Copenhagen, the Danish Kingdom's capital is a must-see. With its fascinating architecture, the royal family, and countless hidden gems, no traveler leaves it without longing to return one day.
In other words, Copenhagen will not disappoint you. Quite the opposite. It will introduce you to the Danish urban lifestyle.
I had the opportunity to explore Copenhagen from a local's perspective as I worked there between 2018 and 2019
. It was a great experience. I got to know about every aspect of the city. From the tourist attractions to the hidden gems and the locals' favorites (that also became mine).
Let me introduce you to my "Top 9" that every traveler should experience in Copenhagen.
Spoiler alert: you will want to pack your suitcase and leave immediately.
1. Havnebadene (The harbor baths)
Copenhagen's community baths are located in the heart of Copenhagen Port.
Since 2001, the water that flows through Copenhagen's canals is so clean that you can swim in it.
What makes this so unique is that it is right in the heart of the city and free of charge. The locals love the baths. They use them for a short swim in the morning or as a place to relax on a hot summer day.
There are four baths located along the main canal: at Islands Brygge, Kalvebod Bølge, Fisketorvet, and Sluseholmen.
The one at Kalvebod Bølge is the newest and the closest to the city center. However, it is also the only bath where there is no lifeguard present.
Nevertheless, it turned out to be my favorite bath, as it has the best location and the fewest swimmers.
You will notice that locals swim in so-called unofficial baths. One of them is in Ofelia Square, right behind the Royal Danish Playhouse.
Since it is officially not allowed to swim there, I would not recommend it. But the place is excellent for relaxing with a great view of the harbor and the Royal Opera House. You can buy something to drink or eat at outdoor bars and food trucks.
2. Havnebussen (The harbor bus)
The main canal has a harbor ferry. The floating bus
that sails from Teglholmen to Refshaleøen can, in principle, take you anywhere that is worth going to in the city center.
I lived in Teglholmen, near one of these bus stops, which meant that I used the harbor bus almost as often as the ordinary one.
The harbor bus is a real hidden gem for visitors, as it is a cheap tour through the main canal. It costs the same as a bus ticket, which makes it attractive. If you buy a City Pass, you can just jump on it.
The ferry passes a lot of beautiful architecture, such as the Black Diamond and the Royal Opera House.
So, if you want to explore the main canal from a local's perspective, take the harbor bus. You have the choice of sitting inside or standing outside on the deck.
The Route:Teglholmen - Islands Brygge - The Royal Library - Christianshavn - Nyhavn - The Opera - Nordre Tolbod - Refshaløen. The route consists of two lines: 991 and 992.
3. Amager Beach Park
Copenhagen's beach is located in the Amager district, which is only about 3 miles from the city center. With its beautiful dunes and long coastline, it's a real Nordic beach experience.
Amager Beach Park is perfect for swimming, sunbathing, eating ice cream, paddling on a SUP board in the open sea, or a long walk along the promenade.
Along the 2.8-mile-long beach promenade, there are five stations. Each station has public toilets and a refreshment stand. Ice cream is the best-selling snack, but you can also buy snacks like hot dogs and toasts.
Since you cannot rent beach chairs or similar, remember to pack the most important things for a day at the beach
. You can play a round of mini-golf at station five, rent a SUP board, a kayak, or a kite at the Kayak Hotel.
As the beach is only a few miles from the airport, you can see planes landing and departing. Station 5 is the best place for this.
The eminent bridge that connects Denmark with Sweden, øresundsbroen, is also visible from the shore.
How to get there: Take the M4 (metro) in the direction of Copenhagen Airport. M4 stops at øresund, Amager Strandpark, and Femøren. All three stops lead to the beach.
Ticket: I would recommend buying a City Pass ticket if you plan to use public transport. The City Pass comes in two sizes. Small (1-4 zones) and big (1-99 zones). Usually, the small City Pass is more than adequate. You can buy it at the central station.
4. Kødbyen (The Meatpacking District)
What was once a butcher's quarter is now a vibrant area full of popular restaurants, bars, and nightclubs.
Located in the Vesterbro district, the industrial atmosphere provides the perfect backdrop for an evening out. With the venues' rustic interior, the former factories, the place gives you the feeling of experiencing something unique.
The Italian, Indian, American, and Danish Cuisine are all represented in the meatpacking district.
The Italian-inspired restaurant Mother is one of the most popular ones. It serves sourdough pizzas straight from the stone oven in a restaurant with tiles from the butcher's time. The pizzas range from 95 to 155 DKK.
If you are more into burgers and fries, Tommi's Burger Joint is worth a bite. A menu costs 99 DKK, depending on the drink. You can also choose a delicious veggie burger.
How to get there: You can walk from the central station or take the S-train to Dybbølsbro station.
Fact: Did you know that sourdough bread is one of the trendiest types of bread you can buy in Copenhagen?
Reffen is an urban hipster location for outdoor dining and chilling. With its 54 food stalls and unique arts and crafts shops, the venue is excellent for meeting with friends or going for a snack or a drink.
Each food stand offers a unique taste from around the world. Just exploring the many menus while strolling around is an experience in itself.
I have been there a few times, both in winter and in summer. In winter, you can seek shelter in the heated wooden hall. In summer, the area transforms into a real cozy and chill outdoor space with DJs, drinks, and relaxation.
A 'Pilsner' or draft beer is around 55-60 DKK, where a glass of wine rising slightly to 90 DKK. Food is also in the upper price range. A dish can quickly end up at 110 DKK. For food and drinks, you have to expect about 170 DKK per person.
Apart from that, it is simply amazing and a must for every visitor to have a drink and enjoy it in one of the sun chairs at Reffen.
Have you ever tried skiing on a hill without snow? I hadn't until last year when I went to Copenhill
in the city's north industrial part. The ski hill is located on Refshaleøen on a waste-to-energy plant.
If you do not want to ski, the hill is also suitable for hiking or hardcore jogging.
When you reach the top, you will have the most breathtaking view of the city center on your left. On your right, you can look out over the ocean that leads to Sweden. It is the ultimate urban experience.
Another fantastic thing about this place is that there is no entry fee.
If you want to rent equipment and buy a ski pass, you can do so at the Steep & Deep ski center. It is located directly at the arrival point. A ski pass costs 150 DKK per hour. If you want to rent equipment, it costs 120 DKK per hour.
How to get there: No metro line goes to Refshaleøen. However, you can take bus lines 2A and 37 from the central station to the 'Lynetten' stop. From there, it is a 10-minute walk to the hill.
Address: Vindmøllevej 6, 2300 Copenhagen
7. Top three most popular cultural events of the locals
Copenhagen knows how to make cultural events worth mentioning.
Here are three of the best cultural events:
Bølgen (The Wave)
Every Saturday in summer, when the weather is good, you can dance, chill out and meet the locals at Kalvebod Bølge.It is a local musician who hosts the event. There are always great DJs playing everything from pop to house.
The locals love this event because it is a lot of fun. There is also no entrance fee. If you do not want to spend money, you can bring your own food and drinks. However, the drinks are at very fair prices. There are also food trucks serving street food.
This annual event is the ultimate street festival. It is one of the biggest street festivals in Europe. Some of the greatest DJ's play in the districts of Vesterbro and Nørrebro.
Most of the stages have free entrance, which means that you can simply go and see it without paying anything. As there are many visitors always, it's mayhem. But it is a fun and unique experience.
What makes it so great is that you get to listen to some of the Danish DJs, musicians, and producers and, at the same time, explore the city while it is running at full speed.
Kulturnatten (Culture Night)
One night every October, the city turns into a cultural scene. With a Culture Night badge, you get free admission to museums, the Royal Opera House, The Royal Danish Playhouse and many other cultural venues.
If you visit Copenhagen in autumn, this is a must. The event consists of many attractions that are great for English speakers. The program goes live online in early September.
You can buy the Culture Pass at a Seven-Eleven. The price for each badge is 99 DKK, where children under 12 years are free.
The badge also gives you free access to public transport during the event.
Where to buy it: There is a Seven-Eleven at Central Station and at all s-train stations.
8. The two best towers - Christiansborg Palace Tower and Tower of Our Savior's Church
Nothing beats a breathtaking view of the city.
Christiansborg Palace Tower
In Christiansborg Palace, you will find the Danish Parlament 'Folketinget'. The building also has a beautiful old tower
. The tower is the highest in Copenhagen and has one of the greatest views. It is open to all visitors except Mondays. It is always free of charge.
On arrival, you only have to pass a checkpoint.
Opening hours: Tuesday-Saturday 11.00 AM-9.00 PM. Sunday: 11.00 AM - 5.30 PM
How to get there: Take the metro lines M3 or M4 to Gammel Strand Station or bus 1A, 2A, 26, 40, 66, or 350S.
Tower of Our Savior's Church
If you are up to a real challenge and are not afraid of heights,The Tower of Our Savior's Church is a must.
The church in Christianshavn was built in 1695. It is one of the most beautiful churches in Denmark. With its baroque style and the magnificent golden helix spire, it is a must-see.
The top of the tower has a spiral staircase consisting of 400 steps. I went there on a summer day. The view was breathtaking. The way up was a little exhausting, as the stairs get narrower and narrower.
If you are afraid of heights, it is better to stay on the ground and admire the tower from a distance.
The entrance fee varies between 35 and 50 DKK, depending on the season.
How to get there: The M1 and M2 metro lines stop at Christianshavn Station. Bus 2A and 31 as well.
9. Frederiksberg Gardens
Right next to the Copenhagen ZOO, you find the Frederiksberg Gardens. It's a perfect green location for a walk or a picnic.
The Frederiksberg garden has free entrance and is open 24/7. Locals use it for walking, jogging, or relaxing on the meadow in front of the Frederiksberg Palace.
The style of the garden is inspired by the English Landscape garden. It has many small paths, streams, and lakes that lead to different parts of the garden. An attraction worth a visit is the Chinese summer house. You will find it on a small island in the garden.
Near the zoo, you might be able to get a glimpse of the elephants.