How to Bike Like a Local in Copenhagen

In Copenhagen, where more than half the residents commute by bike, cycling is a way to feel like a local. But before joining the estimated 40,000 cyclists who cross Queen Louise’s Bridge each day, review a few rules of the road.

Where to Rent:

Many hotels offer bike rentals, or visit Baisikeli Bike Rentals in Vesterbro or City Centre to select a bike (first come, first served). Rent a Bike in Copenhagen requires online reservations, ensuring a bike will be awaiting you at its City Centre shop.

Where to Bike: 

Look for the ubiquitous blue-and-white posts or painted lines marking bike lanes. Concrete curbs often separate designated cycle lanes and cars. Blue “Gågade Zone” signs indicate pedestrian-only streets.

Safety First:

Make sure your bike comes with a handlebar bell to alert riders when passing (always on the left). Use hand signals when stopping or turning (right turns on red are illegal). Stop for bus passengers who are boarding or disembarking. At intersections, follow the cycle-specific traffic signals and blue path.

> Other Nuts and Bolts:

Where to Stay: 

Down a cobblestoned lane between Peblinge Lake and Nansensgade’s cafés is Kong Arthur, four buildings around an inner courtyard. New in June 2013, one-room Central Hotel & Café near Værnedamsvej is a microcosm of Danish design: functional, simple, and fun. The hotel is the renovated upper floor of a story-book house built in 1905 as a cobbler’s shop.

Where to Eat :

Geranium head chef Rasmus Kofoed creates innovative 20-course, terroir-based Nordic tasting menus using earthy items such as pine needles, beetroot, berries, and stems. The modern restaurant’s perch atop Parken, Denmark’s national stadium, seems questionable until you see the city views.

Otherwise, find spirited conversation, tight table space, natural wines, organic coffee, and local small plates at Manfreds & Vin in Nørrebro–except on Mondays, when the establishment is closed.

What to Read: 

Kerrigan in Copenhagen: A Love Story, by Thomas E. Kennedy: a bittersweet novel disguised as a guidebook to Copenhagen’s more than 1,500 drinking establishments.

Noma: Time and Place in Nordic Cuisine, by René Redzepi: a handsome coffee-table book celebrating one of the world’s most innovative restaurants and featuring 90 recipes.

What to Photograph (and How):

“A striking feature of modern Copenhagen is all the new buildings constructed around the harbor,” says photographer Sisse Brimberg.

“When shooting them, avoid exaggerated perspective and converging verticals (this is when the buildings appear to point backward). Find a shooting platform that allows you to keep your camera level. Make sure your vertical lines in the frame are parallel to the edges of your viewfinder. Shoot at mid-height of the building, and look for an object, or people, in the foreground that fills the empty space.”

This piece, written by Maryellen Kennedy Duckett, appeared in the November 2013 issue of Traveler magazine.