You are here

Guide to Copenhagen

Copenhagen is the capital of Denmark and what a million Danes call home. This "friendly old girl of a town" is big enough to be a metropolis with shopping, culture and nightlife par excellence, yet still small enough to be intimate, safe and easy to navigate. Overlooking the Øresund strait with Sweden just minutes away, it is a cultural and geographic link between mainland Europe and Scandinavia.
Bike opera house

If entering the city by car through the highways, you won't meet a citylimit-sign, saying just "København"(Copenhagen), but instead there stands "Storkøbenhavn", which means Greater Copenhagen. While the traditional Copenhagen is centered in a small area just around the water-way between Zealand and Amager, consisting of some different small boroughs, all together with at least 500.000 inhabitants, Copenhagen has through the fingerplan since the end of WWII expanded across other towns, which today are distinctive municipalities, all together creating the greater Copenhagen area, giving the whole city the 1 million population mark. What's very notable of this is the town of Frederiksberg, which is part of Greater Copenhagen, but actually a city of its own, inside Copenhagen(the 5th largest in Denmark). Other of these municipalities are too numerous to explain as every single district, so they are just summed up as whole suburban areas, like the boroughs of the city core.

 

Copenhagen districts
Copenhagen districts

If you had dropped by Copenhagen in the eleventh century you would have found yourself looking over a quite small fishing hamlet, with some lazy cattle gazing back at you while chewing fresh green grass from the meadows around the village. Looking east you would see a host of small islets protecting the small fishing harbour from harsh weather — really not the worst place to found a city. If you would rather trust the written word than the archaeologists, the earliest accounts date from the twelfth century, when a bearded clerk (or a renowned historian if you will) called Saxo Gramaticus scribbled down a few lines about the place, Portus Mercatorum, he called it, which was really just a fancy Latin version of Købmannahavn. This has since been mangled into København in modern Danish, and even further mangled into Copenhagen in English, but all it really means is "merchant harbour."

 

The Mermaid statue
The Mermaid statue

Spring, while a bit risky, as no one knows quite when it sets in, can be the best time to visit the city. On the first warm day, usually in early May, Copenhageners come out of hibernation and flock to the city streets, parks, and outdoor cafes in a veritable explosion of life, relieved that the country's dreary and dark winters are finally over. Many locals consider this the high-point of the year.

Summers in Copenhagen are usually warm with an average temperature of some twenty degrees, and the days are long — reaching the a peak of eighteen hours on the 21st of June. If the weather becomes too hot, you can jump in one of the free pools in the cool harbour waters near the centre. Copenhagen's harbor is often considered the world's cleanest urban waterfront. Most of Copenhagen's annual events are held during June and July, and when the sun is out there is always life in the streets.

 

Panorama
Panorama

Copenhagen's Kastrup Airport [4] (CPH) on Amager is the hub for Scandinavia's largest international carrier SAS — Scandinavian Airlines [5]. Kastrup Airport consistently gets high marks for both design and function — this is a much more pleasant place for transit than, say, London Heathrow or Frankfurt and several carriers service direct intercontinental routes to Copenhagen, including; Air Canada, Delta, Egypt Air, PIA, Qatar Airways, Thai, Singapore Airlines and United Airlines. Check-in lines can get long during peak hours however, so make sure to allocate extra time in the summer. Self-service check-in counters are available, which can cut down on wait times.

 

Copenhagen at night
Copenhagen at night

The S-train service ([41], Danish only, schedule [42]) is the backbone of the city's public transit system, and is very similar to the German S-Bahn networks and the Parisian RER system. The distinct red trains are clean, modern, and equipped with free WiFi. The system runs from early morning to late night, each line in ten minute intervals during the day (M-F 6AM-6PM) and at twenty minute intervals in the early morning and late at night. In the weekends, the trains run once an hour at night (except the F-line which runs twice an hour at night) and some of the lines are extended. Since most lines join on a single railway line through the city centre, there are only a couple of minutes of waiting between each train in the inner districts. The F and C-lines are exceptions, the F line does a half loop outside the central area, with trains every five minutes throughout most of the day. The C-line is extended to Frederikssund during day time, but scaled back to Ballerup at other times. Loudspeaker announcements regarding S-trains are given in Danish and English.

 

27th July 2014