City break: Copenhagen by bike
by Raluca Ioana
Copenhagen is one of the most developed cities in the world when talking about mobility. The best way for visiting Copenhagen in a 2 days city-break is by bike, because they have 350 km of bike lanes all over the city, in the suburbs and around the city, even in the green areas, so that makes riding the bike very easy and safe. This is something I recommend for most people, Copenhagen being on flatlands, so it is really easy to get a bike and visit around.
Attention: this is no ordinary city guide because I was focused on new contemporary architecture and cool urban spaces.
Planning the trip
Since college I dreamed about visiting (and even living in) Denmark, so last winter I decided to book a low-cost flight in April from Bucharest to Copenhagen. With that first phase sorted out, I started looking for a place to stay in or around the city.
I’ve searched over the internet and one of the best deals I found was on a local host in Hvidovre, a suburb on the south-western part of Copenhagen and that turned out to be a great idea.
The official Copenhagen website for tourists is visitcopenhagen.com, where you can get all the information you need depending on what you are interested in Copenhagen.
Things to know about Copenhagen
My research about this city break was obviously architectural-related because in the architectural school I found out about BIG, one of the coolest architectural firms based in Copenhagen, and about Jan Gehl, an architect and urban planner based also in Copenhagen, who helped improve this city (and then many others) by transforming the urban space to cyclists and pedestrians friendly.
So, in that matter, my only cabin baggage for 3-nights stay was stuffed with sports clothes, suitable for riding the bike. You can find bikes for rent all over Copenhagen, but our hosts had two bikes for their guests, free of charge, as I found out from the day I booked the room (one more reason to book it).
Transport in Copenhagen
The transport in Copenhagen is very well-organized and the trip from the airport lasted less than 30 minutes, even if we had to take the train to Copenhagen central station and then another one from there to Hvidovre. Our hosts retrieved us from the train station, although it was a walking distance to their place. The small town of Hvidovre is also well-organized and bike-friendly.
People in and around Copenhagen
There is a stunning difference between the Balkan people and the Nordic people and that is so well exposed in all their surroundings. The houses, the streets, their gardens, the urban space are all different. This is nice, it would be very boring for all the people to be the same. I have noticed especially the way Nordic people don’t care so much about their privacy, being distant at the same time; they don’t usually use curtains on every room, nor they use tall fences to set the limit to their property. I think this is great, it shows a different way of thinking and I especially liked that in Copenhagen.
Things to do in Copenhagen
First thing in the morning, after breakfast, we set our route and the first stop were the new buildings in Orestad, the southern part of Copenhagen. There are some cool blocks over there, some of them designed by BIG, and a must-see is the 8-Building. This is a non-traditional way of designing residential blocks because there are actually mixed-use buildings, having apartments, offices, commercial spaces and common spaces for the residents. It was great visiting this new zone in the city because we could see how this town grows, how it develops and how are the people using these kinds of new spaces.
Different activities and ways of living
The next stop on our bike route was the beach on the eastern part of Copenhagen, visited by many people, even if the weather in April was not great for sunbathing, actually being a bit colder than we expected and very windy. But the place is great for the views or for swimming in very cold water (and then a hot sauna) if you feel that you can do that.
Next stop was Freetown Christiania, a controversial, partially autonomous community close to the city center of Copenhagen. People live there next to the water and surrounded by various plants and you feel like you are actually in a park. From there, we headed to the city center, passing by the Library of design, architecture and sciences and then by the Opera House.
From the Royal Danish Theatre, we headed to the Little Mermaid statue, a well-known landmark, and to the Kastellet, an old military fortress with the form of a pentagon and bastions at the corners.
Our next stop was the old city center, the place called Nyhavn, a waterfront from the 17th century, with different colored facades. This zone was so stuffed with tourists that we couldn’t even ride the bike. There are many places to visit in the city center, such as the Christianborg Palace or Rosenborg castle, Amalienborg Palace & Frederik’s Church or Tivoli Gardens, but I was actually focusing on the feeling I get riding the bike in an authentic urban atmosphere, admiring the streets of Copenhagen.
Heading back home to Hvidovre, we passed by Carlsberg Brewery in Vesterbro and the whole route was about 50 km this first day, very interesting and full of energy kind of trip.
Something old, something new
Our second day route was considerably shorter than the day before and we got to visit the Zoo, a child-friendly place and well maintained, then we headed to the market of fresh food, Torvehallerne Market Hall, where you can eat all kind of fish and fruits, and from there to the Danish Architecture Center, designed by the famous Dutch architectural firm OMA. Our last stop was the place called Sydhavnen where we passed by a very cool school, designed by JJW Architects and visited the whole new neighborhood, full of positive energy.
People-friendly urban planning
There are many cool public spaces in Copenhagen, because the city is designed for being people-friendly, as it is Israel’s square, where people are relaxing, playing basketball or using the skate spots in the middle of the city or Superkilen park in Nørrebro, where you can play all kind of sports or just relax. There are also some public pools on the main canal in Copenhagen where you can swim, you can go kayaking on the canals or enjoying a nice sauna by the beach all year round.
Bike-friendly urban design
The city of Copenhagen is actually located on two big islands and some other smaller ones, so there are many canals and obviously, many bridges. Lots of them are new and very well-designed, many only for cyclists and pedestrians, as the Bicycle Snake bridge, the Bicycle Highway, the Inner Harbour Bridge, the Circle Bridge and Butterfly Bridge.
I guess the good urban planning design is one of the reasons for Copenhagen to be ranked high in the surveys concerning the quality of life and one good reason for me to consider moving here someday.
To sum up, visiting Copenhagen by bike is a must do because you can see so many places of this incredible city in a short amount of time and also you can better feel the atmosphere of this cool place.