It honestly feels like forever ago that I landed in Copenhagen, but somehow it’s just been two weeks! If you’ve been following my trip to Scandinavia at all, you’ll know that I tacked Denmark onto the end of a trip to Oslo for this year’s Øyafestivalen (a music festival), largely because flying through CPH would save me a few hundred dollars on airfare, and I figured it’d be a better use of $$$ to extend the journey for (essentially) free.
HOW I GOT THERE
Getting out of Oslo and back to the airport was surprisingly easy. I mean, I hadn’t had any issues getting to Oslo from the airport, but I always like to build in plenty of extra time for international travel, and in this case it was completely unnecessary. I was to Oslo Central Station from my Tøyen Airbnb within ten minutes, and was at the airport twenty minutes or so after that. I used the extra time to (you guessed it) drink a couple of beers at O’Leary’s (ubiquitous in Scandinavian airports, it would seem) before hopping on my Norwegian flight back to CPH. (I flew WOW Air back to the US a few days later.)
Once in Copenhagen, there was the option to take an express train to Copenhagen Central Station, or you could take the metro for more localized stops. (Both options were around $5 USD.) I made the mistake of taking the metro instead of the regular train, because the Airbnb I’d booked was located less than ten minutes from Copenhagen Central Station, but (like in Oslo), a large majority of people speak English, plus I had my phone for additional backup, and I was able to realize that getting off at Nørreport to switch to a train bound for Central Station would be my best bet.
Central Station IS a little complicated to navigate, and my Google Maps app was going a little bonkers, but with some help from some people on the street, I figured out how to walk to my Airbnb pretty quickly.
WHERE I STAYED
Since it was a last minute decision to add Copenhagen in the first place, I hadn’t even booked my Airbnb by the time Friday the 10th rolled around. I know it’s generally cheaper to do shared apartment situations, but private lodging is one thing I am willing to shell out for, and so I found a really great, affordable option in this apartment in Kødbyen (the Meatpacking District). I’m actually obsessed with how my host has it decorated (super minimalist, white wood floors and sparse in general, v. in my wheelhouse aesthetically), and I wasn’t even that weirded out by the shower situation, which is very typical of Scandinavian homes – the bathroom IS the shower, essentially.
And the location was SUPER convenient – it was close enough to all of the “must-see” spots I wanted to check out (all within walking distance), but there were plenty of cool bars and restaurants right by the house that made it feel less touristy than I imagine it would have been if I’d stayed right the city center. And, of course, it was great to be so close to Central Station – getting back to CPH on the last day was even easier than it had been getting back to the airport in Oslo, and I was checking in within about twenty-five minutes of leaving the apartment.
WHAT I ATE AND DRANK
Copenhagen’s food and drink prices were IMMEDIATELY noticeably cheaper than what appeared to be the standard in Oslo. That said, I was only there for three days, so I still ended up cooking in my apartment or grabbing street food more than anything else. (You can read about all the Scandinavian hot dogs I tried over the course of my trip here.)
All of the strict alcohol sale laws in place in Oslo were, as far as I could tell, nonexistent in Copenhagen, too. (BONUS!) Rather than the boring selection of 4.7% ABV or lower beers that had been available (only at specific times) in Oslo’s supermarkets and convenience stores, you could easily find all sorts of booze in Copenhagen’s shops whenever you wanted. In terms of actual bars, not just supermarket sweeps, I went to a spot called Fermentoren (right by my Airbnb) a few times since they had such a great beer selection, and the staff and clientele were super vibe-y.
WHAT I DID
Again, since this trip was just a glorified added bonus extension to my Oslo pilgrimage, I wasn’t super “picky” about the kinds of things I saw and did while I was there. Walking around was entertainment in and of itself, because Copenhagen is BEAUTIFUL. The architecture and the colors and the outdoor spaces all make cruising down each street feel like a real-life postcard moment.
But I wasn’t completely without agenda. And my list (no joke) was as follows: visit Kierkegaard in the cemetery, eat hot dogs. (I accomplished both goals.)
You already know about the hot dogs, but let me elaborate on the cemetery trip. Kierkegaard, along with other notable Danes (Hans Christian Andersen, Niels Bohr), is buried in Assistens Cemetery, which is located in Nørrebro. Visiting cemeteries is one of my favorite things to do in new cities, and a lot of the time it makes me feel like a total freak, but in Copenhagen, hanging out in cemeteries seems to be socially acceptable! People were out walking their dogs and their babies, taking bike rides, even just sitting on benches and taking in the greenery. (I have finally found my people, you guys.) Finding Kierkegaard was pretty easy, so I paid my respects, strolled a bit longer, and then set off in search of hot dogs. (Because natural progressions.)
I also had no idea until I was walking around downtown that Copenhagen Pride kicked off that week! (WHAT QUEER LUCK!) Weirdly, 7-11 is a very popular chain in both Norway and Denmark, and the convenience store sponsors Pride – they were selling wristbands and rainbow coffee cups in celebration, which is super chill, but also just SO bizarre to me. I wasn’t sticking around for the big party that weekend (and I couldn’t check out any of the gay bars since they mostly seem to operate just Thursday thru Saturday), but I was able to check out the opening remarks in Pride Square, which was really cool and felt like a home away from home experience.
(The Pride coffee cup I was talking about. Also, Pride socks.)
Other than that, I was sure to check out Nyhavn (the ultra-picturesque waterfront which, despite being touristy, delivers tenfold IRL), the Little Mermaid statue (which felt like quite the hike to get to, but was overall worthwhile) and Torvehallern (the fresh food market, which was INCREDIBLE), and everything lived up to the hype.
I didn’t make it to places like Christiania (which is a weird, self-governing freetown), Tivoli (the famous amusement park), or even Amager (which would have been a fun beach trip since the weather was so nice), but I feel confident I’ll be back in Copenhagen in the future.
HOW I GOT AROUND
I got around the city almost completely on foot, which was incredibly manageable. The only time I ever took the train was when I was headed to or from the airport. I do think it would have been fun to do a boat ride, or to rent a bike (EVERYONE travels by bike in Copenhagen – the bike parking is an incredible thing to behold), but we’ll maybe save that for another time.
I mean, it was love at first sight. Even when I was passing through the airport the first time on my way to Oslo, I got incredibly good vibes from Copenhagen, and that feeling was solidified as soon as I got there for real. It’s a lively city, so I immediately felt more at home there than I did in Oslo, which seemed (again, at least where I went) to be far quieter than what I’m used to in NYC. It’s beautiful and clean, there’s tons to do, and prices (from my perspective) don’t seem like they’ll break the bank as hard as other Scandinavian cities I’ve visited. The people are also like, amazing. Everyone I met seemed chill as hell, plus everyone is beautiful! (Sorry to objectify, but I had to say it!) Also, yes, everyone smokes cigarettes. (Of course that is a generalization, but I’ll say that my US-based Danish friends’ habits make so much more sense now.) This is another place I’d like to revisit in fall or winter, just because it seems like the ultimate spot to hunker down and go full hygge. But I’d also be happy to go back any day of the year, ’cause oh my god I am obsessed. 10/10 would recommend. Tak, København, jeg elsker dig!