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Amsterdam vs Copenhagen: Differences You Should Know

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Amsterdam vs Copenhagen, which is the best place to be? With all their similarities, it might be hard for you to choose. But with the differences below, this can be quite easier for you.

Choosing a vacation destination is sometimes a tricky task. This is especially true when you have to choose between two incredible places. Fortunately, unique things always make people prefer one place over the other. Consequently, a place’s rating depends entirely on a person’s interests and preferences.

For this reason, if you’re having difficulty choosing between several destinations, useful information about these locations can significantly help you make the right choice. For instance, if you are looking at Amsterdam vs Copenhagen, you must have complete information about the two cities to make an informed choice.

But there is no need to worry. Suppose you desire to visit Copenhagen or Amsterdam. In that case, this article offers you everything you’ll need to know about the two cities in our city, a comparison of things to do, cultures, size, and other key figures.

Differences Between Amsterdam and Copenhagen (Explained!)

Aerial View of the Canals of Amsterdam

These two cities are incredible holiday destinations. Whether you’re planning for your engagement, honeymoon, or just a typical vacation, both cities have more than enough to offer.

Here are some of the key characteristics to know about each city:

FeatureAmsterdamCopenhagen
Arts and CultureRich in museums like Van Gogh Museum, Anne Frank House.Famous for bronze statues like “The Little Mermaid”.
LanguageDutch (West Germanic)Danish (North Germanic)
Bike CultureRenowned biking city with extensive bike lanes.Highly bike-friendly with a strong biking community.
Population (2020)1.149 million1.346 million
WeatherWarm summers, cold and cloudy winters. More rain overall.Warm but partly cloudy summers, cold, windy winters.
Best Time to VisitSpring (April, May, September)March to May or June to August
Famous BreweryHeineken BreweryCarlsberg Brewery
TransportationExcellent public transport, bike-friendly, extensive canals.Efficient public transport, bike-friendly.
Airport AccessibilityAmsterdam Schiphol Airport, one of the largest in the world.Copenhagen Airport, slightly less accessible than Amsterdam.
HospitalityDiverse population, friendly to foreigners, English widely spoken.Declared happiest country, warm and welcoming people.
Cost of Visit (Daily)Average $146 per personAverage $166 per person
Family-FriendlyKnown as a children’s paradise with many family attractions.Offers quality, albeit slightly more expensive, family experiences.

But, if you can’t decide about visiting Copenhagen and Amsterdam, here are several facts about the cities to make it easier.

Arts and Culture

Van Gogh Museum, Amsterdam
Kyle Kroeger / ViaTravelers

Amsterdam is rooted in deep culture and artwork. The city consists of numerous museums spread out over the entire town. The Van Gogh Museum is a must-visit and is among Europe’s most visited museums. Then, you have the historic Anne Frank House, Stedelijk Museum, and Rijksmuseum, all world-renowned museums to visit. Dutch history and art are well preserved.

Here are some of the best tours in Amsterdam. So, if you’re an art lover, you’ll have your hands full for around 3 to 4 days to see all the art and history you desire. And for those who adore music, you can never get enough of the city’s variety, and you need to visit the Van Gogh Museum at least once in your lifetime.

In addition to the arts, Amsterdam features many other cultural attractions, including the famed Red Light District, the Royal Palace of Amsterdam, and the famed cannabis coffee shops.

You will have quite a treat of the best music, ranging from their local SKA bands to their international superstars and DJs. Copenhagen, just like Amsterdam, is rich in art and culture. A friend once told me that throwing a stone from any point in the city will most certainly hit a bike or a statue. As funny as that may sound, it’s almost true.

You will find numerous bronze statues almost everywhere in the city. These are dedicated to mariners, royalty, or artists.

One of the most famous bronze statues is “The Little Mermaid” by Hans Christian Andersen. If you visit Copenhagen, make sure to check it out.

See related: Pulitzer Hotel Amsterdam Review

Language (Dutch vs Danish)

Netherlands and Denmark Flags
sldesign1 / Adobe Stock

As mentioned earlier, these two cities have more commonalities than you can imagine. Although the main language in Amsterdam is Dutch and in Copenhagen is Danish, they both have roots in the same place. Both languages are Germanic.

The difference is that Dutch is West Germanic, whereas Danish is North Germanic. But, despite having a similar origin, if you only speak one of them, let’s say Dutch, you can’t understand Danish and vice versa.

Bike Culture

Stoplight While Biking in Amsterdam
Kyle Kroeger / ViaTravelers

One thing that makes the two cities seem almost similar is their riding culture. Both cities can be easily referred to as biking cities. And almost everyone here rides a bike either to work or for their daily activities.

On my first visit to Copenhagen, a taxi driver reiterated that more than half the city’s population uses bikes to commute to work. This was after he saw my reaction to the numerous bikes in the town. The amusing thing is, in Amsterdam, the statistics are no different.

Research published on Denmark’s website shows that around 90 percent of Denmark’s population owns a bike. The two countries (Denmark and The Netherlands) are among the top countries with the highest number of bicycles per capita.

For this reason, the two nations are keen on improving their infrastructure to cater to the number of bikes. The extensive system of bike lanes, as well as parking spaces for bikes, shows how much biking is honored in these two cities.

Copenhagen vs Amsterdam Size

Aerial View of Amsterdam Centraal Station (Amsterdam Central Station)
Kyle Kroeger / ViaTravelers

While Copenhagen is the capital of Denmark, Amsterdam, on the other hand, is the capital of the Netherlands. But, although in different countries, the two cities are almost similar in size. The current population of Copenhagen stood at 1.346 million in 2020, which saw an increase of 0.9% from the population size of 2019.

On the other hand, Amsterdam has a population of 1.149 million, which also saw an increase of 0.79% from 2019. These estimates on Copenhagen’s vs. Amsterdam’s population show how close the two cities are in almost every aspect.

The two cities are the capitals of two European nations along the North Sea. The distance between the two nations is only around 900 miles. And only one country lies between their two capitals – Germany.

See Related: The Ultimate Two Days in Amsterdam Itinerary

Amsterdam vs Copenhagen Weather

Copenhagen park

Amsterdam is located at a 4-degree latitude south of Copenhagen. On average, the city experiences more rain than Copenhagen does throughout the year.

The summers here are generally warm and a bit cloudy, while the winters are long, cloudy, and cold—the temperatures in Amsterdam range between 38.5 °F and 62.5 °F. Be prepared to bring a rain jacket when you visit Amsterdam.

On the other hand, Copenhagen enjoys warm days during summer, although it experiences cold nights and winter. The summers here are warm but partly cloudy. The winters are mostly cloudy, windy, and quite cold — the temperatures in the city range between 29°F and 71°F.

Best Times to Visit Each City

Aerial View of of the Canals of Copenhagen

Although the weather in Copenhagen can sometimes be harsh, it isn’t as miserable as many would think. Their summers have relatively good weather and are the best time to visit the city. Also, the weather is friendly for visits during autumn and late spring.

There are two ideal seasons when you can visit Copenhagen, based on what you’re looking for. These are between March and May or from June to August. The warmer seasons in the city bring various large-scale events that you’ll enjoy.

In Amsterdam, the summer offers the best weather. However, the city flocks with tourists from all over the world during this time.

This makes spring the best time to visit Amsterdam, especially for those who don’t want to encounter the high tourist season.

Enjoy the beautiful view of tulips at Keukenhof in April, or catch the King’s Day festival. Therefore, the best months to plan a trip to Amsterdam are April, May, and September. However, if you want to be there during a fun tourist period, then March is the month for you.

See Related: Amsterdam vs Brussels

Carlsberg vs Heineken

Heineken Brewery in Amsterdam at Night

Whereas Copenhagen is popular for its Carlsberg Brewery, Heineken Brewery is what Amsterdam is popular for. The two flagship beers are made of 5% alcohol and even packed in a green bottle, which is quite similar.

These two breweries also offer tours for those who want to experience how these great beer brands are made. And although I haven’t visited any of the breweries, I must ensure that I do on my next visit to either of the cities. Whether you are in a pub or a restaurant, you can get a taste of these local brands in both cities.

See Related: Best Beers in Amsterdam

Transportation

Historic Nyhavn, Copenhagen
Kyle Kroeger / ViaTravelers

In Amsterdam, transportation mainly consists of public transport and bicycles. You can buy a GVB transport card with unlimited daily rides for public transportation. Around the city, there are large freeways that help to connect Amsterdam to other cities. These freeways end right before the A10 Ringroad.

If you want to maneuver easily within the city, bikes, and public transport are encouraged. The city government discourages the use of personal vehicles.

Amsterdam is popular for its biking culture, as most people in the city commute using bikes. The city is regarded as the most bike-friendly city globally. Water transport is also very common in the city. This is due to the extensive canal network (150) crisscrossing the entire city.

In Copenhagen, public transport is quite reliable and efficient. The Metro, s-trains, as well as buses are all easily accessible with a similar ticket. You only need to note the number of zones you must pass on your journey. The journey from the airport to the city is around twelve minutes, and you can use any mode of transportation. These include buses, metro, and trains.

If you want to move from Copenhagen to Amsterdam, the distance between the cities is around 386 miles. And you can travel by air, train, bus, or even drive yourself. The same is also applicable when moving from Amsterdam to Copenhagen.

Amsterdam Schiphol Airport is one of the largest in the world, so flying into Amsterdam is generally easier to get to than flying into Copenhagen Airport. This is a major consideration.

See Related: Weekend in Copenhagen Itinerary

People

Close Up of People Wearing Traditional Wooden Clogs
Ralf / Adobe Stock

Amsterdam boasts of being an international city with an incredibly diverse population. The city’s population consists of individuals from over 180 backgrounds, which makes the city a center of diverse arts and culture.

This means that you will hear more languages than just Dutch and English. The people in Amsterdam are quite friendly and are known to be welcoming and open to foreigners. When it comes to communication, a large population here converses in English.

And the natives are known not to tolerate broken Dutch. So, if you try speaking in broken Dutch, you’ll be met with an English response.

A recent report by the UN declared Denmark to be the happiest country globally. The people in Copenhagen are, therefore, quite warm and welcoming. They are also known to love the outdoors during spring.

When winter falls, the people here use candles to light up their houses, creating a cozy atmosphere. They are modern, heavily invested in green technology, and an independent group of people.

The people in Copenhagen celebrate multiple festivals, including religious and cultural ones such as “the Queer Pride and the Annual Jazz Music Festival.”

See Related: Best Travel Backpacks

Which city is cheaper, Amsterdam or Copenhagen?

Scenic Copenhagen boat tour along historical waterfront
Kyle Kroeger / ViaTravelers

Visiting either Copenhagen or Amsterdam can be quite affordable, but is Amsterdam or Copenhagen cheaper? The average daily cost per person is $166 in Copenhagen and $146 in Amsterdam. This is based on the costs of accommodations, meals, transportation, entertainment, and other related expenses.

Amsterdam offers a slightly cheaper experience, given the options for more affordable short-term accommodation such as hostels. If you’re looking for cheap accommodation, check HostelWorld for Amsterdam and Copenhagen. Otherwise, Booking.com is a great option for hotels and vacation rentals.

Check prices for Amsterdam and Copenhagen to start budgeting for your trip. The average travel cost per person can vary, depending on whether you are staying in a single room or having two people share one room. These prices generally reflect the average cost of travel for a previous tourist to either city.

Amsterdam or Copenhagen: What is Better to Visit?

Historic Amsterdam, Netherlands
Kyle Kroeger / ViaTravelers

Amsterdam and Copenhagen are fantastic cities; each has unique features and traits that appeal differently to various people. At the same time, these two cities have a lot in common. Deciding which city to visit entirely depends on what you consider attractive. You should consider visiting both if you can afford it and travel internationally.

But, if you have a tight budget, I recommend visiting Amsterdam over Copenhagen. The Netherlands capital has a much lower VAT of 19% compared to 25% in Copenhagen. This means that Copenhagen is much more costly to live in than Amsterdam.

Also, Amsterdam takes the day off if you travel as a family. Although known for its shabbier lifestyle, the city is also called the children’s paradise. It offers various museums, parks, and safe entertainment for kids. There are plenty of things to do in Amsterdam to fill your time. No matter who you are traveling with.

Amsterdam vs Copenhagen- these two cities are incredible places to visit, whether on vacation or a business trip. And although Copenhagen might seem a bit expensive to visit, its qualities outweigh this cost.

FAQs

Why is Copenhagen similar to Amsterdam?

Copenhagen and Amsterdam are similar in that they are both capital cities in Northern Europe with rich cultural histories and vibrant art scenes. Both cities feature similar cultural values, such as a strong bike culture, an appreciation of arts and history, and boating and sailing.

What country is Amsterdam in?

Amsterdam is located in the province of North Holland in the Netherlands.

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