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A Complete Guide
Why visit Copenhagen? Copenhagen, the capital of Denmark, is nestled on the eastern coast of the island of Zealand. The Danish capital is a treasure trove of cultural delights, offering visitors a unique blend of old-world charm and contemporary flair. From historic castles, family friendly attractions to cutting-edge design, Copenhagen draws in every type of traveller . In this comprehensive guide we’ll delve into everything you need to know to make the most of your visit to this fantastic city. Is it expensive? Broadly speaking, yes. But that isn’t to say you can’t keep costs down with some savvy decision making!
How to get to Copenhagen?
Copenhagen is well-connected to the whole world with its major international airport, Kastrup Airport (CPH). It is conveniently located just 8km from the city centre making it a great choice for a quick weekend away or a family trip. From the airport there are a range of transportation options to easily reach the centre of Copenhagen.
The cheapest and most convenient way to reach the city is by taking the Metro. The Metro station is located in Terminal 3, then a short 15 minute ride will have you in the heart of Copenhagen. We enquired about taxis and the driver insisted we pay €60 for a 10 minute ride. He was absolutely having us on of course. I hate this about a lot of taxis abroad. I would much rather use public transport and pay a fair price. The metro runs late, it was around 22;30 when we bought our tickets and hopped on for around £3.50 each. Within 15 minutes we were at Copenhagens Central station where we could then walk to our hotel.
Try our ‘Start your Journey’ feature to find some great value flights and accommodation options in the city.
– Set the budget for everyone (not per person)
– Enter Copenhagen as the destination.
– Try the specific date calendar where you can select a whole period of annual leave, or maybe all of the weekends in a month, to find the best time to visit.
– Set your duration to 2 or 3 nights.
Where should I stay in Copenhagen?
Copenhagen offers a diverse range of neighbourhoods, each with its own distinct character and charm. Choosing the right area to stay in depends on the type of experience you’re looking for. If like us you just want the cheapest possible option, then let price lead the way instead! Our search feature will find you the best option to fit within your budget.
The historical heart of Copenhagen is characterised by cobblestone streets, picturesque canals, and iconic landmarks like the Round Tower and Christiansborg Palace. This area is perfect for those who want to be in the midst of historic sites and enjoy a vibrant atmosphere. Note this will be the most expensive place to stay, browse some HOTEL OPTIONS here.
Once an industrial area, Vesterbro has now transformed into a trendy neighbourhood. Packed with cool cafes, boutiques, and art galleries, it appeals to the creative and young at heart. The Meatpacking District is a must-visit for its lively nightlife and food scene. We had dinner here at a place called ‘Warpigs’ after lots of recommendations. Expensive but delicious! You will find a lot more affordable hotel options at this side of town and its not far from the central station. Browse some HOTEL OPTIONS here. We stayed close to this area in a hotel called “Wakeup Copenhagen Carsten Niebuhrs Gade” it was close to a bus stop, around a 10 minute walk from the central station and Tivoli Gardens. A great value option to consider.
Copenhagens multicultural hub. Nørrebro is a melting pot of diverse cultures and influences. Here, you’ll find quirky boutiques, street art, and a thriving food scene from around the world. Assistens Cemetery, where Hans Christian Andersen is buried, is a peaceful oasis in the heart of Nørrebro. You can take the metro, bus or walk to the centre from here. Check out some HOTEL OPTIONS in the area.
Situated along the waterfront, Østerbro is a family-friendly district with green spaces and a laid-back atmosphere. The famous Little Mermaid statue is located in this area, as well as ‘The Experimetarium’, a great attraction for kids. I will discuss this more in my family guide. From here it is easy to reach the centre of Copenhagen via metro or bus. Check out some HOTEL OPTIONS here.
How to get around Copenhagen?
Copenhagen has a great public transportation system, making it super easy to explore the city and its surroundings. The backbone of the public transport network is the Metro, which connects key neighbourhoods and attractions. The buses also cover areas not serviced by the Metro, meaning it’s pretty easy to get anywhere without needing to fork out on Taxis.
The city is well known for being cycle friendly with well maintained bike lanes offering an eco-friendly and fun way to explore. We pretty much walked everywhere, it is a flat city with lots to see as you mooch about. We clocked up over 20,000 steps most days but managed to see a lot! The Zoo and Experimentarium were a little far out, so we used public transport for these attractions.
We purchased the Copenhagen card which give access to tons of attractions and unlimited use of public transport within the city. I will do a separate post on this card to go into more detail and discuss whether it would be worth while for you to buy. There are alternatives which don’t include public transport which we will compare.
What currency do they use in Copenhagen?
The Danish krone is the official currency of Denmark. This is abbreviated to DKK and its symbol is kr. Some people would quote us prices in both Euro and DKK, but we used card payments for everything. This is the first destination I’ve visited where I never had the need to get any local currency! We have a specific travel credit card which has near perfect exchange rates and no fees for using it. Be very careful using your normal debit card abroad as you can end up being charged a fee every time you tap. If you are asked whether you want to pay in pounds or the local currency whilst using your card, always choose the local currency.
How much should I budget for food in Copenhagen?
I get asked this question a lot about tons of destinations. I would genuinely answer with another question “How long is a piece of string?” because it depends! Copenhagen is a capital city, and as such, has a lot of expensive places where you could eat. Chances are if you do little planning and just mooch into the nearest restaurant you see, it’s probably going to be expensive. It isn’t unusual for a main meal to cost anywhere between £25 – £50 without drinks. Carlsberg is the local beer and will set you back around £5.50 a pint. Copenhagen has a reputation for excellent quality and innovative cuisine which often justifies the expense.
But what if I’m on a tight budget..?
No problem. The city is filled with street vendors and more affordable options. If all you want to do is fill your belly and continue your exploration, you won’t have to spend a lot. We loved the hot dog stalls, absolutely delicious and around £4 each. This was enough for our lunch and kept our budget under control! Take a water bottle with you, there are lots of places to fill up.
If you have a room with a kitchen you are winning. A supermarket shop will be inexpensive and you can prepare a lot of your own meals. We shopped a Netto which was an absolute blast from the past! Taking a packed lunch out during the day and some snacks can save you a fortune. Simply having some pastries, fruit and coffee before leaving the hotel will mean you have more money to spend on a nice meal later on.
Ultimately, we feel the key is to balance indulgent dining experiences (maybe one nice meal during the trip?) with more economical options to allow the budget to spread further. This way you get to enjoy the rich and delicious flavours Copenhagen has to offer, but without needing to remortgage your house!
What famous local food should I try?
Smørrebrød: This classic Danish open-faced sandwich is a well loved and versatile dish, featuring various toppings on top of rye bread. It’s a staple in Danish cuisine and is often considered a symbol of traditional Danish dining. You can try these inexpensively in many cafes.
Frikadeller: These savoury meatballs, usually made from a mix of pork and veal, are a comfort food in Denmark. They are commonly served as a main course, accompanied by potatoes and gravy.
Rød Pølse: Danish red sausages served in a bun (hot dog) with toppings like ketchup, and mustard. They are a popular street food item and a quick, delicious and inexpensive snack.
Gravad Laks: AKA cured salmon is a delicacy in Denmark. The salmon is typically cured with a mixture of salt, sugar, and dill, resulting in a delicious dish often served with mustard sauce and dill.
Gammel Dansk: This traditional Danish liqueur is often enjoyed as an aperitif. Its distinct flavour makes it a unique and quintessentially Danish drink.
Danish Beer: Denmark has a rich beer culture, and trying local brews, whether it’s the well-known Carlsberg or craft beers from microbreweries, is a popular activity for locals and visitors alike. You can visit the Calsberg museum where you get to sample the beer.
Best things to do in Copenhagen?
I will make a specific guide for families very soon, this is a general list of amazing things everyone can do in Copenhagen.
Visit Tivoli Gardens: One of the world’s oldest amusement parks, Tivoli Gardens is a magical destination with rides, arcades, and beautiful gardens. It’s a must-visit for families and those seeking a magical experience. Note that the park isn’t open all year round. It will open on the 22nd March for 2024 and the ‘summer season’ runs to the 22nd of September. It opens again for Halloween (10th October – 3rd November). And then again for Christmas (15th November – 5th January). I will discuss this place in detail in our family guide, but entrance is included with the Copenhagen card. Note that you then need to purchase a ride pass too.
Explore Nyhavn: The iconic multicoloured harbour of Nyhavn is the perfect place for a stroll. Here you will find a lively scene with tons of bars and restaurants. You can hop on a canal tour from here. Note if you are using the Copenhagen card to do a canal tour, you must start at Ved Stranden.
Cycle along the Waterfront: Copenhagen is a cycle-friendly city, and exploring its scenic waterfront by bike is a great way to take in the sights. Cycle hire will set you back around £18 for the day or £28 for two days.
See The Little Mermaid.. Is it famous? Yes. Is it worth walking miles to see? Absolutely not. I have attached a picture to lower your expectations. As one of Copenhagens most famous tourist attractions you may wish to go and visit to make your own opinion!
Visit the National Museum of Denmark: Immerse yourself in Danish history and culture at the National Museum. There is tons to explore here including a children’s museum with lots of interactive elements for the little ones. i will discuss this further in our family guide. Again, entry is included with the Copenhagen card.
Check out the Design Museum Denmark: Explore the evolution of Danish design at the Design Museum. From furniture to fashion, the museum showcases the country’s famous and influential design heritage. Note that like many places in the city, it isn’t open on Mondays.
Visit Rosenborg Castle: Learn all about the royal history of Denmark by exploring Rosenborg Castle. One of our favourite historical stops on the trip. Marvel at the crown jewels, intricate tapestries, and the beautifully maintained Renaissance architecture. We enjoyed walking around the Kings Garden where we found a statue of Hans Christian Anderson. There is also a small play area here for the kids. Entry to the castle is included on the Copenhagen card. Note that it is closed on Mondays.
Take a canal tour: We did the one hour tour from Ved Stranden which is included on the Copenhagen pass. A great way to explore and learn about the city without having to make too much effort. It was a good excuse to rest our feet and it was a novelty for our son. He got to sit and do some drawing whilst we listened to the tour and enjoyed the views.
Head up the round tower: This 17th century tower was built as an astronomical observatory. Its most unique feature is its Equestrian staircase – essentially a ramp that takes you all the way to the top for some great views of the city. There are stops along the way with toilets for tired legs!
Visit Freetown Christiania: A must visit and free activity whilst in Copenhagen. Freetown Christiania is a community and commune in the Christianshavn neighbourhood. Its ‘Pusher street’ or ‘Green light district’ is famous for its open selling of Cannabis which is illegal in Denmark. For many years authorities were reluctant to forcibly stop the trading. Those in support thought that concentrating the Cannabis trade in one place would limit its spread in society, and that it could prevent users from switching to ‘harder drugs’. Apparently police now raid the street daily, but an early warning system of lookouts allows the dealers to close up shop before the police arrive. No photos or videos are allowed in the area but half a million tourists visit every year to experience this unique community.
Should I visit Copenhagen?!
Absolutely! This fascinating city has something for everyone and by making some economical choices, you don’t have to spend a fortune. Please let us know if you need any help with organising your own trip! I hope this article has been helpful.
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