Hej! That’s Danish for “hello,” which I just learned about during my recent trip to Copenhagen. Elementary stuff, I know, but it’s something!
If you’ve read my previous posts on my 2019 travel plans (here and here), you’ll know that Copenhagen had been on my travel bucket list for a very long time. So, when a business trip to Venice came up, and I saw there was an easy direct (and affordable) flight from Venice to Copenhagen, I jumped at the chance to go for several days.
Overall, I found Copenhagen to be a beautiful city, particularly when the sun came out, which it fortunately did quite a bit during my time there. It was the third Scandinavian country I’ve been to (the second this year), and I definitely saw similarities with the other Scandinavian cities I’ve visited (Stockholm and Reykjavik).
For anyone visiting for the first time (or maybe even the second or third), below are some suggestions on what to do, see and eat in Copenhagen, based on my own experiences there.
Free walking tour: I’ve gotten into free walking tours in the last two years or so, since I find them to be great introductions to a city. Copenhagen Free Walking Tours is no exception and provides several options to choose from.
Museum hop: Copenhagen has a number of really interesting museums to explore. During my time there, I went to Designmuseum Denmark, which was fascinating because you really get a sense of the past and present of Danish (and more generally, Scandinavian) design, plus the building itself and the courtyard are beautiful.
Visit Tivoli Gardens: I had heard great things about Tivoli Gardens, the inspiration for Walt Disney, but I was still skeptical because I’m just not a theme park person. All that said, I loved Tivoli Gardens! Some of the rides gave me heart palpitations just watching them, but it’s a truly beautiful park and I love how many performances they have there. I ended up seeing a popular Danish DJ, Morten, while I was there, and he was SO good!
Try Danish beer: When in Rome, right? You can’t go to Denmark and not try Danish beer, or so they say. Despite not being a beer drinker at all, I felt I had to at least give it a try. And you know what? It wasn’t too bad! Either beer is slowly becoming an acquired taste for me or I just didn’t mind the particular beer I tried. Probably the latter.
Eat all the food at a food market: One thing I was surprised to see in Copenhagen was all the food markets sprinkled around the city. On one occasion I trekked out to Reffen (which was formerly Copenhagen Street Food market on Paper Island), but my favorite food market was the one near X bridge. Regardless of which one you go to, you’re bound to find something you like.
Nyhavn: Not seeing Nyhavn during a trip to Copenhagen might be like not seeing Times Square during a first trip to New York City. Maybe not an apples-to-apples comparison, but I made that comparison because I find both to be extremely touristy and crowded buuut necessary. My advice for Nyhavn is to go in the morning when it’s much more peaceful.
Copenhagen from the water: When you’re seeing Nyhavn, you’re bound to see the many businesses offering canal tours around Copenhagen. They’re very affordable and offer a unique way to see a city that has so much water surrounding it.
Copenhagen on bike: Copenhagen is an extremely bike-friendly city and a wonderful way to explore. I admit, I did not get on a bike during my time there but I was so tempted! I also looked up bike tours around Copenhagen but ultimately ended up doing a ton of walking and even took the bus. Still, if you’re into cycling, I recommend doing it in Copenhagen.
The Little Mermaid statue: Some might say it’s not worth it to try and see The Little Mermaid statue, especially since it’s kind of far away from everything. I certainly had no plans to see it myself, but while visiting Nyhavn one morning, I decided to make the 20-minute walk to see it, and I don’t have any regrets. The park that you walk through to get there is beautiful and it’s a nice stroll on a sunny day, if you have the time.
Freetown Christiania: This was a place that came up in recommendations to me a few times (not sure why, since I don’t smoke). I’ll be honest, Freetown Christiania was not my cup of tea but I did find it generally fascinating since it’s this autonomous area where people sell plants of the Cannabis variety quite freely. Not for me but different strokes for different folks.
Smørrebrød: These open-faced sandwiches are very typical of Denmark and are sold at a number of places around Copenhagen. My absolute favorite was my last meal in Copenhagen (and one of my favorite meals overall), at Aamanns. I tried the herring and shrimp smørrebrød and loved both.
Danish pastry: You can’t go to Denmark and NOT try a Danish pastry, even if you’re not a pastry person. I admit, I’m not. Give me a cookie or brownie over a pastry. That said, I had to try a Danish pastry, and I have no regrets doing so.
Fish, fish and more fish: Pescatarians rejoice! Copenhagen is a fish lover’s dream. I adore fish, so I was happy as a clam eating fish sometimes a few times in one day. My favorite fish was the fried turbot with peas à la Française and Riesling sauce at the Nimb Brasserie and the herring smørrebrød at Aamanns.
Hot dog: I’m not really sure why hot dogs are known here, but after eating one in Iceland (also a place known for their hot dogs), I felt I had to try one in Copenhagen. The verdict: Copenhagen wins (sorry, Reykjavik). I’m not a big hot dog person, but I found this one to be flavorful and hearty and almost worth the calories.
Breakfast at Mad & Kaffe: I read about this place on a few blogs and, upon discovering it was only about a 15-minute walk from my hotel, decided to give it a try for a late breakfast/brunch. It’s a unique concept; you can order either three, five or seven small dishes. I went with three (the scrambled eggs with chives and fried mushrooms; pork, chive and tomato sausage; and lacto-free yoghurt with choco-muesli, rhubarb and strawberry jam and pecan nuts) and actually found it pretty filling and much more flavorful than I thought it would be. Plus, it’s a very Instagrammable setup!
Have you ever been to Copenhagen? If so, what are your favorite things to do, see and eat there?