on recommendation from a tour guide and it did not disappoint. It serves traditional Danish dishes (which tend to be meat, potatoes and a sauce.) The atmosphere was nice and it was, without a doubt, the best meal I had while in Copenhagen. Definitely worth trying. In terms of food, also keep an eye out for open sandwiches (very traditional) and go to one of the many hot dog stands in the city, they are really good.
Enjoy real Danish pastries.
There’s lots of places round the city to get these. We went to Lagkagehuset which is attached to the tourist information centre. The pastries were incredible. I wish I could eat them every day.
Learn about H.C. Andersen.
We had some time to kill on our last day before getting to the airport. It was snowing/wet/cold so we wanted to do something indoors. Next to the ‘Ripley’s Believe it or Not’ (which is pretty cool) was a H.C. Andersen Fairytale House. You walk through the life of Andersen and can listen to readings of some of his most famous stories. These include the Emperor’s New Clothes, The Little Mermaid (Disney’s version is very tame) and the Princess and the Pea. I was completely unaware of how many well known fairy tales were written by H.C. Andersen so it was really nice to see all of this. As one of the key figures in Danish history, it’s a must see for tourists.
Enjoy views of the city.
There are lots of places to go to the top of and enjoy views of the city. We went up the tower at the zoo, the round tower and the highest tower in Copenhagen at Christiansborg Palace. They all gave lovely views of the city, even on cold and cloudy days. The Christiansborg Palace was my favourite. For one, it was free (even though the others are only about £2 equivalent.) It is also where Danish parliament is held. They have little guide books available which give a history of the tower itself which was cool. And just look at these views:
Get cheap flights/accomodation. Copenhagen is a pretty expensive city and most of your money will be spent on eating out. Think about how expensive it would be to eat out in London every day… but it is possible to keep costs down if you do some research about where to go.
Beware of jaywalking and cyclists. You can get fined up to 1000kr for jaywalking (£100) and people will look at you like you’re a monster… it was our first day, we hadn’t been told. Just wait for the green man! There are also cyclists everywhere in the city and a lot of cycle paths. Do not walk in these, people get annoyed.
Danish currency is confusing. There are coins with holes in. Thankfully, Danish people are super helpful and willing to sort through change for you to help pay for things.
The Danish language is also hard. Learn how to say hello/goodbye and thanks, it’s polite to try and people will appreciate it. Learn more if you can (I couldn’t!) Most people speak excellent English though so you don’t need to worry too much.
Highlights: pastries, Amelianborg Palace, Christiansborg Palace, Frederiksberg Gardens, walking tours, Christiania.