City Files: Biking in Copenhagen:: Top 10 Tourist No-no’s

by Tina on July 3, 2013

in Copenhagen, Denmark, Travel, Travel Files


You can see Copenhagen by foot and you can see it by boat, but if you really want to experience the city like a local, you will need a set of wheels… Bike wheels, of course.

And if you want to travel like a local, you need to bike like a Dane.  Biking in Copenhagen is serious business!  Here is my top 10 list of Tourist no-no’s:

1. Fitness gear is out.  Heels? Skirts?  Yes.  Spandex and lycra?  No.  Unless there is leather involved.

2. Ride your bike like you drive your car.  Running red lights and swerving into oncoming traffic?  A definite sign that you are not from these parts.

3. Remember your shades.  You will look cooler and it will keep the wind out of your eyes.

4. Lock your bike.  It will save you a few tears and from paying for a new ride.

5. If you happen to have not ridden a bike in say a good decade or so (guilty!) then take a little refresher on a quiet road before you hit the busy ones.  Danes get a little cranky when you wobble around like a newborn giraffe in the bike lanes.

6. If you need to turn to the right, stick your arm out towards the right just before you turn to alert cyclists behind you that you are turning and vice versa for the left.  Slamming on your brakes, throwing your map into the cyclist’s face behind you while you careen off the next street?  Tourist.

7. If you need to stop, dragging your feet along the ground is totally not cool… besides you wouldn’t want to mess up your cute heels.  Simply put your hand up, making a little stop signal instead. PS. Jumping off or hitting the curb are not cool, either.

8. Do consider taking a ride in a cargo bike.  Warning, though.  In your jet lagged state, it may lull you into a blissful slumber.

9. Bicycles may be Denmark’s “sacred cow” but running people over while riding is frowned upon.

10. Unless you are an experienced cyclist, trying to take a photo while riding your bike could lead to an embarrassing accident and profanity being yelled at you from the other cyclist.

And 11. Because cycling in Copenhagen is truly the most wonderful way to experience the city…. Remember to relax, ride at a leisurely pace, and soak up every minute of your visit!

Here is a little video clip of our recent ride in the city:


Photos by Jack Fussell for Flying House Studios

Outfit: Top: COS, Shorts: J Crew, Shoes: Aldo, Necklace: H&M, Sunglasses: Ray Ban

Bike: Trio Bike

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{ 27 comments… read them below or add one }

Julie July 3, 2013 at 1:02 pm

Oh my god! That’s so funny!!!! I haven’t really thought about in that way, but you are totally right!
Sometimes people who come to out city is better to spot things like that and tell about them, than we are ourselves.
Thank you :-)


ShannanC July 3, 2013 at 2:52 pm

Loved the video! I’m jealous of the special bike lanes you guys get to enjoy. We have a few here…but they are rare =)


Deborah Harlton July 3, 2013 at 2:57 pm

Love the photo, just as I imagined Copenhagen!
Do you drive at all or just bike everywhere? Do the kids bike to school?


Chase @ The Smell of Summer July 3, 2013 at 3:12 pm

Love it! Visiting Copenhagen is one of the top destinations that I hope to visit sometime soon.

Chase Miller
The Smell of Summer – A Boutique Lifestyle Blog


Gina @ Oaxacaborn July 3, 2013 at 3:12 pm

This made me laugh out loud several times!


simplystylishmom July 3, 2013 at 5:19 pm

Adorable outfit. I just LOVE bike-riding. Definitely one of my favourite things about moving here. Tell me: how is the trio bike or other cargo bikes – we simply have a bike trailer and it is SO heavy with both my kids in it – but wonder if the cargo bikes are any better?


Gabrielle July 3, 2013 at 6:40 pm

I hadn’t thought of cycling around Copenhagen (was planning to walk lots when I visit before the end of the summer) but am having a rethink. Can you hire helmets as well as bikes? Although in your (fab) video it doesn’t look like many people wear helmets when cycling. I’m not sure if you get Brit mag Mollie Makes in Denmark but there’s a wonderful feature all about where to visit for vintage, crafts and homewares in Copenhagen. Let me know if you won’t see it and I can email you scans of the pages if you’d like.


Tina July 3, 2013 at 7:04 pm

@Julie I was scared TO DEATH the first few times I rode! It really can be a bit overwhelming if you have never done it before! And sometimes funny too! :-)


Tina July 3, 2013 at 7:04 pm

@ShannonC It is very special and something that makes us love the city even more!


Tina July 3, 2013 at 7:05 pm

@Deborah We do still drive our car at times, but we try to always use the bikes if we can… no matter what the weather! :-)


Tina July 3, 2013 at 7:05 pm

@Chase It is amazing! You should definitely come if you can!


Tina July 3, 2013 at 7:06 pm

@Gina So glad to hear! :-)


Tina July 3, 2013 at 7:07 pm

@SimplyStylishMom I absolutely love mine and it is far, far easier than the trailers. You can always buy them used to save money! The only complaint I have about my trio is that it IS so light that I have to be careful how much weight I put in the front without the kickstand down to balance or someone sitting on the seat.


Tina July 3, 2013 at 7:10 pm

@Gabrielle I haven’t seen the feature! I would love to see the article! I don’t wear a helmet, but I keep saying that I need to get one. They are only required for children and I would say about half the adults wear them. When are you coming? I could check into it if we are back before you visit!


Georgianna July 3, 2013 at 7:43 pm

Oh, Tina, I LOVED this!! I never got to ride on my various visits to the city but you make it look like a blast. Thank you for a fun trip! xo


wendy | beeldsteil July 3, 2013 at 9:24 pm

Copenhagen looks so beautiful and the video is lovely!


Ninette July 3, 2013 at 9:34 pm

oooh, that makes me so nostalgic! I am so happy we bought one of those Danish “family bikes” (Winter Kangaroo) while we still lived there – it’s our best buy in Copenhagen, and best souvenir so to speak. Makes for a good conversation starter also! Everyone wants to know were we have found such a practical bike (all our 3 kids could ride in it when they were little)
Copenhagen is such a haven for bike riders – it was one of our favourite pastimes, to ride around or to ride to Dyrehaven.
When we moved to Cph I was one of the few people wearing a helmet (which sometimes made people stare at me, but I didn’t mind, being a crazy foreigner!), but that has changed in the last few years I think.


Danish Exchange July 5, 2013 at 2:28 pm

Loved this too cute post and your tips and of course the great video!


rawlins July 8, 2013 at 12:31 pm

In Holland and Denmark lots of people use bikes precisely because there is no social pressure or legal obligation to wear helmets.


blackie o'reilly July 11, 2013 at 12:44 pm

I don’t think fitness gear is a definite no no here. I see a ton of people going to/from the gym/beach in their fitness gear plus those on racing bikes in full cyclist gear.

and as far as nr. 7, you usually have to do the foot drag/jump off in addition to the cute little stop signal unless you’re really good at balancing while not in motion. :-)

I find one thing that really distinguishes locals from tourists is the way they mount/dismount the bikes. the locals are the ones who have mastered the whole balancing while standing on one pedal thing.


Lise Jensen July 11, 2013 at 12:53 pm

Great post, but as a Copenhagener I feel compelled to point out a few things about your video – you drove the wrong way down a one way street, and twice on streets that were designated as walking only. But there’s a lot of rules to remember, so we’ll forgive you :)


I Love Gifting July 11, 2013 at 1:22 pm

Cool pic, cool video, cool post Tina!


Gregers July 12, 2013 at 2:38 pm

@Lise I am actually quite certain that the pedestrian street signs at Krystalgade has notices stating that you are allowed to cross Købmagergade in your vehicle (thus also bike). Several of the signs in the area has similar notices. Likewise for biking against the oneway direction…


Carolina August 6, 2013 at 2:31 am

haha, yes, absolutely, the shades is the most important point! 😉


Azra November 16, 2013 at 3:26 pm

It all looks wonderful. Especially a part about high heels on a bike. :) But I wonder how about helmets. I would be a little nervous not wearing one. Also, from the video I can see nobody wearing one.


Tina November 16, 2013 at 9:40 pm

It is true. Helmets are not required for adults and many choose not to wear them, but it comes down to personal choice.


Laura January 10, 2014 at 1:15 pm

Just linked to this article from our blog’s Facebook-page, and then I wondered – do your blog have a Facebook-page? I could only find what looked like your private Facebook.


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