So far, I have been excelling at my resolution to embrace all of the traveling I do for work and on my own. In August, I found myself in Banff, Pittsburgh, Copenhagen, Stockholm and Annapolis - not to mention a weekend trip to Montauk! It hasn't left a whole lot of time for blogging.
I didn't have the typical summer of laying out at the beach - but when the chance to explore Scandinavia came along, you better believe I was going to make the most of it.
I have to confess, Scandinavian countries were never at the top of my list in terms of vacation destinations but now that I've spent time in Denmark and Sweden, I'm fascinated by these two countries and their fellow Scandinavian societies - Finland, Norway and Iceland.
But enough exposition - let's jump into the things I suggest doing if you find yourself in the wonderful city of Copenhagen! I enjoyed 3 nights and 4 days in this city and can say with absolute confidence that we jam-packed our days full of activities!
Walk / Bike Everywhere
I went back and forth on buying the Copenhagen Card - which grants you unlimited rides on public transportation and free access to many of the cities most popular tourist attractions. I crunched the numbers a bunch of times, and ultimately decided that even though we were going to be paying for tickets to a lot of the places included with the card - it wasn't worth it for us because we wouldn't be paying for a lot of public transportation.
I knew the ladies I was going with were fine walking - and walk we did! Each day of our trip we walked over 10 miles according to Christine's activity tracker and 2 days we hit the half marathon mark!
Before we arrived, I anticipated renting bikes or using the ones included with our Airbnb to easily get around - considering Copenhagen is one of the most bike-able cities in the world. But we ended up only biking once because walking was just so easy!
On our last day, Christine and I rented Copenhagen's version of Citi bikes (Bycyklen) and went for a quick ride. Their bikes are electric, and you can even pre-select guided tours or use the screen to put in your destination. Very fancy (but also, very very heavy!)
As easy as walking and biking is in Copenhagen, we also used public transportation multiple times during our trip and found it to be easy and efficient. Definitely download the apps Rejseplanen and DSB on your phone - they'll make it very easy to figure out your best route.
Upon arriving at our Airbnb, we immediately headed out to one of Copenhagen's most beloved coffee shops - The Coffee Collective - on one of Copenhagen's trendiest streets - Jægersborggade (in the Nørrebro neighborhood).
This cafe easily could have been in SoHo, but the latte was better than any latte I've ever had before. We thoroughly savored the (expensive) caffeine.
After Coffee Collective we got food at Grød, another trendy spot that specializes in...porridge. I accidentally ordered a chia seed pudding instead of oatmeal, but it was heaped with peanut butter, granola and fruit so I was extremely content.
Jægersborggade is known as being very trendy and "hip" - with art galleries, jewelry shops, wine bars and organic produce shops. I loved walking around here and couldn't have been happier that this was the neighborhood our Airbnb was located in.
Perhaps my favorite part of Copenhagen were all of the bar/restaurants right out on the canals. Or maybe it was the karaoke bar. No, maybe the brewery? Needless to say, we imbibed at many an establishment while in Copenhagen. These were some of my favorites;
Børskaj 12, 1221
Kayak bar is attached to a kayak rental shop and is located right on the water. With a floating dock, sand, and beach chairs, it was the perfect spot to sit down with a cold beer and beautiful cheese plate. Until it started raining.
Luckily, there was a large covered area as well, with picnic tables and live music! I loved the laid back vibe of this spot.
Overgaden Neden Vandet 29
Drinking on the water is just better than drinking anywhere else. Sam spotted this cute little floating dock/bar situation on her canal boat ride and led us back to it for drinks on our first night.
We even got serenaded (mocked?) by a passing boat whose captain jumped out and onto our table! Pics or it didn't happen, you say? Please see below for photo evidence.
Østergade 17-19, 1100
This karaoke/sing along bar full of locals was quite the experience.
Danish bars are very smokey. Locals didn't seem to love us being there, but once we managed to get drinks and get settled at a table, I ignored the nicotine I was inhaling and focused on belting YMCA and Dancing Queen as loud as I could and it was a pretty grand time.
Expect to pay a cover, to leave smelling like smoke, to wait forever for a drink - but to leave feeling like you've just had an experience.
Stefansgade No. 35 KLD
Mikkeller is a very popular brewer in Copenhagen, which has been making it's way to the US as well. With 14 different locations in Copenhagen (including popular restaurants like Warpigs and a bottle shop at the Glass Market), we were bound to have one close to our Airbnb in the Nørrebro neighborhood.
We stopped by after dinner one night to find the place packed, and enjoyed one of their IPAs. I also got really excited when I noticed they carried a Two Roads beer on tap - Connecticut, represent!
Carlsberg Brewery Tour
Gamle Carlsberg Vej 11
A convenient free shuttle bus from the Radisson Blu hotel near Central Station took us from the city center to the Carlsberg Brewery, about a 15 minute ride.
We had pre-purchased our tickets, which saved some time as everyone got off the bus and lined up. There are multiple options on the Visit Carlsberg site, but we opted for the standard entry ticket which included access to the museum and 2 free drinks (or 1 drink + 1 "gift" - a pin).
We wandered the museum, checked out the stables (Clydesdales!) and gawked at the world's largest beer bottle collection.
But the best part was definitely sitting outside on a gorgeous, sunny day - surrounded by architecture from the 1800s, and sipping multiple drinks. We started at the outdoor bar where we sampled some standard Carlsberg brews before we headed to the indoor tasting room for flights.
Then it was back outside for the most refreshing, delicious drink of the trip - Somersby ciders. We were obsessed - and depressed to find out that it's not sold in the US. The flavors were amazing - Elderflower lime? Red rhubarb? Blackberry? I'm pretty sure we ended up sampling them all.
Cruise the Canals
My biggest piece of advice in this entire blog post is to book a canal cruise with Hey Captain.
It was one of the greatest "tours" I've ever paid for. Seeing Copenhagen from a boat is a "must do" and there are certainly many tourist boats leaving from Nyhavn that you could choose. But you'll be on board with 100s of other people and you'll be listening to a tour guide talk over a microphone.
Hey Captain are small boats for up to 12 people - meaning you'll be having a conversation with your captain instead of getting a lecture. Other perks? Complimentary wine and beer and the ability to bring your own food and drink on board too! Complete with a table with built-in cooler.
On our tour, Christine and I were lucky enough to be the only two on board with our captain, Mathias. It was the highlight of our trip. Not only was it beautiful, but we learned a TON and had a genuine conversation with a local. We even ironed out some international beer pong policy changes.
Did you know Lukas Graham grew up in Freetown Christiania? And that Copenhagen's waste plant will soon have a ski slope? Or what about the fact that there's a statue under water? Or an apartment complex that used to be a torpedo hall?
The tours last about an hour, they run all year long, and for $32, it was an absolute bargain!
Skt. Annæ Gade 29
No, not that kind of high (though there is a small part of Freetown Christiania that sells plenty of marijuana - just don't take any pictures!)
Trekking up the Church of Our Saviour's stairs is definitely worth the view at the top - especially considering it only costs $7 (or FREE if you have a Copenhagen Card).
While we also paid to walk up the Round Tower as well, I can say without a doubt that the Church of Our Saviour is the better option.
It was crowded and narrow and a little treacherous - but walking up a spiral staircase outside of a church's spire was pretty epic.
We got incredibly lucky - on our way up it started down pouring on us out of nowhere (it did this nearly every day we were in Copenhagen), and by the time we got down, the church had been closed! It must have been good karma that we made our way to the top - because Sam and Christine helped calm a girl having a complete nervous breakdown!
The view from the top was pretty damn great - seeing all of the canals from that high up was beautiful, along with all of the colors of the buildings in Copenhagen. And since the church had been closed due to the rain, our trip down was super easy and uncrowded.
Eat, A Lot
It goes without saying that one of the best parts of any vacation is discovering the local food scene. While I already mentioned the delicious porridge at Grod and the incredible latte from Coffee Collective, we had a number of other wonderful meals during our stay.
This may have been our favorite dinner of the trip. Not only was the restaurant really nice inside and the food delicious, but we loved walking around the Meatpacking District which was a mix of "Where are we going, are we going to die?" and "Wow, this is super trendy and unique!"
This is a massive market with over 60 different stands - selling everything from fresh fish to flowers to beer to pre-made meals and grab and go items.
We didn't eat here, but it was fun to shop around - I especially loved the Mikkeller bottle shop - those can designs are like artwork!
Torvehallerne, the "Glass Market," reminds me a lot of places like Chelsea Market in New York City. There are tons of articles online about some of the best food finds at Torvehallerne.
Papirøen "Paper Island" / Copenhagen Street Food
Papirøen, Trangravsvej 14, hal 7 & 8
If you've ever been to Smorgasburg in New York, you'll understand the concept behind Paper Island - where some of Copenhagen's best food vendors come together under one roof to serve food from all over the world. No joke - you can get everything from fish & chips to pizza to tacos to ramen and everything in between.
Paper Island is wildly popular with locals and tourists alike, so expect crowds. But it's definitely worth it to see this unique space complete with bars, a disco cow, and more food and drinks than you can imagine. Some stands even have free samples.
We did solid work on Paper Island - enjoying pizza from Madenitaly, gin cocktails from Drueta, smoked salmon smorrebrod from Handmade, gourmet & organic hot dogs from PØLSE KOMPAGNIET, and a sinfully sweet Nutella crepe from The Pancake Cottage!
I even got a free sample of the much-raved about duck fat fries at Duck It!
The award for best breakfast goes to Cafe Norden, though when we first looked at the menu I don't think any of us were too excited. Somehow it seemed like the menu was lacking options - which explains why we all opted for the avocado toast.
Good thing the avocado toast was some of the best I've EVER had. And I'm a twenty-something who brunches regularly in New York. I know my damn avocado toast.
The fact that this was served on Danish rye bread (rugbrød) was probably what made it so spectacular. I've since bought Whole Foods' version of this bread in an attempt to recreate this spectacular breakfast.
We also enjoyed it outside in the sun, in one of Copenhagen's most crowded squares (Amagertorv) which allowed for great people watching.
Pro-tip: get one of their flavored lemonades - so refreshing!
Please, do yourself a favor and make sure you stop for some pastries from Meyers while you're in Copenhagen. Apparently, you can find them in NY too - but it's probably going to go better with your Coffee Collective latte. Promise.
I ordered a Blueberry Roll and a Tebirke - which is a Danish poppy seed roll. It was perfectly flaky and crispy and buttery and amazing.
Chef Claus Meyer is the man behind the New Nordic cuisine that is kind of a big deal (hi, Copenhagen is home to the World's Best Restaurant) and while we didn't eat at any of his many many restaurants - this bakery was certainly worth the visit.
Copenhagen is home to one of Europe's longest pedestrian streets - and if you're looking to shop til you drop, Støget provides 1.1 kilometers of temptation.
Even if shopping isn't your thing, it's worth a stroll down Strøget, though it is quite touristy.
I insist that you visit a Flying Tiger while you're in it's homeland! This store is now all over the world - in fact, I first discovered it in Barcelona - but it's so fun to walk through! They have everything - useful things, things you'd never need in a million years, things you don't need but what, and things that are just plain fun.
The best part, everything is super cute and super cheap!
It's hard to explain - just go, seriously!
Act Like A Kid!
Multiple people told me before I left for Copenhagen that I had to find the sidewalk with trampolines - and miraculously enough, without even looking or Googling, we stumbled upon them on our first afternoon!
I was shocked at how hysterical with laughter we were - they seriously had us acting like the 5 year olds jumping beside us.
Very fun, very unique, very Copenhagen!
I was not a big amusement park person - ever. We didn't really go as kids (other than to Disney World) and I've still never been to a Six Flags.
But ever since my trip to Denver and the Lakeside Amusement Park, I've kind of been fascinated by old amusement parks.
It just so happens that Copenhagen is home to the second oldest operating amusement park in the world - Tivoli Gardens!
Tivoli opened in 1843 and served as the inspiration for Walt Disney! We paid for entry and an unlimited ride wristband (around $60) and spent the night walking around the grounds.
I was really happy that we decided to show up just before sunset so we were able to see the park both in the daylight and at night - it's so gorgeous and it was really evident how Disney has its roots in some aspects of Tivoli.
We rode a few rides, took lots of pictures, enjoyed the live music, shopped - Tivoli has got it all (including some highly rated restaurants!) and is definitely more than just a place with rides.
Again luck was on our side as we were the last people to board "The Roller Coaster" - one of the worlds oldest wooden roller coasters (built in 1914).
The night ended with one of the best fireworks displays I've ever seen - choreographed to music with lasers! While enjoying pistachio and banana gelato.
No trip to Copenhagen is complete with a visit to Tivoli!
See the Sights
There are quite a few tourist destinations in Copenhagen that are more "sightseeing" than "experiencing." While some of them were worth a visit, there were a few that I wouldn't necessarily include on an itinerary.
The great thing about Copenhagen is that just by walking around, you'll pass a number of these iconic buildings- for me, it's always worth a stop to look, acknowledge, read a plaque if there is one, take a picture - and move on. Most of these places offer admittance and tours, but unless it's a topic I'm really interested in, museums and tours aren't my jam.
The Little Mermaid Statue
Christine and I knew we had little to no interested in actually seeing this statue - which is widely talked about as one of the most underwhelming tourist destinations in Europe. The only reason we ended up seeing it at all was because we passed it on a nice walk along the water.
Definitely worth a walk past this massive castle, which still serves as the queens "Winter Palace," though we didn't stop for a tour.
While we were in Copenhagen, we're pretty sure the queen was actually at the castle, since there were guards outside and the Royal Yacht Dannebrog was docked!
A star-shaped fortress that was really interesting to walk around - I wish I had read about it more before we found ourselves wandering the grounds! But regardless, it was very pretty!
I really enjoyed walking around the Rosenborg Castle as Sam read to us some history from her guide book. The grounds were beautiful - especially the rose garden!
We walked through this cemetery near our Airbnb almost every day - and far from being creepy, it was always filled with people walking, biking, or running through.
One our first traipse through the cemetery, we followed signs to find Hans Christian Anderson's gravestone. Imagine our surprise when we realized it was the anniversary of his death on that very day!
This is the iconic picture of Copenhagen - and it certainly is beautiful - though swarming with tourists. One side along the canal is entirely dedicated to bars and restaurants with outdoor seating, but we steered clear of them since they don't have the best reputation for authenticity.
We did make sure to stop outside the window of one of Hans Christian Anderson's apartments as we walked down the canal!
There are plenty of places where you can learn more about this squatter-society within Copenhagen (it's really quite fascinating). They've created their own schools, doctors, etc. and as I mentioned earlier, there's a section that openly sells marijuana in the streets! They don't pay taxes, but are left pretty much alone.
While it was cool to see this hippie commune - it definitely wasn't a place I felt compelled to hang around for too long. I did like some of the graffiti though - it reminded me of Austin!
We passed the former stock exchange on our canal cruise - an impressive building with a spire that's supposed to be four dragons' tails intertwined.
This is by no means an exhaustive list of the things to see and do in Copenhagen. It surpassed my expectations as a city overall. I highly recommend Copenhagen if you're looking to go to Europe for a shorter trip. Everyone there was incredibly friendly, the city is clean, easy to navigate, and full of history!