Our tips for traveling to Copenhagen, Denmark: Cell phones, DKK, where to shop and eat (and eat and eat) and more.
We totally found our spirit city. Copenhagen, Denmark was everything we hoped it would be and more. We cannot wait to go back to Denmark! In mid-August Chris and I headed to Copenhagen for work and a bit of fun. I was very excited and lucky to be invited to a food conference there (Food 3000 for those in the industry- also the time to disclose-Food 3000 covered part of my travel/lodging fees related to this trip to attend the conference).
Since Chris's background and passion happens to be design, especially mid-century modern, Scandinavian design, it was the perfect city for him to come and explore while I was in the conference for a few days. So between the two of us, we covered a lot of seeing and doing in six days. As always, there's so much more to experience, but if you are considering going to Copenhagen, I can't recomend it enough.
1. Money and Currency: We used a credit card for 99% of our transactions. The Danish credit card system asks for a PIN (like we would have here with a debit card), but if your card doesn't have a pin, you can authorize via signature. Call your credit card company to find out, but one of our cards said they don't do pins and the signature would be fine. They were right. We never had an issue using a card, although I would highly recommend looking into which of your credit cards waives foreign transaction fees. We did also pick up a bit of DKK (Danish currency) in case a shop did not accept credit. We only ran across this one time but it is always a good idea to have a bit of cash on hand. In terms of cost, people say Copenhagen is expensive, but I would say it's basically the same as prices in the DC metro area.
2. Cell phones: While Verizon and many other carriers do offer international plans, they're usually really expensive. We decided to buy Danish SIM cards at 7-11 and it was SO EASY and so inexpensive. I highly recommend this method if you're up for it. We each got 30 GB from Lebara for about $16 USD. Meanwhile, Verizon's international system gives you your same plan here for $10/day.
3. Language: Nearly everyone in Copenhagen speaks English. Honestly the only person I came across in Copenhagen who didn't was an adorable 10 year old girl who was the daughter of the lovely woman who had us for dinner. And her English was darn good and she was just learning in school. I will say, with pride, probably 80% of the time Chris and I were out and about everyone spoke Danish to us first before we would respond (with a guess where the conversation was going) in English. That is our absolute goal: to not look like tourists. So we were pretty proud we were mistaken for locals (although Chris straight up looking like a Dane with his blonde hair and structural glasses and our like of minimalist neutral clothing was I'm sure, very helpful).
4. Sneakers: Everyone wears sneakers...even to fancy restaurants. Truly. Even the places where reservations are required and you can easily spend $300 on dinner. Because most people bike everywhere or walk, sneakers are really logical and look pretty stylish. It makes me really question what the heck we are doing wearing high heels over here so much...
Copenhagen is 100% a very food forward city. After the worldwide acclaim of Noma, the food scene there became a destination. There's a high concentration of strong restaurants/ restaurant groups who fit what we love: innovation, methodology, attention to seasons/local food and ingredients... oh and just kick ass food. Guys, even the 7-11 had 7-11 brand AMAZING FOOD that would be the equivalent of $9 salad take out here in Northern Virginia. Example: sliced lemon and herbs in water bottles for flavor infused water. Or probiotic salad bowls. Or 7-11 branded green juice. WHAT?! It goes to show that consumers have the power to push shops to offer what they want and will buy. You know 7-11 would not be stocking food like that if it didn't sell.
We absolutely focused on eating across the city on this trip. Because that's what we do and it's also our hobby. We love to go eat and pick apart a dish and concept and figure out how to translate it for you guys. For example, there's a ricotta toast recipe I'll put up later this week that's inspired by a breakfast we had here. This post won't dive into the food trends we saw in Copenhagen, but think of this as a list of where you should consider eating when you go. There's a blend of more casual lunch spots, blended with places where you are definitely going to spend over $200 easily.
- Atelier September
- Apollo Bar
- Torvehallerne market
- Royal Smushi Cafe
There were also a ton of places we wanted to go but didn't. Paper Island was a newer location with many vendors that we just didn't have time to make it to. Gernaium and Relæ were places we should have made reservations with a few weeks in advance. Below are just a few images from some of the places we went to give you an idea of Copenhagen dining. I'm considering a deeper dive into Copenhagen food in a later post.
I also want to take the time to tell you about probably my favorite experience from the conference I attended: dining with the Danes. Food 3000 set groups of us up with families around Copenhagen to go eat dinner with them in their homes. The family I spent the evening with was SO wonderful. The menu gave us a look at typical Danish food but more importantly we got to talk to the families about their culture. Seriously, a once in a lifetime experience and I can't thank that family enough (AND THEIR THREE CATS-YES YOU GUYS I GOT THE CAT FAMILY!).
When Chris and I travel, we don't shop for the hell of it. Except here. Like I mentioned earlier, we have a minimalist Scandinavian/Nordic (not sure of the exact correct term here) decor and apparel vibe. We like simple, beautiful things. Oh....and a bunch of the companies Chris loves....are based in Copenhagen. So we strategically packed for this trip and left an entire suitcase and a half (the checked luggage kind) empty because we knew we were going to be shopping. Why pay international shipping fees when you can just bring it home with you? If you have time to go to one place, I highly recommend illum bolighus which as a gorgeous, four story department store of Danish design. There are multiple sub-shops within the store, so if you don't have a lot of time to shop, this is your go-to for finding multiple Danish brands in one place.
We absolutely loved our time in Copenhagen. August was a beautiful month to visit (65-70 degrees) and I don't think we've ever felt so at home in a city we've visited. Which is very interesting since this was our first trip to Europe (really- I know it's surprising if you know us). The Danes are very logical, straightforward people who put work into making everything aesthetically pleasing. Including themselves (Chris says Copenhagen has got to be like the Vancouver of Europe-everyone here could be a model and as they cycled by us in ultra stylish apparel I felt like I was in the midst of a lifestyle photoshoot).
Copenhagen is definitely going to be a place we visit more than once. With a direct flight from Dulles (IAD), we're very lucky we had the chance to experience Copenhagen this year and can't wait to go back.
Dietitian Nutritionist. My husband Chris and I create food and beverage photos, videos, stopmotions and recipes. And they're really cool.