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How to find the secret places of Copenhagen (like a local)

by Aurora Brink

What are the best kept secret places of Copenhagen? Where to go and what to do if you really want to have a rich local experience?

When we think of Denmark, we always remember the famous Danish author, Hans Christian Andersen, and his fairy tales (some of his most famous stories include "The Little Mermaid", "The Nightingale", "The Snow Queen", "The Ugly Duckling", "Thumbelina", and many more).

If he was alive, we would choose him for a guide of Copenhagen. Because who will show you the city better than a local who knows all the secret places!

As Mr. Andersen is no longer available, we contacted the best people we know for an insight of Copenhagen – the guys from Copenhagen Fairy Tales tour. Inspired by Andersen's stories, they know how to turn every walk into a unique Copenhagen fairy tale.

So here is how Copenhagen looks through the eyes of a local - one of their guides – Simon Presley.

Who is Simon?

Simon Presley is a guide and product manager at Copenhagen Fairytales. He's 25 years old. His mom is Danish, and his dad's American. He has lived in Denmark ever since he was 2 years old.

The first place to see in Copenhagen is... If you're just coming in from the airport via the subway (metro), consider getting off at Kongens Nytorv Station. From there, world famous Nyhavn (the place with all the pretty colorful houses and ships you see on just about any travel show filmed in Copenhagen) is just a short walk away. You'll also be near one end of Strøget, Copenhagen's main walking street.

One great place that the tourists usually skip in Copenhagen (because they have never heard of it) is... I would say Rundetårn (The Round Tower), my own favorite tourist attraction in the city. It's an old astral observatory tower built in 1642. Aside from offering a great view of the city and an art gallery in the church it's connected to, it's main claim to fame is the fact that it doesn't have any stairs leading to the top- instead, there's a path inside, supposedly made so that the king who had it built (Christian IV) could be driven up there in a horse-drawn cart. I'm afraid you'll have to walk though, should you decide to visit.

People from Copenhagen would never... go shopping on Strøget, the walking street. Some might, but most I know tend to avoid the place like the plague - unless they're using it to go somewhere quickly. This is because the shops there mostly cater to tourists. So if you want a 'I ♡ CPH' t-shirt, that's where you'd go. If not, I suggest you explore the little side streets that branch off from Strøget instead.

People from Copenhagen would always... go to one of the city's parks if the weather is nice. If you go to any park in Copenhagen during the summer especially, you'll find lots of locals there, enjoying everything from a picnic to a game of soccer. People in this city really value their green spaces, and make as much use of them as they possibly can.

Few people know that... the water in the city's habour is actually so clean that it's considered safe to swim in - which many people do during the summer. Just head on over to Islands Brygge and you'll see them. Just don't go expecting the water to be very warm though - this is a city in Scandinavia we're talking about after all!

The best time to come to Copenhagen is... summer. Indisputably summer. Outside of the period between mid-May to September, our wheather is usually cold, wet and grey. Winter here is only for those with a strong love of the cold (or people who are just mildly masochist).

The best way to get to know the city is by... walking around and allowing yourself the time to get a bit lost. I know, that's what a lot of people say - but for me personally at least, it's what has helped me get to know cities as diverse and different as Copenhagen and Tokyo. Just remember to have a rough idea about how to get back to where you're staying!

Biking in Copenhagen is... everywhere. It's litterally one of the first things any visitor is bound to notice. If you're confident in your biking skills, it's an excellent way to experience the city. Part of why locals do it is of course Copenhageners wanting to be eco-friendly, but it's also really just a matter of practicality - cars are very expensive here in Denmark, and even if you can afford one, finding a place to park it in Copenhagen can be an absolute nightmare. Thus, most locals opt for a bike instead.

Walking in Copenhagen is... yet another great way to experience the city. The first time I did a 3-hour walking tour for the company, I was astounded as to how much of the city we'd actually managed to see. And all while walking at a very relaxed, casual pace. That's one of the things I really like about the city; it's big enough to feel like a capital city, yet most things are within a reasonable distance when walking.

You should start your culinary exploration of Copenhagen with... visiting Torvehallerne, the indoors food market located practically next to Nørreport Station. It's got all kinds of shops there that sell high quality ingredients and food. I often take our guests there to show them a great place to try some delicious smørrebrød (Danish open sandwiches).

The bench with the best view in Copenhagen is... This one I had to think real hard about! But I would say that any bench in Kongens Have, one of the city's major parks, would be a good candidate. Depending on where you sit and when you visit, your view might either be extremely quiet and serene... Or full of lively locals partying in the park!

Why to choose Copenhagen Fairy Tales tour

When you go on tour with Copenhagen Fairy Tales, they strive to make you feel like you have a friend in the city, eager to welcome you and show you their home. They always go in small groups (no greater than 10 people) so that you can have a lot of interaction with the guide. Furthermore, there are no set routes - it's entirely dependent on the guide and the interests of the guests joining the tour. And if you have any special requests, they can tailor all kinds of custom tours aside from their standard walking, biking and food tours.

Book your Copenhagen Fairy Tales tour here.