Tips for visiting Copenhagen, Denmark
Copenhagen, Denmark, is a lovely capital city in Scandinavia. B and I combined a visit here with a trip to the Faroe Islands during the early summer. I read lots of guide books and blog posts in anticipation of visiting Copenhagen and this blog post will combine what I learned and found useful in those along with the things we learned on our adventure. Together, these tips for visiting Copenhagen will help you make the most out of your trip to this Danish delight.
B and I landed at the Copenhagen airport one afternoon and flew out to the Faroes the next morning. We didn’t feel like heading all the way into downtown for one night, so we stayed close to the airport and visited the little town of Dragør. Dragør is technically within the boundaries of the Copenhagen City and is just south of the Kastrup airport. Google maps told us it was only a few miles away along the coastline so we decided to walk there. Other than the airplanes landing directly over our heads at one point (hello, Wayne’s World), the walk was not a great experience. It wasn’t very pretty, was more industrial than coastal and took a long time. On the way home, we hopped on a bus. Much better.
Dragør itself is quite adorable. Judging from the fancy beachside houses and Teslas parked out front, I’d guess wealthy Copenhagites spend their time here. The big draw are cute buildings and houses that are a buttery yellow with red tile roofs. We walked through cobblestone roads, ate some gelato and soaked up the warm sun’s rays. This was an excellent way to help us acclimate to the new time zone.
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Visit Dragør (by public transport or bicycle) if you want a break from the hustle and bustle of the city. Spend your time walking around the town rather than walking to it from far away.
In 1843, some enterprising individuals built the world’s second amusement park in the outskirts of Copenhagen. Tivoli Gardens is still going strong after all these years and has been engulfed by the city as the population grew. B enjoys herself a good amusement park so a visit here was on the must-do list. We were in Copenhagen over a holiday where lots of things were closed (Whit Monday–go figure), so we decided Tivoli Gardens, which was still open, would be a good way to celebrate (after looking up what the heck Whit Monday was). Anyway, it worked out really well for us because this amusement park isn’t just for kids. We were able to shop inside the park at little versions of stores whose bigger counterparts were closed on the outs.
In addition, Tivoli has beautiful gardens and adorable little themed areas. My expectations of a major amusement park were far exceeded and I had a great time. The ticket system is similar to a fair back in the U.S. So while you can buy all inclusive entrance tickets, we opted for a more inexpensive entrance ticket and then purchased an individual ride ticket to go on the swings high above the city.
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Visit this place! There was a beer garden and shopping in addition to the rides, so everyone should have a good time. Make sure to check the website to see if they are open. But if you are in Copenhagen during a national holiday and want something open to visit, this is a great option.
Noon singing sermon
One of the very best parts of travel is the serendipitous moments that you can’t plan. Such was the case when we were searching for a certain store that sold a brand of shoes B had her eye on. On the other side of the street from the shop was the Church of the Holy Ghost. This church is one of Copenhagen’s four medieval churches and was built in the 1200s. As we walked up to the church, a nice gentleman told us the noon singing service would start shortly. Why not, we thought, and headed into this giant piece of history. The singing service consisted of a priest saying a prayer or two, reading a scripture, then a few organ numbers accompanied by a choir. The whole thing lasted less than 20 minutes. It was free, inspiring and unexpected. In short, it was delightful.
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Attend this short service or one of the other free organ concerts at the beautiful churches in Copenhagen. On a higher level, don’t shy away from an experience if it presents itself to you (while staying safe, of course).
If you want to squeeze in another country on your visit to Copenhagen, the city of Malmo, Sweden, is just a quick train ride away. Being from the Western part of the vast U.S., it always blows my mind to know how close some things are in Europe. If I travel 30 minutes from Boise, I can make it to…the suburbs. From Copenhagen, 30 minutes can get you to the third largest city in Sweden. As a bonus, you get to travel over the Oresund Bridge, the longest rail/road bridge in Europe.
We enjoyed wandering downtown Malmo, soaking up the sun on of Malmo’s parks and purchasing some perfect Swedish clogs. As it only takes about 40 minutes to get from downtown Copenhagen to downtown Malmo, you really can pop over for just a few hours, for a relatively cheap train ticket (about $11 each way).
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It’s a good idea to bring your passport. As both countries are members of the E.U. you don’t have to go through customs or anything, but there is a chance government officials will ask for your identification. B forgot hers in Copenhagen and while we didn’t have anyone ask to see our passports, she was a little anxious along the way. Better to carry it around than need it and not have it.
The Little Mermaid Statue
In Brussels, Belgium, we made sure to visit a little statue of a little boy peeing. I found the Little Mermaid Statue as anti-climatic as that boy. I’m not sure why this thing has become the symbol of the city and warrants the mass throngs of people visiting it. I don’t mean to sound all negative, so it is down a nice little pedestrian pathway along the water, which is always a pleasant thing to experience. (Just don’t expect too much from the statue is all I’m saying.)
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If you must see the statue, ride a bike to it. It’s a great experience to ride a bike in this city anyway, with its special bike lanes and lights. So if you frame visiting the state in that light, it’s quite a pleasant bang for your buck. We rented bikes close to Nyhavn and had a great time riding around.
Nyhavn Photo Op
And speaking of Nyhavn, we learned a great tip for getting a good picture here: keep walking. Nyhavn is a part of the city that borders one of the canals. There are loads of colorfully painted row buildings and eateries lining the water and it really is pretty. It reminded me a lot of Amsterdam. When walking from other parts of Copenhagen you will know when you arrive in Nyhavn because the people per foot increases exponentially. Along with the number of selfie sticks. Never ones for crowds, B and I pushed through the throngs and eventually ended up on a much less populated part of the canal with lovely views across the water at the buildings.
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If you walk southeast down Nyahavn from downtown Copenhagen, you’ll eventually make it to a less crowded area. We were able to sit along the banks of the canal and take it all in. Granted, there are still lots of people around, but we were able to take a picture without a hundred extra faces in it.
Copenhagen is a very enjoyable city. We visited for five days and I could have stayed much longer to fit more things in. The tips for visiting Copenhagen listed above will help to make sure your visit is just as good as ours was.