Advice for first time in Copenhagen
August 16, 2011 9:00 AM   Subscribe

First time in Copenhagen. I'm flying to Copenhagen this week, staying Friday 'till Tuesday. If you have been before please can you help me with: What is the best way to get from the airport to the center? What are the things I should get done? What treasures are hidden away? Anyway I can avoid spending a fortune on food, heard it's pretty pricey. Thank you.
posted by 92_elements to Travel & Transportation around Copenhagen, Denmark (21 answers total) 8 users marked this as a favorite

Anyway I can avoid spending a fortune on food...

One of my closest friends moved there a few years and just this week visited me in NYC, where we both grew up. He was plainly shocked at the prices on everything. He had completely forgotten that food could cost so little. The price of a moderate lunch out was how much he would pay for a pre-made sandwich. The thing is, over there wait staff aren't paid well below the minimum wage and made to survive on tips. They make a decent amount of money -- decent is, of course, up for debate, but it's not two dollars an hour -- and tips are only for exception service. So, clearly something has to give, and one of those things is the price of food in restaurants.

What I mostly did when I went over there -- I was staying with him and a young woman who grew up in Copenhagen -- was bought my food in bakeries and markets and ate it in parks and so on. Each time, I only ended up spending a good handful more than I spent at a decent restaurant here. Going out to restaurants -- and, again, I was with at least one local, so I wasn't going to screw-the-tourist places -- I didn't even do the price-conversion and just made sure not to order the most expensive thing on the menu. It was all Very Expensive.
posted by griphus at 9:14 AM on August 16, 2011

Best answer: Copenhagen is a fantastic city. But, you are right, food is very expensive. I had a friend who lived there a few years ago and he noted that the usual price for a hamburger is the equivalent of US$25. So, the best way to save money is to go to the grocery store.

If you are into museums, two we really liked and always talk about are:

Cisternerne -Museum of Modern Glass Art
Open Air Museum

Otherwise, get your beers at the 7-11 and drink in the park like the locals to avoid the wicked expensive drinks at the bars. And have a great time!
posted by chiefthe at 9:16 AM on August 16, 2011

Best answer: Oh, and make sure you have everything you're planning to eat over the weekend by Saturday afternoon. Almost everything closes mid-day Saturday and stays closed all day Sunday.
posted by griphus at 9:18 AM on August 16, 2011

Best answer: We ate twice at this place. Really good food and way, way cheaper than the other eat-out meals we had.

I definitely recomend going out to Roskilde to the Viking Ship Museum.
posted by humboldt32 at 9:29 AM on August 16, 2011

Best answer: If you find a polser cart, or pølsevogn, indulge. Look for street carts selling fish cakes with mustard sauce; you might even still find one or two carts selling a cup of live sardines with a side of mustard sauce (kind of fun to catch the little buggers by the tail, swirl quickly in mustard sauce, and let them swim down your throat, head first, to your gullet). Spend a summer afternoon/evening in Tivoli. Don't forget the Little Mermaid.
posted by paulsc at 9:38 AM on August 16, 2011

Depending on where you're going in the city, the Metro might be a better choice from the airport.
posted by DelusionsofGrandeur at 9:39 AM on August 16, 2011

posted by ga$money at 9:41 AM on August 16, 2011

Gah, previously.
posted by ga$money at 9:41 AM on August 16, 2011

Best answer: The National Gallery, Statens Museum for Kunst, still pops up in my mind many years later.

Two things you might want to avoid, though: the Little Mermaid statue (not especially interesting, far out of town) and Christiania (kinda scuzzy).
posted by psoas at 9:44 AM on August 16, 2011

Best answer: I would, in fact, wholeheartedly recommend Christiania. Operaen has great concerts and parties, its downstairs counterpart has jazz on Sundays, and there is a great restaurant (forget the name) in the main building at the entrance. The streets away from the main street (where all the drug dealers are) are very peaceful, and are like a country haven inside the city.
posted by StoneSpace at 9:59 AM on August 16, 2011 [2 favorites]

you might even still find one or two carts selling a cup of live sardines with a side of mustard sauce (kind of fun to catch the little buggers by the tail, swirl quickly in mustard sauce, and let them swim down your throat, head first, to your gullet)

Wait, what? Cite, please!
posted by AwkwardPause at 10:12 AM on August 16, 2011

Best answer: Apologies for length, but here's what I did when I was there for three days a couple of years ago:

- I walked around a lot. The city is full of picturesque buildings and statues - I really don't think you can go wrong, wherever you wander. I particularly remember the Stock Exchange (Børsen), the Black Diamond, the underwater statue of Agnete and the Merman, the Elephant Gate at the Carlsberg Brewery, the citadel Kastellet, the colourful waterfront houses of Nyhavn and the incredibly weird statues on the City Hall. I quite liked the Little Mermaid, but a lot of people find her disappointing: she's life-size and close enough to the harbourside that you can walk out to her rock.

- I walked up the Round Tower and the vertigo-inducing Vor Frelsers Kirke.

- I happened upon a couple of outdoor events: a Ferrari owners' meet (lots of Ferraris driving through the city to park up in a market square) and a Signspotting exhibition (mockups of amusing road signs from around the world). I don't know if that sort of thing happens often, but keep your eyes open.

- I took the train out to Humlebæk, for the Louisiana Art Museum, and on to Helsingør, for Elsinore Castle (Kronborg). Don't miss the statue of Holger the Dane in the crypt.

- I saw the ruins under Christiansborg Slot (Christiansborg Castle).

- I rushed through the National Museum of Denmark, which was free to enter, because I had an hour to kill before my flight. I wish I'd had longer. It's the place to go to see runestones.

I wish I'd found time for the Ny Carlsberg Glyptotek and the Statens Museum for Kunst, particularly the Royal Cast Collection (Den Kongelige Afstøbningssamling).

Be aware that, as in much of continental Europe, a lot of museums close on Mondays. And yes, food is expensive even by British standards - £2 for a Mars bar, £7 for fresh strawberries; I erred on the side of hunger.
posted by ManyLeggedCreature at 10:13 AM on August 16, 2011

Best answer: For food, avoid the centre as much as possible, as one would do with any other major city. We found that food was more reasonably priced in Vesterbro. The restaurants in the centre, particularly around Stroget and Nyhavn, are shockingly expensive when the exchange rate is considered... and every restaurant in Nyhavn seems to have the same food on their menu.

One great place we found when in Copenhagen was an Indian restaurant on Vesterbrogade called Koh-I-Noor that had Indian Buffet. After not having had a whole lot of food up to that point, an Indian buffet was the best thing we could have imagined, and worked out to be only about $25 per person.

We also happened upon an all-you-can-eat sushi place near Tivoli on Stormgade at Hans Christian Anderson (Running Sushi) just as it was closing (just before 10pm) and they gave us 1/2 price on the AYCE with the caveat that they wouldn't be replenishing it; it also worked out to $25 per person.

Watch for charges for glasses of tap water; nearly every place we went to charged us a couple of bucks for it.

I wholeheartedly recommend investing in a Copenhagen Card if you plan on doing any sight-seeing in museums; this will give you free admission to most places in Copenhagen, unlimited travel on public transportation (except to the airport) including nearly all of Zealand, which will get you to the AWESOME Frederickborg Palace in Hillerod and to the Kronborg Castle in Helsingor, upon which Hamlet's Elsinore was based. You can get 24-, 48- or 72-hour cards. It also gives discounts on some restaurants, but not really anything that is worth going to.
posted by urbanlenny at 10:18 AM on August 16, 2011

I should be nice and link my stuff:

Nagoya Running Sushi

Frederiksborg Palace (wikipedia)
Kronburg Castle (wikipedia)

Also, if you're looking for free WiFi, the Copenhagen Metro has it, if you go through a sign up process. I still get random emails from them (I actually appreciate the Danish in my inbox, so haven't opted out yet), but it was worth it to surf while on the train.
posted by urbanlenny at 10:22 AM on August 16, 2011

I quite liked the Museum of Danish Resistance, and it's right by the Little Mermaid.

Also, Nørrebro Bryghus has pretty decent beer.
posted by gurple at 12:26 PM on August 16, 2011 [1 favorite]

Visit Carlsberg: local history, beer and cute horsies.

Arken Museum of Modern Art.

Take a walk along Søerne, and drop by one of the cafes in the area.

If you like steak and burgers, consider Jensen's Bøfhus, a Danish chain with six locations in Copenhagen. Jensen's is not super fancy, but reliable and has reasonable prices by local standards. One of their steak dishes ("Jensens's foretrukne", 190 gram steak) costs DKK 99,- (= US $ 19) before 4 pm. One salad from the salad bar: DKK 49,-.

he noted that the usual price for a hamburger is the equivalent of US$25.
A Big Mac costs around $ 5,50 according to the Big Mac Index (2010 prices). One BBQ Burger at Jensen's Bøfhus costs DKK 79,- or US $ 15.
posted by iviken at 2:23 PM on August 16, 2011

you might even still find one or two carts selling a cup of live sardines with a side of mustard sauce (kind of fun to catch the little buggers by the tail, swirl quickly in mustard sauce, and let them swim down your throat, head first, to your gullet).

seriously, this isn't a dish that is or has ever been served in Denmark. Perhaps at NOMA.
posted by Catfry at 3:37 PM on August 16, 2011

Best answer: Live in Copenhagen - and have *never, ever* seen live sardines being sold on the streets - so don't look for them.

There are 2 trains (regional train and the Metro) that go from the airport to the city center.

By the Round Tower there is a fantastic hotdog vendor (pølsevogn) called DØP (dansk økologisk pølser) - really, really good.

I can, in no way, recommend Jensen's Bøfhus for good steaks and burger. Cheap, and tough, yes - but not good. You can get good burgers at Halifax (Frederiksborggade close to Nørreport) and on Larsbjornsstræde in the center. You can find incredible steaks at MASH on Bredgade.

For picnic food, start at Cofoco Le Marché on Værnedamsvej or right across the street at the French gourmet place for sandwiches (rilletes, ham, etc.) and then go to Frederiksberg have, or find a bench by the lakes.

If you really must see the little mermaid, do it while taking a canal tour. The canal tour boats go right up to the statue and then go to much more interesting landmarks and other parts of the city. Grab a cheap canal tour in Nyhavn from Nettobåderne.
posted by alchemist at 1:14 AM on August 17, 2011 [1 favorite]

Response by poster: Thank you for all your tips and advice. I'm flying out tomorrow. So will give an update when I get back.

posted by 92_elements at 10:15 AM on August 18, 2011

Response by poster: So back from Copenhagen. Had a really fun time. Loved the city.

Not wishing to turn this into a blog entry so I'll keep it brief.

Thought the Statens Museum for Kunst, and Viking Ship Museum including boat trip (Roskilde) was brilliant.

Just to say the Copenhagen Card also covers the train from the airport to the city centre (and vice versa).

Thanks for all your great advice. For anyone else planning to go, please feel free to email.
posted by 92_elements at 2:21 PM on August 26, 2011

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