Copenhagen strikes a perfect balance. It’s big enough to offer world-class culture, shopping and nightlife, yet small enough to be safe, cozy and easy to navigate. The city welcomes visitors with beautiful palaces, renowned museums and revolutionary cuisine. Bicyclists, sun bathers and pedestrians make the most of waterfront promenades, car-free zones and lush parks, especially in the summer. Locals are proud of their city and eager to show it to the world.
As the home of the Copenhagen Stock Exchange, the city is a major financial center. The service sector and pharmaceutical industry are enjoying particularly strong growth. The city’s recent infrastructure investments have advanced institutional, urban and cultural development.
Getting to and from the airport
Copenhagen Airport is on the island of Amager, 8 kilometers (5 miles) south of the city center. Taxis are available outside the arrivals areas of Terminal 1 and Terminal 3. A one-way trip to the city center costs approximately DKK 190 (US$35 using the exchange rate US$1 to DKK 5.38). The Metro station is located at the end of Terminal 3. It operates 24 hours a day. The travel time to Nørreport Station in downtown Copenhagen is 15 minutes. Or you can take the train, which also leaves from Terminal 3.
Getting around Copenhagen
The bulk of Copenhagen’s attractions are within a radius of 5 kilometers (3 miles). A great way to discover the city is by foot or on a bike. Rent a Bike Copenhagen rents bicycles for DKK 95 per day (US$17.65). If you need to travel farther, take public transport. Copenhagen public transport operates under an integrated ticket system, so tickets are valid for the Metro, bus and train. Purchase tickets from machines located in all Metro stations. A three-zone single ticket costs DKK 36 (US$6.69). A City Pass allows for unlimited travel within a 24-hour period. It costs DKK 80 (US$14.86). Alternatively, you can purchase a Copenhagen Card. The card gives you unlimited access to public transport; free admission to 72 attractions; and discounts on restaurants and car rentals. Prices vary depending on duration.
Where to stay
For luxury and upscale accommodation, try Radisson Blu Royal Hotel Copenhagen (Hammerichsgade 1, Copenhagen 1611; Ph: +45-3342-6000), Marriott Copenhagen (Kalvebod Brygge 5, Copenhagen 1560; Ph: +45-8833-9900), Crowne Plaza Copenhagen Towers (Oerestads Blvd. 114-118, Copenhagen 2300; Ph +45-8877-6655) or Palace Hotel Copenhagen (Raadhuspladsen 57, Copenhagen 1550; Ph: +45-3314-4050.)
Midscale options include Clarion Collection Hotel Mayfair (Helgolansgade 3, Copenhagen 1653; Ph: +45-7012-1700) and Park Inn by Radisson Copenhagen Airport (Engvej 171, Copenhagen 2300; Ph: +45-3287-0202).
Things to see and do
Henrik Schmidt, marketing director for BCD Travel in Denmark, recommends exploring the city by boat. Hop on a guided tour around the harbor and through the picturesque canals. You’ll learn the city’s history and see famous landmarks. The tour price is DKK 75 (US$13.94). All tour guides speak English and German; some speak French, Spanish or Italian.
Tivoli Gardens is a mix of amusement rides, gardens, food pavilions and open-air performance stages. The park dates back to 1843 and is Denmark’s most popular attraction. By day, you can ride the roller coaster and enjoy the fairy tale scenery. By night, take in a show. From theatrical performances to live bands—there’s something for everyone. The park is open from mid-April to mid-September. Admission is DKK 99 (US$18.39) for adults and free for children 8 years and younger.
Be sure to add a stroll down Strøget to your itinerary. One of Europe’s longest pedestrian shopping streets, it runs through the city center and offers a wide variety of stores and restaurants. International brands, souvenir shops and fast-food outlets line the wide thoroughfare. It’s always a busy place, bustling with street performers, tourists and locals.
Copenhagen has a wide range of world-class museums. At the National Museum of Denmark you’ll discover an expansive collection of artifacts related to Denmark’s culture and history from prehistoric times to present day. If it’s art you’re after, the National Gallery of Denmark is a good place to start. It houses the country’s largest collection of Danish art. It includes classic works dating back to the 18th century, as well as modern contemporary art. Both museums are closed on Mondays and offer free admission to the permanent collections.
Where to eat
Even the most discerning food connoisseurs will be impressed with the dining standards in Copenhagen. The city has 17 Michelin-starred restaurants and a host of other top-quality options.
Noma is currently ranked No. 1 on the prestigious San Pellegrino World’s 50 Best Restaurants List, thanks to chef René Redzepi’s inventive “new Nordic” cuisine. Take, for example, the vegetable broth served inside a warm turnip. You drink the broth through a straw made from a single piece of dill. The squid with broccoli stem and scallop sauce comes in a bowl made of ice. You’ll have to plan way ahead if you’d like to experience Noma—reservations fill up months in advance. Find it at Strandgade 93, Copenhagen 1401; Ph:+45-3296-3297.
Before leaving the city, Henrik insists you try a smørrebrød (literally spread bread, or open-faced sandwich). This traditional Danish lunch is served on rye bread and can feature a wide range of toppings from curried herring to corned beef to sauerkraut. A good place to enjoy it is Told & Snaps. You’ll always find fresh ingredients and friendly service. It’s at Toldbodgade 2, Copenhagen1253; Ph:+45-3393-8385.
Manzel is popular with stylish urbanites. Its Lebanese dishes are intended to be shared. Consider ordering the tasting menu; it features 10 plates of sample-size portions. The dimly lit lounge is the perfect place to unwind and make a few selections from the extensive cocktail list. It’s at Rosengården 18, Copenhagen 1171; Ph: +45-3131-3334.
Enjoy the food and the view at Nyhavns Færgekro. This popular café has a terrace that faces the canal and lively harbor. A daily buffet features 10 styles of herring. But if herring isn’t your thing, there’s also an à la carte menu with classics like burgers, steak and salads. Find it at Nyhavn 5, Copenhagen 1051; Ph: + 45-3315-1588.