September 5-6, 2018
My 3.5 hour flight delay in Iceland had me arriving to Copenhagen at nearly 1 am. Fortunately the metro runs all night so I was able to take the short train ride (36 dkk) into the city and find my accommodation for the night. Copenhagen is incredibly safe so at no point was I worried walking around at nearly 2 am with my backpack. I thought I’d finally give Couchsurfing a try and my host Olle was incredible. I thought about trying Couchsurfing a few years ago but got spooked when a much older man invited me to share a bed with him in his trailer parked in a Walmart parking lot. It was the no running water that got me.
At Olle’s, there was zero creep factor. In fact, he was an incredible, polite host who met me on the dark street at nearly 2 am. I stayed in the guest room of his penthouse flat within a short walking distance to downtown. Basically like Airbnb but free. Yep.
Free. Considering all hostels were sold out and the cheapest hotel room was $350/night, this was a solid option for me. Couchsurfing is about more than finding a free place to stay but about building a global community of like minded travel people.
I had signed up for a free walking tour in Copenhagen which I cancelled given my late arrival. It turns out there are a few companies that do “free” walking tours in Copenhagen (not really free as they do expect tips) and I had signed up for a super long 2.5 hour one. Check the times and where they go before you settle on one.
I hadn’t given myself a lot of time to explore Copenhagen as I was headed to Malmo that night. I had two short travel errands to run. I had grabbed a free Lycamobile SIM card at the airport so needed to top it up by purchasing time at the 711 for 99 dkk (more about that here) and then had to drop my bag at the train station luggage storage to avoid backtracking to Olle’s flat. I tried a new service called Luggage hero. It was incredibly simple to use and cheaper than the station lockers. I paid €5 for 3 hours of luggage storage and then set out to see Copenhagen in 3 hours.
I wandered in and out of the streets checking out all the tourist sights I had written down in advance including Rosenborg castle, Trivoli, The Round Tower, Bishop Absalon statue, Stroget shopping street, and Nyhavn (the harbor area with all the colourful buildings most associated
with Copenhagen) with the ultimate goal of getting to the paper island street food area. Omg. Vegan food heaven. And obviously many other delicious choices for everyone else. It is basically an outdoor food court for hipsters full of amazing food choices, minus the plastic trays and tacky tables (nice wooden tables instead). I’d say I had sticker shock for the prices of food but I had just come from Iceland so was already a bit adjusted to the prices so enjoyed my 90 dkk salad.
What all the different articles and tourist pages didnt mention about Copenhagen that was a pleasant surprise was the number of parks and green spaces. There is a beautiful botanical gardens I walked through as well as a few other great parks, most with naked statues. If you have more time, these would be great places to spend a sunny afternoon, soaking up the sun while a stone penis dangles over you.
Sadly I had to leave Copenhagen after only a half day. I caught the afternoon train over the bridge to Malmo, Sweden (111 dkk) noting to have my passport handy. Although most trains in Europe don’t check passports, due to high refugee numbers in Sweden, this train route is a passport check point.
A few Copenhagen tips:
– You do not need cash for anything. Even the toilets accept credit cards and most merchants prefer card. As one local said to me “You do not need any cash – only to give beggars and they’ll probably have apple pay soon”
– If you purchase a SIM to use in other parts of Europe, ensure it includes European roaming. Many prepaid SIM cards are not required to offer this. I went with the Lycamobile allinone99 package which included European roaming but the second I got to Sweden it stopped working, including the help number. It took me way too long to figure out the data roaming configuration settings (and no, it’s not just flicking on roaming on a phone, there is a 6 step method to follow in phone APN settings) and I’d say it simply isn’t worth the hassle. Everywhere you go has free wifi anyway.
– Rent a bike. You’ll see a lot more and the city is incredibly bike friendly.
– If you’re a vegan or have other dietary restrictions, have no fear. Copenhagen is incredibly vegan friendly and has an incredible selection of places to eat fresh, healthy food.
Additional spots to check out:
Although I felt I saw a good amount of central Copenhagen, I did miss the chance to visit the beach, as well as Christiania – free town which was described to me as a bit of a hippie anarchist community (not far from that fantastic street food area I went to!) and of course, there are plenty of walking or boat tours where you can learn a bit more about the history and stories behind all the great sights of Copenhagen.