Sustainable travel tip: Copenhagen!

If you are looking for a city trip and would like to make it a sustainable one, why not visit Copenhagen! It would not have occurred to me to go there, but we just spend our New Year’s Eve there and I want to share this wonderful experience.

Traveling to and in the city

A direct train leaves the Hamburg train station for Copenhagen.
Direct train to Copenhagen from Hamburg Central Station.

From Hamburg, you can just take the direct train to Copenhagen. It takes about 4.5 hours, has free wifi and very comfy seats – but make sure you have a reservation, as it might get crowded especially around the holidays!

Of course, you could also fly there or take the car – both options are not as environmentally friendly, of course. Driving in Copenhagen might also be an interesting experience, because the city planners clearly didn’t focus on cars in the streets:

Copenhagen is one of the most bike-friendly cities in the world.
The streets of Copenhagen are incredibly bike-friendly!

I have never seen such bike lanes… as a bike commuter, I am both amazed and jealous. There are bike lanes separated from both cars and pedestrians by curbstones, they are wide and everywhere in the city. Naturally, these limit the space left for cars. There are even some bike-only bridges which make traveling and commuting by bike extremely convenient. No wonder why the city was rewarded the title World’s first Bike City from 2008-2011 by the International Cycling Union!

Special bike roads make bike commuting especially attractive in Copenhagen.
Bicycle-only bridge in the harbor area of Copenhagen, photo by Andreas Dress on Unsplash

As a tourist, you can get around perfectly using public transport. Copenhagen has a decent network of (electric) buses and a driver-less metro, which makes it highly efficient – and it is fun to sit in the front of the train!

A driver-less metro enhances public transport in Copenhagen and  acts as its own tourist attraction.
Enjoying a train driver’s view in Copenhagen’s driver-less metro

Things to see in Denmark’s capital

I am not big into museums and sightseeing… still I enjoyed the city for its beauty. As a photographer, you can have a good time taking pictures here! While I can recommend tourist attractions such as Nyhavn with the wonderful colorful houses and castle Amalienborg with the Danish soldiers protecting their queen, the little mermaid statue was not very impressive – it was fun watching the crowds taking pictures though!

Freetown Christiania is also recommendable for an interesting experience… It is a commune in the middle of the city that is open to visitors. There is a lot of interesting art to be seen … and the open cannabis market might give you a hint where they get their creative ideas from.

Experiencing Copenhagen as a tourist

Besides some sightseeing, the most important thing to do when traveling (at least for me personally) is experiencing the flair and culture by eating its food. What better way to meet the locals then in Cafes, Bars and Restaurants where locals eat?

I was amazed by Copenhagen also in this aspect: There is an impressive selection of international options with different cuisines for every liking! We had amazing Korean, Vietnamese and Japanese food and there were loads of vegan, vegetarian and gluten-free options. Sure we also enjoyed some Danish specialties like Hot Dogs that you can get everywhere around town and Smørrebrød – and great coffee.

Copenhagen offers a wide variety of restaurants and cafes for every lifestyle, especially also vegan and vegetarian!
Good coffee sure is important!

While the Danes have their own currency (the Danish crown), you don’t need to have cash: We were able to pay by credit card or Google Pay everywhere. Even at the little kiosk where I bought my ticket for the bus or at the hot dog stall in the city center. This makes it especially easy to spend some time (and money) here!

And thanks to free European Roaming, you have mobile internet everywhere. The reception is fantastic – we had a good connection everywhere in Denmark even on the train. Crossing the border back to Germany, naturally the connection broke off again…

New Year’s Eve in Copenhagen

We spend New Year’s Eve in Copenhagen. Before going, we were looking for options to spend the special night – and my internet research told me about the fireworks and celebrations at the Tivoli amusement park in the middle of the city. So first we enjoyed a fantastic dinner and then headed out to the park in the early evening.

There were christmas market-style stands with Glühwein, Churros and other delights, pretty amazing rides like rollercoasters or a free fall tower and a wonderful christmas scenery. We spend the time there living the good life until 11 pm – apparently the Danes celebrate the new year early. At 11 pm there was a big fireworks display in the park, which we enjoyed before heading out on the streets.

Back outside of the park the city turned into a fireworks war zone – especially the city square is to be avoided if you don’t want to get into this mess. Because I personally like to watch fireworks, but will not support and fire them myself due to environmental concerns, we spend a nice time on the Kalvebod Bølge watching the fireworks and celebrating 2020.

What makes the trip sustainable?

If you are looking for a sustainable or carbon-neutral short trip, Copenhagen gives you perfect options. With the good train connection and public transportation, green mobility is easily achieved. There are many eco-friendly hotels to choose from, find a list e.g. here. Most restaurants not only offer vegetarian or vegan options, there are many shops dedicated to the vegetarian or vegan lifestyle. A fantastic list for vegan options can be found here!

Surely, you can make every trip sustainable by choosing the right hotel, transportation and restaurants. But Copenhagen is special, because they aim higher than any other capital city in the world:

Copenhagen aims to be the world’s first carbon-neutral capital city by 2025

The city has an exiting plan for the next not even 6 years, because they have understood that we are running out of time:

The City of Copenhagen has a dual responsibility to mitigate the effects of climate change and to show that it is feasible to combine growth, development and an enhanced quality of life with lower CO2- emissions.

https://urbandevelopmentcph.kk.dk/artikel/cph-2025-climate-plan

The good infrastructure both for bikes and public transport is just one of their four pillars, Mobility. The others are Energy Consumption, Energy Production and City Administration Initiatives. Check details on how they are going to achieve it on their website. I am amazed to see the progress they already have made and will continue to watch as they near their goal. This is such a good example for other cities: The city administration of Copenhagen understood the urgency of the climate crisis and they act on this. Let this be an example for all of us!

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