Cool, contemporary and classically beautiful: it’s very easy to see why visitors are drawn to Denmark’s capital. From arts and culture, to food and drink, to architecture – and even a theme park in the heart of the city: there’s so much to see and do to amuse visitors of all interests which is why it’s an ideal place for a city break from the UK.
Here’s a guide to visiting Copenhagen – including how to get there, what to do and what to eat and drink.
What you need to know
Denmark’s currency is the Danish Krone and although Copenhagen is known as a pretty pricey city, not everything is overly expensive – although alcohol is one exception! Generally, getting to Copenhagen can be fairly cheap if you fly with a budget airline and there’s also some good value Airbnb accommodation on offer. Copenhagen’s residents are big into plastic with card payments accepted pretty much everywhere – and you’ll usually be presented with a card machine when you ask for the bill. It can slow down getting served in a bar as many people will pay for even small amounts on their cards.
English is widely spoken throughout the city and many restaurants/cafés will also offer English menus. If you only learn two words of Danish go for ‘tak’ (thank you) and ‘skål’ (cheers).
How to get to Copenhagen
Copenhagen Airport is one of the busiest in Scandinavia with more than 26 million passengers travelling through each year. It’s located in the suburb of Kastrup and is close to the Øresund Bridge to Malmo (aka the bridge from the TV series of the same name). Direct flights operate from the UK with SAS and EasyJet and the flight time is fairly short (about 1hr 45 from Manchester).
Copenhagen Airport is very well connected to public transport networks: you can get the Metro into the centre of Copenhagen or the train to Sweden and destinations further afield. The Metro takes about 25 minutes to reach the centre and costs 36DKK – try to have some change when you arrive as the ticket machines only take coins or card payments.
What to do in Copenhagen
Hire a bike
Copenhagen is well-known as a bike-friendly city and it certainly lives up to its reputation. An extensive bike lane network mean residents generally cycle where they can and it’s not uncommon to see bikes parked up against buildings across the city. One of the best ways to explore the city is on two wheels so if you want to give cycling in Copenhagen a go yourself, you can hire one of the many City Bikes (Bycyklen). Simply register for an account (either pay as you go or a monthly subscription), find a docking station and away you go! Each bike has a handy GPS to make sure you don’t get lost.
Visit Tivoli Gardens
One of the world’s oldest theme parks, no visit to Copenhagen is complete without a trip to Tivoli. Located in the heart of the city, this pleasure park features restaurants, bars, rides and stages showcasing productions throughout the day alongside plenty of green space for relaxing. Whether you’re a thrillseeker or just looking for somewhere to enjoy the atmosphere, it has something for everyone. A certain Walt Disney visited Tivoli Gardens and it’s said to be the inspiration behind DisneyWorld. You can buy entrance tickets (100DKK) online in advance to save time on queuing (it doesn’t save you any money) and you can either purchase an unlimited ride wristband (220DKK) or individual tickets at the park.
See the city from above
One of the best ways to really appreciate the beauty of Copenhagen is to see it from on high. One of the most popular towers is the Rundetaarn/Rundetårn (The Round Tower in English) which is located close to Nørreport and costs 25DKK to enter. However, if you’re looking for something a bit more adventurous, head over to the Church of Our Saviour. It’s famous for its spire – with the final 150 steps are on the outside! Not one for those with vertigo. Admission is between 35DKK and 45DKK, depending on the time of year.
What to see in Copenhagen
Den Lille Havfrue/ The Little Mermaid
The most famous sight in Copenhagen, The Little Mermaid statue sits overlooking the harbour and was given to the city by brewer Carl Jacobsen. It’s no surprise that it attracts a huge number of visitors – so don’t expect to have the statue to yourself! It’s also smaller than you might have expected it to be. If you’re looking to escape the hubbub, the surrounding fort area (Kastellet) is worth exploring and has plenty of green spaces.
The brightly coloured buildings of Nyhavn are another popular tourist site. It’s a pretty place for a stroll and was also once the home of author Hans Christian Anderson. There’s a range of restaurants, cafés and bars along the canal-side and it’s always quite a bustling place.
A self-declared autonomous area of Copenhagen, Freetown Christiania is an 85 acre neighbourhood established in the 1970s by a group of hippies who took over the abandoned military barracks on the site. It’s home to about 1,000 residents and also has a variety of restaurants, bars, shops and venues alongside a lot of green space. Full of unique buildings and some real characters, it’s an interesting place to explore although it might not be everyone’s cup of tea.
What to eat and drink in Copenhagen
Denmark is famous for its open sandwiches and you can’t visit Copenhagen and not try one. Try Øl & Brød in Vesterbro which serves an innovative menu of delicious flavour combinations with dishes that are surprisingly filling.
The Danes’ love of beer rivals that of the British, and if you’re a beer fan you’ll find yourself very well catered for in the city. Try local microbreweries Mikkeller – who have a number of locations across the city – and To Øl who recently opened a brewpub named BRUS in Norrebro. Another beer location to try is Warpigs, a collaboration between Mikkeller and US brewery 3 Floyds, which is a brewpub serving a menu of barbecue classics.