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How To Have an Amazing Weekend Traveling Copenhagen

October 9, 2016

How to have an amazing weekend traveling Copenhagen || Tips for first time travelers to Denmark's capital city, plus my top 15 things to do in Copenhagen || Salted Adventures

How To Have an Amazing Weekend Traveling Copenhagen

 

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I will never forget my first dose of Scandinavian culture…just over 3 days in gorgeous Copenhagen. It is a city full of color, full of light and full of energy. If you’re planning a trip there, don’t fret, you are in for a great time. This bike culture utopia is every city lover, history buff and foodies’ dream.

 

Before exploring any new city, I love to spend a bit of time doing research —nerd alert– to find out what sites the place has to offer and get the gist of the culture. Eventually, I narrow down my priorities, usually caring only about where I can get the best cup of coffee, the most breathtaking view and delectable eats. I was elated to find out Copenhagen is a place that cares a lot about coffee, beer and food…my favorite things! Many of you may not be keen on research, which is why I am here to tell you what to do, and what to skip, for a glorious weekend (or longer) in Denmark’s capital.

 

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How to have an amazing weekend traveling Copenhagen || Tips for first time travelers to Denmark's capital city, plus my top 15 things to do in Copenhagen || Salted Adventures

Local Currency

First off, logistics. I always recommend knowing the basics before entering a new country. I like to start by knowing the currency and a few basic conversions so I don’t find myself getting caught up on numbers the whole trip. Copenhagen uses the Danish Kroner (DKK), and at the time of my departure, conversion from the USD was about 1 Kroner for every 15 US cents, so approximately 6:1. Ok, now don’t freak out! Just start plugging some numbers into a currency converter so you are familiar with what approximately equals what. Don’t worry about being too exact. Here’s an example of what I wrote down to prep myself:

6 DKK ~ $1

30 DKK ~ $5

65 DKK  ~ $10

130 DKK ~ $20

330 DKK ~ $50

650 DKK ~ $100

 

Tourist Discounts

Next, more money talk. Some destinations boast tourism cards offering discounts on main attractions, and Copenhagen is one of them. The Copenhagen Card is your option if you’re looking for a deal…but –dramatic pause– I decided against it. I’m not much of a museum/attractions person, so after doing the math on the entrance fees and expected transportation costs both with and without the card, I found the card was not going to save me any cash. I’ll leave the number crunching up to you, since your to-do list is sure to look different from mine, but rates start at 379 DKK for 1 day.

 

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Where To Stay

I’m a Hostel World enthusiast, always have been, always will be. Shameless plugs aside, I ended up staying at the Generator Hostel and I’m so glad I booked with them. I could go on and on, but I’ll say that the staff were amazingly helpful, the location was perfect and the facilities were ample and clean. The Generator even has a bar in house and an outdoor terrace if you’d like to relax with a drink without too much effort. The hostel is only 15 minutes on the M2 from the airport and a few minutes walk away. Arguably the coolest hostel I’ve ever stayed at.

 

How to have an amazing weekend traveling Copenhagen || Tips for first time travelers to Denmark's capital city, plus my top 15 things to do in Copenhagen || Salted Adventures

Photo Cred: Generator Hostels

 

Now, I didn’t stay here, but Copenhagen Downtown Hostel was my second choice, so be sure to check them out as well for a cheaper option.

 

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How to have an amazing weekend traveling Copenhagen || Tips for first time travelers to Denmark's capital city, plus my top 15 things to do in Copenhagen || Salted Adventures

Getting Around

Whether you’re traveling on foot, by bike, or via metro, you’re going to want to the basic lay of the land. I cannot stress this next bit enough… get the City Maps 2 Go app (by Ulmon) and you’ll be able to download PDF maps you can use offline. But the benefits of the app don’t stop there. You can create lists of the sites and activities you want to visit and pin them on the map. With this tool, you’ll always be able to find out where you are and find your way to that great coffee shop you’ve been dying to visit.

**Expert tip: I also made sure to use the app as I was walking around the city, pinning things that looked cool, or restaurants that looked packed, as I went.

 

Navigating By Foot

I will go on record and say the only time I used public transportation the whole time was to get to and from the airport. Yes, I could barely believe it! You’ll experience it for yourself, but the city is just so walkable.

 

Navigating By Bike

I can’t stop calling Copenhagen “bike utopia”. The bike culture here is so thick, you almost feel weird not being on one — I sure did. The city has a great system for renting bikes, called ByCyklen,  but if you don’t want to deal with the process of creating a user account and renting per hour, there are tons of places around the city to rent a bicycle for a flat fee per day. Plus, your hostel will most likely have rentals as well…Generator Hostel does.

 

Navigating By Metro:

The metro is a nice option for getting around, especially if you need to travel a farther distance in a time crunch. I will say that the main reason I didn’t use the metro is because the stations are a bit farther away from each other than I expected, so walking directly to my destination was almost always more convenient than walking to the metro, riding one stop and then walking some more. But it all depends on your game plan, so don’t let me sway you too far away from the metro life — It’s fairly cheap and easy to use. If you think you’ll be riding a lot, the metro offers a “City Pass sold in 24 hour (80DKK) or 72 hour (200 DKK) increments. All ticket types are available at any ticket machine in the metro stations. You’ll be able to travel freely through zones 1-4.

 

Zones

Which brings me to a note on zones. I had a hard time figuring out how it worked while searching online, but I finally found a way to locate the zone which your departure and destination is in. The city offers a “Journey Plannerso you can plan out your route.

**Expert Tip: after using this tool, I realized almost everything is in zone 1, but if you’re curious, take a look. Simply plug in your from/to location >> then click on “details” >> then click “show on map” >> then click the box to show “tariff zones”.

 

General Metro Tips:

  • The metro runs on the honor system, but don’t be that person.
  • The metro runs 24/7 every few minutes; trains every 15-20 minutes in the overnight hours.
  • You must buy a ticket for however many zones you’re planning on passing through.
  • A ticket from the airport Lufthavnen (zone 4) to the city center Norreport (zone 1) is a 3 zone ticket.
  • Both 2 and 3 zone tickets are valid for 1 hour from purchase

 

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How to have an amazing weekend traveling Copenhagen || Tips for first time travelers to Denmark's capital city, plus my top 15 things to do in Copenhagen || Salted Adventures

Neighborhoods:

Now onto some fun stuff…neighborhoods! When I was researching, I had a hard time gripping the concept of where everything was in relation to each other. While that strictly speaks to the fact that I am directionally challenged, it helped to get on my CityMaps2Go app and identify some of the common neighborhoods off of the city center. While I may not be exact, the following is the gist of what I found after walking all of Copenhagen’s zone 1 multiple times during my trip.

 

City Center

It helps me to identify the “city center” borders by 4 landmarks. I also like to look at the city like a diamond with Norrebro at the top instead of the city being on an angle. Call me wrong, but my system works, people.

Location: I call the “city center” the space between the Copenhagen Lakes (above), the Christianhavn canals (below), Vesterbro (to the left), and Frederiksstaden (to the right).

Attractions: Tivoli, Christiansborg Palace, The Royal Library, Nyhavn, Strøget, The Stork fountain, Rundetaarn, University of Copenhagen, Kongens Have park, Rosenborg Castle, Ørstedsparken, Torvehallerne and Norreport station. Generator Hostel is a part of the city center as well.

 

Norrebro

Location: north of the city center and north of the Copenhagen Lakes

Attractions: coffee shops, bars and eateries

 

Christianhavn

Location: south of the city center

Attractions: Christiania, Paper Island, Church of our Savior Tower, Stadsgraven Canals

 

Frederiksstaden

Location: east of the city center

Attractions: Fredericks Church, Amalienborg Palace

 

Frederiksberg

Location: northwest of the city center

Attractions: Frederiksberg Palace, Frederiksberg Garden, Søndermarken

 

Vesterbro

(meatpacking district)

Location: southwest of the city center

Attractions: Carlsberg Brewhouse, eateries and bars

 

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How to have an amazing weekend traveling Copenhagen || Tips for first time travelers to Denmark's capital city, plus my top 15 things to do in Copenhagen || Salted Adventures

Speaking Danish

I earnestly tried to learn a few things, to no avail, during my time in Copenhagen (danish is hard!), but I did make it a priority to learn two key things:

Hellohej (pronounced exactly like “hi”)

Thank you – tak (or mange tak, which means thank you very much)

 

P.S. People kept telling me I didn’t need to say “thank you very much”, since just “thank you” was sufficient. I guess the Danish are just naturally earnest people?

P.P.S. I also found, they don’t have a Danish word for “please”, they just use “tak” or say “please”.

 

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Now onto the even more fun stuff!

 

My Top 15 Favorite Things To Do In Copenhagen

 

1) Adore the colors of Nyhavn

How to have an amazing weekend traveling Copenhagen || Tips for first time travelers to Denmark's capital city, plus my top 15 things to do in Copenhagen || Salted Adventures

How to have an amazing weekend traveling Copenhagen || Tips for first time travelers to Denmark's capital city, plus my top 15 things to do in Copenhagen || Salted Adventures

How to have an amazing weekend traveling Copenhagen || Tips for first time travelers to Denmark's capital city, plus my top 15 things to do in Copenhagen || Salted Adventures

A walk along Nyhavn is the best way to get an intro to the city. It was beautiful just before sunset, but my favorite time to go was early in the morning, when I had all the best shots to myself and the morning light was shining just perfectly on the colored buildings. The surrounding eateries can be a bit more expensive, but the atmosphere is worth a few kroner more if you’d like a seat and a drink.

 

2) Watch the sunset on Paper Island

How to have an amazing weekend traveling Copenhagen || Tips for first time travelers to Denmark's capital city, plus my top 15 things to do in Copenhagen || Salted Adventures

How to have an amazing weekend traveling Copenhagen || Tips for first time travelers to Denmark's capital city, plus my top 15 things to do in Copenhagen || Salted Adventures

How to have an amazing weekend traveling Copenhagen || Tips for first time travelers to Denmark's capital city, plus my top 15 things to do in Copenhagen || Salted Adventures

Walk along the bridge just past Nyhavn to Paper Island, (or Papirøen) where you’ll find the Copenhagen Street Food warehouses, full of food trucks to peruse. Once you have your fare picked, take a seat outside on either the balconies made of shipping containers, the ample picnic benches, or try your luck at snagging a lounge chair along the edge of the water. The vibrant energy of Paper Island will make you never want to leave.

 

3) Shop till you drop on Strøget

Known to be one of the longest pedestrian streets in the world, Strøget is home to all the best shops: souvenir, budget and otherwise. It’s a great way to get from Nyhavn and the Kongens Nytorv square up to City Hall.

 

4) Enjoy fresh fare at Torvehallerne

How to have an amazing weekend traveling Copenhagen || Tips for first time travelers to Denmark's capital city, plus my top 15 things to do in Copenhagen || Salted Adventures

How to have an amazing weekend traveling Copenhagen || Tips for first time travelers to Denmark's capital city, plus my top 15 things to do in Copenhagen || Salted Adventures

How to have an amazing weekend traveling Copenhagen || Tips for first time travelers to Denmark's capital city, plus my top 15 things to do in Copenhagen || Salted Adventures

Still fairly new to Copenhagen, the Torvehallerne market is a collection of food and drink stalls with an open floor plan and tons of outdoor seating. You’ll find well known vendors like The Coffee Collective, Grod, Mikkeller & Friends, as well as juices and smoothies, gourmet chocolate, baked goods, smørrebrød and non-food items like skincare products.

 

 

5) Discover your inner child at Tivoli

How to have an amazing weekend traveling Copenhagen || Tips for first time travelers to Denmark's capital city, plus my top 15 things to do in Copenhagen || Salted Adventures

How to have an amazing weekend traveling Copenhagen || Tips for first time travelers to Denmark's capital city, plus my top 15 things to do in Copenhagen || Salted Adventures

How to have an amazing weekend traveling Copenhagen || Tips for first time travelers to Denmark's capital city, plus my top 15 things to do in Copenhagen || Salted Adventures

One of the oldest operating amusement parks in the world, Tivoli is a great way for adults to let loose and remember the carefree days of ice cream and roller coasters. The park also has a number of popular restaurants and hosts concerts in an outdoor stadium. Entrance fees start at 110DKK with options for unlimited ride tickets. If you’re staying with Generator Hostels, be sure to book your ticket through them for a few Kroner off.

 

6) Go off the grid in Christiania

Located in Christianhavn, Freetown Christiania is a self-governing anomaly. It’s worth a stop if you’re in the area. The biggest rule is to follow the do’s and don’ts of the town, including no photography. Sorry, bloggers, but don’t be one of those…respect it.  Walking around, you’ll find houses, art galleries, places to eat, a bike rental and tons of workshops.

Expert Tip: stray away from the green light district and explore all that green space. You can walk along the waterfront for hours, if you’ve got the time. 

 

7)  Take a long walk along the waterfront

How to have an amazing weekend traveling Copenhagen || Tips for first time travelers to Denmark's capital city, plus my top 15 things to do in Copenhagen || Salted Adventures

In Copenhagen, you’re never a far walk from a waterfront. The choices are plenty:

  1. Walk along the charming roads paralleling the canals in Christianhavn, stopping at local cafes and eateries.
  2. Visit Sortedam, also known as the Copenhagen Lakes, which is a collection of 5 lakes in the middle of the city. Either cruise on the south side in the city center (just north of Torvehallerne) or on the north side in Norrebro. 
  3. Go to the beach park at Amager Strand for some outdoor sports or sunbathing 

 

8) Find some peace at Fredericks Church

How to have an amazing weekend traveling Copenhagen || Tips for first time travelers to Denmark's capital city, plus my top 15 things to do in Copenhagen || Salted Adventures

How to have an amazing weekend traveling Copenhagen || Tips for first time travelers to Denmark's capital city, plus my top 15 things to do in Copenhagen || Salted Adventures

Also known as Marble Church, it is located in the Frederiksberg neighborhood. It is a gorgeous place to have a peaceful moment in the midst of all that walking and touring. Entrance is free, but for 35DKK you can get access to the dome for a great view. 

 

9) Watch the change of The Royal Guard at Amalienborg Palace

How to have an amazing weekend traveling Copenhagen || Tips for first time travelers to Denmark's capital city, plus my top 15 things to do in Copenhagen || Salted Adventures

How to have an amazing weekend traveling Copenhagen || Tips for first time travelers to Denmark's capital city, plus my top 15 things to do in Copenhagen || Salted Adventures

A short stroll from Fredericks Church, Amalienborg Palace changes guard every day at noon. Admission to the palace is 75DKK. At the risk of sounding crazy, I’ve seen enough palaces, but you’re welcome to tell me how it is!

 

10) Explore the city from the sky

How to have an amazing weekend traveling Copenhagen || Tips for first time travelers to Denmark's capital city, plus my top 15 things to do in Copenhagen || Salted Adventures

How to have an amazing weekend traveling Copenhagen || Tips for first time travelers to Denmark's capital city, plus my top 15 things to do in Copenhagen || Salted Adventures

How to have an amazing weekend traveling Copenhagen || Tips for first time travelers to Denmark's capital city, plus my top 15 things to do in Copenhagen || Salted Adventures

One thing I make sure to do when visiting a big, colorful city is find out where the best views are.

  1. In my opinion, the view from the Church of our Savior Tower (or spire) is the best in the city. It’s also the scariest and you need to be a bit nimble to climb all the narrow stairways leading up to the good stuff. This tower definitely challenged my beliefs about not being scared of heights. It’s located in Christianhavn and entrance is 35DKK.
  2. The view from Rundetaarn, or the Round Tower, is also fabulous. Located in the city center, entrance is a steal at 25DKK and you get to walk in a fun little circle all the way up. Don’t bother with the guided tour.
  3. Although I didn’t experience this for myself, the view from the City Hall Tower for 30DKK is also very popular.
  4. Located on the rooftop of the Illum shopping center right on Strøget, the view from the Illum Rooftop view is free, although not exactly. Order a drink at Bar Jacobsen, a latte at Original Coffee, or a nice lunch at The Bagel Co and enjoy yourself.

 

11) Get lost in a book in one of Copenhagen’s parks

How to have an amazing weekend traveling Copenhagen || Tips for first time travelers to Denmark's capital city, plus my top 15 things to do in Copenhagen || Salted Adventures

The city is filled with open, green spaces perfect for reading a book, sipping a coffee to go, or just people watching.

  1. About a block north of Generator Hostel, on Gothersgade, is Kongens Have park, with a great view of Rosenborg Castle. If you want to see the crown jewels, admission to the Castle is steep at 105DKK, but just looking at it from outside was enough from me.
  1. I didn’t have time to visit the University of Copenhagen’s Botanical Garden, also off Gothersgade, but I hear it’s incredible. With expansive grounds, greenhouses and free admission, it looks worth it to me.
  2. I stumbled upon Ørstedsparken on my way to Torvehallerne for coffee one morning. Take a stroll along the lake or pause for a moment to take in all of the colorful flowers.
  3. Off in the Frederiksberg neighborhood you’ll find Frederiksberg Palace, home to both Frederiksberg Gardens and Søndermarken. The space offers free admission and you can also take a guided tour of the Palace on weekdays after 4pm all year.

 

12) Spend an afternoon café hopping

How to have an amazing weekend traveling Copenhagen || Tips for first time travelers to Denmark's capital city, plus my top 15 things to do in Copenhagen || Salted Adventures

Copenhagen has a great coffee scene, whether it be for specialty coffee or small shops. I won’t give all my secrets away (as I’m going more into detail on food and drinks in my next post) but I was blown away by the offerings at both The Coffee Collective and Original Coffee

 

13) Prioritize the food scene

How to have an amazing weekend traveling Copenhagen || Tips for first time travelers to Denmark's capital city, plus my top 15 things to do in Copenhagen || Salted Adventures

Certainly more to come later on this later, but Copenhagen boasts an amazing food scene, doing cuisine from all over the world quite well, as well as cultural favorites like smørrebrød and the endless world of danish pastries. Basically, if you’re coming to Copenhagen, make eating a priority and team up with your friends to try as much as possible.

 

14) Kick back with a beer…or three

Another thing this city does well, beer. Amongst all the delicious cuisine is an ample supply of the good stuff, so save room in your belly for some hops. Great tap houses can be found all over the city, but a fun activity I missed out on was a visit to the Carlsberg Brewery. For only 95DKK you receive a guided tour, tastings, an additional two free beers and an opportunity to shop for more. 

 

15) Sightsee through the canals

A canal tour is probably one of the first things travel blogs will try to convince you to do. I, however, found that just walking around was sufficient exploration of the water —for free I should add– and I also don’t think you get great pictures on these tours unless you’re fast and have a fancy camera. So let me throw in the obligatory links for an 80DKK canal tour, or  a cheaper 45DKK tour on a Netto Boat and move onto the fact that what I really think you should do is grab some grub to go, gather some friends, and picnic on a Go Boat. Yes, picnic on an adorable boat through the canals. Turn on the tunes, drink some wine and relax. Rental prices start at 399DKK for 1 hour.

 

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How to have an amazing weekend traveling Copenhagen || Tips for first time travelers to Denmark's capital city, plus my top 15 things to do in Copenhagen || Salted Adventures

As promised, I will be writing more about the food, beer and coffee scene in my next post, so keep an eye out for that. Otherwise, I hope you enjoyed this guide to the city and use it wisely! If you’re still stressing over trip planning, don’t worry, all will make sense once you get there and begin enjoying yourself.

 

{ If this guide was helpful to you, or you have any more tips or questions I missed, comment below or be sure to contact me. I love hearing from you! }

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