Travel insights from Jenna Buege, associate editor of The Compass

The Travel Agent’s Ultimate Guide to Copenhagen

Known for its medieval architecture, five-star dining and picture-perfect canals, Copenhagen is a Danish city worth discovering. So, let the fairy tales of Hans Christian Andersen inspire you as we dive into all things Copenhagen.

Copenhagen Basics

  • Getting there – Visitors arriving by plane will land at the Copenhagen Airport (CPH), the city’s main international airport serving Copenhagen and the surrounding area. Rail is another popular mode of transportation and travelers can enter the city by train at Copenhagen Central Station.
  • Location – Copenhagen is the capital of Denmark and is located on the costal islands of Zealand and Amager. While the city is situated just above Northern Europe, Copenhagen is technically part of Scandinavia and the Nordic region.
  • Climate – June through August mark the city’s summer months and visitors can expect pleasant temperatures ranging from the mid-60s to mid-70s. Copenhagen does enjoy all four seasons and travelers can expect a taste of fall September through November before temperatures fall in the winter. Winter temps hover around freezing, sometimes lower, with an average between 38 to 40 degrees Fahrenheit until spring returns in March.
  • Currency – Those traveling to Copenhagen will need to exchange their currency for the Danish Krone.
  • Language – Locals speak Danish, however, many Danes are also fluent in English.

Lodging

When it comes to deciding where to spend the night in Copenhagen, it’s important to consider which activities you’re most interested in experiencing. The Indre By area is great for nightlife versus the Nyhavn neighborhood which is perfect for families. If you’re looking for a budget-friendly option, explore lodging in the Latin Quarter. Nørrebro is a popular choice for travelers who want to experience the city’s tourist hot spots.

After selecting a neighborhood, finding a great hotel is easy. Copenhagen has something for everyone ranging from historical spots, luxury accommodations, designer digs and budget rooms.

Food

While Copenhagen is famous for its high-end and Michelin-starred restaurants, you’re more likely to find locals chowing down at one of the city’s many hot dog stands, burger restaurants or Middle Eastern shops.

Feeling traditional? Try Smørrebrød, a regional dish consisting of fish or meat, vegetables and sauce over rye bread at Selma in Vesterbro or Frederik VI in Frederiksbert. Looking for something flavorful? Grab a bite of falafel, an Egyptian favorite found everywhere around Copenhagen served with lettuce, tomato and garlic sauce. Is seafood more your jam? Surrounded by sea, Denmark is famous for its seafood, perhaps most notably its herring. Indulge in this refreshing meal at Musling Bistro where they prepare pickled herring with bay leaves, onion salad and eggs.

Fun

  • Entertainment
    • Tivoli Gardens – The second-oldest amusement park in the world, Tivoli Gardens is a Copenhagen must-see for thrill seekers of all ages. Located in the center of the city, visitors can enjoy the park’s coasters, live performances, gardens and boat rides for a relaxing, yet exhilarating experience.
    • Nyhavn – Perhaps the best spot in town to soak up a sunny afternoon, the Nyhavn canal is the picturesque scene that comes to mind when one thinks of Copenhagen. Grab a bite to eat or enjoy a drink amongst the brightly colored town houses and sea salt-covered sail boats. For the perfect dose of history and plenty of opportunities for selfies, be sure to join one of the canal tours in the area.
    • Nationalmuseet – For a lesson in Danish history and culture, don’t miss a visit to Copenhagen’s National Museum (Nationalmuseet). With varying displays on a number of interesting subjects, travelers are sure to love an up-close-and-personal look at Viking weaponry, run stones, Stone Age tools and more.
  • Adventure
    • Rent a bike – To truly experience Copenhagen like a local, you’re going to need a bike. Luckily, there are plenty available for rent. With more than half of the population taking to two wheels each day, the city is extremely bike friendly with dedicated biking highways such as the Cykelslangen (The Bicycle Snake) and bike lanes that pass through pretty much every street and neighborhood.
    • Round Tower – For the best view of the city, make the trek up Round Tower, a 17th-century tower and observatory. The walk to the top is 685 feet and visitors will pass by the tower’s library hall along the way. Upon completing the journey, travelers will have the option to view the tower’s core from a glass floor that hovers 82 feet above ground.
  • Shopping
    • Strøget – Whether it’s food, drinks or shops that you seek, an afternoon spent perusing Strøget, Copenhagen’s famous shopping street, is not to be missed. Bounce between high-end and budget stores before winding down at a local café. Enjoy songs played by street musicians or read a book on a cozy park bench. Whatever you decide to do, don’t miss a visit to Legoland, an amusement park dedicated to everyone’s favorite toy to accidentally step on in the middle of the night (ouch), the Lego.

History and Culture

  • Little Mermaid statue – Perhaps Copenhagen’s most famed resident, the iconic Little Mermaid statue was a gift from Danish brewer Carl Jacobsen in 1913. The sculpture was inspired by one of Hans Christian Andersen’s famous fairy tales and is one of the city’s most popular tourist stops to date.
  • Christiansborg Palace – Located on the small island of Slotsholmen, Christiansborg Palace is Copenhagen’s palace in the city. Built in 1928, Christiansborg Palace has been Denmark’s place of power for over 800 years, acting as home to kings and queens before becoming a venue for gala banquets and the Queen’s public audiences. Today, travelers can visit the Palace throughout the week for the chance to tour the Royal Reception Rooms, the Royal Stables, the Royal Kitchen and the Palace Chapel.
  • Rosenborg Castle – Not far from Christiansborg Palace, Rosenborg Castle was built by King Christian IV in the early 17th century. A place of great beauty, Rosenborg Castle is built in a renaissance style and is most famously known for being home to the King’s Garden, Denmark’s oldest royal garden open to the public. The castle is also home to a number of other exciting attractions including the country’s crown jewels, a number of impressive portraits and one of the world’s finest collections of Venetian glass.

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