Green city guide: Copenhagen, Denmark

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Planning a city break to Copenhagen and want to do it the responsible and eco-friendly way? In this green city guide to Copenhagen, you find the best things to do, the coolest places to wine and dine, the trendiest places to shop and the best places to stay in the Danish capital for the responsible traveller.

 

Being born and raised in Copenhagen, it’s probably no surprise to you that this city holds a special place in my heart. I love Copenhagen and all its facets and especially on a warm and sunny day, I can’t think of a better place to be. During winter it’s another story…

Copenhagen is beautiful, and the Danish capital offers an interesting mix of detailed historic buildings and modern architecture, plenty of water and lots to do for its visitors. Stroll around the diverse areas or do as us Copenhageners and experience the capital by bike, grab a meal or two at one of our excellent restaurants or relax and enjoy and simply practice Danish “hygge.” I sincerely hope you will love Copenhagen just half as much as I do!

Here is my ultimate green city guide to Copenhagen packed with insider tips to ensure you make the most of your visit and have an epic time in one of Europe’s most sustainable and eco-friendly cities.

/Related: Copenhagen itinerary: How to spend the perfect two days in Copenhagen, Denmark

 

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What to do in Copenhagen

 

Enjoy the view from the Round Tower

You get one of the best views of Copenhagen from the top of the Round Tower – and especially around sunset, the view is magnificent. The tower is 36 metres tall and was built as an observatory to continue the famous astronomer Tycho Brahe’s science after his death in 1601.

To get to the observation platform you need to walk up the spiral walk that is around 200 metres. From the platform, you have a 360° view of all the Copenhagen towers and spires, Tivoli Gardens and Øresundsbroen, the bridge that connects Denmark and Sweden, among others.

The entrance fee is 25 DKK.

Købmagergade 52A, København K (www)

 

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Experience Copenhagen from the water

Copenhagen is full of waterways, and there are plenty of possibilities to see the city’s beauty from the canals. Despite the lack of speed, my favourite is GoBoat. GoBoat rents out sustainable and solar-powered boats that sail at a pace allowing everyone to be the captain on board. All boats suit up to eight people and have a table in the middle. So whether you want to go sightseeing the canals, enjoy a maritime dinner and a drink or just hang out with friends you can do it with GoBoat.

The prices start at 449 DKK for one hour’s rent.

Islands Brygge 10, København K (www)

 

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Explore colourful Nyhavn

Nyhavn is one of Copenhagen’s most iconic places, and especially on a sunny afternoon and evening people go to the little harbour known for its surrounding colourful houses. Nyhavn is charming and picturesque and is a favourite among both tourists, locals and well established and aspiring photographers.

There are plenty of restaurants and bars located in the area, making Nyhavn a vibrant spot all year. The prices are typically sky high though, which is why it’s recommended to go somewhere else or to do as the locals and bring takeaway to enjoy at the harbourside instead.

Nyhavn, København K

 

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Have a fun time in Tivoli Gardens

No visit to Copenhagen without a visit to Tivoli Gardens – one of the oldest amusement parks in the world located in the centre of the city. Whether you love an adrenalising ride, a nostalgic ride or no ride at all you will most likely love this place. The old park offers thrilling rides, beautiful gardens, sustainable restaurants, concerts and more, making it a great attraction for all ages.

Tivoli is open during the long summer season, the scary Halloween period, the cozy Christmas period and the short winter period where the garden is decorated to convey the characteristics of the different seasons and periods. All year Tivoli is great but my favourite time to go is around Christmas.

Entrance fee is 130 DKK and unlimited ride ticket is 295 DKK.

Vesterbrogade 3, København V (www)

 

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Relax and unwind in the Botanical Garden

Especially if it’s cold and the wind is shaking outside, there is no better place to be than the Botanical Garden. The outside area of the 10-hectare large garden isn’t that interesting, but the greenhouses though are highly recommended.

The noticeable Palm House is with good reason what draws most people to the garden. It was built in 1926 and is a stunning glass building filled with palm trees of all shapes, sizes and colours. Experience the garden from the ground level or take the significant spiral stairs to walk under the roof and get a whole new perspective of the many plants.

The Palm House and the adjacent greenhouses are a quiet and green haven where you easily can escape the hustle and bustle of the city.

The Palm House entrance fee is 60 DKK while the rest of the Botanical Garden is free of charge.

Gothersgade 128, København K (www)

 

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Take a dip in the canal

Copenhagen is surrounded by water and no matter where in the city you are, you are never far away from the canals, the lakes or the ocean. Many of the waterways are used for sailing, but the water is so clean that you can actually swim in it anyway. Copenhageners are proud of the clean canals and along some of them, you find harbour baths that are extremely popular places to hang around on a warm summer day in the city.

You find harbour baths at Islands Brygge on Amager, Fisketorvet in Vesterbro and Sluseholmen in Sydhavnen. You can also take a dip at one of the bathing zones that differs from the harbour baths by not being gated and controlled by lifeguards or in the sea at Amager Strand or around Nordhavn.

All harbour baths, swimming zones and beaches are free of charge.

 

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Walk around Freetown Christiania

Freetown Christiania is a place like no other. You find quirky self-built houses, eco-friendly restaurants, interesting galleries and shops and green oases all around this large collectively controlled community.

Christiania was founded in 1971 by a group of settlers who occupied the military barracks in Bådmandsgade in the heart of Copenhagen. Since then, it has become a place where around 1000 people live and more than 500.000 people visit every year, making it one of Copenhagen’s top tourist attractions.

Christiania is green and colourful and full of alternative personalities that bring serious 1970s feels to the area. It’s most often a beautiful and peaceful place, but Christiania has been an area of conflict among others due to some inhabitants relaxed view on hash that is sold illegally on a regular basis.

Prinsessegade, København K (www)

 

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Where to eat and drink in Copenhagen

 

Bæst

If you are a fan of Italian cuisine you should eat at Bæst in Nørrebro. Bæst makes their own mozzarella and charcuterie and uses sustainable and organic products of the highest quality to create the most delicious pizzas. Despite pizzas, they also have small dishes on the menu that are perfect to start with if you are really hungry.

No matter if you want to swing by for a quick meal or hang out for a couple of hours you can do it at Bæst.

Guldbergsgade 29, København N (www)

 

Gasoline Grill

Gasoline Grill is located at a petrol station and doesn’t look like much from the outside. I admit that I had walked by many times and never entered the burger joint before Bloomberg published an article in early 2017 about the best burger places where Gasoline Grill was mentioned as the 27th best burger worldwide. Since then, it has become a popular burger chain with several restaurants in Copenhagen. The one on Landgreven is the original one.

Despite serving lots of burgers with beef, Gasoline Grill aims to be as eco-friendly as possible. The joint only uses organic and fresh products and wraps the food in sustainable packaging.

Landgreven 10, København K (www)

 

Høst

One of my favourite restaurants in Copenhagen is Høst. They serve a variety of delicious dishes based on the New Nordic concept where focus is on local ingredients and greens of the season. All dishes are rustic and elegant and complement the beautiful surroundings in the best way.

Høst has won several design awards for its interior design and is among others awarded the most beautiful restaurant by Travel + Leisure.

Nørre Farigmagsgade 41, København K (www)

 

Kiin Kiin

Kiin Kiin is the only Thai inspired Michelin restaurant in Copenhagen and one of few worldwide. If you are keen to splurge a little, eating at Kiin Kiin is going to be a memorable experience. The restaurant has a set menu where you start with a few street food style snacks in the lounge area after which you go to the restaurant and enjoy a delicious seven-course meal.

One of Kiin Kiin’s key issues is to stop food wasting so whatever isn’t used in the restaurant is used for take-away.

Guldbergsgade 21, København N (www)

 

Kødbyens Fiskebar

Kødbyens Fiskebar is located in the trendy Meatpacking District and is a great place to enjoy a proper seafood meal. Both interior design and menu are raw and rustic and reflect the area’s characteristics perfectly. They use sustainable, organic and to a great extent local products and serve delicious fish and seafood dishes.

Flæsketorvet 100, København V (www)

 

Neighbourhood

If you are looking for the best place to start a fun night out you should go to Neighbourhood. Neighbourhood serves delicious organic pizzas with a twist and cocktails to the tones of great music. The pizzas are lighter, thinner and greener than regular Italian style pizzas and are made with local produce and organic and sustainable products.

Their tables are only available for walk-ins, but the restaurant suits many people and it’s almost always possible to get a table. However, you also find Neighbourhood in the Inner City where reservations are allowed.

Istedgade 27, København V (www)

 

Osteria 16

Osteria 16 doesn’t look like much from the outside, but the small restaurant located in Vesterbro is a hidden gem. A set Italian antipasti dinner is on the menu. You will get eight small dishes made with love from local ingredients and products imported from Italy to share at the table. The menu changes daily but does always reflect the current season.

Despite great food, Osteria 16 probably makes Copenhagen’s best Aperol Spritz!

Haderslevgade 16, København V (www)

 

Torvehallerne

Torvehallerne is a food market with more than 60 stands varying from restaurants, cafés, bars, delis and other shops. You can get pretty much everything eatable and drinkable here, and since its opening in 2011, the food market has only increased in popularity.

Torvehallerne works to promote sustainability, and many of the brands you find at the food market sell local, organic and eco-friendly products. For example, Asa Spice that sells organic spices, Banana that makes banana-based ice cream, The Coffee Collective that brews sustainable coffee, Fiskerikajen that sells fresh fish and seafood, Grød that makes organic porridges and Omegn that sells high-quality products from local farmers and other producers.

Frederiksborggade 21, København K (www)

 

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Where to shop in Copenhagen

 

Aiayu

Aiayu is a Danish high-end brand that sells high-quality basic wear and homeware. The people behind care a lot about creating timeless pieces that are sustainably manufactured and impact the environment as little as possible. All styles are made from organic fabrics and are made to last forever.

Store Strandstræde 12a, København K (www)

 

Filippa K

The Swedish brand Filippa K started in Filippa Knutsson and Patrik Kihlborg’s kitchen back in 1994 and has since then grown to become an international bestseller. The classic styles in basic colours are easily wearable and fit in almost every woman’s wardrobe. Filippa K focuses on quality, minimalism and timeliness and aims to create pieces that are sustainably manufactured and last long.

Ny Østergade 13, København K (www)

 

Ganni

One of my favourite Danish brands is Ganni. They create classic everyday styles and trendy clothes perfect for a night out, and what all styles have in common is the effortless Scandinavian feel. Ganni started as a small family-owned company and has since then grown to become one of Denmark’s most successful fashion brands with several stores nationally and worldwide.

Within the last few years, Ganni has become more and more sustainable by focusing on reducing their CO2 emission and creating styles that can be used for several seasons. They are still on their journey towards becoming a fully responsible brand though.

Store Regnegade 12, København K (www)

 

HAY House

HAY House is by far the coolest interior and design store in Copenhagen. The Danish brand creates fancy Scandinavian furniture and all kinds of interior accessories and stationery, and their flagship store is definitely worth a visit. During the last few years, HAY has become an international interior darling, and stores keep popping up all around the world from several places in Europe to far away countries such as Australia, China and the US.

HAY is aware of their actions’ environmental impact and takes responsibility for manufacturing and selling sustainable products.

Østergade 61, 2, København K (www)

 

Res Res (Respect Resources)

Res Res is a shop in Nørrebro that sells all things sustainable, fair trade and organic – fashion for women, men and kids, accessories, beauty and homeware from some of the best eco-friendly brands in Denmark and beyond. Aiayu, Miild, Skall Studio and Woron are some of them.

The people behind want to make a difference and create awareness of a healthy fashion industry where social and environmental responsibility are key.

Guldbergsgade 29C, København N (www)

 

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Where to stay in Copenhagen

 

Andersen Boutique Hotel

Andersen Boutique Hotel is a modern boutique hotel where design and comfort are central. The hotel is located in vibrant Vesterbro close to some of Copenhagen’s best restaurants, bars and shops. They have 69 rooms decorated in three different styles and offer a CONCEPT24 service that means you can have your room for 24 hours from check in to check out.

Andersen Boutique Hotel has won several prizes including the TripAdvisor’s Traveler’s Choice Award in 2017. In addition, they have been assigned the Green Key that requires hotels to comply with strict environmental rules.

Read more, check availability and prices and book your stay here (affiliate link).

Helgolandsgade 12, København V (www)

 

Hotel Alexandra

With a focus on traditional Danish design and architecture, Hotel Alexandra is a beautiful spot to stay during your time in Copenhagen. The hotel has 61 rooms that are all decorated with Danish design classics and modern facilities. In addition, Hotel Alexandra is nicely located in the centre of Copenhagen right next to the vibrant City Hall Square.

Hotel Alexandra has been assigned the Green Key and is one of TripAdvisor’s “Greenleaders.”

Read more, check availability and prices and book your stay here (affiliate link).

H. C. Andersens Boulevard 8, København V (www)

 

Hotel SP34

Hotel SP34 is a charming and modern boutique hotel located in Copenhagen’s Latin quarter. The hotel offers beautifully decorated rooms where Scandinavian design dominates and is nicely chosen to fit in with the surrounding area’s characteristics. In addition, you find two á la carte restaurants, four bars and a large rooftop.

Hotel SP34 is part of the Brøchner Hotels group that has a crucial focus on creating sustainable and eco-friendly hotel experiences for its guests. Thus, Hotel SP34 has been assigned the Green Key and serves 90-100 % organic meals.

Read more, check availability and prices and book your stay here (affiliate link).

Sankt Peders Stræde 34, København K (www)

 

Ibsens Hotel

Ibsens Hotel is a nice mid-range hotel where comfort and Danish “hygge” are central. The hotel is located within short distance of many of Copenhagen’s best restaurants, cafés and bars plus the Lakes that the Copenhageners love to walk or run around.

Ibsens Hotel is part of the Arthur Hotels group that was the first hotel chain in the world to receive a certificate for being CO2 neutral. The hotel climate compensates to neutralise the emission of electricity, heat, transport and consumption. In addition, they have been assigned the Green Key.

Read more, check availability and prices and book your stay here (affiliate link).

Vendersgade 23, København K (www)

 

Manon Les Suites

Manon Les Suites is without a doubt the coolest hotel in Copenhagen. There is a bohemian vibe to this luxury accommodation where design, a good atmosphere and sustainable solutions all come together. Manon Les Suites has 87 nicely decorated rooms, a fully organic restaurant and a beautiful indoor pool area, among others.

Manon Les Suites is part of the Guldsmeden hotel group that has a crucial focus on creating sustainable and eco-friendly hotel experiences for its guests. The hotel is Green Globe and Green Key certified and serves 90-100 % organic meals.

Read more, check availability and prices and book your stay here (affiliate link).

Gyldenløvesgade 19, København V (www)

 

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How to get to Copenhagen

 

Flights to Copenhagen

If there is no other way to get to Copenhagen, flying to the Danish capital is easy. Copenhagen Airport is the largest in Northern Europe with several daily routes from all over the world.

The airport is situated only eight kilometres outside the city centre, and the easiest way to get to the city is by metro or train, which takes around 20 minutes. The metro stops at the centrally located Nørreport Station and Kongens Nytorv Station while the train stops at Copenhagen Central Station. From both Nørreport Station and Copenhagen Central Station, you can catch several trains and buses.

 

Trains and buses to Copenhagen

There are many ways to get to Copenhagen in a more sustainable way by train or bus.

Trains to Copenhagen Central Station run daily from several cities and towns in Germany and Sweden. You can either purchase a regular ticket from the train operators (DSB, Deutsche Bahn and Swedish Railway) or purchase a Eurail Pass that allows you to travel around one or more countries with a single pass.

FlixBus has frequent routes to Copenhagen from Belgium, Germany, the Netherlands, Norway and Sweden.

 

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How to get around in Copenhagen

 

Walk

I love to walk around cities and explore at my own pace, and Copenhagen is no exception. Copenhagen isn’t that big, and it’s therefore extremely walkable. Especially the city centre is best explored on foot because of the short distance between the many famous sights and attractions. However, also Vesterbro and Nørrebro are great areas to walk around in.

 

Ride a bike

If you want to explore Copenhagen the most authentic way you should rent a bicycle. We Copenhageners love to ride our bikes and due to the flat terrain and the abundant bike lanes, it’s an easy way to get around. There are tonnes of bike rentals in the city and my personal favourite is Baisikeli located in Vesterbro.

Before you decide to rent a bicycle you should know that there are certain rules on how to behave on the bike lane. Ask at the bike rental or look at these cycling guidelines to secure a pleasant experience.

 

Public transport

With both buses, trains, metros and waterbuses running frequently and covering all areas of the city, the public transport in Copenhagen is excellent.

You can access all public transport with the same ticket. Copenhagen and the Greater Copenhagen area are divided into different zones, so the only thing you need to know before using public transport is how many zones you will pass on your journey. The fare is determined based on the number of zones you need.

Alternatively, you can purchase a City Pass that gives you unlimited access to public transport in the four most central zones in Copenhagen including the ones to and from the airport for between one and five days. Or you can purchase a Copenhagen Card that gives you unlimited access to public transport in the entire Capital Region plus free admission to some of the biggest attractions and museums in Copenhagen as well as discounts on several restaurants, cafés etc.

 

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Best time to visit Copenhagen

Denmark has several times been ranked the happiest country in the world, but I doubt it’s because of the weather. The weather in Denmark is often cloudy, windy and rainy. However, due to the North Atlantic Current the temperatures are considered fairly mild compared to other countries situated on the same latitude. It’s 19 degrees on average during summer and 3 degrees on average during winter.

Denmark enjoys long days during summer with around 17 hours of daylight being maximum during summer solstice and short days during winter with around seven hours of daylight being maximum during winter solstice.

Danes love the bright days and the warmer temperatures during summer. Copenhagen becomes more vibrant and lots of festivals and events are held. These are the main factors for why June, July and August are considered the best time to visit Copenhagen.

Read more about the different festivals and events that are held in Copenhagen here.

 

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Where next?

Hopefully I’ve made you a little excited to visit Copenhagen! Head to my perfect two days itinerary for Copenhagen if you are looking for inspiration on how to spend your time in the Danish capital.

Or simply peruse my other Denmark articles.

If you want to read more about sustainable travel, check out my complete guide on how to be a responsible traveller.

If you have any comments or questions, please leave them in the comments section below. But before you go any further why not follow me on Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest and Twitter and sign up to my monthly newsletter?

 


 

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