The more you see, the more your expectations are met!

Visitors to Copenhagen spend a lot of time in the city centre. In response to issues of high visitor concentration, ‘spreading out tourism’ is a future goal. Meanwhile, spreading as a strategy will only work, if it is in the interest of the visitors. The research of visitors’ behaviour reflects a significant correlation between the number of neighbourhoods visited and the degree to which visitors' expectations for their stay in Copenhagen are met. Furthermore, if visitors have been to Copenhagen more than three times, their expectations tend to be met to a higher degree than the expectations of first-time visitors.

Source: 'Københavns DNA og Fremtidige Potentialer'

(se visualisation - neighbourhoods below)

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Percentage of Copenhageners who feel the neighborhood(s) have room for more visitors
Locals experiencing:
No problems
Problems sometimes
Problems (almost) all year
Explore each city area with mouse over
% of visitors
% of locals
% - No problems
% - Problems sometimes
% - Problems (almost) all year
% feel has room for more

From attractions to atmosphere

Data from the digital travel platform, TripAdvisor, clearly demonstrates that most of Copenhagen’s hotels and major official attractions are located in the city centre. This concentration of both travel accommodation and tourism-related experiences results in higher concentration of visitors in the city centre. This geographic distribution (or rather lack of distribution) of tourism-related experiences in Copenhagen is also reflected in the minds of locals – where the city centre is viewed as heavy on attractions, yet scarce on everyday life. In contrast, other neighbourhoods and parts of the city are described more for their local, everyday atmosphere than their quantity and quality of must-see attractions.

Source: 'Den Digitale Samtale' and 'I Samtale med København'

Recommendations reinforce concentration

The concentration of visitors to certain parts of central Copenhagen is reinforced by the tips and recommendations offered. Research shows that both locals and hospitality professionals recommend experiences and attractions in the city centre, often pointing visitors in the direction of the most popular must-sees.

Copenhagen’s Airbnb superhost community demonstrate a more locally-focused approach to guiding their visitors around the city, often pointing them in the direction of nearby everyday experiences – like local markets and coffee shops. However, according to local resident sentiment research, Copenhageners are overall more critical towards Airbnb as an alternative travel accommodation than the local populations of other European cities.

Source: 'Resident Sentiment Index' and 'I Samtale med København'

Local recommendations reinforce the density of visitors

When locals recommend visitors where to go in their home town, they especially point to neighbourhoods like Christiania, Christianshavn and the City Centre. Similarly they encourage visitors to go to some of the city’s major and most popular attractions.

Hotel guests are guided to Copenhagen city centre

Interviews with hospitality personnel of 10 different Copenhagen hotels and hostels strongly indicate an inclination towards recommending major and renowned attractions in the City Centre.

The (lack of) power of attractions

Visiting major attractions is a big part of travelling to new places. Not only visitors, but also the local citizens of Copenhagen find the city’s attractions to be a distinctive attribute – in fact, citizens more so than visitors. 42% of local citizens consider famous Copenhagen attractions as a main characteristic of the city, while only 17% of recent visitors rate attractions as a main characteristic.

While potential visitors rank Copenhagen’s famous attractions as the most appealing characteristic of Copenhagen, visitors, who have been to Copenhagen leave the city with an experience of the city’s many bicycles as the main characteristic of Copenhagen.

Source: 'Københavns DNA og Fremtidige Potentialer'

All in for atmosphere

Research shows that for 62% of international visitors to Copenhagen, one of the key motivations for travelling to Copenhagen is the local atmosphere. Moreover, 94% of Copenhagen’s international visitors, state that the local atmosphere is important, very important or essential for making a city appealing to visit. This indicates a mismatch between locals’ recommendations and the actual travel motivations of visitors. Local citizens often recommend acclaimed attractions like Tivoli, the Little Mermaid and areas around the city centre, these of course reflect the local atmosphere, but do not include the broader aspects of Copenhagen’s local experience.

Source: 'Københavns DNA og Fremtidige Potentialer' and 'Storbyturister i København, VisitDenmark 2018'

Hungry for new neighbourhoods

The city centre hosts the majority of hotels and attractions, which makes it a very popular neighbourhood for travellers, but a search for food experiences invites travellers to experience new neighbourhoods. Data from the digital travel platform, TripAdvisor, demonstrate that restaurants which have been reviewed by visitors, are more geographically dispersed compared to Copenhagen’s hotels and major official attraction which are typically located in the city centre. Furthermore, research shows that visitors with high mobility (three or more neighbourhoods visited) are more interested in local food than travellers who visited fewer neighbourhoods.

Source: 'Den Digitale Samtale' and 'Københavns DNA og Fremtidige Potentialer'

Tourism is welcome – but preferably not in my backyard!

The vast majority of locals (77%) appreciate the idea of visitors exploring outside the city centre and venturing into more neighbourhoods in Copenhagen. Locals support the idea of visitors venturing further around the city, but it comes with reservation, only 38% feel their neighbourhood has capacity to welcome more visitors. At the same time 73% of locals said that they think tourism has a positive impact on the local economy, 66% said that tourism has a positive impact on the city’s atmosphere and entertainment options. In brief, tourism is welcome in local neighbourhoods if it contributes to the local community.

Source: 'Københavns DNA og Fremtidige Potentialer' and 'I Samtale med København'

Combine the city pulse with the idyllic countryside

Travelers want the best of both worlds – the pulse of the city and the restorative and idyllic nature of the country side. No less than 80% of previous visitors and 85% of potential visitors have an interest in combining city and countryside experiences.

Source: 'Københavns DNA og Fremtidige Potentialer'

High density of hotel rooms in Copenhagen city centre

Towards 2021, Copenhagen will welcome a large number of new hotels, as well as expansion of existing hotels. In total, 40% of the new rooms will be in the Copenhagen city centre (København K) and 35.5% of the new hotel rooms will be developed in the area of Amager (including the area around the Copenhagen Airport).

Source: Wonderful Copenhagen

Double-up on Copenhagen hotel capacity by 2021


From 2012 until 2017 the hotel capacity of Copenhagen (incl. Dragør, Tårnby, Frederiksberg and Copenhagen) only increased by 2%. Over the same period, the number of hotel bednights increased by 21%, resulting in a high room occupancy rate as well as an increase in room rate.

In reaction to the development, Copenhagen’s overall hotel capacity will increase by 57% towards 2021, surpassing the expected development in number of bednights and thereby potentially leading to decreasing room rates.

Current planned hotel development represents an average yearly increase in room capacity of 12% from 2017 to 2021, compared to an average yearly growth in hotel bed nights of 4% during the last five years. As such, the expected yearly growth in hotel rooms towards 2021 is almost triple the yearly historic growth in hotel bednights from 2012-2017.

Source: Wonderful Copenhagen and Statistics Denmark

Stockholm's hotel development matches bednight development

In Stockholm, expansion of hotel capacity matches the development in bednights. From 2012 – 2017, the city experienced a capacity increase of approximately 14%. Throughout this period, the bed occupancy rate was relatively low compared to Copenhagen, however the average price remained higher in Stockholm (DKK 959) than in Copenhagen (DKK 774).

In 2017, the average price in Stockholm dropped to DKK 930, thereby making it relatively cheaper to spend the night in Stockholm when compared to Copenhagen (DKK 1.012).

As Stockholm has seen a steadier development in hotel capacity, the demand for new capacity is less urgent than in Copenhagen. Presently, a capacity increase of 12% is planned in Stockholm towards 2021 – in contrast with the steep 57% planned increase in Copenhagen. As a result, the average occupancy rate and room rate is expected to remain relatively stable in Stockholm.

Source: Invest Stockholm

Continued growth in accommodation demand towards 2030

Looking at expected growth in demand across accommodation types shows a trend of Airbnb (7.5%) and hostels (6.0%) outperforming hotel (3.3%) growth towards 2030. In 2018, Copenhagen had approximately 8.8 mio. bed nights from traditional accommodation types (hotels, hostels and marinas) as well as another 1.9 mio. bed nights in Airbnb rentals, leading to a total of roughly 10.7 mio. bed nights in 2018. By 2030, this number is expected to increase to 18.3 mio. bed nights, however while 69% of total demand is currently accommodated by hotels, they will cover just 60% of the total demand by 2030. Meanwhile, Airbnb is expected to grow from 18% of the demand in 2018 to 25% of demand in 2030, while hostels are expected to experience somewhat slower growth rate, going from 13% of demand in 2018 to 15% of demand in 2030.

Furthermore, in 2018, 67% of bed nights came from international visitors. By 2030, international visitors are expected to account for more than 78% of the bed nights in Copenhagen city. This is primarily a results of expectations for high growth rate from overseas markets, with the American market, for instance, being expected to grow by 9.1% per year, while bed nights from Danish visitors are expected to grow by just 2.9%.

Source: 'Copenhagen Capacity Analysis'

Additional accommodation capacity required by 2030

In 2018 the city of Copenhagen had an average capacity of 24,350 units across accommodation types, of which the majority was allocated in hotels (69%, 16,920 rooms), hostels (15%, 3,690 rooms) and Airbnb (14%, 3,430 units). By 2030 this capacity is expected to grow to a total of 41,150 units, of which hotels will still make up the majority (61%, 25,120 rooms), but Airbnb and hostel capacity is expected to grow close to twice as fast as hotel capacity. While hotel rooms are expected to grow by 3.4% on a yearly basis, hostel rooms are expected to grow by 6% per year, reaching 7,420 rooms (18% of total capacity) by 2030, while Airbnb’s growth is expected to more than double that of hotel rooms at 7.5% per year, reaching 8,200 units (20% of total capacity) by 2030. There is currently another 8,070 hotel rooms planned for construction from 2019 to 2021, which is enough to cover the expected capacity requirements for hotel rooms until 2029. Meanwhile, another 4,800 units is required to meet capacity requirements for Airbnb in 2030 and another 3,700 rooms are required to meet capacity requirements for hostels in 2030.

Source: 'Copenhagen Capacity Analysis'


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