What NOT to do when you visit Copenhagen
I have collected these 10 DON’Ts in Copenhagen. The interwebs overflow with great lists of advice for what to do as a visitor/guest/tourist in Copenhagen. Most of them are right – or they come close. Copenhagen is such a great place to live and to visit, and there are so many fine must-sees and must-do’s for every type of visitor, that such a list should actually go on and on. It is such a great and liveable place, that there are only few things you should avoid. That list is much shorter, so here it is:
- DON’T transport yourself in a car and definitely not in a tourist bus. Ride a bike! As soon as you can lay your hands on one and for as much of your stay as possible. It’s faster, more convenient and easy, more flexible, more reliable, healthier, sustainable, safe, sociable, and it’s great sightseeing. Read more on biking, if you fancy.
(btw, I know where you can rent one!)
- DON’T disregard that riding bikes is exactly what hundreds of thousands of locals are doing every day. When you walk (to your bike in the bike stand, I assume), don’t mistake the bike lanes for walkways. And when you shoot off on the bike lane, never forget that you’re not alone. It’s ok to ride in a slow, leisurely pace, as long as you make space on your left for busy locals. Any second someone in a business suit might come blasting out of nowhere (from any direction, actually). Not all the time but any moment. So stay alert and keep right on the bike lanes.
- DON’T rely on the local weather forecast. The Norwegian one is said to be better, but even that one is notoriously inaccurate, and many days the weather changes every 10 minutes. Look out the window – and good luck! (and check DON’T no. 7.2.)
- DON’T think you can do with an hour or two of aimless bike riding on one of the chunky, white public city bikes. It’s electric, heavy as a tank and an awful riding experience.
Also, a short ride will not do any justice to the phenomenon of urban cycling, which you’ll not find better anywhere else in the world. Plan for the places and visits as you would otherwise, but have a bike handy and use it to go anywhere at anytime.
- DON’T go (ride) to the little mermaid. In almost any aspect, it is the least interesting sight in Copenhagen. But just in the case you really have to… If your ignorant Facebook-friends will only thumbs-up the photos of you standing in the crowd of tourists before this little, meagre statue… Then at least do yourself the favor to visit Kastellet on your way, right next to it. It’s a 17th century citadel, a fortress of ramparts surrounded by moats, restored to its original state, very beautiful and historically interesting.
- DON’T be stuck up and down Strøget, the highly overrated shopping street and least interesting space in Copenhagen. It is as generic as any shopping street in any large or semi-large city in the world. No locals over 15 would go here. It used to be interesting, as the world’s first pedestrian street in the 1960s. But today it has degenerated to an outdoor, trivial shopping mall for tourists.
To a lesser degree, the extended version of this advice applies to the historic midtown. It’s sweet, small and beautiful, but only the privileged few live in colourful houses along canals. Use that bike from no. 1 to easily escape the touristy Inner City to visit everyday life in residential neighbourhoods outside.
- DON’T worry. Copenhagen is wonderful and life is easy.
- You will not get mucked (we have a very low crime rate),
- you’ll dry up eventually (you’ll survive the rain – after all we did for millennia), and
- you can’t get too much lost. After all it’s a small metropolis, and if you do lose your way around, Copenhageners are eager to finally be able to demonstrate some sort of upper hand, if you ask. Especially if your first question is ‘Do you speak English’. Albeit a superfluous question, since Danes are among the best non-native English-speaking people in the world. Expect a conversational level at least, even from 10 year old kids. Only few speak any useful German, even fewer French or Spanish.
- DON’T visit the Tivoli Garden amusement park if you’re not younger than 16 or older than 60 (and bringing your grandchildren). Kids LOVE it, but first of all the entry is steep, just to get inside. Food and drinks and candy is grossly overpriced and if you’re up for a rollercoaster ride, you’ll have to pay again. At least pick the old wooden one, then – it just turned a century a few years ago.
Yes, the park is old, and yes, there are flowers. But it’s an amusement park nonetheless, and not worth MY pennies anyway.
- DON’T throw away drinking bottles and cans (that you bought here). You have paid a small deposit (DKK 1-3) that kiosks and supermarkets will refund. If you don’t care for the refund, leave bottles and cans next to any trash bin or anywhere in plain sight. Within a minute most likely someone have picked it up to collect that refund.
- DON’T forget no. 1. Please. Just don’t!
This is one of few posts on this blog with no architecture in it, but lots of bikes.
The list is personal, and you may have different taste and viewpoints. Maybe especially on no. 8 on Tivoli. Other than that I’d bet that 95% would agree.
The remaining 5% are most welcome to leave their objections in the comments below. Thanks 🙂
I almost forgot:
- DON’T miss out on one of my guided bike tours in Copenhagen.