Bicycle queues, colorful cottages, large castles, and a mermaid in the middle
Good to know
It’s been an open secret for a while now: the small country of Denmark punches above its weight when it comes to style and design. And the Danes often seem to be a step ahead in other ways, too. The so-called World Happiness Report from 2016 stated that the Danes are the happiest people in the world. Their casual attitude to life even has a name – “Hygge,” meaning comfort and companionship, spending relaxed hours with friends and family.
Just another reason, then, to see it all up close and travel to the vibrant heart of Denmark: Velkommen til København.
The harbor city of Copenhagen is spread across several islands, which means you’re always close to the Baltic Sea. In addition to the classic sights such as Rosenborg Castle, where the Danish Queen Margrethe II lives, Christiansborg Palace, the seat of parliament, and the Børsen and the Royal Library, there is also the biggest (small) sight in the city – the Little Mermaid („Den lille Havfrue“).
In this city of 560,000 residents, there are also various other corners that all have their own special character ready and waiting for you.
The so-called “Freetown Christiania” will quite literally take you into a different world. Its residents have created a home with its own rules and currency and there are rows of colorful, self-built houses here in the craziest shapes and colors.
Another must-see and well known to many as Copenhagen’s top postcard motif is the Nyhavn. This area with the colorful gabled houses from the 17th century is situated right in the heart of the city’s harbor area and is home to numerous restaurants.
At the western end of the Nyhavn is the Kongens Nytorv, one of the largest and most important squares in the city.
In Copenhagen’s museums, you can get to grips with the globally popular and timelessly beautiful Danish design. Starting points for this include the ARKEN Museum of Modern Art, the Den Frie Centre of Contemporary Art, and the somewhat further away Louisiana Museum of Modern Art. More classical pieces can be seen in the sacred halls of the Hirschsprung Collection where you can marvel at Danish art from the 19th and 20th centuries.
There isn’t just ONE Danish treat, as you’ll quickly realize when you wander through Copenhagen’s streets: the Danes love good pastries. You’ll discover numerous excellent bakeries and patisseries.
And if you like drinking coffee with your pastry, you’ll be incredibly happy in Copenhagen. Copenhagen coffee culture has made a big name for itself, not least because of the “Third Wave Coffee” trend. If that’s your thing, then you won’t want to miss a visit to Coffee Collectives in Nørrebro.
And while we’re on the subject of world-class: one of the best restaurants in the world can be found in Copenhagen: “Noma.” But if you can’t reserve months in advance or you don’t have a big, fat wallet, you can find culinary satisfaction in the wonderful street food Copenhagen has to offer instead. For example on Paper Island (Papirøen) in the market hall that is located on the water, everyone can find their own personal Michelin star dish from across the world and eat it straightaway, from Thai to Pølser (Danish sausages) and variations on Smørrebrød (bread with thick fillings) to sushi!
You can find the shopping streets Strøget and Strædet close to Christiansborg Palace; at over one kilometer long, they form one of the longest pedestrian zones in Europe. There are also numerous opportunities to wander around and explore in the hip, multicultural Nørrebro area in the northwest of the city. On the streets Jaegersborggade and Elmegade alone, there are numerous designer stores, unusual restaurants, vintage shops, and art galleries.
Fitness and fun
It’s clear that Copenhagen is best discovered by bike. In this way you can keep fit while you’re doing it and you won’t stand out because Copenhagen is, after all, one of Europe’s cycling cities. Whether to work, shopping, or going out – Copenhagen’s residents do most things on two wheels. There are almost 350 kilometers of bike paths through the city and hundreds of bikes are available for tourists to hire. Particularly striking are the white e-bikes (Bycyklen) equipped with GPS and touch screens.
You can also enjoy being a bit sporty in Christianshavn by climbing up the spiral staircase of the Baroque Frelsers Kirke church. Enjoy the fantastic view over the city!
If you love nostalgia, vintage, and a frisson of nerves, you won’t want to miss the Tivoli in Copenhagen. This venerable amusement park is located in the heart of the city and was built back in 1843. In among its numerous trees, meadows, and water, there are rollercoasters and an 80-meter-high carousel. The bridge “Dronning Louises Bro” has become a casual meeting place as it links the city center with Nørrebro and seems to be a good place for “hygge.” You can catch your breath in one of the numerous parks, the wonderful Botanic Garden, or take the train to the Amager Strandpark.
Important for any music fan: the legendary and world-renowned Roskilde Festival has taken place since 1971 just 30 kilometers away from Copenhagen’s center. Every year at the end of June, you can see global music stars and newcomers performing here. And what’s even better is that all profits from the festival go to charity organizations.