Copenhagen, Denmark – My First Scandinavian Country

Arrived at Copenhagen Airport at 7.20 am. On the approach to the runway, I was able to see wind farms strewn all over the flat landscape below and at the background I assume would be Sweden. That’s how close these 2 countries are geographically (as well in terms of the cost of living and prices of things here – expensive!).

Since I don’t have checked in luggage, I was able to walk more leisurely towards the exit. Bought myself a one way train ticket to Kobenhavn H – (Copenhagen central station  – DKK36). One thing I noticed when I stepped out to the arrival hall was how cold it was. After almost a week enjoying the Greek sunshine, the cold was definitely a shock to the system. Since it was summer, I only brought 1 sweater and 1 jacket with me. Thankfully that was enough. Walk downstairs towards the train tracks and there was already a train heading to the city waiting.

Haven’t researched what to do here yet. Will just ask at my hostel reception or get a map later. List of the places I visited and the cost of this trip is at the bottom of the page.

Arriving at Kobenhavn H (Central Station)

A couple in the train seem to be unsure if they took the right train but they were headed to the same place. They asked someone who then confirmed that it was the right train. I breathed a sigh of relief. It doesn’t help that there are no train announcements to tell you which station you are at but the journey is supposed to take around 30 minutes. Had to keep vigilant to see where we were after 20 minutes into the journey. The central station was the biggest anyway, so you wouldn’t miss it.

Once I exited the train, I needed to find my bearings. My hostel was along Vesterbrogade heading west from the central station called the City Public Hostel. It’s close to Vesterbros Torv which is a small public square and only opened during the summer months. You can either choose the largest dorm (around 60 people? ,DKK160 per night) in a big gym like area or if you are like me after hearing the ridiculous number decided to go with the 12 bed dorm (DKK 180 per night). The downside is you have to pay for almost everything in this hostel like the linen, padlocks etc.

Lucky for me, I had my own sleeping bag and padlock for the locker. Other people caught off guard will have to pay (or chose to not have linen/pillow on their bed) and adding it all up will cost almost the same as a 1 night stay which explains why this hostel is one of the cheapest you’ll find in the city (everything else you need to pay extra). But when I had a look in the 60 people dorm, it wasn’t bad at all since there were not lots of people staying at the time. Not sure how it’ll be if it’s full. People were already having to charge their phones in the common areas at the moment.

Copenhagen Vesterbrogade at 9 o’clock on a Sunday morning

Check in is after 2pm and now it’s only 8.30am. Had a shower and put my stuff in storage before setting myself to explore town at around 9. First I needed to find an atm to get some money. Withdrew DKK1600 which is not much here. The atm even has an option to withdraw up to DKK20,000 (tempting but I don’t have that much…lol). People don’t really use cash here apparently. They just bring their bank cards to pay for purchases.

After that, needed to get breakfast. My fever has almost disappeared but the cough and phlegm remained. So I still was able to save up on money since I didn’t feel like eating too much. Just had 2 pastries from Lidl as breakfast. They ran out of bottled water and I don’t have any empty water bottles to refill.

Danish Kronor notes
Water for sale at 7-11 (or DKK 21.95 each)

I thought maybe I can get a reasonably priced one from the convenience store. After all, it can’t cost significantly more than at the supermarket right? one from 7-11 convenience store near Tivoli for DKK26.95 for a 1 litre bottle…it was the only type they sold so I had to buy it…sobs. The one sold at the kinda upmarket supermarket next door was also similarly priced so I thought that’s how much water cost here. Turns out I found one for around DKK6 a few days later at Aldi (I kept refilling this DKK27 bottle for the next 6 weeks just to make it worth it..haha).

Looking at the time, it’s almost 11 am when I reached the square in front of the Rādhus (City Hall). I just remembered that they had free city tours and I was just in time for the 11am session. Perfect! The guide was a Canadian guy who happened to also speak German. Very funny too. So we started with the history of the city hall then made our way to some old street called Magstræde which he says is one of the oldest streets in the city because it was saved from the multiple fires that engulfed the city in medieval times. His story about the city kept revolving about how the city was up in flames (the city was razed to the ground around 3 times(?) ).

Next we headed to the New Kings Square (Kongens Nytorv) where he told us about the history of the building as well as the Magasin department store next to it (the prices are “slightly” over my budget when I visited the store a few days after..had free wifi though).

Kongens Nytorv is a very useful place to know as a lot of the city public buses that you need to take to go to the main attractions will pass through around this area. Around it is the postcard picture area of Nyhavn and the Strøget shopping street touted to be the longest in Scandinavia. There’s a rivalry with the Drottninggatan in Stockholm – they say Strøget is a combination of a few different streets into 1 while Drottninggatan is just 1 continuous street – up to you to make up your mind.

Anyways, we continued on to Nyhavn with its colourful old buildings which houses expensive restaurants. The name means “new harbour” and in the old days, there were brothels nearby for the sailors when they called at the port. Copenhagen was the centre of a big empire that even Norway and Sweden were under the rule of the Danes. Due to its geographical location, ships had to pass through the city making it a bustling commercial centre back in its heydays.

The guide said those ships that moored at Nyhavn don’t really sail nowadays. It’s just parked there all year round. There’s also a bridge mired in controversy that’s suppose to connect this area to the other part of the city but it’s been taking too long to construct and ran way over the initial budget. It was supposed to be ready by now but there were some design problems or something so it was still closed for use.

Frederiks Cathedral
Copenhagen’s Nyhavn District  – said to have one of the highest real estate values in Europe

Next, we walked to Amalienborg Palace. There was a statue of King Frederik on a horse in the middle of the castle grounds looking as if it was marching towards the Frederiks Church nearby. He told us a lot of the royal family history such as Crown Princess Mary who originally hailed from Australia as well as the tradition (?) of naming royal sons either Frederik or Christian. The tour ended at Frederiks Church which apparently took forever to build as well ( just like the bridge in Nyhavn ). The original design became too expensive build and coincided with the fall of the Danish Kingdom. Now it was time for me to walk back (a few kilometres to save on money) to the hostel so I can check in.

Back to the hostel to check in, set up my sleeping bag on the bed and have a short nap since I didn’t have enough sleep last night.

After nap, it was time for exploring. Walked along Vesterbrogade and turned right near Tivoli then walked in the general area of Christiania which was somewhere around the south of the city. Passed through the National Museum and Christianborg Castle which were nice buildings. It was closing soon so wouldn’t be worth it to enter even if I wanted to. Made another right turn and you’ll see the stock exchange building and just walk straight for like 15-20 minutes and you’ll start to see more and more people either going to or just left Christiania. The free tour I joined earlier offered paid tours to explore Christiania.

The entrance I went in from was full of colourful graffiti and you’ll see old buildings converted into shops of which purchases will help towards maintaining Christiania. There were a few rules once you get into the “Green Light District” which are have fun, no filming/photos and no running (I assume running means the police are coming since it’s illegal to sale/buy hash).

You can see people freely selling, buying and using drugs in Christiania accompanied by children. Some of those people actually live in the area. Very weird indeed. It’s tolerated here and the authorities turn a blind eye to it. I heard from the guide that the authorities raided the area a few days before but it was up and running again a few hours later.

Rules before entering the “Green Light District”

The vibe in Christiania is one of self sufficiency and order in chaos. There might not be police presence here but it looked safe. The walls are full of graffiti, people are just chilling near the lake and there were performances (being a weekend when I was there). They built their own houses using recycled materials. They make the most of what they have and seemed content with the choice they made to live there.

The crowds enjoying the musical performance in Christiania

Walked around town til around 8pm when I walked back to the hostel. Needed to get some dinner but since everything was pricey (DKK50-90 average per meal), I decided to buy some food and cook at the hostel instead. Got some penne and sauce as well as 3 cans of sardines (homebrand) enough for 3 dinner meals plus milk , cornflakes and strawberries (on sale) for my breakfast (total DKK 100~120).

So that’s my food for the next 3 days sorted. Only need to concern myself for lunch and snacks. I mainly just had pastries and bananas from Aldi or Lidl for lunch. I brought my multivitamins with me which I hope will meet any nutrient shortfall that might happen..haha. Had to time my cooking right so that the kitchen hostel was not too busy. People seem to start cooking very late maybe because of the late sunset (around 10.30pm). Pots and cutleries were hard to come by during this time. Which is also why I opted for penne and other food that didn’t require too much time and just easy to prepare (besides the fact I’m a bad cook).

The locker room had warm showers (very important since it was cold even though it’s “summer”. My room wasn’t full and I had a nice sleep.

I was thinking if I should get the Copenhagen City Pass. Stopped by the tourist office near Tivoli to see how much it cost.( DKK 379(24hrs), DKK 529 (48hrs), DKK629 (72hrs),DKK 839 (120 hours) ). Since I didn’t research what was there to see in Copenhagen, my trip was very disorganized. Obviously the longer the period, the more worth it is to get the pass and it can be used for transport. Money was again as always the issue.

I bought a 48hrs pass and activated it the next morning so that I will have the whole day to use it. It also meant I had an early start and to choose which attraction is worth going. The problem is that the attractions opened quite late. The museums opened around 9.30-10am. There are also free museum days so it will be unworthy to get the pass if the ones you want to go to had free entry days. Mondays are also when some museums close for the week. Research and choose the best option for you. You can ask for a list of which museums that are opened or closed when you buy the pass.

I used the pass to go to (12 places) :

1. National Museum

2. Hans Christian Andersens Museum

3. Royal Danish Collection at Amalienborg Castle (don’t forget to catch the change of guards while you are there)

4. Glyptoket (a lot of Egyptian and Greek artefacts which I have already seen in Greece anyway)

5. Rosenberg Castle where you can find some of the royal jewelry collections,

6. Museum of Modern Art (not a big fan of it but it’s huge)

7. The Carlsberg Experience which shows how beer is made (you also get 1 beer or 2 drinks free with the entrance). They also offer (free?) horserides but there’s specific time (around 12pm or 2pm?) but I arrived late at around 6 pm. People were already sitting in the public area to watch the World Cup matches. I also missed out on the free tours they offered but you are free to roam around on your own.

8. Free boat tour departing from Nyhavn. Takes approximately an hour and you will pass through the canals and see the little mermaid from the sea.

9. Tivoli Gardens. You get free entry but you pay per ride once you get in. Entry to itself was already over DKK100!

10. Christianborg Castle – you also get a combo ticket which gives you entrance to the Royal Kitchen (a bit tricky to find as there’s no sign and you need to ring the bell to get in – I rang a few wrong doors..haha) and Royal Stables ( the horses were not in the stables as it was brought somewhere else for the summer season).

11. Thorvaldens Museum next to Christianborg Castle had a free entry day so I went there too..Just full of the statues. If that’s not your thing, you can skip it.

12. Rosenborg Castle. There’s a nice park nearby which you can also visit.

13. Rundetaarn (Round Tower) somewhere along a street that branches out from Strøget. I went here last cos it closed late while the others apart from Tivoli and Carlsberg Experience closed at around 5pm. Allow around 20 minutes to walk up all the way to the top where you can enjoy the view of the city centre. No lifts to go up as far as I know.

I think I managed to cover the cost of my city pass and I took a few bus rides as well. If you want to get more from your pass, consider visiting the zoo. Entrance is around DKK150. Unfortunately, I didn’t have enough time to go there.

Now I need to get ready to leave the next day to my next destination – Malmö, Sweden just an hour bus ride away.

Due to space restrictions/limits here, I have uploaded more pictures on my fb page :  wanderingfadz

Expenses for :

Accommodation DKK 720

Copenhagen City Pass DKK 529

Food and miscellaneous expenses ~250

Total ~ DKK1500

Leave a Reply