COPENHAGEN: THE HAPPY CAPITAL

Classes at UCC ended, so cue the unheard of almost 3 week long spring break! (yes, I’m not kidding, spring breaks here really are that long). For those following my visa troubles, I was FINALLY granted a 14 day single entry visa into the EU. Not what I had expected, but I made do with it. 14 days isn’t a long time and a single entry meant I had to pack as much as I could into those 14 days.

So where do we start? The happy capital, beautiful Copenhagen.

From the moment you land in the airport, the modernity of Danish design is everywhere.  Every space is like walking through an IKEA store! Not to mention, the true mark of a Danish recommendation is its “instagram worthiness”. Every restaurant / cafe we were recommended while in Denmark was sealed with “its a very instagram worthy place” – a term not taken lightly in Denmark! On to the actual city…

LESSON #1: No matter what time of year, do not trust the weather app when it comes to Copenhagen. Packing, I was under the impression that it would be a warm 14C. NOPE. It technically was about 11, but felt like 0, being on the water. Don’t be stupid like me, think you’re tough enough for cold weather, and have to end up buying expensive winter attire that you really didn’t need. Because Copenhagen is EXPENSIVE.

LESSON #2: I’ll reiterate, Copenhagen is very expensive. You’d be lucky to find a meal under 125 DKK (about 17 EUR). Danish street food is your best bet and probably also the tastiest, in my opinion! Though, as touristy and overpriced a meal at Nyhaven (that place on literally every postcard of Copenhagen ever) is, I’d still recommend it. Can’t beat a glass of wine on a cold evening by the canal with such a colorful and picturesque backdrop…

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See, I wasn’t joking.

LESSON #3: Everybody in Denmark looks like a supermodel. Tall, slim, and always stylishly dressed! Even when riding their bikes, they look like they’re doing it for a photoshoot! So, pack accordingly, if you don’t want to stand out as a complete tourist!

So what is there to actually do in the city? Here’s what we did.

#1 NYHAVEN

You know the backdrop of the colorful townhouses on every postcard ever of Copenhagen? That’s this. It really is a picture postcard place and seems to be the city’s official symbol. The whole area is teeming with shops, restaurants, and is just a gorgeous place to walk around and soak in the Danish atmosphere by the water. Get yourself a hot churro or crepe (don’t worry, you’ll never be short of dessert carts in Copenhagen, the smell is sure to lure you in at some point!!) and just enjoy the place. (Our churro in Denmark set the stage for churro obsession for the rest of our European trip)

#2 CYCLE EVERYWHERE

Ok, we didn’t actually do this but we wish we did! Our hotel was slightly aways from the main attractions and we spent a good amount of time getting lost and trying to find our way to and from the city. This was hard enough on foot, constantly realizing we took the wrong turn or that there were shorter routes. Adding bicycles to the equation would’ve just added a whole new level of difficulty to two lost girls trying to work a GPS. Despite this, I still wish we had done it because bicycles are truly a Danish way of life. Not to mention, our step count was about 30,000 steps average in Denmark…

LESSON #4: Biker lives seem to outweigh pedestrian lives! So, WATCH OUT! Bikers are EVERYWHERE.

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Now, to find my bike…

#3 CRUISE THE CANALS

If you’re only in the city for a short time, the canal cruise is a great way to see the city sights. You’ll even get up close to the famous Little Mermaid statue! Personally, it was kind of like the Mona Lisa of Denmark (much smaller than anticipated with crowds of people trying to get close to it for a photo). The cruise takes you out onto the water, into some of the smaller neighborhood canals, and under many very low bridges where you actually cannot stand up. It’s a great way to see the iconic modern architecture of Denmark, a lot of which are on the water!

#4 EAT STREET FOOD AT PAPIROEN

As a massive foodie, this place was just overwhelming and pure heaven for me. You can find street food here from all over the world and just walking around it to discover your options took a good 45 minutes. You will be spoiled for choice. Add margaritas and mojitos into the mix, you’ve just got yourself a heavenly afternoon!

#5 WANDER INTO FREETOWN CHRISTIANA

Despite it being right in the heart of Copenhagen, Christiana is actually independent from Denmark and the EU and exists as its own self proclaimed hippie state. The community functions under its own laws, uses its own currency, and doesn’t pay tax. But what its most famous for is its free trade of marijuana! Weed is openly sold on the streets and the openness of it all can be quite shocking to see at first sight. Spend a bit of time exploring the fascinating neighborhood, it really is like a world of its own right in the heart of the city. Though by the end of it, I actually couldn’t take the smell of it anymore and had to get out. Obey the signs and don’t take photos in the green zone as tempting as it might be, you WILL be told off (speaking from experience!!)

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Sign when leaving Christiana.

#6 EMBRACE THE DANISH LIFESTYLE 

There really isn’t a whole lot of “touristy” things to do in Copenhagen, unless exploring every castle or museum is your thing. My favorite part about the city was just walking around, trying as much new food as humanly possible, and taking it all in. One evening, we found ourselves drinking wine smack in the middle of the city with the hippiest of bar owners (sunglasses, bell bottom jeans, dreads, and all!), his hippie friends, and enjoying the sights and sounds of the city around us. It just seemed like the local thing to do.

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