This is your comprehensive what to see and eat Copenhagen guide. Prior to visiting this pretty as a picture city, l would have never considered using the word delightful to describe Copenhagen. I was convinced l would feel about the city the same way l feel about Amsterdam, a place that certainly did not warm the cockles of my heart like it seems to do for everyone else. I therefore tried not to get my hopes up high. Wise move, as l finally get why people go gaga for Copenhagen. It is a unique and yes, delightful city.
What to see and eat Copenhagen guide:
Copenhagen is a gem!:
One of Federico’s oldest friends has resided in Copenhagen off and on for over ten years. At various times, we have talked about visiting, but never made it happen. The last time we saw him in Rome, we decided once and for all to visit. We had been home less than two weeks after our Tokyo trip before we were off ( I really need to get a planner :-) ).
We spent a total of 6 days, five in the city, and one night at a wonderful spa hotel called Kurhotel Skodsborg. It worked out well for us as his friend Daniele was off work for four of those days. It was a fantastic time spent with a local who got to play tourist for a bit. As you can imagine, the boys spent most of their time talking football ;-) . The more amazing fact is that one is a Roma supporter while the other supports Lazio (Derby teams of Rome).
Where to stay in Copenhagen:
We stayed at one of the best AirBnB places we had ever been. It was on the outskirt of the city, about a 15-20 minute walk to the center. It was clean, and she provided everything including some cold beer that was very welcome after a long trip. It was also quite convenient to the train station. We would definitely stay there again.
If you prefer a Copenhagen budget stay, consider the Generator Hostel as it is pocket friendly and after staying at one of their hostels in Sweden, we can recommend it.
For a hotel, our friend always has his friends and family stay at Citizen M Copenhagen hotel. Located in the city center, offering all the amenities such as free WiFi plus gorgeous views of the city from their top floor lobby (called living room).
Our days were spent exploring the city on foot, on the train and on a cruise that showed us the highlights of the city. I have to say l enjoyed not having anything planned.
What to see in Copenhagen: (9 Best Things To See In Copenhagen)
- Stroget Street
- Copenhagen City Hall
- Little Mermaid
- Amalienborg Royal Residence
- Tivoli Gardens
- Paper Island
- Rosenborg Castle
Cruise around Copenhagen:
A fantastic and highly recommended way to see the city. There are 2 different places to catch the ferry. Nyhavn is where we caught ours. There are two companies departing from there. Once costs $12 per person for the hour tour. Walking just a few feet, we saw that the other company charged $6 for the same hour cruise, so we were happy. The tour takes you around the city and we saw:
Copenhagen Visit to Nyhavn:
This area is what made me think the city would be Amsterdam 2.0 :-) . Instead what we found was a vibrant entertainment district that is clearly a gathering place for all Copenhagen locals and tourists alike, especially when the weather turns beautiful like we were lucky enough to have during our visit. The canal is lined with bright and colorful townhouses and there are uncountable number of eateries and pubs. Even though it is one of the top touristy stuff to do in Copenhagen, I still recommend doing it.
Every available space seemed to be occupied. Nyhavn was built during the reign of King Christian V. It was where the cargo was handled and it used to be a very dangerous area known for drunken sailors and prostitution. It is also quite famous for having been home to the world-famous author Hans Christian Anderson for over 20 years, 18 of them spent at #67. Fun fact: He wrote “The princess and the pea” while he lived at #20 !
The Little Mermaid: A must on your Copenhagen holiday
Little is appropriate for this statue. It reminded me of the little piss boy in Brussels :-) , . This is another touristy thing to do while visiting delightful Copenhagen and there were plenty of people waiting to have their photograph taken with it. The little mermaid is perhaps the best known work of Hans Christian Andersen, so if you’re a fan, it is worth seeing. The brewer Carl Jacobsen donated the statue to the city in 1913 as he was a big fan of the story. The poor thing has been vandalized a bunch of times, including being beheaded twice, sawing off an arm and having paint poured all over her, but she always gets fixed! Damn vandals!!!
Amalienborg: (Copenhagen Royal Residence)
This is the official residence of the royal family. It is four identical palaces with an octagonal courtyard. It was originally built for four noble families. Unfortunately, the original royal palace, called Christianborg burned down. The royal family then bought the place. What was impressive was the array of royal vehicles, mostly Roll Royce that were parked out front. I lost count at 42!!! . Good to be the Queen! :-) .
There were a few other places pointed out, but these were my favorites. We all liked this tour as it gave tidbits about the city. There was no way of course we were going to see everything in such a short amount of time, but now we now where else we want to see if and when we come back. Other delightful Copenhagen places include:
Tivoli Gardens: Top sight to see in Copenhagen
We only passed by this amusement park. We did not go in, and not just because it was always crowded. To me, it just seemed like a junior Disneyland and I’ve seen that plenty of times ;-) , so there was no real desire to enter even though l have heard the gardens are quite lovely. It was founded in 1843. I suppose it would be a fun place to visit with kids, there are plenty of rides that we could see from the outside, including a roller coaster.
Also known as Freetown Christiania, it is largely considered a failed experiment. It reminds you of a hippie commune with no real hippies if that makes sense. These are more like new age hippies who seem to care more about drug dealing than free love. In 1971, squatters basically took over the old military barracks. They consider themselves autonomous. There is an amusing sign as you leave the commune of about 84 acres which says “Now entering the E.U”.
Please note: You are prohibited from taking pictures once inside, so we don’t have any. It was kind of intimidating. There is a Pusher Street as you enter where there are plenty of cannabis and hash stalls. The vendors have their faces covered with sunglasses and ski masks. Their heads were covered as well. Lots of guys watching people with cameras and many huge dogs milling about, huge mastiffs and pit bulls with really big spike collars to make them look even more menacing. The whole place smelled of hash and personally, l found it nauseating and couldn’t wait to leave. I’m glad we saw it, but l would not want to be there after dark.
Stroget: Fun thing to do in Copenhagen – Shopping!
This is the pedestrian, and car free shopping areas of the center. It runs about one kilometer long. There are plenty of shops to satisfy and shopping cravings, from cheaper stores to your designer stores like Hermes and Louis Vuitton. This is the place to buy your souvenir tee-shirts and postcards etc. Federico was thrilled to see his favorite store “Superdry”, then was disappointed because it wasn’t scheduled to open till two days after we departed.. Haha!
Update: The bridge is now completed and operational so it should be quite easy to get to Paper Island by just walking or biking across.
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If you’re craving street food and looking for what to eat in Copenhagen, , this is the place to go. I read about it just before we left. There was supposed to be a joint in there that sold pulled pork that was supposed to be awesome. Getting there proved to be a chore. It should have been easy, and will surely be easy when the bridge is completed. It is just on the other side of Nyhavn. We had to walk about 20 minutes to the next cross over bridge and then take a bus that took us to the other side. It was worth it though. The vibe there is really cool and the atmosphere infectious. They also played the coolest music and we found ourselves hanging out there for a few hours.
Rosenborg Castle and Gardens during your Copenhagen Visit:
This was originally meant to be the country house of the royal family, but l believe it was rarely used. They do have a tour of the castle, but we preferred to enjoy the good weather in the royal garden. Apparently everyone thought the same. It makes for one of the many awesome family activities in Copenhagen.
Copenhagen Visit food : Verdict? Delicious!
Some of the things we ate. My favorite thing was the cinnamon roll for breakfast. Best l have ever had. The Danish people also tend to love bread with a lot of butter and slices of cheese for their morning meal. No thank you, bread and butter yes, mix it with cheese and it becomes lunch in my book :-) . We had dinner at an Australian restaurant called Reef N’ Ribs on our last night. I tried crocodile meat for the first time, and l liked it! Mine was won tons while Federico had the crocodile tail burger. It was quite good, better than chicken.
I really liked Copenhagen. It is not a copy of any other place in Europe. Sure, there are similarities, but to me, it felt delightfully unique, a lot like my favorite Ghent. It might be a combination of the place, the people and the melting pot vibe that you get. Everyone seems to be enjoying their lives and were out in full force (could have to do with the glorious weather of course). Just watch out for the people on bikes. Do not get in their lane :-) . They will take you down! :-)
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Non Touristy things to do in Copenhagen: (Unusual things to do in Copenhagen)
If you would like to do things in the city that are a bit off the beaten path, consider these things that our resident friend advised and what he does on a usual basis as a Copenhagen resident.
- Rent a bike and see parts of the city that tourists don’t visit such as Carlsberg – home to the famous brew that you can still visit
- Discover Nørrebro neighbourhood, a fast up and coming area with trendy restaurants
- Visit Assistens Cemetery, the burial place of famous Danes such as Soren Kierkegaard and Hans Christian Andersen
- Swim in one of the canals with locals when the weather is right
- Have the house specialty dumplings at Gao in Blågårdsgade, another cool place in Nørrebro area
- Have one of the 22 beer on tap at WarPigs in the Meatpacking District – formerly home to the meat district, it has since evolved into a hip area full of unique restaurants and cool nightclubs.
- Take a walking architecture tour of Ørestad to see unique Nordic designs in the neighbourhood.
Copenhagen Visit overall thoughts:
As you can see, the city offers both usual and unusual activities to see and do in Copenhagen. We found it an amazingly clean and very efficient city. A bit pricey, but that is to be expected in that part of Europe. We loved our visit and hope to return to discover more of it.
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Have you ever been to Copenhagen or any other part of Denmark? What did you think of this what to see and eat Copenhagen guide? Would you try the exotic foods? Does it look like a place you would like to visit?