Copenhagen – Top 10 Insider Travel Tips

jesperWe are thrilled to welcome Jesper Tejsen Lykke as a guest blogger to the Brilliant Tips travel blog. While you may not find Jesper on the list of famous Danes, he is far and away our favorite native of Denmark. A travel industry veteran of 25 years, Jesper is currently Director of National Accounts for Travel Guard. So if you need information about travel insurance, be sure to check out Travel Guard. After knowing and working with Jesper for many years, we can vouch that these are the very best insider travel tips when it comes to Copenhagen.

1. Even though it may not appeal to an independent traveler, the harbor cruise is a great introduction to the beauty of the old city. Most find it useful for getting an idea of places of interest that you can later go back to for closer looks. Not only are the views great and the information interesting, they also allow you (encourage you really) to bring your beer on board.

2. Don’t spend time on a visit to Christiania. Read about this interesting social experiment that has gone on for more than 30 years, but don’t waste time on a visit. It is ugly, unimpressive, quite dirty, and, being a center for the drug trade, it may even be a somewhat unsafe place to hang out.

3. The center of Copenhagen is full of pedestrian street areas, small alleys, and attractive little squares. Summer visitors will see Copenhagen as one large outdoor restaurant. Danes meet at Gråbrødre Torv and Danes as well as visitors congregate at Nyhavn to see, be seen, eat, drink, and be merry.

4. An evening in Tivoli – one of the world’s oldest amusement parks – located in the very center of the city is still worthwhile. The park may not have the incredible rides of Disney or Six Flags, but the park itself is amazing. Whereas locals will never dine at a restaurant in Tivoli, a casual meal of smørrebrød (open-faced sandwiches Danish style), Danish beer (Tuborg or Carlsberg), and a chaser of Aquavit is a must-do.

5. Don’t bother with a rent-a-car, which is at least twice as expensive as in the US. Copenhagen has an excellent public transportation system combining clean buses that run on time with a somewhat limited (but very safe) subway / light rail system with a station at the airport. Another unique feature of Copenhagen are the world-famous Free City Bikes used by visitors and Copenhageners alike. The city of Copenhagen keeps expanding its net of bicycle lanes and routes and you are likely to get around town faster by bicycle than by any other means of transportation. The Free City Bikes are on the streets from mid April to November.

6. Copenhagen is seen best by foot. When walking in the old part of town, make time to peek into the many courtyards and enjoy the old, well-preserved buildings there. Strøget is the longest pedestrian street in the world and the offer of goods and services will accommodate shoppers of any taste and budget. Strøget runs through the very center of the old part of Copenhagen and even locals are known to enjoy a few casual hours of window-shopping. Walk from Rådhuspladsen (City Hall) to Kongens Nytorv (Kings New Square) and make sure to explore the side streets and courtyards.

7. Take advantage of hop-on-hop-off sightseeing buses and do not pass up an opportunity to make quick visits at Christiansborg Slot, the old royal castle which now houses the Danish Parliament and Rosenborg Slot which houses the crown jewels.  Make use of the inexpensive harbor buses.

8. Amalienborg (the Royal Castle) is worth nothing more than a walk across the square when walking between the center of town and the Little Mermaid, which certainly is a disappointment to most but – nevertheless and strangely enough – a must-see for anybody visiting Copenhagen for the first time.

9. Many State-run museums like The National Museum, The Museum of Danish Resistance, The Open Air Museum, and The National Gallery offer free entry all week. Other worthwhile places with free admission are the The Ny Carlsberg Glyptotek (Sundays) and The Copenhagen City Museum (Fridays).

10. Accommodation in Copenhagen is generally known to be rather expensive, but it doesn’t have to be! Check out some great flashpacking hostels of a very high quality.  Copenhagen Downtown opened in 2008, right in the heart of Copenhagen with an emphasis on value, culture, art, and atmosphere rather than room service and expensive rooms. Danhostel Copenhagen City is another inexpensive option. Overlooking the city and harbor, it is Europe’s biggest youth hostel with more than 1,000 beds. Copenhagen Airport Hostel is called the most homey youth hostel you will ever visit. If you are looking for cheap accommodation, this is an excellent option, but the location away from the city center and near the airport may make the low price less attractive to some.

11 thoughts on “Copenhagen – Top 10 Insider Travel Tips

  • Thanks for these tips. As someone who has been visiting Copenhagen many many times over the last couple of years I would like to suggest visitors consider staying in Malmo instead – you will get a much better hotel for your money.

    Also a tip for cycling in Copenhagen – the locals cycle very fast in “rush hour” and I have heard of tourists getting hurt due to some agressive lane changing etc.

  • Jesper suggests a harbor cruise, and along those lines there is at least one shop on the water I know of (unfortunately can’t remember the name)that rents kayaks. If the idea of a little bit of fun exercise and experiencing things from a different perspective is appealing to you, it’s an offbeat and adventurous way to sightsee. You can paddle past the Little Mermaid and grab glimpses of Christiania (while avoiding any unpleasantries). I made my kayaking connection on my first night in Copenhagen by talking to a local in a pub, but I’m sure a quick web search will turn up opportunities as well.

  • Thanks the tips and links that you shared with us..It is a big help. It will remind us the important things we should consider and bring during the trip.:)

  • Great tips! I totally agree on #6: Copenhagen is seen best by foot. When I used to live in Copenhagen, I enjoyed long strolls along the lakes and from Østerbro to Rosenborg Slot, going through Kastellet park, Amalienborg square, Kongens Nytorv and the narrow streets of the Latin Quarter.

  • I have to disagree with tip #2. Christiania has loads to offer including a great music scene (Loppen, Grå Hal, etc.) and the interesting peek into the community-based lifestyle, as well as the best falafel stands in the city. Hope they’re still there.

    BTW: The government has cracked down on the drug trade (which, by the way, only centred on soft drugs…Christianites prohibit hard drugs) and the police patrols the area quite regularly—there are other parts of the city where you’re more likely to run into trouble.

    Tip #8 is also a little off: Any true Copenhagener (and therefore insider) would/should be proud of our wistul Little Mermaid statue. It is neither disappointing nor strange, and despite its small stature a pleasant sight for anyone strolling along Langelinie. It’s a charming icon with a history and the many travellers snapping shots of it will attest to that. Also, Amalienborg’s gardens (Amalienhaven) are of modern design and still welcoming in nature, with perfect views of the new opera house. These sites need certainly not be relegated to first-time visits.

  • I disagree about Christiania, though. I know Copenhageners (Copenhagenites?) are frustrated and annoyed by this community, but it is unique in the world, and for me it remains perhaps the most fascinating part of Copenhagen. If you like to tick off the most popular tourist attractions in cities that you visit, you may agree with the article/post. But if ideas, different ways of living, challenging the beliefs you hold as part of travel tend to interest you, I wouldn’t discount this.
    It remains, for me, one of the most interesting things about visiting Copenhagen. It’s worth doing some reading about it first, as it’s not an area with costumed tour guides.

  • Christiana may not be for the family!

    But it is a very intresting Place to visit!

    Go and check it out for yourself!

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