According to all of the travel advice I found online, the best way to see Copenhagen is on a bike, which sounded like a lot of fun. But instead of waking up in time for a 10AM guided bike tour and spending a decent chunk of change, I had the bright idea to rent our own bikes and use Google Maps to navigate to all of the sites we wanted to visit!
It was only about $12 per person to rent a bike from Forum Cykler Værksted for an entire day. To put that in perspective, it would have cost $50 per person for a tour, so we saved nearly $120 by doing it ourselves, and we got to go at our own pace and linger at each site as long as we wanted.
And while we did have an awesome time visiting The Round Tower, Nyhavn, The Little Mermaid, and all of the sites in-between, there were a few things that I didn’t consider when planning this tour:
1. It’s nearly impossible to navigate with a phone on a bike unless you have a handlebar mount for it. I thought setting it in the basket would be sufficient, but every time we hit a bump or went over some cobblestones (which are pretty much everywhere in Copenhagen), the phone would shift out of sight. So I was constantly looking down into the basket and moving the phone around, which was pretty dangerous, especially considering the challenges of riding a “vintage” bike.
2. Google Maps still isn’t 100% ready for prime time when it comes to bike navigation. It’s like it combines walking and driving directions, but not in a very intelligent manner. I also HATE it when it tells me “Go south towards blah blah blah.” I don’t know which way south is, and I don’t know where “blah blah blah” is. So then I’d stand there, turning around in circles like an idiot until I thought I was pointing in the direction it wanted me to go, only to hop on the bike and realize, nope, I’m totally going in the wrong direction.
3. Turns out there’s a reason the guided tour starts at 10AM, doesn’t linger at every site, and finishes by 2PM: as a tourist, you do NOT want to be biking in Copenhagen anytime near rush hour! It was like the Tour de France, except with a bunch of tired, angry Danes. They were constantly yelling and cursing at us for not going fast enough or not using hand signals properly, and were millimeters away from ramming us whenever we tried to merge into a turn lane. White-knuckling it all the way back to the bike shop was not the best way to end the tour.
Anyway, in the end we made it back safely and had some fun stories to tell about our adventures. But for the typical tourist, I would absolutely NOT recommend doing your own bike tour. Leave it to the professionals, such as Bike Mike Tours (http://bikecopenhagenwithmike.dk/).
Leonard Kinsey is the owner of Bamboo Forest Publishing, and the
bestselling author of “The Dark Side of Disney”, the Anarchist Cookbook of Disney travel guides. He’s lived in Baltimore for over 15 years, and enjoys drinking craft beer in unique places, eating nachos and pizza, listening to 80s hair metal, and arguing about Star Trek minutia, often all at the same time. Watch out ladies!