Copenhagen was hands-down my favorite trip in 2017. I went early December, just as the city was getting into the holiday spirit and Christmas markets took over every square. Even though it was borderline unbearably cold and expensive, it was also incredibly beautiful with a really diverse gastronomic scene.
After a weekend here, I can see why Denmark consistently ranks high in quality of life and the happiest inhabitants. It is by far the cleanest and safest city I've been to. Despite the cold temperatures, there was a real warmth to the city, giving me all the hygge feels!
The official language is Danish, but don't worry, everyone speaks English here very well!
Danish Krones is the official currency, but some places accept Euros too. However, I found that the best way to pay was with a credit card, which 99% of merchants accepted even at the Christmas markets.
If you're planning on using the metro a lot, the Mobilbilletter app lets you buy your tickets on your phone. This is great if you're having trouble using your pin/chip on your credit card abroad.
Where to Stay
I stayed at Copenhagen Downtown Hostel for one night, and it was probably the most comfortable hostel bed I've slept on! The only downside was that they had music thumping the whole night, and I could feel the vibrations even on the highest floor. Otherwise, I would recommend it! They have a great happy hour deal and free Christmas dinner (although I'm not sure if that's year round). Everyone was also really nice and sociable.
Where to Go for the Best Views
The iconic harbor you see in photos of Copenhagen is just as beautiful in real life. I'm a sucker for pretty, colorful building facades so this was my happy place. There was a Christmas market setup along one side of the canal, and on the other you can see famous fairytale writer, Hans Christian Andersen's old home. You'll also find plenty of cafes and restaurants with the coziest outdoor seating - think warm blankets, fur seat warmers, and heated lamps. If you're still feeling cold, grab a glass of glögg, the Danish version of hot mulled wine. And if that's still not enough, you can spike it with rum...perfect place to get your hygge on!
Admission fee: free
Christiansborg Palace tower
While I didn't get the chance to explore the inside of this palace, I did take advantage of the free rooftop view. It's the highest tower in Copenhagen and offers a stunning view over the city completely free of charge.
Admission fee: free
Church of Our Savior
This was definitely my favorite view point out of all the spots! Just when you think you've gotten to the top, there's a case of stairs that wraps around the spire tower. If you have a fear of heights, you might want to consider sitting this one out! But if you make it to the top, you will be awarded with a spectacular view of the city of spires.
Admission fee: 35 - 45 DKK
The Round Tower
I loved the unique architecture of the Round Tower! The walkway is one big spiral, leading to the top for an expansive view of the city. Be sure to stop by the museum/gift shop along the way!
Admission fee: 25 DKK
Original Coffee at Illum Rooftop
This cute, little coffee shop at the top of Illum has a great balcony area that overlooks Amagertorv square. You can find plenty of other bars and restaurants here as well.
Admission fee: free
Things to Do
The Little Mermaid
People warned me before going that the Little Mermaid statue is small and underwhelming...and they were right. BUT, it's such an iconic part of Copenhagen, you might as well go see it for yourself.
If you're here during the Christmas season, you can't miss the festive markets sprinkled throughout the city. You can find unique ornaments and Christmas presents here, or just walk around with a warm cup of glögg. It's impossible not to get into the holiday spirit in this city!
There's plenty of shopping to do in the center of Copenhagen along Strøget street. It's not the cheapest European city to shop in, but this long stretch of pedestrian area is beautiful to just walk along. Check out Illum, an upscale department store that also has an amazing Eataly on the lower level. There's also Flying Tiger Copenhagen, which has all sorts of knickknacks. If you happen to forget your toothbrush or phone charger or need something holiday-themed, this is the place to go. They also have a pretty great snack section!
Museums + Palaces
There are plenty of museums and palaces to fill your days in Copenhagen. Consider getting a Copenhagen Card if you plan on visiting all of the museums - it includes free admission to attractions and public transportation.
Copenhagen Street Food
Located on Paper Island, east of the Nyhavn harbor, Copenhagen Street Food is an entire warehouse filled all types of the different cuisines. Whatever you're craving, you can probably find here. Unfortunately, it's currently closed, but be on the lookout May 2018 when it reopens!
Another fun food market to check out is Torvehallerne. This market has outdoor and indoor stalls serving unique, gourmet offerings. For a taste of Danish cuisine, try the smørrebrød from Hallernes.
If you're looking for a grittier side to CPH, head over to this hippie community. There's some cool graffiti in the area, but I imagine most people come here to buy marijuana. Definitely an interesting experience and different compared to the rest of the city! While you can take photos around the entrance, keep your phone hidden around the drug selling area unless you want to get yelled at.
If you love amusement parks, don't miss out on Tivoli Gardens, the second oldest amusement park in the world. When I went, the whole park was transformed into a winter wonderland. If you're not into thrill rides, there is a cheaper ticket option for just entry. Free admission is included with the Copenhagen card!
Day trip to Sweden
For a quick break from Denmark, Sweden is just a quick train ride away. Popular day trips include Malmö and Lund, which are easily accessible by train. Trains leave frequently from the Nørreport metro station, so it's fine to buy your tickets the day of at the station. You can also get to Malmö by bus, which offers a better view of the famous Øresund Bridge.
On my last day, I decided to take a little trip to Malmö. For $30 round trip, I couldn't resist checking off another country! Unfortunately, the weather spoiled it a bit because it was bone-chillingly cold and a tad rainy. But I made the most of it anyways - saw some Christmas Markets, explored a castle, and enjoyed a fika (Swedish coffee break). One day was definitely not enough, but it was neat to get a glimpse of Swedish culture!