Copenhagen is a beautiful city to visit, the atmosphere is so relaxed and the city has so much to offer for visitors.
Something that some people may wonder before visiting is how to say Copenhagen in Danish.
Luckily for you, I love Copenhagen and I even have family who live there, so I’m here to provide a complete guide to learning the Danish word for Copenhagen.
So let’s jump right in!
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Copenhagen in Danish
I’ll preface this by saying that Copenhagen is the English name for the capital city of Denmark. Just like how Rome is English and Roma is Italian, or Cologne is English and Köln is German. So saying Copenhagen in Danish isn’t just “Copenhagen” with a Danish accent- it’s a different spelling and pronunciation.
The Danish word for Copenhagen is “København“.
It looks pretty intimidating due to the accent on the “ø”, and “avn” isn’t really a common pattern of letters in English.
If and when you visit Copenhagen, you will see København used a lot on street signs, shop names and more. Just take the central station for example, it’s not referred to as Copenhagen Central Station, it’s called København H. So make sure you are heading in the right direction if you are coming from the airport to the central station.
You might be wondering how to pronounce København. It’s actually pretty similar to English, to be honest, a lot more similar than you might think based on the spelling.
København is pronounced “coh-pen-hau-en”. Sound it out and pronounce every letter and it should sound about right.
“Coh” is like the start of co-workers. “Pen” is like the start of pinball. “Hau” is almost like the word how but you need to really emphasise the ending. “En” like in. Put it all together and that’s how you pronounce København.
You may wish to listen to some Danish people saying København before you visit the city.
So you can see that it’s not too dissimilar from the English “Copenhagen” when it is spoken aloud. It’s pretty much the same syllables just you change one or two endings.
To summarise, Copenhagen in Danish is “København”.
What does Copenhagen mean?
Copenhagen in English doesn’t mean anything past being the Danish capital city. This is because it is just a translation so it is easier for English people to say, as the sounds used in the Danish dialect are different from those in English.
So to understand the meaning of Copenhagen, we need to look at the Danish name, København.
København means “merchant’s harbour” which reflects the city’s history as the port was, and still is, a key part of life in Copenhagen. It was how the city was run.
If you are eagle-eyed and have visited Copenhagen before, you might notice that “havn” is the exact same ending as in “Nyhavn”. That’s because Nyhavn translates to “new harbour”. So that’s a nice little fact to learn about Copenhagen and the origin of its name.
Denmark in Danish
The word for Denmark in Danish is incredibly similar to English, in fact, you only change one letter.
The clue is in the word Danish…ever wondered why it’s not Denish?
Denmark in Danish is Danmark, and it’s pronounced pretty much exactly how it looks.
Obviously, the Danish accent makes it sound almost exactly like Denmark, which is why the English language has an “e” instead of an “a” because otherwise, English speakers would pronounce it like the start of Daniel.
So if you can say Denmark, you are pretty much saying Danmark too so there is no need to learn a translation in this case. 🙂
What does Denmark mean?
Medieval legends believe that the word Denmark (Danmark in Danish) refers to the King Dan who was one of the first kings of the country, or so history believes.
Other interpretations translate Denmark as meaning “flat land” or “low land” referring to the landscapes in Denmark, which is pretty accurate.
When you visit Copenhagen, you will realise it’s almost entirely flat.
So there is no rock-solid explanation for the origin of the name Denmark/Danmark, it’s up to you which one you want to believe.
5 Danish Phrases to learn before visiting Copenhagen
Even though English is spoken by 86% of Danes, you may wish to learn some basics in Danish for a more authentic experience. Not to mention how appreciative the Copenhageners will be of your attempt to learn their language! So here are 5 basic Danish phrases that are worth learning before visiting the city.
As you can see, some of them are pretty fun to say, and it’s actually quite easy to pronounce these basic phrases too…so they’re easy to add to conversations!
For example, Hej is just pronounced more or less in between “hey” and “hi”. And Tak is pronounced exactly how it looks.
So if you have a spare 5 minutes, it doesn’t take too long to learn these words, but the smiles you get when you attempt to pronounce them make it more than worth it.
Copenhagen in Danish: FAQ
Below are some questions related to how to say Copenhagen in Danish along with my answers.
Nyhavn in Copenhagen is pronounced as “Neu-haum”. There are lots of funny attempts at saying Nyhavn and endless mispronunciations, but the correct way is “Neu-haum”. It translates as New Harbour, so imagine it split into two words.
Copenhagen’s name in Danish has evolved over time. Copenhagen in Danish is København, but in centuries previous it was Kjøbmandehavn.
Yes, the main language in Denmark is Danish, but a large percentage of people also speak English, especially in Copenhagen and amongst the younger generations. In fact, 86% of Danes also speak English as a second language.
Final Thoughts: Copenhagen in Danish
And there you have it, a complete guide on saying Copenhagen in Danish.
Remember, it’s København and that’s pronounced “coh-pen-hau-en”.
If you are visiting Copenhagen, whether you use the English or Danish word, people will welcome you with a smile and understand where you are talking about.
So enjoy your trip to the city, it’s a special, special place.