5 Things to Know About Copenhagen
January 18 2016
Having visited Copenhagen a handful of times in the past year, the Danish city has quickly climbed up my list of Europe’s coolest cities. From a coffee culture that could rival anywhere else in the world, to an amazing repertoire of art and design, Copenhagen is one of those cities that’s always interesting.
This small-sized city makes it a great weekend escape with enough things to do to fill a few days of exploration. The Danish capital was once rated the world’s happiest city, so I dare you to visit and not have a good time!
Over 1,000 years history in the Danish capital
Denmark is home to the world’s oldest monarchy, with a lot of royal attractions in Copenhagen and its surroundings. One of the more interesting tourist attractions, though, is the Kronborg Castle on the Øresund coastline (about an hour north of Copenhagen via train).
This was the setting for Shakespeare’s famous Hamlet; and the train ride north, along the coast, offers spectacular views out to neighboring Sweden across the sound. But it’s not all royal history in Denmark; the National Gallery (free!) has an impressive collection of Danish art with regular, temporary exhibitions.
There’s more to “alternative” Copenhagen than just Christiania
World famous, the Christiania area of Copenhagen is actually it’s own town, the world’s only freetown. On an island not far from the royal palaces and Danish government, Christiania is a mix of hippies and tourists, with street art, quirky cafes, and old buildings set between canals and warehouses. But this free-spirited attitude doesn’t just live in Christiania — it’s pervasive throughout Copenhagen. Unlike other Scandinavian cities, Copenhagen is a bit more open, with easier-to-access alcohol and a more gritty — a more real — street life.
The Meatpacking District features a hip array of late-night bars and clubs just steps away from Copenhagen’s red light district, where prostitutes seem to openly solicit on the street. During the day, the Meatpacking District is full of yuppie families at trendy restaurants and cafes full of Macbook-wielding freelancers.
Art, architecture, and design are integral to Copenhagen’s style and current culture
One of the things that makes Copenhagen so interesting is its mix of history and the present day. Amongst the old historic buildings and churches throughout the city (plus some medieval castles), Copenhagen has managed to squeeze in contemporary architecture and design. With the city’s sprawling canals, a lot of the modern buildings — like the Royal Library — sit alongside the water, reflecting the city’s more ancient skyline features.
Copenhagen’s Design Museum, located in a small building not far from the famous Little Mermaid statue, has an extensive collection of furniture, fashion, and other crafts that mark the different periods of Danish design. But perhaps one of the best ways to see Copenhagen and its diversity is by getting on a boat. (A public transport ticket will do if you don’t want to splurge on a boat tour.)
Not everything has to be expensive in Copenhagen
It seems most tourists come away from Copenhagen thinking that the city is out-of-this-world expensive. While coffees and food in the city center are going to be expensive, and some brunches might run up €50 per person, there are ways to enjoy Copenhagen on a budget. Neighborhoods just outside of the city center are home to plenty of local restaurants and cafes with far better prices. But, there are actually two great locations in Copenhagen where you can get great food at a great price.
The Copenhagen Street Food Market, located right on the harbor, has more than 30 different food stalls, selling everything from Mexican and Indian, to burgers and craft beers. The Torvehallerne, near Nørreport, is a food market with a mix of stalls selling deli meats, fish, and produce, alongside bakeries, small restaurants, and wine bars. It’s a great place to snack or come for a casual lunch.
Coffee culture is big in Copenhagen
Maybe it’s the fact that Copenhagen is full of so many creative people (design agencies, artists, furniture designers…), but Copenhagen seems to be fueled by coffee. Every local has their favorite coffee spot, but The Coffee Collective seems to top a lot of those lists. With a few locations throughout the city, it’s a great shop to enjoy a leisurely latte and meet some locals.
Read more about Copenhagen right here on Adam’s travel blog.
Have you ever been to Copenhagen? What’d you think about it? Let us know your thoughts down below!