Created | Updated Jan 28, 2002
As I have now been living here for a year I thought I should share some of my views about this city with you.
So what's it really like here? Well I know this is stealing from the official tourist office, but it is Wonderful here.
Now I know it might not be the first choice when thinking about somewhere to go in Europe, I mean it does not sound as great as romantic Paris or hip London or beautiful Rome. But it is equal and in many ways better than these cities.
Small city, big heart
Size wise the city is not very big at all, which in my view is a big bonus. The center is based around the city square next to the city hall (Rådhuspladsen). From here you get a bus almost anywhere. Now there is a huge subject in itself, the buses that its. Now I hope that I don't sound like some kind of train spotter or bus spotter in this case. The bus service is the best I have come across anywhere, there are lot's of them running very often.
Mostly they are very clean and cheap, very cheap really. The problem is the drivers, to be fair it is the timetable really. Because they run so often, the drivers have to get from one stop to another very quickly. This means they end up driving like taxi drivers, hitting kerbs, people on bikes, etc.
One the most impressive things about the city for me are the buildings, not always so obvious if you just look at street level. Take the time and get yourself lost around the city away from the center and look up (see my web site for some pictures). There are also what seem to be hundreds of statues? They are all over the place.
Heart of the city
Tivoli is the big park in the center of the city, next to the city square. This place is a kind of theme park, as it has rides and candy floss. But it is much more than that. To me it is a kind of Central Park in New York or Hyde Park in London with extra cool. There are quite a few bars and restaurants there, all of which are very good. You will have to pay city center prices with a little extra, but not so much. You also have to pay to get into the park. You can get passes so you can come and go over time, I think this is worth the investment. If you stay until 23:45, they have a firework display, worth the wait.
Speaking English is not a problem here or even German/Swedish/French. The Danes are a great people and can be very friendly, but they are not easy to get to know. They can seem very unfriendly and cold at times, but this is not true. My advise is to be 'in your face' when meeting them, keep talking and getting in the drinks and you will see them transform before your eyes!
The opening hours of the bars do come as a welcome surprise, as they normally are open until 2am without having to pay any extra. The bars near to the city square are very touristy and priced accordingly.
I guess I better mention The Little Mermaid. If you do not know, The Little Mermaid (the same one as the Disney film) is a Hans Christian Andersen story. Hans is one the most famous Danes, as he wrote many children's stories. The Little Mermaid in Copenhagen is a statue (yes another!). It is a small (not much bigger than an average person!) bronze statue. Many people (including myself) get very disappointed when they see it. There is not much to see apart from the hundreds of Japanese tourist's taking pictures of themselves in front of it.
A night club. Split on two levels they have some very good nights there and best of all it is free to get in before midnight!
Atlas bar (Larsbjørnsstræde 18)
A restaurant that holds about 20 or so people downstairs, though the are some more places upstairs. Wonderful idea for a food place. They change the menu every now and then (haven't workout the timings yet) and the food is dishes from around the world. Very good atmosphere.
I know it might be strange to include a shopping center, but since this is one of most visited places I have to comment on it. Very good selection of shops, a sort of mini Copenhagen shopping experience. There are some great shops, café's and bars nearby too.
The Scottish pub
Next to the city square, so it can contain a few tourists. The best 'English style' pub I have found so far. Cosy (Hygge as the Danes say) and they usually have a guy with a guitar play almost ever night, for the most part this can be very entertaining. Check out the Moose head that moves!!
Krasnapolsky (Vestergade 10)
Translated this means something like The Red Pole(as in Polish)! Big and open seated area inside, but can sometimes a bit too light. Like most bars they also serve food, the portions here are huge and taste wonderful. Great mix of people too.
Café Sebastopol (Guldbergsgade 2)
Very cool and trendy place. This is a must place to go during the summer when you can sit outside and people watch. Very good food here too.
Musen and Elefanten (The Mouse and Elephant, Vestergade 21)
Has to be the smallest bar in Copenhagen! They only serve Elephant beer on tap here, though you can get some others from bottles. Elephant beer is the strongest beer that Carlsberg produce (as far as I know). It is very good beer and does not taste that strong, which is the problem with it. As you get tricked into thinking that you are not going to get *that* drunk, but boy, will you wake up with a bad head! This bar is very cosy indeed and the best time to visit it and get a seat is during the week, I would recommend Wednesday and I would also recommend drink half pints (small beer).
This is not just one place, but there are so many bars/restaurants along Nyhavn it would take too much space here to write about them all. As I say there are many bars and restaurants here, all of which are worth visiting. The best part of coming here is during the warm summer nights or at weekends. The Danes and many others will spend long hours just walking up and down pass the bars, stopping every now and then for a drink. You will also see a lot of people with their own drinks sitting on the other side of the street next to the canal.
Bar Dutski (Allégade 24)
Cool and cute café. This is opposite the Frederiksberg town hall and has a wonderfully French café atmosphere, great drop-in type place. Recommend the chocolate cake and coffee here. Can be a bit smokey in there but who cares about non-smokers, not the Danes that's for sure (nor me!).
Den Blå Hund (Godthåbsvej 28)
More or less my local now, so you might well see me in there! Though it can be hard sometimes to get a seat as places are limited. They also run a open-air bar on the other side of the street if the weather is good. Check out the huge church candles they have at the open-air bar. Very good snack food here too.
Peder Oxe's Vinkælder (Gråbrødre Torv 11)
Two places in one really. They have a restaurant at ground level, which is quite good but a little overpriced for what you get. The better half of this place is the bar downstairs. It is one of the few bars in Copenhagen that closes at 1am, most closing between 2am and 4am (some much later!).
This has its advantage though, as most nightclubs in Copenhagen do not get going until 1 - 2 am. So this place is the ideal pre nightclub venue. They have some of the best cocktails in the city and the music is loud enough to be fun, but not too loud you can not speak. It can get very crowded in the small walkways in this bar. So much so, you might have to wait for someone to 'pop out' so you can get in.
Café Europa (Amagertorv 1)
Very cool and trendy café/bar. This place has the advantage of being on the 'stroller street' which starts at the city square and runs for 4km to Nyhavn, therefore very easy to find. Not much of an atmosphere here, but is the sort of place the cool people hangout. Try the Kia Royal here.
The Royal Theatre (Det Kongelige Teater, Kongens Nytorv)
Amazing building just from the outside and right in front of big round-a-bout, within which ice skating ring is placed during winter. This place is at the very edge of Nyhavn and at the end of the 'stroller street. If you get a chance, get inside, it is stunningly beautiful. I have only seen productions on the old stage, so I can not comment on the new stage. The Opera, Ballet and plays are on one of the worlds best stages, with fantastic costumes and great actors. I have to recommend that if you can pay the top prices and try for the front row (it is not impossible to get these seats), the view from there is more than worth it.
Must not forget to mention bikes or cycles. "What are you talking about?", I hear you cry. Since Denmark(and therefore Copenhagen) is very flat and I mean very. Plus the fact the Nordic people are some of the most Eco friendly types you are ever likly to meet. It is very common to take the bike to get around town, to get to work or even going out at night.
The bike is king in Copenhagen, so much so that there are hundreds of full sized pathways(enough room for 2 or 3 bikes aside each other) to ride along. To say it is easy to get around on a bike here is like saying it is easy to get around Venice in a boat!
There is an amazing scheme going during the summer months called CityBike. All over the city area you will find bike racks with strange looking bikes, they have no gears, pedal-back brakes, metal disks covering the spokes and no suspension! These bikes are there for anyone to use, all you have to do is put in 20Kr (Kroner or crowns) and you can use the bike for as long as you want within the city limits! Tip : If you are careful you can use them outside the city area, but if caught you will have to pay a fine.
As many Swedes will know, beer in the supermarkets here is cheap (The Swedes come over and load their cars/vans/lorries within Danish beer and take it back to Sweden). Carlsberg and Tuborg(the two largest brewers here) now make plastic beer bottles (38cl) ! The Beer tastes just the same and for the same price as glass you get an extra 5cl ! You will not be able to find any beer or soft drink in cans here, it is illegal to sell cans! Downside is you can not get Coke in a can (which has its own taste), but the upside is you can only get Coke in a glass bottle (the original American classic shape too!).