How To Act Like A Local In Copenhagen

by Waltrui


It's been almost a month now since we spent a long weekend in Denmark's capital and it left me flabbergasted. I'm no virgin when it comes to traveling, but – and this may sound slightly pretentious – Copenhagen was built for me. The omnipresent design, the innovative architecture in dialogue with the most majestic old houses... it felt like coming home. And those incredibly cool and stylish people! In Copenhagen, a nitwitted tourist is the last thing you wanna be. How to discover the hottest spots and blend in at the same time? A few do's and don'ts.

One. If you want to act like a local, stay with the locals. Not only can you save money (hotels in Copenhagen are quite expensive), but also and mostly: a cinnamon roll at someone's kitchen table tastes so much better than the average hotel breakfast. We went for Airbnb and ended up at Mette's place, an apartment with a clean but cozy Scandinavian feel, right in quirky Nørrebro. Our hostess prepared a laundry list of great tips for us and even though she was out of town when we arrived, her welcoming words could not have been warmer.

Two and three. When in Copenhagen, you must get on one of the canals – but obviously, a guided tour on a boat filled with Japanese sightseers is not the way to go when you're a (fake) native. Instead, take the water taxi near The Black Diamond, the massive new library wing, float up to the Royal Danish Opera House and stroll around the recently developed residential area. If you need one more reason to move, let it be the impressive urban planning at Christianshavn.

Four. Apart from the mandatory tourist traps, the city centre has some great shops to offer. Spend your time at department store Illums Bolighus and your crowns on the twisted basics of Samsøe & Samsøe. Or buy some homeware at the HAY House and try to keep your cool between the many, many beautiful pieces of furniture, accessories and rugs. I might have failed there.

Five. Have a healthy breakfast among the Danish at Grød on Jægersborggade, one of the prettiest streets in Copenhagen. Porridge (or grød) seems to be the Nordic answer to our granola hype, so you better pretend to eat it every day. The other option: stand in line at Meyers Bageri, just a few steps ahead, and have your freshly baked croissants at Assistens Kirkegård. Picnicking at the famous graveyard is considered perfectly normal, taking a selfie with Hans Christian Andersen's tombstone is not.

Six. For a cheap yet breathtaking view on Copenhagen, climb the spiral ramp inside the Round Tower. Surrounded by shops and eateries, this simple building doesn't get the attention it deserves, which is exactly why you should get in. Not a walk in the park, but it's worth the effort – and there are hotdog wagons on every street corner to make up for those burned calories afterwards.

Seven. For more ideas, choose a city guide that looks like a random (but nicely designed) book. We enjoyed The 500 Hidden Secrets of Copenhagen (edited by Luster), full of surprising spots and funny facts. And if it wasn't for me and my giant street map, no-one would've scented we were disorientated Belgians.

All pictures are taken by me, naturally like a local.