"Wonderful and not so wonderful Copenhagen" Copenhagen by swissfondue

Copenhagen Travel Guide: 3,943 reviews and 9,874 photos

To be honest, not my favorite place...

Let me begin by saying that I believe VT exists to provide information and its entirely up to the traveller to decide if that information is helpful. Personal experiences can play an important part in helping you decide if a destination is right for you. Or alternatively, you can make up your own mind.

Described in my childhood as a magical part of the world I longed to visit Scandanavia and especially the capital of Denmark to experience firsthand its well documented beauty and charm. Movies, travel brochures and TV coverage of the Royal Wedding all showcased a unique and interesting city, making me more determined to see this great city for myself.

Perhaps, on reflection, I should not have put Copenhagen on such a high pedestal. Soon after arriving it appeared too good to be true that it could possibly live up to my rather lofty expectations and in reality it didnt. My experiences were not fabulous but rather than isolate my tips in warnings and dangers or tourist traps I am going to include them in my overall impressions of Copenhagen page.

It is a little difficult to write this review as rarely, if ever in fact have I been disappointed by a destination I have chosen to visit. This is because I arrive armed with loads of information. I have read reviews (mostly on VT and TA) and googled endlessly until I think I know everything about what I am going to see.

With that in mind, here are the good and the not so good personal experiences of MY trip to the capital of Denmark.


I visited in the lead up to Christmas and although the days are short and very brisk, the atmosphere is certainly festive with much of the central shopping area beautifully decorated and a wonderful display especially at Tivoli.

The Christmas decorations are a highlight throughout the Stroget shopping precinct and you can overcome the cold by stepping into the warmth of the various department stores or with a blanket and mulled wine at the outside cafes situated along Nyhavn.

As mentioned, TIVOLI GARDENS is worth seeing at this time of year. The lights and festive atmosphere is quite lovely and family orientated which makes me wonder if those living in Copenhagen go often or not at all. In fact you are so busy admiring the lights that you dont feel the cold. The rides are unspectacular and most of the shops are unashamedly chasing tourist dollars. There are a variety of restaurants, a couple of upmarket ones but many others mostly serving tourist inspired menus (which arent cheap) where you can get a hearty danish style meal in a warm, pleasant but noisy environment. Wouldn't recommend it for a romantic lingering dinner though.

AMALIENBORG SLOT is the Copenhagen home of the Danish Royal Family. It consists of four separate palaces connected by a cobblestone square. The facades of the various buildings are not particularly ornate and really dont even look like Royal Palaces but what I like about the area is its accessibility. You feel like you could just knock on the door and say hello.

The RUNDETAARN is a round brick tower once used for astronomy in the 17th century. It provides nice views of the city from its observation deck accessed by an internal helical ramp which is unusual to walk up and down and I enjoyed the quirkiness of the interior.

THE LITTLE MERMAID - I knew what to expect before arriving in Copenhagen so wasnt surprised by the size of this unremarkable statue. She is not particularly well located so be prepared for a decent walk along the harbourside but I suppose to go to Copenhagen and not take her picture to show everyone back home would be unforgiveable.


In my mind I had pictured a beautiful, clean, friendly vibrant city. What I personally found was a dirty, rather unloved and unfriendly city. Some city streets looked quite neglected and footpaths, especially near the entrance to Tivoli Gardens were broken and strewn with rubbish. What surprised me most was that some parts, particularly around the streets near my hotel felt unsafe especially at night.

I quite frequently stay in hotels close to the central train station mainly for convenience so chose a reasonably upmarket hotel (The Axel Guldsmeden on Helgolandsgade). I was aware before I arrived that the hotel is located on the fringe of the Red Light District. Traditionally, in most of the cities I have travelled to these areas are normally a little down at heel, but are vibrant, have a good cafe culture are generally safe and always full of people. I thought I knew what to expect.

The front door of my hotel was permanently locked day and night and the reasons soon became apparent. There seemed to be a thriving and not at all discrete drug culture in the street outside operating 24 hours a day but mostly during the dead of the night with constant arguments, fights and noisy drug deals.

While I am fully aware that these activities happen every night in every city this culture was more clearly visible in Copenhagen than in any other place I have been. I found it strange and a little worrying that I did not see a police presence anywhere for the duration of my stay.

Sadly, having this on my doorstep, and lack of sleep for the entire duration of my stay very much shaped my overall opinion of Copenhagen. Imagine my disappointment to then be harassed by gangs of scammers operating freely along Stroget attempting to relieve tourists (as no local would fall for this) of their money.

When I spend time in a city I normally walk for hours finding great picturesque spots mostly by accident. This was not the case in Copenhagen. The city itself just seemed very tired, like it couldnt be bothered putting on a show. What you see is what you get so to speak. These things combined with the general unfriendliness of the locals and the neon explosion of advertising nightly being totally out of place against the facade of the Old Town Radhaus (Town Hall) left me totally underwhelmed by Copenhagen.

Maybe the cold weather was to blame or I need to lower my expectations...a lot...which makes me think I might return one day to give Copenhagen another chance to impress me, as it has impressed others...Maybe...

  • Intro Updated Mar 27, 2012
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Comments (1)

  • Mikebb's Profile Photo
    Aug 11, 2013 at 3:46 PM

    Agree with you Heidi, we enjoyed the group we were with more than the city. Melbourne is my favourite Australian city to visit, although I have a soft spot for Sydney.


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