First, find a bike. Remember, unlocked ones tend to be the property of drunks, and borrowing one is a gamble.
With the journeys we’ve got planned for you, a recently serviced bicycle is your best bet of getting from A to B.
The bike-share company Donkey Republic takes pride in the condition of all its bicycles and in Copenhagen you’re never more than a short walk away from finding one, as they’re pretty much on every street corner in the capital!
Download the app at donkey.bike to locate your nearest bicycle, purchase a two-day rental for 175 kroner – the price gets increasingly cheaper the longer you rent for. Lock and unlock your bike multiple times as you explore this amazing city – and let’s get started!
Upscale Østerbro is a family-orientated neighbourhood. Rent a bike in the vicinity of Østerbrogade near the ‘eastend’ side of the famous Copenhagen Lakes (Søerne). The city’s largest park, Fælledparken, is easy to find and cycling on its paths is legal, making it a great place to practise if you have a few unsure members on your tour. Look up into the sky and you can see Parken Stadium – home to FC Copenhagen and also the national football team.
Once you’re up to speed, cycle down two of the Lakes to Dronning Louises Bro, the turn-off for Nørrebrogade. Later in the day, the bridge will become a hive of activity with a distinctly hipster vibe, but for now your best bet for quality sight-seeing is the Assistens Kirkegård cemetery, which can be found barely a kilometre away (as ethnic flavours drown out the hipster ethos) on the left. Anybody who was somebody is buried here, including Hans Christian Andersen and Søren Kierkegaard. Once again it’s permissible to cycle, as long as you don’t go too close to the graves … or the mourners.
Continue down Nørrebrogade to the end of the cemetery and head left down Nordre Fasanvej until you reach Frederiksberg Have. Either enjoy a walk through the gardens or head straight to Copenhagen Zoo. While there are some pretty extraordinary animals to see, including two giant pandas recently arrived from China, the true stars are the buildings. The elephant and hippo enclosures are jaw-dropping, and those pandas weren’t going to arrive unless they had a pad fit for an emperor to live in.
At Sløjfen 6 grab some lunch at the traditional Danish eatery Café Lindevang. Established in 1938, it is one of the most authentic food spots in Frederiksberg.
Just west of Fredriksberg is Vesterbro, one of the most popular neighborhoods in Copenhagen. Istedgade is still home to the ‘red light district’ of Copenhagen, but it is ever shrinking under an onslaught of boutiques and vintage shops, stories selling antiques and knick-knacks, galleries and fancy restaurants. It’s time for some serious shopping!
One block away is Halmtorvet, the road that runs alongside Kødbyen, the city’s Meatpacking District. Greeting you are an array of bars and upscale takeaway restaurants.
Kødbyen is also a hot spot for nightlife, so if you’re not too drained after cycling all day, stick around. Bakken and Jolene Bar, both on Flæsketorvet, are easy to access and rarely charge on the door. Dance til you drop!
Maybe an early start is a tad ambitious if you’ve been up partying with Jolene all night (I’m begging of you please don’t take my plan), but we’ve got a perfect cure for the mini jungle rumbling inside your head. Head over to Langebro, a bridge a mere hop and a skip from where Rådhuspladsen and Tivoli meet.
Barely before the end of the bridge, take a sharp right down to Islands Brygge, check for broken glass, whip off your cycling gear, and and jump into the waters blue of Copenhagen Harbour. Technically this is the Baltic, but at the Islands Brygge Harbour Baths heavy netting ensures there’s no danger of nasty intruders – stinging jellyfish are surprisingly common the further you go out to sea. Ask yourself, as you paddle around, how many other capital cities have harbour waters you can legally swim in!
Take a quick detour east towards Christianhavn, a small area of islands worth cycling around. With freetown Christiania a few wheelies away, you won’t be short of sights to see. From the Opera House to the Playhouse just opposite the waterfront, it’s Copenhagen architecture and design at its finest.
If you’re feeling the vibe and like what you see, then keep pedalling all the way to Refshaleøn where you can try out La Banchina or the new Reffen Food Trucks for an early lunch.
Fuel up, because this is the big one: we’re heading to the wilds of Amager. Not only is it a city district, but it is also the name of the entire island and it contains two other municipalities: Dragør and Tårnby. A third of the 96 sq km island is made up of protected nature areas and we’re taking you to the biggest, Kalvebod Fælled (20 sq km). Heading away from Langebro, we challenge you to lose yourselves in the pretty massive wilderness that is Amager Fælled. As long as you keep a sense of direction, you’ll realise it’s mostly flanked by straight roads leading you to the city’s biggest shopping centre, Field’s.
Stock up on drinks, and maybe find time for some shopping, but your biggest challenge lies ahead. Continuing in the same direction, head to the Den Røde Port, the gateway to Kalvebod Fælled, and opt for the middle road, Granatvej (where, as the name suggests, they found some unexploded grenades in mid July!).
Cycling down gloriously flat Granatvej might seem rather innocuous, but don’t forget that you’re in an urban area. Look to the right and you’ll see rather futuristic residential buildings, and perhaps the odd bemused local who still can’t believe they ended up living in what appears to be the middle of nowhere. Look to the left and every couple of minutes you’ll see a plane landing or taking off from Copenhagen Airport, the very spot you were at just two days ago, and now look at you. It’s a lot to take in, but in a nutshell it’s the very essence of Copenhagen, and if you’re lucky, you’ll feel like you are the only person in this secret spot.
A timely left will take you into the woods. Don’t venture too far as you don’t want to get lost, but if you’ve got camping gear, there are plenty of places to pitch up, along with municipal fireplaces to cook on.
On your way back, opt for Bryggebroen as your way back to the mainland – easily found near the corner of Amager Fælled and not further than 1 km from Island Brygge – as it leads almost directly onto the famous Bicycle Snake, a mesmeric elevated, spiraling construction with incredible vistas. Or maybe stop off between bridges for another swim at the Fisketorvet harbour baths and have a quick snack at the shopping centre of the same name.
You’re back and after two days of exploring you’re finally ready to venture into the city centre. There’s Tivoli, of course, and Nyhavn as well – the first two places tourists tend to visit in Copenhagen. But why follow the crowd when you can hop on a bike and discover so much more.