By Nathan Lloyd
From its quiet beginnings as a 10th century fishing village to becoming one of the most culturally important cities in the Scandinavian region, Copenhagen has a wealth of history and culture to explore. The city is garnering more publicity and notoriety worldwide with the rise of Scandinavian noir. Here’s why it’s a city for everyone and why you should book a visit. It’s truly a perfect escape for students looking for an amazing short break away.
Why go there?
Well depending on what provider you go with, the flights to Copenhagen are ludicrously cheap! I’ve just booked for the second time with EasyJet and it only cost just over £100 each for myself and my partner, including return buses from Swansea via London.
It’s a gateway! From Copenhagen, you can easily jump on a train and make a day of so many amazing places in both Denmark and Sweden. You can visit Malmö, crossing the famous Oresund bridge (or Øresundsbron) that is the namesake of the famous Scandi noir series, The Bridge. Malmö is Sweden’s third largest and most multicultural city, itself a hub of boutiques, great restaurants and bars. Or, you could make a visit to the university city of Lund, which houses Sweden’s oldest and most prestigious university. You could visit the small, quaint town of Ystad, famous for being the setting of the Kurt Wallander books by Henning Mankel. This little coastal town has some of the prettiest medieval architecture in all of Sweden.
Within Denmark you could go to Humblebæk, a pretty little town, about half an hour away from Copenhagen centre, that houses one of the most cutting edge art galleries in all of Denmark, Louisiana Museum of Modern Art. Or, for the lover of literature, what could be better than going to visit the place where one of the most famous plays was set? To the north of the island is Elsinore or Helsingør, the setting of Shakespeare’s Hamlet. Visit the amazing 16th century Kronborg castle, and relive Hamlet’s tale. You definitely won’t be asking yourself “to go, or not to go” – it’s not even a question!
Additionally, Copenhagen’s cool credentials are only just beginning to show. Whilst London’s creative scene is beginning to atrophy, and Berlin is a bit old news, Copenhagen’s creative areas such as Nørrebro and Vesterbro are exploding with creativity. Small, independent stores and cafés and art spaces dominate this area. Imagine Dalston 5 years ago – this is what areas like Nørrebro have to offer.
Money & Accommodation
Even though they are in the EU, like the UK they don’t use the Euro. Instead they use the Danish Krone or DKK. Whilst exchange rates fluctuate, you can roughly work out the price into GBP by dividing it by 10. It has a reputation for being expensive but you’ll find it’s very reasonable on the whole. Sure, you might break the bank drinking in its wealth of cafes and bars but if you’re looking for a cheap European city to get drunk in go to Prague!
Where to stay?
Copenhagen is full of trendy hostels like the Copenhagen Downtown Hostel, on Vandkunsten or the Generator Hostel Copenhagen on Adelgade which boast clean rooms, great location and friendly staff, (however they can be pricey).
For a cheaper and more personal experience of Copenhagen, consider sites like couchsurfing.com.
The city’s public transport is super cheap and reliable. One daily ticket will work on buses and trains, meaning you can navigate the city with ease. Or do as the Danes do and rent a bike! Copenhagen is a real cyclists’ city, with 50% of all citizens using a bike to commute daily. Rent a city bike with features such as GPS for 25 DKK (£2.50) per hour from one city bike stands, or rent a bike from a local bike shop for cheap. Cycling round the city is a great way to see it all and its one of the reasons why the Danish are so fit!
Copenhagen is a real foodie hub, catering to all budgets from the cheap and cheerful rødpolsevøgn to the likes of Noma, the 4 times best restaurant in the world. René Redzepi was one of the first to start up the New Nordic cuisine movement. It focused on local ingredients cooked both, in cutting edge and old forgotten ways. Noma serves unbelievably great food but it is expensive, with the tasting menu and wine pairing costing 2800 DKK per head (thats roughly £280 per head!)
If your budget, like mine unfortunately doesnt stretch to that, you could grab a bite at one of the many food stalls of Torvehallerne food hall in Nørreport. From different liquors and vinegars to cheese and meats, this place has it all! Looking for something vegan or vegetarian? The streets of Nørrebro or Christiania are full of vegetarian and vegan friendly restauraunts. Walking through the city you will see many little hotdog stalls or rødpolsevøgn selling Denmark’s most popular fast food, the rødpolse. This hotdog is a symbol of Danish-ness just like the wurst is a symbol of Germany, and one of Denmark’s cheapest foodstuffs at under a fiver. Whilst on the subject of Danish food, whilst here you should definitely try a proper Danish pastry, or weinerbrød. Great with a coffee, they fill the streets in the morning with the heady smell of sugar and cinnamon. Speaking of coffee, did you know that Denmark is one of the top 10 countries with the biggest consumption of coffee, along with its Nordic neighbours, Finalnd, Iceland, Sweden and Norway? Suffice to say, if you like coffee you won’t find a bad cup in Copenhagen
The Danes absolutely ooze style, from their clothes to their interiors. Copenhagen is certainly a heaven for shopaholics, with many a famous design house and their flagships situated in the city. Clothes houses like Mads Nørdgaard Copenhagen, Stine Goya and Wood Wood just exemplify the cool, clean, stripped back fashion of the Danes. On the streets you’ll see leggy locals float around elegantly in muted tones of grey and black. But Copenhagen isn’t just for fashion lovers, Copenhagen is also home to the big names of Scandinavian design, like HAY, Normann, Georg Jensen, Bang & Olufsen, GUBI, MUUTO and Ferm Living to name a few. Shop till you drop in the big stores on Østergade, or at the huge Magasin du Nord department store on Kongens Nytorv.
Fancy something a bit more individual? You could peruse the independent art studios and shops along Nørrebro. Looking more for a bargain? Well Copenhagen’s love of design is demotic and even the budget stores have well designed items. From the flagship Tiger, which is 3 floors (yes, 3 floors!!) to stores like Jysk, Søstrene Grene and across the pond in Malmö, stores like Bolia and Lagerhaus all filled with chic, affordable pieces.