(From the perspective and opinion of two Californians during a very brief 4-day visit)
1) It’s the most expensive city in Scandinavia.
Denmark took us by surprise in many ways. The sticker shock was the most prevalent, a cup of cappuccino costing an average of $7 and dining at a medium-range restaurant tallied up to $100 for 3 entrees and no drinks. An evening in Los Angeles would have been $50 at a similar restaurant. We had just completed a 9-day trip in Norway, exploring the fjords and hiking through Bergen and Stavanger. The reputation of Scandinavia as one of the most expensive places to travel was no surprise to us. In fact, we expected Norway to be the most expensive; however Copenhagen proved us wrong.
2) Cycling is the most popular mode of transportation.
Copenhagen is one of the most bicycle-friendly cities in the world. The bicycle paths are extensive and used by locals daily. There might be more bicycles in the city than residents with paths that extend hundreds of miles around the city. Everywhere you look you see men, women, children of all sizes – even dogs in wagons – biking all around the city. Look both ways *twice* before crossing, you never know who’s trying to make the light. If you happen to carelessly cross without looking both ways, you’ll be rewarded by screaming Danish or the equivalent of “car honking on a bike” directed at you. Which brings me to my 3rd lesson…
3) Tourists are not well-received, so they say.
Words on the street tells us that people in Denmark are not the most welcoming when it comes to tourists. Rightfully so in a lot of ways, tourists can be considered a nuance, some ignorant and careless. We like to think we represent the “good ones” although the same can be said with the people of Denmark. Everywhere you go you’ll come across good and bad from all sides. Generalization is not fair. This said, we unfortunately experienced some of the “unfriendliness” during our 4-day visit in Copenhagen. We saw teenagers on a bus mocking an Indian couple, overall terrible customer service, less-than warm Airbnb hosts and more. However, we also had some “better than expected” experience dining at a restaurant. I guess it’s mixed bag.
4) Some popular tourist attractions are not worth the trip.
This is highly subjective as you and I have might very different standards and preference on how we like to travel. If you are on the road with kids, Tivoli, Denmark’s oldest amusement park with 100-year old wooden roller coaster, is probably worth the money and the trip. We could have skipped this. If you do visit, and plan on going to all of the major attractions, make sure you purchase the Copenhagen card.
Now, let’s talk about The Little Mermaid, a bronze statue depicting Hans Christian Andersen by the same name, is just that – a statue. It helps to understand the history, why it was commissioned and how it’s recently a target of vandalism from political activist. To us, the statue itself is underwhelming. I was not impressed to say the least, but who cares what I think 😉
5) Food halls are a thing here.
We might have spent every other meal at a food market in Copenhagen, some we visited multiple times. Gathering at a food hall is an easy way to hang out in groups while satisfying every palette and food cravings. Some also have live music and outdoor seating so you get to enjoy the sunset while sipping a Carlsberg. Our favorite was Copenhagen Street Food. It gets extremely crowded so I recommend going during lunch or a weekday. Our favorite food vendors: Grød, Duck It, Brasa, Gorm’s Pizza.
There we highs and lows during our 4-day visit in Copenhagen. We had such an amazing time in Sweden and Norway prior to this trip that our expectations were high in Denmark. Nonetheless, we had a great time exploring the city and would come back if the opportunity presents itself.