Copenhagen is the capital of Denmark and the country’s largest city, as well as the largest city in Scandinavia. It lies on the eastern shore of the island of Zealand, and partly on the island of Amager, on the Baltic Sea, to the east is the strait between Denmark and Sweden. Copenhagen is the seat of national government, parliament and monarchy. The city offers an extremely high standard of living.
It boasts avant-garde architecture while still retaining a provincial charm. Copenhagen is a modern and vibrant city with a long history and has been the capital of Denmark for over 600 years. The city is neat and clean and its old medieval quarter is orderly and picturesque. The majority of the city’s numerous attractions are packed within an area covering 3 square km, making it easily navigable on foot or by bicycle.
Copenhagen is the birthplace of the famous writer, Hans Christian Andersen, who is best known for his fairytales, The Little Mermaid and The Ugly Duckling. A statue of the Little Mermaid was erected at Langelinie in Copenhagen in 1913, and has become one of the city’s top tourist landmarks and a national symbol.
Outside the condensed city center Copenhagen abounds in green spaces and parks, including the famous Tivoli Park. The city abides by strict anti-pollution laws and renounces high skyscrapers, which makes it a modern green oasis. It has numerous museums, galleries, theatres, shops, cafés, and restaurants and nevertheless preserves a down-to-earth simplicity, making it one of the great places in the world to live.
Copenhagen climate is surprisingly mild in all seasons, considering the city’s northerly position. In the summer temperatures reach around 20°C, the warmest month being July. Winters are cold, humid (90%) and often cloudy. The coldest month is February when temperatures stay around the freezing point. Rainfall is spread throughout the year, with the average annual maximum falling in August.
January average temperature 0 deg Celsius, 43 mm rainfall February average temperature 0 deg Celsius, 25 mm rainfall March average temperature 2.2 deg Celsius, 36 mm rainfall April average temperature 6 deg Celsius, 41 mm rainfall May average temperature 10.5 deg Celsius, 43 mm rainfall June average temperature 14 deg Celsius, 53 mm rainfall July average temperature 16 deg Celsius, 66 mm rainfall August average temperature 16 deg Celsius, 74 mm rainfall September average temperature 13 deg Celsius, 51 mm rainfall October average temperature 9 deg Celsius, 53 mm rainfall November average temperature 4 deg Celsius, 53 mm rainfall December average temperature 0.5 deg Celsius, 51 mm rainfall
Copenhagen Kastrup Airport is the main hub of Scandinavia, located 10 km southeast of Kastrup. www.cph.dk/CPH/UK/MAIN /
Train: a ride to the main train station in downtown Copenhagen takes 12 minutes. You have to buy a ticket for three zones at a vending machine. Metro: the Copenhagen metro also links the airport with city center. Services are frequent and regular; tzrains leave every four minutes during the day and every fifteen minutes at night. A ride to central Copenhagen takes 15 minutes. www.m.dk / Taxis wait outside the international arrivals terminal and take around 20 minutes to get to the city.
Ferries between Oslo and Copenhagen operate daily.
Buses and trains connect Copenhagen with the rest of the country, as well as mainland Europe.
The S-Train (suburban train) is the rail network consisting of 10 lines, all of which pass through the Central Station. The bus system is called HT. Both trains and buses operate from 5:00 am till midnight, Sundays from 6:00 am. The Metro system is new and efficient, although lines are few. It operates from 5:00 am to 1:00 am. intl.m.dk /
The city is flat and traffic is calm so it is very pleasant for biking. This is also the fastest and most convenient way of seeing the city. You can find free public bikes by various sponsors at special stands near the main train station and the Tivoli park, among others.
Many taxis operate in the city. Note that waiting lines on Friday and Saturday evenings can be quite long. You can hail a cab on the street, or pick one up at the designated areas. You can also order a cab by phone, but all are expensive.
The Island Mon is located just south of Copenhagen. The small island is known for idyllic beaches and beautiful rolling hills. Mon has an easy and relaxed atmosphere and makes an ideal place to escape the capital.
Apart from superb beaches, Mon has other attractions to offer. Mons Klint, the 5,000 year-old white chalk cliffs falling 128 meters into the sea are a huge tourist attraction among Danes and foreigners alike.
The islands Hornbaek, Gilleleje, Koge, and Bornholm are known for their great beaches. There are also beaches near the city: Amager Strandpark, just south of Copenhagen, and Sydstranden and Amager, lying further south. North of the city you can find good beaches at Bellevue and Charlottenlund.
The city offers several public swimming pools and saunas. Among the most popular are:
Frederiksberg Swimming Baths
Address: Helgesvej 29 Phone: 3814 0404
Vesterbro Swimming Baths
Address: Angelgade 4 Phone: 3122 0500
Address: Gunnar Nu Hansens Plads 3 Phone: 3525 7060
The Little Mermaid is Copenhagen’s most famous and popular tourist attraction with over a million visitors per year. The statue was commissioned by Carl Jacobsen, the founder of Carlsberg, after seeing the ballet performance at Copenhagen’s Royal Theatre. The sculpture was created by Edvard Eriksen. The mermaid’s face was modeled after ballerina Ellen Price who played in the performance. The statue was unveiled in 1913.
Address: Vesterbrogade 3 Web: www.tivoli.dk Open: 11:00 am – 11:00 pm /12:30pm (varies according to season)
Tivoli Gardens are a city park as well as a famous amusement park, over 150 years old. It is divided into two sections; one features miniature gardens with over 100,000 flowers. The other part features an amusement park, a concert hall and open-air stages where many concerts, performances and other shows are often held free of charge.
This elegant castle is a fine example of Renaissance brick work. It was designed by King Christian IV, where he lived until his death in 1648. The castle today is an important cultural venue, and also a museum of the Danish Royal Family. In the basement the Danish Crown Jewels and the royal regalia are stored. The castle gardens are a peaceful and pleasant nature spot within the city.
The picturesque canal dates from 1673. It was originally built to connect the city center with the sea. Today the area abounds in cafés, restaurants, and bars, located in the colorful houses lining the canal. The area is lively 24/7. Do not forget to visit the home of Hans Christian Andersen, the famous Danish writer, located at Nyhavn, number 20.
Address: Ny Vestergade 10 1471 Phone: 33 13 44 11 Open: daily: 10:00 am - 5:00pm; Monday closed Web: www.natmus.dk
The museum exhibits a wealth of Danish artifacts, dating from the Upper Paleolithic period to the mid 19 th century. The artifacts range from items found by chance by farmers, to items dug up by archeological digs. The absolute must-see is the Sun Chariot, over 3,500 years old, and a collection of Danish bronze horns over 3,000 years old.
Stroget is an open air market, where buses trams and bicycles were banned in 1964 to allow shoppers to walk around freely. The Radhuspladsen area offers cheap snacks and simple bars, but more expensive and luxurious shops are located further down the road.
Freetown Christiania is a self-proclaimed autonomous and partially self-governing neighborhood in Christianshavn, Copenhagen. It is described as the freethinking hippy commune, where local rules forbid stealing, violence, guns, knives and hard drugs. Since its beginning Christiania has been a source of controversy, especially due to its cannabis trade, but it was stopped in 2004. It is home to approximately 850 residents and covers85 acres. It represents progressive Danish open-mindedness.
Copenhagen has over 2,000 restaurants. Eating out is never cheap in Scandinavia, but Copenhagen offers better prices than most Scandinavian countries, but nevertheless, Danes do not eat out much because restaurants can be really expensive.
Eat-as-much-as-you-can meals and set-menu meals seem to offer the best value for your money.
Try the traditional Smorrebrod (sandwiches) and the delicious Danish pastries which can be bought at one of the many pastry shops and bakeries.
The most reasonably priced places are the chain fast food eateries such as McDonald’s, Burger King, Kentucky Fried Chicken and 7-Eleven found around the city and in shopping districts. Other budget eateries are ‘burger bars’ serving hamburgers, pizzas and hot dogs. Turkish fast food, such as kebab and falafel is widely available.
The original Danish fast food is the pølsevogn (sausage wagon) offering different kinds of sausages with hot mustard, ketchup and bread.
The most affordable restaurants in town are ethnic eateries, found in the Vesterbro, Nørrebro, and the streets off the Strøget area.
The Harbor Park at Islands Brygge hosts the four-day cultural festival which features dance, music, theatre, sport (triathlon), and art. Events are held also on the water, for example regattas and trampoline-diving. There are also children’s workshops and live concerts by the water.
TIVOLI CHRISTMAS MARKET
Date: November 15 – December 30 Location: Tivoli Web: www.tivoli.dk
The popular and well known Copenhagen’s amusement park Tivoli is home to the Christmas celebrations. In addition to live concerts, the park also comes alive with numerous Christmas trees, elves, Santa Claus and four Christmas markets: Nordic Village, Alp Village, Forest Troll Town and Old England. There are special concerts and performances, as well as indoor events, and restaurants serve traditional Christmas food.
Copenhagen has a lively nightlife scene on Fridays and Saturdays.
There is a wide range of clubs, bars and pubs catering to all tastes: from modern dance music to jazz or pop, but the scene is rapidly changing. New clubs are opening all the time. Check the web page of Copenhagen This Week (www.ctw.dk) for events and happenings.
Copenhagen is home to unique, and very popular, hybrid DJ/club/bar/restaurants where the scene changes through the course of the evening.
Copenhagen does not have a specific ‘party area’ so check with your concierge for good places to go.
Copenhagen was once a jazz capital, but this has changed recently; many jazz clubs have been closed.
Bars and clubs are open late in Copenhagen, cafés stay open until 1:00 or 2:00 am, bars until 2:00 pr 5:00 am, and clubs operate until 5:00 am.
Danish cinema is known world-wide. Lars von Trier is the best known among the Danish film-makers and was also the founder of Dogma 95. This union of Danish filmmakers decided to take movie-making back to basics: no artificial lighting, no special effects, no tripods, and only using handheld cameras.
Archeological discoveries have proven the existence of a settlement from the 11 th century on. Traces were found of settlements dating from 4,000 B.C. but no permanent settlement was located.
By the 11 th century a permanent trading post and fishing center was established in the area. In 1167 it was fortified by Archbishop Absalon. Today 1167 is celebrated as the founding date of the city. From this point on the town began to flourish. Due to its excellent harbor Copenhagen developed into an important commerce center although the town was continuously attacked by the Hanseatic League so during the 13 th century the city was fortified with a wall.
Originally Copenhagen was ruled by the church but in 1416 it came under the king’s authority. In the 16 th century Copenhagen became the most important city of the kingdom and many churches were built including the University of Copenhagen. After the fall of the monarchy in 1661 Copenhagen became the center of the kingdom where the army, navy and government administration were gathered. The 16 th and 17 th centuries saw a great increase in the number of ships passing through and Copenhagen prospered greatly from this business. As a result a building boom hit the town during King Christian IV’s reign. In 1658 - 1660 the Swedes invaded the town; peace was restored by the concession of the island of Bornholm to Sweden. In the 16 th and 17 th century the city expanded considerably. In the 18 th century it continued to grow and develop commercially. Great profits were made from textile manufacture and tobacco processing.
In the early 19 th century Copenhagen was involved in the war between Napoleonic France and England. Admiral Horatio Nelson ordered a massive bombardment of the city due to rumors that Denmark was considering helping Napoleon with its naval fleet. Much of the city was destroyed and the English confiscated the entire fleet. Shortly after the war Copenhagen started an industrial development. A massive influx from the rural areas into the city followed. In 1849 Denmark became a democracy and enjoyed a period of relative peace and economic progress.
MODERN (20 TH CENTURY)
In 1900 electric trams started appearing in Copenhagen. Roads became congested and thus the first traffic lights were erected in 1928. During WW I Denmark remained neutral but the country was plagued by mass unemployment and social unrest. During WW II the Nazis occupied the city in 1940, and remained in the country for five years. After the war the city was relatively unharmed but impoverished. A renewal program was initiated which secured a social security program for life.
In the late 1960s the youth protests led to the establishment of ‘Freetown Christiania’ which operates under communal property laws. A military base was occupied by over 1,000 people who cited squatting rites so the government had no other choice but to let it exist as a commune and a ‘social experiment’.
Today Copenhagen is a modern prosperous city, a center of art and culture. Denmark is also very environment-oriented. They are the world’s leading force in the use of wind power and in the aim of reducing the greenhouse gasses.
The Danish greet with a firm handshake, direct eye contact, and a smile. In general, they are very quiet, patient they are seldom loud and self-indulgent. They mostly keep to themselves out of courtesy and consideration for others. Their reserved nature should not be taken for indifference or unkindness – they do it out of friendliness and respect for your privacy. Consequently, it is considered rude to be loud and noisy, showing off and drawing too much attention. They have their own concept called "hygge" and it means a quiet, happy, cosy atmosphere. If you are invited to a Danish home, you should arrive on time. The Danes are punctual both in business and in social situations.
The best period for visiting Copenhagen is from May to August. The city comes alive with numerous outdoor cafés, various cultural events and festivals.
Copenhagen is also nice in the wintertime; strolling through the snow-covered streets beautifully adorned in Christmas lights and shopping for Christmas gifts at the markets invokes a dreamy, fairy-tale-like feeling. During the coldest months (January, February) the temperatures rarely rise above freezing point.
Grey skies and rainfall can be expected in any time of the year.