Copenhagen has been ranked the most livable city on the planet, but, even if you don’t plan on spending a lifetime there it’s still worth a visit. Copenhagen is a small but large city with an abundance of historical buildings, Danish design, cafés and green areas situated on the eastern coast of Denmark. You don’t need a car to get around, as the public transportation is efficient and can take you anywhere you want to go.
If that’s not enough, Copenhagen is one of the world’s most bicycle-friendly cities with 350 km (217 miles) of bicycle lanes that everyone uses. If you’re up for this green mode of transportation, you can either rent a bike for a small fee or go on a guided tour of the city. If walking or cycling isn’t your thing, hop on a boat to see the city from the waterfront. If you’re traveling on a budget the Netto boats are the best guided option.
Here are some other great ways to get your fill of Copenhagen:
Take a walk from the little but famous mermaid, through Amalienborg where the royal family resides protected by the royal guards and down to Nyhavn where the old, dollhouse-like buildings are still standing strong. Have a local beer or an old-fashioned ice cream on the edge of the quay. If you don’t mind climbing 400 steps and want the very best view of the city, take the metro to Christianshavn and visit Vor Frelsers Kirke (Church of Our Saviour) with its twisted golden tower. The freetown of Christiania is only a block away – a must see because of the special atmosphere, the peculiar architecture and green areas.
The Tivoli Gardens situated in the city centre next to the main station is the second oldest amusement park in the world. With historic rollercoasters, restaurants, flowers, free summer concerts and fireworks, there’s there something for everyone. In October the gardens turn into a pumpkin-covered Halloween celebration, and in November and December the spirit of Christmas takes over with a thousand lights and a delightful market.
The National Museum is a great way to spend a rainy day, and both changing and permanent exhibitions (like the doll house collection) are worth your while. The Royal Library is another great place to hide from the elements. This interesting building is a combination of the library that’s more than 300 years old and the recently added Black Diamond. Apart from the amazing architecture, there is a restaurant and an art exhibition in the basement also worth visiting. Finally, the Botanical Garden is a tranquil escape in the city, and the colors, aromas and green house palm trees will make you never want to leave.
Strøget is one of Europe’s longest pedestrian streets and the place to find famous designer stores like Royal Copenhagen, but if you’re looking for the lesser known designers, go off the beaten path onto the smaller streets. In Studiestræde and the surrounding streets in the Latin quarter, there’s enough vintage to last a lifetime. Check out FN92, a store that sells superb vintage dresses from the 1930s-1970s, and København K where you will find second hand and resown clothing plus accessories.
Nørrebro is a vibrant area, and although Jægersborggade used to be a dodgy street mostly known for shady business, it has become one of the hottest spots in town. Small boutiques, restaurants, cozy cafes and hipsters have taken over. If shopping has worn you out, follow the locals for a rest in the cemetery Assistens Kirkegård, where you can visit the grave of famous Hans Christian Andersen. Although it may seem morbid, many locals relax, jog, and even picnic in this cemetery-turned-park.
Eat & Drink
There are several musts for foodies in Copenhagen, but one of the newest additions is Copenhagen Street Food on the Paper Island. The previous paper storage building by the water recently got an upgrade with numerous food and drink trucks, beach chairs and the occasional DJ setting the mood. The trucks serve anything from Danish gourmet hotdogs, fish ‘n chips to tacos and cocktails. On a hot summer day, this is the place to be!
Torvehallerne (market halls) next to the Nørreport station offers fresh produce, fish, meat, coffee, Smørrebrød (open sandwiches) and much more. If you’re hungry and not in the mood for cooking, go to Gorm’s and indulge in one of the best pizzas in town. And if your sweet tooth is still aching, head for Laura’s bakery and enjoy some classic Danish pastry.
Brass Monkey is a tiki bar decorated with skulls, flowers and palm trees, and if drinks served in gigantic seashells don’t win you over, the sweet smell of popcorn will. If you’re looking for a party that never ends, go to the meat packing district which is overflowing with hip bars and restaurants.
Have you been to Copenhagen? What are your “must-sees”?
Images via Emma Pihl