Copenhagen very quickly became one of my newest favourite cities the second I stepped of the plane in Denmark in January this year. I had only ever heard great things about the place but I’d never actually been. One of my ‘new years resolutions’ was to visit 10 new countries in 2015 and that was the first on the list.
Packed with an old world charm, Copenhagen is smaller than other major European city break hot spots, like Paris or Madrid, but is still rich in culture and attractions and is much less daunting. This place was so great I was looking up working holiday visas before I’d even left!
A few people have been asking me about the trip, what I did, where I stayed, where I ate, etc. so I’ve decided to put together this little mini-guide with a few tips.
I spent the festive period in London but on January 8th my bags were packed and I was on my way to Gatwick Airport to board an EasyJet flight to Copenhagen.
I’m a huge fan of EasyJet and I’ve traveled all around Europe with them. They’re the largest airline of the United Kingdom, by number of passengers carried, operating domestic and international scheduled services on over 700 routes in 32 countries.
They’re a no-frills, budget airline but with everything so close in Europe, you don’t need anything else. They’re incredibly affordable and I find their staff to be very helpful.
Once you arrive in Copenhagen it’s very easy to get public transport from the airport. I caught the underground straight to the city center.
Tip: Traveling solo? Ask for a free exit row upgrade (if they don’t automatically upgrade you) I am upgraded to an exit row more often than not. Because getting anywhere in Europe is so quick and easy, not many people pay the extra for the exit row. They legally need people in those seats so if you’re not automatically upgraded, there’s no harm in asking.
Where I stayed
If you’re planning on staying in a hostel on your trip to Copenhagen there is only one place to stay – Copenhagen Downtown Hostel. I am telling you, this is the greatest hostel you will ever stay in, especially as a solo traveler. I honestly made lifelong friends on this trip and this place completely converted me back to staying in hostels.
It’s located right in the heart of the city’s historic center, in one of Copenhagen’s coolest artistic areas. It’s within an easy five-minute walk from the Central Station and all the major sights with shopping, bars, and restaurants around the corner. There accommodation is clean and affordable with a very social environment without being a ‘party hostel’.
There are just so many great things about this place – everything from free wifi and linen to the fact that it’s a clean and safe hostel in a great area but without a doubt, the best thing about this place is the atmosphere. They’re very clever in that they provide a free dinner. To get the free dinner you have to be downstairs about an hour and a half before. This ‘forces’ you to sit and mingle with other travelers while having some warm-up beers. There are cards and board games you can play while you wait for food or you can just enjoy chatting and getting to know one another. The free dinner is pretty basic but great – it’s free so who’s complaining?! After dinner and a few drinks most people head upstairs to get ready for their night out and make it down just in time for the awesome hostel 2-for-1 Happy Hour with their new friends.
It’s a very clever way of doing things and it’s because of this I made some life long friends!
Where I Drank
Mojo Blues Bar – Løngangstræde 21, 1468 København, Denmark
This place is just down the road from Copenhagen Downtown Hostel so it was an easy go-to. I actually didn’t realise how cool it was going to be though! Small but great music and a great atmosphere! Here, they’re open until 5am and you can hear live bands play every night of the week. After the set, DJs take over and the dance floor is packed until the early hours of the morning. Depending on the night, at Mojo you’ll hear soul, rock, blues rock, rock blues, zydeco, bluegrass and related genres. Check out the website for upcoming bands or just turn up and see who’s playing.
Pub Crawl Copenhagen – Meeting poing: Black Memorial Anchor at Nyhavn. Thursday, Friday, Saturday 20.00.
Generally, I’m not a fan of pub crawls. I’m more of a find-a-place-with-cheap-drink-and-good-music kinda gal. However, when my group of newfound friends decided that the pub crawl would be a great idea I figured that I may as well join them. For me a night out is totally based on the company as opposed to the location. Turns out going on this pub crawl was a great idea! This fantastic, fun evening took us around to different bars, all popular haunts of local Copenhageners. The normal idea of ‘free shots’ and ‘cheap drinks’ applied (not to mention free popcorn! Hello!) and I was actually surprised that I probably did save quite a bit of money by doing it all this way. The guides were awesome and took us to some great places (Stereo Bar, Farfar, Kulørbar are the ones my photos prompt me to remember – another reason I hate pub crawls!) For this night out we paid the guides 140DK at the start of the night – that way we didn’t need to worry about tipping later on.I’d say it was worth it!
Tip: If you befriend your lovely tour guides and/or make bets with them you will likely get free drinks!
What I Did During the Day
If there is one thing you do while you’re in Copenhagen, visit Christiania. This place both fascinated and terrified me. The day I visited with Caitlin, Australian girl I met at the hostel, we walked into a huge police raid. There were policemen everywhere with bullet proof vests and shields and go-pros stuck to their head. People were running everywhere, packing up and closing their shops. Some police were in their big armed trucks, others were standing back filming and others were running and appeared to be chasing people. There was a strange vibe, stranger than normal, I presume, and a distinct smell of weed.
Freetown Christiania is a green and car-free neighbourhood in Copenhagen, best known for its autonomous inhabitants’ different way of life. This place is a mix of homemade houses, workshops, art galleries, music venues, cheap and organic eateries, and beautiful nature. It was established in 1971 by a group of hippies who occupied some abandoned military barracks on the site and developed their own set of society rules, completely independent of the Danish government.
Because of its tolerance of cannabis and autonomy against the authorities, Christiania has attracted a lot of criminal elements throughout time. Today it’s normal to see drugs being sold on Pusher Street so if you want some weed folks, this is where you get it.
Tip: Christiania is usually a safe and open place for everybody, as long as local rules (like, no photos) and people are respected and tolerated. Just use basic common sense by keeping an eye on your surroundings, your belongings and by keeping a low profile – Don’t draw attention to yourself!
Free Walking Tour – 11:00 from the steps of the City Hall at Rådhuspladsen
Copenhagen Free Walking Tours offers a free tour of the city, every day of the year – even on Christmas and New Years Day! The tours run in all kinds of weather, however with a minimum of five guests.
The tours can vary a little from day to day, but every tour will take you to famous city landmarks and tell you more about why the Danes are among the happiest people in the world. During the tour you experience various highlights in Copenhagen such as Strøget, Tivoli (from the outside), Nyhavn and Amalienborg Palace. You can also look forward to hearing more about fairy tales of princes and princesses, devastating battles, courageous vikings, politics and struggles.
This tour is great to do on your first day in Copenhagen as it allows you to get your bearings and see some of the most important things. The guides are great and they work on tips (but don’t worry, they’ll let you know that).
National Museum – Prinsens Palæ, Ny Vestergade 10, 1471 København K
I spent an afternoon at this museum with Dave, Australian guy I met at the hostel. This place is incredible! Here you can find exhibitions from the Stone Age, the Viking Age, the Middle Ages, the Renaissance and Modern Danish History and you can really spend a whole day there if that’s your thing. There is just so much there and the place is a lot bigger than you realise. The best thing about this place is that it’s free. This includes free cloak room and free locker. I love Denmark – that’s the way it should be!
Walk Walk Walk!
One of my favourite things to do in a place is just to walk around and get lost and see where I end up. Copenhagen is certainly a city to do that in. (Northern Sweden national parks, however, not so much! There will be a post on that one day I’m sure.) In Copenhagen, I went out walking and came across the most amazing places. I even managed to see Princess Mary (Australian represent!), Prince Frederik and the kids driving out of the palace! This is a big deal for me – I’m a lover of all things royal!
I got lost and at one point looked up where I was on Google Maps. This is exactly where I was:
Kastellet – one of the best preserved star fortresses in Northern Europe. Something I wouldn’t have willingly gone to if I had’ve looked it up but I’m so glad I ended up there. Really beautiful place.
I also came across the Little Mermaid… and yes, she’s little!
Walking around and getting lost is the best way to really take in and get to know a city. Granted, a lot of the time I didn’t know what I was looking at or why a specific building or statue was significant or what great event occurred there but I still feel like I was getting to know the place.
So that was my mini-trip to Copenhagen. I traveled there alone and left with a whole bunch of new friends. I met the most incredible people and had the most incredible time and I’m SO excited about returning in the summer, if not before! This place has definitely made it into my top 5 cities that I’ve visited and I really think you should put it on your list too!
By Gidget ‘Gigi’ Gallaher