So, as you read in my last post, I had a 20-hour layover in Copenhagen, Denmark on my way to Istanbul, Turkey. I stayed in a hostel near downtown, and I had scoured the tourist website for the must-do’s in Copenhagen, as I had less than one day!
But all the websites say the same thing, so what’s really worth it? How do you get a true taste of Danish life in such a short amount of time?
Luckily, on my flight there from Dublin, I was seated next to a young woman from Copenhagen, so she gave me the rundown of what would actually be worth it and what wouldn’t be.
Here’s her recommendations of things to do mixed with mine, to give you a true view of the best of Copenhagen:
- Check out Christiania. This hippie neighborhood is on an old military compound, which was transformed into housing for the homeless, and is now a tourist destination/drug spot/cool place to hang out. It’s got loads of little shops and cafes, and you can’t take photos in a lot of the areas inside. There is a lot of drug use–something to keep in mind if that’s important to you! I believe this area demonstrates Denmark’s liberal, “free-spirited” side.
- Wander Nyhavn. This is the famous photo that pops up when you Google “Copenhagen”–the cute, colored buildings, the ships, the streetside cafes… What more could a European destination wish for? Near Strøget Street, this little gem has become famous for tourists.
- Eat a Tebirke. A Tebirke is a traditional sweet Danish pastry with poppy seeds on top. It’s found at pretty much every single bakery, and you can’t visit Denmark without hitting up the pastry scene! It’s crispy, buttery, sweet goodness, and definitely hits the spot as you grab your train to head back to the airport.
Here’s what you can safely skip:
- The Little Mermaid statue. This statue is by far one of Denmark’s biggest attractions. It’s inspired by Hans Christian Andersen, the author of the Little Mermaid fairytale. The statue itself was erected in 1913 by Erik Eriksen. Why skip it? There are so many photos online, and it’s small in real life. She said only take time out of your trip to see it if you’re a fairytale fanatic!
- Strøget. This is a famous shopping street in Denmark. My one-night hostel was located near this street, so I walked down it on my way home from Nyhavn. Tbh, it was like any other famous shopping street in Europe, with Zara and Urban Outfitters and fancy coffee shops featuring prices I would never pay at home. If you’re not shopping for more clothes or accessories, you can absolutely skip this street.
Some other Denmark tips:
- Expect to spend money. Taxes in Denmark are incredibly high, in order to support the entire Danish community through things like free healthcare, free university, and up to 52 weeks of parental leave. Danes pay nearly 50% of their annual income in taxes! As a result, everything from food to attractions is much more expensive. I spent 17 USD on a veggie burger for my dinner, and while I’m sure I could’ve found a place that was cheaper, that was far cheaper than some of the places I passed. The Danes I chatted with commented that they’re happy to pay more for things to ensure everyone is healthy, happy, and taken care of.
- It’s similar to Amsterdam. I couldn’t help but think of Amsterdam as I wandered the cobblestone streets. Copenhagen is much wider (street-wise), and there are far more cars. They’re both gorgeous, picturesque cities. Also–there are SO. MANY. BIKES.
- Beer is everywhere. Seriously, I’m not sure why, but as I passed cafe after cafe, pretty much everyone was drinking beer! If you’re a beer lover, this is definitely the city for you.
Enjoy yourself in this beautiful city! Danes are some of the happiest people in the world, and you will be too, soon enough. Wander the cobblestone streets, take lots of photos, eat, drink, and be merry!
until next time, xoxo.