Planning a Trip to Copenhagen

cobblestone street in Copenhagen, DenmarkNow that you’re dreaming of 1, 2, or 3 perfect days in Copenhagen, I’ll run through the essential practical information you’ll need to make it a reality, including how to get around, where to stay, and what to read, watch and download to inspire and inform your visit.

Transport to the city centre

It’s easy to get to the city centre from Kastrup airport. Catch a train to the Kobenhavn H Central Station right from Terminal 3. Tickets are about 35 DKK / $6, and you can buy them from machines (coins or credit cards only) or the DSB ticket windows in the terminal. Once you have your ticket, take the escalator down to the platform to catch the train.

Trains run every 10 minutes during the day, and about half as frequently at night. It takes less than 15 minutes to get to the city centre – listen for the announcement in both English and Danish for Kobenhavn H / Central Station. If you exit the station from the main doors, you’ll be directly facing a street called Vesterbrogade. Taxis will be waiting outside if you need one.

You can also take a taxi directly from the airport if you prefer. The 15 minute trip to the centre of town should run you about $30 during the day, slightly more at night. Credit cards are accepted – let your driver know upfront, and he’ll likely scan your card at the beginning of the trip.

If you’re arriving on a cruise, your ship may dock at any one of Copenhagen’s four different cruise terminals. There is a public bus that serves all of the terminals, and taxis will be readily available whenever a ship arrives in port.

Getting around the city

cyclists passing through an intersectionOnce you’re in the city centre, it’s easy to explore most of the main sights on foot. It’s also fun to make use of the City Bikes available from racks all over Copenhagen. They’re inexpensive (about $3.50 per hour) and come with a handy built-in GPS. You simply use a credit card to unlock a bike. When you’re finished you just lock it back up at any rack  to complete the transaction. The city is very friendly to cyclists, and in fact bikes often outnumber cars on the streets.

If the weather is bad, or if you’re covering a larger distance, Copenhagen’s extensive public transportation system will serve you well. The same tickets and passes can be used across metros, buses and even water buses.

The Copenhagen Card is worth considering if you anticipate taking public transportation and seeing a number of sights over two or three days. It includes unlimited bus and metro rides plus entry into most of the major museums and attractions. Scroll down on the home page of the website for a handy calculator to help you decide whether it’s right for you.

Accommodations

While Copenhagen is known to be an expensive city, there are a few well-located budget and mid-range options. The map in this other Copenhagen post shows where each is located in relation to the main sites and attractions.

  • The Generator Hostel is one of the best deals going. It’s located in the heart of the city near Rosenborg Castle. It’s really a hybrid hostel/hotel, with private ensuite rooms available, stylish Danish furniture, a sleek bar, courtyard and reliable wifi throughout. Private rooms start at $45.
  • More spartan in design is the spotless Cabinn City located near Tivoli and Kobenhavn H Station. The smallest single rooms start at $90, while larger double rooms range up to $160. Breakfast is an extra $13 per person.
  • The Hotel Alexandra offers sleek Danish retro design just a few blocks north of Kobenhavn H Station. Rates vary by season. I’ve seen as low as $125 in winter, but you probably won’t get in for less than $200 in summer.
hotel in Copenhagen

CabInn City Hotel

In a city like Copenhagen (safe, expensive, compact) booking through home rental sites like AirBnB or HomeAway can be a good alternative, especially if you’re staying more than a couple of days. Rentals usually include kitchen facilities so you can cook some of your own meals to cut down on food costs, and owners often provide all kinds of insider information for their guests. Be sure to research the location in relation to the sites you want to see, read reviews before booking, and take a look at my thoughts on vacation rentals.

The booking site momondo was created by Danes, so naturally it has a robust set of listings for Copenhagen. It includes hostels and B&B’s in addition to hotels. It’s one of my favourite sites for flight bookings too, so give it a try when searching for your airline tickets.

Get informed and inspired

Read:

  • Fiction: The Fall of the King by Johannes V Jensen – historical fiction about a student who becomes a mercenary for King Christian II in 16th century Denmark.
  • Fiction: A History of Danish Dreams by Peter Hoeg – a satirical and imaginative look at Danish history through a series of sketches ranging from the 16th to 20th centuries.
  • Fiction: The Killing by David Hewson – crime suspense novel set in Copenhagen, based on a popular and critically acclaimed Danish series called Forbrydelsen
  • Non-Fiction: The Fairy Tale of My Life: an Autobiography by Hans Christian Andersen – Denmark’s most famous author tells us the stories behind the fairy tales
  • Guide Books: Lonely Planet publishes comprehensive guides for Copenhagen specifically and Denmark as a whole. They also offer a regional guide to Scandinavia if you’re planning other travels in the region. Some guides are available in e-book form as well as print.narrow street leading to red brick church spire

Watch:

  • The 2014 film Copenhagen follows a young man getting in touch with his roots with the help of a local girl. His journey takes him all over the city, which looks suitably stylish onscreen.
  • The History Channel series Vikings brings to life the 8th century exploits of the Norse warriors in a visually stunning way. The violence level is high, so perhaps not for the faint of heart.

Download:

  • 1001 Stories of Denmark was created by the Danish Agency for Culture. It features background information on places of interest all over the country, with a focus on cultural heritage. You can read and comment on what’s there and share your own stories. Search by theme, timeline, or place. If something strikes your interest, add it to your “route”.  Android and iOS, Free.
  • The Triposo World Travel Guide offers guidebook content for your mobile device. After installing, you can pre-load your destination guide before traveling in order to access it offline. The app includes maps, photos, language phrase guides, information on attractions, and recommendations for restaurants and entertainment. Using your phone’s GPS, you can find out what’s nearby. Copenhagen is among the thousands of destinations covered, including the rest of Denmark as a whole. Full disclosure: I didn’t use this one in Copenhagen, but found it useful on my trip to Italy, so I’m wagering the Denmark content is just as good. Android and iOS, Free.

Language

English is widely spoken, especially at tourist sites. It’s still wise to learn a few words of Danish though – locals will appreciate even the most awkward attempts. Most guide books have a language section, and podcasts are a good option for taking a crash course during your flight. I also like Omniglot, an online language encyclopedia with common phrases by language including audio clips to demonstrate pronunciation.

Currency and currents

Denmark is not on the Euro, so you’ll need some Danish kroner (DKK). At current rates, $1 CAD will get you 5.26 DKK, $1 USD nets 6 DKK and a Euro works out to 7.4 DKK. You should have no problem withdrawing cash from ATM’s or using your credit cards if they are chip-enabled.

Electrical outlets in Denmark come in a couple of different varieties. If you have a C, E or F adapter, you should be good to go. Voltage is 230 V, similar to the rest of Europe. Most electronic devices are now designed to handle this, but check the specs on your device and/or charger to be sure. Items such as blow-dryers that use a bit more juice may require a voltage converter, unless you have a dual-voltage appliance.

Skål!

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