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Amsterdam versus Copenhagen

Published February 27th, 2015

Amsterdam versus Copenhagen. 'The Dam' vs 'Copes'. The Danish capital takes on the Dutch capital. A mighty showdown between Europe’s cycling cities. If you're travelling to Europe, chances are you'll be stopping in Amsterdam and Copenhagen. I visited both hotspots in the same week and decided to pit them against each other using four major factors: food, arts and culture, accommodation, and fun and nightlife. Which city came out on top? Read on to find out my verdict.

 

Matt versus the stroopwafel. (The snack never had a chance!)

Food

Amsterdam: The world capital of fried food and cheese, the ‘Dam could not be classified as a world destination for classy food. However, if you aren’t afraid to get your hands dirty with sticky, sloppy foods like patat – french fries smothered in mayonnaise or curry, then you’ll love this snack-centric city. For dessert, try stroopwafel (caramel syrup wafers) or poffertjes (tiny buckwheat pancakes) – get in me, now.

 

Matt fangirling out meeting his hero, NOMA chef Rene Redzepi.

 

Copenhagen: The Danish capital has been one of Europe’s premier gastro-food destinations for the past few years, probably thanks to one of the world's leading restaurants and chefs. A visit to NOMA would be on any foodie’s list of must-visits. Chef René Redzepi has helped spring a new wave of eateries focusing on local Scandinavian ingredients onto Copenhagen’s dining scene. A restaurant dinner can last up to six hours with a huge focus on the atmosphere of the night, not just the amazing food.

 

Arts and Culture

Amsterdam: The Rijksmusem, Stedelijk Museum, Van Gogh Museum and Anne Frank House are just scratching the surface of Amsterdam’s arts and culture scene. Art buffs will have their hands full for at least four days in order to see everything. For music lovers, there are plenty of gigs on any night of the week, from local ska bands to international rock stars and DJs.

 

Statues in Copenhagen.

 

Copenhagen: Stand almost anywhere in Copenhagen and throw a rock in any direction and  you’re almost guaranteed to hit a statue (or a bike). Here you will find bronzed dedications to royalty, mariners, artists and fabled characters - the most famous being the bronze statue of Hans Christian Andersen’s The Little Mermaid. If you love a bust, then check it out.

 

Accommodation

Amsterdam: I once had the privilege of staying and working at one of the world's best hostels, The Flying Pig. It’s a mecca for backpackers stumbling through Europe with a huge cinema, great bar and clean facilities. With popular 'coffee shops' nearby, you can imagine the conversations had here. For something different, why not check into the Botel (a canal-boat converted to a hotel) for a night?

 

Bikes in Copenhagen.

 

Copenhagen: Hotels here are quite expensive with the average price over $AUD200 for a mediocre property in the city. However, there are a few trendy hostels like The Generator, with dorms from $AUD30  and boasting hotel facilities - it’s a no-brainer. If you need a break from the hostel scene, why not book a night at the world’s smallest hotel? The Central Hotel og Café has only one room nestled above a five-seat coffee shop!

 

Amsterdam at night summed up - beer and 'coffee shops'.

Fun and Nightlife

Amsterdam: Cannabis tourism is obviously one of Amsterdam’s famous drawcards. It’s a rite of passage to roll a joint sitting next to a canal in the red light district or indulge in a slice of 'space cake' before going on a whimsical adventure through Vondelpark. The clubbing scene is huge as well, with pop-up underground venues and popular nightspots surrounding the Leidseplein.

 

Human foosball in Copenhagen centre.

 

Copenhagen: You may be surprised to learn of Denmark’s own marijuana zone, or 'green zone'. Smack in the middle of Copenhagen’s port area lays the community of Christiania. A self-proclaimed autonomous zone, it was created in 1971 when a bunch of hippies squatted at an unused military base. Now home to about 850 residents, there's a bustling trade, ranging from joints and hash to arts and crafts. Anyone is welcome to stop by - make sure you try their own brand of beer. Just put the camera away, they aren’t too fond of shutterbugs.

The verdict:

I can’t actually pick a winner, so I’ll have to head back to do some more, umm… research. If you had to pick one city, which would you pick, Amsterdam or Copenhagen?

 

Matt Castell

If you could make travel a full-time job would you? I am. I've been called a "jack of all trades" many times over the ten or so years spent wandering the globe. Always looking for new skills to learn, whether it be lion taming or flying helicopters... I'll give it a go! Being a Travel Agent for Student Flights has been the top pick so far though!