I recently had the wonderful opportunity to spend a day in the magical city of Copenhagen (København), Denmark. I would like to share my experiences in this Danish port city. Of course, there is so much more to see and to report about Copenhagen, but these were my priorities during my brief stay there.
One day in Copenhagen
How to get to Copenhagen:
I flew with Air Berlin from Frankfurt, Germany (FRA) to Copenhagen (CPH), also known as Kastrup. Air Berlin is part of OneWorld and, thus, offers a prime opportunity to collect some AAdvantage miles or British Airways Avios. The airport is located southeast of the city center and is very clean and modern. On my way back, I had the opportunity to check out both Priority Pass lounges inside, the Aspire and the Aviator lounge. Both had their unique perks, but the Aviator lounge was rather small and a bit crowded.
Copenhagen has a very sophisticated public transportation system and you can either take a taxi, bus or subway to get to the city center. I opted to take the subway, which turned out to be the cheapest option. A ticket from the airport to the central station cost 36 DKK (Danish Krone), which is around $5.30. The train ride to the historic central station took only 17 minutes. The station itself could’ve been straight out of a Harry Potter film, minus the presence of American food concessions such as Dunkin Donuts and 7-Eleven.
Where to stay:
My hotel, Hotel Nebo, was located right by the central station. In my opinion, staying near the central station is a big plus when discovering Copenhagen. Also, hotels there are quite expensive and you rarely find any that belong to major chains like Starwood or Intercontinental. Be aware while booking: Most hotels only offer rooms with shared bathrooms and breakfast isn’t always, actually rarely, included. The room sizes are also smaller than typical American hotel rooms, think of a city full of Microtels.
What to see:
I went sightseeing on foot, since I actually hadn’t a clue of where to go and what to see when I arrived. I could have used public transportation, but I wanted to walk and get a feel for the flair of the city.
To me, the central station was a sightseeing attraction in its own, due to its wonderful architecture and design, filled with small shops, stores and restaurants.
Tivoli Gardens is a “19th century amusement park with an antique roller coaster and live entertainment program” (www.google.com). Since it was quite cold, foggy and rainy that day I did not actually go inside. It was, however, very crowded and I had the opportunity to ask a local what Tivoli Gardens is all about. She replied: “It is like the Danish Disneyland, a fantasy land”. So Tivoli Garden is still on my bucket list, but with the remark: “Visit in spring or summer” =).
City Hall and Rådhuspladsen:
Rådhuspladsen is the Danish word for city hall square. From the Rådhuspladsen, you have a wonderful view of the city hall and its magnificent architecture. Sadly, there was a major construction zone and a large part of the square wasn’t accessible. This is also a great opportunity to try a Danish hot dog from one of the many food trucks located on the square.
City center Strøget:
The city center is within walking distance from the square. There, you’ll find narrow streets decorated with amazing urban art, small shops and a great selection of small, cozy cafés. I got the impression that the Danish love their coffee, since you’ll find a gorgeous café or bakery usually every 100 meters or so. I did not mind, especially with the gloomy weather outside. Strøget is also the shopping district of Copenhagen. There’s a great selection of, not only major stores, but also local shops, which gives the area a unique and charming character.
Rundetaarn, the Round Tower:
Rundetaarn is a historic round tower that provides a view of the city center. I decided to skip the climb to the top and told myself it would be too foggy to see anything, anyways.
Rosenborg Slot and Livgardens Kaserne:
Rosenborg castle is a renaissance palace with surrounding gardens. Inside, you’ll also find the museum that harbors the crown jewels. The barracks (Livgardens Kaserne) of the Royal Danish Life Guards are located immediately next to the Rosenborg castle.
Nyhavn, the New Harbor, is probably the best known and most famous sightseeing spot of Copenhagen. The colorful row of buildings by the waterfront is the characteristic hallmark of Copenhagen. It is also the entertainment district and filled with pubs, bars, restaurants and cafés, all located along the harbor.
Copenhagen Street Food:
Copenhagen Street Food is on the Paper Island (Papirøen). It is a basically a huge warehouse with a great variety of food trucks. The vendors sell street food from all over the world and explain everything you want to know about it. They even let you sample their food. It is a great experience and is more like a culinary world tour than going for lunch. This is really my HAVE TO GO place in Copenhagen. There was also an exhibition by Yoko Ono. Loved it!
Sadly I didn’t have more time to see the other sightseeing spots on my bucket list. If you’re interested, the following places are still on my list:
- Christiansborg Palace (Christiansborg Slot)
- The Little Mermaid (Den Lille Havfrue)
If I get the chance to visit Copenhagen again, I will surely update you and write another post.
Copenhagen has a great Wifi infrastructure and you can always find hotspots throughout the city, though some require a Boingo membership. Thanks to my American Express Starwood Preferred Guest card free Boingo membership, this was no problem at all. To my pleasant surprise, Wifi in my room was incredibly fast, especially for hotel Wifi. I tested speeds of over 30 Mbps up- and download.
Prices and tipping
Generally, prices in Copenhagen are quite high compared to those in Germany or the United States. Guidance on tipping in Denmark is very inconsistent. I read one article that stated the tip is already included in the price and another that stated waiters would appreciate a 10% tip. Myself, I got the impression that in a tourist city like Copenhagen, tipping is appreciated and expected, especially in restaurants near sightseeing spots.
Although Chip and Pin is the standard throughout Europe, I experienced zero problems with my U.S. Chip and Signature only cards. Since most of my expenditures were either travel or dining related, I stuck to my Chase Sapphire Preferred (CSP) card and collected 2x Ultimate Rewards points on those purchases. Credit cards were widely accepted and I was rarely forced to pay with cash. As always when traveling abroad, make sure to use a card that offers maximum points and no foreign transaction fees, such as the Chase Sapphire Preferred or Reserve cards. Though Amex offers cards with no foreign transaction fees, especially with your SCRA benefits, you’ll be mostly limited to 1x Membership Rewards points when using the cards outside of the U.S. Please refer to ThePointSoldier Beginner’s Guide for more information about the SCRA.
I noticed that hot dogs are very popular in Denmark, because I found food trucks offering them all over town. Pastries were also being sold all over, hence the “Danish”, I guess. Lastly, I found several American restaurants, such as TGI Fridays.
Although clearly not the official language, I did not find a single local who wasn’t fluent in English, even with minimal accent.
The bicycle is a major form of transportation in Denmark; complete with dedicated traffic lanes, signs and lights. You can also rent a bicycle instead of using public transportation. I guess I will do that on my next trip to Copenhagen.
In summary, I loved it. I love the architecture, the people, the flair and the charm, especially in fall. In my opinion, the city is vastly underrated and should be on everyone’s bucket list. Realistically, you’ll need at least 2 to 3 days to explore the city.
Have you already been there? Are you planning to go there? Do you have friends and family that are planning to go there? Like, share and comment! I would love to hear all about it, tell me how you like my review and if and how it influenced your visit.
I will get back with you as soon as I have another destination to tell you about…