Travel Guide: Copenhagen, Denmark

This past spring, I was lucky enough to live in my dream city. I studied abroad in Copenhagen, Denmark for four months. I realize that most students tend to lean towards studying abroad in Italy or Spain (and I get it, pizza and tapas are tempting!), but I wanted to study in a place different and off the beaten path. Copenhagen is a hidden gem. The fact that not a lot of people know how exquisite the city truly is, made the experience of living in Copenhagen that much more special.

You may not know, but Copenhagen is the capital and most populated city of Denmark. I have traveled to Europe before, but I had never been to Denmark. The decision to live and study in a place that I didn’t know much about was risky and exciting all at once. The more research I did on Copenhagen, the more excited I became. It sounded like the ideal place for me. As soon as I landed in January, I became immersed in the city and Danish life. I lived like a Dane for four months and am so excited to share the experience with you through this travel guide! It all starts with happiness…

Denmark is said to be the “happiest country on Earth,” and Danes are deemed to be the “happiest people on the planet.” How do Danes attain such great happiness? It is all about hygge. Say what?! This Danish word (pronounced “hoo-ga”) loosely translates as “coziness.” Hygge is a Danish concept that creates a feeling of contentment and well-being. Picture this: you’re cuddled up by the fireplace, with a good book and a cup of hot chocolate, surrounded by people you love. That’s the ultimate “hygge” environment. But it doesn’t have to be winter in Denmark for hygge to be alive, Copenhagen itself is hygge whatever the season, which is what truly makes it the happiest place in the world. I learned while studying abroad in Copenhagen that hygge is all about the enjoyment of the little things, such as spending quality time with friends and family, enjoying a boat cruise on the canal, or even just by riding bikes around town, which is the main mode of transportation in Copenhagen.

It didn’t take long for me to adapt this concept and fall in love with Copenhagen. It soon became my cozy, hygge-filled happy place. From the cobblestone streets and charming canals to the colorful buildings and incredible gardens and palaces, Copenhagen is a Danish jewel and an absolute fairytale. Although Copenhagen is a modern city, the cozy, vibrant atmosphere and culture make you feel right at home instantly. I hope that everyone who visits, for any period of time, experiences the city like I did. Therefore, I created this guide to help you figure out where to stay, what to see and do, and (most importantly), where to eat. Enjoy my recommendations and refer back to this post the next time you’re deciding between Italy, Spain… and Copenhagen. 😉

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Where To Stay

Hotel D’Angleterre | 5-Star Hotel

Hotel D’Angleterre is a beautiful hotel located in the heart of the city. My family stayed here when they visited me and had the most wonderful experience. If you aren’t staying at the hotel I definitely recommend enjoying a cocktail at the hotel’s champagne bar Balthazar or dining at the hotel’s Michelin-starred restaurant Marchal.  

What To See & Do

Whether it is strolling the canals, riding bikes, or touring museums and castles, there is no shortage of activities to enjoy in Copenhagen.

One of the most popular tourist spots in Copenhagen is Nyhavn, the famous canal outlined with colorful buildings and cozy cafés and restaurants perched along the water. This is one of the most picturesque spots in Copenhagen where you will be sure to find tourists capturing the perfect “Instagrammable” photo moments. Nyhavn is the ideal place to enjoy an Aperol Spritz at the end of the day while being wrapped up in a warm blanket, people-watching or just appreciating the gorgeous sunset on the water.

I definitely think seeing Copenhagen by boat is one of the best ways to view the city. Starting at Nyhavn, you can enjoy a Canal Tour of the harbor, which is a wonderful way to see the city from a different perspective. If you are with a group of people and want a more intimate setting that avoids the tourists, I recommend doing a private tour through Hey Captain or renting a GoBoat for the day, in which you can comfortably enjoy your own picnic basket of wine and cheese on the water. What could sound better?!

You can see 400 years of royal history at the Rosenborg Castle. It was my mom’s favorite castle she has ever toured (and she LOVES a good castle). It was built by the famous Scandanavian King Christian IV in the early 17th century as his summer palace. Today, Rosenborg Castle is home to the crowns, the crown jewels, and the coronation chairs of the Danish kings and queens. Talk about jewels:

Fredericksborg Castle, also referred to as the “Danish Versailles,” is the most beautiful Renaissance castle, located in Hillerød, just a quick 30-minute train ride north of Copenhagen. It was built as a royal residence for King Christian IV in the early 17th century, the castle is beyond gorgeous, especially the gardens.

Founded in 1843, the beautiful scenery of Tivoli Gardens has become an international attraction, and it’s easy to see why. Tivoli Gardens is an amusement park situated in the middle of the city, with over a dozen magical and nostalgic rides as well as beautiful lush gardens and delicious eateries. Tivoli is a must for all visitors, young and old. 

Where To Eat

Eating and drinking in Copenhagen is like an understated work of art. Street food is very popular in Copenhagen, and there are multiple street food markets– such as Bridge Street Kitchen and Reffen, where you can choose which type of cuisine you are most in the mood for and enjoy it with a group of friends. The diverse Nordic cuisine and array of beautiful restaurants is overwhelming. You really can’t go wrong when it comes to finding a delicious meal. Here are a few others I couldn’t get enough of…

Brunch—

Mad & Kaffe serves one of my favorite brunches! Trust me, it tastes just as good as it looks… everything on the menu is delicious. 

Lunch—

Joe & The Juice is the perfect spot to enjoy a refreshing juice or smoothie or even one of their delicious sandwiches. My go-to juice is the “Green Mile” and my favorite sandwich is the “Avocado Sandwich” {avocado, tomato, mozzarella, & pesto}.

Torvehallerne, also called the “Glass Market,” is a beautiful fresh food market located in the heart of Copenhagen. It has everything from seasonal vegetables and fruits to fresh fish, gourmet cheese and meats as well as delicious ready-to-eat meals.

Dinner—

Copenhagen is home to one of the most renowned restaurants in the world, Noma. The two-Michelin-star restaurant is known for its unique interpretation of the Nordic cuisine. Noma was named the best restaurant in the world several years in a row, and in 2019 it is ranked as the second!

Photo by Truth Love & Clean Cutlery

Mother, located in the Meatpacking District, serves the most incredible pizza ever. Seriously, the dough melts in your mouth it is that good.

Vaffelbageren is a must! Located along Nyhavn, this waffle without a doubt will be the most delicious waffle of your life. My go-to order is a waffle with Nutella and vanilla ice cream (depending on my mood and the temperature of course). 

As I hope my recommendations show, I feel so lucky for taking a chance on Copenhagen and the experience I had while I was there. If you have the chance to visit, take it! In the meantime, bookmark this blog post and add it to your bucket list…

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