Something to know when getting ready to visit Copenhagen is that different parts of the city have their characteristic, usually well-defined, style. While the Old Town is a combination of impressive historic sites, modern dining and shopping experiences, you can also choose from a variety of posh, hip, multicultural, and traditional neighbourhoods to wander around. Finally, there is also Christiania, which is a topic of its own.
Generally speaking, however, the hip can be considered the standard in Copenhagen if that makes sense. Compared to Stockholm, for instance, the atmosphere in the Danish capital feels slightly more relaxed, people’s appearance slightly less formal. The same goes for venues such as cafés and restaurants where the interiors can often remind you more of your grandmother’s house than scenes from high-end locations near Stockholm’s Strandvägen or Vienna’s Ringstraße.
As you would expect, historic sites are plentiful and not only in the rather small Old Town. I can warmly recommend visiting most of them as I believe they’re well worth your time and effort. Still, if I were you, I would skip ‘The Little Mermaid’ (Den Lille Havfrue) and rather take a nice long stroll around the surrounding area, which really is beautiful.
Speaking of strolling, the waterfront promenade passing by the royal residence, Amalienborg is not the only place to keep in mind. Try to cover as many of the narrow little streets in the Old Town where you can find plenty of interesting surprises. The world-famous Nyhavn (‘The New Harbour’) is, in my opinion, also a beautiful place to see despite usually being flooded by tourists. You might want to visit this area during less popular times of the day to fully enjoy it.
For those of you preferring upscale areas, there is Frederiksberg with some of the prettiest architecture in town, as well as extensive parks and gardens. Not less recommendable to you is Østerbro which is known for its elegant residential houses and its location at the eastern edge of the popular Copenhagen Lakes.
These lakes form a natural border between the oldest parts of the city and the more modern residential areas. They also mark one of the most attractive zones for recreation. On a sunny day, you can bet to find masses of locals jogging, cycling, or just hanging out in the neighbourhood.
Also near the Copenhagen Lakes is the quarter carrying the name ‘Kartoffelrækkerne.’ This place is one of my favourites in the Danish capital for a multitude of reasons. Among them is my admiration for the design of the nineteenth-century terraced houses inspired by traditional English architecture, and the location of the neighbourhood itself. However, what I probably find most appealing about Kartoffelrækkerne is the quarter’s surprise factor as I never expected to find a similar area in Copenhagen.
A massive royal palace cannot hurt any city, right? Well, Copenhagen has a few of them and you better not force me to decide whether I am more of a fan of Christiansborg (Christiansborg Slot) or Rosenborg (Rosenborg Slot). Both these places are remarkable, and while Rosenborg is surrounded by blossoming gardens and a nice pond, Christiansborg offers the tallest tower in town where you can go (for free) and get a beautiful bird-eye view off the town. Of course, Amalienborg, the current official residence of the Danish monarchs should not be left forgotten either.
For the art lover deep inside of you, I pick Ny Carlsberg Glyptotek as my top endorsement. The art museum established by Carl Jacobsen, a passionate art collector and the son of J.C. Jacobsen who founded the Carlsberg Breweries, resides in a stunning 19th-century building in the heart of the city. Not that I want to cast a shadow on the impressive art collection of the museum, but the winter garden you can find in its premises is beyond amazing, too.
If you do not feel like admiring sculptures and paintings, perhaps you would appreciate a good book. Actually, you do not even need to read anything to enjoy a visit to The Royal Library (Det Kongelige Bibliotek). I could come up with many reasons to love this place, though the most charming thing, in my opinion, is the combination of the historical library building with the new structure known as ‘The Black Diamond’ (Den Sorte Diamant), which by itself is one of the prettiest modern buildings I have seen.
Between all these beautiful sights, you would find a massive number of cafés and restaurants to choose from. Many of them hip to fit with the general vibe of the city while others offer Scandinavian elegance and simplicity. I am confident that whatever your preferences, you can find something to your liking in Copenhagen with ease when it comes to gastronomy. Prices are rather steep, but hey, it’s Scandinavia. What would you expect?
Your impressions of the transportation system in Copenhagen might vary a lot depending on where you are staying and what other parts of the city you decide to visit. If you are lucky (or smart) enough to stay near the metro, you will get to enjoy modern stations, as well as self-driving trains, which is a pretty cool thing if you ask me.
One of the metro lines also goes to the Copenhagen Airport (Københavns Lufthavn) giving you a very convenient way to get to some parts of the town. Unfortunately, not everything is so smooth and comfortable, perhaps because still only a fairly small part of the planned metro infrastructure is in place.
Some alternatives to the metro are the S-trains (S-tog) and, of course, buses. In my experience, the S-trains can be shockingly filthy both on the outside an on the inside. Some stations can also be tricky to navigate, so if you do decide to use these trains, you might want to come a few minutes early if you need to catch a particular train.
As for the public transport tickets, your best option is to buy a period ticket covering all zones within the city. Potentially even if you think this would be more expensive than getting single tickets. Probably because public transport in Copenhagen is handled by a multitude of providers, the whole ticketing system is such a mess that I will not even go into any details.
Now that you know a little something about Copenhagen, it is time to pack a bag (or at least fix a flight ticket) and get ready to explore the diverse streets of this charming historical town. I also invite you to discover more places to see in the Danish capital and their stories here at Trevl. Feel free to post any questions or tips you might have in the comments section below.