Copenhagen and Amsterdam are two of the most popular tourist destinations in Europe. Both cities have a lot to offer, from stunning architecture to vibrant nightlife.
However, deciding which city to visit can be a difficult decision. In this article, I’l compare Copenhagen and Amsterdam to help you decide which city is right for you.
One of the main differences between Copenhagen and Amsterdam is their size. Copenhagen has a population of just over 600,000, while Amsterdam’s population is around 800,000. Despite their size difference, both cities are known for their charming streets, picturesque canals, and beautiful architecture.
Another factor to consider when deciding between Copenhagen and Amsterdam is the cost. While both cities can be expensive, Amsterdam tends to be slightly more expensive than Copenhagen. However, both cities have a range of affordable options for travelers on a budget.
So whether you’re interested in exploring historic sites, trying local cuisine or simply absorbing the overall vibe by bike, both Copenhagen and Amsterdam have something to offer.
Where are Copenhagen and Amsterdam?
Copenhagen and Amsterdam are two of the most beautiful cities in Europe, each with its unique charm and appeal. The two cities are located in different parts of Europe and have different geographical features.
Copenhagen is located in the eastern part of Denmark, on the eastern coast of the island of Zealand, and is surrounded by the Øresund Strait and the Baltic Sea. The city is known for its beautiful canals, parks, and gardens, which make it a popular destination for tourists.
It’s also home to several landmarks, including the Little Mermaid statue and the Tivoli Gardens amusement park. And one of the best cities to live in Denmark.
Amsterdam, on the other hand, is located in the western part of the Netherlands, in the province of North Holland, and is known for its picturesque canals, historic buildings, and vibrant nightlife.
The city is built on a network of canals, which makes it a popular destination for boat tours. Amsterdam is also known for its many museums, including the Van Gogh Museum and the Rijksmuseum.
Both cities are relatively small and easy to navigate on foot or by bike. Copenhagen is slightly smaller than Amsterdam, with a population of around 600,000, while Amsterdam has a population of around 850,000. Both cities are known for their green spaces and commitment to sustainability, with Copenhagen being one of the greenest cities in the world.
What’s the weather like in Copenhagen vs Amsterdam?
When it comes to climate, Copenhagen and Amsterdam have their own unique characteristics. However, both tend to have quite mild summers and winters, with rain being quite common in both cities throughout the year. Winters are quite cool, but temperatures rarely go well below freezing like you see further north.
Copenhagen is located in the northern part of Europe, which means that it has a relatively cool and temperate climate. The city experiences cold winters and mild summers, with temperatures ranging from 29°F to 71°F.
The weather here can be unpredictable, with cold patches occurring year-round. However, the city is known for its beautiful and cozy winter season, with Christmas markets and snow-covered streets.
Amsterdam, on the other hand, is located further south than Copenhagen, which means that it tends to be a bit warmer in summer and colder in winter. The city experiences warm summers with temperatures ranging from 62.5°F to 38.5°F, and cold winters with temperatures ranging from 38.5°F to 26.6°F.
It also rains more in Amsterdam, with around 189.3 days of rainfall per year. However, the city is known for its beautiful spring season, with tulips blooming all over the city.
FYI: When planning a trip to Copenhagen or Amsterdam, it’s important to consider the climate and pack accordingly.
In both cities, it’s important to have clothes that can be layered and a waterproof (and, ideally, windproof) jacket. Comfortable walking shoes are also important, given that you’re likely going to see the main sites in both cities on foot – or, even better, by bike!
When is the best time to visit Amsterdam?
While this city is a year-round destination with plenty to offer, there are a few times of the year when it’s truly at its best. In particular, summer is a fantastic time to visit Amsterdam, with long days of sunshine and warm weather perfect for wandering the city’s charming streets and enjoying the numerous outdoor cafes and bars.
The city is alive with festivals and events, including the famous Amsterdam Pride in early August, which attracts visitors from all over the world.
However, this is also the most touristy time in the city, so it can be worth visiting at other times of the year when the center is less crowded.
For instance, if you’re a lover of all things floral, then visiting Amsterdam in the springtime is an absolute must. From mid-March to mid-May, the city comes alive with the iconic Dutch tulips in full bloom, and the Keukenhof Gardens burst into a riot of color. The weather is mild and pleasant, making it the perfect time to explore the city’s parks and gardens.
For those looking to experience the city’s cultural scene, autumn is a great time to visit Amsterdam. From September to November, the city hosts numerous exhibitions and cultural events, and the changing colors of the trees in the city’s parks make for a stunning backdrop.
Winter in Amsterdam is also a magical time, with the festive lights and decorations creating a cozy and romantic atmosphere. Visit the Christmas markets, take a canal cruise to see the city’s landmarks illuminated at night, or enjoy a warm cup of glühwein in one of the city’s many cozy cafes.
You may also be interested in: Is The Netherlands Part Of Scandinavia (and Why Not)?
When is the best time to visit Copenhagen?
While this beautiful city is worth a visit any time of the year, there are a few times that truly shine as the best times to experience Copenhagen in all its glory. Notably, summer is arguably the best time to visit Copenhagen, with long days, warm temperatures, and plenty of outdoor events and activities.
The city is in full bloom during this period and there’s a palpable sense of excitement in the air. To really experience it like a local, take a leisurely bike ride through the city’s lush parks, enjoy a refreshing dip in one of the city’s many urban swimming spots, or join the locals for a picnic in the picturesque King’s Garden.
However, much like Amsterdam, summer is also the busiest time for tourists in Copenhagen. The center can be quite busy, so if you can manage to come at another time of the year (and you’re willing to put up with slightly cooler weather), then it’s definitely worth your time.
Autumn in Copenhagen can really be a fantastic time to visit, with the changing leaves and crisp air adding a touch of magic to the city’s already enchanting streets. The city is buzzing with cultural events, from film festivals to live music concerts, and there are plenty of cozy cafes and bars to warm up in after a day of sightseeing.
For those seeking a winter wonderland, Copenhagen delivers with its charming Christmas markets and fairy-tale streets dusted in snow. The Tivoli Gardens at Christmas are, frankly, spectacular, but the rest of the city comes alive with festive decorations too.
Pop into the Christmas markets at Nyhavn and grab a hot cup of gløgg and a Danish pastry to see what I’m talking about.
Related: 12 Best Copenhagen Churches (You Have to Visit)
Food in Amsterdam vs Copenhagen
Both Copenhagen and Amsterdam have unique food scenes that reflect their cultures. Overall, though, I do have to say that the food in Copenhagen is better than in Amsterdam. There’s a reason it’s considered the capital of Nordic cuisine, after all.
One of the things that Denmark is famous for is its world-renowned restaurant Noma, which has been named the best restaurant in the world multiple times. Unsurprisingly though, it’s pretty expensive.
Fortunately, the city has plenty of more budget friendly food options that also fully embrace the Nordic cuisine movement – without the Noma price tag.
And if you’re just looking for a snack, the city is also famous for its smørrebrød, an open-faced sandwich served on delicious Danish bread with various toppings such as pickled herring or smoked salmon. And that’s not even mentioning those famous Danish pastries!
Amsterdam, on the other hand, is probably best known for its stroopwafels, a sweet waffle cookie filled with caramel syrup. You should also try bitterballen, a deep-fried ball filled with meat ragout, and raw herring, which is typically eaten with onions and pickles.
Copenhagen vs Amsterdam nightlife
Amsterdam is famous for its nightlife, with a wide variety of bars, clubs, and cafes. If you’re really into clubbing, then Amsterdam beats Copenhagen hands down.
And, of course, the Dutch capital is also known for its coffee shops, where visitors can legally purchase and consume certain ‘herbal refreshments’. The Red Light District is also a popular destination for tourists looking for a unique experience, although the sheer number of tourists walking through there can get pretty overwhelming these days.
Copenhagen, with its love of the concept of hygge (basically: coziness), has some really great bars. The craft beer scene is particularly excellent, but there are also plenty of wine and cocktail bars that are definitely worth a visit.
The Meatpacking District in Copenhagen offers a great mix of a bunch of different bars and restaurants in the one place so it should definitely be on your to-do list while you’re in the city.
While the Copenhagen Red Light District isn’t much to see, to be honest, Christiania is an interesting visit. It’s a part of the city that’s essentially declared itself to be a “free state”, where you can also get similar ‘herbal refreshments’ as in Amsterdam (not strictly legally, but the police tend to turn a blind eye most of the time).
It’s very safe there and while it can be a bit of a weird vibe, it’s not in an uncomfortable way and you should really try to add a stroll through the area to your itinerary.
Art and Museums in Copenhagen and Amsterdam
Both cities have a rich cultural history and vibrant art scenes. Amsterdam is home to the Van Gogh Museum, which houses the largest collection of Van Gogh’s paintings in the world, as well as the Rijksmuseum, which features works by Rembrandt and Vermeer.
Copenhagen is home to the Ny Carlsberg Glyptotek, which has a large collection of ancient and modern art, as well as the Louisiana Museum of Modern Art, which is located just outside the city and features works by international artists. Just the architecture alone at the Louisiana is worth the trip to see it.
Transportation in Amsterdam and Copenhagen
Getting around Amsterdam and Copenhagen is relatively easy and efficient with a variety of transportation options available. Whether you prefer to travel by bus, train, or metro, both cities have reliable and affordable public transportation systems.
In particular, both cities also have bike-friendly infrastructure, and renting a bike is a popular way to explore the cities. They’re each known for their extensive network of bike lanes, making it easy to navigate either city on two wheels.
If you visit either Copenhagen or Amsterdam, I’d really recommend you rent a bike during your stay. It’s one of the best ways to feel like the locals!
If you want to move from Copenhagen to Amsterdam or vice versa, the distance between the two cities is around 386 miles. The quickest way to travel between the two cities is by plane. However, traveling by train or bus can be a more affordable and scenic option.
If you’re traveling by train, the journey from Amsterdam to Copenhagen usually takes around 15 hours and eight minutes on average, covering a distance of 385 miles. The quickest services can take as little as 13 hours and 47 minutes.
On the other hand, if you prefer to travel by bus, the shortest travel distance between Copenhagen and Amsterdam is 792 km. The fastest bus, which departs at 21:20, has a travel time of 12 hours and 15 minutes. The longest travel time on a bus is around 18 hours and 15 minutes.
Overall, whether you choose to travel by train, bus, or bike, both Amsterdam and Copenhagen offer a variety of transportation options that are reliable, efficient, and affordable.
Related: How Far Is Denmark From Germany?
Cost of Living in Copenhagen vs Amsterdam
When it comes to comparing the cost of living between Copenhagen and Amsterdam, it’s important to consider various factors. Both cities are known for their high living standards, but the cost of living in Copenhagen is slightly higher than in Amsterdam.
According to Numbeo, the cost of living in Amsterdam is 0.4% less expensive than in Copenhagen. However, the difference is not significant and both cities are considered expensive to live in.
One of the biggest expenses in any city is food, and Copenhagen is known for its high prices. On average, a meal at an inexpensive restaurant in Copenhagen costs around 17.95€ (135.00kr), while in Amsterdam it costs around 15.25€ (114.70kr).
A pint of domestic beer in Copenhagen costs around 7.31€ (55.00kr), while in Amsterdam it costs around 5.00€ (37.61kr). These prices may seem high, but it’s important to remember that both cities offer high-quality food and drinks.
Another factor to consider is housing. According to MyLifeElsewhere, the cost of living in Copenhagen is 0.9% more expensive than in Amsterdam. This is largely due to the cost of housing, which is significantly higher in Copenhagen.
However, both cities offer a range of housing options, from apartments to houses, and the cost will depend on the location and size of the property.
Overall, while Copenhagen may be slightly more expensive than Amsterdam (largely thanks to its status as one of the best cities to live in Denmark), both cities offer high living standards and a range of experiences that are worth the cost. Whether you’re looking for great food, cultural experiences, or outdoor adventures, both Copenhagen and Amsterdam have something to offer.
You may also be interested in: Danish vs Dutch: Are They The Same? (+ All the Differences)
Main Tourist Attractions in Amsterdam and Copenhagen
Both Copenhagen and Amsterdam offer a plethora of tourist attractions that cater to all interests. Whether you’re a history buff, an art enthusiast, or a nature lover, there’s something for everyone in these two cities.
Amsterdam is known for its charming canals, which are a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Taking a canal tour is a must-do activity, as it offers a unique perspective of the city.
The city is also home to world-renowned museums, such as the Van Gogh Museum, the Rijksmuseum, and the Stedelijk Museum. These museums house some of the most important art collections in the world, including works by Rembrandt, Vermeer, and Van Gogh.
You should also try to make time to visit the Anne Frank House. It’s an incredibly important part of the city’s history and helps to shine a real, highly personal light on such a dark period of Europe’s past.
If you’re looking for a more relaxed activity, visit the Vondelpark, which is the largest park in Amsterdam. It’s a great place to have a picnic, rent a bike, or just sit and people-watch.
Copenhagen is a city that boasts a rich history and culture. One of the most popular tourist attractions is the Tivoli Gardens, which is an amusement park that dates back to 1843. It’s a great place to visit with family or friends, as it offers a range of rides, shows, and restaurants.
The city is also home to some of the most impressive landmarks in Europe, including the Christiansborg Palace, the Nyhavn Harbor, and the Round Tower. These landmarks are a testament to the city’s architectural heritage and are a must-visit for any tourist.
And of course, no visit to Copenhagen is complete without seeing The Little Mermaid statue, easily the most iconic of Denmark’s mermaids. Luckily, it’s a short walk from Nyhavn so is very easy to get to as part of your sightseeing in the Danish capital.
Plus, if you’re interested in art, visit the Louisiana Museum of Modern Art, which is located just outside of Copenhagen. It’s one of the most important art museums in Europe and houses some of the most significant works of modern art.
Overall, both Amsterdam and Copenhagen offer a wide range of tourist attractions that are sure to delight any visitor. Whether you’re interested in art, history, or just want to have a good time, these cities have something for everyone.
You may also be interested in: 11 Best Places in Denmark For Viking Experiences
Which is better to visit: Copenhagen or Amsterdam?
Both Copenhagen and Amsterdam are incredible destinations with their own unique charm. Whether you’re looking for a city with great nightlife, beautiful canals, or delicious food, both cities have something to offer. Ultimately, the choice between these two cities comes down to personal preference.
If you’re a fan of cycling, both cities are perfect for exploring on two wheels. Copenhagen is known for its bike-friendly infrastructure, while Amsterdam is famous for its bike culture and dedicated bike lanes.
When it comes to weather, Amsterdam tends to be a bit warmer in summer but sees more rainfall throughout the year. Copenhagen, on the other hand, has colder winters but less rainfall overall.
If you’re looking for a city with a great mix of historical and foodie experiences, Copenhagen might be the right choice for you. If you’re looking for a classic European city with a vibrant nightlife scene, Amsterdam is the place to be.
You may also be interested in: Stockholm vs Copenhagen: Which Is Better to Visit?
How many days in Amsterdam is enough?
While any amount of time in Amsterdam is sure to be a memorable experience, I recommend spending at least three to four days in this amazing city. This gives you enough time to explore the city’s top attractions, try out some local delicacies, and soak up the unique atmosphere that only Amsterdam can offer.
How many days in Copenhagen is enough?
I recommend spending at least three to four days in Copenhagen to fully experience all that this vibrant city has to offer. This is especially the case if you want to visit something like the Louisiana Museum or Hamlet’s Castle, which are slightly outside of the city, giving you enough time to enjoy the overall vibe of the Danish capital.
Regardless of which city you choose, both Copenhagen and Amsterdam are must-see destinations for any traveler. Fortunately, they’re actually quite close to one another, so it’s very feasible to visit both!
So pack your bags, grab your bike, and get ready to explore all that these incredible cities have to offer!