The cycling city of Scandinavia
When it comes to cycling, The Netherlands is still our number one country to roam around. But, in a good second place, Denmark comes into play. Copenhagen is one of the bigger cities in Scandinavia and has the best to offer for cyclists. The whole city is covered in bike lanes, bridges for cyclists, parks and a beautiful route around the harbour. It is safe to say that Copenhagen is bike friendly and that the city lives. There are activities for everyone. Not only for cyclists! It is our favorite city so far in Scandinavia. It breathes culture, architecture, and entertainment suitable for each age. We love it.
A little history
Copenhagen (København) is the capital of Denmark and has almost 800.000 citizens. With that, it is the biggest city in Denmark. It is originally a Viking fishing village founded in the 10th century. It became the capital of Denmark in the early 15th century. In the 18th century, it lost some citizens during the black plague. Also, it had dealt with two big city fires which destroyed most of the city at that time. Like a lot of Scandinavian cities, city fires were always an issue. Nowadays Copenhagen is a city full of culture, a thriving economy and a lot of tourism. Especially around the harbour.
Our favorite places
Copenhagen has much to offer. We love to stroll around in cities to get to know them and our first impressions were wonderful. The city has a good vibe in our opinion. We didn’t encounter anything we didn’t like.
When we decided to cycle to Copenhagen, the Freetown was one of our first places on our checklist to do. It has a bit of a mystic atmosphere when you talk about it before you visit it. When entering the town it is not dangerous or creepy as I was reading on the internet. There is a relaxed atmosphere and everything seems to flow as it should. It doesn’t feel scary or odd. It feels like a part of Copenhagen, but a little bit different. The area is also not super big but there are some interesting buildings, shops, bars, and much more. The only important rule in there is that you can’t photograph or film anything. Due to this we also have no pictures from our visit because we wanted to respect this rule.
The city center
We don’t like to be tourists but sometimes it is nice to check out the touristic areas. The city center is quite crowded, a bit chaotic and very busy when we visited it. Yet, this is almost always the place where you see the architectural pieces of a city. The canals with the colored houses around are quite beautiful to see. There are laying some big old sailing ships in the canals which makes the picture perfect.
The canals and houses reminded us a bit of Ghent (the city we lived in) or Amsterdam but it is still different of course. The center is quite small and once you walk more then 500 meters away the crowd is already much less. Except for the shopping streets. Around the center, you can discover a lots of hidden cute places where only locals or travelers come.
Beaches and harbour baths
Along the harbour of Copenhagen you will find at different public outdoor beaches. This is ideal to take a fresh swim during the summer. A lot of those beaches are located in between apartment blocks but some are also in the canals. At the islands brygge harbour bath you have even waterslides and a whole area separated from the canal to have fun with your family!
When you want to get out of the center and see some local places then Torvehallerne and the streets around are worth checking out. It is a market with Danish delicacies, local vegetables, fresh fish, coffee shops and much more… (about 80 shops). We also visited a nice teashop named Østerlandsk Thehus around that area. It is less touristic than the center and really nice to have a coffee or see the market.
We love parks to rest in after a heavy, long ride with the bicycle when we arrive in a (bigger) city. Copenhagen has a lot of parks where you can walk, cycle or sit in the grass. Often they also host events like concerts, festivals or other gatherings. The hosts were we stayed was close to the Valbyparken & the Sydhavnstippen. Since we were a few days in the city we took our time to explore those two a bit and see some green areas.
Moving around in the city
Copenhagen is a bit city so public transportation is very extended with a lot of options. You can travel easily around with bus, tram or train. Taking the harbour bus which is a ferry that goes around the canals is also an option. You can see the city in a different way going around with it. Our favorite (free) transportation still is the bicycle and there is a really nice harbour route (the harbour circle) that you can take to explore the city. This route has also the stops for the harbour bus on it for when you are tired of cycling and want a quick way to go somewhere else.
It is also possible to rent city bikes if you don’t have your own bicycles with you. It is not so expensive and it is a good and fast way to travel through a busy city center. You can find all the information you need about hiring a city bike here.
Food & Drinks
Most of the food we made ourselves because we want to save a bit on our budget. However, we took a very nice coffee and some healthy snack in Kaffa. A real hidden gem where you can relax between the locals. We also took a beer and some dessert in Kaffesalonen on their harbour terrace which had a nice view of the water and some bridges. Of course, there are many more bars en restaurants that have local beers and food. You can find a nice list for good bars here.
Staying in Copenhagen can be expensive if you want to be in the city center. However, around the city center, there are many affordable hosts available through Airbnb. We stayed at one a bit out of the center and because we had our bicycles it was really easy and fast to reach the center of the city. As I wrote in a previous post, you can also find a host through Couchsurfing or Warmshowers (if you are a cyclist). We didn’t have luck with finding one in Copenhagen so Airbnb was a good and affordable alternative for us.
Copenhagen is our favorite city so far that we visited on our bicycle route. We like to cycle around and it is maybe a big city (in Scandinavian standards) but it has a nice and relaxed vibe over it. Everything goes smooth. There is a lot of culture and plenty of events happening in Copenhagen. Don’t wait too long. Visit now!