There’s nothing wrong with being a tourist, visiting somewhere for the first time, ticking off all the big sights and experiences. However sometimes it’s also nice to try and blend in a little bit with the locals, to get a sense of what it would be like to actually live in the destination that you’re visiting, to immerse yourself in a place.
One of my favorite cities in the world is Copenhagen – the capital of Denmark. Copenhagen is a great place to visit – there’s plenty of postcard-worthy photo opportunities in this city that’s defined by light and water. But one of the great things about Copenhagen is the pace of life, and the way that the Danish people calmly go about their day-to-day lives.
I may not be tall enough, or blond enough to live in Copenhagen, but here’s some of the ways in which I try and experience Copenhagen like a local.
Where to stay
There’s lots of hotel options available in Copenhagen, from the high-end luxury and boutique properties, to affordable budget hotel. But why not try checking out some of the private rental opportunities or holiday apartments in Copenhagen.
Neighborhoods such as Østerbro, Nørrebro, and Vesterbro are perfectly located within the city and are popular areas for restaurants and nightlife. By having your own apartment as a base, you’ll be able to cook some of your own meals, and get a sense of what it’s like to shop at the local bakery and local stores. Luckily most people in Copenhagen will be able to speak English, so even if your Danish isn’t that strong you’ll still be able to negotiate the local stores.
One of the first things that you’ll notice about Copenhagen is that most people seem to cycle. A relatively flat city, Copenhagen has also made intelligent use of cycle lanes, encouraging everyone to get on their bikes and get active. Your accommodation may have bikes available that you could borrow, or you could hire a bike for your stay.
Alternatively, the public transport in Copenhagen is excellent, with a modern subway system and an easy-to-use bus system so that you can get anywhere you need to go.
Where to eat
Copenhagen is justifiably known as a culinary destination, high on the wish-list for any food-lovers who are planning their travel itinerary. But you don’t need to spend a fortune at high-end restaurants to be able to experience the delights of Danish cuisine. Try the local cafes – they’ll have fantastic open sandwiches on the menu. Plus the Danish take their coffee very seriously – keep an eye out for the Coffee Collective. This is a local chain that started with a small roaster cafe in the super-cool Nørrebro neighborhood. If you fancy a juice and a snack, then Joe & The Juice is a fantastic chain of juice bars that had their start in Copenhagen.
Where to exercise
Getting a guest pass to a local gym is a great way to feel like you’re really living the Copenhagen lifestyle, but if the weather is warm then the ideal way to get some exercise is to go for a swim in the Copenhagen Harbor. The water here is surprising clear and fresh, and a number of dedicated swimming pontoons have been set up – complete with jumping platforms and watchful lifeguards. The most popular swimming pontoon can be found at Islands Brygge.