The Ultimate Guide to Copenhagen

PACKING

I went from January - May, so this guide may be a little different if you’re going in the fall. The primary thing I needed for the cold months (Dec-March) was a big jacket, a hat, and warm gloves. It is freezing; it rains, sometimes it’s windy — it can be very unpleasant. Bring lots of sweaters. 

• Bring lots of black. I was annoyed when people were telling me to bring all black because I was like no I’m going to be myself, I’m not trying to be something I’m not!!!! But when you’re there, and everyone around you wears all black except for white sneakers, you start to feel weird wearing your purple J.Crew sweater from 10th grade. I would recommend bringing black jeans, black sweaters, black boots, and white sneakers. I over packed to an uncomfortable degree, and I never once wore any of my non-gray, white or black sweaters or my non-blue/black jeans. 

•  White sneakers if you have them. You’re going to end up buying them if you don’t have them. COPE HAS THE BEST SHOPPING EVER!

• Black flat ankle boots for going out. 

• Leather jacket. Everyone wears them.

• Dark tights under dresses. Idk why but they’re really into this.

• Scarves (again… mostly black, grey, white)

• Bathing suit. You will want to go to Harbor Baths before they close in August, and also if you go to Budapest, you’ll go to the baths. 

• I never once wore wedges or heels. People wear sneakers when they go out. I wore black sneakers, white sneakers, black flat ankle boots and basically nothing else.

• People wear wool coats not down puffy jackets in Cope because they are Vikings. If I wore a wool coat in February in cope, I would probably freeze to death on impact, but I wish I could have because I looked like a fat marshmallow among models. 

• It also gets REALLY HOT once the weather turns so be prepared for that. I don’t know the weather in the fall, but if it’s anything like it was in May, I was getting tan from standing outside for like 5 minutes. You’re so far north the sun feels like it's spooning you.

• Bags: I had a backpack that I used both as a carry-on when traveling and for school. It was big enough to fit my laptop and small enough to qualify as a small airplane carryon. I had a going out bag that also doubled as a day bag when traveling that I could pack inside my backpack - just for my wallet, phone, maybe a book. I also didn’t bring “going out” bags because I didn’t want to deal with it, but I saw certain girls from a school I won't mention rocking their Balenciaga’s surrounded by Danes who couldn’t care less about it so whatever your preference is. 

• Going out Attire: Danish people wear jeans / casual dresses and sneakers or flat boots when they go out. It’s extremely casual. Some people from the study abroad program wore rompers and stilettos. So you’ll fit in with someone either way. I wore a turtleneck to the club once, but that might have been rock bottom.

• Travel-sized toiletries and a travel sized Bag: You will never check a bag on weekend trips so have a bag that you can fit all your stuff in. Budget airlines are EVIL and will charge you 70 dollars for having a carry-on and also for not having your boarding pass printed out before getting to the airport. They charge 25 dollars to do this for you. That's the reason these flights are so cheap--because they charge you for everything! Go on the airline website ahead of time and read the guidelines. 

• School stuff: I had one notebook for all my classes, but I wish I had brought one from home because finding regular sized notebooks in Copenhagen was hard. Every single notebook has the solar system or the periodic table of elements on it for some reason.

• Buy hair stuff in Cope.. If you blow-dry your hair or straighten it buy everything abroad because the outlets are confusing and I know people who melted their straightener somehow. Bring an adapter though for your phone / computer. 

LOGISTICS

When you first arrive: You’ll get a travel pass that lets you travel freely between your neighborhood (which will fall in a “zone”) and DIS (which is in the center of the city). DIS is sort of the NYU of Copenhagen - the classrooms are in buildings that are flanked by bars, restaurants, shops, etc. First thing I would recommend is downloading Resjeplanen, which is an app on your phone that will tell you how to get ANYWHERE on Danish transit. It’ll show you specific buses, trains, and the metro along with walking directions. Use that to get comfortable with your route. It saved my life. Also, anticipate getting lost — for the first few weeks, I had no idea where my bus stop was even though it was in the same place every day. 

Adjustment sadness: I thought I was going to be totally fine going abroad because I was so excited to go and I went to boarding school. I actually had a hard adjustment, and a lot of my friends did too. I think the combination of not knowing where anything is, not speaking the language, and being jetlagged made me feel a little down in the dumps and lost especially the first two or three weeks. THAT’S TOTALLY NORMAL. Even the people who go with 10,000 friends get upset and lonely - just be patient it gets better.

Bikes: I would get one. You can rent one for cheap from literally anywhere, just make sure when you rent it they give you bike lights because sometimes they try to gip you out of them and it’s illegal to ride without lights. It’s just easier and quicker to get around with a bike; also I hate waiting for things like trains and buses.

Food stipend: I used this to cook dinner, though I went out to eat a lot, but, if you’re trying to be a responsible adult or be economical about money, you can ball on a budget at the discount grocery stores. I would go to the Netto - there’s one truly everywhere - but it’ll work at other places too. I also used this to go to the Bilk (big sort of Target like store) and get an air mattress/blankets/pillow for when my friends visited.

Credit Cards: I would take cash out because the credit card fees add up and if your parents are anything like my parents, you don’t want to get passive-aggressive texts like my mom sent me. 

NEIGHBORHOODS

Explore all the neighborhoods! It’s easy to get wrapped up in the city center, which you should explore, but get out to all the different areas. 

Vesterbro: The Copenhagen red light district. Vesterbro extends into/is counted as the meatpacking district. Has a ton of my favorite places to eat!

Osterbro: Sort of the posh financial area of Copenhagen with a ton of sports facilities, boutiques, good shopping, and fancy parks. 

Frederiksberg: An Amazing neighborhood in Copenhagen - so gorgeous, full of beautiful parks, and great places to bike or walk. There are lots of boutiques. There’s also an ice skating rink around December-January. 

Islands Brygge: Where you rent the GoBoats. Also, a great grassy strip where we would barbecue or have picnics! 

Norrebro: I lived here. Great pub crawls and bars, lots of fantastic food. Everything here is open late, very colorful, and super “young.” Colloquially referred to as the Muslim Quarter, so there are incredible mosques and temples here too.

Kongens Nytorv: Big mall (Magasin), Opera House, the Happy Wall used to be here, and also a very fancy hotel that Justin Bieber was once kicked out of.

Nyhavn: This is where the classic photos of the colorful buildings on the canal are located. Honestly, there’s not a TON to do because right on this strip everything is very touristy, but you’ll inevitably walk this a million times. You can also take a boat tour from here which I recommend! It’ll take you to see the Little Mermaid, aka the world’s second most overrated tourist attraction (first is this weird singing clock in Prague that genuinely creeped me out). Get a waffle on a stick here and go on the trampolines right by the water.

Strøget: The big shopping street in Copenhagen. There’s amazing shopping here. It is expensive, but if you’re from NY/LA, then it’s not that different - definitely more expensive than other American cities and FAR more expensive than anywhere else in Europe. I spent the same amount on one dinner in Copenhagen as I did for two nice meals, a museum tour, and going out in Budapest sooooo RIP.

FOOD – The Most Important Section

BRUNCH:

Kalaset: Pancakes, brunch platters, really close to DIS, kind of a mom-and-pop homey feel.

Paludan: You can get any meal here. It looks like a giant bookstore/library.  Amazingly cheap brunch platters, delicious salmon over pesto pasta, HUGE salads. They have a mint smoothie there that I used to get constantly. Great place and you will probably end up going here often because of the convenient location. I did homework here on weekends too!

Cafe Norden: Right on Strøget, the bougie shopping street. I LOVE this place, would highly recommend the brunch platter but it is 30 dollars lol. It comes with bread and cheese platter, a piece of the cake of the day, and you can choose between yogurt, eggs, and bacon (the best eggs and bacon I’ve ever had… not a joke it’s a bowl of soft scrambled eggs with bacon like crumbled on top and inside the eggs? I cannot explain this any better than to say it is so essential to who I am as a person), or pancakes. You can also get breakfast a la carte, and their tomato soup is FANTASTIC. This is the kind of restaurant that has designer fur blankets thrown “casually” against the furniture, everybody here is hot and a model but whatever I would look like a fat slob in front of Beyoncé for those eggs.

Mad n Kaffe: Cope has a lot of brunch places where you “choose your own brunch” on a checklist where you can get like 3, 5 or 7 things. These places are the best; it’s like brunch tapas, thank you Copenhagen for answering a prayer I didn’t know I had. This is one of these places. 

Granola: You can guess what they sell. 

Cafe Det Vide Hus: Green tea vanilla chai latte here that made me believe in a higher power. Right next to Rosenborg, I would walk through the Rosenborg gardens then go here. Also, the guy who owns it is super hot, probably 40 but in a George Clooney kind of way. 

Atelier September: Avocado toast, matcha yogurt, etc.--the most instagrammable place ever!

Union Kitchen: Amazing, fantastic brunch. They put hilarious shit on the cappuccinos - sometimes they write “f-ck Emmery's”  (The overpriced Danish coffee shop (like Starbucks) in Copenhagen)  in cocoa powder on the drink. Best yogurt I ever had was here; you can get it on the side even though that’s not on the menu.

Social: Danish food brunch place.

Next Door Cafe: OK - Next door is truly next door to DIS classrooms. I would go here every single day if I had only a short break between my classes and do work. It’s VERY loud - the owner is a gay guy from Venice, CA who moved to Copenhagen to marry his husband, he’s covered in tattoos, and will talk openly about his past drug addiction and love of 80’s music and plays the best music and speaks fluent Danish and is my idol! If you go enough, they will remember you and your order and become your friend. This is my favorite place ever. The food is great - breakfast sandwiches, good homemade bread, yogurt and honey, nice juices, etc. The people are incredible here which is really why I went, and I personally get a lot of work done in loud environments. 

Lunch/Dinner (I rarely ate out at lunch but would go out for dinner)

Note: I went out to eat to a decent amount of “fancy” restaurants so I know these might not be budget friendly. This is just my experience because my friends and I considered food a big part of what we wanted out of abroad. 

Baest: Incredible pizza and charcuterie place in a hip area. They also have great cheese platters for appetizers so definitely go and bring friends. 

Neighborhood: Another incredible pizza place.

Mother: And ANOTHER incredible pizza place, finishing up the pizza trifecta with the above two. I liked Baest and Mother the best. Mother is in meatpacking, next door to three really fun clubs and bars, so it’s a great place to go to dinner if you want to go out right after. It’s in a  great food area with Hija De Sanchez (amazing tacos) and WarPigs (great BBQ) nearby.

Tribeca NV: American-y food, so good.

Sliders: Little mini burger place, casual and yummy.

Sticks and Sushi: If you eat sushi you will inevitably go to one of the many locations of this place. The yakitori sticks are really tasty (they have many  options), the sushi is good too, but I never found that Cope had AMAZING sushi. 

Ramen to Biiru: GREAT ramen!!! Actually so yummy.

42Raw: This is the “betchy” place for acai bowls and “raw food” etc. really good!!!

Relae: Fancy amazing Danish food. A multi-course meal.

Host: just like Relae, another fancy, multi-course Danish meal.

Kiin Kiin: The only Michelin star rated Thai restaurant, not in Thailand. SOOOO good but I gained 9 pounds probably in one meal.

Papirøen: Aka Paper Island, you will probably go here all the time, and I recommend that. And there’s a bridge you can walk right over from the Nyhavn area. It’s a giant indoor food market; there is so much I recommend here: the Korean food, pulled duck sandwich, falafel place, homemade pasta, a sushi place, tacos, etc. Also just a beautiful area, you can sit in porch chairs on the water and think about how you’re peaking, and life will never be better than this.

Glass Market/Torvehallerne: Right by DIS in the city center, another big outdoor/indoor market. I went here for lunch pretty much every day I could. In the nice months, there are a ton of food stands outside and a big farmer’s market with fresh fruit and vegetables. My favorite places within the glass market: 

•    Grød – A famous porridge place that has a restaurant in Nørrebro. I know porridge probably sounds disgusting but I swear you MUST go here at least twice to get one sweet and one savory. There are ‘breakfast’ options that have yogurt, fruit, caramel, chocolate, etc. in the bowls, and then lunch/dinner ones with Indian lentils and almond risotto.

•    Småg: Little salads that you can get a sampler of 3-4 salads. Really good, normally a huge line.

•    Ma Poule: The best sandwich in Copenhagen--the duck confit sandwich in a baguette. I literally think about this sandwich every single day.

•    Banh Mi: Incredible Korean food.

•    Sushi Lovers: Good sushi.

•    Paleo: They make wraps in a thin egg white crepe #skinny

•    Sommerbird: Three-course fancy meal outside on a wooden board for like 20 dollars.

Hija de Sanchez: Tiny storefront in meatpacking with THE BESTTTT tacos. They have different tacos every day, but they’re all amazing. 

Barburrito: BURRITOS IN EUROPE! There’s no chipotle in Copenhagen, so if you have a craving--go here.

Coffee and Pastries

La Glace: The best hot chocolate in Copenhagen. It’s the thick “drinking chocolate” kind, and it comes with a side BOWL OF WHIPPED CREAM. Famous for all their cakes which you order by the slice. Go here, get hot chocolate, eat some cake, live life.

Democratic coffee: Go here before 11 and get an almond croissant, try to get one hot out of the oven. Send it to me if you care about my wellbeing. This almond croissant is an absolute must-have. 

Sankt Peder: The best bakery in Copenhagen. Wednesday mornings they make this famous onsdagssnegl… onsdag means Wednesday, idk what the other part means presumably “1 million calories in a pastry that will make u cry tears. ” 

Coffee Collective: Great coffee with many locations.

Living Room: The coffee shop next to the school that has couches and lounge chairs and a fireplace. 

Emmery’s: The overpriced Starbucks of Copenhagen, aka they’re everywhere.

Joe and the juice: VERY classic Cope spot. Good paninis if you’re in a rush. 

SIGHTS

Tivoli: Tivoli is the shit. First of all, it’s a giant amusement park in the center of the city. Going on the huge rollercoaster and seeing the entire city from the top of a ride is the coolest thing EVER. Also, somehow, the lines are never long. Get an unlimited ride pass or a monthly pass if you’re going to go more than two times because otherwise, you pay per ride and the rides are way overpriced. It’s so much cheaper to buy the unlimited ride pass. The gardens are beautiful, and some of the best restaurants in Copenhagen are inside here too. I used to go after class with my friends, and it’s just the best place ever. It gets decked out for the holidays; apparently, it’s incredible at Halloween and Christmas.

Amalienborg Castle: The Queen’s residence. You can see the changing of the guard here, and it’s right in front of a beautiful church. When the flag is up, she’s home which is fun!

Rosenborg Castle: Amazing gardens. Go to the Glass Market, get food to make a picnic, and sit here with friends. It’s also a great place to go for a run.

Kronborg Castle: This is Hamlet’s castle, aka the movie Hamlet, was filmed here. Far away but so cute in the most classic Danish town, Hellsingnor. 

Frederiskberg Castle:  This castle is far away but SO gorgeous and also if the location of the Museum of National History if that interests you. There’s an unbelievable garden. 

Christianborg Palace: This is the castle with all the famous tapestries. You have to wear little blue slippers on your feet to walk around. Go to the top of the tower here!

Church Of Our Savior: Impossible to miss — it’s the big spiral tower church right outside of Christiania. You’re going to get the most classic Instagram here, but also it’s a cool tower to climb (there are ladders, it’s really fun) and a beautiful view. 

Carlsberg: Do this BEFORE doing beer tours in Ireland, because Carlsberg is the baby version of the other big beer manufacturers. So fun, go with friends.

Botanical Gardens: I went to these in the winter, and it was amazing to be surrounded by snow and freezing tundra and the to step inside a warm garden oasis. Pretty and fun especially if you miss nature. 

Black Diamond Library: A beautiful building with a fantastic restaurant inside, and also just really cool architecturally. It’s on the waterfront, so this is a great place to do work or just hang out. 

GoBoat: Rent a GoBoat once it gets nice out. You can rent it with up to 6 friends for an hour - we brought wine/cheese/snacks and had lunch on the water while we boated around - SO fun.

Amager Strand: The Copenhagen ‘beach.’ The metro goes straight here. It’s an awesome place to spend the day and get a tan, go in the water, etc. Manmade but feels very legit while you’re there. 

Den Blå Planet: You should visit the Aquarium, and the metro goes straight here. I went here with a class, but would have gone anyway!

Round Tower: The round tower is right in the middle of the city next to DIS. You can climb it and see the whole city - you’ll probably end up doing this with every friend of yours who visits because it’s easy and scenic.

Louisiana Art Museum: An amazing art museum in a renovated mansion outside of Cope directly on the water. Go, it is impressive. I went three times because the main exhibit changed when I was there.

COPE REFLECTIONS: Cope is extremely safe. I never once felt uncomfortable walking alone at night, no matter how late it was. Taxis and ubers are prevalent, but I would take the bus or metro at 4am and never once had a problem or knew of anyone else who did. Going out also starts later here - typically we wouldn’t go out till 1:30 and be out until like 5 or 6. It’s cool in the hotter months because the sun will be out at midnight and then rise at 4ish as you’re heading home! Everyone speaks English, which is great, but I would recommend if you are not taking Danish to at least learn how to pronounce names of places correctly. The language is super confusing, but you can ask anyone or GOOGLE how to pronounce very basic things like Nyhavn (Nee-hown) instead of pronouncing it Nee-have-in, which Danish people hate. Other ideas-- make a bucket list, so you stay organized, rent a bike, and don’t travel every weekend. People told me that, and I rolled my eyes and was like please I will travel every day, all day, constantly, until I drop dead-- this is EUROPE BABY!!! But, then after traveling for four consecutive weekends in a row, you suddenly realize you don’t know Copenhagen that well and should be putting roots down and make it “your place. ” Besides you are so exhausted and burnt out, so it’s hard to take advantage of the cities you’re visiting because you’re contemplating dying. And lastly, have fun and savor every minute!