When the surveys come out stating people in Denmark are the happiest in the world, a walk around Copenhagen in summer convinces me most people in this Scandinavian capital city are enjoying life. This city is cool, quite laid back and a different Scandinavian experience than a tourist finds in Oslo, Norway or Stockholm, Sweden. There is a very relaxed vibe in Copenhagen. Food and drink are far more accessible at far more reasonable prices for an American tourist than Norway or Sweden.
So far this two week trip to Europe has included travel to Stockholm, Sweden and Krakow, Poland for two polar extremes in Europe for the prices of food and drink. Stockholm is easily $100 restaurant meals with few budget meal options and few grocery stores in the main tourist sections of the city. Krakow is overwhelming with choice and another $10 gourmet meal and $2 beer is accessible another 50 meters down the street. Copenhagen has many budget meal choices for eating under $10 per person or all-you-can-eat buffet lunches and dinners for $13 to $20 per person. Fine dining for $20 to $30 per plate is possible. Beer is $3 to $6 in restaurants and cafes. Beer is 35 cents a bottle if you locate the right grocery stores where locals shop, away from markets around Central Station and Tivoli Garden area.
Travelers can drink and dine in Copenhagen for comparable prices to the USA and unlike Stockholm, people in Copenhagen pack picnic meals and alcohol for a day sitting outside in city parks and along city canals having outdoor parties and social gatherings. Music and buskers are heard all around and party boaters cruise the city canals, often blaring sound systems on the water.
Evening in Copenhagen on an 80-degree day. Women in the canal with drinks. Socializing all along this side of the canal freely while café boats filled with paying diners line the other side of the canal.
Publicly accessible canal platform filled with canal picnic partiers. This is a public platform accessed from the street in the opposite direction of the adjacent private platforms and beach comprising the Kayak Bar.
Motorized platform boat cruising Copenhagen’s canals with private party, ice bucket, BBQ grill, kids, dog and sound system blasting.
Copenhagen is a city on the move.
This bridge roadway stayed open for about 15 to 20 minutes to allow boats to pass through the canals to the main harbor channel. During that time a couple thousand pedestrians and cyclists accumulated on each side of the bridge waiting to cross over from one island to another island.
I crossed over to the other side of the bridge to photograph boats passing through and the bridge closing again. To my dismay, when the road reopened I found myself stuck on the bike path and unable to cross the road back to the pedestrian pathway on the bridge. The glare of Copenhagen cyclists penetrated my dark sunglasses.
I had made the cardinal mistake as a tourist in Copenhagen. I was a pedestrian standing in the bicycle lanes.
Two pedestrian rules you quickly learn in Copenhagen are wait for the green crosswalk signal before you cross a street and stay out of the bicycle lanes.
There can be no cars or cyclists anywhere on the city block, yet people in Copenhagen stand at the crosswalk and wait for a green signal before crossing the road. Staying out of the bike lanes can be tricky, but a pedestrian has to be on constant lookout for cyclists and move cautiously.
Kelley and I laughed about the high density of people and bicycles in this city and how children are front seat drivers from the time they are born. I imagine most Danish children have been tossed from a bicycle by the age of three with all the kids we see riding around the city in front baskets as an adult darts the child in and out of traffic and around obstacles, moving and stationary. Cyclists dodging unsuspecting tourists walking into their path is a common sighting.
Food and Beer Prices in Copenhagen
Copenhagen US Dollars to Danish Krone Exchange Rate
$1.00 USD = 6.77 DKK
100 DKK = $14.80 USD
Beer One Case (24 cans 330ml / 5.6% ABV) Tuborg Gold cans at CPH Airport 220 DKK ($32.50 USD).
Heineken 24 cans case (33ml/4.6% ABV) at Netto grocery store in Copenhagen = 99 DKK = $14.63 USD + 24 DKK ($3.55 USD) recycling fee (automatic machine in store to return cans for deposit).
Harboe Pilsner 330ml bottle/4.4% ABV 2.30 DKK ($0.34 USD) at Netto Market, Copenhagen.
201.35 DKK = $29.75 USD at Netto grocery store
- Hummus 19.95 DKK ($2.95 USD) [similar or less than USA]
- Cherry Tomatoes 15.00 DKK ($2.22 USD) [similar or more than USA]
- Beer 6 x 330ml Bjornebryg (7.6% ABV) 6 x 5.25 DKK ($0.78 USD) = 31.50 DKK ($4.66 USD). [less than USA]
- Smoked salmon 24.95 DKK ($3.69 USD). [less than USA]
- Thousand Island dressing 10.00 DKK ($1.48 USD). [less than USA]
- Broccoli 10.00 DKK ($1.48 USD). [similar as USA]
- Loaf of bread 15.00 DKK ($2.22 USD). [less than USA]
- Sliced cheese 24.95 DKK ($3.69 USD). [less than USA]
- Quinoa Salad 38.00 DKK ($5.62 USD). [similar as USA]
- Radishes bunch 6.00 DKK ($0.89 USD). [similar as USA]
Restaurant and Café Dining
Copenhagen is far cheaper than Stockholm or Oslo for dining. We have dined in three places. Beer prices were 20 DKK ($2.96 USD) for a 330ml bottle of pilsner beer, 22 DKK ($3.25 USD) and 40 DKK ($5.91 USD) for a 0.5 L glass of beer. One place had a 2.0L jar of beer for 175 DKK ($25.85 USD).
We ate mussels and fries at the Kayak Bar on Børskaj, 1221 København for 125 DKK ($18.50 USD).
Kayak Bar, Copenhagen: Mussels in vegetable broth, complimentary self service bread and butter, fries and two 0.5L beers (205 DKK = $30.29 USD).
A meal at Wok On in central Copenhagen starts at 39 DKK ($5.77 USD) for noodles and add 8 DKK ($1.18 USD) for vegetables like broccoli or 17 DKK ($2.52 USD) for chicken, 20 DKK ($2.96 USD) for shrimp. A hot meal is available for under $9.00 USD. We passed a hamburger place with fried fish sandwiches and fried chicken sandwiches for $2.00 USD each.
Blue House has more than a dozen different sandwiches priced around 45-55 DKK ($6.65 – $8.15 USD).
Many places around Copenhagen have lunch buffets priced from 79-109 DKK ($11.70 to $16.10 USD). These prices are 50% lower than cheap food options in Stockholm, Sweden.
Asian Spice has entrees around 89 DKK ($13.15 USD) and Hoppes Happy Hour price of 2 cocktails for 95 DKK ($14.04 USD) is an offer I have seen at several bars around Copenhagen. $7 per cocktail is a price hard to beat in the USA considering there is no added tax or tip necessary in Copenhagen. The catch is Hoppes Happy Hour hours are 11pm-4am Friday and Saturday nights. I’ve seen better happy hour hours for my travel style at other cafes.
Copenhagen is vibrant with activity and tourism facilities for dining and drinking. The center of the city is utilized heavily by locals and there is something going on in many streets and canals all around the city. We heard an impromptu reggae band start playing live in a park where we were sitting on a park bench drinking beer one evening. We were jammin’ to Bob Marley tunes.Buskers and street performers abound in the pedestrian shopping mall areas.
People are swimming, kayaking, boating, cycling, skateboarding and walking all around this city in a place with a great cultural vibe.
This is Copenhagen, the Scandinavians I most want to hang out with when staying in a capital city in the Nordic countries.