Copenhagen, Denmark

Copenhagen Express: A Compact Guide through Denmark’s Capital


The capital of Denmark continues to prove itself as a vibrant city and another jewel of the Scandinavia region, compared in similar talks of awe along with the Sweden and Norway capitals of Stockholm and Oslo. It’s filled with beautiful views, a stomach satisfying multi-cultural food scene, and enough activities to keep you here almost indefinite. Life in Denmark is just grand. It’s been listed numerous times as one of the happiest countries in the world. But for first timers it can all be a little overwhelming, even if you decided to plan an itinerary or decided to make it a spur of the moment trip.

So, take a moment to familiarize yourself with some choice options we here have personally been able to experience over a 3-Day visit to Copenhagen.

Things to do in Copenhagen

Freetown Christiania

Freetown Christiania

Most recently shown in the Netflix series Clark, not much has changed in Danish culture since the 1970’s in this spirited part of Copenhagen. The neighborhood here is filled with graffiti street art, eccentric bars, galleries, boutique shops, and tasty restaurants. The inhabitants are a mix of locals, artists, spiritual enthusiasts, travelers, and skateboarders. What has basically become a laid back hippie-type commune and what’s it most known for the world over. Its skate park is one of the most well-known spots in Denmark. Because of its free-spirited outlook on life, you’ll find this area to be very cannabis friendly. Authorities seem to have a special understanding with Christiana as stalls do sell marijuana to passersby.

Tivoli Gardens

Tivoli Gardens

Tivoli Gardens can only be described as one of the national treasures of Denmark and the original inspiration for Disney World. The place is filled with rides, amazing botanical gardens, and a tasty high end food court right next door. And it’s also right in the center of Copenhagen. It’s walking distance from the city center.

By Danish design, each part of the garden focuses on a particular region of the world. There are plenty of fun rides to choose from. You will find roller coasters, old fashioned carousels. Other fun attractions include stalls for carnival and arcade games between rides and lovely little paths to stroll throughout the park. These rides were built to complement the greenery and architecture of the entire park.

But it’s just not rides you can enjoy. There are theatre stages where you can enjoy live music and even ballet performances. Take a seat and enjoy a full performance of classical music and dancing, something that will definitely make this place even more magical for you.

Rosenborg Castle

Rosenborg Castle

Enjoy the same beauty and classic garden strolls that the Danish royal family did when you come to Rosenborg Castle. It was constructed during the Kingdom of Denmark’s Dutch Renaissance and used originally as a summer home for the royal family and fellow monarchy. Going in and walking the majestic halls will give you a chance to see how they lived in the common and private areas. You will also be able to view many displays of fine Danish art. They even have thrones for coronation in the Knights Hall.

Or if you prefer just to tour the grounds, the gardens here are great and with perfect weather you may just be content to sit down and nap the day away.

Nyhavn

Nyhavn

This part of Copenhagen has to be the most internationally known. Perhaps because it’s still the most Instagram friendly place in the entire city. See the picturesque images of these colorful and captivating buildings along the water and you will know immediately this is the place to be. The houses have been renovated and on a sunny day the fresh paint really brings out what this place is all about.

With bars and restaurants along the cobblestone pavements it’s not only a popular place for tourists but the locals as well. You will be hearing the sounds of entertainment and music later into the night. Some of the boats tied up along the docks even have their own small bars for you to enjoy.

Little Mermaid Statue

Little Mermaid Statue

For what some people describe as the most famous landmark in the city, the little mermaid statue is actually pretty underwhelming. You won’t be staying here longer then a few minutes to take your pictures just to say you did. It’s a beautiful surrounding by the water but the statue is surprisingly smaller than you would expect for such a famous iconic mark. The history behind it is a little more interesting as the sculptor did this to honor a famous Danish author most known for writing fairy tales.

Changing of the guard

This is a daily occurrence in Copenhagen that involves the Royal Military and is fun to watch. The royal guard carry both ceremonial duties as well as being a combat unit. The Danish Royal Guard march from the barracks near Rosenborg Castle to Amalienborg Palace every afternoon. Marching in formation through the streets is a nice break from the normal routine of city exploring and can catch you by surprise when you see crowds parting the streets for them to come through.

Depending on the locations of the Royal family this unit is compromised of 3 different type of guards. The King’s Guard is when the King and/or Queen is residing in Amalienborg Palace. The Lieutenant’s Guard is when the royal heirs are residing in the palace. The final is the Palace Guard which is when the King and/or Queen is at any royal palace or accommodation. They can also be assembled for other engagements, government assemblies, or national events. Stop by the palace to watch the official change over before continuing on with your day.

Other Activities in Copenhagen

View Copenhagen from Our Savior’s Church – Every local will tell you that this is the best place to get views of Copenhagen. The church tower has a spiral stairway that takes you up the spire to the viewing platform. I would not suggest this for visitors who may have a fear of heights like me. The last steps are outside of the building into open air. But if you can tough it out once you’re up there it is an amazing site to behold.

Bakken Amusement Park – If you are looking for an alternative to Tivoli Gardens that is equally just as fun you can head to Bakken, located just outside of Copenhagen. It’s a smaller venue in comparison but it’s also known as the oldest amusement park in the world. It has special events during the seasons and is a Danish family favorite.

Carlsberg Brewery – Enjoy the taste of this premier beverage while learning about the history of the brewery in Copenhagen. You will be able to see some of the original equipment used in beer-making from it’s establishment in the 1840’s. Take a craft beer tasting as part of the tour. Due to renovations, this location is currently closed. They are expected to reopen in 2023.

How to Get Around Copenhagen

It’s easy to get around the city of Copenhagen. Of course it’s lovely just walking around the city streets and following the maps or apps to your destination. But if you get tired out easily you can choose to take a taxi, public transit bus, rent a bicycle for the day, or take one of the local rideshares. If you are planning on taking a day trip or looking to drive cross-country, you can look into renting a car in Copenhagen. It’s fairly easy to get but be aware to learn the rules of the road and parking laws while in a different country

Where to eat in Copenhangen

One of the activities that is highly recommended in Copenhagen is to take a culinary bike tour. Not only does it give you a great opportunity to just explore the city but also taste a bunch of treats. You can either sign up for one in a group or just rent a bike and do your own foodie tour. This is a perfect way to experience Smorrebrod and other Danish food for the first time. This open-faced sandwich is a staple of Scandinavian cuisine. You will find a variety of options throughout Denmark, Norway, and Sweden.

Torvehallerne – This is the epitome of the trendy Copenhagen food scene. It’s a popular market place for everyone and offers a wide range. You can compare this locations to other popular food markets like Grand Central Market in Los Angeles or La Boqueria in Barcelona. Here you can purchase fresh produce farmers market style, delicious foods to eat in the outside dining area, meats and cheeses, and popular tourists items like boxed sweets, cook books, and fine wine. There are numerous vendors who are all welcoming to your foodie needs.

Tivoli Food Hall – Right next to the Tivoli Gardens, this is fast gourmet food at it’s finest. You can find some of the best eateries here. There are plenty of choice options here in a multitude of stalls. With a common hall as your dining area if you so choose, you really do get the excited vibrant energy of what Copenhagen is all about.

Atelier September – A great little cafe that was formerly an art gallery. It’s upscale yet homey atmosphere really makes it a wonderful place to just sit down and watch the crowds go by. Have a fresh baked croissant with your coffee to start your morning and then head over to Rosenborg Castle & Gardens which is only a few blocks away.

Men-O Ramen – As a ramen connoisseur, I make it a point to try 1-2 ramen joints in every new city or country I visit. This one I found located in the center of the city, just a few blocks from Copenhagen University. It’s high quality ramen noodles parred really well with the rich and thick broth. It really made this stand out and with Denmark weather being frequently on the less sunny side definitely gave me a nice warm boost of energy to finish out my day.

Where to Stay in Copenhagen

Where you want to stay is always an important decision while traveling. Copenhagen seems to be filled with hostels of various comfort levels and price ranges no matter what age group you are in. Which seems to be the norm in Scandinavia countries. But you can also find medium to high end hotels in Copenhagen with great views and close to the city attractions and even boutique living arrangements you may not have heard of scattered throughout the area.

While there are still plenty of other activities you can find in Copenhagen both popular and more for locals you can get a sense of how this city is just from doing some of the activities from this guide. I hope to see you out there!

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