I lived in Copenhagen for many years (I am now based in London), but I never really thought about a great list of things to do in Copenhagen. Recently I visited CPH (as locals like to call it) for a weekend and dragged some London friends and family along for the ride. So what do you show a couple of first timers in a city you know well? Here’s a list of great things to do like a local in Copenhagen:
Cycle like a local. The first thing to do once you’ve settled into your accommodation is walk to the nearest bike/bicycle shop (bike shops are everywhere) and rent a bike for your stay. It’s a super cheap and an easy way to get around the city. You get to feel like a local for the next couple of days and see some of the sights by bike.
Copenhagen Canals. Experience the city’s canals by boat. You can buy a ticket for a seat on a canal boat from Gamel Strand, located in the city centre. It’s touristy at times, but it’s loved by locals and tourists alike. It is a really lovely boat ride and shows you some great architecture like the Royal Opera house, the infamous little mermaid statue, and some gorgeous residential apartments along the way. It’s not overly expensive and very worth the 45-70 Danish kroners.
Tivoli. A visit to Tivoli is very much part of life in Copenhagen, part amusement park, part decorated garden; it’s got something for everyone. Everyone including locals love Tivoli, it’s a true Danish institution. You can find restaurants, thrill rides like Rutschebanen, one of the oldest wooden roller coaster rides in the world or you can stroll around the park with a traditional Danish ice-cream in your hand, it’s a chilled relaxed way to spend a few hours.
Copenhagen’s open spaces. Take a picnic and chill out at one of the many outdoor spaces in the summer. Danes love the outdoors and anyone will tell you that nothing beats a Copenhagen summer. Some of the best spots to people watch and enjoy the sunny weather are Islands Brygge, a harbour front area near the city centre with outdoor swimming facilities; Kongens Have, a beautiful park with lots of green spaces, art exhibitions and classical sculptures dotted around; and Amager Strand, a true Copenhagen city beach popular with everyone living in the city and it’s a bike ride away from the city centre.
The Danish National Museum. After a few hours in Copenhagen you’ll be intrigued by all the cycling and its’ funny sounding language with alphabets like Æ. So head to the Danish National Museum to gain some insight to Denmark’s rich cultural history and get up to speed on how the Vikings tried to conquer the world.
Christiania. Life in Copenhagen can be pretty uniform so a visit to Christiania offers an alternative view on life that’s rare to see. Christiania is an independent entity within Copenhagen itself with unusual products for sale on its streets, think Amsterdam but more open. You have to see it for yourself.
Danish Design. Denmark is known for its impeccable design which is effortlessly incorporated into everyday life around you. The wealth of creativity is impressive and it’s worth looking around a few design shops for some really cool stuff you can take home with you. The best stores for this are Urban Living, Hay Design Store and Normann Copenhagen.
Nordic cuisine with a twist. Copenhagen is home to the best restaurant in the world NOMA. Reservations can be booked up for months in advance and it’s not exactly pocket friendly. So the guys behind Cofoco have delivered a concept that’s not only delicious to the taste buds but will leave cash to spare. They offer up to 4 course menus for between 250-295 Danish kroners at various restaurants around the city. The quality is extremely high regardless of the price but I think it’s the fine dining experience that’s makes it popular with locals.
Addresses to get you started
Island Brygge – Islands Brygge 7, 2300 Copenhagen S
Kongens Have – Kongens Have 1350 Copenhagen
Amager Strand – Amager Strandvej, 2300 Copenhagen
Urban living – Frederiksborggade 50, 1360 Copenhagen K
Hay Design Store – Østergade 61, 1100 Copenhagen K
Normann Copenhagen – Østerbrogade 70, 2100 Copenhagen