Europe is a wonderful place, and Paris is one of the favorite cities to visit there. But the French are not exactly known for their English skills, and their attitudes towards tourists can be somewhat mixed. So what about Milan, then? Well, traffic there is insane, and you will most likely prefer to return home with your limbs intact. So where else can you experience that distinct European feel? Well, how about Copenhagen, Denmark?
While Copenhagen has a distinct European vibe and the feel of ‘old Europe’, the city is well organized and very safe for foreigners. Plus, most Danes speak English so there is no need for learning a foreign language before getting on the plane. Although, knowing the meaning of ‘hygge’ will certainly impress the locals. In this way, Copenhagen slightly resembles Amsterdam: cozy, friendly, but still with a cosmopolitan feel.
Whether you’re into high fashion or hip coffee shops, Copenhagen has a great variety of options. At one end of the main shopping street, ‘Strøget’, you will find your local branches of Louis Vuitton and Gucci, and at the other you will find one of Copenhagen’s best shawarma places, Shawarma Grill House. It has been there since its establishment in 1981 and boasts of serving authentic Lebanese cuisine.
Strøget, however, is also where all the tourists go, so if you wish to experience the ‘real’ Copenhagen, straying off the beaten track is recommended. Before that, however, consider taking one of the guided boat tours. While this is most likely the most ‘touristy’ thing you could think of, it actually gives you a great view of the city. It will send you past Nyhavn, the Danish parliament (Christiansborg), and The Little Mermaid all while enjoying the steady and quiet movement of the water whose current takes the boat through the city.
After having crossed the guided tour off the list, you should start behaving like a local and go to the park. Thanks to King Christian IV, the people of Copenhagen have the privilege of the beautiful Rosenborg Castle Gardens, also known as ‘Kongens Have’ (or literally ‘The King’s Garden’), smack in the middle of this bustling, yet welcoming, city. During the summertime you might be lucky to stumble upon live music here, so if the weather allows it you should pack your lunch bag and some lemonade and head down to the park for a relaxing time.
After having stretched your legs in the park, taking a walk around town is recommended. While getting a table at Noma is unrealistic unless you book it months in advance, Copenhagen has many other restaurants worth trying out if you want to sit down for a bit.
So, are there any downsides at all?
Well, prices are relatively high due to taxes and relatively high wages in the service industry. While good for waiters and waitresses – and the fairly elaborate Danish welfare state – it leaves the city in the more expensive category. Therefore, you should expect to pay approximately $4.5 for a regular cup of coffee.
Plus, if you’re not used to bicycles you should be careful where you walk. Copenhageners are aggressive cyclists, although they would probably use the term ‘confident’. In any case, be quick on your feet because people here are not tolerant of jaywalkers on their bicycle lanes. Just don’t think about renting a car instead because finding a parking spot will be a severe challenge, not to mention the extra costs. You won’t need a car anyway since the metro, buses, and S-trains will take you anywhere you want to go at all times.
When it’s all said and done, Copenhagen has the sophisticated atmosphere of Paris and other classic European cities. It is organized and practical without sacrificing any of its charm and historical feel. Copenhagen is definitely worth a visit.