Welcome to Denmark, one of the happiest countries in the world. The capital of Denmark and one of the most vibrant cities in Europe is Copenhagen; full of colorful buildings, thousands of bikers, and a wild nightlife. Not only do the Danes know how to drink, but they also know how to fill up their dark and long winters with plenty of hygge as well as bike like an Olympian. Copenhagen is home to the oldest amusement park in the world and some of the best coffee in all of Europe. If you’re visiting Copenhagen and want to experience the city as a local, there are tons of unique things to do. Below are 10 non-touristy things to do in Copenhagen.
*Updated March 2019* I returned to Copenhagen this past summer and added a few extra non-touristy things to do in Copenhagen to this list!
I basically turned Danish while living in Copenhagen, here are 14 habits you’ll pick up living in Copenhagen!
1. Rent a bike
Nearly all the citizens of Copenhagen ride their bikes regularly; be it to school, to work, on errands or just casually, biking is a huge part of the culture there. It is easily the most cost effective mode of transportation, and a good way to show the locals that you can hang. And it doesn’t matter if it’s hot and sunny or if there’s a full blown blizzard, Danes are hard to discourage from riding their bikes.
There are lanes in Copenhagen designated for bikers, as well as traffic lights! If you’re biking during the morning or late afternoon “rush hour,” you will find yourself among dozens of bikers taking up the entire street- it’s quite a sight.
Looking to rent a bike? Check out one of the top rental companies in Copenhagen!
Donkey Republic’s bike rental is the easiest way to rent a bike in Copenhagen. Not only do they have bike rentals for a great price, but they also let you book a bike through their app! Simply book and unlock the bike with the Donkey Republic app on your phone from many locations around Copenhagen. There’s always a bike for you nearby! Visit their website to learn more.
2. Visit Nørrebro
This is a section of Copenhagen that is hip, trendy, and off the beaten path. Cross over the bridge from Indre By and into Nørrebro, and you’ll be greeted with street art and cozy cafes where the locals hang around. You may even find yourself walking in the graveyard where Hans Christian Andersen is buried.
If you’re visiting Copenhagen in the spring/summer months, there will be dozens of Danes hanging out on the bridge that connects Nørrebro with Indre By, the main section of Copenhagen. There better be a Carlsberg or Tuborg beer in your hand! It’s a great area to stay and partake in non-touristy things to do in Copenhagen in the area.
3. Drink at Zefside
Looking for some funky beats and hip vibes? Zefside cocktail bar is the perfect place for that. Located in the city center with an unmarked door, this bar has some of the best music (if not the best) I’ve ever heard. Their tunes are incredibly interesting and leave you feeling euphoric. Check out my post about Zefside.
4. Kent Kaffe Laboratorium
You’ll probably think you’ve just ended up back in science class. There are many different ways they make coffee here, but one of the coolest was when Bunsen burner heated up the coffee which was in a flask. The process of making coffee is a very complex one at this cafe (hence the “scientific” name).
Don’t ask for milk- the person behind the counter will look at you as if you asked for Starbucks instead- the milk “masks over the fullness of the flavor.”
5. Take a trip to Møns Klint
Picture this: Pure white, chalk cliffs, set against water that looks like it was pulled from the Carribbean, all on the Southern coast of Denmark. And yes, you’re probably mispronouncing it (I can’t even pronounce it).
Though Møns Klint isn’t actually in Copenhagen, you can easily get here from Copenhagen via train and then bus- or, you can do what two friends and I did- take a train from Copenhagen to Vordingborggade (vording-bor-gale), and then bike on a hilly, two laned, 35 mile road, along farms, water, across bridges, through small Danish towns, and ultimately, to Møns Klint.
It was the most physically exhausting and exhilarating thing I’ve ever done, but I highly recommend this adventure! There is also a Geocenter near the cliffs, where you can learn about the history of Denmark. This is the perfect day trip if you’re taking the bus, and the perfect two day weekend trip if you end up biking (there’s a hostel nearby).
6. Amagerstrand Beach Park
A beach- in Copenhagen. It’s quite a serene place to go to, to escape the bustling city and constant rattling of bike chains. During the summer time, this beach is packed. I went in May, when It just started to get warm out, and there was virtually no one there.
7. Deer Park (Dyrehaven)
About 8 miles north of Copenhagen is the oldest amusement park in the world, or, Bakken. This amusement park is at the entrance of a roughly 2500 acre wooded park.
It’s called deer park for a reason. If you’re lucky enough, you will see dozens of red and fallow deer prancing through the woods, camouflaged with the foliage, and bathing in the sun.
The first time I went, I saw a ton of deer. A week later I took my friend, and after telling her you won’t believe how many deer are at this park, we didn’t see any. There are a ton of paths through the woods, and Hermitage Palace sits at the top of a hill, overlooking the park. This was built during the reign of Christian VI. You can either take the bus, the metro, or bike here. Visiting this park is one of the best non-touristy things to do in Copenhagen.
8. Jump Into the Canals
Ah, warm weather in Copenhagen- it’s as if everyone comes out of their hiding spots. The canal near the Black Diamond Library becomes a hot spot for those who wish to sun bathe and swim.
You’ll find people jumping into the icy waters of the canal off of a ledge designated exactly for this. Or, if you’re like my friend Lauren and I, you’ll find a random spot along the canal and go swimming anyway. There were ladders leading invitingly into the water, so of course we were allowed to! Right…?
9. Climb Church our Savior
For 25 Danish Krone, you can climb to the top of this church and see beautiful aerial views of Copenhagen. Watch out, though- the climb up this tower is hard. You’ll be climbing ladders, going through narrow archways, and climbing up steep steps. It’s well worth it though. This church is right near Christiania park.
10. Paludan Bog & Cafe
A sense of relaxation and calmness will take over as you sip your cappuccino in a chair situated between shelves of large leather bound books. This cafe serves delicious food and drink, but also acts as a book store. Who knows, maybe you’ll even walk out of there smarter than you were before.
***Because there’s so many non-touristy things to do in Copenhagen, I’ve added a few more things to this list!***
11. Brunch at Mad & Kaffe
One of the most delicious brunches I’ve ever had was at Mad & Kaffe. There are two in Copenhagen, one in Vesterbro and one in Amager East. You’re given a list and can choose between 3, 5, and 7 items on your plate. Of course I got 7 different items… it’s well worth the price!
12. Party at Culture Box
Party the night away with young locals at Culture Box. This grungy underground club has two different levels and a very Berlin feel to it.
13. Drink with the locals on Blågårdsgade Street
For a taste of the youthful local life of Copenhagen, head over to one of the most poppin’ areas, Nørrebro. This particular street is full of bars with drink specials and happy hours. The bars are packed in the evenings and full of locals, and is one of the best non-touristy things to do in Copenhagen.
14. Go on a Mystery Hunt with Mystery Makers
Not only is this one of the best ways to see the city, but you get to have tons of fun doing so! Mystery Makers creates a mystery hunt around Copenhagen, with clues you have to solve. Grab your friends and spend an afternoon exploring and solving puzzles and riddles.
Where to Stay
This is one of the most social hostels in Copenhagen! It’s perfect for those of you on a budget. It’s in a great location and has a homey atmosphere. The bathrooms are clean and there’s an onsite bar, making it a wonderful place to start your nights out!
Danhostel Copenhagen City
This is a big hostel with a homey atmosphere, clean bathrooms, and comfortable beds. It’s an awesome place to meet other backpackers. It’s only ten minutes from Tivoli Gardens and Strøget shopping street.
Steel House Copenhagen
There’s an indoor pool and a bar onsite at Steel House Copenhagen. The beds are comfortable and the dorm rooms come with lockers and and personal power sockets.
First Hotel TwentySeven
Only a few minutes walk to Tivoli, this hotel is perfect for those of you wanting a little bit of luxury. The bathroom and bedrooms are spacious and clean. They’re designed in minimalistic color schemes and designer furniture.
The beds are known for their comfort, and they serve up a delicious and big breakfast for their guests. The staff are friendly and will help you with anything you need during your time in Copenhagen.
If you truly want to live like a local, book a stay in Copenhagen at an Airbnb. I stayed at an Airbnb in Nørrebro and had a gorgeous, spacious, and modern apartment with a kitchen (cooking myself helped with saving money!), a bedroom, bathroom, living room, and dining room. If you sign up with this link, you’ll get $40 off a booking of $75 or more, and $15 off a booking of $50 or more. Read my guide on how to see Copenhagen on a budget, and the types of things you can do that are free and cheap!
What other non-touristy things can you do in Copenhagen? Comment below!
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