Copenhagen, Denmark

We left the comparably mild winter weather of Netherlands and arrived at the Copenhagen Airport late afternoon the second week of January: the sky already beginning to darken, old snow on the ground. The airport was quiet, sterile lighting led the way while a oddly comforting smell of artificial fruits wafted through the cold air, reminding me of Vita gummies. There was very helpful staff at the metro ticket machines, which was the first time we experienced any sort of proactive care for tourists while in Europe. We were able to purchase metro tickets into city center using our Chase card with no problems. Interestingly, a single ticket will be printed for multiple riders. Quick tip: as the ride from the airport is one of the longest (and most expensive) trips you’ll likely take, plan ahead and see if using the CityPass on this day makes sense, but more on that in the details below.

Our AirBnB was a short walk away from the Hvidovre station, but in the cold of winter it can be a significant enough trek. Something to keep in mind when you’re picking your vacation stays, which until this point we hadn’t quite taken into account. Luckily there was a supermarket Fotex, just a couple blocks away so we stocked up on some supplies in case the weather didn’t pan out during our trip. Despite a reputation for having delicious chocolate milk, the two I sampled (Cocio and Matilde) weren’t noteworthy and fell short compared to the amazing chocolate milk we had in Utrecht. Not wanting to venture too far after settling in, we ordered some sushi from the nearby Kirin Sushi, but were disappointed in the quality compared to the price.

As expected, the weather in Copenhagen was windy and rainy most days out of our week, not to mention very cold. We’ve found that during testy weather, it’s helpful to plan the itinerary by area per day but then remain flexible on which day you actually go so you can adjust based on the weather.

Copenhagen’s Meatpacking District

We visited the converted hipster Meatpacking District on one of our semi rainy days, after a morning of editing. Being diehard food fans, we took note to visit Hija de Sanchez after watching “Ugly Delicious” on Netflix (we couldn’t afford a meal at Noma, mentioned in another Netflix series “Chef’s Table” – if you can, don’t forget to book your reservations well in advance!). That said, the tacos are not inexpensive, 35-40 DKK each, about $5 – on the high end when compared to tacos in California.

Hija de Sanchez is really more of an indoor stall, the limited seating was full for the entirety of our quick dinner. Despite contrary reviews online, we lucked out with a friendly gal at the counter and enjoyed the cozy American diner meets Mexican taco stand setting. The Cabbage taco was the most unique offering with its extra crunchy texture, but it was too spicy for me, requiring Carl to surrender the delicious Hibiscus tea. The addition of pineapple to the Al Pastor was refreshing while the Carne Asada was pretty typical. If you’re avid taco fans, big eaters, or on a budget – we think you can safely skip this spot without missing much.

Whether or not you opt to grab tacos from Hija de Sanchez, the Meatpacking District is an interesting place to visit. Although most spots seemed closed until the dinner hour, we enjoyed browsing the strongly themed complex with honoring names like Warpigs Brewpub, Cock’s & Cows, Butchers & Bicycles, or Mother. During our quick stroll we found a small (think one other person in an aisle makes it crowded) Asian market Kakshidi Food Trading where we scored some napa cabbage and noodles for modest prices, making up for our taco splurge.

As we readied ourselves to head back, a bright blue neon sign across the street caught our eyes. Le Kaff turned out to be a cozy cafe, so we stopped in to warm up over some lattes before taking the train back home. A curious baby made eyes at us from the steps by the door while we ordered, and then Destiny’s Child “Emotions” came over the speakers and that just made our day. We plopped down by the window and reminisced about high school, it was the perfect vibe for the rainy day.

Find some green amid the snow

On our first clear and crisp day we strolled through the King’s Garden (Kongens Have) and the Botanical Garden (Botanisk Have). We started at the King’s Garden, also known as the Rosenborg Garden, an expansive park with various sculptures and a well-laid rose garden (though in winter you’ll have to imagine the roses). The 3 entrances and paths have remained the same though the original orchards and gardens have since been replaced and modernized. While winter saw less colors, the flat openness of the park lends itself to the season’s aesthetic: the thin blanket of snow made for some beautiful photos. In the summer the park is filled and often used for events, but we were happy to have the park mostly to ourselves during the brisk afternoon: we only ran into some gardeners and a handful of people here and there.

The King's Garden (Kongens Have), Copenhagen
The King’s Garden (Kongens Have), Copenhagen

Similarly we got to enjoy the Botanical Garden mostly to ourselves. Just across the street from the King’s Garden, the garden is scaped much more organically and the paths curl for better meandering. We wound our way around the lake, the fowl unperturbed by the chill, and up a short hill where a tiny black pond spilled down into a little waterfall that streamed down the hill. Small fluffy piles of snow sat nestled about the plants and rocks. We tossed handfuls of the fresh snow into the pond, watching the sparkling white flakes catch the sunlight before disappearing into the dark shadowy water.

As the wind picked up and the sky began to darken we decided to head back home, missing out on the glasshouses – recently they opened up a Butterfly House, but I didn’t know about that until after our visit.

Botanical Garden (Botanisk Have), Copenhagen
Botanical Garden (Botanisk Have), Copenhagen

free days at the Copenhagen Museums

Tuesdays and Wednesdays are typical free days for a number of the museums in Copenhagen, while Mondays tend to be when most are closed, so regardless of the weather you’ll want to account for that. Luckily weather was not an issue either way and we spent both days out on the Indre By, Copenhagen’s center.

Tuesday: NY Carlsberg Glyptotek

The Ny Carlsberg Glyptotek museum is free on Tuesday and we got out to the city center in good time that morning. Since the rain was still holding, we headed first to Nyhaven, the iconic harbor. The quaint colorful buildings were a welcome to the eyes after all the gray and white skies. A dusting of snow on the decks of docked ships added to the cold morning charm. The tourist hordes were not yet out but there was still a flurry of commuters making their way across town.

Nyhavn (København K)
Nyhavn (København K)

As it was yet still early (the museum doesn’t open until 11 am), we passed through Snaregard & Magstræde, two connected streets that were partly under construction but still held that historic grace and made for beautiful photos: delightful orange chairs contrasted the baby blue building and the tiger striping cobblestone shone from the earlier drizzle.

We arrived at opening but the Ny Carlsberg Glyptotek was already busy. The museum is beautiful architecturally but also because of the lovely Winter Garden – an indoor green space just beyond the entrance. Ny Carlsberg Glyptotek holds quite an extensive collection of paintings and an almost endless array of sculptures. My favorites were by Stephan Sinding: very Grecian in the idealism of the bodies and portrayal of myths or feelings – the postures are so expressive despite the lack of eyes and color. There was also an interesting section of the Danish painters who all studied together and there is a unique opportunity to compare one of their studies side by side.

Ny Carlsberg Glyptotek, Copenhagen
Ny Carlsberg Glyptotek, Copenhagen

Torvehallerne Copenhagen: Food Market or Food Hall

We realized we’d messed up when we had to wrap up at the Ny Carlsberg Glyptotek due to our grumbling stomachs: we had skipped lunch due to the late opening hour. Nearly delirious with hunger, we quickly made our way to Torvehallerne Copenhagen, the famous food market. The market has about a handful of restaurants, the same number of cafes, and the rest are shops for an assortment of produce and food related products. It was less ready to eat food than we’d anticipated, though we were used to the food halls we’d been to in Netherlands or Spain.

Our first stop was Hallernes Smørrebrød, typical Danish open-faced sandwiches, some topped with fried onions and beef or tuna and roe. The difficulty is, if you purchase food from a stall, there’s really no seating indoors. Most seating indoors belongs to the restaurants and while there’s plenty of seating outside, it just wasn’t ideal in the cold. After trying to covertly wolf down our smørrebrød at the edge of a counter, we decided we would take anything else we found back home.

Hallernes Smørrebrød, Torvehallerne Copenhagen
Hallernes Smørrebrød, Torvehallerne Copenhagen

Wandering around the many coffee stands, we found a delicious Danish potato cake from Sweet Valentine and some cinnamon rolls and fragilité from Laura’s Bakery, I’m a sucker for the scent of cinnamon. A Carlienne’s favorite was the potato cake, normally we’re not big fans of marzipan but we’ve never had any that was so soft and light. Another great find were these beautiful steaks and sausages from Slagter Lund that we seared off for dinner that night.

Potato Cake, Sweet Valentine, Torvehallerne Copenhagen
Potato Cake, Sweet Valentine, Torvehallerne Copenhagen

Wednesday: Thorvaldsens Museum and Nikolaj Kunsthal

The following day, Wednesday, we had more free museum visits planned: the Thorvaldsens Museum and the Nikolaj Kunsthal. The morning of, we woke rather exhausted and decided to skip Thorvaldsens Museum as we were a little sculpture’d out from the previous day; plus there’s only so much Fine Arts you can get Carl to endure. After a more relaxed start to the day, we headed back to the city center to Nikolaj Kunsthal, a Contemporary Arts museum in an old and cozy converted church. Creaky wooden stairs led up to the 3 stories: there was an installation at the top floor and the rest were film exhibits. I enjoyed the vibe of the space and the films reminded me of my art school days, but they were very experimental and slow paced, especially when compared to the today’s media consumption rate and I can understand that it would be even more challenging to watch those sort of abstract films nowadays compared to when I was in school, not even a decade ago.

After that short visit to the Nikolaj Kunsthal, we walked North and wandered around Nørrebro area a little before popping into Hooked for lunch. We swung open the door to hear Drake’s “Pull that cash out/December”, pretty gangsta and unexpected. It wasn’t crowded and there was a nice mix in attendance which also seemed contrary to the music; at any rate, we enjoyed the bass with a side of mac n cheese croquettes.
Their Hooked burger combo and lobster roll wasn’t bad either, perfect with a refreshing beer and cider.

mac n cheese croquettes, Hooked, Copenhagen
mac n cheese croquettes, Hooked, Copenhagen

Noteworthy (N)iceCream

Speaking of refreshing cold beers in the middle of January, we followed up lunch with one of our favorite things regardless of weather: ice cream. While we aren’t vegans, our interest was peaked by the claims of the coconut milk based ice cream over at Nicecream and we were left impressed. Nicecream has a great story and we were big fans of their branding. The ice cream is super creamy with intensely rich flavors (so there’s no hint of coconut) and no artificial tastes at all. The Naughty Banana tasted exactly like a sweet ripened banana and the Sneaky Bizz was extremely peanut-buttery. On top of their amazing ice cream, they also have a half priced menu: certain flavors at 50% so you can enjoy and save too! Or if you want to take some togo, bring your own container for 10% off. There’s really no quicker way to our hearts than top quality ice cream on sale.

Banana, NiceCream, Copenhagen
Banana, NiceCream, Copenhagen

Despite being our first real winter-cold country in Europe and not quite having warm enough gear, we enjoyed our 6 days in Copenhagen and felt it was enough time to see things without being rushed and allowing for the weather. Browse our photos for inspiration or read on for more things to know before going to Copenhagen and other logistical information or jump down to the details on all the places we recommended.

Photo Gallery

AirBnB

“Cosy, cheap and central apartment”.
Very modern (seems recently renovated) apartment with plenty of space and in a very easy location, close to bus and train and near a supermarket. Fully equipped kitchen, dishwasher, clothes washer, and chromecast for the tv. We stayed for a week and was very comfortable.

A few things to note: – the bathroom is snug, the shower and toilet share the same space (as is traditional) – the bed is indeed small, we just managed to fit two of us on there, but we’re on the smaller side of average – there’s no wardrobe/drawer space available, as Kristinna’s things are in the apartment (we live out of our luggage so not a big deal for us). We highly recommend!

Want to give AirBnB a try?
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Logistics

General

Mid-January will be very cold in Copenhagen, you’re sure to see some rain and snow. Bring quality winter gear: proper shoes – the ground can get very slippery; warm jackets, a hat and gloves are essential to staying comfortable while traversing the outdoors. This time of year will be you’ll be able to enjoy off-season prices and less crowds.

Vaccinations: Routine Vaccinations

Mosquito problems: None while there

Problems for tattoos: None

Traveling as a woman: Standard Precautions

Getting Around in Copenhagen, Denmark

If you’re visiting Copenhagen during the wintertime, you’ll definitely want to account for transportation costs as walking around won’t be ideal. The trains cars are well organized inside with designated places for bikes and strollers and even a quiet seating section.

Look into the multi day City Passes to see if it’ll help you save. The pass is good for all modes of transportations for the number of days that you purchase the pass and you can select your start date. With each City Pass, two children under 12 years of age can travel with you for free. We bought the 5 day pass: 12 rides makes the pass worthwhile.

The most convenient way is to purchase it online before arrival, just set the start date to your arrival day, which will cover your transportation from the airport into town. You can just show the email on your phone if necessary as you ride. The pass can also be purchased at the station machines, but we had found that the ticket machines (other than the one at the airport) wouldn’t accept our Visa card, so we were forced to buy it online.

budgeting

Currency: 1 DDK = 0.15 USD
Tipping in Copenhagen is not expected, but appreciated. Service is already included in their pricing.

Daily Budget

$70-80/person: This was for 6 evenings in Copenhagen in a lovely apartment listed on AirBnB. We cooked most of our meals in and went to a few restaurants and the Torvehallerne market. We invested in the 5 day City Pass, which helped us to save a little bit on transportation during our stay. We took advantage of the Free Days for the couple of museums we visited.

Some typical costs

  • Latte: 30-40 DDK
  • Smørrebrød: 70-90 DDK
  • Taco from Hija de Sanchez: 35-40 DDK
  • a 5 day Citypass: 300 DDK
  • AirBnB private apartment: $50/night

details

Kirin Sushi, kirinsushi.dk, Hvidovrevej 134A, $$ – Rather expensive sushi for not so great quality. Look elsewhere for your sushi fix!

Hija de Sanchez, hijadesanchez.dk, Slagterboderne 8, $$, no cash, cards only – More hype than bite! Good quality tacos but fairly expensive for what they are. Get the combos to save a little and try their Hibiscus tea. Extremely limited seating inside.

Kakshidi Food Trading, kfoodtrading.com, Flæsketorvet 42, $-$$ – Small modestly priced Asian supermarket located in the Meatpacking district. Great if you’re on a budget or looking for Asian ingredients.

Le Kaff, facebook.com/lekaffhalmtorvet, Halmtorvet 46, $-$$ – Cozy cafe just outside of the Meatpacking district. Their large sizes are truly large, so a great spot for those that need quantity not just quality.

The King’s Garden (Kongens Have), slks.dk/slotte-ejendomme-og-haver/ejendomme/slotshaver/kongens-have, Øster Voldgade 4A, Free – Beautiful garden grounds, worth a visit even in the wintertime.

Botanical Garden (Botanisk Have), botanik.snm.ku.dk, Gothersgade 128 – The garden is free except for the Palm House (greenhouse), entrance is 60DDK. The gardens are still lovely in the wintertime.

Nyhavn, København K – Iconic harbor, the neighborhood is charming and free to wander around, though be aware that it is a touristy area so businesses there are more expensive.

Snaregard & Magstrædere, København – quiet but charming streets not far from Nyhavn.

Ny Carlsberg Glyptotek, glyptoteket.dk, Dantes Plads 7, free on Tuesdays, otherwise 115 DKK per adult – Beautiful museum with a botanic courtyard, filled with paintings and sculptures.

Thorvaldsens Museum, thorvaldsensmuseum.dk, Bertel Thorvaldsens Plads 2, free Wednesdays, otherwise 70 DKK per adult, free for children – A museum completely dedicated to Danish artist Bertel Thorvaldsen, we actually didn’t make it to this museum, as we were all sculptured out after the Glyptotek.

Torvehallerne Copenhagen, torvehallernekbh.dk, Frederiksborggade 21, $$-$$$ – Famous food market hall with equal parts restaurants and food product stores and strangely a large number of cafes/bakeries. There’s a produce and a floral stall outside. Unless you’re eating at a restaurant inside, the seating indoors is limited, plenty of seating outside, though it’s not ideal during the winter months. We found the restaurants to be rather expensive and only picked up some snacks. Our favorites was the Danish potato cake from Sweet Valentine and cinnamon rolls and fragilité from Laura’s Bakery. The Hallernes Smørrebrød sandwiches seemed popular but weren’t a hit with us. There were beautiful steaks and sausages from Slagter Lund, which we took home and cooked for dinner.

Nikolaj Kunsthal, nikolajkunsthal.dk/en, Nikolaj Plads 10, free Wednesdays, otherwise 70 DKK per adult, free for children – Contemporary Arts museum in a converted church. Very neat space, though very small with only a handful of exhibits. During our visit it was mostly films, which didn’t quite tickle our fancy.

Hooked, gethooked.dk, Nørrebrogade 59, $$-$$$ – Hipster and super casual seafood burger joint: try their hooked burger or lobster roll and don’t miss out on their mac n cheese croquettes! They’ve got great beer and cider options too. Consider this place a splurge as prices are quite high.

Nicecream, nicecreamcph.com, Elmegade 30, $-$$ – All Vegan ice cream with rad branding. Their ice cream is coconut milk based and soooo creamy: great rich flavors and no artificial tastes at all. I got their Banana which tasted really like sweet ripe banana. Carl had their Sneaky Bizz which had such a rich Peanut Butter flavor. They offer a rotation of flavors at 50% off, so you can save here too! If taking a pint to go is an option for you, bring your own container for 10% off!

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