Last week I took a long, laptop-free weekend vacation in Rome. It was my first time in Italy and I had a blast. There were a lot of good things packed in there, from being in the middle of EuroPride to eating at a fantastic seafood restaurant. One thing that I had decided to do was to finally explore coffee. Drinking coffee is quintessentially Italian, and I figured "when in Rome, do as the Romans." I've never been a fan of coffee – I'm a hardcore tea drinker. I've never understood everyone's fascination with the bitter beverage, especially since the caffeine factor is a non-starter.
Well I've moved on again. I spent the summer in Copenhagen and loved every minute of it, but my time on my visa is running out so I had to leave the Schengen Area. As my time ticked down I needed to figure out where to go next - the whole world is open to me. I'm still pretty partial to Europe though, and thankfully the UK and Ireland do not partake in Schengen visas. I spent part of the spring in Dublin and considered returning, but I want to try a variety of places, so I set my sights on London for the rest of the year. I've only visited the city twice, and I had a great time on both trips.
Now that we have a sense of the layout of Copenhagen and how to get here to start with, I want to get into moving about the city. I already talked a bit about the metro and regional train from the airport, but I'll dive a bit deeper now, as well as cover a few other ways to move about, namely buses, boats and bikes.
For assistance with figuring out what transport to use to get somewhere, you can use the handy travel planner service Rejseplanen. At the bottom of that site, you can click on either English or German. I use this site extensively to help me sort out how to get form point A to point B, especially if there are buses involved.
A lot of people come to Denmark through the Copenhagen airport (Københavns Lufthavne, airport code CPH). Whenever I arrive someplace new I always sort out how to get where I'm ultimately going, but it can be bewildering to figure out, especially if you're jet-lagged and really don't feel like thinking very much. So this post will try to help the weary traveler sort out what is going on when you arrive in Copenhagen and how to get to the city center in the smoothest manner possible. (Note that many of the links in this post go to pictures I took while in the airport to help give some visual clarity.)
There are quite a few ways to get to Denmark. There are the typical airplane and train methods, as well as a ferry or two, which isn't surprising for a country with so much shoreline. Most everyone arrives in Denmark through Copenhagen, so I'm focusing there, though it is possible to arrive through other ports of entry.
The Copenhagen Airport, Københavns Lufthavne, is a European hub and is the main hub airport in Scandinavia. It is located in Kastrup, on the island of Amager, just to the south of downtown Copenhagen. It is quite close to the city and has frequent, direct, and fast (15 minutes) connections into the city on both metro and train. There are three terminals which are all connected, so if you end up not where you need to be, you may have a little hike, but you can walk all the way through to the one you need. The metro and trains to the city (and Malmö, Sweden) are in terminal 3. My next post will dive into getting from the airport to the city center.
Where to stay is one of the first things I think of when visiting a new city. There are a lot of things to consider. Will I be in a fun place? A safe place? If I'm going for work or an event, how easily can I access where I need to be? I'm not going to give recommendations for specific places to sleep (i.e. hotels or apartments) since I've only stayed in a few myself, but I do want to point out things to consider when looking at where to stay in Copenhagen.
Before I start blogging a lot about where to stay, what to do, etc., you need a little orientation to the neighborhoods of Copenhagen. There are a lot of travel guides out there which explain different aspects of the various areas of the city, but I like to have a clear map of where things are. I just generally love maps actually. There are a fair number of official districts (bydele) in the city, like many cities, but postal codes are grouped into a smaller list of areas for addresses. I'll start with these areas since that is a simpler breakdown and when you look at an address for a place, you'll at least have a rough idea of where it is located.
One concern about visiting Copenhagen is the expense. I'm not gonna lie, Copenhagen is not a cheap city, but it also isn't completely over the top, especially compared to other major cities. Most big cities in Europe and North America are in the top list of expensive cities. In the last EIU report from December 2009 Paris is the most expensive city in the world these days, and most of the top destination cities in the world are near the top.
I am repeatedly asked why I am bothering to learn Danish, even though I am living here for the summer. Many Danes seem to find it endearing, funny, and slightly puzzling. Unless you plan to actually settle down here permanently, there is really no reason to. There are plenty of expats from all sorts of places who live here for years and never learn Danish. English is simply enough, at least if you live in or near Copenhagen. Just walking down the street, you'll even see some signs in English. (For those following along for Drupalcon, I should also point out that no matter where Drupalcon is held in the world, as an international conference, it is always held completely in English.)