MY FIRST TIME VISITING COPENHAGEN
You’ve probably seen photos of Copenhagen before and knew nothing about this enchanted Nordic city other it’s in the happiest country in the world, has a beautiful colorful pier and the little mermaid. I can’t blame you that’s pretty much the only things I knew about this city too. Before visiting Copenhagen I had many friends tell me this is their favorite city in the entire world, but it wasn’t until I got there that I fell in love with its charm, beauty, and hygge.
Copenhagen was one of those cities that I didn't know much about nor was I expecting anything from it. But it turned out to be one of the best cities I've been to with many things to do. Despite having the highest tax in the world there's just something about this city that will make you fall in love with it. Must be something to do with hygge. The Danish word ‘hygge' (pronounced ‘hooga') translates roughly to ‘coziness'. The Danes consider it to be a recipe for a happier life. Oxford Dictionaries even shortlisted hygge as one of their Words of the Year in 2016.
So how exactly did I spend my first time in this lovely Nordic city? Here are some things to do for your visit.
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Explore Copenhagen with Sandeman Free Walking Tours
When I get to a new city the first thing I do is check to see if they have a free walking tour. You learn so much about the city from a local, get familiar with the surrounding areas, and ask where the best places to go eat are.
I’ve done a few tours with this company before and was never disappointed. Copenhagen was no exception. Our tour guide was great. She told us the best places to go eat, took us to see the changing of the guards, brought us to the oldest street in the city, and told us the history of not only Copenhagen but also Denmark as well. She took us to the best areas of the city while keeping us entertained and engaged for a few hours. Highly recommend Sandeman for a free walking tour.
Get to know the underground scene of Copenhagen with an Alternative tour
I absolutely love a good underground tour. I feel you get to know so much about the city that you can’t learn from blogs/books or in any other tour that you do. The Alternative City Tour was the perfect combination of underground and information. Our tour guide was a very informative Dane that answered every question we had. We walked along the Vesterbro district, visited the Green and Red-Light District, meat-packing district and more. He even explained the state of welfare and the regulations of the Red-Light District. You really get to see a lot you wouldn’t see on a conventional tour.
Visit the free city of Christiana
Free city, free state, commune, hippy nation, call it whatever you want I heard many different variations of names for this place called ‘Christiana’. It really is something I’ve never seen before.
Walking into Christiana felt like walking through Woodstock in the 70’s. They consider themselves a free nation outside of Copenhagen (they even have a sign that says “You are now entering/exiting the EU”, they fly their own flag and use their own currency) that is free from local and national laws. About a year ago they had crimes related to gang/drug violence and the place is slightly more under surveillance.
It was pretty neat to walk around and see this artsy hippy commune. Though I am thankful the Alternative City Tour walked us through here, because I don’t know I would be brave enough to walk through here alone.
Insiders Tip: Do not take any photos while here as it is one of their rules, I did manage to take a few snapshots with my phone, but it is not recommended.
Enjoy the beautiful Nyhavn district
This is probably the most famous place in all of Copenhagen and it really is as charming as it looks. The waterfront has a ton of restaurants you can sit, enjoy some food, and people watch here. The weekend I was there they had a 2 weekend long Jazz Fest where my new friends and I sat around, listened to great music, and drank delicious beers.
Insiders Tip: This area is expensive to drink in. The food isn’t THAT pricey, there are much pricier areas for food than here, but it is expensive to drink in the neighborhood. You can go down the block to a 7/11 and purchase beers. Drinking in public is totally acceptable here.
Come see the Little Mermaid
Once in a while, I like doing super touristy things, especially when they’re FREE. Seeing the Little Mermaid was one of those times. She’s not as impressive as you might think she is but she looks great on photos. She looks nothing like the Disney character and her statue is actually quite sad. Do you know the REAL story of The Little Mermaid, why her statue is depicted to be sad? Read the real story here.
Enjoy a Relaxing Canal tour
I always love seeing a city from a different perspective other than by foot. Stromma Canal Tours lets you see beautiful Copenhagen via boat. I love being on the water so this was such a fun way to see the city (It was also my third tour back to back so it was lovely to sit and relax for an hour). The downside to this tour was that the tour guide provided the tour in three different languages so in an hour tour he had to speed things up slightly. But you really go into parts of the city I would have never gone into if I were just walking around which made the tour enjoyable. And can we talk about these awesome photo ops?
Where to eat:
Indulge in Danish delights with a Food Tour
You already know how much I enjoy a good food tour, especially when it’s local cuisine. This tour was the perfect combination of food, sightseeing, laughter, history, and beer. We went to several different establishments from street food to sit down restaurants trying many different local foods. We learned the history of each food then got to sample them. We tried a Danish hot dog, Smørrebrød (an open faced Danish sandwich), Frikadeller (fish cakes) and Flødeboller (chocolate covered marshmallows). Come early, come hungry.
Head to Papirøen (Paper Island) before a night out.
Paper Island is one of the best Street Food Markets (next to Camden Market in London) that I have been to. It’s located in a huge warehouse right on the water that you can easily get to once you cross the bridge from Nyhavn. They have a huge selection of foods and drinks from Korean BBQ, Grilled Cheese, Vegan, and more. The warehouse is located right on the water too, so it’s a great place to grab some food, a glass of beer and people watch before a night out.
I didn’t get a chance to eat at many restaurants during my visit here but I’m saving this one for last. Copenhagen, you were TIGHT, and so was this restaurant. This adorable hygge restaurant located in a chic part of town hit the spot right from the entrance. With beautiful ambiance and décor to the perfectly prepared dinner, followed by very friendly staff, it was an amazing experience overall. I totally loved that they had my favorite wine on the menu (Malbec) and the actual food was out of this world delicious too. They know what’s up!
I hope you get a chance to visit this beautiful city for yourself sometime and can have as great of an experience as I did. If you’ve been, is there anything you recommend that I have not seen?
Xoxo Ania Travels 💜
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Disclaimer: This post was sponsored by Tight Restaurant, Stromma Canal Tour, and Sandeman Food Tour. I paid for my additional tours and food myself. As always, all opinions are my own. This post contains some affiliate links which will earn me a few cents to contribute to the running of this site if you make a qualifying purchase at no extra cost to you.