I’m fortunate to live in a country – the Netherlands – where travel is very accessible and relatively cheap (as an American, I’m SO not used to this). 4-day trip to Rome for under EUR 400, no problem! Weekend trip to Dublin on a EUR 50 airfare, you betcha! Needless to say, I’m tempted to travel quite a bit and most recently, it was to Copenhagen.

I’ve been actively avoiding travel writing because I’m allergic to retracing my steps in gross detail. But as they say, the only way to kill an allergy is to embrace it (no, they – whomever they is – don’t actually say that). Anyway…


Copenhagen travel tips
The infamous Nyhavn and the infamous ladies

I went to København/Copenhagen as a new year getaway girls’ trip. I’d never been to Denmark, but the pictures of Nyhavn are well-known and provided the right amount of incentive to plan a weekend getaway. After a weekend in Copenhagen, I’d highly recommend it but with the caveat that it’s very cosy and not a whole lot more.

The location

We stayed at a great hostel located near the “Northern Europe famous” Tivoli Gardens. The hostel must have been a hotel at one point and was converted into a budget ho(s)tel. There were available private rooms and bathrooms and the lobby was a mix of chic, modern, and budget (budget because everyone was downstairs trying to connect to the wifi). The elevators were also fancy enough that they included technology where you simply touched your key card to a reader and the reader informed you which elevator to take. I was impressed and also confused at the same time because I didn’t know whether it was really helpful when it came to security.

Copenhagen travel tips
The view on New year’s Eve that’s barely visible because all I had was an iPhone

Our room was on the top floor and overlooked the city. In the winter, this meant that there were a lot of Christmas lights and a potential for seeing the New Years Eve fireworks.

The hostel is in the heart of the city and for the price, a very decent place to stay.

The food

It was only a two-day trip, so in that time we felt the need to explore as much as possible, of course at a leisurely pace while ducking in and out of quaint pubs and drinking Irish coffee. However the signs outside the pubs each advertised Glühwein (not so much the Irish coffee) for the glorious price of DKK 45. Don’t worry, that’s only EUR 6…still outrageous.

We did find a few places that were quite reasonable and some weren’t, but we just sucked it up because it was super gezellig. One of the restaurants that was recommended to us was called Paludan which I kept getting confused with Paladium and a type of warrior class in Dungeons and Dragons.

Copenhagen travel tips
Said vegetarian lasagna. Who can say “no” to all that cheese?

It wasn’t as hygge as the other restaurants, but the price was right for a vegetarian lasagna. It featured floor to ceiling shelves of books in several languages that you can easily peruse through as you waited to be served. I was a fan of the fast-casual scheme but felt it was a bit Lord of the Flies as people tried to scramble for the cosiest table surrounded by books. It reminded me of a restaurant I had visited in Reykjavik that also had a literary theme and something akin to vegetable lasagna.

Travel tips in Copenhagen
Wine and jazz. The definition of an intimate setting.

We also went to a cafe that coined the term “hygge” and had a live jazz band that played much better jazz than what you find Wednesday evenings in converted jazz bars. The wine and cocktails were overpriced but it was worth sitting in a cosy bench and listening to the pluck of the bass. And for this particular bar, I remembered the name – Blød hat.

Lest we not forget the improv comedy cafe that served delicious sandwiches and yoghurt for exceptionally reasonable prices. I was thrilled that there was an English speaking improv cafe in Denmark. If memory serves, it was located near a big government building and not too far from Tivoli Gardens. I know, my directions are perfect.

The sights

“I want to be where the people are…I want to see, want to see them dancing…”

I also wanted to be where the people were apparently. I, along with 50 other people, went to visit the Little Mermaid statue (Den lille Havfrue). She was not wearing the purple seashell cups nor was there a dinglehopper in her hair, so I was a little disappointed.

Copenhagen travel tips
I don’t think the Little Mermaid expected this kind of attention…

True to her inherently sad tale, the statue of the Little Mermaid looked resigned to her fate of sea foam and people taking selfies in front of her.

Nyhavn, where the coloured buildings were made famous in numerous photos on Pinterest and Instagram, was much less sad. Despite perpetually cloudy weather, it was wonderful to overlook a small harbor and to see the decorated boats and restaurants for the winter holidays. Along the way, there were nice routes where it was easy to stroll by intriguing museums and government buildings. On the way to Nyhavn was the Royal Palace – a must if you find guard changes to be fascinating and procedural.

Remaining tips

  • Everything closes at 15.00 on New Years Eve to prepare for the long night of festivities. I highly recommend a scheduled siesta time;
  • The shopping district is touristic but has a Disney store, which doesn’t make it less touristic at all, but allows me to geek out appropriately;
  • Fireworks start at 15.00 on New Years Eve and continue until 01:00. It’s not a coordinated effort and consists of lots of private outbursts, but it doesn’t make it less beautiful nor noisy;
  • Buy a bottle of wine from the store. It’s much less expensive to do that than to order wine at each restaurant;
  • Be prepared to shake your head at the Danes because no matter the weather, they have no problems running in shorts and a t-shirt;
  • Many restaurants were closed on New Years Eve. We opted for a Chinese buffet. It was glorious. All it was missing was the hot pot.