Get around

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 journeyplanner.dk.

By bus

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 line 11A (formerly 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 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. Be aware that the competing Step-on-Step-off company likewise runs London-style double-decker buses with tours of the city and the same overall concept as CitySightseeing buses (often from the same bus stops), but their reviews tend to be poor, and they are not recommended by the VisitCopenhagen tourist office.

By boat

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 Toursoperates 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.

  • DFDS Canal Tours,Nyhavn 3, ☎ +45 32 96 30 00 (canaltours@canaltours.dk). 30AM-8PM. Waterbus (unguided): Single 40 Kr, All day 60 Kr; Tour (guided): Single 60 Kr, All day 75 Kr. Various discounts available.
  • Netto-bådene,Heibergsgade (Nyhavn), ☎ +45 32 54 41 02. 10AM-5PM (7PM in July & August). 40 Kr.
  • Movia,Customer center at Rådhuspladen, ☎ +45 36 13 14 15. 7AM-7PM. Uses public ticketing system.

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.

By bicycle

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.

As the city bikes can be a bit expensive, renting a bike is a good alternative and many hotels or bike shops rent out bikes. Companies that rent out bikes include Rent a Bike in Copenhagen, Baisikeli or Rent a Bike Copenhagen among many other bike repair shops.

The first, rather basic and inconvenient pioneering city bikes have just – as of early summer 2014 – been replaced by a second and advanced generation of white city bikes, with GPS and supplementary electronic power engine. They cost DKK 25 per hour and are not very numerous yet. Official parking stations for these new city bikes can be found at the Rådhuspladsen/Town Hall Square, by the Forum metro station, by the Frederiksberg Have entrance at Frederiksberg Runddel, etc. etc.


See

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.

Art

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, free entry, 10 kr deposit for lockers, closed on Mondays) 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 (adult 75 kr, 20 kr or €2 deposit for lockers). 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 centre, or Indre By area. Thorvaldsens Museumis dedicated to the 19th-century sculptor and the art of his days. He is buried in the courtyard. It has some interesting, colourful and unique interiors, dating from around 1844, by the architect M.G. Bindesbøll and his team. Don´t forget the lovely collection of paintings and the archaeological items and his preserved library upstairs. The museum is free on Wednesdays. Davids Samling (The David Collection) is an internationally renowned collection of Islamic art, with a bit of Danish treasures too. The entrance is free.

If you are hungry for even more classic art exhibitions, an excursion north of Copenhagen to the beautifulOrdrupgaard 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. However the arguably best and most visited museum in Denmark is the Louisiana Museum of Modern Art located in northern Zealand with a panoramic view across the Øresund. The museum frames the sculpture park facing the sea and the interaction between art, nature and the museum architecture is quite unique. Louisiana is an international museum with a considerable collection of modern art, and hugely popular temporary exhibitions.

If you want to enjoy some local color on an art tour, The Hirschsprung Collection in 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 NOTE: Experimentarium is temporarily moved to Christiansholm Ø in Christianshavn under the name ‘Experimentarium City’. They expect to be back in Hellerup north of Copenhagen by early 2016. Another popular and well-renowned institution, is the Copenhagen Zooon 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). City Cetre, the University of Copenhagen runs two adjacent science museums. The Geological museumwhere 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 astronomy exhibition and part omnimax theatre where they usually screen science films. The aquarium Den Blå Planet (The Blue Planet) is a new place focusing on marine life, situated near the Kastrup metro station.

Architecture

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, albeit with some problems related to the selling of mild drugs in one street, the “Pusher Street” (no photography allowed there!). However, Christiania is overall one of Copenhagen’s most unique attractions. It is recommended to stroll away from the entrance area, such as along the northern moats parallel to Refshalevej and also across the Dyssebroen wooden bridge eastwards, to experience the rural aspects of the place. 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 architecture include the impressive City Hall (if visiting, check out the interiors, such as the small library. Also, the tower, Rådhustårnet, can be ascended at certain times of the day and has a great view). 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 Indre By 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 a good deal north to Klampenborg S-train station and Bellavista, a residential complex and theatre near the Bellevue 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. The architect disagreed with the final realization of the facade, though. 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. Interior vault fresco by Per Kirkeby, and a nice enclosed garden area towards the Christiansborg Slot palace.

For more recent development, consider checking out the neighbourhood Ørestad on the island of Amager south of Downtown Copenhagen. It is a relatively young and still developing area, boasting several outstanding award-winning architectural projects along with an exemplary urban design master plan. The neighborhood is well connected through the Metro/Bus system, making all buildings very easy to reach.

List of notable buildings:

-8 House by BIG (Vestamager St Metro) -Bjerget by BIG (Bella Center St Metro) -VM House by BIG (Bella Center St Metro) -Winghouse by Henning Larsen (Orestad St Metro) -Bella Center by 3XN (Bella Center St Metro) -Orestad Gymnasium by 3XN (Orestad St Metro) -Copenhagen Concert hall by Jean Nouvel (DR Byen St Metro)

History

Visit the Nationalmuseet in Indre By 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 of Lyngby — 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 near Lyngby and next to Frilandsmuseet, through charming old eighteenth and nineteenth century mills. It is highly recommended to bring a rented bike from the city by train to Lyngby station and ride along the Mølleå river via Brede, Rådvad and Nymølle, all extremely pretty, towards the coast, the Dyrehaven park (mentioned right below), and finally Klampenborg train station.

Royal Copenhagen

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 Gardenwhich 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. A closed-off wing of Rosenborg serves as barracks for the Royal Guard, and every day a detachment marches through the Copenhagen city center between Rosenborg and Amalienborg for the changing of the guard. 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.

Design

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 Indre By, 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, Design Museum Danmark, formerly known as Kunstindustrimuseet, is home to a nice collection relating to the study of design and its history in Denmark. Also in the same district, Royal Copenhagenruns 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.


Do

Beach life

Havnebadet, a large pool area in the clean waters of the inner harbour, is hugely popular on sunny days

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 erectedAmager 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).

Amusement parks

Amazingly, the two oldest functioning amusement parks in the world, with the two oldest roller coasters, are both located in Copenhagen and they are distinctively different. Bakken or Dyrehavsbakken is the older of the two, set in a beautiful beech forest near Klampenborg north of Copenhagen. This gives it a special atmosphere and it is a lot less touristy than its counterpart — Tivoli — which is located smack in the city center in a beautiful park surrounding a lake.

Annual events

  • Crafts Fair (16 – 18. august 2012) is held in August – thursday-saturday – every year outdoor at Frue Plads in central Copenhagen. The Crafts Fair has more than 130 exhibitors,all members of the Danish Arts and Crafts Association, showing unique and small series of handmade Arts and Crafts in all categories: ceramic, glass, jewelery, textile, mixed media.
  • Copenhagen Fashion Week(2-6 February 2011) is held in February and August. Copenhagen is fast emerging as a global fashion centre, with a host of both up-and-coming and already well established names. For two weeks each year more than 1,000 exhibitors and 50,000 guests come together and celebrate their accomplishments with lavish parties, catwalks at city landmarks, and three trade fairs.
  • CPH:PIX(Copenhagen International Film Festival) (14 April – 1 May 2011) is a brand new film festival held in April and is the result of a merger between Copenhagen’s two popular long running festivals — the Night Film Festival and the Copenhagen International Film Festival. It will feature 170 screenings competing for the grand prize of €50,000.
  • International Workers Dayon 1 May is a major event in Copenhagen. The main festivities are held in Fælledparken on sterbro and they attract over 100,000 visitors in what has lately become a 50/50 mix of a gigantic party and a political rally with speeches, happenings, and concerts. Two travelling amusement parks also set up their gear for the day, one by the main entrance at Trianglen and one in the eastern part of the park.
  • CPH Distortion (1-5 June 2011) is held in the first week of June and is longest and wildest party you could ever go to. Over 60 parties in five days in each of the city districts, outdoors on the city streets and squares, in the clubs and three seriously huge parties. Over 32,000 people usually partying away between Wednesday and Sunday.
  • Zulu SommerbioHeld in July and August, Danish television station ‘TV2 Zulu’ plays open air films in various parks and squares of Copenhagen. There are movies in both Danish and English and they are free to watch. You can buy beer and popcorn.
  • Copenhagen Jazzfestival(1-10 July 2011) is held in early July and features ten days of jazz everywhere in Copenhagen — parks, cafes, clubs, and theatres. Usually a few headline acts are on the program but there are more than 800 concerts to choose from and the real attraction is often the obscure concerts you bump into randomly in a park or square somewhere in the city.
  • Grøn Koncert(24 July 2011) held in late July, is a one day music festival in Valby Parken near Åparken station. It is a major event in Copenhagen with over 40,000 attending. There is usually an international headline act, along with several major Danish bands and the atmosphere is quite unique with people having picnics and beers on a huge field of grass in the park. Tickets are sold through Billetnet, both online and at post offices.
  • Stella Polaris (7 August 2011) held the first weekend in August, is a big, free, chill-out event in one of the city parks. Top international DJs spin chill-out tunes on the decks, while people are relaxing in the sun and drinking beer. And the afterparty in one of the major clubs usually attracts some international headline acts.
  • RAW(TBA, August 2011) held in early August is Scandinavia’s largest clubbing event. The organisers rightly pride themselves in carefully selecting high quality acts and more importantly the broad range of genres represented to make this an event with broad appeal to everyone in the Copenhagen nightlife scene.
  • Strøm(13-20 August 2011) also held in August is an annual electronic music festival, running in its third year. It is a gathering of the best promoters and vibrant venues Copenhagen has to offer, mixed up with events at squares, concert halls, or unusual locations throughout the city.
  • Copenhagen Pride (14-21 August 2011) A lavish LGBT parade. The week leading up to the parade is usually full of community events and parties. Count on the City Hall Square (Rådhuspladen) changing its name to Pride Square during the week and hosting live acts, concerts and debates.
  • Night of Culture (Kulturnatten)(14 October 2011) is held in mid-October, on the last Friday before the school holiday in week 42. You buy a badge for 70 Kr and get access to major museums, exhibitions, churches, libraries, schools, organizations, the parliament and other cultural attractions including some places that are not open to the public during the rest of the year. Open from 6PM to midnight. Attracts about 100,000 people.
  • MIX Copenhagen – LGBT Film Festival(19-28 October 2012) Held in Week 43, Ten days of LGBT cinema at its very best with more than 130 screenings of the world’s best feature films, short films, and documentaries with LGBT relevance, culminating in a champagne party on the final day, when the best film of the year receives its award.

 

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