Copenhagen Calling: The Insider’s Guide to Denmark’s Capital in 2024
Copenhagen Calling: The Insider's Guide to Denmark's Capital in 2024 - Explore Copenhagen by Bike - Pedal Through the City
Two wheels are better than two feet when exploring Copenhagen. With over 390 kilometers of cycle tracks, the Danish capital is one of the most bike-friendly cities in the world. Pedaling is the preferred mode of transport for locals, who cycle 1.4 million km daily. Joining them on a bike is the best way for travelers to cover ground while experiencing the freedom and fresh air of Copenhagen.
Cycling allows you to easily navigate Copenhagen's web of bridges and waterways. Cross over idyllic canals, weave through ancient squares, and discover hidden pockets of greenery. Stopping is encouraged - just pull up on a whim when something piques your interest. Chat with locals while they relax canal-side, or join in a harborfront jazz jam. Spontaneous detours are part of the journey.
Renting a bike lets you set your own pace while avoiding ticket lines and tour groups. With public bycykler available throughout the city, you can cycle at your leisure for under $5 per day. Or opt for a guided tour for insider knowledge and commentary. Companies like Cycling Copenhagen and Baisikeli lead energetic excursions through emerging neighborhoods and provide historical context. They'll also help you navigate as a first-time visitor.
Pack light, as you'll be self-powered. Insider tip: Secure your bag under your seat rather than wearing it while cycling. Invest in a helmet, stay in the cycle lane, and use hand signals - locals take the rules seriously. Absorb gorgeous views of copper spires and colorful facades as you traverse the medieval center. Then venture beyond the core to hip Nørrebro and edgy Christiania.
What else is in this post?
- Copenhagen Calling: The Insider's Guide to Denmark's Capital in 2024 - Explore Copenhagen by Bike - Pedal Through the City
- Copenhagen Calling: The Insider's Guide to Denmark's Capital in 2024 - Taste Cutting-Edge Cuisine in Nørrebro
- Copenhagen Calling: The Insider's Guide to Denmark's Capital in 2024 - Wander the Colorful Streets of Nyhavn
- Copenhagen Calling: The Insider's Guide to Denmark's Capital in 2024 - Tour the Rumored Haunted Christiansborg Palace
- Copenhagen Calling: The Insider's Guide to Denmark's Capital in 2024 - Relax in Tivoli Gardens, One of the World's Oldest Amusement Parks
- Copenhagen Calling: The Insider's Guide to Denmark's Capital in 2024 - See the Changing of the Guard at Amalienborg Palace
- Copenhagen Calling: The Insider's Guide to Denmark's Capital in 2024 - Take a Day Trip to Louisiana Museum of Modern Art
- Copenhagen Calling: The Insider's Guide to Denmark's Capital in 2024 - Shop Local Designer Brands on Strøget Pedestrian Street
Copenhagen Calling: The Insider's Guide to Denmark's Capital in 2024 - Taste Cutting-Edge Cuisine in Nørrebro
Nørrebro offers a feast for the senses, with inventive eateries populating Copenhagen's coolest, grittiest neighborhood. Once working-class, now hipster central, Nørrebro entices with multicultural markets, street art studios, and coffee shops aplenty. An influx of young chefs has also transformed the district into a culinary hotspot. Boundary-pushing natural wine bars and farm-to-table restaurants serve up Nordic cuisine with a twist.
For the inside scoop on the tastemakers and top tables, I connected with Caroline Nyvang, a local food writer. As we wandered Nørrebro's atmospheric streets, Caroline shared how the diverse immigrant communities shaped the area's eclectic palate. The Turkish and Middle Eastern presence sparked Nørrebro's emergence as a foodie destination. Old butchers and green grocers now stand beside modern gastro pubs and sleek wine dens. According to Caroline, food culture thrives because of this mix of old and new.
We stopped at Banh Mi & Co for a classic Vietnamese sandwich stuffed with lemongrass pork. The crunchy baguette paired perfectly with a Vietnamese coffee. Nearby, the smell of spices lured us into a bustling Moroccan café. We shared a tagine platter and mint tea while discussing Noma's influence on new Nordic cuisine. Caroline explained how Nørrebro chefs take farm-to-table to the next level, fermenting creatively and spotlighting native plants.
Our next stop was Brød, an organic bakery producing sourdough breads using ancient grains and local flours. We nibbled freshly baked spelt bread while I gazed lustfully at the gorgeous pastries. Caroline laughed, promising we'd return for dessert. She then led me to Pate Pate, her favorite natural wine bar. We sampled biodynamic wines while feasting on duck rillettes and smoked salmon.
I asked Caroline to name her top late-night eats spots in Nørrebro. She recommended Gasoline Grill for mesquite-grilled burgers and hand-cut fries. For boozy noodles post-bar hopping, a pit stop at Thai Noodle Bar is a must. And nothing soaks up the night like pizza slices from Mother Dough, with out-there toppings like vodka-cured salmon and chicken hearts.
Copenhagen Calling: The Insider's Guide to Denmark's Capital in 2024 - Wander the Colorful Streets of Nyhavn
Step onto the postcard-perfect 17th century waterfront of Nyhavn and be transported back in time. This vibrant canal is quintessential Copenhagen, with its rows of gabled townhouses painted in charming pastel hues. Wandering Nyhavn's cobbled quays and pedestrian promenades provides a vivid glimpse into the city's seafaring history and evolution into a cosmopolitan harbor.
During the day, soak up Nyhavn's relaxed energy over a leisurely meal or coffee along its lively main drag. Sit at a sunny dockside cafe and watch vintage schooners glide by as you dine on smørrebrød, Danish open-faced sandwiches. The iconic wooden ships docked along the colorful facades are remnants of Copenhagen's heritage as a strategic port. Or stroll the vibrant street, popping into its many shops and galleries. Hunt for local ceramics, art, and products showcasing Nordic design.
When evening descends, Nyhavn transforms into a romantic, atmospheric nightspot. The orange hues of street lamps reflect softly on the rippling water, couples stroll arm in arm, and the glow of restaurants and bars create an inviting ambiance. Live jazz, blues, and folk music spills out of cozy pubs like Cap Horn, where Melody Maker pumps out songs to sing along to. Sip European craft brews waterside at Mikkeller, housed in a converted banana warehouse, or cozy up fireside at The Ship Inn for ale tasting and whisky sours.
For Anders Heering, a longtime resident, Nyhavn's enduring appeal is its soul as a neighborhood for locals, not just tourists. Fishermen still dock their boats each morning as they have for centuries, even as visitors pour in. Anders recommends wandering beyond the main drag into the quieter side streets to experience the real Nyhavn. Here you'll see neighbors chatting from their windows above flower boxes bursting with red geraniums. You may even glimpse through open doors into cozy dwellings, or courtyards dotted with rustic benches and barbecues.
Copenhagen Calling: The Insider's Guide to Denmark's Capital in 2024 - Tour the Rumored Haunted Christiansborg Palace
The imposing Baroque facade of Christiansborg Palace towers over Slotsholmen Island, beckoning curious travelers to venture within. This sprawling complex has served as the seat of government for over 800 years, with parts dating back as early as the 12th century. Today it houses the Danish Parliament, Prime Minister's office, and Supreme Court. Yet wandering these grand halls and opulent staterooms, one feels a chill of something more sinister. Unsettling tales swirl of ghosts and spirits that roam the palace at night. For believers in the supernatural, touring the palace comes with a frisson of fright.
Iain Redmond, an intrepid backpacker from Ireland, explored Christiansborg Palace while visiting Copenhagen last October. As he admired the dazzling marble-clad Throne Room and lavish Banquet Hall, Iain wondered about the ghostly presence rumored to inhabit this royal residence. The site had served as a medieval fortress, peasant's town, and grand castle before its current incarnation. Such a long and storied past seemed fertile ground for paranormal activity.
That night, Iain took a guided ghost walk through the shadowy halls and abandoned chambers of Christiansborg Palace. Outfitted with flashlights, the group descended into the dusty basement - stepping back centuries into the ancient fortress. Their guide spun hair-raising tales of apparitions and poltergeists as they crept through musty rooms. Suddenly, a loud bang rang out, causing the group to shriek in terror! Iain's heart raced as he shone his flashlight beam towards the source of the sound. A gust of wind had merely blown an old wooden door shut. Nervous laughter echoed through the basement corridor as pulses steadied. While Iain didn't encounter any ghosts, the creaky old palace proved the perfect haunting ground.
Fellow backpacker Simone Restrepo also toured Christiansborg Palace while in Copenhagen, taking a private ghost hunting experience. Unlike a standard history tour, the guide focused solely on the chilling supernatural tales associated with the palace. As Simone explored the winding secret passageways, she learned about the tragic fire of 1794 that razed most of the palace. Some believe spirits of past Danish royals perished in that inferno still occupy the rebuilt palace. Though Simone didn't spy any phantoms, she soaked up spine-tingling stories in each room. Despite the lack of apparitions, Simone admitted she quickened her pace when walking alone through the cavernous Banquet Hall.
Copenhagen Calling: The Insider's Guide to Denmark's Capital in 2024 - Relax in Tivoli Gardens, One of the World's Oldest Amusement Parks
For the child in all of us, a visit to Tivoli Gardens proves the perfect antidote to sightseeing fatigue. Wandering amid the pebbled paths, rides, games, and twinkling lights of this charming 19th century amusement park transports you to a carefree world of pleasure and play. Tivoli evokes the innocence of childhood yet entrances visitors of any age.
Tivoli Gardens occupies prime real estate in central Copenhagen, nestled between the train station and town hall square. Its convenient location and enduring appeal has attracted locals and tourists alike since opening in 1843. For many, Tivoli is an integral part of the Copenhagen experience. Its old-world atmosphere provides a whimsical contrast to the city’s sleek modernity.
Travel blogger Amelia Edwards has fond memories of Tivoli from childhood trips to visit her Danish relatives. Returning as an adult, she found the gardens as enchanting as she remembered. Under thousands of tiny lights, the meticulously landscaped park looked like something from a fairytale. She rode the creaky wooden rollercoaster, gasped at the pantomime characters, and grinned from ear to ear. Tivoli made her feel like a kid again.
Amusement park lovers rave about Tivoli’s unique rides, many designed specifically for the park. The Demon rotating swing seats nervous riders high above the park, while The Star Flyer spin tower claims to be the tallest carousel in the world. For something tamer, hop aboard the huge ferris wheel hovering over Tivoli Lake. Its gentle motion provides scenic views across Copenhagen.
When needing a pitstop between rides, Tivoli offers over 30 restaurants and eateries to satisfy any craving. Relax in a leafy beer garden or munch hot pretzels from outdoor food stalls. For Instagram-worthy sweet treats, don’t miss the whopping ice cream cones. Food at Tivoli emphasizes quality over carnival fare.
Copenhagen Calling: The Insider's Guide to Denmark's Capital in 2024 - See the Changing of the Guard at Amalienborg Palace
Experience this daily spectacle unique to Denmark’s royal capital. Watching the Changing of the Guard at Amalienborg Palace offers a glimpse into ceremonious tradition and the appeal surrounding the Danish Royal Family. The pageantry unfolds against the backdrop of the palace’s grand facades, providing both entertainment and cultural insight for visitors.
The daily event attracts throngs of spectators hailing from Copenhagen and abroad. They line up behind the barricades along the palace square up to an hour before it begins at noon. Nikolaj, a Danish teenager, recalls his first time attending with his grandfather when he was just five years old. Though unable to see above the crowds, he remembers the thunderous drumbeat and marching resonance that filled the air. Two decades later, he still returns periodically, sharing the experience with friends visiting from out of town.
For Katja Schmidt, the appeal lies in observing the stoic Royal Life Guards perform their duties with military precision. These soldiers are tasked with protecting the royal family and Danish government. Their ceremonial dress harkens back centuries, with bearskin hats and bold red tunics dating to the 17th century. While their role today is largely symbolic, the guards take their responsibilities seriously. They march the parade route in strict formation, stepping in time as they progress between their barracks and the palace.
American student Leah Pearson stumbled upon the event while backpacking through Scandinavia last summer. Unaware of the daily spectacle, she was initially startled when the regiment suddenly marched past the cafe where she sat sipping coffee. Setting down her latte, Leah quickly maneuvered through the gathering crowd to secure a good viewpoint. She found herself mesmerized by the guards’ laser focus and exacting discipline as they changed rotations before the palace gates. Leah appreciated this unique opportunity to marvel at a tradition unfamiliar to her home country.
While witnessing the pageantry of the Changing of the Guard satisfies many spectators, history buffs suggest arriving early to appreciate the setting. Amalienborg Palace comprises four identical mansions, designed in the Rococo style, which surround an octagonal courtyard. Old Town's copper spires soar in the distance beyond. The palatial square provides a fitting stage for this daily military display. Visitors are also lucky to glimpse members of the Royal Family occasionally observing from palace balconies above.
Copenhagen Calling: The Insider's Guide to Denmark's Capital in 2024 - Take a Day Trip to Louisiana Museum of Modern Art
Just a 35-minute train ride north of Copenhagen, the acclaimed Louisiana Museum of Modern Art makes for an essential day trip. Set dramatically on the rocky Danish coastline, Louisiana's striking modernist buildings house a world-class collection of modern and contemporary art. Wandering the sculpture gardens and exhibitions here provides a day of inspiration and rejuvenation.
Louisiana prides itself on promoting an emotional and contemplative art experience for visitors. The museum eschews chronological layouts, instead blending works across movements and decades. This encourages meaningful connections as you encounter vibrant Calder mobiles beside somber Holocaust memorials.
For Sofie Andersen, an avid art lover from Copenhagen, a trip to Louisiana always resets her creative spirit. The changing exhibitions motivate her painting practice, while the permanent collection includes beloved favorites she revisits. She finds the paintings take on new meaning at different life stages. The expansive grounds also provide literal breathing room when Sofie needs a reflective pause.
Fellow creative Hannah Larsen gains inspiration from observing her nine-year-old daughter captivated by the tactile sculptures. At Louisiana, kids can interact with art, crawling on floor-based works and waving sticks under mobiles. Modern art can feel less intimidating through these hands-on experiences. Families relax together on the scenic waterfront terrace after exploring.
Beyond the exceptional art collection, the architecture and natural surroundings enhance Louisiana. The original 1958 building exemplifies modernist design through vast windows and integration with the landscape. Over time, new gallery spaces emerged organically, complementing the minimalist forms and tranquil views. Visitors praise the flow between galleries and sculpture gardens. On nice days, many take scenic strolls along the rocky beach between exhibits.
Copenhagen Calling: The Insider's Guide to Denmark's Capital in 2024 - Shop Local Designer Brands on Strøget Pedestrian Street
Strolling along Strøget pedestrian street in central Copenhagen offers the consummate retail therapy experience. This vibrant thoroughfare allows you to shop a curated selection of Denmark's hottest homegrown talents. While global chains dominant most main shopping drags, Strøget provides a platform for local designers and artisans. Wandering its length leads you on a journey through Danish creativity and craftsmanship.
"Strøget pedestrian zone felt so quintessentially Copenhagen to me," shares Monica, an avid shopper visiting from Stockholm. "The streetscape alone was Instagram heaven, with those beautiful pastel buildings. But venturing inside the little boutiques, I discovered amazing clothes, jewelry, ceramics, and design objects I haven't seen anywhere else." Monica appreciated that Strøget merchants focus on showcasing local products, not just souvenirs. "I came home with the coolest haute couture dress by a young Copenhagen designer, some gorgeous hand-thrown mugs, and a ring handcrafted using ethical Danish silver. Shopping local lets you experience the best of a city's talent."
Fellow visitor Andrei prioritized shopping along Strøget as an introduction to Denmark's esteemed design scene. "Danish aesthetics really resonate with my taste - clean lines yet warm minimalism, focusing on quality craftsmanship," he explains. "Stores along Strøget curate from new designers inspired by Denmark's legacy, yet with an edgy modern take. I discovered ceramics studios, sleek men's boutiques, indie galleries, even a shop selling artisan children's toys that looked like modern sculpture. Now I understand why Danish design is so coveted."
While stores span a range of price points, many offer high-end design, reflecting Denmark's leadership in the global furniture and fashion industries. For luxury shoppers like Olivia, Strøget proved a bonanza. "I discovered up-and-coming jewelry designers reinventing Scandinavian style with ethically sourced stones and metals," she remarks. "The street's beautiful boutique architecture added to the experience. And staff offer personalized service - I loved chatting with jewelers about their creative process and inspirations."
Visitors also appreciate how Strøget prioritizes pedestrians in the city center. "Shopping on a car-free street was amazing - no traffic noise or exhaust, just people leisurely strolling. There's an energy but also a relaxed grace you don't find in many big cities," notes James, a traveler from London. "Pop-up vendors and performers enlivened the streetscape too. Shopping local on Strøget gave me a real sense of why Copenhagen regularly tops 'happiest city' and 'most livable' lists."