10 Super Activities for a Sustainable Summer in Copenhagen

Summer is Super in Copenhagen

If you’ve been to Denmark, you know. If you haven’t – what are you waiting for? Despite the popular meme that “summer is the best day of the year” here, it really truly might be the best time of the year here in Denmark. So come. Stay. And explore sustainably. It’s easy to do here. Really. They’ve practically terraformed it for you. A European Green Capital in 2014, Danes take the title very seriously. That. Is super. Seriously. And Danes love to say “super.” Lucky for you. It’s easy to pronounce. “Soo-pah!”

Ways to have sustainable FUN when Visiting the Danish Capital
1. Do the Danish Dip

Start sommer season off right and get happy in the head. Glad i låget as the Danes say. The water temps may feel brisk at the beginning of June, averaging 15-17ºC, but come to the peak of summer and the water will average 20-21ºC. That’s 70ºF. Basically balmy. It’s beautiful I tell you!

At the beginning of summer, take a tip from me. To really do the dip, it is best to find a spot where you can just jump right in, no wading required. Check out the beautiful new piers just put in along Nordhavn. A lovely place to relax and go for a swim, safe from boats. Just don’t test the water. Trust me. Just breathe. And jump. Come up for air. Emit a gasp of shock. Flail a bit. Get out. Repeat. The second time is the charm. I promise. As all the blood rushes to your extremities, the water feels amazing and you will feel full of life. I’m a believer. Try it. You’ll see.

TIP: You can check the Danish Meteorologic Institute’s Website for current water temperatures. It’s in Danish, but still easy to read temperatures. Just remember we work in Celsius over here.


Since 2000, Copenhagen has made valiant efforts to clean up their harbor restricting industrial, sewage and wastewater runoffs. The building of rainwater reservoirs and runoff conduits has dramatically increased the water quality and makes it safe to swim and enjoy.

2. Roam the Canals in an Electric Boat

Love the water, but afraid to get in? Take a toodle on an electric picnic boat. Have you ever rented a sustainable solar powered boat? You can! And you should.

Really – you must do this. Copenhagen is a harbor town. It’s in the name. København means merchant’s harbor. There is water everywhere. Seize your inner Viking sailor. You must get out on it. Especially in the sommer. Don’t have a boat? No problem. There are so many options for all budgets to explore the canals and harbor in Copenhagen.” – Summer in Copenhagen | 10 Must Do’s

We adore Go Boat and their super charming little electric picnic boats powered by solar cells. Book online, rent by the hour. It can be popular when the weather is nice, so plan ahead. Pick up your boat from their cool outpost near Islands Brygge right on the canal. We love the slow, cozy Go Boats for their charm, ease, stability, and maneuverability. There is a picnic table in the middle! No time to pack a lunch? Order ahead online and they will fashion a perfect picnic with organic wines, soft drinks and food.

Go Boat takes their sustainability next level and encourages your littlest sailors to help keep the harbor clean. Children who are interested can borrow a long-handled net to scoop garbage from the waters. They will be rewarded for their efforts when they return!

Friendships also offer electric boat rentals out of Christianshavn.

Go Boat – 1 hour = DKK 399 for up to 8 people
Friendships  – 1 hour = DKK 395 for 8 people

3. Experience Hygge at Ofelia Plads

After your cruise is complete, Ofelia Plads opened on this clean Copenhagen canal in the summer of 2016 and is the perfect place to perch in the sun and even try your Danish dip. Calmer than the colorful neighbor and tourist center Nyhavn, Ofelia Plads offers a casual chill and great views of the water. Snag a lounger and groove to the music. Share some cold rosé by the glass or bottle from the nearby Luftkastellet.

Follow Ofelia Plads on Facebook to stay up to date on special events and performances on the water. We adored seeing the Danish Royal Ballet this past weekend.

4. Ride a Bicycle Across Bridges and Around ‘bros

There are roads for bicycles in Copenhagen. Signals too. Little lights just for the cyclists to tell them to stop or to start. There are more bikes than people here in the capital. The easiest way to experience the city like a local is on two wheels. Don’t know where to go? Try this self-guided tour from Katy at Untold Morsels.

Renting a bike allows you to get a little further off the tourist path. Head to the Copenhagen neighborhoods – explore Vesterbro, Nørrebro and Østerbro. Or pedal your wheels across one of the two car-free harbor bridges. The Bryggesbroen will take you from Vesterbro to Islands Brygge and back. The Inderhavnsbro connects classic Nyhavn with Paper Island, Christiania and Christianshavn.

5. Eat Fresh Local Food Outside

Fresh food, food trucks and fab markets make their appearance once again when the weather is warmer and the light stays long. Make a positive impact by supporting the local economy ‘s bitty small businesses. All the while tasting lots of local and international flavors at one of the following fun options.

Kødbyen Mad & Marked
Flæsketorvet, 1711 København V
Saturdays & Sundays | 10-18
April to September

Kødbyen is the trendy meatpacking district in the Vesterbro neighborhood of Copenhagen. Every Saturday and Sunday starting late spring through early fall, there is a foodie dream market with rotating vendors and tables to enjoy your tasty wares outside.

Copenhagen Special – Frederiksberg Runddel
Frederiksberg Runddel, 2000 Frederiksberg
Saturday | June 24 | 12-20

Set outside the entrance to the lovely Frederiksberg Garden and hosted by local Food Truck collaborative Rebel Food CPH, here you will find Latin American, vegan, burgers, tacos and more.

Street Food Festival CPH
Søerne (Along the Lakes), 2200 København N
Friday | August 11 | 15 – 21 (Bar open later)
Saturday | August 12 | 11 – 21 (Bar open later)
Sunday | August 13 | 11 – 19

Don’t miss the summer street food extravaganza that stretches up and down the lakes in the middle of the city. Start at Dronning Louises Bro in Nørrebro and pick a direction to dive in. This is a giant collection of all the yummy street food purveyors in Copenhagen. Most will offer a small signature dish for only 40DKK, so you can try lots and not break the bank. Eat local!

6. Try Urban Foraging

You don’t have to live on a farm to pick your own produce. Lucky for you there are plenty of places to forage for summer sweets right here in the city. Check out Byhøst, a Danish website that will help you find and identify wild raw food. Click on KORT and find a map to what’s growing where. Click on RÅVARER to see what’s edible. Even if you don’t speak Danish, clearly labeled icons and images will allow you find what you’ve foraged. Can I eat that? I want to know. Download their app and dial in on the go.

Brombær = Blackberry
Jordbær = Strawberry
Hindbær = Raspberry
Kirsebær = Cherry
Hyld = Elderflowers

We’ve recently been foraging for hyldeblomst or elderflowers. You can find them all over town, but we like to look along the paths in Fælledparken. Be careful to not cut too many from one bush or plant. Elderflowers turn into elderberries in the fall, which you’ll want to find later. Take the recent blooms when the weather isn’t wet. What to do with the fragrant blooms? Make hyldeblomst saft of course! Elderflower cordial, ummmm. Stay tuned, recipe and tips on the blog soon.

7. Find One Man’s Treasures at a Loppemarked

Danes love a loppemarked. You may know the concept as a Flea Market. A yard sale. A garage sale. But these are collective experiences – more than one purveyor of gently used goods. Look for one of kind vintage pieces or jewelry or antiques or chairs. You can find just about anything at a Danish loppemarked.

Rita Blå’s Lopper Saxogadefest
Litauens Plads, 1723 København V, Danmark
June 24 | 12-17

Kulturhuset Islands Brygge Loppemarked
Islands Brygge 18, 2300 København
June 25 | 10-17

 8. Go Looking for Giants

Danish artist Thomas Dambo has hidden the 6 Forgotten Giants in the woods south of Copenhagen. Each constructed of reclaimed and recycled wood, they wait for you to find them. Make a sustainable day out with the family by carpooling to the destinations. Pack your picnic in and leave no waste. Bring a reuseable water bottle! Really want up your green quotient – take the S-tog with your bike and ride to each of the parks!

9. Put out Your Blanket for Movie in the Park

I love when you can see cinema outside. Every summer the Copenhagen theater Cinemateket offers two nights of viewing on a big screen set up in the Kings Garden. Spread out your blanket, invite some friends and sit back and relax. DJ music starts from 16:00. Last year we loved the David Bowie old school classic Spiders From Mars.

This year’s line up includes: David Lynch’s Blue Velvet on Tuesday and Saturday Night Fever on Wednesday. Ses vi? See you there?

Cinemateket Open Air
Kongens Have, The King’s Garden
August 1st and 2nd, 2017

10. Sail with the Swans

Paddle for your pleasure along Peblingesø, one of the lakes in the middle of Copenhagen. Restaurant Kaffesalonen rents the boats from their dockside café by the hour. The gentle churn of the pedal powered craft is a lovely slow summer treat.

Kaffesalonen Paddle Boat Rental 
Peblinge Dossering 6 2200 Copenhagen N
Swan Bicycle for 2 persons costs DKK 75 per ½ hour,  DKK 100 per hour.
Larger (non-swan) paddle boats can accommodate 5 and 7 passengers for a little more.

So there you have it. Summer fun that can be sustainable too. Looking for last year’s summertime list? Click the link below for a few more fun in the sun (and maybe not sun – it IS Denmark) options.

Summertime in Copenhagen | 10 Must-Do’s

Cheers from Copenhagen!

Suitcases and Sandcastles

Green Travel Series | Eco-Air Choices

Prioritizing Sustainable Options When Traveling

Thinking Green on the Road and Abroad

You are someone who prioritizes sustainability. Or maybe you don’t label yourself that way or even think of it like that. You definitely wouldn’t call yourself a “tree-hugger” or part of the Environmental Liberation Front. That’s a green extreme. It’s a spectrum. You. You do believe in recycling. You try to purchase organic produce. When you can. You attempt to minimize your use of plastic. You use washable napkins at home. Carry your own water bottle. Did you remember your reusable grocery bags? Most of the time. Maybe you’ve seen those Instagram pics of cute beeswax sandwich wrappers and you’re tempted to make your own. (Just me?) You may or may not have even tried composting. With varying levels of success. (I will never, not ever, be comfortable with worms under my sink.)

But while you may do your part at home in your corner of the world, do you keep up those green choices when traveling? I live in Copenhagen. It was the 2014 European Green Capital award winner. We moved here because of my husband’s job in wind energy, just one of the ways that Denmark promotes sustainable priorities. In a place like Copenhagen, it’s easy to be green. They’ve practically terraformed it for you. Even if you are a visitor. Rent a bike. Use the efficient public transportation. Eat organic. Shop local. Buy hip upcycled Danish design goods or edgy posters printed in soy ink. You know what I’m talking about. But what about other places? Do you try? Does it matter?

The impact of travel and tourism on local environments is big. Really big. Can it also be sustainable? The United Nations World Tourism Organization thinks so. The UN General Assembly voted 2017 the International Year of Sustainable Tourism for Development.

We are determined to protect the planet from degradation, including through sustainable consumption and production, sustainably managing its natural resources and taking urgent action on climate change, so that it can support the needs of the present and future generations.”

– Transforming our world: the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development,” United Nations Sustainable Development Knowlege Platform¹

Travel. Enjoy. Respect.

Distilling it down, the UN believes we all should be able to travel, enjoy and respect. In fact, they think that doing so can also support sustainable development around the world. Let’s prioritize. I’m in. Are you? I think we can be determined in our choices. We can clearly show what we believe is important by where we put our travel monies and how we approach our exploring. From the very start of planning to the actual getting there and then the inevitable enjoying of your adventure. At every step, we have choices. Can we make those choices more sustainable? I think so.


Can you be sustainable when planning trip logistics?

Let’s start at the start. Yes. Yes is the answer. And it doesn’t necessarily have to cost more. Making the sustainable choice is not a privilege of the upper class or conversely, only in the realm of the tree hugger. (I’m from Oregon. We hug trees there.) Educating yourself on options is key. There are many parts of the planning process. But once a destination is determined, most people begin with the “how to get there” question. Does it require air travel? It does? Can we do it sustainably? Let’s explore.


While current estimates put air travel contributions at only 2% of the world’s carbon footprint¹, for travelers (even green-minded ones), this could be your biggest carbon sin. Depending on how often and how far you fly and from where. That 2% statistic averages flights all over the world. Some places emit more than others. More flights, more emissions. Statistics rise around places like London, New York and are rising each year with more flights. As air travel is often cheaper than other greener modes of transport, like the train – the usage continues to climb. And with it, the carbon impact.

Even if you don’t own a car, only buy organic and NEVER, not ever use bottled water, the impact of your long distance flight is NOT awesome for the environment. Planes emit carbon dioxide directly into the atmosphere. That does not rock. But Mark Twain said that travel is fatal to prejudice and bigotry. How am I gonna expand my mind and broaden my horizons if I don’t meet the indigenous peoples of Papua New Guinea? (Or wherever your brain and humanity need expanding.) There are ways to mitigate the impact of your travel needs. I write a travel blog. I have the same needs.

Start by making educated choices. Being conscious about your consumption is key. Here are some options:

  1. Limit your total number of flights per year. Gah! No way you say. Can’t stay grounded? Keep reading.
  2. Limit long-haul air travel. While shorter distance flights do produce greater emissions per mile covered, long-haul flights do it for longer.² It’s simple math.
  3. Choose airlines that have established sustainability practices. From onboard recycling systems to fuel efficient priorities, some companies are just greener than others. (See below for best of industry choices.)
  4. Choose non-stop flights. This limits the surge of emissions created at take-off and landing.²
  5. Use the no-frills airlines. Packing passengers in like sardines economizes fuel. Remember that when the old guy in front of you leans his seat back right into your lap aboard RyanAir.
  6. Go for the cheap seats. Business class and first class seats take up more space. Read: less efficient. About 4x less efficient. Comfort DOES not equal sustainability in this case. Sorry.
  7. Limit your luggage. The heavier the plane, the less fuel efficient. Are you sensing a theme?
  8. Purchase carbon offsets. Seek out not-for-profit organizations and read the fine print. Make sure your convenience activism is actually helping.
  9. Take the train. For shorter distances, it does lower your travel footprint.

An efficiency focus reveals opportunities to reduce impact in ways other than cutting flights. ” – Brighter Planet 2011 report on Air Travel Carbon and Energy Efficiency

Some airlines are better at it than others. If you are looking to travel sustainably, but not eliminate air flights altogether – take a look at these top eco flyers when booking.

Brighter Planet did an assessment of the industry in 2011 and ranked the top air travel companies based on their overall carbon efficiency per mile. They took into consideration the following five factors: fuel use efficiency, passenger load, seat density, freight sharing and total flight distance.

Airline Transport World Magazine awards annually an Eco-Airline of the Year. They base it on an airline’s commitment to managing carbon offsets, increasing fuel efficiencies and contributing to sustainable local economies.

Another great website to follow eco-airline policy development and evolution is Enviro.Aero.

Here are some of the world’s best eco-airlines:
Air Canada

Not a top choice according to the 2011 Brighter Planet report on airline carbon efficiencies, Air Canada is taking progressive actions to rectify that. They have a two-fold approach that strives to contribute less: emissions, noise and waste; and works towards more collaboration. The airline recently announced they will participate in alternative biofuel research.

Air Canada to operate biofuel flights in support of environmental research on contrails and emissions.” – April 27th, 2017 via www.Enviro.Aero

Air New Zealand

Winner of the Air Transport World’s Eco-Airline of the Year for 2016, Air New Zealand is committed to efforts that will cut and offset carbon. They are also requiring all suppliers to adhere to an environmental code of conduct so as to focus on sustainability across all levels.


Dedicated to practices that limit air travel impacts to the beautiful Northwest United States and beyond, Alaska airlines continues to win the most fuel-efficient airline in the US year after year. This according to the International Council for Clean Transportation (ICCT). Alaska pushes their green agenda to composting flight waste and using biofuels.


Living in Copenhagen. I will admit that Norwegian is my favorite, so when I discovered that they are also Europe’s most fuel-efficient carrier on trans-Atlantic flights you can imagine my joy. Especially because they are beginning direct routes from Copenhagen to the west coast of the United States. Norwegian also has one of the youngest fleets in the industry, with planes averaging 3.6 years old, which helps their efficiency and lowers overall emissions. And how cool is this;

[Norwegian uses] “green” approaches, or Continuous Descent Approaches (CDAs), designed to reduce overall emissions during the final stages of the flight.” – Norwegian Airlines website

Singapore Airlines

First operator in the world to offer “Green Package” flights on long-hauls between Singapore and San Francisco. They will do so by using biofuels, more efficient airplanes and operational improvements.³

Gold stars (in no specific order) also go to the following airlines for progressive practices and prioritizing sustainable options:  Virgin AtlanticJet Blue, Cathay Pacific, RyanAir, Frontier, and EasyJet.

Selecting flights based on efficiency adds a new, complementary tool to the sustainability toolkit, empowering travelers to more aggressively manage their impact. ” – Brighter Planet

But with few industry standards in place, the most eco-efficient airline can sometimes feel like an arbitrary award. What exactly does it measure and how is it reported? Here’s to hoping that programs like CORSIA (Carbon Offsetting and Reduction Scheme for International Aviation) put out by the UN’s International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) will achieve the aggressive goal of carbon neutral growth from 2020 on.

Want to get involved?

What do you think? Stop flying? Or start making smart choices? Green Travel is a topic I feel passionate about. And this is just the first in a series here on the blog. Tell me what you think. Stay tuned. Up next. Eco-lodging. Does where you stay make an impact? And can your choices help your travel footprint? Again. The answer is Yes.

Follow #IYSTD2017 on Instagram, Twitter, YouTube.


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Suitcases and Sandcastles