I find it hard not to compare every little detail of life in my city, Barcelona, with the lifestyle of other cities to which I travel. The way you move, the atmosphere in each street and in each neighborhood, the shops, services and facilities for citizens, architecture and art … Copenhagen is a wonderful city and there is much of it that It would bring with me to Barcelona. It is colorful and cosmopolitan but at the same time it is smart and majestic, it is quiet and accessible. The gray sky doesn’t overshadow it.
To prepare my 48h in the Danish city I marked all the places I wanted to visit in Google Maps (my ‘map of the stars’ is famous among those who know me), so that when I started walking on any street that caught my attention I just had to check the app to see what was interesting around. Traveling alone in Copenhagen has been very easy and very safe. I enjoy solitude and maybe being used to moving around on my own Barcelona have done the rest.
I have tried to contain myself, but there are soooo many things I want to tell about this city that there are all my recommendations divided into six blocks: accommodation, transport, money, culture, food and shopping.
ACCOMODATION IN COPENHAGEN
When I search for accommodation I can not help but let the aesthetics guide me, although this time I prioritized the practical and I stayed at the Wakeup Copenhagen. Hotels such as the SP34 are way more beautiful, but the Wakeup was not that bad and it is also quite new. It is very central, not very expensive and more than correct to travel solo. If I had to return as a couple I would surely look for other options because the rooms are fairly tiny.
Copenhagen is an expensive city packed with temptations in the form of smørrebrød, butter cookies and decorative objects, so if you travel on a tight budget I recommend you prepare the getaway in advance to get good transport price, accommodation and a list of places where to eat cheap.
In Denmark they use the Danish krone (DKK) instead of the euro, so it is necessary to exchange currency if you want to carry cash with you. I was recommended to do it directly at any change point in the city instead of leaving Barcelona with the change already made, but I didn’t do one thing or the other – I left without any cash, not even euros. I was able to make all the payments of the trip with my credit card, no matter how small the amount and directly in DKK. If you also decide to travel without cash, in places like 7 Eleven supermarkets you can withdraw money through an ‘extra’ charge (the amount you want to cash out) when paying with the card.
To check the equivalence between DKK and euros I downloaded a free app. I also wrote down generic equivalences in my iPhone so I could get a quick check when visiting stores like HAY House or Artium, where I felt the urge to buy everything and I needed to keep my head cold (although at the moment of truth I pretended to forget about checking any equivalence and I went straight to the register… ?).
If you are going to be more than 48h and plan to visit as many museums and tourist attractions as you can, it is probably worth buying the Copenhagen Card. For less than that time I don’t recommend it, since you may not be able to fit all the visits and you would end up losing money. In addition, in many places there is a discount for students (guess who brought out the expired university card) and free admission for people under 26 in places like the Design Museum.
TRANSPORT IN COPENHAGEN
Access from the airport to the city center is very fast and easy. The M2 metro line connects the main terminal in just 20 minutes and for around €3 (36 DKK) with the Kongens Nytorv stop. Pity that the great square where this station is located is under construction and I couldn’t see one of the most beautiful pictures of the city, with the Royal Copenhagen Theater, the Charlottensborg Palace and the Hotel d’Anglaterre surrounding it.
The subway to and from the airport was my only experience in public transportation in Copenhagen, because almost everything that needs to be seen and done is concentrated in the city center and connected by walking distance. If you prefer to save time (this obsession of mine to save time and fit the visits has its explanation in the next section) or you want to go outside the center, such as the area of Nørrebro or the Free City of Christiania, renting a bicycle is the best idea to enjoy the architecture and colors of Copenhagen.
There are a lot of bike rental< establishments scattered around the city, I rented mine directly from the hotel and for around €12 I enjoyed a bike for 5 hours. I already told you, it’s an expensive city… I imagine it must be something from my people to live with the fear of leaving the bike in the street, parked without tying it to a tree and without removing the saddle, unattended, but the relief that I felt when I returned to the perfectly safe bicycle after 2 hours at the Design Museum made me fall in love with this way of traveling around the city. Bike traffic coexists perfectly with that of cars and pedestrians, you can park it in the very door of the establishment where you go, it doesn’t pollute… Wonderful! The helmet is not mandatory (although always recommended), so don’t worry if you don’t have or cannot rent one.
I have mixed feelings regarding the opening hours of the establishments and tourist places of Copenhagen. As a tourist, it has been quite difficult for me to fit the different visits into the fair and reduced schedules, taking into account I was only 48 hours in the city. Putting myself in the shoes of a local, I imagine the good work-family conciliation that they surely have and I think it’s fantastic and something to take as an example. So my advice is that, even if you like to go on an adventure, plan in advance what&when you’d like to visit so that you don’t walk to closed doors. To give you an idea, the Glyptoteket Art Museum opens from 11am to 6pm, the Rosenborg Palace from 10am to 3pm and the shops in the most commercial area from 10am to 6pm.
Nyhavn. One of Copenhagen’s postcards. This canal and old port is charming, with its colorful houses and boats moored side by side. The canal’s pedestrian border, which is full of restaurants and street food, runs from the Kongens Nytorv square to the harbor, revealing the views of the Royal Theater and, from the other side, the National Opera. I recommend visiting it during the day and at nightfall. There you can also find boats that make a tour of the canal and the port.
Rosenborg Slot. It was the royal residence of the Danish Royal Family until 1710. Little wonder if you have already visited so many royal palaces and residences in Europe, although that doesn’t mean that the exhibition of wealth that you find in the interior isn’t impressive. The jewels of the Danish Crown are exposed, you can even see very closely the crowns of the monarchs. The view of the palace from the gardens is also very beautiful, although it has nothing to do with the beauty of the Botanical Gardens, which are right next door.
Admission costs 110DKK, and if you buy the combination of Rosenborg Slot + Amalienborg (the current royal palace) something cheaper comes out (145DKK in total).
Copenhagen Botanical Garden. Discovering these gardens with the colors of autumn and at sunrise have made them one of my favorite places in the city. The greenhouse building is beautiful and delicate, and from the central lake the feeling is of being very far from the city. The admission to the gardens is free, but the Palm House costs 60 DKK and has one of those special opening hours, so you’ll find it closed if you visit the gardens early in the morning.
Tivoli. It is one of the oldest amusement parks in the world, built in 1843. It’s in the center of the city, next to the town hall and the Glyptoteket museum, and although the inside has been renewed, the entrance of the park is preserved as it was built. It is very, very, very beautiful, I imagine that the addition of the Halloween decoration made it even more picturesque. There are different ticket rates since the attractions are paid separately, so if you don’t want to ride any you can pay for an entrance ticket that costs 120DKK. Inside you’ll also find food stalls, sweets, shops, places where to rest… it is really worth the visit.
Rundetårn. The history of this circular tower is linked to astronomy, and although the building itself is not spectacular, the views of the city from on high are: on a clear day you can even see perfectly the huge bridge that crosses from Copenhagen to Malmö. Inside you will also find a small art exhibition room and access to the church to which this tower is attached.
Student entry costs 25DKK.
Amalienborg. This palace is the current residence of the Danish Royal Family. I didn’t visit it inside, but if you’re on your way to the Little Mermaid or the Design Museum, it’s worth going through the enormous square/crossroad that divides this palace into four buildings. You will find the royal guard (you will recognize them for being on the boxes of Danish butter cookies) doing rounds in front of the palaces.
The passage to the square is free, since it is public. The entrance to the palace costs 105DKK.
Designmuseum Danmark. Ahhh, what can I say. It is a must if you enjoy beauty and design in everyday objects, if Japanese art catches your eye and you want to discover Matisse’s works up close.
Interesting: admission is free for children under 26, otherwise entrance costs 115DKK.
Glyptoteket NY Carlsberg. This place is a wonder itself. It showcases painting and sculpture from the Danish and French Golden Age (with works by Rodin and Degas) and a very extensive collection of sculpture and objects of Roman, Greek, Egyptian (including mummies) and Etruscan origin. The sculpture doesn’t excite me, I have to say, but the interior architecture of the museum, the color palette of the walls, the mosaics of the floors, the materials, the interior patio… are impressive. In addition, in the museum shop there is a good selection of Taschen art books and design objects.
Admission costs 115DKK.
Kunsthal Charlottenborg. This is a space similar to the Palau de la Virreina in Barcelona. It is located in a former palace and displays exhibitions of the Royal Danish Academy of Art. Interesting: during the week they open until 8pm. Student entry costs 90DKK.
The Little Mermaid. In a word: overrated. The bike ride through the park to get there is infinitely more beautiful, going through the Anglican church of St. Alban and surrounding the sea side of the military fortress Kastellet, that the small bronze sculpture itself.
Although I didn’t stop for a single second, I missed to see places like the National Gallery of Denmark, the National Museum of Denmark (I’m a museum lover, did you notice?), go inside the Royal Theater, visiting the Christiansborg Palace, the neighbourhood of Christianshavn… I guess I’ll keep them for my next time in Copenhagen! ?.
EATING IN COPENHAGEN
In Copenhagen you can eat well, but not cheap. The simplest meal in a bar can cost quietly for €15 or €20, so you can imagine how much your bill can go up in a restaurant. There’s the option of eating in the many cafeterias where they make sandwiches and salads, or even in streetfood </ strong> stalls if you like the hotdog and chips moment, but after researching in many blogs before my trip and also trying them for myself, this is the list of places where you can eat a warm meal at a good price:
Paludan Café. The walls of this cafeteria are covered by shelves full of books, the windows are framed by red velvet curtains and the seats are old chairs and armchairs that give the place a very interesting ambiance. They prepare breakfasts and meals, they have a good selection of hot drinks and some delicious cakes. In the basement there is a library of old and current volumes that is worth visiting.
Other similar options in the same block: Dale Valle</ strong> and Democratic Café.</ Strong>
Torvenhallen Market. An old food market converted into restaurants. Like La Boqueria in Barcelona or the Mercado de San Miguel in Madrid, it offers a wide variety of local and international food that you can eat sitting at the bar or order to take away. There I recommend Grød</ strong> for a delicious breakfast of freshly made porridge (they have another place in the city).
Sporvejen. I think the Sporvejen at 5:50 pm was the earliest dinner of my entire life, but the huge classic burger with homemade potatoes tasted great to me anyway. The portions are very generous, they have an option for vegetarians and the price is more than great (85DKK for a drink and a burger with accompaniment).
Espresso House.</ strong> If you are looking for a Starbucks-style coffee shop where you can recharge your batteries while having a warm drink, there are several Espresso House in the city. I miss their banana and almond muffin!
Café Atelier September. This one is not cheap and the food is not that amazing, I must say, but it’s so beautiful that I couldn’t resist to it and I had also to include it in this list. They offer breakfasts and meals and prepare nice homemade drinks. Beware – if you go in a +3 people group it may be difficult for you to find a seat since the place is a bit small. For two toasts with avocado on top, a soft boiled egg and a glass of homemade soda I paid 140DKK.
If you want to try the smørrebrød, a typical Danish dish, you can try it in places like the Dansk Smørrebrød or the Hallernes Smørrebrød. Another picturesque place where to have a tea or coffee is the Royal Smushi Café.
SHOPPING IN COPENHAGEN
Copenhagen is the paradise of design and interior design, of beautiful things and fashion brands such as COS, Arket, Acne Studios, Moss Copenhagen, Ganni or Rabens Saloner. And surprise! Also Christmas shopping with stores like Det Gamle Apotek, already dedicated exclusively to the decoration of these holidays.
The main shopping street is Strøget, very long and with a good variety of shops. It goes from Kongens Nytorv to the town hall square. In that street and in the surroundings you will find:
HAY House. A must that doesn’t need an introduction but a warning: you’ll want to take everything.
Stilleben. I was very disappointed of myself to find it closed. I messed up with the schedules and opening hours and I could only drool in front of the window seeing the ceramic objects, the Akari Japanese paper lamps by Vitra…
Posterland. A huge store of posters and postcards. What you don’t find there, you will hardly find elsewhere. There I bought a poster of Nu Bleu II by Matisse.
Artium. This store next to the Tivoli is all about decorative objects and stylish souvenirs. There you’ll find Normann Copenhagen products, for instance.
Beau Marché. A small shop that reminded me of the vintage decoration shops in the Stoke Newington area of London.
Jolander. It’s face to face with Aesop, and inside you’ll find mainly lamps, textiles and sheets.
Monday Sunday. Inside the same venue as Noss, a clothing store, the Monday Sunday stationery brand has a space. You’ll fall in love with their stuff.
Søstrene Grene. Decoration objects and furniture at a very good price.
Copenhagen made me fall in love with it for what I saw and what I experienced in it. I 100% recommend a getaway there and I will go back for sure!