If you’re reading this and have heard of the term “spoonie” before, you’re in luck: You’re about to read the first travel guide to Copenhagen that’s specifically targeted to people like me and you (at least the first that I know of).
If you haven’t heard the term before: “Spoonie“ is used to describe someone with a chronic illness - that can be anything from crohn’s or colitis (the latter is what I’m living with), to lupus, endo… the list goes on! Due to the illness, many spoonies experience a lack of energy, along with possible dietary restrictions, which makes travelling even more stressful than it already is.
In this spoonie travel guide to Copenhagen, I’m therefore going to present the city in regards to how easy it is to visit with a chronic illness: Where can you take a break and enjoy a packed lunch with foods you know you tolerate? Where you can you visit the restroom? What kind of activity is there to do on a day when you just don’t have much energy available?
Scroll down to read the answers to these and more questions and don’t forget to share the article with anyone you think might benefit from it!
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Before we dive into it, just a little disclaimer: Obviously we’re all different and so are our illnesses and needs. If you find the sights/activities presented in this guide too restrictive, make sure to check out my other articles about Copenhagen and if you have a question about visiting the city that’s not covered by this guide, make sure to leave a comment below or send me an Instagram DM and I’ll make sure to help out as best as I can!
1. Activities that don’t require a lot of walking or standing
A boat sightseeing cruise
If you’re looking to see all the highlights of Copenhagen but aren’t quite up for a walking tour, you can simply head on a boat at Nyhavn and embark on a canal cruise. There are 2 different providers to choose from (Strömma and Netto - the latter offer tickets for only 40 DKK) and booking in advance isn’t necessary. Just show up at the pier whenever it suits you best (though, if visiting in summer, you might have to face some waiting time).
- A ride with Copenhagen’s harbour taxi
If you're using the Copenhagen Card or have a multiple day pass for public transport in the city, you don't have to pay for a boat sightseeing cruise but can simply hop on one of Copenhagen's harbour taxis and either enjoy the entire length of the route as an alternative canal cruise or simply use the taxi to get from one point to the other if you're too exhausted to walk.
People-watching at Nyhavn
Nyhavn is without doubt one of Copenhagen’s most crowded attractions but nonetheless, it’s a great place for a break in between sightseeing. Have your pick between the dozens of restaurants and cafes that are situated along the canal and watch the crowds while sipping a cup of tea!
A day at the beach
If you’re visiting Copenhagen in summer and are already exhausted when getting out of bed, the best thing you can do is lie down and relax - at the beach! Arguably this depends on whether you have enough energy to even make it there but both, Amager Beach and Ishøj Beach are situated just outside the city centre, yet easily accessible by public transport.
If you feel like doing nothing but are afraid of missing out, a day at the beach might be a good compromise for your soul and body!
2. Sights that are particularly “spoonie-friendly”
The Black Diamond - Royal Library
I love the royal library of Copenhagen! Not only because they have an amazing viewpoint on the upper floor and interesting art exhibitions in the basement, but more importantly because they provide a space for a break in between sightseeing. On the first floor, right when entering the building, to the left, there’s space for you to enjoy a packed lunch on a rainy day, and the restrooms in the building are all free to visit as well.
Unfortunately, not all museums in Copenhagen allow you to consume a packed lunch which really sucks as not every museum cafe actually offers allergy-friendly food. I literally found myself having to eat my banana in the hallway of a local castle for lack of proper break facilities (more on that below) and while that might not be a problem for healthy people, it certainly poses a challenge for someone like me. So in short, I was super grateful to be able to sit down, eat and relax at the library after an entire morning full of sightseeing.
The National Museum of Denmark
Another place that’s nice to visit if you have particular needs is the National Museum of Denmark. They have a ton of exhibits about the history of Denmark and the Vikings, as well as different culture around the world, so you can spend hours there browsing all exhibits.
More importantly, however, they’re extremely well prepared to welcome anyone! There’s a break room where you can eat your packed lunch, free restrooms, free internet, lockers for your stuff, no entrance fee - and the entire museum is accessible by wheelchair as well (and there’s even the possibility to rent one if need be).
The Greenlandic House
The Greenlandic House isn’t your typical attraction in Copenhagen, as in, not everyone knows about it, but it certainly is one of my favourite places in the city. The house functions as a meeting space for Greenlanders in Denmark but also informs anyone who’s interested in the country through art exhibitions on the second floor and a book store at the reception.
There’s also a big meeting room/cafe on the first floor where you’re welcome to sit down and eat, and you’ll find restrooms in the basement.
Copenhagen offers plenty of fabulous viewpoints but not all of them come with an elevator. Mærsk Tower is one of them who do and although it’s not a classic tourist attraction (it’s part of the university but can be visited free of charge), it certainly offers nice views of Copenhagen from above - from an inside-viewing platform with plenty of available seats. Win-Win!
Christiansborg Palace Tower
The tower of Christiansborg Palace can also be visited free of charge and by means of an elevator. The views are a bit more spectacular than what you get at Mærsk, as you’ll head up an outside 360-degree viewing platform, but you also have to stand in line until it’s your turn...
Arken - Museum of Modern Art
Arken is situated approx. 30 minutes from the city centre but the train and bus ride is definitely worth it as the exhibitions are super interesting. There’s a cafe on the upper floor but also plenty of space to sit down and eat on the ground floor, as well as free lockers and restrooms. In the exhibitions themselves you’ll also find plenty of opportunities to sit down if you need a break.
The Botanic Garden
A visit to the Botanic Garden is perfect on a rainy day and when you’re experiencing muscle pain. The greenhouses of the garden are super balmy and there’s also space for you to sit down and relax!
Another thing you can do on a day with muscle pain is heading to the spa! CopenHot is a relatively newly established spa at the canal where you can enjoy a sauna and/or hot tub session with a view!
These spa sessions are offered on Wednesdays, Thursdays and Sundays and 1 1/2 hours come at the relatively affordable cost of 300 DKK.
3. Sights that might feel particularly challenging
Don’t get me wrong, I love Tivoli and it definitely is a must-see when visiting Copenhagen. However, it’s not the best attraction if standing and walking a lot exhausts you easily. Even though there are loads of cafes and restaurants scattered around the park, you’ll end up walking and standing in line for most of your stay at Tivoli, which might uses up more spoons than you have available that day.
Also, when visiting in winter or on a rainy day, there isn’t really anywhere to enjoy a packed lunch either as the only space designated to this is the lawn close to the aquarium - and who wants to sit there when it’s cold or raining cats and dogs?!
Rosenborg Castle is where I had to “enjoy” lunch standing in the hallway, as mentioned earlier. The castle in general is really weird from a visitor’s perspective: the exhibitions, reception, cafe and restrooms are all situated in their own building and except for an outside picnic area, there isn’t really anywhere to sit down and have a break unless you head to the cafe.
Also, one pretty important thing to know for any IBDers: There are only 2 toilets for all visitors (no, not 2 different restrooms - literally only 2 toilets for the ladies in total). Better bring your toilet card (if you have one)!
One of Copenhagen’s most popular viewpoints, but definitely challenging if you exhaust easily! At the round tower you won’t find an elevator and even though there aren’t many stairs either, the decline is definitely quite long (some 250 meters). There are seats along the way, though, if you want to give it a go.
4. Allergy-friendly restaurants and cafes
Grød was recommended to me by my blogger friend and fellow spoonie Sarah of Endless Distances! While I chose to prepare all meals myself on my last trip to Copenhagen (which was my first after being diagnosed with UC), a look at the menu of Grød had definitely made me swoon. There’s plenty of gluten and dairy free options available and Grød offers breakfast, lunch, brunch and dinner!
Souls is a vegan restaurant with a focus on local and organic food. Similar to Grød, they offer breakfast, lunch and dinner and even have a take-away option! The menu looks promising, although, unfortunately, they don’t seem to highlight gluten-free options on it to make it easier - though, there definitely seem to be plenty of GF dishes available!
Palæo is Copenhagen’s only 100% paleo restaurant, which sounds like a dream come true for me! Even though I don’t follow the paleo diet, I certainly feel better when I don’t eat any additives or sugar, and you might feel the same. Palæo offers wraps (made of eggs), salads and even a paleo hot dog. I’ll definitely stop by next time I’ll visit the city!
You’ve probably heard about this chain before and they can, of course, also be found in Copenhagen. No matter whether you’d like to just get a ginger shot or smoothie, or a healthy lunch, Joe & The Juice offers plenty of options (although when it comes to GF options, you might only be left with an omelette).
5. Overview of free and healthy tap water
Tap water in Denmark is safe to drink and healthy, so you should absolutely bring a Thermos flask and refill it when you’re out and about to stay hydrated. While you can, theoretically, refill it at any public restroom, it might be more hygienic to stick to the local drinking fountains.
Here’s where to find them in Copenhagen:
Thanks to HOFOR for this amazing overview!
6. Overview of public restrooms
Most public restrooms require a small fee, so it might be wise to keep change in Danish kroner on you, just in case. Head here to find an overview of public restrooms in the city centre or head here for an overview of Greater Copenhagen (museums and cafes usually have their own bathroom facilities for their customers).
7. What to do in case of emergency
Even as a visitor from another country, you have the right to health care if need be as everyone else. If you’re a EU citizen, make sure to bring the blue European Health Insurance Card as proof that you have health care insurance back home.
If you run out of medicine or need a doctor, don’t worry. This handy article of Visit Copenhagen has all the info you need - from where to find the nearest pharmacy to how to get in touch with a doctor!
8. tips from someone who’s been there
Staying in a hostel or Airbnb in order to prepare meals yourself? You’ll find the cheapest selection of groceries at Netto or Lidl, while Irma is quite expensive but offers a greater range of organic and allergy-friendly products!
Getting around by public transport
As mentioned earlier, the harbour taxi is a great way to get from one sight to the next as it stops at, for example, the Little Mermaid, the Opera House and the Royal Library.
You might also find bus 9A and bus 66 helpful, as they go from the central train station/Tivoli to Christiansborg Palace and the island of Christiania (9A), as well as the royal library and Nyhavn (66). Make sure to also save the overview of all busses in the city centre here.
If you arrive to Copenhagen airport early (which you should, especially if you’re on a red-eye flight home), instead of waiting for boarding at the often crowded gates, head to the transfer centre. There, you’ll find plenty of seats, as well as restrooms - and the atmosphere at the transfer centre is generally a lot quieter and less crowded than elsewhere at the airport.
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