Hello and welcome to the first of these little mini city guides. I always feel like a huge imposter writing guides to places I’ve literally only been for 72 hours, so this series (which I am hoping to continue over the year/years) is more of a first impressions post. I hope you like!
WHEN TO GO – We visited in March but the city seems to really come alive from April onwards which is when Tivoli Amusement Park (one of the oldest amusement parks in the world) and Reffen Food Market open for the spring/summer period.
GETTING THERE – We flew with Ryanair for around £60 each (which included two pieces of hand luggage each, plus priority boarding) from London Stansted. Flight time was around an hour and a half.
AIRPORT TRANSFER – There is a direct train (called M2 which is part of the metro network) will take you direct to the city centre in around 15 minutes. No need for a taxi! Uber is also banned in Copenhagen so more reason to stick to public transport.
GETTING AROUND – Buy a CityPass from the station at the airport and it’ll include all your metro, train and bus travel for your visit (so no extra fees like with the Gatwick and Heathrow Express in the UK). You can choose how long to buy a CityPass for – ours was 72 hours and cost just over £20. The transport system in Copenhagen is a thing of beauty. Buses every few minutes and trains just as frequent. We just used Google Maps to help us navigate – it was so easy. Or, do as the locals do and hire a bike or electric scooter instead.
HOTEL – We stayed at Citizen M purely because we know we always get an excellent night’s sleep (they have giant beds and v good black out blinds), there’s free WiFi and they’re always in convenient locations. We paid £110 a night, but prices go up to £250 in high season. Other, perhaps cooler, hotels to check out include Andersen Hotel, Hotel SP34 and Hotel Alexandra.
CASH – I didn’t take out any currency and instead just used my Revolut card (you basically just upload money direct from your bank account and it exchanges it at the best exchange rate every time you spend on it). A lot of restaurants and cafes are actually now completely cashless.
NO PHONES – One thing I really picked up on was how little people were on their phones. I rarely tutted because someone slow was walking in front of me whilst trying to reply to emails and when we were in restaurants people were actually talking to each other rather than scrolling. Mental! Wild! Crazy!
RELAXED ATMOSPHERE – We found we couldn’t quite put our finger on why we loved Copenhagen so much, but there was just this gorgeous chilled-out vibe in the air that was absolutely contagious. Of course the hygge element with candles on every table (even at breakfast) and blankets on outside seat completely helped you feel cosy and start to switch off.
LANGUAGE – Obviously not having a clue how to even say ‘hello!’ in Danish (true Brit over here), I was slightly worried about communicating with people in Copenhagen. However it turns out that everyone we met, and literally everyone, spoke English. Most menus are either written in English or there’s an English version readily available.
CINNAMON BUNS – You can’t go to Copenhagen without falling face first into cinnamon buns. The best we had by far were those from Laura’s in the Torvehallerne Food Market. The chocolate topped ones were a particular thing of joy.
ALCOHOL – You can expect to pay a casual £45 for the cheapest bottle of wine at dinner (even in non-fancy restaurants) so the cheapest way to drink is to buy your alcohol from the supermarkets and 7/11s dotted about. I drank cans of rhubarb Somersby cider for around £1.20 a pop and highly recommend. It’s completely legal (and totally normal) to drink on the streets and in the park in Copenhagen which is an extra reason to go when the weather’s warmer.
BRUNCH – Items you can expect to find on a typical Copenhagen brunch menu include rye bread, Lurpak (I didn’t even realise this was Danish and now I love it even more), all kinds of eggs, avocado, yogurt, granola and muesli, pastries, meat and cheese selections. I would say there’s a true ‘continental breakfast’ kinda vibe. We went to Mad & Kaffe for their mezze style breakfast (delicious) and Granola which we didn’t like as much (slow service and small portions. We also found that you couldn’t really book brunch and it was more of a ‘rock up and hope for a table’ kinda vibe.
LUNCH/DINNER – If you want a grab and go kinda meal, the burgers from Gasoline Grill (there’s a few locations around the city) are great, although tomato ketchup does not seem to be the go-to fries condiment in Copenhagen which blew my mind. There’s also IMMENSE food halls and markets. Reffen is notoriously the best (which replaced the much-recommended Paper Market which is now closed) but only open for the spring-summer period. We liked both the Tivoli Food Hall and Torvehallerne Food Market which are both very central. For a sit down meal we tried Baest and Mother which were both highly recommended and pretty nice.
PLACES TO VISIT – Nyhavn is where the infamous row of coloured houses on the canal are so worth a stroll (although can be busy in summer and expensive to eat in the restaurants situated there), Strøget is the pedestranised street for shopping (expect to find all the Scandi classics like Weekday, & Other Stories and standalone H&M Home stores). We also took an hour-long boat tour (around £12 each) which was nice and gave us a good view of The Little Mermaid statue.
INSTAGRAM HOTSPOTS – Nyhavn is the classic Insta shot, but there’s also loads of dreamy pastel buildings scattered around the city for perfect outfit backgrounds. Copenhagen also seem to specalise in the most delicious paper-wrapped bouquets of flowers which I took approx 462375 photos of – you can find them in food markets, florists and even outside H&M Home.
TRAVELING WITH BABIES AND KIDS – We took the much-needed opportunity to travel without our toddler but it was instantly easy to see how well equipped for babies and kids the city was. There were huge pushchair spaces on both buses and trains (which easily put London to shame), and kids in almost all the cafes and restaurants we visited. There’s also parks everywhere, so plenty of outdoor space to explore with small ones in tow.
IF I WERE TO GO AGAIN – I think we’d book four nights over three and take a day out to travel over to Malmo in Sweden as it’s only a 45 minute train ride away.
BEST PART – Likely the cinnamon buns from Laura’s, alongside the general chilled-out attitude that make it a city I’d definitely be keen to explore more of in the future!
WORST PART – The high price of wine and alcohol in general means we tended to cut our evenings shorter than we perhaps would have at home.