City Guide: Copenhagen | A 5-Hour Layover
Traveling can be stressful, especially if you're a rookie. Take it from a girl who hadn't left the US for the first time until 2013. I have also dreaded and avoided layovers like some kind of plague. Luckily, traveling is like anything else, the more you do it, the easier it becomes. Since meeting, dating, and marrying my British husband, I have spent a lot more miles in the sky, and therefore have eased the anxiety of traveling (kinda). I am still fairly neurotic about being at the airport in enough time, and would probably die if I missed a flight so the idea of LEAVING the airport during a layover was VERY unsettling to me. I was recently traveling to New York's JFK airport from Manchester airport in the UK and had a 5-hour layover in Copenhagen, Denmark. This was the first time I'd ever had a layover for long enough that I could even consider venturing out, but with a little research and advice from friends, I did it! Here's what I did with my 5-hour layover in Copenhagen.
Landing in Copenhagen
The Copenhagen airport is very easy to navigate and in case you're wondering...they all know/speak English, so no need to feel intimidated by a language barrier. The airport employees were some of the friendliest and most helpful people I've ever met. Example: The customs officer actually wrote down the name of the train station I should get off at when leaving the airport during my layover.
When flying with layovers, it's not that uncommon to have to switch airlines in the city you are laying over in. In my case, I was on a flight with SAS from Manchester to Copenhagen and transferred to a Norwegian Airlines flight to take me from Copenhagen to New York. These are often times "sister" airlines or airlines that have partnered. If you find yourself in this situation, be aware that you will need to pick up your luggage at baggage claim in the city you are laying over in, and physically take it to the baggage-drop off/check-in desk at the second airline you will be traveling with. This does eat into your layover time slightly, so account for that when making plans. If you are only traveling with one airline, they will transfer your bags to your connecting flight for you (bonus).
Once you have gone through customs and taken care of your baggage (if necessary) you can chose to stow any carry-on luggage or extra bags, like a backpack, in lockers that are made available just outside of the airport located at the entrance to the parking garage. You will need a debit/credit card in able to do this. There is a slight chance that it may deny your card if you have security settings that flag usage in foreign countries (TIP: you should always call you bank before traveling to let them know the cities you will be traveling to and the dates in which you are traveling to ensure you won't have the annoying and embarrassing moment when your card is declined).
Leaving the Airport
You can catch the Metro Station from Terminal 3, where you buy your metro ticket from a kiosk. Tickets are charged by how far you are traveling. You will most likely want to get off at Kongens Nytorv, which puts you in the center of shopping and a short walk from restaurants and the infamous row of colored buildings along the canal. This journey is 8 stops on the metro and will take about 14 minutes. A Ticket will cost you DDK 34.50 or just under $5, one-way. I brought a small amount of Danish Krone with me incase I needed cash for anything, which in the end,I didn't, so I used it to pay for my lunch, as I'd have no use for it once I left. Keep in mind, this is an expensive city and a coffee will likely cost you around $6...
When you get off the train at Kongens Nytorv, you will be smack dab in the middle of lots of shopping. This can be a great way to kill some time and explore only a short distance from the metro if you're feeling nervous about venturing too far. I skipped the shopping (you can shop anywhere!) and made my way to the row of colorful buildings. I took my time walking on both sides of the canal, stopping periodically to take photos, before I decided to stop for some lunch. I picked the restaurant at random and am not sure that any along this strip are all that different from one another. What I really enjoyed was that even though it was an overcast and slightly rainy and cold day, the outdoor seating was still set up with umbrellas and heat lamps. I recommend this option so that you can fully absorb your surroundings!
I decided to head back towards the airport after lunch, as it had started to rain. I still had maybe about 45 minutes to explore but figured I wouldn't push my luck. The walk back to the metro station from the colorful buildings is about a 7 minute walk. You can buy your return ticket at a kiosk in the station. You want to get on the line headed towards the airport (yellow line), which is the last stop named Lufthaven. Again, this journey is only about 14 minutes. Once you arrive back at the airport, don't forget to pick up anything you may have placed in a locker. Then the rest of your airport experience is business as usual and you're on your way to your final destination! I realize I didn't DO a whole lot during this layover, but I hope you can find it of some use to help guide your decision to venture out in Copenhagen, whether it's for a layover or a few day trip. I know there are many other things to see and experience!
Been to Copenhagen and have more tips? Be sure to share them by commenting!