Copenhagen (Kobenhavn), Denmark
After visiting Paris and stopping briefly in Bonn, Germany, I went to Copenhagen for 5 days. Special thanks to Greg and everyone who posted to the rec.travel.europe newsgroup for their assistance in planning this leg of my trip.
Time. Give yourself 3-4 full days to see Copenhagen. Add a day for each trip to outlying parts of Denmark.
- Radhuspladen, Stroget, and Nyhavn--Radhuspladen is the town
hall square. For 10 Kroner you can go to the top of the Radhus (town hall)
tower and get a great view of the city. From Radhuspladen you will see
a street between the 7-11 and the Burger King. This is Stroget (pronounced
STROY-et), the longest pedestrian walking street in the world. Lots of
shops, restaurants, bars, and street entertainers. If you are there at
night, be sure to stop in at least one bar and have a Carlsburg or a Tuborg
beer and sing "Mustang Sally" with the crowd. At the end of Stroget
is Kongens Nytorv (King's New Garden). Cut across this park and bear to
the right to get onto Nyhavn (New Harbor), which has more great restaurants
and bars on the harbor.
- Tivoli Gardens--One of the first amusement parks in the world
is still popular today. The layout of dirt paths and trees, fine restaurants
and stages make it feel more like a park than Disneyland or Six Flags;
I appreciated that. In the summer they shoots off fireworks at midnight
twice a week.
- Rosenborg Slot and Botanisk Have--Rosenborg Slot (Castle) is
the home of the crown jewels of Denmark. It also has beautiful gardens.
If you have time afterwards I recommend visiting the Botanisk Have (Botanical
Gardens) across the street from the castle.
- Amalienborg--The queen's palace. Arrive a little before noon
and you can see the changing of the guard.
- Den Lille Havfrau (The Little Mermaid)--A very famous bronze statue of a mermaid on a rock.
Really Should See Attractions. These are the sights that if you still have time left you really should see:
- Ny Carlsberg Glypotek--Located a couple of blocks away from
Tivoli Gardens, this museum (which is free on Wednesdays and Sundays) has
a very impressive collection of Rodin and Degas sculptures.
- Orsteds Parken--I stumbled on Orsteds Parken accidentally, thinking
I had found the Botanical Garden (which it turned out was in the opposite
direction from the Norrebro S-Train stop). Best mistake I ever made; it's
one of the prettiest parks in the city. Has a cafe.
- Christiania--Not a place to take the family. A somewhat secluded village/shantytown of people eking out a living selling books, CDs, and hashish. Memorable nonetheless.
Day Trips. There are several possibilities for day or overnight trips from Copenhagen. I chose to take a train up the coast to Helsingor (1 hour from Copenhagen), site of Kronberg Slot, the castle where Hamlet allegedly takes place. The city of Helsingor has a walking street which is lively on a Saturday, and I really enjoyed seeing the castle and particularly its dungeons. A second option if you like modern art is the Louisiana Museum in Humlebaek, about 45 minutes from Copenhagen. My friend Greg urged me to take a bus from Copenhagen to Legoland (in Billund, about 3 hours from Copenhagen), where you can see famous monuments and people made out of Legos, small plastic toy blocks. Maybe next time.
Food. Even with the relatively decent exchange rate (6 Danish Kroner to 1 U.S. Dollar), I found food to be very expensive. A cheap and delectable breakfast can be found at a bakery or grocery store. For a budget lunch, try smorrebrod, small slices of bread with meat or fish. Many restaurants have reasonable lunch specials; I'm sorry I didn't take advantage of one. I enjoyed a buffet dinner at India Palace on H.C. Andersens Boulevard, but did not enjoy paying over 20 U.S. Dollars for it. Ditto for the Indonesian restaurant off Stroget which cost me nearly 30 U.S. Dollars. A low-cost alternative that I enjoyed was Cafe Rose--two slices of pizza for 25 Kroner. For dessert, be sure to treat yourself somewhere to vanilla ice cream with strawberry jam and whipped cream. The ice cream is soft serve and tastes like it is made with pure cream, not like the grainy powder with water added that we get in the States.
Lodging. I stayed at the Hostelling International (HI) Vandrehjem in Bellahoj, about a 20 minute bus ride from Radhuspladen. It is very inexpensive (only 70 Kroner, or about 14 dollars per night), clean, modern, well-maintained, and sits right on a lake. Very peaceful. They do have a lockout from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m., which is probably good because otherwise it would be very easy to stay out all night and sleep all day instead of sightseeing. Also it's really easy to meet people because many of the hostellers show up in the lobby or at the bus stop at the same time in the morning. I would stay there again.
Language. Most people in Denmark speak some English. I recommend using the Foreign Languages for Travelers site to learn some words like "mange tak" (thank you very much) and "undskyld " (sorry).
Transportation. I took the night train from Koln (Cologne, Germany) to Copenhagen's Hovedbanegarden (train station). The Visitors Center, Hard Rock Cafe, and Tivoli Gardens are across the street; Radhuspladen is about two blocks up the street. The bus system is terrific--the buses are clean and safe, the driver will give you change if you don't have exact fare, and many lines run ALL NIGHT. This is important if you want to enjoy Copenhagen's nightlife. Another popular option is a bicycle. There are several places around the city to rent bikes for under 50 Kroner. Be aware that many rental shops are closed on Sundays.
Nightlife. Copenhagen has an active nightlife, especially on Friday and Saturday nights. You can sit in an Irish bar on Stroget, drink Carlsburg, and sing songs until 3 a.m., or do the same in Nyhavn, or on Friday go drinking and then dancing at a discoteque from 11 p.m. to 5 a.m. Be aware that on Friday and Saturday nights people dress up, and some bars (like the Baron and the Baroness) have dress codes, so if you plan to go out dress funky and leave your Nikes or Reeboks in your room.
Tourist Information. The official Copenhagen Tourist Office is across the street from the train station. Another excellent tourist office is Use It, a student/budget travel office on Radhustrade (off Stroget). It has its own tourist guide, Play Time, plus lockers which are free for one day's use with a small deposit.
Copenhagen Pictures--A personal Web site that captures the major sights of the city very well and has links to more information on the city.
Travel Trip Report: Copenhagen September 1997--Another personal Web site from an American tourist. A very detailed overview of a trip nearly opposite from my own but which still captures the sense I had about Copenhagen.
Copenhagen This Week--The online site of a handy reference guide to weekly events and sights. The paper version of the guide is available at the Visitor's Center across from the train station.