Ditch the bucket list and join the locals
Have you ever considered going on a city break with the purpose of seeing absolutely none of the sights? The slow travel philosophy may not as such be compatible with a city break, for while the standard Copenhagen getaway attempts to squeeze in as many sights and experiences as possible, slow travel is all about ditching the bucket list and blending in. It’s about sensing and connecting with the local environment rather than crossing things off the list. The true slow travelers may not even take a photo to post on Instagram and they probably won’t go see The Little Mermaid either. But they will make friends with the local barista, smell the grass and go see a local band playing.
The art of slow traveling in Copenhagen: Search for the sun
Copenhagen offers plenty of sights. No doubt! The standard itinerary will take you by The Little Mermaid, Amalienborg Castle, Marble Church, Christiansborg, Christianshavn, maybe even Christiania and on a guided boat tour through the canals. If well arranged, you can do it all in a single day…
… or you can do it differently and consider local life to be the main attraction. When searching for the Danes, you should first of all check your weather app and hope for some sun and a clear blue sky as most Danes crave sunrays after a long, dark winter. You’ll find them soaking up the sun by The Lakes, in Frederiksberg Gardens, Ørstedsparken, Assistens Cemetery, Reffen and anywhere by the water – and on a hot day you will probably find them splashing around in the water.
Check out our complete itinerary for Slowcation in Copenhagen!
Head for the harbor
It may seem strange but rather than going to the beach, many Copenhageners prefer going to the harbor. Several areas along the water such as Islands Brygge, Sluseholmen and Nordhavn offer public harbor pools with lifeguards on duty, however you will quickly notice people swimming anywhere, but be aware that you may be fined if you swim outside the marked areas.
12 ideas for your slow travel in Copenhagen
- Bring a bathing suit and a towel and head to La Banchina in Refshaleøen. Stay there for the afternoon, soak up the sun, swim and enjoy a glass of Aperol Spritz while the sun is setting.
- Go hiking! Escape the urban areas for a day and hike Amarminoen from central Amager to Dragør.
- On a sunny day, go to the beach. Amager Beach is close to the city, yet completely different.
- Visit a cemetery. Sounds weird? Maybe so, but the Danes hang out there all the time. Try Assistens Cemetery, Bispebjerg Cemetery or Vestre Cemetery.
- Go on a picnic in Kongens Have, Nørrebroparken, Botanical Garden, Fælledparken or any other park depending on your mood.
- Hike CopenHill on Margretheholm between Amager and Refshaleøen. Get sweaty and enjoy the view from the top.
- Rent a boat and experience the city at your own pace.
- Even better – rent a kayak and paddle around the canals and enjoy a meal and a drink at Kayak Bar when you’re done.
- Visit the last fishing village, Fiskerhavnen, in Sydhavnen and be inspired by the ‘slow living’ lifestyle.
- Explore the brown bars – the bodegas – in Vesterbro, Nørrebro or Amager and have a talk with Copenhageners of all kinds over a cheap beer.
- Go shopping in your local neighborhood: Istedgade in Vesterbro, Jægersborggade in Nørrebro or Gammel Kongevej in Frederiksberg.
- Spoil your taste buds and spend your savings at Alchemist. A true journey for all senses.
The homestay philosophy
It’s pretty obvious. If you want to blend in, stay with the locals – or at least live like the locals. In Copenhagen you will find that most Airbnbs are real homes rented out by real people. This means that you get to experience everything from amazing Danish design to tiny bathrooms. And who knows, you may even sense the concept of ‘hygge’, though this is first and foremost a state of mind rather than a setting.
Renting an Airbnb in Copenhagen allows you to get out of Central Copenhagen and out into neighborhoods such as Vesterbro, Nørrebro, Amager, Frederiksberg and Østerbro, which is crucial if you want to experience Copenhagen from an authentic perspective. The fridge may be half full, the apartment is probably packed with family photos and personal items and you may even be asked to water the plants… in a weird way this could become a lasting memory.
Slow travel – literally!
Slow travel is a state of mind, a way of experiencing a destination and about slowing down, and the most important tool for the slow traveler in Copenhagen could very well be a bike. But make no mistake, biking around Copenhagen can be as stressful as it’s authentic, however it’s not to be missed. The bike will get you places you wouldn’t have gone otherwise and it will give you a chance to stop and smell the flowers, the kebab… or the weed in case you’re close to Christiania.
Do’s and don’ts when riding a bike in Copenhagen
- Arm up when stopping.
- Don’t ever stop in the middle of the road or on a bike path without signaling. It is guaranteed to piss off the Danes.
- Right arm to the right when turning right.
- Left turns don’t exist at a traffic light. You need to cross two streets to turn left.
- Go with the flow. Slow bikers are annoying, fast ones are dangerous. Try to fit in.
- Wear a helmet – even if the Danes don’t wear one.
Slow travel your way through Copenhagen
Slow travel can be whatever you want it to be. In the end it’s up to you to decide what calms you, what enlightens you and what makes you want to share a piece of yourself. However, we suggest you take your time and stay in Copenhagen at least 4 days, though most people would stress that 2 days should be enough. Stay local and rent an apartment on Airbnb or try couchsurfing. Get yourself a bike, which allows you to experience everything in between point A and point B. Taste the city: Street food, beer, gastronomy and even salt water. And not least – take it easy, chill at a café for hours and lie down in a park and watch the dogs running around. Enjoy!