Copenhagen (Danish: København) is the capital city of Denmark and forms the moderate conurbation that one million Danes call home. It is big enough to form a small Danish metropolis, with shopping, culture and nightlife par excellence, yet small enough still to feel intimate and be safe. Although mixed in its urban scene, the city is easy to navigate. Overlooking the Øresund Strait, connected to Sweden by a 15-km bridge-tunnel. Copenhagen serves as a cultural and geographic link between the Nordic countries and central Europe. Copenhagen is where old fairy tales blend with flashy modern architecture and world-class design; where warm jazz mixes with crisp electronica from Copenhagen's basements. You could feel you have seen all of Copenhagen in one day, but further exploration will keep you discovering more for months.
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Centrum, the Medieval City — a place of many names, and the historical heart of Copenhagen, dotted with church spires, historic buildings, narrow alleys and excellent shopping.
A thriving area notable for its many canals and cozy cafes. The Freetown of Christiania is situated in the eastern section of Christianshavn, along with the old naval area, turned trendy: Holmen.
This district still has a few sex shops and sleazy hotels left, but is now one of the hippest places to live, with cafes and bars dotted along its main artery, Istedgade.
An area which formed around Frederiksberg Castle. It remains an independent municipality. Surrounded by the City of Copenhagen, the area has preserved a special conservative, upscale feel.
One of the most vibrant parts of Copenhagen, especially along Nørrebrogade, with a mix of immigrants, students, and original working-class Nørrebro-inhabitants.
A affluent and cozy neighbourhood north of the center. Less vibrant than Nørrebro and Vesterbro, and less quaint than Frederiksberg, it is the home of the famous Little Mermaid statue, and the beautifully preserved Kastellet Citadel. The area west of the train track is very popular with young families.
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Once a bastion of the working class, this island with its own distinct atmosphere is booming with new development. Also home of the airport and the biggest shopping mall in Copenhagen.
|Northern suburbs |
A visit to these green suburbs, beaches, parks, and Dyrehavsbakken — the world's oldest running amusement park; Frilandsmuseet — the world's largest open air museum; or canoeing down the Mill River, will leave no doubt that this is an altogether different kind of suburbia. It is colloquially known to locals as the "whisky belt", due to its many well-heeled residents.
The suburbs west and south of the city. Except for the good and very popular Arken art museum most attractions are small but still interesting. It has some good beaches and camping opportunities.
Beginnings as a merchant harbour
If you had dropped by Copenhagen in the 11th century CE/AD, you would have found yourself looking over a small fishing hamlet, with some lazy cattle gazing back at you while chewing fresh green grass from the meadows around the village. Looking east you would see a host of small islets protecting the small fishing harbour from harsh weather — not the worst place to found a city. If you would rather trust the written word than the archaeologists, the earliest accounts date from the 12th century, when a bearded clerk (or a renowned historian if you will) called Saxo Grammaticus scribbled down a few lines about the place; Portus Mercatorum, he called it, which was really just a fancy Latin version of Købmannahavn. This has since been mangled into København in modern Danish, and even further mangled into Copenhagen in English, but all it really means is "merchant harbour."
Around 1160 CE, King Valdemar handed over control of the city to the bishop of Roskilde. Absalon, archbishop of Lund 1177-91, one of the most colourful characters of the Middle Ages — a curious mix of great churchman, statesman, and warrior. As the country's only city not under the king's control, Absalon saw it thrive and erected a castle on what is today Slotsholmen (the remains are still visible in the catacombs under the present day parliament). As a man of religion Absalon also built a great church, and with those necessities taken care of, Copenhagen quickly gained importance as a natural stop between the two most important Danish cities, the old royal capital Roskilde and Lund in present-day Sweden. Endowed with an enviable location on the banks of the important Øresund Strait, it slowly but steadily surpassed the old urban centers. Copenhagen's rise was greatly aided by entrepreneurial trading with friends and foes alike and by prosperous fishing which provided much of Roman Catholic Europe with salted herring for Lent. But with prosperity comes envy and in the years to follow Copenhagen was laid waste and pillaged time and time again, mainly by the members of the German Hanseatic League, which at one point completely destroyed the city.
In case you are wondering about exactly what is so wonderful about Copenhagen, the city's motto is taken from the Frank Loesser song Wonderful Copenhagen featured in the 1952 film Hans Christian Andersen. Sung by Danny Kaye, it is a bit of an evergreen, and — not being accustomed to Hollywood attention — the city has stuck to it ever since. What also seems to have stuck is the pronunciation, but don't listen to old Danny, it is "koh-pehn-HAY-gehn", not "koh-pehn-HAH-gehn".
Becoming the capital of Denmark
Like the phoenix, however, Copenhagen repeatedly rose from its ashes. When the Danes kicked out the Pope during the 16th century Protestant Reformation, Roskilde lost its importance as a Roman bishopric and, having taken control of the city 20 years earlier, the Danish king moved his residence to Copenhagen. Not terribly keen on seeing their new capital laid waste once more, successive Danish monarchs built massive fortifications around the city. None more so than King Christian IV, who embarked on a building rampage which not only included the ramparts still visible throughout much of the city, but also many present day landmarks like the Round Tower and the Stock Exchange. Since then Copenhagen was besieged by the Swedes, and then bombarded, set ablaze, and nearly destroyed by the British Vice Admiral Lord Nelson, who in one of two battles for Copenhagen, responded to the order to withdraw by saying "You know, Foley, I have only one eye. I have a right to be blind sometimes," and then raised the telescope to his blind eye and touted "I really do not see the signal." This was the first ever civilian bombardment performed as part of war.
Outgrowing the city walls
Again, the city shook off its struggles and the population mushroomed during industrialization. When a cholera epidemic did a fine job of killing nearly everyone there wasn't room for, the King finally conceded that long range cannons would render its constraining walls irrelevant, and thus allowed the city to grow outside the now antiquated ramparts. But it was not long before a new modern fortification was built (known as Vestvolden today), which made Copenhagen Europe's most fortified city of the late 19th century.
After being subjected to yet another, German invasion during World War II, the whole idea of a fortified city was thrown out the window and replaced with one of the finest examples of urban planning anywhere — the Finger Plan. Copenhagen is one of few cities in the world to devise a long term plan for growth and then actually stick to it; try placing your hand over a map of Copenhagen with the palm as the city centre, and it's quite obvious why it's called the finger plan. Despite being the laughing stock of the country through the 1970s and 1980s, when wealthy residents all moved out into the fingers leaving behind an impoverished bankrupt inner city, a visit these days will prove that the Phoenix has risen once more.
- Pelle the Conqueror (Martin Andersen Nexø, 1906–10). An epic novel in three parts and an integral part of the Danish school curriculum portraying the life of two poor Swedish immigrants — a father and son. The two last volumes take place in Copenhagen and describe the rise and the conflicts of the labour movement and global socialism which are so crucial to understanding Danish society today. All in all, it's a very good historical account of life in the city during that period, and above all, a good book.
- Smilla's Sense of Snow (Peter Høeg, 1992). Dive into Denmark's curious post-colonial history in this international best seller. Partly set in Copenhagen, partly in Greenland, you are whirled through a murder mystery by Ms. Smilla, a half Danish Inuit brought up in poor Greenland, but now living in the kingdom's affluent and orderly capital. It is a good account of the conflicts and contrasts between two very different parts of the Kingdom, and it offers some spot-on social critique of Danish society in a very engaging way.
- The Copenhagen Quartet (Thomas E. Kennedy). Four novels totaling well over a thousand pages. Each book is set against the backdrop of one of the four seasons of the Danish capital: Kerrigan in Copenhagen (spring) (2013), Falling Sideways (autumn) (2011), In the Company of Angels (summer) (2010), and Beneath the Neon Egg (winter) (scheduled for publication, 2014). The novelist, an American expat, somewhat autobiographically portrays an American writer trying to come to terms with his past with the help of Copenhagen's many bars, with the Danish capital as the co-star. All of the places described in the books are real places that you can go discover.
Copenhagen is also the setting of several Nordic Noir films and series, such as the Pusher series, The Bridge, and The Killing.
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Averages of Copenhagen between 1961-90
Copenhagen, like the rest of Denmark, has four distinct seasons. The best time to visit is definitely the warm period from early May to late August. Current weather forecasts can be checked at the Danish Meteorological Institute website.
Spring, while a bit risky, as no one knows quite when it sets in, can be the best time to visit the city. On the first warm day, usually in early May, Copenhageners come out of hibernation and flock to the city streets, parks, and outdoor cafes in a veritable explosion of life, relieved that the country's dreary and dark winters are finally over. Many locals consider this the high-point of the year.
Summers in Copenhagen are usually warm with an average temperature of about 20°C, and the days are long — reaching the a peak of 18 hours on 21 June. If the weather becomes too hot, you can jump in one of the free pools in the cool harbour waters near the centre. Copenhagen's harbour is often considered the world's cleanest urban waterfront. Most of Copenhagen's annual events are held during June and July, and when the sun is out there is always life in the streets.
Autumn and winter have a profound effect on the city. The vibrant summer life withers and the streets go quiet, as most Copenhageners go directly home from work. This is where the Danish concept of hygge sets in, roughly translating into cosiness. It is the local way of dealing with the short dark days. Friends and families visit each other for home cooking and conversations by candlelight with quiet music on the stereo. In week 42 the Danes have an autumn holiday, with many events taking place, such as the night of culture. The height of winter is December, where Christmas brings some relief to the short days, with lights and decorations everywhere, in the streets, shops and in peoples' windows. Tivoli opens its doors for the Christmas markets, and most Danes go on a drinking rampage, with the very Danish and traditional Christmas lunches, with work and family.
Weather in Copenhagen can be unstable and highly unpredictable. Make sure you pack clothes in case of sudden rain or spell of cold (or, in the summer, of warmth) even despite long-term forecasts telling you otherwise. An umbrella, rain coat and shoes that will withstand torrential downpour may come in handy. Copenhageners dress very well, but at the same time very practically and with the realization that rain can assault their carefully chosen styling any minute.
Copenhagen's official tourist agency is Wonderful Copenhagen
- 1 Copenhagen Right Now, Vesterbrogade 4A (Across from Tivoli's main entrance, near the central station (2 km walk)), ☎ , fax: , e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org. Jan–Apr M–F 09:00–16:00, Sa 09:00–14:00; May–June M–Sa 09:00–18:00; July–Aug M–Sa 09:00–20:00, Su 10:00–18:00; Sep M–Sa 09:00–18:00; Oct–Dec M–F 09:00–16:00, Sa 09:00–14:00. The tourist information office is worth a visit. The staff are really friendly and they speak almost all languages. It is possible to book hotels using PC terminals directly from within this office and they provide information for all possible activities in Copenhagen including museums, concerts and festivals.
Copenhagen Airport Kastrup (CPH)
- Main article: Copenhagen Airport
2 Copenhagen Airport (CPH IATA) on the nearby island of Amager is the central hub for Scandinavia's largest international air carrier SAS — Scandinavian Airlines. Kastrup Airport consistently gets high marks for both design and function — this is a much more pleasant place for transit than, say, London Heathrow or Frankfurt and several carriers have direct intercontinental routes to Copenhagen, including: Air Canada, Delta, Egypt Air, PIA, Qatar Airways, Thai, Singapore Airlines and United Airlines. Check-in lines can get long during peak hours however, so make sure to allocate extra time in the summer. Self-service check-in counters are available, which can cut down on wait times.
Low-cost carriers also fly to the airport. EasyJet serves Copenhagen from London Stansted, Manchester, Milan, Geneva, Paris CDG and Berlin Schönefeld. Norwegian offers budget flights to (among others) Liverpool, Oslo, Stockholm, Amsterdam, Budapest, Paris, Geneva, Vienna and Warsaw.
While CPH is one of Europe's busiest airports, with a flight taking off every 2 minutes on average well into the night, many facilities have limited opening hours. Little in the way of gastronomy or retail remains open after 20:00, even the CPH Apartment Lounge closes at 20:00 and the frequent fliers and business/first class passengers are required to wait in the empty terminal halls. If your flight is in the early hours, you can take advantage of the facilities (snacks, drinks, free Wi-Fi, relaxation and work facilities) of the CPH Apartment 05:00–20:00 for DKK165 (as of 2014), unless your frequent-flyer plan or ticket tariff covers that already.
Transport to/from Kastrup Airport
It takes 12 minutes by train to travel from Kastrup to the Central Station (Hovedbanegården) in Copenhagen city centre. You need a ticket for 3 zones which can be purchased from one of the automated vending machines or the ticket counter inside the atrium and costs kr 36 for a single journey. The Copenhagen Metro also connects Kastrup with central Copenhagen, with trains leaving every 4 minutes during the day and every 15 minutes at night, taking 14 minutes to the city centre (for the same ticket and price of kr 36).
The airport has different stations for mainline trains (Københavns Lufthavn, Kastrup Station) and for the metro (Lufthavnen Station), both are in Terminal 3. Another metro station is named Kastrup but has nothing to do with the airport although it is relatively close.
Sturup Airport in Malmö (MMX)
Consider Sturup Airport (MMX IATA) in Malmö, Sweden as well — it's 40 minutes by bus from central Malmö, and from there 30 minutes by train to Copenhagen Central Station. Wizzair from Budapest, Gdańsk, Katowice, and Warsaw and a few domestic airlines often offer cheap flights to other Swedish cities. There is one daily direct bus by Gråhundbus, otherwise change in Malmö. There are also 7 direct bus by Neptunbus which are adjusted to Wizzair flights departures/arrivals and cost DKK100. Consider the price of transfer as most low-cost destinations served at Sturup are also available at Kastrup Airport.
Links between the capital and the rest of the country are frequent and excellent. There are several trains each hour to Malmö and further to Lund and Gothenburg. There are 12 daily connections on weekdays to Stockholm. Further train services exist in the direction of Karlskrona and Kalmar. There are six fast connections to Hamburg and one to Berlin.
From the rest of Denmark connections are frequent and numerous. In Jutland several railway branches from Aarhus/Aalborg in the North, Struer in the north-west, Esbjerg to the west, and finally Sønderborg in the south convene in Fredericia, where they connect to a main line with up to four intercity trains per hour, divided into Express and Intercity trains, which runs across Funen before crossing the Great Belt (Storebælt). From there it reaches across the length of Zealand before terminating at Copenhagen's central station. If you are going in the reverse direction without a seat reservation, be mindful that the train is often broken up at Fredericia to serve the different branches, so if you do not have seat reservation, it is a bad idea just picking a random carriage in Copenhagen. All cross belt trains are operated by DSB (Danish State Railways).
From the island of Bornholm, a high speed ferry shuttles passengers to Ystad in Sweden, where the IC-Bornholm train awaits the ferry to shuttle passengers to final stretch to Copenhagen, the whole trip takes little over three hours, and a one-way combined ferry/train ticket will set you back DKK245.
Across the Øresund strait in Sweden, the Øresundstog trains departs from various towns in Southern Sweden, and via Lund and Malmö crosses the Øresund fixed link to Copenhagen, with a stop at the airport. The journey time from Malmö to the central station is 25 minutes and trains run every 20 minutes all day on this stretch, and every hour during the night. A one-way ticket between Malmö and Copenhagen is DKK75. Swedish Railways operates up to seven X2000 express trains from Stockholm every day (five and a half hours). An easy change in Malmö almost doubles that number and also gives you the option of a night train connection.
To continental Europe, Intercity Express and Eurocity trains connect Hamburg with Copenhagen, up to six times per day. Standard prices are €130 from Berlin and €78 from Hamburg, but it's often possible to find discounted tickets — in Denmark those are called Orange Tyskland or "sightseeing fares" which are the same price as bus.
Buses between Jutland and Copenhagen are only marginally cheaper than the train, although there are considerable discounts offered Monday to Thursday. International buses on the other hand offer considerably lower prices than the train. However, railways have been prioritized politically, so Copenhagen still lacks an intercity bus terminal. Most international buses stop somewhere around the Central Station (usually Ingerlevsgade, next to DGI-byen, near the south end of rail track 12), but be sure to check the exact location when you buy your ticket. Domestic long-distance buses mostly terminate at Toftegårds Plads, near Valby station in the Vesterbro district.
- EkspresRuten, ☎ .
From Jutland bus number 888 connects Copenhagen with Aarhus and Aalborg several times per day. Journey time is five hours and fifteen minutes from Aalborg. On Zealand there are additional stops in Holbæk and Roskilde. Line 882 runs between Copenhagen and Fjerritslev in Northwestern Jutland once every day.
- Abildskou, M–F 08:00–17:00, Sa 08:00–14:00, Su 09:00–17:00, ☎ .
Links from Scandinavia are fairly frequent and very economical compared to the train. Most buses arrive and depart from DGI Byen, near the southern overpass of the central station. Passengers are generally encouraged to buy tickets on-line, but tickets can also be purchased at the Copenhagen Right Now tourist information desk near the central station. In the winter (Dec-Apr) Fjällexpressen whisks skiers between Copenhagen and the Swedish ski resorts. When booking on-line, it's useful to know that Copenhagen is called Köpenhamn in Swedish.
- GoByBus, ☎ , e-mail: email@example.com. M-F 07:30–18:00, Sa 07:30–17:00, Su 09:00–18:00. Oslo (8½ hr) via Gothenburg (4½ hr), line 300. ~DKK225.
- Gråhundbus. Local operator Greyhound Bus has several daily connections to Malmö and once daily to Malmö Airport. Also works with partners elsewhere to Europe.
- Swebus Express, ☎ , e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org. M-F 08:00–18:00, Sa 09:00–15:00, Su 09:00–18:00. Oslo (9 hr) via Gotenburg (5 hr) ~SEK300, line 820; Stockholm (9 hr) via Jonköping (4½ hr) ~ SEK350, line 832..
- Nettbuss/Bus4you. Oslo (9 hr) via Gothenburg (5 hr).
- Flixbus. Oslo (9 hr) via Gothenburg (5 hr) ; Stockholm (9 hr) via Jonköping (4½ hr)..
From continental Europe there are several bus companies which offer numerous daily connections from Germany often at very competitive rates, most run via the ferries from Rødby to Puttgarden or Gedser to Rostock. Many of these services, especially if headed to points east such as Berlin, are considerably faster than the best train connections. Most of these buses stops near DGI byen on Ingerslevsgade.
- Swebus Express, ☎ , e-mail: email@example.com. M-F 08:00–18:00, Sa 09:00–15:00, Su 09:00–18:00. Tickets sold at the central tourist information desk. This company does allow for bicycles under certain conditions. Please check their website. Berlin (7 hr) via Rostock (4½ hr) ~SEK450, line 902.
- Berolina, ☎ , e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org. (Gråhundbus ☎ +45 44 68 44 00, in Denmark) Tickets are sold in the bus, but advance booking is recommended. This company does not allow bicycles on board their coaches. Berlin (8 hr) via Rostock (4 hr) ~DKK300 (€40), line E55.
- Eurolines, Halmtorvet 5, ☎ . Daily 09:00–17:00. Tickets are sold in their office or online, in Hamburg there are connecting buses to Amsterdam and Paris. This company does not allow bicycles on board their coaches. Most services out of Denmark have 230 V plugs and Wi-Fi is available in Germany. Berlin (7 hr) ~DKK300, line 260R; Hamburg (6 hr) via Lübeck (5 hr) ~DKK300, line 210.
- Bohemian Lines, ☎ , e-mail: email@example.com. Daily 08:00–20:00. Only operator that welcomes bicycles to Berlin and onward for a small fee, reserve in advance. Prague (13 hr, twice weekly via Berlin, and onwards to Brno ) ~CZK1450 (€55).
- Autoprevoz, ☎ , e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org. Banja Luka (25 hr, twice weekly) ~BAM300 (€150)
- Toptourist, ☎ , e-mail: email@example.com. Tickets can be paid on the bus, but advance booking and payment is recommended. Sarajevo via Salzburg (twice weekly) ~DKK1000 (€140) return.
From and to Poland there are a host of different bus companies each with a few weekly scheduled departures. Unfortunately the market is very fluid and routes and operators tend to change rapidly. Agat provides four round trips per week between Copenhagen and Katowice (20 hr) in Southern Poland, and Eurobus for connections with Warsaw (20 hr via Hamburg) once per week. If any of these companies have shut down, try searching for alternatives, as there is a good chance someone else will have taken over the traffic.
By ferry or cruise ship
Copenhagen's spanking new DFDS Seaways Terminal (Dampfærgevej 30) is close to Nordhavn station. City bus line 26 stops at the entrance of the ferry terminal, it also stops at Copenhagen Central Station, Town Hall Square and Østerport Station.
There are two regular connections straight into Copenhagen's harbour. The most known is from Oslo, Norway, with daily departures, and an over night trip that takes 16 hours. It is marketed as a cruise line, and occationally a cruise round-trip fare can be less expensive than a one-way fare, that begin at €181 (incl. car €206). The other ferry connection is the less known roundtrip-connection to Fredericia, Denmark and Klaipėda, Lithuania. Since the latter is a Ro-Ro freight line, you need to contact DFDS for more information.
If you are arriving under your own sail, Copenhagen has several marinas, the biggest of which is Svanemøllehavnen. There are no designated visitor berths but it is almost always possible to find one with a green sign. Daily charge: DKK75-120. Copenhagen is also a very popular port of call for cruises touring both the Baltic Sea and the Norwegian fjords. The main cruise terminal is on Oceankej in the North harbour. Bus 27 connect to Østerport station.
Copenhagen has an extensive, yet notoriously complicated and hard to crack, public transportation system. Once you get your bearings, however, you will find it a very comfortable way to explore the city and get around.
The two big hubs are Central Station (da: Hovedbanegården/København H) with S-trains, intercity trains and buses, and Nørreport Station with S-trains, metro, regional trains and buses. Travel by train, bus and metro can be scheduled electronically through rejseplanen.dk.
The zone system
One of the most perplexing feature of the public transportation system in Copenhagen is the zone system. The whole city, as well as the surrounding region is divided into fare zones. The range of a single zone can be roughly translated to around seven minutes in the Metro or fifteen minutes in a bus, but always check the zone maps in the stations, some stations are closer to zone borders than others.
Tickets and fares
The number of available ticket types may be bewildering - below is a quick overview:
- Single-ride tickets — price depending on the number of zones your travel through, the cheapest is the two-zone ticket which costs kr 24 for adults (kr 12 for children under the age of sixteen). It allows you to travel around Copenhagen in two zones (the zone where you stamped or purchased the ticket plus one adjacent zone) for one hour starting from the time you stamp it. You can switch freely between all trains, Metro, and buses within this hour, as long as your last trip starts before the time is up (your ticket will be timestamped in fifteen minute intervals).
- City Pass — gives you unlimited rides in zones 1-4 (including Copenhagen Airport) for 24 hours (kr 80) or 72 hours (kr 200). Perhaps the most reasonable choice if you intend to stay in the city itself (and not the remote parts of Copenhagen region) and use the public transit to get around.
- CPH Card — gives free transport throughout the region and free admission to 60 museums and sights. The card costs kr 229 for 24 hours or kr 459 for 72 hours. On Sundays and Mondays many museums are either free or closed, thus possibly making the card of less value on those days
- 7-day FlexCard — gives you unlimited rides for 7 days. The card costs 260 kr for 2 zones, and 60 kr for one additional zone with up to 8 zones in total. You can purchase this card for example at the main train station at the DSB customer service desk. You have to specify the zone numbers in which the card will be valid when purchasing the card.
Tickets for children aged 15 or younger generally cost half the price of adult tickets. Night buses incur the same fares as day buses, there is no supplement.
There is yet another unified and electronic alternative, if one does not want to strive with the zone system. It is called Rejsekort (Travel-card). It may be a poor choice for most tourists: the card costs a non-refundable kr 80, must be bought with kr 100 credit and will not work (needs more money added) once the stored credit falls below kr 70.
For regional trains, S-tog and Metro a ticket must be bought before boarding the trains or you must check in a Rejsekort. For buses, tickets can be bought from the driver. The fine for travelling without a valid ticket is kr 750 (kr 600 for buses) and ticket conductors are common in S-trains and Metro. More information about price and tickets.
The S-train service (schedule) is the backbone of the city's public transit system, and is very similar to the German S-Bahn networks and the Parisian RER system. The distinct red trains are clean, modern, and equipped with free WiFi. The system runs from early morning to late night, each line in ten minute intervals during the day (M-F 06:00–18:00) and at twenty minute intervals in the early morning and late at night. In the weekends, the trains run twice an hour at night and some of the lines are extended. Since most lines join on a single railway line through the city centre, there are only a couple of minutes of waiting between each train in the inner districts. The F and C-lines are exceptions, the F line does a half loop outside the central area, with trains every five minutes throughout most of the day. The C-line is extended to Frederikssund during day time, but scaled back to Ballerup at other times. Loudspeaker announcements regarding S-trains are mostly given in Danish only, so remember to ask your fellow travellers for help. For the most part though they are just cursory announcements. Bikes can be taken for free on the S-train and special bicycle compartments exist in the train.
The Copenhagen Metro runs from Vanløse through the city centre and branches to either the new-town of Ørestad or to the airport. The Metro has no timetable and between Vanløse and Christianshavn trains run with a four minute interval (two minutes during peak hours). It runs nonstop at night with fifteen minute intervals. The trains run automatically and are without drivers, so the doors will close at a given time, even if all waiting passengers have not entered the train. Wait for the next train instead of trying to squeeze through in the last second.
One interesting feature resulting from the lack of drivers on trains is the fact that both ends of the trains have large windows with unbscured views, and the trains are accordingly fitted with rows of seats facing them. This can be an extra treat to the visitors travelling on the Metro — enter the train with the exit next to the front end and try to get a seat in one of the three front rows. Some sections of the tracks are less interesting than the others, e.g. the one in the centre runs underground (that said, tunnels are lit up and can be quite amazing to witness the first time you see them), or the section towards the airport. On the other hand, the overground section of the M1 line on Amager is rather picturesque.
Copenhagen has a fairly extensive and efficient bus network. It can be troublesome, though, for visitors to figure out what line to take to their destination as there is little in the way of network maps available at bus stops and schedules rarely include the entire route. That said, many stops do have a small electronic display showing how many minutes are left until the next bus arrives.
There are several types of bus available:
- Regular buses are denoted by their number,
- A buses are the backbone of the city's bus network which consists of seven different lines with frequent departures and stops. During the day time there are no schedules as buses usually depart at least every ten minutes. They are also operating at night.
- S buses are long express services with few stops and extend far into the suburbs, usually across the radial suburban train network or along corridors with no rail service. They can also be useful between points in the centre as they are faster than other lines.
- E buses are express rush-hour services of little use to travelers as they mainly service commuters.
- N buses are a network of ten bus lines operating at night between 01:00–05:00 daily, when normal traffic is halted, and they are much more frequent at weekends.
You are expected to board the bus using the front exit and immediately show your ticket to the bus driver (be it a paper ticket or a one you received as an SMS to your phone), or validate it if you have not done so before (e.g. when you intend to ride on a single-ride ticket or you're travelling with a rejsekort). You can also purchase the ticket from the driver. The front exits are for boarding only — alight using other doors only.
CitySightseeing runs three hop-on hop-off tours around the city in open-top double-decker buses. The main line leaves every 30 minutes, while the two other lines depart every hour in high season (Jun-Aug). Outside the peak season, services are halved. The price is kr 150 for a one day ticket or kr 220 for a two day ticket which also includes the DFDS canal tour boats.
Going on a canal tour of the inner harbour and canals is an excellent and easy way to see many of the city's attractions, and fortunately there are many options depending on your taste and preferences.
- Canal Tours, Nyhavn 3 (Offers starting points in either Nyhavn or Gammel Strand (opposite the parliament)), ☎ , e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org. 09:30–20:00. Operates both an unguided hop-on hop-off service, branded as the water bus, arranged into three circular trips at the northern, central and southern part of the inner harbour and canals. They also have three guided tours, either by a pre-recorded tape available in many languages, or live English & Danish commentary by a guide. Be forewarned though, after 75 minutes this can get a bit loud if you are not normally attracted to this sort of tourism. If you are visiting during winter, you might want to opt for DFDS' red guided tour, as it offers a heated, glass-roofed boat at this time of the year. An option you may want to consider is a Freedom ticket which for kr 220 gives unlimited transportation for two days on both all the DFDS Canal Tour boats, as well as the double-decker sightseeing buses of Copenhagen City Sightseeing. Waterbus (unguided): Single kr 40, All day kr 60; Tour (guided): Single kr 60, All day kr 75. Various discounts available.
- Netto-bådene, Heibergsgade (Nyhavn) (Offers starting points in either Nyhavn or Gammel Strand (opposite the parliament)), ☎ . 10:00–17:00 (19:00 in July & August). Offers a single fixed tour, but at a much lower price. Services are scaled back considerably between October and mid-March. kr 40.
A different option is the public harbour bus, which, while it doesn't enter the canals, is much faster and is an integrated part of the public transportation system using the same tickets as buses and trains.
- Movia, Customer center at Rådhuspladen, ☎ . 07:00–19:00. Uses public ticketing system.
- Main article: Cycling in Copenhagen
The fastest and most flexible way of seeing Copenhagen is on a bike. Forty percent of Copenhageners use their bike every day and the city has been designed to cater for cyclists with separate bicycle lanes on most larger roads. Cyclists are often allowed to ride both ways in one-way streets. Be careful if you are not used to biking in a busy city as this is a common means of daily transportation and the locals drive fast and without room for much leeway. Do not expect to get a warning when someone wants to overtake you. Always keep to the right and look behind you before you overtake someone — otherwise you could cause some nasty accidents.
Bycyklen is Copenhagen's bike-sharing scheme. The idea is pretty simple — you can rent a bike from a stand, ride around and return at the same or any other stand at the city, paying for the time you used the bicycle. The bicycles are all-new and equipped with an electric motor to help you go uphill, as well as a tablet with GPS so that you can browse the map and find your route while not getting lost. For occasional users, the hourly rate is kr 25, and the only way to pay is by setting up an account and letting Bycyklen charge your credit card. A mobile phone is required, and as of May 2014 registration was only possible for mobile phone users from several Western European countries.
As an alternative to the city bikes you can rent a bike and these are far more comfortable. There are many options around the city for renting a bike. Generally you can expect to pay around kr 70-110 for one day, usually a little higher if you rent through a hotel. You can find a little bike rental shop called CPH bike rental on a side-street to Nansensgade on Turesensgade 10, five minutes from Nørreport Station. They rent bikes on a daily basis and use the proceeds to finance the shipment of used bikes to Africa. They also arrange city tours and sell picnic baskets. Their prices start at DKK 60 for six hours bike rent. Donkey Republic has bikes placed all around the city which you can rent and unlock with their app 24 hours a day. Another bicycle shop is at the Central Railroad Station, where prices start at kr 75 a day/340 a week. At Højbro Plads (next to McDonald's at Strøget) you can find rickshaws for hire with a driver, who will often be trained in providing tourist information as you stroll along. A variety of bike tours are offered by Bike Copenhagen with Mike including a city tour at 10:00 daily departing from Copenhagen Bikes at the main train station.
Taxis are abundant throughout the city and of a very high standard — usually a Mercedes or BMW. They are pricey though, and the wait to get one can be long on a Friday or Saturday night. You can hail a taxi on the street or call for one to come pick you up at a specific address at a specific time for a small extra fee (kr 12-15). At crucial traffic junctures throughout the city, there are special areas where taxis hold in line to pick up customers. Except for a very long trip, it is not common (or recommended) to haggle about the price. All taxis accept major international credit cards and most will accept Euro cash payment and some even list prices in Euros on the meter. Sometimes taxi drivers request you to withdraw money in an ATM when paying with card, this is mostly a scam to do the trip off-license.
Copenhagen Taxi companies
Prices range kr 11-16 per kilometer depending on the time of day and the meter flag-fall charge is kr 25. Generally you can trust taxis with prices and the route taken. Because of the high flag-fall charge, it can be better financially for taxi drivers to have many trips rather than long trips, so it is therefore often in their own interest to take the shortest route.
- Individual listings can be found in Copenhagen's district articles
Entrance to many museums is free once a week, mainly on Wednesdays. You can always count on the principal attractions to be well signed in English (often German also) and for these places to be generally geared towards tourists. A good tip to see whether a smaller museum caters to non-Danish speakers is to check whether the website has an English section. If it does, this usually means the museum has at least some English information throughout its exhibitions. Of course, if you have some interest in a particular subject, such museums can be interesting even if you don't understand the sign-postings. As Danes are usually fairly fluent in English, you can always try to ask staff if they could give you a brief tour.
A visit to the Nationalmuseet in Indre By is a must-do for the many well-arranged exhibits relating to the Danish past and modern culture. In practice, this means everything from Danish prehistory (amazing Bronze Age weapons and burials), through to the Viking Age (runestones, precious hoards, swords and jewellery) and into the modern period (a vast section is devoted to the Story of the Danes from 1660-2000). If you want something more localised, the Museum of Copenhagen in Vesterbro has exhibitions on the city's development since the Middle Ages. Another option is Frilandsmuseet in the northern suburbs — a huge and attractive open air museum with old buildings collected from all over the country. Or for a live version of old Denmark, you can visit the old town of the tiny fishing hamlet of Dragør on the southern tip of Amager with its fantastic old yellow buildings and cobblestone streets. For something more off the beaten path, paddle up the small Mølleå river in the northern suburbs through charming old 18th- and 19th-century mills.
If you are into the arts, Copenhagen has a lot to offer. A natural starting point is a visit to the Danish National Gallery (Statens Museum for Kunst, free entry, kr 10 deposit for lockers) where you can feast your eyes on blockbusters from the likes of Rembrandt, Picasso, and Matisse. There are also a number of paintings by Danish artists from the "Golden Age". Across the Royal Gardens lies Scandinavia's biggest collection of Islamic art, the David Collection (Davids Samling) which has free entrance. It also has a smaller collection of Danish paintings including some by Hammershøi and Willumsen. It's a ten-minute walk through the Royal Gardens but you might have to know the address beforehand, since the museum is a bit of a hidden treasure. For a hard-to-beat appreciation of Classical (Greece, Rome) and Near Eastern art (Egypt, Mesopotamia, Anatolia, Iran), visit the Ny Carlsberg Glyptotek, which also has an extensive section devoted to 19th-century French and Danish art, with works by masters like Picasso, Leger, and Matisse. The Winter Garden inside the Glytotek is a beautiful (and very warm!) place to rest your legs on a rainy day. These museums are in the centre, or Indre By area.
If you are hungry for more classic art exhibitions, an excursion north of Copenhagen to the beautiful Ordrupgaard offers you a chance to enjoy Monet, Renoir, Degas, and Gauguin. There are several other options for classical paintings but if you are ready for a change, head south to the Arken Museum of Modern Art for a world class exhibition of contemporary art, mostly Scandinavian, as well as hugely popular temporary exhibitions. However, arguably the best and most visited museum in Denmark is the Louisiana Museum of Modern Art, in northern Zealand with a panoramic view across the Øresund. The museum frames the sculpture park facing the sea and the interaction between art, nature and the museum architecture is quite unique. Louisiana is an international museum with a considerable collection of modern art, and hugely popular temporary exhibitions.
If you want to enjoy some local colour on an art tour, The Hirschsprung Collection in Østerbro features the top-of-the-pops of Danish artists, with a particular focus on the Skagen painters. For something quintessentially Danish, breeze through the wonderfully quirky sketches of the much-loved local personality Storm P at the aptly named Storm P museum on Frederiksberg.
Science and Natural History
If you want your vacation to be educational, or if you want to sneak some knowledge into the kids during the vacation, there are several options to consider. The best choice for kids is perhaps the hugely entertaining, and well renowned hands-on science museum, the Experimentarium north of Copenhagen. Another popular and well-renowned institution, is the Copenhagen Zoo on Frederiksberg, counting among both the best and oldest zoos in Europe. If you are more into stationary animals, the Zoology Museum on Østerbro offers a different perspective on the subject. Elsewhere on Østerbro, a little known attraction is a display of famous physicist Niels Bohr's Study Room, along with a setup of his experiments (but as this is not a museum, you should have more than passing interest in the subject to bother with them). City Centre, the University of Copenhagen runs two adjacent science museums. The Geological Museum where dinosaur fossils, moon rock, and glow in the dark minerals should spark some interest in the subject for even the most school-weary kid. The Botanical Gardens on the opposite side of the street is an excellent place for a stroll in the beautiful park, even if you are not botanically inclined, and the classical palm house is a nice place to relax if it is cold outside. In poor weather, the Tycho Brahe Planetarium on Vesterbro is another option and is part planetarium with an interesting astronomy exhibition and part omnimax theatre where they usually screen science films.
An excellent start to any visit to Copenhagen is to climb the unique 7.5-turn helical corridor leading to the observation platform of Rundetårn (the Round Tower), one of Copenhagen's most iconic buildings. The top of the Round Tower offers excellent views and is smack in the middle of the city. If that is not high enough for you head to Christianshavn for a climb up the circular stairs on the outside of the church spire of the Church of Our Saviour. It is regarded as something of a test of manhood to climb up and touch the globe on the summit, nearly 100 m up in the air. And now that you're in the area, head over to the opposite side of the street to Christiania, a self-governing community that has been squatting on an old naval area since the seventies. Their inventive, brightly coloured, home built houses are spectacular, as is the relaxed atmosphere — this is truly one of Copenhagen's most unique and best attractions. Due south of Christiania the old, crooked, brightly coloured buildings and soothing canals lined with masted ships make this an excellent place to continue a stroll. Other fine examples of classical architecture include the impressive City Hall and the massive dome of the Frederikskirken colloquially known as the Marble Church. This dome, with a span of 31 meters, is one of the largest in northern Europe. Both are in the Indre By area.
For real architecture buffs, the city's main claim to fame is the modernist architecture and its native masters. Jørn Utzon (of Sydney Opera House fame) and Son is behind a trio of buildings on Østerbro's northern harbour, known as the Paustian complex. There is a fine, but expensive restaurant in one of the buildings. You can enjoy Arne Jacobsen's work by either sleeping at, or taking in the atmosphere (and great views) of the top floor lounge bar at the Royal Hotel which is one of the very few tall buildings in the inner city. Alternatively, head north to Bellavista, a residential complex and theatre near the beach, where there is even a restaurant featuring his famous furniture and his name. Lastly Henning Larsen, famous for his iconic buildings in Riyadh, is behind Copenhagen's new Opera house overlooking the harbour in Christianshavn. From here you can also catch a view of Copenhagen's latest iconic contraption, the Royal library known to locals as the black diamond, after its shiny polished black granite walls.
The four identical classicist palaces of Amalienborg, make up the main residence of the Danish royal family. The octagonal courtyard in the centre is open to the public and guarded by the ceremonial Royal Guard. The relief takes place every day at noon and is a highlight for any royalist visiting the city. There is also a small royal museum on the premises. Rosenborg Palace is a small but pretty renaissance palace, surrounded by the lovely King's Garden which is one of the most lively parks of the city. The palace both serves as a museum of Royal history and as a home for the crown jewels which are on display in the catacombs beneath the castle. A closed-off wing of Rosenborg serves as barracks for the Royal Guard, and every day a detachment marches through the Copenhagen city center between Rosenborg and Amalienborg for the changing of the guard. Unusual for a well-founded democracy, the palace that houses the parliament, Christiansborg, is also a royal palace. It is usually possible to visit the Royal reception rooms, stables and the old court theatre here. And for entertainment of royal stature, you can try to arrange tickets to watch a play in the beautiful Royal Theatre facing Kings New Square. All of these sights are in the inner city. If you are hungry for more, head north, where the park around Sorgenfri palace is open to the public, or have a picnic on the huge open plains in front of the Eremitage Palace in the Dyrehaven park which formerly served as the king's hunting castle.
Denmark is world-famous for its design tradition and, while the term Danish design has been devalued over the years due to much misuse, it is still a world-recognized style. A natural starting point is a visit to the Danish Design Center in Indre By, with temporary and permanent exhibitions, showrooms, and workshops relating to the world of Danish design, in a building designed by famous architect Henning Larsen. Not too far away, Kunstindustrimuseet is home of a nice collection relating to the study of design and its history in Denmark. Also in the same district, Royal Copenhagen runs a museum display of its famous porcelain from the early beginnings at its flagship store. Meanwhile Cisterne on Frederiksberg is an enticing museum showing modern glass art, in the intriguing catacomb like cisterns under a large park. Meldahls Smedie on Christianshavn is run by the Royal Danish school of architecture, which organizes exhibitions including final projects from students of the school here.
In the inner harbour, water quality has improved so much that it is possible to go for a swim from early June to late August in one of the two harbour baths: Copencabana on Vesterbro or Havnebadet at Island Brygge on Amager. When it is sunny these are packed with people from all walks of life enjoying the sunshine and taking a dip. The municipal administration has put a lot of money and effort into the facilities and this is an excellent opportunity for blending with the locals at their best.
If you fancy a proper beach, the closest are those at Svanemøllen Strand, Charlottenlund Fort in Charlottenlund and Amager Strandpark (The Lagoon), on Amager near the Lergravsparken metro station. If the weather is not going your way, you can opt for DGI Byen which is a leisure centre and excellent swimming pool near the central railway station or the Østerbro swimming pool, modeled after a Roman bath (on Østerbro).
Amazingly, the two oldest functioning amusement parks in the world, with the two oldest roller coasters, are in Copenhagen and they are distinctively different. Bakken or Dyrehavsbakken is the older of the two, set in a beautiful beech forest near Klampenborg north of Copenhagen. This gives it a special atmosphere and it is a lot less touristy than its counterpart — Tivoli — which is in the city center in a beautiful park surrounding a lake.
- Crafts Fair (10-12 August 2017). Held every year in August — Thursday-Saturday — outdoors at Frue Plads in central Copenhagen. The Crafts Fair has more than 130 exhibitors, all members of the Danish Arts and Crafts Association, exhibiting unique and small series of handmade Arts and Crafts in all categories: ceramic, glass, jewelery, textile, mixed media.
- Copenhagen Fashion Week (8-12 August 2017). Held in February and August. Copenhagen is fast emerging as a global fashion centre, with a host of both up-and-coming and already well established names. For two weeks each year more than 1,000 exhibitors and 50,000 guests come together and celebrate their accomplishments with lavish parties, catwalks at city landmarks, and three trade fairs.
- CPH:PIX (Copenhagen International Film Festival). (28 September – 11 October 2017) Denmark's largest film festival, first held in 2009 as the result of a merger between Copenhagen's two popular long running festivals — the Night Film Festival and the Copenhagen International Film Festival. It will feature more than 150 screenings, with a prize of €10,000 awarded to the most promising new filmmaker.
- International Workers Day. 1 May. A major event in Copenhagen. The main festivities are held in Fælledparken on Østerbro and they attract over 100,000 visitors in what has lately become a 50/50 mix of a gigantic party and a political rally with speeches, happenings, and concerts. Two travelling amusement parks also set up their gear for the day, one by the main entrance at Trianglen and one in the eastern part of the park.
- CPH Distortion. Held in the first week of June. The longest and wildest party you could ever go to. Over 60 parties in five days in each of the city districts, outdoors on the city streets and squares, in the clubs and three seriously huge parties. Over 32,000 people usually partying away between Wednesday and Sunday.
- Zulu Sommerbio. Held in July and August. Danish television station 'TV2 Zulu' plays open air films in various parks and squares of Copenhagen. There are movies in Danish and English and they are free to watch. You can buy beer and popcorn.
- Copenhagen Jazzfestival. Held in early July. Features ten days of jazz everywhere in Copenhagen — parks, cafes, clubs, and theatres. Usually a few headline acts are on the program but there are more than 800 concerts to choose from and the real attraction is often the obscure concerts you bump into randomly in a park or square somewhere in the city.
- Grøn Koncert. Held in late July. A one day music festival in Valby Parken near Åparken station. It is a major event in Copenhagen with over 40,000 attending. There is usually an international headline act, along with several major Danish bands and the atmosphere is quite unique with people having picnics and beers on a huge field of grass in the park. Tickets are sold through Billetnet, both online and at post offices.
- Stella Polaris. Held the first weekend in August. A big, free, chill-out event in one of the city parks. Top international DJs spin chill-out tunes on the decks, while people are relaxing in the sun and drinking beer. And the afterparty in one of the major clubs usually attracts some international headline acts.
- RAW. Held in early August. Scandinavia's largest clubbing event. The organisers rightly pride themselves in carefully selecting high quality acts and more importantly the broad range of genres represented to make this an event with broad appeal to everyone in the Copenhagen nightlife scene.
- Strøm. Held in August. An annual electronic music festival. It is a gathering of the best promoters and vibrant venues Copenhagen has to offer, mixed up with events at squares, concert halls, or unusual locations throughout the city.
- Copenhagen Pride (14–21 August 2011). A lavish LGBT parade. The week leading up to the parade is usually full of community events and parties. Count on the City Hall Square (Rådhuspladen) changing its name to Pride Square during the week and hosting live acts, concerts and debates.
- Night of Culture (Kulturnatten). Held in mid-October, on the last Friday before the school holiday in week 42. You buy a badge for kr 70 and get access to major museums, exhibitions, churches, libraries, schools, organizations, the parliament and other cultural attractions including some places that are not open to the public during the rest of the year. Open from 18:00 to midnight. Attracts about 100,000 people.
- MIX Copenhagen — LGBT Film Festival (TBA October 2011). Held in Week 43. Ten days of gay and queer cinema at its very best with more than 130 screenings of the world's best feature films, short films, and documentaries with gay or queer relevance, culminating in a champagne party on the final day, when the best film of the year receives its award.
- University of Copenhagen. The largest university in Denmark. The university has a large selection of studies which are placed in eight different faculties. The faculties are found around the city and the main building is in central Copenhagen.
- Technical University of Denmark This university teaches technical sciences and is in the suburb Lyngby north of Copenhagen.
- IT University of Copenhagen This university teaches information technology studies and is on Amager.
- Copenhagen Business School This university teaches business studies and is in Frederiksberg.
Strøget is one of the largest pedestrian malls in the world which links City Hall, Kongens Nytorv, and Nørreport station. Impeccably dressed Copenhageners breeze through high-end fashion and design stores when not zig-zagging through the hordes of tourists during the summer and Christmas seasons. Your fellow visitors can make it all feel rather touristy at times but if nothing else, it is great for people watching. If all this strange outdoor shopping takes you too far from your usual habitat, head for Magasin du Nord (on Kongens Nytorv) or Illums (on Amagertorv) for more familiar surroundings. There is even a real American style mall complete with a gargantuan parking lot out on Amager. Appropriately, it is called Fields.
If you would rather sample smaller and more personal stores, the quarter of narrow streets surrounding Strøget in the old city (colloquially known as Pisserenden and The Latin Quarter), has a fantastic, eclectic mix of shopping. This ranges from quirky century-old businesses to the ultra hip in a wide range of fields. It is also much less crowded than Strøget, though unfortunately no less expensive.
You can also try Vesterbrogade and Istedgade on Vesterbro, due west of the central station, although you'll need to go a few blocks before hotels/sex shops/Thai restaurants turn into more interesting territory. Right at the border of this area, Værnedamsvej and Tullinsgade are also good bets.
In Nørrebro, Ravnsborggade is well known for its huge number of antique stores that are excellent for bargain hunting and the next street to north, while more modest Elmegade has some small independent fashion boutiques.
Laws limit opening hours for most shops, officially to the benefit of the staff, although the "closing law" (Lukkeloven) is facing increasing unpopularity among locals. But until the opposition grows loud enough, most shops will close around M-F 17:00–18:00 on weekdays, around 16:00 on Saturdays, and rarely will anything be open on Sundays, including supermarkets! For out-of-hours shopping (apart from the ubiquitous 7-Eleven and small kiosks), the shops at Central Station (offering books and CDs, camping gear, photographic equipment, cosmetics, gifts) are open until 20:00 daily. Large shopping centres and department stores are open on Sundays about once a month (usually the first Sunday, right after everyone gets paid) and more often during peak sale periods. The immigrant-owned grocery stores on Nørrebrogade on Nørrebro also tend to be open until very late in the evening.
Nørrebro Flea Market is Denmark's longest and narrowest. It stretches for 333 m on one half of the sidewalk by the wall of the Assistens Cemetery on Nørrebrogade. Here you may find a Royal Porcelain Christmas Plate, a Chesterfield chair or plain or downright rubbish. Open from 4 April until 31 October on Saturdays 06:00 — 15:00.
The oldest flea market in Copenhagen is on Israels Plads, close to the Nørreport S-Train Station. Here private individuals as well as professional dealers sell all kinds of old stuff, antique furniture, His Masters Voice gramophones and objets d'art. Open from 18 April until 10 October on Saturdays 08:00 — 14:00.
- Individual listings can be found in Copenhagen's district articles
On a budget
If your budget doesn't allow for regular dining at expensive Michelin restaurants, don't despair — there are plenty of other options. The cheapest are the many shawarma and pizza joints that you find on almost every street in the city. You can get a shawarma for as little as kr 15-20 and pizzas start at around DKK 40. You can opt for take away or sit at the one or two tables that are usually available. The cheapest places can be found around Istedgade on Vesterbro and Nørrebrogade on Nørrebro. For affordable and delicious pita kebab, try Ahaaa on Blågårds Plads, or Boys Shawarma & Is for dürüm kebab on Nørrebrogade 216. For the best kebab in the city go to Shawarma Grill House Frederiksberggade 36.
If shawarma gets a little tiring, there are several Mediterranean-style all-you-can eat buffet restaurants dotted around the inner city. Riz Raz is popular, with three locations and a huge vegetarian buffet for kr 69 (lunch) or kr 99 (dinner). The branch on St. Kannikestræde has an infallible ability to seat and feed groups of all sizes. Nearby, Ankara on Krystalgade offers a Turkish-inspired buffet that includes meat as well as salads. Nyhavns Faergekro at Nyhavn has an original herring buffet where you can eat as much herring as you like prepared in ten different ways (grilled and many different marinades).
For breakfast and lunch try one of Copenhagen's bakeries (Bager — look for a pretzel-like contraption out front). They are numerous and the quality is excellent. Many offer ready-made sandwiches (~kr 35) such as Denmark's famous open-faced rye bread sandwiches called smørrebrød. These sandwiches are small enough to take away and eat either with your hands or with a fork and knife and a wide range of ingredients are available including some elaborate combinations for the more adventurous. Most bakeries also offer coffee, bread rolls and cakes (expect to pay kr 8-10 for Danish pastry, here known as wienerbrød) and many bakeries offer at least some form of counter seating.
For something quintessentially Danish, no visit to Copenhagen is complete without trying out a pølsevogn (see image on the right), literally "sausage wagon", where you can get your hands on several different forms of tasty hot dogs with a free selection of various toppings for next-to-nothing by local standards. It is also one of the few places where you are expected to socialize with the other guests. To blend in, remember to order a bottle of Cocio cocoa drink to wash down your hot dog. At night, when the wagons are put into storage, 7-Eleven stores (which are open 24/7) take over the business of satisfying your hot dog craving. They offer other eat-and-walk items like pizza slices or spring rolls.
Also, remember to look out for the term dagens ret on signs and menus — this means "meal of the day" and often translates to a filling plate of hot food for a reasonable price.
And finally, if your budget gets really small, buy some of your food in the supermarket. But watch out, prices can vary a lot depending on which supermarket you are going to. "Netto" (e.g. close to Nørrebro metro station) is the one you should look for. Irma, with a lot of fresh and delicious food, is (even for danes) a little expensive.
Copenhagen has 16 Michelin starred restaurants, which is a huge number for a city of its size. This includes both Italian, French, Thai and of course the new Nordic cuisine. The new Nordic cuisine is headed by world renowned noma, that has two Michelin stars and have been number one in San Pellegrinos "The World's 50 best restaurants in 2013" in 2010, 2011 and 2012. But tables can be extremely difficult to get. But if you still want to try the new Nordic cuisine Relæ and Kadeau are great options, both with one Michelin star. All three of them use traditionally Nordic ingredients and give new takes of classic Nordic dishes. Marv&Ben can be recommended for cheaper non-Michelin starred experience in the Nordic cuisine. Manfred og Vin is another possibility, Relæ's little sister, opposite Relæ offer a relaxed atmosphere but still playful and delicious organic food, wine and beer with strong Nordic roots. It is also fine just to go for a glass.
Geranium and noma are the big international stars in Danish cuisine. Geranium's head chef, Rasmus Koefod, won the Bocuse d'Or (World Championship for chefs) in 2011, and Geranium has two Michelin stars. The restaurant is on 8th floor of the national soccer stadium in Østerbro. But don't get frightened by that; there is a beautiful view over the nearby park and most of Copenhagen. The focus is more classic French than Noma, but there are still strong new Nordic vibes.
The new Nordic movement have been so strong that it is almost impossible to find a Michelin starred restaurant in Copenhagen without at least some strong Nordic directions. One of the only exceptions is Era Ora, a classic Italian one Michelin starred restaurant famous for a fantastic (though expensive) wine menu and delicious Italian treats. If the wallet is not that heavy, Formel B is a good choice. Unlike most other top restaurants there is there no expensive tasting menu or the traditional starter, main and dessert. Here all of the 20 dishes cost the same and you can choose one, two or all twenty.
The only Thai restaurant in the guide is in Copenhagen and is owned by a Dane. The restaurant Kiin Kiin is in the hip and a bit trashy neighborhood Nørrebro. An affiliate was opened in Bangkok a few years ago. Aroii is one of Kiin Kiin's sister restaurants in Copenhagen, it is in the same building and offers very delicious Thai food, for much cheaper prices. Also possible for take away.
Other Michelin starred restaurants include: Kong Hans Kælder, which opened in 1976 and has had only have three head chefs in that time. Since then Kong Hans Kælder has been a front runner for top gourmet in Copenhagen. The focus is changing from the classic French cuisine to a new healthy paleo-inspired cuisine, probably the only Michelin starred restaurant in the world to go in that direction.
Other one Michelin stars: Kokkeriet, Restaurant AOC, I Søllerød Kro, Grønbech&Churchill and Den Røde Cottage Other top picks include: 1. Th. The restaurant is decorated as a normal living room, giving the experience as being to dinner at a friends house. You pay a fixed amount before, and everyone is included. So you don't get a check afterward. A fantastic place. Mielcke & Hurtigkarl (which has been "cheated" out of a Michelin star for many years, at least according to Danish food critics) Marchal at luxury hotel D'Angleterre. A newly opened restaurant by rising star head chef Ronny Emborg. Alberto K, a rising star in the Copenhagen culinary environment. Restaurationen, a former Michelin star. But the owner lowered the tempo and still serves delicious food and gives top service. Bror, Rebel, Pony, Pluto, Clou and Congo are all newly opened but show huge potential.
Brunch is a Copenhagen institution, especially during the summer, and it is not unusual to hear a serious invitation for a morning brunch together with the ritual goodbye hug when a long night out in town draws to a close. In this way, brunch is intrinsically linked to the second local obsession of drinking. Food and fresh air is a great cure for hangovers as Copenhagernes have long since discovered.
Most cafés offer brunch, at least on weekends, for upwards of kr 80, often with a theme: American and French are especially widespread. One of the most popular options is O's American at two locations in central Copenhagen.
A large beer costs kr 40-50 or so at most places in central Copenhagen, but some charge only kr 20-30, especially on weekdays or at happy hour. Unless you come from elsewhere in Scandinavia do not frighten yourself by trying to work out what this costs in your home currency. At most places the beer on tap is either Carlsberg or Tuborg. In either case there will be a choice of the normal pilsner and then a slightly redder special or classic. Some might also offer wheat or dark beer.
If you are on a budget you could follow the example of local teenagers and get primed with bottled beer from a supermarket or kiosk (kr 3-7 for a 330 ml bottle). It is legal and very popular to drink beer in public (not on public transport, although it will be accepted if you are not showing drunk behavior), so buy a beer, sit on a park bench or at Nyhavn and enjoy Danish life.
As for where to drink, most tourists head straight for Nyhavn but while indeed pretty, the high prices here make it a bit of a tourist trap. In good weather imitate the locals by buying beer from a kiosk and dangling your legs over the water or head elsewhere to get your drinking on. The many side streets north and south of the Strøget pedestrian street are a good starting point. Other good areas are Vesterbro west of the central station, along Vesterbrogade and Istedgade and in the meatpacking district. On Nørrebro, the cluster of bars and clubs around Sankt Hans Torv and Blågårds Plads, just after the lakes, is another hotspot. For a coastal city Copenhagen has surprisingly few places where you can enjoy a water view with your beer or coffee.
You can check for club listings in the various districts
The club scene is vibrant in Copenhagen, but most clubs are only open Th-Sa. Most locals have a party at home with friends or frequent their favourite bars, before they head out for the clubs, so they rarely get going until after midnight and close around 05:00. Most clubs have a kr 40-80 cover charge and the ones that don't are rubbish more often than not. Also expect an additional kr 10-20 for cloakrooms. Most clubs maintain a minimum age of 20 or 21, although they are not required to do this by law. Expect a draft beer, or basic drinks, to set you back kr 40-50 — a bit more than bars usually charge.
Visitors who want to indulge Su-We will probably have to hunt around to find a place with some action but there are some options:
- Sunday. Rub'a'dub Sundays is a popular dance hall/reggae club
- Monday — The Scottish pub on Rådhuspladsen (City Hall) hosts a backpackers night, which is sometimes quite lively.
- Tuesday. Elektronisk Tirsdag (Electronic Tuesday) plays nice electronic tunes on Gefährlich on Nørrebro.
- Wednesday — You could either go for the popular International Night for resident exchange students on Stundenterhuset in Indre By.
- Thursday — Is tricky, there is no set place to go, but most clubs and bars will be open and often offer discounts on beers and cocktails and free entrance. Also concerts with bands of varying popularity at Nørrebro's Drone Bar as well as open mike nights at both branches of Cafe Retro (found in Nørrebro and Indre By).
Gay and lesbian
For its size, Copenhagen has a rather large gay scene with a good handful of bars and dance clubs in the center of the city within walking distance of each other. One of the better ones is Club Christopher in Indre By. Vela, the only bar/lounge in town that is targeted at lesbians is on Vesterbro.
Most of the music venues in Copenhagen also double as nightclubs so watch for them under the club sections in the different districts. Tickets for almost every event in Denmark and Copenhagen are sold through Billetnet which has online sales and a counter available in all post offices. But apart from headline events, tickets are usually also sold at the entrance. Expect to pay 100 kr or more.
The major music venues in Copenhagen are Parken stadium on Østerbro for the biggest stars. Copenhagen/Indre By, Copenhagen Jazzhouse obviously hosts Jazz concerts and The Rock is the spiritual home of the local rock and heavy metal scene. Vega on Vesterbro is a major venue with concerts of almost every genre by national and international acts. Nørrebro has two venues: Rust's stage mainly hosts mainstream rhythmic music and Global, as its name would imply, provides a stage for world music. Southwards on Christianshavn, it is no surprise that the Operahouse plays Opera and not to be missed, the different venues of Christiania are a powerhouse of Denmark's alternative and underground culture. Christiania's most famous venue is Loppen which has hosted many (mostly rock) acts that later grew in popularity to play bigger venues like Vega for far larger prices.
- Individual listings can be found in Copenhagen's district articles
Copenhagen offers all kinds of accommodation but like the rest of Denmark, prices are high. Most hotels are in Indre By and Vesterbro. Special rates are often available on the internet or from travel agencies, so look around well ahead of time, rather than spending your holiday budget on sleeping because you booked at the last minute.
Many international hotel chains only maintain token presence in Denmark with a singular high-end business hotel in Copenhagen, or are not present at all. For example, large French hotel groups Accor and Group du Louvre eschew Denmark completely, which means the popular inexpensive Ibis and Campanile hotels are nowhere to be found in Copenhagen. On the other hand, local Scandinavian chains such as Scandic, Radisson BLU, First Hotels and Nordic Choice Hotels (the usual Choice Hotels — Comfort, Quality and Clarion — as found in other countries but with some local twists) are very well represented throughout the Copenhagen region.
The hospitality industry is one the one hand squeezed by the high labour costs, being one of the most labour-intensive business, and on the other spoiled by relatively low competition (there are not many hotels in Copenhagen for a city of that size). There generally is a dearth of mid-range hotels, as hotels either position themselves as low-priced (for Copenhagen) and limit service and facilities to the minimum, or as luxurious, and charge you every bit they need to recover the increased costs of running a fully-staffed hotel in Denmark. As competition is low and labour costs consume most of the hotels' revenues, many even high-end properties show signs of age and may not be up to the standards found in other European countries.
For more accommodation options, you may head across the Øresund bridge to Malmö and other localities in Scania. You will find a wider variety of options there, often at lower prices, but will need to factor in the costs and time needed to cross the bridge to get to Copenhagen.
If you are looking for something unique, Copenhagen has a few surprisingly little known options. Fancy sleeping in an old fort? Then look no further than Flakfortet on its very own island out in the sound. Stylish rooms, classic and rather tastefully integrated into the environs of the old fort. Staying here does though exclude spending your evenings in the city, as the last ferry leaves in the late afternoon. You can also opt for the Dragør Fort on Amager although they haven't pulled it off quite so nicely. In the same area, consider the old and historic beach front Dragør Badehotel in a classic building with great views over Øresund and a nearby beach, but also a fair deal of transportation time to the sights in the city centre. (Although it is close to the airport.)
In the same genre, and with the same drawbacks, is Skovshoved Hotel in the northern suburbs. This is an historic beach hotel with nice views and a fantastic restaurant. You can get even closer to the water on the floating houseboat hotel CPH Living moored in Christianshavn . If you're a rad hipster and would rather sample some of the design for which the city is rightly famous, consider Hotel Fox where young Danish and international artists have individually decorated and furnished the rooms. Other hip options are STAY Copenhagen on the waterfront of Islands Brygge or Hotel Twentyseven near the arty cocktail lounges of the Indre By area. Or you could always max out your credit card and splurge at the timeless five star classics of D'Angleterre or Skt Petri Hotel.
On a budget
Copenhagen is an expensive city but it is possible for budget travellers to find reasonably priced accommodations. For those on an ultra low budget there are two free, but completely basic, camping grounds along the Mølleå river where you can camp for one or two nights. While camping elsewhere is no big sin, it is not legal either. There are plenty of commercial camping grounds available but if you are not used to Scandinavian price ranges, even these could seem expensive (DKK 50-200). The closest camping sites are at Charlottenlund Fort in Charlottenlund and there is also a summer-only camping ground in the outer part of Nørrebro within the city proper. If you prefer modern comforts consider one of the hospitality exchange networks. Couchsurfing.com for instance, is quite popular with the Copenhagers, who provide 6,000 available hosted stays in the city, giving you the added bonus of having a local to point you to the great spots.
There are a few hostels available and the cheapest are two summer-only (July-Aug) hostels in Vesterbro: YMCA Interpoint and Sleep in fact. Here you can overnight in basic dormitory bunk beds from as little as kr 100. On Nørrebro the two sleep-in hostels are slightly more expensive but still a bargain compared to the general price range. The national hostel system Danhostel which is part of Hostelling International, run several hostels in Copenhagen. Danhostel Copenhagen City is right in the center, next to the harbour.
For Hotels consider the Cab Inn chain that has three hotels in Copenhagen. One is just a short walk away from Tivoli and Kobenhavn H and the other two are at Frederiksberg. Rooms go from €71 (single) to €103 (triples). The rooms are quite small but have TVs and private showers and toilets. There are several cheap hotels specifically catering to gays and lesbians — Carsten's Guest House and Copenhagen Rainbow are two of them. In the city center, 500 m from Tivoli on the mainstreet of Vesterbrogade there is a few other fairly priced options for accommodation, the Loeven hotel, the Savoy Hotel, prices around €80 for a twin room. A little further out following a side street on your left hand side, in Absalonsgade you will find a youth hostel, also fairly priced although quite noisy.
Libraries offer free internet access for one hour at a time, though this often requires signing up in advance. The Hovedbibliotek (main library) at Krystalgade 15 has 12 freely accessible workstations and a wide selection of international newspapers.
A cheap (under 20 kr/hour) internet café is in Copenhagen Central Station. Moreover, a lot of bars, cafés, McDonald's, and petrol stations offer WiFi hotspots for people with notebooks, though these are a little more expensive than internet cafés. OpenWiFi maintains a list of hotspots in the city.
S-trains all have free WiFi. But since you must activate your account through an email confirmation, it's a good idea to register beforehand, which can be done on the Gratis Danmark website.
Although Denmark is a member of the European Union, the currency remains the Danish krone (kr or DKK), which is pegged to the euro at a rate of about €1=kr 7.50. In Copenhagen, Nyhavn, Tivoli, and many of the major restaurants and hotels frequented by tourists accept Swedish kronor and euro, although it is not yet common practice elsewhere and they often use bad exchange rates. Banks are ubiquitous, so exchanging currencies will in most cases not present any major difficulties. Exchange offices are also becoming increasingly widespread, especially Scandinavian chains such as Forex and X-change, which often have decent rates and charge no commission unlike those on strøget which offer low rates and a very high commission. Using the exchange machines present at some banks is not recommended, though, as these charge a fee of kr 25 (~€3.35).
Credit cards are widely accepted, although this is usually limited to Visa and/or MasterCard. Many supermarkets and small shops will normally only accept the widespread local Danish debit-card, also known as the Dankort. But acceptance of the two major international credit cards is increasing rapidly. Other credit cards like American Express, Diners, JCB, and Unionpay are accepted in some but not all shops in Copenhagen, especially in Strøget, the main shopping district. When accepted, a transaction fee (mandated by credit card companies, not shops) of 0.75% to 4.00% of the amount will usually be charged on credit cards issued by foreign banks.
Almost all ATMs accept major international cards, including all the ones mentioned previously. Therefore it is worth noting that although some shops may not accept all credit cards, an ATM capable of doing so will in most cases be less than 200 m away, particularly in central Copenhagen.
The Copenhagen Post is the country's sole English language newspaper, it's published weekly on Saturdays, and is available at many bars and cafés, as well as for sale in the Magasin department store, and the kiosks at the Central, Vesterport, Østerport, and Hellerup stations for kr 20.
Embassies and consulates
As elsewhere in Europe and Denmark dial 112 for emergencies, and 114 for non-emergencies relating to the police.
Copenhagen used to be one of the safest cities in the world and it is still quite safe compared to other cities of the same size. Like any metropolitan area, Copenhagen does however experience its share of criminal activity While crime against strangers is mostly of the non-violent type, such as pickpocketing and petty theft, one should take precautions, in particular around busy tourist attractions, in train stations and inside the train to the airport. Due to gang-related conflict, extra precaution is advised in the neighbourhood of Nørrebro and in the western suburbs, i.e., those municipalities to the west of Copenhagen proper. However there is no evidence that gang members have targeted tourists.
While racism is nowhere as rampant as certain reports will have you believe, it can occasionally be a problem for people of African or Middle Eastern descent. However, the only place you are likely to encounter this as a tourist is in the city's nightlife. If you are unfortunate enough to experience racism, it is important not to get yourself involved in a heated argument, as people who have not seen the incident will usually be quick to support the offender. This is due to a surge of problems with violence related to gangs within immigrant communities, who feel alienated by a closely knit Danish society. Walk away instead, and if you feel a need to react, report the incident to authorities who are required to investigate such cases. Other ethnic groups on the other hand, are not likely to encounter any problems. Of course, prudence in behavior and politeness will in most cases avert any problems and present you as the offended party, not the offender. In fact, educated Danes in major cities will in many cases interfere and defend ethnic minorities experiencing discrimination.
Emergency Rooms (ER) are called Skadestue in Danish, as with many other health related terms and phrases, the English term may not be understood by some Danes — but conveniently Hospital is the same in Danish. Hospitals with 24 hour Emergency Wards near the city centre include:
The public healthcare system also maintains doctors on call outside normal office hours, calls are screened by medical personnel, and doctors dispatched only when deemed necessary.
- Lægevagten, ☎ . M–F 16:00–8:00, Sa-Su all day. From DKK 255, Free for EU citizens.
There is a 24-hour pharmacy in central Copenhagen, and 3 additional ones in the suburbs.
- 51 Steno Apotek, Vesterbrogade 6C (Just by the Radisson Royal hotel, near the Central station), ☎ . regular hours: M-F 8:00–20:00,Sa 8:30–17:00. There is a DKK 15 service charge outside those times..
- Malmö — Sweden's third largest city, with a lovely historic city centre and cosy squares. Just a short, convenient train ride away.
- Elsinore — Also called Helsingør. The old city centre with well preserved houses is one of the biggest in Denmark, and famous Kronborg castle, home of Shakespeare's Hamlet. Take the train from Copenhagen Central or Østerport. If you go by car the motorway is the fastest, driving along Strandvejen is the scenic route.
- Hillerød — A small town dominated by the huge Frederiksborg palace, but also offers baroque gardens and a laid back city centre. Take the S-train: end of the E-line.
- Roskilde — Denmark's ancient capital and a World Heritage site, with a famous cathedral full of the tombs of ancient kings, and the fantastic Viking museum. Home to one of the Big Four European music festivals, Roskilde Festival, which attracts up to 110,000 visitors each year in July. There are many trains from Copenhagen Central, Nørreport and Østerport.
- Øresund Coast — For the Louisiana Museum of Modern Art, which is the outstanding museum of modern art in Denmark, in the small town of Humlebæk 35 km north of Copenhagen. Via motorway E47/E5 or 35 minutes with DSB rail from the Central Station. When you use the train, special combination tickets for the rail fare and museum entry fee are available.
- Ven — Visit the Swedish island Ven. Rent a bicycle and tour the island. The ferry departs from Havnegade 29 at 9:15, returns at 17:30 and costs 210 kr for the daytrip.
|Routes through Copenhagen|
|Kolding ← Køge ←||W E||→ Malmö → Göteborg|
|Helsingør ← Vedbæk ←||N S||→ Køge → Lübeck|
|Helsingør ← Vedbæk ←||N S||→ Køge → Berlin|