Whirlwind Travel – Copenhagen in a Day

Copenhagen, Denmark comes up on list after list as having the highest quality of living in Europe, and in some cases, the world. Having spent about a day and a half in the city, I can see why. This might be the cleanest city I’ve ever visited. I’ve never seen so many people riding bikes (my cab driver told me that there were more bikes than cars per household in the city), and all of the residents looked fit. There is a huge focus in the city on clean, outdoor activities, which can be seen in the large number of parks. Of course, all of this comes at a price: Copenhagen also has one of the highest costs of living in the world, and as a tourist, that can make budget travel a challenge.

I was traveling with some co-workers to London and we decided to tack on a few days and visit both Munich and Copenhagen. The flights to both cities were incredibly cheap (around $100 for each), and we got good deals on the rooms (around $80). We arrived in Copenhagen mid-afternoon. We decided to take a cab from the airport (about a 15 minute drive, and cost us $60!). Along the drive, we kept seeing signs for Sweden. The driver told us Malmö was just across the water, and you could actually see Sweden from Copenhagen. We considered going over there for dinner, but he told us the cab ride would cost about $150. Needless to say, cab rides in Copenhagen are not the most economical form of transportation.

Copenhagen is also known for having great cuisine (supposedly, there is a restaurant there with a one-year waiting line). We found a cute little coffee shop that turns into a restaurant at night, and ordered drinks. My cocktail was (wait for it)…$25. Needless to say, I would not be getting drunk in this city. Thankfully, they were having half-price burger night, so my dinner only cost $25 (most items were $40+). After, we visited some of the local pubs (which are charming and have a great atmosphere), and then called it a night.

The next day I was free to explore the city. Originally I was going to go with my usual fare, the hop-on, hop-off bus, but every guide I had recommended going down to Nyhavn and taking a canal tour. So I took another expensive cab ride down there (I think most of the money I spent on this trip went to transportation costs), and took the tour. Now, when you think of quintessential Copenhagen, you are probably picturing Nyhavn: the canal, the 17th century town homes, the wooden ships, the home of Hans Christian Anderson. I must have taken at least 100 pictures just from this area. The canal tour overall, though, did not disappoint and some of the best views of the city can be seen from the harbor. Amalienborg Palace (home of the King and Queen of Denmark), and The Marble Church look stunning from the water view.

After the tour, I decided to walk around the city. I ate a hot dog from a local stand (they have a special love for hot dogs in this city, and they put everything and the kitchen sink on for toppings) to keep costs down. The city has a lot of neat things to see.  Some of the areas I walked past: Christansborg Palace (where Parliament is housed), Strøget (shopping district), Tivoli (amusement park and pleasure gardens), the Round Tower (oldest functioning observatory in Europe). There were other things I wanted to see, do, and tour (such as the National Gallery), but I only budgeted about $100 and I had already exceeded it.

Overall, Copenhagen is a really neat city. It’s beautiful, cultural, upbeat, and I could see myself even living there. The only downside is the cost, so whether you visit this as a day trip, or as a longer excursion, make sure you take that into consideration during planning.


Pictures from Copenhagen:

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Travel Learnings:

  • As stated above, Copenhagen is expensive. Make sure you plan an adequate budget ahead of time.
  • Look into transportation options ahead of time. Cabs are cost-prohibitive, but there are other means of getting around the city.
  • The best views of the city were from the canal. Most of Europe’s power lines are still above ground, which impedes a lot of great photo opportunities from the ground. You don’t have that issue from the water.
  • The Dutch are very proud of their heritage. So, no Dutch jokes.
  • I would recommend getting a very centrally located hotel, even if the price is a little higher (see: transportation costs above).
  • If you’re going to navigate the city on your own, make sure to keep a map on you.
  • Research good deals on food so you can keep your costs down.
  • Expenses for the day included cab fares, dinner, drinks, canal tour ticket, and lunch: Around $200 (about double what I spend on most day excursions).
  • Additional costs: Normally airfare and room costs are covered since I do a lot of my side-excursions on business trips/long layovers, but in this case I paid for my airfare and room for the trip. Airfare was about $100 (from London), and Room was $80.
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