Difference between revisions of "Copenhagen"
Revision as of 16:42, 24 January 2010
Copenhagen (Danish: København)  is the capital of Denmark and what a million Danes call home. This "friendly old girl of a town" is big enough to be a metropolis with shopping, culture and nightlife par excellence, yet still small enough to be intimate, safe and easy to navigate. Overlooking the Øresund strait with Sweden just minutes away, it is a cultural and geographic link between mainland Europe and Scandinavia. This is where old fairy tales blend with flashy new architecture and world-class design; where warm jazz mixes with cold electronica from Copenhagen's basements. You'll feel you've seen it all in a day, but could keep on discovering more for months.
If you had dropped by Copenhagen in the eleventh century you would have found yourself looking over a quite small fishing hamlet, with some lazy cattle gazing back at you while chewing fresh green grass from the meadows around the village. Looking east you would see a host of small islets protecting the small fishing harbour from harsh weather — really not the worst place to found a city. If you would rather trust the written word than the archaeologists, the earliest accounts date from the twelfth century, when a bearded clerk (or a renowned historian if you will) called Saxo Gramaticus scribbled down a few lines about the place, Portus Mercatorum, he called it, which was really just a fancy Latin version of Købmannahavn. This has since been mangled into København in modern Danish, and even further mangled into Copenhagen in English, but all it really means is "merchant harbour."
Around 1160 AD, King Valdemar handed over control of the city to the archbishop of Roskilde, Absalon, one of the most colourful characters of the Middle Ages — a curious mix of great churchman, statesman, and warrior. As the country's only city not under the king's control, Absalon saw it thrive and erected a castle on what is today Slotsholmen (the remains are still visible in the catacombs under the present day parliament). As a man of religion he also built a great church, and with those necessities taken care of, Copenhagen quickly gained importance as a natural stop between the two most important Danish cities, the old royal capital Roskilde and Lund in present day Sweden. Endowed with an enviable location on the banks of the important Øresund Strait, it slowly but steadily surpassed the old urban centers. Copenhagen's rise was greatly aided by entrepreneurial trading with friends and foes alike and by prosperous fishing which provided much of Roman Catholic Europe with salted herring for Lent. But with prosperity comes envy and in the years to follow Copenhagen was laid waste and pillaged time and time again, mainly by the German Hanseatic League, which at one point completely destroyed the city.
Again, the city shook off its struggles and the population mushroomed during industrialization. When a cholera epidemic did a fine job of killing nearly everyone there wasn't room for, the King finally conceded that long range cannons would render its constraining walls irrelevant, and thus allowed the city to grow outside the now antiquated ramparts. But it was not long before a new modern fortification was built (known as Vestvolden today), which made Copenhagen Europe's most fortified city of the late nineteenth century.
After being subjected to yet another invasion during WWII, the whole idea of a fortified city was thrown out the window and replaced with one of the finest examples of urban planning anywhere — the Finger Plan. Copenhagen is one of few cities in the world to devise a long term plan for growth and then actually stick to it; try placing your hand over a map of Copenhagen with the palm as the city centre, and it's quite obvious why it's called the finger plan. Despite being the laughingstock of the country through the seventies and eighties when wealthy residents all moved out into the fingers, leaving behind an impoverished bankrupt city, a visit these days will prove that the Phoenix has risen once more.
Copenhagen, as in the rest of Denmark, has four distinct seasons. The best time to visit is definitely the warm period from early May to late August. The current weather forecast can be checked at the Danish Meteorological Institute website .
Spring, while a bit risky, as no one knows quite when it sets in, can be the best time to visit the city. On the first warm day, usually in early May, Copenhageners come out of hibernation and flock to the city streets, parks, and outdoor cafes in a veritable explosion of life, relieved that the country's dreary and dark winters are finally over. Many locals consider this the high-point of the year.
Summers in Copenhagen are usually warm with an average temperature of some twenty degrees, and the days are long — reaching the a peak of eighteen hours on the 21st of June. If the weather becomes too hot, you can jump in one of the free pools in the cool harbor waters downtown. Copenhagen's harbor is often considered the world's cleanest urban waterfront. Most of Copenhagen's annual events are held during June and July, and when the sun is out there is always life in the streets.
Autumn and winter have a profound effect on the city. The vibrant summer life withers and the streets go quiet, as most Copenhageners go directly home from work. This is where the Danish concept of hygge sets in, roughly translating into coziness. It is the local way of dealing with the short dark days. Friends and families visit each other for home cooking and conversations by candlelight with quiet music on the stereo. In week 42 the Danes have an autumn holiday, with many events taking place, such as the night of culture. The height of winter is December, where Christmas brings some relief to the short days, with lights and decorations everywhere, in the streets, shops and in peoples' windows. Tivoli opens its doors for the Christmas markets, and most Danes go on a drinking rampage, with the very Danish and traditional Christmas lunches, with work and family.
Copenhagen's official tourist agency is Wonderful Copenhagen
Copenhagen's Kastrup Airport  (CPH) on Amager is the hub for Scandinavia's largest international carrier SAS — Scandinavian Airlines . Kastrup Airport consistently gets high marks for both design and function — this is a much more pleasant place for transit than, say, London Heathrow or Frankfurt. Check-in lines can get long during peak hours however, so make sure to allocate extra time in the summer. Self-service check-in counters are available, which can cut down on wait times.
A number of low-cost carriers also fly to the airport. EasyJet  serves Copenhagen from London Stansted, Manchester, Milan, Geneva and Berlin Schönefeld. Air Berlin  flies direct to Düsseldorf, Berlin and Palma de Mallorca. Norwegian  offers budget flights to (amongst others) to Oslo, Stockholm, Amsterdam, Budapest, Paris, Geneva, Vienna and Warsaw. Cimber Sterling  operates many routes, e.g., London Gatwick, Prague, Newcastle, Edinburgh, and Athens. Recently Dutch low-cost carrier Transavia  has begun offering flights to a number of European destinations like Barcelona, Nice and Rome.
It takes twelve minutes by train to get from Kastrup to the central station (Hovedbanegården) in downtown Copenhagen. You need a ticket for three zones which can be purchased from one of the automated vending machines or the ticket counter located inside the atrium and costs 31,50 Kr for a single journey. The Copenhagen Metro  also connects Kastrup with central Copenhagen, with trains leaving every four minutes during the day and every fifteen minutes at night, taking fourteen minutes to the city center (for the same ticket and price of 31,50 Kr).
Note that the airport has different stations for mainline trains (Københavns Lufthavn, Kastrup Station) and for the metro (Lufthavnen Station) - both are located with Terminal 3. Another metro station is named Kastrup but has nothing to do with the airport although it is relatively close.
Consider Sturup Airport (MMX) in Malmö, Sweden as well — it's only 40 minutes by bus from central Malmö, and from there 30 minutes by train to Copenhagen Central Station. Wizzair  from Budapest, Gdansk, Katowice, Prague and Warszawa and a few domestic airlines often offer cheap flights to other Swedish cities.
While links between the capital and the rest of the country are frequent and excellent, and links with Sweden have developed rapidly since the completion of the Øresund fixed link, connections to the rest of Europe are rather poor.
From the rest of Denmark connections are frequent and numerous. In Jutland several railway branches from Århus/Aalborg in the North, Struer in the north-west, Esbjerg to the west, and finally Sønderborg in the south convene in Fredericia, where they connect to a main line with up to four intercity trains per hour, divided into Express and Intercity trains, which runs across Funen before crossing the Great Belt (Storebælt). From there it reaches across the length of Zealand before terminating at Copenhagen's central station. If you are going in the reverse direction without a seat reservation, be mindful that the train is often broken up at Frederica to serve the different branches, so if you don't have seat reservation, it's a bad idea just picking a random carriage in Copenhagen. All cross belt trains are operated by DSB (Danish State Railways ).
From the island of Bornholm, a high speed ferry shuttles passengers to Ystad in Sweden, where the IC-Bornholm train awaits the ferry to shuttle passengers to final stretch to Copenhagen, the whole trip takes little over three hours, and a one-way combined ferry/train ticket will set you back 245 Kr.
Across the Øresund strait in Sweden, the Øresundstog  trains departs from various towns in Southern Sweden, and via Lund and Malmö crosses the Øresund fixed link to Copenhagen, with a stop at the airport. The journey time from Malmö to the central station is 35 minutes and trains run every twenty minutes all day on this stretch, and every hour during the night. A one way ticket between Malmö and Copenhagen is 75 Kr. Swedish Railways  operates up to seven X2000 express trains from Stockholm every day (five and a half hours). An easy change in Malmö almost doubles that number and also gives you the option of a night train connection.
To continental Europe, Eurocity trains connect Hamburg with Copenhagen, up to six times per day; a single one of those trains runs directly from Berlin daily. Standard prices are €130 from Berlin and €78 from Hamburg, but it's often possible to find discounted tickets — in Denmark those are called Orange Tyskland. There are also night train connections from Munich (fourteen hours), Basel (fifteen hours) and Amsterdam (fifteen hours) operated by the German railways (Deutsche Bahn ).
Buses between Jutland and Copenhagen are only marginally cheaper than the train, although there are considerable discounts offered M-Th. International buses on the other hand offer considerably lower prices than the train. Which, however, has been prioritized politically, and Copenhagen therefore still lacks an intercity bus terminal. Most international buses stop somewhere around the Central Station (usually next to DGI-byen), but be sure to check the exact location when you buy your ticket. Domestic long-distance buses mostly terminate at Toftegårds Plads, near Valby station in the Vesterbro district.
From Jutland bus number 888 connects Copenhagen with Århus and Aalborg several times per day. Journey time is five hours and fifteen minutes from Aalborg. On Zealand there are additional stops in Holbæk and Roskilde. Line 882 runs between Copenhagen and Fjerritslev in Northwestern Jutland once every day.
Links from Scandinavia are fairly frequent and very economical compared to the train. Most buses arrive and depart from DGI Byen, near the southern overpass of the central station. Passengers are generally encouraged to buy tickets online, but Swebus also sells tickets in the bus for an extra fee, and tickets can generally be be purchased at the Copenhagen Right Now tourist information desk near the central station. In the winter (Dec-Apr) Fjällexpressen  whisks skiers between Copenhagen and the Swedish ski resorts. When booking online, it's useful to know that Copenhagen is called Köpenhamn in Swedish.
From Europe there are several bus companies which offer numerous daily connections from Germany often at very competitive rates, most run via the ferries from Rødby to Puttgarden. Most of these buses stops near DGI byen on Ingerslevsgade.
From and to Poland there are a host of different bus companies each with a few weekly scheduled departures. Unfcortunately the market is very fluid and routes and operators tend to change rapidly. Try Baltic Bus  for twice weekly connections with Gdańsk (25h30m). Agat  provides four round trips per week between Copenhagen and Katowice (20 hrs) in Southern Poland, and Eurobus  for connections with Warsaw (20 hrs via Hamburg) once per week. If any of these companies have shut down, try searching for alternatives, as there is a good chance someone else will have taken over the traffic.
By ferry or cruise ship
Ferries ply between Copenhagen and Oslo, Norway (16 hrs, daily; DFDS ) and Świnoujście, Poland (9-12 hrs, five per week, Polferries ). Copenhagen's spanking new ferry terminal is near Nordhavn station, and special shuttle buses (the E20 line), timed with the ferries, run between the terminal and the Kongens Nytorv square in downtown.
If you are arriving under your own sail, Copenhagen has several marinas, the biggest of which is Svanemøllehavnen . There are no designated visitor berths but it is almost always possible to find one with a green sign. Daily charge: 75-120 Kr. Copenhagen is also a very popular port of call for cruises touring both the Baltic Sea and the Norwegian fjords. The port is located north of the Little Mermaid statue and is a forty minute walk from downtown (Tivoli Gardens).
The two big hubs are Central Station (da: Hovedbanegården/København H) with S-trains, intercity trains and buses, and Nørreport Station with S-trains, metro, regional trains and buses. Travel by train, bus and metro can be scheduled electronically through rejseplanen.dk .
Tickets and the zone system
All public transport in Copenhagen, as well as the rest of the country, operates on a zone system. The smallest ticket is the two-zone ticket which costs 21 Kr for adults (10.50 Kr for children under the age of sixteen), and can be purchased from ticket offices, vending machines and bus drivers. Two children under the age of eleven can travel for free with one paying adult. It allows you to travel around Copenhagen in two zones (the zone where you stamped or purchased the ticket plus one adjacent zone) for one hour. You can switch freely between all trains, Metro, and buses within this hour, as long as your last trip starts before the time is up (your ticket will be timestamped in fifteen minute intervals).
The range of a single zone can be roughly translated to around seven minutes in the Metro or fifteen minutes in a bus, but always check the zone maps in the stations, some stations are closer to zone borders than others. Ask locals if help is needed, as the zone system can be complex for visitors. Night buses work all night (1AM-5AM daily) and the price of ticket is the same as during the day.
A ten-trip klippekort gives you a discount of around forty percent and can be bought in kiosks and ticket offices. You can also purchase a day pass starting at 90 Kr Alternatively, buy a Copenhagen Card , which gives free transport throughout the region and free admission to 60 museums and sights. The card costs 199 Kr for 24 hours, 455 Kr for 72 hours. Note that on Sundays and Mondays many museums are either free or closed, thus possibly making the card of less value on those days.
For regional trains, S-tog and Metro a ticket must be bought and timestamped before boarding the trains. For buses, tickets can be bought from the driver but not klippekort which must be purchased beforehand. The fine for traveling without a valid ticket is 750 Kr (600 Kr for buses) and ticket conductors are common both in S-trains and Metro. More information about price and tickets at movia .
The S-train service (, Danish only, schedule ) is the backbone of the city's public transit system, and is very similar to the German S-Bahn networks and the Parisian RER system. The distinct red trains are clean, modern, and equipped with free WiFi. The system runs from early morning to late night, each line in ten minute intervals during the day (M-F 6AM-6PM) and at twenty minute intervals in the early morning and late at night. Since most lines join on a single railway line through the city centre, there are only a couple of minutes of waiting between each train in the inner districts. The F and C-lines are exceptions, the F line does a half loop outside the downtown area, with trains every five minutes throughout most of the day. The C-line is extended to Frederikssund during day time, but scaled back to Ballerup at other times. Loudspeaker announcements regarding S-trains are given in Danish only, so remember to ask your fellow travellers for help. For the most part though they are just cursory announcements.
The Copenhagen Metro  runs from Vanløse through the city centre and branches to either the new-town of Ørestad or to the airport. The Metro has no timetable and between Vanløse and Christianshavn trains run with a four minute interval (two minutes during peak hours). It runs nonstop at night with fifteen minute intervals. The trains run automatically and are without drivers, so the doors will close at a given time, even if all waiting passengers have not entered the train. Wait for the next train instead of trying to squeeze through in the last second.
While most locals opt for bikes, Copenhagen does have a fairly extensive and efficient bus network . It can be troublesome, though, for visitors to figure out what line to take to their destination as there is little in the way of network maps available at bus stops and schedules rarely include the entire route. There are several types of bus available: regular buses are simply denoted by their number, A buses are the backbone of the city's bus network which consists of six different lines with frequent departures and stops. During the day time there are no schedules as buses depart every two to six minutes. Many stops do have a small electronic display showing how many minutes are left until the next bus arrives. S buses are long express services with few stops and extend far into the suburbs, usually across the radial suburban train network or along corridors with no rail service. They can also be useful between points in the centre as they are faster than other lines. E buses are express rush-hour services of little use to travelers as they mainly service commuters. One exception is line 20E which runs between the central square Kongens Nytorv and the DFDS (Oslo/Szczecin ferries) and cruise terminals. N buses are a network of ten bus lines operating at night between 1AM-5AM daily, when normal traffic is halted, and they are much more frequent at weekends.
For sightseeing the city has recently introduced a new CityCirkel bus , specially geared towards tourists. It runs a circle around the inner city stopping at many of the main attractions. The small eco-friendly electric buses runs every seven minutes (M-F 9AM-8PM, Sa 10AM-4PM, Su 11AM-3PM) and can be hailed whenever one passes by if there are green dots on the the curb. On streets with heavy traffic they also use regular bus stops. You use the same tickets as all other public buses and trains. CitySightseeing  runs three hop-on hop-off tours around the city (map) in open-top double-decker buses. The main line leaves every 30 minutes, while the two other lines depart every hour in high season (Jun-Aug). Outside the peak season, services are halved. The price is 150 Kr for a one day ticket or 220 Kr for a two day ticket which also includes the DFDS canal tour boats.
Going on a canal tour of the inner harbour and canals is an excellent and easy way to see many of the city's attractions, and fortunately there are many options depending on your taste and preferences. DFDS Canal Tours operates both a unguided hop-on hop-off service, branded as the water bus, arranged into three circular trips at the northern, central and southern part of the inner harbour and canals. They also have three guided tours, either by a pre-recorded tape available in many languages, or live English & Danish commentary by a guide. Be forewarned though, after 75 minutes this can get a bit loud if you are not normally attracted to this sort of tourism. Netto-bådene offers a single fixed tour, but at a much lower price. Please note that services are scaled back considerably between October and mid-March. If you are visiting during winter, you might want to opt for DFDS' red guided tour, as it offers a heated, glass-roofed boat at this time of the year. Both companies offer starting points in either Nyhavn or Gammel Strand (opposite the parliament). A different option is the public harbour bus, which, while it doesn't enter the canals, is much faster and is an integrated part of the public transportation system using the same tickets as buses and trains.
An option you may want to consider is a Freedom ticket which for 220 Kr gives unlimited transportation for two days on both all the DFDS Canal Tour boats, as well as the double-decker sightseeing buses of Copenhagen City Sightseeing.
The fastest and most flexible way of seeing Copenhagen is on a bike. Forty percent of Copenhageners use their bike everyday and the city has been designed to cater for cyclists with separate bicycle lanes on most larger roads. Cyclists are often allowed to ride both ways in one-way streets. Be careful if you are not used to biking in a busy city as this is a common means of daily transportation and the locals drive fast and without room for much leeway. Don't expect to get a warning when someone wants to overtake you. Always keep to the right and look behind you before you overtake someone — otherwise you could cause some nasty accidents.
In the center of the city, you can also get around by the free public city-bikes. These are specially painted by various sponsors and are very simple bikes that you can find on special stands near major places like the main train station, Tivoli Park, the port and numerous other racks throughout the central city. After you insert a 20 Kr coin, akin to the system used for shopping or airport trolleys, you can take the bike anywhere you want as long as you stay in the inner part of the city marked on the map on the bike. If you are caught outside these borders, you could be faced with a fine (around 1,000 Kr) When you return the bike to some stand again (not necessarily the same one), you will get your money back. Please don't take away city-bikes that you see somewhere not on a stand, there are high chances that somebody will soon return for it and by taking it away, you not only deprive him of his transport, but also his money. During winter periods, however, you will not find (m)any bikes, as they are being repaired in the local prisons as part of community service. The city bikes have become something of a Copenhagen landmark and the city's example has spread to many others all over world. President Bill Clinton was presented with City Bike One as the city's gift during his official visit in 1997. It was specially designed with the presidential seal on its wheels.
As an alternative to the city bikes you can rent a bike and these are far more comfortable. You can find a little bike rental shop called CPH bike rental  on a side-street to Nansensgade on Turesensgade 10, five minutes from Norreport station. They rent bikes on a daily basis and use the proceeds to finance the shipment of used bikes to Africa. They also arrange city tours and sell picnic baskets. Their prices start at 60 Kr for six hours bike rent. Another bicycle shop is at the Central Railroad Station, where prices start at 75 Kr a day/340 a week. At Højbro Plads (next to McDonalds at Strøget) you can find rickshaws for hire with a driver, who will often be trained in providing tourist information as you stroll along. A variety of bike tours are offered by Bike Copenhagen with Mike including a city tour at 10AM daily departing from Copenhagen Bikes at the main train station.
Prices range 11-16 Kr per kilometer depending on the time of day and the meter flag-fall charge is 25 Kr. Generally you can trust taxis with both prices and the route taken. Because of the high flag-fall charge, it can be better financially for taxi drivers to have many trips rather than long trips, so it is therefore often in their own interest to take the shortest route.
Complete listings can be found in the appropriate district articles
Entrance to most museums is free once a week, mainly on Wednesdays. You can always count on the principal attractions to be well signed in English and German and for these places to be generally geared towards tourists. A good tip to see whether a smaller museum caters to non-Danish speakers, is to check whether the website has an English section. If it does, this usually means the museum has at least some English information throughout its exhibitions. Of course if you have some interest in a particular subject, such museums can be interesting even if you don't understand the sign-postings. As Danes are usually fairly fluent in English, you can always try to ask staff if they could give you a brief tour.
If you are into the arts Copenhagen has a lot to offer and the natural starting point is a visit to the Danish National Gallery (Statens Museum for Kunst) where you can feast your eyes on blockbusters from the likes of Rembrandt, Picasso, and Matisse. There are a number of paintings by Danish artists from the "Golden Age." For more classical art, visit Ny Carlsberg Glyptotek. In addition to works by masters like Picasso, Leger, and Matisse, this spectacular building houses a large collection of classical statues and sculptures. The winter garden here is a beautiful place to rest your legs on a rainy day. Both of these museums are conveniently located in the downtown area.
If you are hungry for even more classic art exhibitions, an excursion north of Copenhagen to the beautiful Ordrupgaard offers you a chance to enjoy Monet, Renoir, Degas, and Gauguin. There are several other options for classical paintings but if you are ready for a change, head south to the Arken Museum of Modern Art for a world class exhibition of contemporary art, mostly Scandinavian, as well as hugely popular temporary exhibitions. If you want to enjoy some local color on an art tour, The Hirspung Collection on Østerbro features the top-of-the-pops of Danish artists, with a particular focus on the Skagen painters. For something quintessentially Danish, breeze through the wonderfully quirky sketches of the much-loved local personality Storm P at the aptly named Storm P museum on Frederiksberg.
Science & Natural history
If you want your vacation to be educational, or if you want to sneak some knowledge into the kids during the vacation, there are several options to consider. The best choice for kids is perhaps the hugely entertaining, and well renowned hands-on science museum, the Experimentarium north of Copenhagen. Another popular and well-renowned institution, is the Copenhagen Zoo on Frederiksberg, counting both among both the best and oldest zoos in Europe. If you are more into stationary animals, the Zoology museum on Østerbro offers a different perspective on the subject. Elsewhere on Østerbro, a little known attraction is a display of famous physicist Niels Bohr's study room, along with a setup of his experiments (but as this is not a museum, you should have more than passing interest in the subject to bother with them). Downtown, the University of Copenhagen runs two adjacent science museums. The Geological museum where dinosaur fossils, moon rock, and glow in the dark minerals should spark some interest in the subject for even the most school-weary kid. The Botanical Gardens on the opposite side of the street is an excellent place for a stroll in the beautiful park, even if you are not botanically inclined, and the classical palm house is a nice place to relax if it is cold outside. In poor weather, Tycho Brahe Planetarium on Vesterbro is another option and is part planetarium with an interesting astrology exhibition and part omnimax theatre where they usually screen science films.
An excellent start to any visit to Copenhagen is to climb the unique 7.5-turn helical corridor leading to the observation platform of Rundetårn (the Round tower), one of Copenhagen's most iconic buildings. It offers excellent views and is smack in the middle of the city. If that is not high enough for you head to Christianshavn for a climb up the circular stairs on the outside of the church spire of the Church of Our Saviour. It has always been regarded as something of a manhood test to climb up and touch the globe on the summit, nearly 100 meters up in the air. And now that you're in the area, head over to the opposite side of the street to Christiania, a self-governing community that has been squatting on an old naval area since the seventies. Their inventive, brightly coloured, home built houses are spectacular, as is the relaxed atmosphere — this is truly one of Copenhagen's most unique and best attractions. Due south of Christiania the old, crooked, brightly coloured buildings and soothing canals lined with masted ships make this an excellent place to continue a stroll. Other fine examples of classical architecture include the impressive City Hall and the massive dome of the Frederikskirken colloquially known as the Marble Church. This dome, with a span of 31 meters, is one of the largest in northern Europe. Both are in the downtown area.
For real architecture buffs, the city's main claim to fame is the modernist architecture and its native masters. Jørn Utzon (of Sydney Opera House fame) and Son is behind a trio of buildings on Østerbro's northern harbour, known as the Paustian complex. There is a fine, but expensive restaurant in one of the buildings. You can enjoy Arne Jacobsen's work by either sleeping at, or taking in the atmosphere (and great views) of the top floor lounge bar at the Royal Hotel which is one of the very few tall buildings in the inner city. Alternatively, head north to Bellavista, a residential complex and theatre near the beach, where there is even a restaurant featuring his famous furniture and his name. Lastly Henning Larsen, famous for his iconic buildings in Riyadh, is behind Copenhagen's new Opera house overlooking the harbour in Christianshavn. From here you can also catch a view of Copenhagen's latest iconic contraption, the Royal library known to locals as the black diamond, after its shiny polished black granite walls.
Visit the Nationalmuseet in downtown for many exhibits relating to Danish history, Viking weapons, Inuit costumes and stone age tools. If you want something more local, the Museum of Copenhagen in Vesterbro has exhibitions on the city's development since the middle ages. Another option is Frilandsmuseet in the northern suburbs — a huge and attractive open air museum with old buildings collected from all over the country. Or for a live version of old Denmark, you can visit the old town of the tiny fishing hamlet of Dragør on the southern tip of Amager with its fantastic old yellow buildings and cobblestone streets. For something more off the beaten path, paddle up the small Mølleå river in the northern suburbs through charming old eighteenth and nineteenth century mills.
The four identical classicist palaces of Amalienborg, make up the main residence of the Danish royal family. The octagonal courtyard in the centre is open to the public and guarded by the ceremonial Royal Guard. The relief takes place every day at noon and is a highlight for any royalist visiting the city. There is also a small royal museum on the premises. Rosenborg Palace is a small but pretty renaissance palace, surrounded by the lovely King's Garden which is one of the most lively parks of the city. The palace both serves as a museum of Royal history and as a home for the crown jewels which are on display in the catacombs beneath the castle. Unusual for a well-founded democracy, the palace that houses the parliament, Christiansborg, is also a royal palace. It is usually possible to visit the Royal reception rooms, stables and the old court theatre here. And for entertainment of royal stature, you can try to arrange tickets to watch a play in the beautiful Royal Theatre facing Kings New Square. All of these sights are in the inner city. If you are hungry for more, head north, where the park around Sorgenfri palace is open to the public, or have a picnic on the huge open plains in front of the Eremitage Palace in the Dyrehaven park which formerly served as the king's hunting castle.
Denmark is world-famous for its design tradition, and while the term Danish design has been devalued over the years due to much misuse, it is still a world-recognized brand. The natural starting point is a visit to the Danish Design Center in downtown, with temporary and permanent exhibitions, showrooms, and workshops relating to the world of Danish design, in a building designed by famous architect Henning Larsen. Not too far away, Kunstindustrimuseet is home of a nice collection relating to the study of design and its history in Denmark. Also in the same district, Royal Copenhagen runs a museum display of its famous porcelain from the early beginnings at its flagship store. Meanwhile Cisterne on Frederiksberg is an enticing museum showing modern glass art, in the intriguing catacomb like cisterns under a large park. Meldahls Smedie on Christianshavn is run by the Royal Danish school of architecture, which organizes exhibitions including final projects from students of the school here.
The Association of Authorized Guides (Turistførerforeningen ) is a semi-official entity, which offers guides in 24 languages to take you through the city. Founded in 1933, it is the oldest guide association in the world and all guides have completed a three year government approved university course. History Tours gives special focus on history and the historical sights throughout the city by guides with at least a masters degree in history. Another option is to go on one of the guided Canal tours (see details in the Get around section), or for the ecologically aware, talk to one of the many bike taxis that line up in the inner city during the summer. The bikers are often very knowledgeable about the sights and can give you a good alternative tour of the city. You can negotiate the price for longer trips.
In the inner harbour, water quality has improved so much in recent years that it is possible to go for a swim from early June to late August in one of the two harbour baths: Copencabana on Vesterbro or Havnebadet at Island Brygge on Amager. When it is sunny these are packed with people from all walks of life enjoying the sunshine and taking a dip. The municipal administration has put a lot of money and effort into the facilities and this is an excellent opportunity for blending with the locals at their best.
If you fancy a proper beach, the closest are located at Charlottenlund Fort in Charlottenlund and the newly erected Amager Strandpark (The Lagoon), on Amager near the Lergravsparken metro station. If the weather is not going your way, you can opt for DGI Byen  which is a leisure centre and excellent swimming pool near the central railway station or the Østerbro swimming pool, modeled after a Roman bath (on Østerbro).
Shopping in Copenhagen is excellent, provided of-course, that you have no grasp of the whole money concept, don't need to have it, or don't mind shelling out your hard earned cash for good quality products. If you can tick off any of those options, follow the crowds down Strøget, one of the largest pedestrian malls in the world which links City Hall, Kongens Nytorv, and Nørreport station. Impeccably dressed Copenhageners breeze through high-end fashion and design stores when not zig-zagging through the hordes of tourists during the summer and Christmas seasons. Your fellow visitors can make it all feel rather touristy at times but if nothing else, it is great for people watching. If all this strange outdoor shopping takes you too far from your usual habitat, head for Magasin du Nord (on Kongens Nytorv) or Illums (on Amagertorv) for more familiar surroundings. There is even a real American style mall complete with a gargantuan parking lot out on Amager. Appropriately, it is called Fields.
If you would rather sample smaller and more personal stores, the quarter of narrow streets surrounding Strøget in the old city (colloquially known as Pisserenden and the The Latin Quarter), has a fantastic, eclectic mix of shopping. This ranges from quirky century-old businesses to the ultra hip, in a wide range of fields. It is also much less crowded than Strøget, though unfortunately no less expensive.
You can also try Vesterbrogade and Istedgade on Vesterbro, due west of the central station, although you'll need to go a few blocks before hotels/sex shops/Thai restaurants turn into more interesting territory. Right at the border of this area, Værnedamsvej and Tullinsgade are also good bets.
In Nørrebro, Ravnsborggade is well known for its huge number of antique stores that are excellent for bargain hunting and the next street to north, while more modest Elmegade has some awesome tiny independent fashion boutiques.
Laws are in place to limit opening hours for most shops, officially to the benefit of store clerks, although the "closing law" (Lukkeloven) is facing increasing unpopularity among locals. But until the opposition grows loud enough, most shops will close around M-F 5-6PM on weekdays, around 4PM on Saturdays, and rarely will anything be open on Sundays, including supermarkets! For out-of-hours shopping (apart from the ubiquitous 7-11 and small kiosks), the shops at Central Station (offering books and CDs, camping gear, photographic equipment, cosmetics, gifts) are open until 8PM daily. Large shopping centres and department stores are open on Sundays about once a month (usually the first Sunday, right after everyone gets paid) and more often during peak sale periods. The immigrant-owned grocery stores on Nørrebrogade on Nørrebro also tend to be open until very late in the evening.
Nørrebro Flea Market is Denmark's longest and narrowest. It stretches for 333 metres on one half of the sidewalk by the wall of the Assistens Cemetry on Nørrebrogade. Here you may find a Royal Porcelain Christmas Plate, a Chesterfield chair or plain, or downright rubbish. Runs 4 Apr–31 Oct Sa 6AM-3PM.
The oldest flea market in Copenhagen is on Israels Plads, close to the Nørreport S-Train Station. Here private individuals as well as professional dealers put up for sale all kinds of old stuff, antique furniture, His Masters Voice grammophones, and objets d'art. In 2009, the flea market celebrated its 35 year anniversary. Runs 18 Apr–10 Oct Sa 8AM-2PM.
Please look for general restaurant listings in the appropriate districts.
On a budget
If your budget doesn't allow for regular dining at expensive Michelin restaurants, don't despair — there are plenty of other options. The cheapest are the many shawarma and pizza joints that you find on almost every street in the city. You can get a shawarma for as little as 15 Kr and pizzas start from 40 Kr). You can opt for take away or sit at the one or two tables that are usually available. The cheapest places can be found around Istedgade on Vesterbro and Nørrebrogade on Nørrebro
If shawarma gets a little tiring, there are several Mediterranean-style all-you-can eat buffet restaurants dotted around the inner city. Riz Raz is popular, with three locations and a huge vegetarian buffet for 70 Kr. The branch on St. Kannikestræde has an infallible ability to seat and feed groups of all sizes. Nearby, Ankara on Krystalgade offers a Turkish-inspired buffet that includes meat as well as salads. Nyhavns Faergekro at Nyhavn has an original herring buffet where you can eat as much herring as you like prepared in ten different ways (grilled and many different marinades).
For breakfast and lunch try one of Copenhagen's bakeries (Bager — look for a pretzel-like contraption out front). They are numerous and the quality is excellent. Many offer ready-made sandwiches (around 35 Kr) such as Denmark's famous open-faced rye bread sandwiches called smørrebrød. These sandwiches are small enough to take away and eat either with your hands or with a fork and knife and a wide range of ingredients are available including some elaborate combinations for the more adventurous. Most bakeries also offer coffee, bread rolls and cakes (expect to pay 8-10 Kr for Danish pastry, here known as wienerbrød) and many bakeries offer at least some form of counter seating.
For something quintessentially Danish, no visit to Copenhagen is complete without trying out a pølsevogn (see image on the right), literally "sausage wagon", where you can get your hands on several different forms of tasty hot dogs with a free selection of various toppings for next-to-nothing by local standards. It is also one of the few places where you are expected to socialize with the other guests. To blend in, remember to order a bottle of Cocio cocoa drink to wash down your hot dog. At night, when the wagons are put into storage, 7-11 stores (which are open 24/7) take over the business of satisfying your hot dog craving. They offer other eat-and-walk items like pizza slices or spring rolls.
And finally, remember to look out for the term dagens ret on signs and menus — this means "meal of the day" and often translates to a filling plate of hot food for a reasonable price.
For a city of its size, Copenhagen has a good number of Michelin starred restaurants located mostly in the inner city. Noma, Ensemble, The Paul, and Geranium offer rare and exciting Danish cuisine, while Kong Hans Kælder and restaurant MR are the places to go for fine French dining. In other districts, Frederiksberg is home of the French/Danish restaurant Formel B and far away in the Northern suburbs Søllerød Kro is a traditional inn also offering fine French dining.
Christianshavn is the home of the only starred Italian restaurant, Era Ora and Kiin Kiin on Nørrebro is a rare high class Thai restaurant. Finally, on Østerbro, Paustian's fusion and alchemist kitchen is an altogether different way of dining.
Brunch is a Copenhagen institution, especially during the summer, and it is not unusual to hear a serious invitation for a morning brunch together with the ritual goodbye hug when a long night out in town draws to a close. In this way, brunch is intrinsically linked to the second local obsession of drinking. Food and fresh air is a great cure for hangovers as Copenhagernes have long since discovered.
Most cafés offer brunch, at least on weekends, for upwards of 80 Kr., often with a theme: American and French are especially widespread. One of the most popular options is O's American Breakfast  at two locations in central Copenhagen.
A large beer costs 30-40 Kr or so at most places in central Copenhagen but some charge only 20-30 Kr, especially on weekdays or during early hours. Unless you come from elsewhere in Scandinavia don't frighten yourself by trying to work out what this costs in your home currency. At most places the beer on tap is either Carlsberg or Tuborg. In either case there will be a choice of the normal pilsner and then a slightly redder special or classic. Some might also offer wheat or dark beer.
If you are on a budget you could follow the example of local teenagers and get primed with bottled beer from a supermarket or kiosk (3-7 Kr for a 330 ml bottle). It is legal and very popular to drink beer in public (not on public transport, although it will be accepted if you are not showing drunk behaviour), so buy a beer, sit on a park bench or at Nyhavn and enjoy Danish life.
As for where to drink, most tourists head straight for Nyhavn but while indeed pretty, the high prices here make it a bit of a tourist trap. In good weather imitate the locals by buying beer from a kiosk and dangling your legs over the water or head elsewhere to get your drinking on. The many side streets north and south of the strøget pedestrian street are a good starting point. Other good areas are Vesterbro west of the central station, along Vesterbrogade and Istedgade and in the meatpacking district. On Nørrebro, the cluster of bars and clubs around Sankt Hans Torv and Blågårds Plads, just after the lakes, is another hotspot. For a coastal city Copenhagen has surprisingly few places where you can enjoy a water view with your beer or coffee.
You can check for club listings in the various districts
The club scene is vibrant in Copenhagen, but most clubs are only open Th-Sa. Note that most locals have a party at home with friends or frequent their favourite bars, before they head out for the clubs, so they rarely get going until after midnight and close around 5AM. Most clubs have a 40-80 Kr cover charge and the ones that don't are rubbish more often than not. Also expect an additional 10-20 Kr for cloakrooms. Most clubs maintain a minimum age of 20 or 21, although they are not required to do this by law. Expect a draft beer, or basic drinks, to set you back 40-50 Kr — a bit more than bars usually charge.
Visitors who want to indulge Su-W will probably have to hunt around to find a place with some action but there are some options:
Gay and lesbian
For its size, Copenhagen has a rather large gay scene with a good handful of bars and dance clubs located in the center of the city within walking distance from each other, some of the better ones include Be Proud - Copenhagen's largest LGBT club and and Cosy bar in Indre By. VELA, the only bar/lounge in town that is targeted at lesbians is on Vesterbro.
Most of the music venues in Copenhagen also double as nightclubs so watch for them under the club sections in the different districts. Tickets for almost every event in Denmark and Copenhagen are sold through Billetnet  which has both online sales and a counter available in all post offices. But apart from headline events, tickets are usually also sold at the entrance. Expect to pay 100 Kr and upwards.
The major music venues in Copenhagen are Parken stadium on Østerbro for the biggest stars. Downtown, Copenhagen Jazzhouse obviously hosts Jazz concerts and The Rock is the spiritual home of the local rock and heavy metal scene. Vega on Vesterbro is a major venue with concerts of almost every genre by national and international acts. Nørrebro has two venues: Rust's stage mainly hosts mainstream rhythmic music and Global, as its name would imply, provides a stage for world music. Southwards on Christianshavn, it is no surprise that the Operahouse plays Opera and not to be missed, the different venues of Christiania are a powerhouse of Denmark's alternative and underground culture.
Hotel listings are available in the appropriate districts.
Copenhagen offers all kinds of accommodation but like the rest of Denmark, prices are high. Most hotels are located in Indre By and Vesterbro. Special rates are often available on the internet or from travel agencies, so look around well ahead of time, rather than spending your holiday budget on sleeping because you booked at the last minute.
If you are looking for something unique, Copenhagen has a few surprisingly little known options. Fancy sleeping in an old fort? Then look no further than Flakfortet on its very own island out in the sound. Stylish rooms, classic and rather tastefully integrated into the environs of the old fort. Staying here does though exclude spending your evenings in the city, as the last ferry leaves in the late afternoon. You can also opt for the Dragør Fort on Amager although they haven't pulled it off quite so nicely. In the same area, consider the old and historic beach front Dragør Badehotel in a classic building with great views over Øresund and a nearby beach, but also a fair deal of transportation time to the sights in the city centre. (Although it is close to the airport.)
In the same genre, and with the same drawbacks, is Skovshoved Hotel in the northern suburbs. This is an historic beach hotel with nice views and a fantastic restaurant. You can get even closer to the water on the floating houseboat hotel CPH Living moored in Christianshavn . If you're a rad hipster and would rather sample some of the design for which the city is rightly famous, consider Hotel Fox where young Danish and international artists have individually decorated and furnished the rooms. Other hip options are Hotel Twentyseven and Skt Petri Hotel located near the arty fartsy cocktail lounges of the downtown area. Or you could always max out your credit card and splurge at the timeless five star classics of D'Angleterre or Hotel Nyhavn.
On a budget
Copenhagen is an expensive city but it is possible for budget travellers to find reasonably priced accommodations. For those on an ultra low budget there are two free, but completely basic, camping grounds along the Mølleå river where you can camp for one or two nights. While camping elsewhere is no big sin, it is not legal either. There are plenty of commercial camping grounds available but if you are not used to Scandinavian price ranges, even these could seem expensive (50-200 Kr). The closest camping sites are at Charlottenlund Fort in Charlottenlund and there is also a summer-only camping ground in the outer part of Nørrebro within the city proper. If you prefer modern comforts consider one of the hospitality exchange networks. Couchsurfing.com for instance, is quite popular with the Copenhagers, who provide 6,000 available hosted stays in the city, giving you the added bonus of having a local to point you to the great spots.
There are a few hostels available and the cheapest are two summer-only (July-Aug) hostels in Vesterbro: YMCA Interpoint and Sleep in fact. Here you can overnight in basic dormitory bunk beds from as little as 100 Kr. On Nørrebro the two sleep-in hostels are slightly more expensive but still a bargain compared to the general price range. The national hostel system Danhostel  which is part of Hostelling International, run four hostels within reasonable distance of the the centre, but they are not exactly party locations if that is what you are looking for.
For Hotels consider the Cab Inn  chain that has three hotels in Copenhagen. One is just a short walk away from Tivoli and Kobenhavn H and the other two are at Frederiksberg. Rooms go from €71 (single) to €103 (triples). The rooms are quite small but have TVs and private showers and toilets. If you are attracted to your own sex, you should be pleased to know that there are several cheap hotels specifically catering to gays and lesbians — Carsten's Guest House  and Copenhagen Rainbow  are two of them.
Libraries offer free internet access for one hour at a time, though this often requires signing up in advance. The Hovedbilbiotek (main library) has 12 freely accessible workstations and a wide selection of international newspapers, Krystalgade 15 
A cheap (under 20Kr/hour) internet caféis in Copenhagen Central Station. Moreover, a lot of bars, cafés, McDonald's, and petrol stations offer WiFi hotspots for people with notebooks, though these are a little more expensive than internet cafés. OpenWiFi  maintains a list of hotspots in the city.
If you are travelling with your own laptop, you could also jump on a S-train, which all have free WiFi. But since you need to activate your account through an email confirmation, it's a good idea to register beforehand, which can be done on the Gratis Danmark website .
The Tourist Information Office  is located near Copenhagen Main Station (2km walk) and is worth a visit. The staff are really friendly and they speak almost all languages. It is possible to book hotels using PC terminals directly from within this office and they provide information for all possible activities in Copenhagen including museums, concerts and festivals.
Although Denmark is a member of the European Union, the currency is still the Danish Krone, which is pegged to the Euro at a rate of about 7.45 Kroner per Euro. In Copenhagen, Nyhavn, Tivoli, and many of the major restaurants and hotels frequented by tourists accept Swedish Kronor and Euros, although it is not yet common practice elsewhere. Banks are ubiquitous, so exchanging currencies will in most cases not present any major difficulties. Exchange offices are also becoming increasingly widespread, especially Scandinavian chains such as Forex and X-change, which often have decent rates and charge no commission. Using the exchange machines present at some banks is not recommended, though, as these charge a fee of 25 kroner (US$4.50 or €3.35).
Credit cards are widely accepted, although this is usually limited to Visa and/or Mastercard. Many supermarkets and small shops will normally only accept the widespread local Danish debit-card, also known as the Dankort. But acceptance of the two major international credit cards are increasing rapidly. Other credit cards like American Express, Diners, JCB, and Unionpay are accepted in some but not all shops in Copenhagen, especially in Strøget, the main shopping district. When accepted, a transaction fee (mandated by credit card companies, not shops) of 0.75 to 3.00 % of the amount will sometimes be charged on credit cards issued by foreign banks.
Almost all ATMs accept major international cards, including all the ones mentioned previously. Therefore it is worth noting that although some shops may not accept all credit cards, an ATM capable of doing so will in most cases be less than 200 meters away, particularly in central Copenhagen.
The Copenhagen post  is the country's sole English language newspaper, it's published weekly on Saturdays, and is available at many bars and cafés, as well as for sale in the Magasin department store, and the kiosks at the Central, Vesterport, Østerport, and Hellerup stations for 20 Kr.
Embassies and consulates
As elsewhere in Europe and Denmark dial 112 for emergencies, and 114 non emergencies relating to the police.
Copenhagen used to be one of the safest cities in the world and while the situation has deteriorated in recent years, it is still quite safe compared to other cities of the same size. Like any metropolitan area, Copenhagen does experience its share of crimes and recent times have seen an increase in very violent gang-related crimes on Nørrebro. While crime against strangers is mostly of the non-violent type, such as pickpocketing and petty theft, one should take precautions, in particular around busy tourist attractions, in train stations and inside the train to the airport. Due to gang-related conflict, extra precaution is advised in the neighbourhood of Nørrebro and in the western suburbs, i.e., those municipalities located to the west of Copenhagen proper. However there is no evidence that gang members have targeted tourists.
While racism is nowhere as rampant as certain reports will have you believe, it can occasionally be a problem for people of African or Middle Eastern descent. However, the only place you are likely to encounter this as a tourist is in the city's nightlife. If you are unfortunate enough to experience racism, it is important not to get yourself involved in a heated argument, as people who have not seen the incident will usually be quick to support the offender. This is due to a surge of problems with violence related to gangs within immigrant communities, who feel alienated by a closely knit Danish society. Walk away instead, and if you feel a need to react, report the incident to authorities who are required to investigate such cases. Other ethnic groups on the other hand, are not likely to encounter any problems. Of course, prudence in behavior and politeness will in most cases avert any problems and present you as the offended party, not the offender. In fact, educated Danes in major cities will in many cases interfere and defend ethnic minorities experiencing discrimination.
Emergency Rooms (ER) are called Skadestue in Danish, as with many other health related terms and phrases, it may not be understood by some Danes — but conveniently Hospital is the same in Danish. Hospitals with 24 hour Emergency Wards near the city centre include:
The public healthcare system also maintains doctors on call outside normal office hours, calls are screened by medical personel, and doctors dispatched only when deemed necessary.
There is a 24 hour pharmacy in central Copenhagen, and 3 additional ones in the suburbs.