Copenhagen is the largest city in the Kingdom of Denmark — one of the three kingdoms of Scandinavia. Being the capital of this Nordic country, it sure has a lot of history, with findings dating back to 130,000–110,000 BC. Despite its tremendous history, Copenhagen is a city that is really turned to the future — just think about the Danish architecture, the innovative urban planning or their education system that many try to replicate around the world. In other words, the Danes have a very particular way to see and live life and I think that’s what is very appealing to foreign visitors. I recently visited the Danish capital for the very first time and I totally fell in love with it. Being an architecture and coffee aficionado, I was delighted with my trip to Copenhagen — København in Danish. Here are my recommendations for places to go, things to do, great coffee to drink and scrumptious meals to eat — and a few other tips you might find interesting for your upcoming visit.
- What to do in Copenhagen?
- Historic visit at Kastellet
- A walk through Tivoli Gardens
- Colourful views at Nyhavn
- Discover the city from above at Rundetaarn
- Christiansborg Palace
- Walk along one of the city’s oldest street
- Modern architecture around Sluseholmen
- Explore this expressionnist church: Grundtvigs Kirke
- Hang out at Superkilen
- Explore the Nordhavn area
- Where to eat in Copenhagen?
- Where to have coffee in Copenhagen?
- Where to shop in Copenhagen?
- A few more tips for your trip to Copenhagen (transportation, currency, where to stay, etc)
What to do in Copenhagen?
While Copenhagen itself is something to see, there is so much you can do in this city. Here are a couple things I highly recommend doing for your next visit. Best way to get around to do all these activities and sightseeing is by bike. If it’s your first time in the city, I suggest you rent an electric bike with Bycyklen because they have a built-in GPS that will help you get around easily if you don’t have a data plan on your smartphone. They are available 24/7 and 365 days a year. Think of them as a next-level version of BIXI in Montreal, Citi Bike in New York or Vélib’ in Paris.
If you’re into historic stuff, Kastellet is the place for you. It is one of the best-preserved star fortresses in Northern Europe and it’s really a nice place to simply walk around or do your morning jog.
In the area, you’ll also find Den lille Havfrue, commonly known as The Little Mermaid. There’s usually a ton of people around it trying to take a picture of it.
A walk through Tivoli Gardens in Copenhagen
Tivoli is the second oldest amusement park in the world, being opened since 1843. It’s a nice place to have fun with family or with friends. I would recommend going in the evening since all the lights are lit and the atmosphere is much more festive. There is a large number of rides so you totally get what you pay for.
Nimb Hotel is an upscale boutique hotel located within the Tivoli Gardens. If you wanna have a quick sneak peek at what Tivoli Gardens look like from inside, go all the way through the lobby and follow the signs for the gardens. Most of the rooms have an amazing view of the gardens that change three times a year.
Experience the charm and history of Nyhavn: Copenhagen’s iconic waterfront destination
If your time is limited in Copenhagen and have only one place to visit, it should be Nyhavn. It is probably the most touristic place in town but it’s definitely worth a visit. It is very photogenic and I recommend you go very early in the morning, that way you’ll get fewer people in your photos. If you go during Christmas time, there’s a beautiful market that takes place by the canal, perfect to find Danish gifts for your loved ones.
Discover Copenhagen from above at Rundetaarn
Rundetaarn — which translates to round tower — is a popular attraction right at the center of Copenhagen that will give you an exceptional 360º view from above. While most people will go for the incredible panorama, there’s also a museum part to this tower.
Head over to Christiansborg Palace
At Christiansborg Palace, you can just wander around the beautiful buildings or you can opt-in for a guided tour. The palace is still being used in parts by the Royal Family.
Walk along one of Copenhagen’s oldest street Magstræde
When you’ll see this one, you’ll immediately fall in love with it. This quiet residential street is one of the oldest in Copenhagen and is located next to Christiansborg Palace. Will definitely upgrade your Instagram game.
Admire modern architecture around Sluseholmen
While Sluseholmen is mainly a residential neighbourhood, it’s a place you don’t want to miss if you’re into architecture or urban planning. This area used to be the home of the Port of Copenhagen and wasn’t necessarily the most enviable destination throughout the city. In the past few years, the neighbourhood has undergone a massive redesign. The Canal District is my favourite one because it’s basically a very modern Nordic version of Venice in Italy — where people have canoes standing on their balcony.
Grundtvigs Kirke: visit this rare example of an expressionist church
Even if you’re not into religious stuff, you’ll want to visit this beautiful building. Grundtvigs Kirke is one of the rare examples of expressionist church architecture. It is very beautiful from outside, but it’s even more spectacular inside. While you’re there, take the time to visit Superkilen and have breakfast at Mirabelle!
Hang out at Superkilen
This urban space called Superkilen is another great example of Danish urban planning where a simple public place becomes a fun playground for everyone.
Explore the beautiful Nordhavn area
As I was renting an Airbnb in this neighbourhood, I had the chance to discover the fabulous architecture that has been developped in this area in the past few years. Worth having a stroll if you’re into architecture.
Where to eat in Copenhagen?
Nordic cuisine is really hype right now and there’s a fairly good reason for it: it’s very good. Many of the best chefs and restaurants in the world are in Copenhagen — think about René Redzepi and its internationally famous Noma restaurant. What I really like about Nordic cuisine is the simplicity and the freshness of it. There is a lot of restaurants and places to eat in Copenhagen but here are a few I tried while I was there.
Enjoy the variety of this great local food market: Torvehallerne
Torvehallerne is a food market located right next to Nørreport station, directly in Indre By neighbourhood. With over 60 food stands, it’s the largest place of this type in Copenhagen. You’ll find a very wide variety of local specialities, such as the famous smørrebrød, or even international delicacies. Perfect if you’re being indecisive about your next meal or if you’re with a group of people with different tastes. While I was there, I went to Hallernes Smørrebrød and got two open-face sandwiches and a beer.
Mirabelle serves the best brunches in Copenhagen
Mirabelle is a bit out of the beaten tourist path. Located in the hip and multicultural Nørrebro neighbourhood, it’s the perfect place to have a brunch before hitting the streets of Copenhagen to take millions of photos. I went for brunch and I really loved the food and the vibe of the place.
Get your snacks at 7-Eleven in Copenhagen
Yes, this is exactly what you are thinking. But it’s definitely not the 7-Eleven you’ll get in America. In fact, 7-Eleven shops around the world offer a variety of local specialities for a really good price. If you’re looking to grab a quick bite on the go, I highly recommend having a look at 7-Eleven since they have really good sandwiches, smoothies and other bites. Even Vogue made an article about the great food options at 7-Eleven in Denmark!
→ If you want more inspiration for your foodie escapade in Copenhagen, make sure to have a look at my friend Marie-Eve blog, To Europe And Beyond ←
Where to have coffee in Copenhagen?
If you’re a true coffee lover, you’ll be served in the Danish capital. Here are my favourite spots to bring a little bit of hygge in your life #teamcozy. Oh, and most coffee shops will serve an array of amazing pastries along with a marvellous cups of coffee.
Best pour over coffee of my life at The Coffee Collective
The Coffee Collective is where I had the best cup of coffee in my life so far. This was also the most expensive at around 10$CAN (50DKK) but it was totally worth every cent. They have several locations around Copenhagen but I highly recommend going to the Torvehallerne location because it will allow you to discover some great food options afterwards — it is also very central being next to Nørreport station.
Danish pastries & great coffee at Rist Kaffebar
I discovered this one totally by surprise while I was headed to Playtype — a design shop located next to it. At Rist Kaffebar, I got a really good cortado along with a cinnamon-raisin danish swirl which I highly recommend. In the summer, there’a nice terrace right behind, in the cutest alley.
Original Coffee, a café with a view
If you’re up for a different kind of experience, head over to Original Coffee located inside Illum. Not only you’ll get great coffee and scrumptious food but you’ll get an amazing view on Amagertorv — one of the oldest square in the City Centre.
If you love architecture or are a fan of Bjarke Ingels work, you’ll want to head to the new neighbourhood Sluseholmen and stay at Ricco’s Kaffebar for a while. Located in this old, completely redesigned neighbourhood that once was part of the Port of Copenhagen, Ricco’s is the perfect place in the Venice of Copenhagen, to enjoy your daily hot beverage while reading the newspaper or your favourite book.
Located right next to Kastellet, Kafferiet is the perfect option to have a little pick me up before or after going to the star fortress. I really enjoyed the scrumptious blåbær bar.
ShaBaz – Kaffebar & Køkken
Think of ShaBaz one as the Starbucks of Copenhagen — but on serious steroids. They have good seating, good wifi and good coffee, plus the staff has always been very friendly to me everytime I went there.
Where to shop in Copenhagen?
If you’re in for a little bit of shopping, here are my favourite stores in the city of Copenhagen. As Copenhagen is a major city, you’ll find many international stores but I decided to focus on stores you could only find in Denmark.
The one danish design store you don’t want to miss: HAY
If there’s one shop you don’t wanna miss it’s HAY! They have everything for your home from furniture to accessories to lighting. The only problem: you’ll want to bring everything back home. I recommend whether moving to Copenhagen or bringing back a few small pieces from their collection.
Playtype, a Danish type foundry
This one is for design and typography lovers. Playtype is a foundry that promotes Danish type design. They have a nice concept store in Copenhagen in Værnedamsvej — often dubbed as the French Quarter. In the store, you’ll be able to shop various type-oriented pieces such as mugs, posters and more.
ILLUM is a department store at the centre of the city, carrying the best in fashion from around the world. I could compare it to Nordstrom in the states, Galeries Lafayette in Paris or Selfridges in London. They have a wide variety of brands and the store itself is a place to see. Pro tip: take the elevator up to the top floor to get an amazing view and enjoy a coffee at Original Coffee that I mentioned previously in this article.
Dora is a shop where you’ll find new and vintage items. They sell classic design from Flos, Georg Jensen, Made a Mano, Hay and Frama but my favourite part of the shop was definitely the vintage items that were carefully curated and showcased in store.
Flying Tiger Copenhagen
This one is a bit different from the others because it’s the Danish dollar store. I bought so much stuff from Flying Tiger. They have food, decorations, toys and so much more. It’s worth having a look and since there’s so many in town, it will be easy to find one. I can’t wait they open a store in Canada, the nearest one being in New York City.
More tips for your trip to Copenhagen
Transportation in Copenhagen
Like I said earlier, your best option to get around Copenhagen is definitely by bike. However, if you want to give the public transit a try, you must buy tickets. The best option is to buy the Copenhagen Card or the City Pass. Trust me, it will save you a lot of time trying to understand the different fares for the different zones at both passes are valid in most zones.
Coming from the Copenhagen Airport (Københavns Lufthavn), you’ll be able to transit directly to the city without any hassle as the train terminal is connected to the airport. If you’ve already bought your Copenhagen Card or your City Pass, you can hop on the train to the city as soon as you land and pass through airport security.
Currency in Copenhagen / Denmark
If you’re from Canada, at the time of writing, you’ll want to divide the Danish Krone by 5 to find how many Canadian dollars you have to pay. For example, 10DKK becomes 2$CAN.
If you’re from the United States, you’ll want to divide by 6 to find what you’re paying in your own currency.
Whenever I travel abroad, I like paying in the country’s own currency, but surprisingly, this time I didn’t have to because each place I visited accepted the credit card.
Where to stay in Copenhagen?
I stayed at a beautiful Airbnb in Nordhavn — which is a new residential area located north of Kastellet. The neighbourhood is a little bit out of the regular tourist path but you’ll save a few bucks off on your stay instead of staying in a more central area. I can’t speak for every Airbnb in this area, but considering it’s a brand new neighbourhood, most places will be new constructions, so you won’t have crazy surprises as you would in an older Airbnb.
Here are a few hotel and hostel recommendations from my friend Marie-Eve blog, To Europe And Beyond.