Copenhagen Travel Highlights
It’s a well-documented fact that the Danes are some of the happiest people in the world, and after spending time in this charming and compact Scandinavian city it’s easy to see why. Hans Christian Anderson was onto something when he sung about this “Wonderful Wonderful” place in his 1952 musical, because Copenhagen is a city full of interesting (and might I add, extremely well-dressed) citizens who truly savour the simple things in life: good food, good work, good design, good friends/family and good fun – it’s all in a days work for the Danish. Their values are somehow aligned with the things that matter most. And I could definitely get used to this…
With a bustling CBD without the conceited, high-stress vibe of most European capitals, Copenhagen is probably the most chilled and cultured of all the Scandinavian cities. Bicycles, the main mode of transport, seamlessly glide by in special lanes that stretch the entire grid-system, and there’s an excellent scattering of museums, art galleries, urban markets and quaint cobblestone streets for a truly whimsical atmosphere.
The city is perfect for getting lost in, but is so ridiculously easy to navigate that it’s almost impossible to lose your way. And if you do happen to get a little disorientated, one of the impossibly good-looking and perfect English-speaking Danes will be very happy to help put you on the right path. The slightly chilly air in the cobblestone streets of the cities’ core is reminiscent of smoke-ovens, freshly baked bread and brewing espressos. Although not revered as a place where the nightclub scene flourishes, Copenhagen certainly has enough gourmet restaurants to rival New York. From traditional ground meats and fish to more contemporary twists, the food around town is truly delicious. Just quietly, I spent about half my time leisurely stuffing your face at many Michelin-starred eateries, and probably gained a couple of kilos in the process.. oh well it was all worth it. The best way to describe Copenhagen is like a warm comforting embrace for the unassuming creative kids, those who value lifestyle over living and culture over uncouthness.
Copenhagen City Highlights
When In Doubt, Tour The Canal
Much like the Hop-On, Hop-Off Bus, canal and harbor tours have their place in tourism society – even if you’re a seasoned sight-skipper. It’s the best way to get your bearings when you first arrive in Copenhagen, and will highlight some sights you might like to further explore later during your stay. The best time to take the canal and harbor cruise in on a sunny, still day, else you may get a good sea-shower. On the days when the weather is not so good, make sure you pack a poncho or rain jacket! Some of the sights you will see when cruising the canal are the Opera House and the famous “Little Mermaid” statue.
If alternative is what you’re looking for then the self-proclaimed autonomous neighborhood Christiana, in the borough of Christianshavn, is where you should head. It’s a curious little nook of about 850 weed-swindling hippies and you can easily explore the grounds for a day looking at the street-art and downing a few pints (or buds, if that’s your bag). You can’t take photos once you’re on the grounds though, so make sure you keep that in mind… You don’t want a dude with a Mohawk, chain collar and pit-bull staring you down, trust me.
Bust out your inner fantasy-loving child and visit what is arguably one of the cities biggest tourist draw card. Tivoli Gardens is the second oldest amusement park and pleasure garden in the world, dating back to 1843. It’s situated smack-bang in the middle of the CBD, and yet has a completely different floral family-fun-loving feel.
On ‘Yer Bike
When you’re in Copenhagen, do as the locals do. Copenhagen is extremely flat which makes is easy for more than half the city to commute in special bike lanes. There’s even unique bike traffic lights to mitigate car/bike accidents which is perfect because if you’re anything like me, you’ll want help navigating intersections!
Most hotels offer free or discounted bike hire for guests, otherwise go for a stroll and there’s bound to be a bike hire place somewhere along the street. Hire should cost about 95 DKK per day.
Nyhavn is easily the best canal in Copenhagen, with brightly coloured 18th century Dutch townhouses lining the streets, numerous bars, cafes and restaurants – this is the Copenhagen of postcards.
I’ll let you in on a little secret: I’ve found the best hotel courtyard in all of Scandinavia… and you can read my review on Avenue Hotel Copenhagen here.
Torvehallerne Urban Markets
Torvehallerne could best be described as a feast for all of the senses – not just your mouth. You will find over 60 beautifully curated food and produce stands selling everything from fresh-fish and meat, to quick eat-in bites of Smorbrod (famous Danish open sandwiches on buckwheat bread).
The degustation at this Michelin-Starred modern Thai restaurant located in the hip and vibrant suburb of Norrebro is practically faultless – with each dish playing with and inversing diner’s expectations. Without being overly pretentious, Kiin Kiin’s dishes are such that looks become deceiving, and something sweet to the eye becomes savory upon taste. The service is impeccable and it was a true delight to dine here.
Another Michelin-Starred restaurant, there’s a reason why patrons need to book months in advance. Situated in an old warehouse in Copenhagen’s Christianshavn district, the 3-year running (2010-2012) world’s best restaurant according to the S. Pellegrino List of Top 50 had a whopping reputation to live up too. At the risk of going on and on about this place – the food, the service, the location, the presentation, the… everything, I’ll just leave you with this: the dishes are pure culinary genius, and if you visit Copenhagen – no matter whether its 2 years or 2 weeks away – make sure the first thing you do after booking your flight is checking the Noma website and reserving a table for dinner! You won’t regret it.
Ruby Cocktail Bar
If you’re feeling like some fun after a beautiful dinner at one of Copenhagen’s finest restaurants, then head on down to Ruby’s Bar for unique cocktails and a cute little outside courtyard and some fantastic chats with Copenhagen’s finest creative set!
Get A Bike And Cruise The City
Not but seriously. Get a bike and cruise the city. At the risk of sounding like one of those Travel Wankers, you haven’t really been to Copenhagen if you don’t get a bike and explore like a local.
Grab a Copenhagen Card
It’s the perfect backstage pass for city newbies. There’s so much included that it actually doesn’t feel like you’re being jibbed for the amount you pay (like a lot of other city cards do). You get free and discounted transport on trains, buses and water taxi’s as well as admission to a lot of the tours, galleries and attractions the city has to offer. It costs about 48 euro (adult) for 24 hours, but discounts apply once you buy consecutive days. For more information on Copenhagen Card, click here.