My friends and I were looking for a weekend away for my 40th birthday, ( I still can't believe I'm 40, I don't know where the last 20 years have gone)! So I suggested we go to Copenhagen because it's a city I love, and I love Scandinavia.
There is something that draws me to Scandinavia, the people are so friendly and there just seems to be this very chilled out vibe and a relaxed atmosphere. I have read many articles stating that the Danes are among the happiest people on earth, including a recent article posted on CN Traveller. And who wouldn't want to visit a place full of happy people?
Copenhagen is The capital of Denmark and is famous for its canals, butter cookies, bikes, happy people, and excellent cuisine. The city is known also for being expensive, but as we experienced, you can definitely have a trip here on a without breaking the bank.
The flight time to Copenhagen is just under 2 hours from London, and most other major UK airports and this makes it an easy and ideal weekend getaway. Flights can be cheap too, with most budget airlines flying here, I booked my return flights for under £80, flying out Friday morning and returning Monday evening.
We had a tight budget and as we like to spend our money on going out for meals, having a few drinks, and exploring lots, and visiting attractions, so we needed fairly cheap accommodation.
I booked a place called The Steel House, which is actually a hostel, although not your average hostel, it’s more luxurious. We were not looking for a hostel, but I had read some very positive reviews. At a very reasonable price, we were given a room with six bunk beds. The room was small but enough for what we were looking for, which was simply somewhere to rest our heads. The room was also very clean and comfortable and certainly served our purpose.
The hostel is in a great location and is just a 10-minute walk from Copenhagen central station, and getting to Copenhagen central from the airport takes just 15 minutes leaving from terminal 3. With the hostel only being a short walk from the Tivoli Gardens and Copenhagen square, it made it the perfect place for us to stay. The staff at the hostel are extremely friendly and chatty. The bar has a happy hour service, giving you 2 for 1 on some drinks. We were very thankful for this in a city known for being expensive.
Having a tight budget won't stop you from having an awesome fun-packed time in Copenhagen, and I have put together an itinerary of some must-do things while you are in this fantastic modern city.
1. Hire bikes
Copenhagen is said to be heaven on earth for cycle enthusiasts. Hiring bikes is an excellent way to see the city and great fun to, as well as being a healthy way to get about, it will also save you some time and money and you will feel more like a Copenhagener . In fact, the vast majority of locals use cycling as the main source of daily transport to get to and from work. Although Take care, the locals seem to cycle fast, and with nearly 700,000 bikes in Copenhagen (more bikes than people), caution is needed!
There are many places to hire bikes and scooters from in Copenhagen, some more expensive than others so be sure to check prices first.
We hired our bikes from the Steel House Hostel where we were staying for around 125 DKK which works out about £14 for 24 hours.
2. Visit the Tivoli Gardens.
The Tivoli Gardens divided opinion in our group, in my opinion, the gardens are a must for any visit to Copenhagen, especially if you have children with you, but a couple of my friends said they didn't think it's worth the entrance fee which is DKK130, which is about £15 for ages 8 and over. This does not include rides. This price rises to DKK 210 which is £24 after 7 pm for Friday rock, which are concerts in the summer months. The Tivoli park is not open all year round so before you plan your trip if you wanted to visit here, be sure to check the dates.
Each season offers its own theme, for example during Halloween, the park is decorated with all things spooky and at Christmas, it is filled with glittering Christmas lights and decorations and the Christmas markets.
The Tivoli Gardens is an amusement park and pleasure garden full of fun rides and places to eat. It is in fact the second-oldest operating amusement park in the world. People don't just come here for the rides though, the scenery and the gardens themselves are beautiful. At night thousands of lights give the place an incredible atmosphere. It has something for everyone, regardless of how old you are.
3. Take a trip to Nyhavn
Nyhavn, Copenhagen's most famous landmark, If You type Copenhagen into Google this is probably the first place that would come up in images. A stunning 17-century waterfront packed with restaurants, bars, cafes, and entertainment. We liked it so much here we came here every day of our stay. A place that's a must-see whatever season you go in.
The vibe and atmosphere here especially in the evening make Nyhavn special. You could sit outside in one of the many bars or restaurants sipping a beer by the beautiful canals, looking at the stunning scenery of colorful buildings watching the world go by. It gets very busy with tourists especially in the summer months, so I would advise booking restaurants. The mixture of tourists and locals adds to the atmosphere.
With so many restaurants around the Nyhavn area, it is hard to choose, but there is something to suit every taste, from traditional Danish cuisine to your local kebab shop. Prices for food and drink are very reasonable here, you could expect to pay between DKK 100-200, which is between £10-25 for a sit-down meal.
There are also lots of bars offering drinks and live music. The bars and restaurants can get very busy in the summer months especially, but there always seems to be a fun and happy vibe here. What better way to spend a sunny evening but outside by the canal with a stunning backdrop.
4. Take a walk around Christianshavn and Christiania
Freetown Christiana is a neighbourhood in the district of Christianhavn. It is one of Copenhagens most popular tourist attractions. It's a sort of hippie town with its own rules, completely independent of the Danish government and for the 900 or so people who live there agree to abide by them.
It all started when a group of young people moved into the site previously occupied by the military. It became famous for its cannabis trade, this was tolerated until 2004. But the stalls down the famous pusher street were forced to close mainly because of cannabis trade there had become out of control. The locals here make their living from the bars, restaurants coffee shops and souvenir shops that are open to the tourists.
Tourists are forbidden from taking photos here, and as tempting as it is, don't get your camera out, just take in the surroundings. There are plenty of places here to have something to eat or drink. You will find burger stalls, bakeries, vegetarian options, and vegan options. and you can also find plenty of places to buy souvenirs like t-shirts, jewellery, smoking pipes, and many more quirky items.
You can find plenty of bars and music venues here too, from dj's to live bands.
This place is definitely worth a visit but there are some things you shouldn't do here.
5. Christiansborg palace
Christiansborg palace is the home to the Danish prime minister and Danish parliament, as well as being Denmarks supreme court. There is so much history surrounding the palace which was once home to the kings and queens, in fact some of the rooms are still used by the Danish royal family for functions.
Explore the rooms that were graced by the royals, such as the royal kitchen and royal reception rooms and the tapestries. If you're looking for some of the best views in Copenhagen, then climb up to the tower for stunning views, including views across the water to neighbouring Sweden. The tower entrance is free but there is a small fee for some of the other attractions.
6. Eat a danish
You simply cant come to Denmark without sampling some of the finest sweet and savoury treats around. Denmark is famous for its pastries and once you try one, you will find out why. Do you ever remember having the danish butter biscuits at Christmas? I am a lover of sweet pastries and coffee so when we stumbled across the Lagkagehuset display window my eyes lit up and I was drawn in. The pastries in this place are amazing so don't feel guilty for treating yourself! I had to treat myself most days while I was here, and promised myself I would be good when I got home!
There are other types of bites available here too, not just pastries. The bakeries in Copenhagen are packed with sweet-smelling and tasting treats, so it's not easy choosing! Step in a sample some of the finest sweet and savoury pastries fresh from the oven
7. Shop on Strøget
If you’re in need of some retail therapy or you just want to have a wander around one of the longest pedestrianised shopping streets in Europe, head to Strøget. If it’s gifts to take home, something for yourself of a little souvenir, you will also certainly find it here. This famous street right in the heart of the old city is a favourite for locals and tourists and is full of shops, restaurants, and cafes. You’ll find your budget shops like Zara and H&M and designer shops such as Louis Vuitton, so there’s something for everyone. The Strøget is also a fantastic place for a stroll.
8. Mermaid statue
Ok, so it's just a statue of a mermaid. But it's probably the most famous landmark in Copenhagen and it won't cost you anything to see it. This very famous little lady has the crowds flocking to take pictures of her, so choose your moment and get a picture for yourself. The walk (or cycle) from Nyhavn is probably more interesting than the actual statue, but you cant come to Copenhagen without seeing her.
The mermaid statue is located on a rock by the water's edge on the Langelinie promenade and the best way to get there is to bike if you have one, or by using a taxi.
9. Enjoy the nightlife
It doesn't matter Wether you want to party until the sun comes up or simply have a few drinks in some of the city's more traditional bars and pubs (of which there are plenty), Copenhagen has it all. For beer lovers, you are spoilt for choice, with the number of brewpubs in the city.
Start the night off in one of the many more traditional pubs dotted around the Strøget and city square areas, including the Scottish and Irish bars, where you will find the atmosphere vibrant, warm and friendly, before later carrying on further into the city center, where you will find nightclubs, jazz and blues bars, and wine and cocktail bars. Or head over to Nyhavn, where there are lots more bars, these tend to be packed with tourists, and because of this, tend to be more pricey, don't let this put you off though, I would recommend spending at least one evening of your trip here.
10. National museum of Denmark
For a real Danish experience and to get a feel of Danish culture, spend a few hours at the National Museum of Denmark. Located just a short stroll from the city square inside the Prince's palace, which dates back to the 1700s. The museum is the largest in Denmark and displays a fascinating cultural history. The exhibitions here date back to the Viking and Stone ages. The museum is great for families, it even has a children's museum. For opening times, check the museum's website.
A quick tip, if you would like extra savings on many attractions and public transport, the get the Copenhagen Card. Click the link to calculate how much you could save on your trip.