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Hygge and Smorrebrod - Copenhagen

Copenhagen has always been one of those cities that you hear about but you’re not entirely sure what’s there. Everyone seems to take that one picture, you know the one, right in front of the colorful houses on what seems to be a busy canal.

What we learned quickly was two things: one, “hygge” truly is their way of life and two, it is a VERY small city. We actually ended up walking the entire thing end to end multiple times in two days. That being said, it’s a beautiful city, has super friendly people, and great local food. I’d almost say it’s on my short list of places to live but it’s not somewhere I’d stay long as a tourist.

Hotel: We stayed at an Air BnB near a train station that was direct from the airport and right in the center of the city for ease of transportation and walking. The location was perfect because it was walking distance to the entire city and it was surrounded by good food and bar options. I’d definitely recommend that neighborhood. However, that specific Air BnB was quite run down. The pictures make it look far nicer than it actually was. That being said, the owners were super friendly and the price was decent. Copenhagen is expensive, so be ready to pay more for a normal hotel room.

What we did:

  • Free Walking Tour: as usual, cannot recommend this enough. You get to know the city from a local. They’ll take you all over including out to Amalienborg were the royals live and the Frederiks Kirke which is a pretty amazing church. It’s an easy walk to The Little Mermaid from the end of the tour.

  • Nyhaven: The spot for the colored houses and the harbor. You’ll see this on the walking tour, but we also hung out and had a drink there one hot afternoon. It’s super expensive and probably not a great place to eat. Makes for great pictures though and it’s definitely the cliché spot. Watch out for bikers - they don’t care if you get your perfect photo.

  • Canal Boat Tour: This was a blast and they’re not too expensive. They leave from Nyhaven harbor and run all day. You’ll get to see the city from a different point of view, and they’re only about an hour.

  • Tivoli Gardens: First off, it’s called “Tih-vuhlee,” with the emphasis on the “tih.” Most English speakers get that wrong and it’s a dead giveaway. Secondly, it’s not necessarily a garden. It’s a theme park and the rides are $$$$. You can buy passes just to go in and walk around though. We did this at the end of the day when the lights came on. There’s also a fun little laser light show on the lake in the middle at the end of the night. There’s a small bar/restaurant on the side of the lake that’s the only thing open late where you can sit and watch the show. Just make sure you go there early because it fills up and technically closes before the show starts.

  • Christiania: this is the “free” neighborhood of Copenhagen. It’s a bit of a walk from the end of the Nyhaven harbor and it’s not super easy to find, but once you’re there, you’ll know it. It’s a bit like going to Seattle in the 90s but with “legal” pot.

  • The Little Mermaid: This is about the second-most cliché thing in Copenhagen, and it is way the heck out there. It is also swarming with tourists from the tour buses. If you get lucky, they won’t be there right at that moment. We walked to it from the end of the free walking tour, and it was the right call.

What we Missed:

  • A lot of people in the summer take the ferry over to Malmo in Sweden to enjoy the beach but we didn’t have summer clothes with us.

  • Swimming in the canals. It was an incredibly hot day when we were there and the locals were all hanging out on the canals and jumping in to go swimming. Wish we had our suits with us. Would have been great to jump in and cool off.

  • Distortion – we actually happened to be in town the week of this crazy festival but decided not to go. They basically shut down different sections of the city every day and turn them into club/festival scenes. There’s a huge rave at the end of the third day and we watched some Youtube videos and it looked insane. Not knowing anyone in the city except us three girls alone, we decided not to go but if I was ever in town again I’d probably at least go walk through it.

Where we ate:

  • One restaurant that truly stood out was the lunch spot recommended to us by our Air BnB hosts: Restaurant Schonnemann. It’s only open for lunch Mon-Sat. You should definitely make a reservation because this is a favorite spot for locals. Our waitress was amazing and recommended that we each get three open faced sandwiches known as Smorrebrod - see the pic of the egg and shrimp one. It was fantastic.

  • Next Door Café: This was a super cute little breakfast spot that we found on TripAdvisor. It wasn’t cheap but the food was great.

  • The Olive Kitchen and Bar: Found this place for dinner also on Trip Advisor. It was also a bit pricey but oh wow was it worth it - see the pic of the gelato. Sort of a tourist spot as far as the people who were dining there, but the staff was all local and the food was amazing. Another one you have to make a reservation for.

  • There's a casual group of "food trucks" set up just over the bridge from Nyhaven on your way to/from Christiania. They have all kinds of food and a few bars. It was a good spot to get lunch and break up the walk back.

General Tips and Tricks:

  • Make dinner reservations in advance. Everywhere was full and we were there in the middle of May, which isn’t high tourist season.

  • Check the weather. We were told it would be freezing and/or rainy. It was about 85F and we were dying we were so hot.

  • If you like to shop while you’re abroad, check out their famous department store. It’s a lot like Macys but they have some cute stuff.

  • Transportation from the airport was super easy. The trains are smooth and safe.

  • This is one of those cities you can easily just wander around and get yourself lost in. It’s not too big and there’s something cute and instagrammable around every corner

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