Minimise your footprint in Copenhagen with our green guide to the city, taken from travel bible Great Escapes.
Sleep somewhere green
It wins no points for style, but Copenhagen’s greenest (and cheapest) youth hostel – conveniently located near the centre of town – has good intentions at its heart. Sleep-in Green is run by a youth development charity (its offices are upstairs), which aims to help reintroduce youngish offenders back into work. You sleep on bunk beds in dorms, there’s just one large shower room and a small dining area where you can eat organic breakfasts and access free wi-fi. Don’t be put off by the graffiti-covered stairwell outside reception; at 120DKK a night you get what you pay for, and your custom helps the staff hold down a job.
If you’re looking for something more comfortable (or you are in town for business), there are three smart Scandic Hotels in the centre. Scandic is one of the few hotel chains that has genuinely tried to green up its act: it has committed to eliminate half its fossil CO2 emissions by 2011 and all by 2025. The majority of its hotels have been awarded the Nordic Swan eco label and the group has announced it will no longer buy in bottled water, instead offering bottled filtered water from its own taps. So while their hotels might look like huge corporate beasts, they do have an impressive green underbelly.
Sleep-in Green has a secure area for bikes. For prices and directions from the central train station contact +45 (0) 3537 7777. For details of all Scandic Hotels see http://www.scandichotels.com. For details of Scandic’s environmental policies see http://www.scandic-hotels.com/betterworld.
Get on your bike
Let’s face it, cyclists and car drivers aren’t always the best of friends. In Copenhagen there are hundreds of thousands of cyclists (more than 1.1 million kilometres of cycling are clocked up every day) yet many other residents drive to work. To find a traffic system compatible with both, Copenhagen’s authorities have run a successful pilot programme known as the Green Wave. The idea is that the traffic signals on cycling lanes are synchronized with cyclists’ average speed (approximately 20km per hour), so you can cycle the length of the city without ever having to stop at the lights. Green Waves currently exist from Nørrebrogade to the lakes and Nørre Farimagsgade to the city centre, with more soon to be installed along Copenhagen’s 40km of cycling lanes.
There are several places to hire a bike in the city, including an enlightened scheme at Baisikeli, a 5min walk from Nørreport station, where part of the hire cost goes towards delivering second-hand bikes to villages in Ghana, Sierra Leone and Tanzania.
For bike hire prices, suggested itineraries and guided tours see http://www.cph-bike-rental.dk. Ask for the excellent Copenhagen cycling map (also available from tourist offices), which includes details of cycling routes away from heavily trafficked streets. To hire a bike at the Central Station visit http://www.cyclecopenhagen.dk, where you can join an excellent “Bike with Mike” guided tour to see the city’s sights.
Fresh herring and hippy herbs
After a morning cycling around town, head to Nyhavn, the oldest part of Copenhagen’s harbour. Though touristy, it is the place to go for fresh, local fish where you can sit looking out over the harbour. One of the best places to eat is Nyhavns Faergekro, which serves a large herring buffet with ten specialities and freshly made smørrebrød (open sandwiches) according to season. In the evening, cycle over to Morgen Stedet, an organic vegetarian restaurant in the fascinating quarter of Christiania – the part self-governing, part anarchic neighbourhood that’s the heart of the city’s hippy scene. The restaurant serves wholesome soups, noodle dishes and salads with fresh vegetables from a local farm (no alcohol is served but you can bring your own).