Copenhagen is the capital of Denmark, a Scandinavian country rich in great food, good beer, culture and history. I travelled there a few weeks ago, slightly unsure as to what it would be like. But it completely blew all of my expectations out of the water.
So, here’s the thing. Copenhagen is amazing and you have to go.
I’m not entirely sure how myself and my boyfriend came to decide upon Copenhagen to visit for my birthday. I think I found it on one of these articles as a European city that’s cheap to travel to. And it really was. Our return flight only cost us £42 each! I’d looked at pictures of the city and it was an instant yes, due to it’s brightly coloured houses and distinctive architecture.
When I mentioned where I was going to a few people, most of the reactions were questions. What is there to do there? Admittedly, it’s not one of these cities that is synonymous with a particular thing, like Paris is with the Eiffel Tower. But on doing my research, I found that there were so many things on offer in Copenhagen that many people wouldn’t know about.
One of those things is Tivoli Gardens. Tivoli is one of the oldest amusement parks in the world and one of the most popular places for tourists in Copenhagen. It’s home to many attractions including fairground rides, roller coasters, games and even a few peacocks. I visited the park in the evening because you get to see everything lit up and it looks really magical. What I loved the most about Tivoli was it’s influence from Japanese culture because this is something I’m really interested in. There’s a huge Japanese-style temple in the middle of the park and a section full of red lanterns and a huge weaving dragon. In the dark, it all looked even better. It was definitely worth staying till late because at around 11pm, there was a laser show on the lake which rounded the evening off nicely. Tivoli sits unusually in the centre of the bustle of Copenhagen but it’s a must if you want some fun.
Something else that is a must if you go to Copenhagen is a visit to Nyhavn. This is the first thing you will see if you search for images of the city. It’s iconic as the place with the colourful houses. It’s more or less just a strip along one of Copenhagen’s many canals but it’s one of the busiest streets in the city. My boyfriend said it was like a mix of Balamory and Whitby which is probably the crappiest analogy ever but it is kind of true. Getting a photo here is something you just have to do else you haven’t done your trip justice! Pics or it didn’t happen..
Something that me and boyfriend were surprised by was how much we enjoyed the Carlsberg museum. We’re not Carlsberg drinkers (it’s not craft or cool enough, ok) but this beer was originally created and brewed in Copenhagen so we thought of it as something we had to go to. And it was genuinely really interesting. The museum basically runs you through the history of the beer but they’ve also got the largest collection of unopened beer bottles in the world, which was my favourite bit. You also get up to 2 free beers with your entry fee which was a nice little perk. We were expecting just your standard but you could actually try their own steam beer and porter, amongst others. It was definitely one of my highlights of our trip.
The Round Tower was something I’d first heard about through watching Richard Ayoade’s Travel Man when he visited Copenhagen with Noel Fielding (great episode by the way, 10/10, would recommend). It was originally used as an observatory but it’s now a great place to get a breathtaking view of the city. What is most special about it though is getting the top. There’s thankfully no stairs, but the floor just kind of slopes upwards until you reach the top. It’s a strange experience. The view is really, really good too so it’s totally worth it.
Something else we managed to pack into our week was a visit to Den Bla Planet, a huge aquarium near Copenhagen’s beach. Not only does it have all sorts of tropical fish but there’s also puffins, otters, alligators, tiny frogs and loads of pretty butterflies. We spent about 4 hours there, which gives you an idea as to how much it has to offer. I hadn’t been to an aquarium in years so it was pretty fun.
Also, you can’t go to Copenhagen and not visit the Little Mermaid statue. Surprisingly, she’s been beheaded twice and had her arm cut off once. Not entirely sure why but there you go. Near the statue is an old military base in the shape of a star which is surrounded by water. It makes for a nice walk if you follow it around and there’s also some architecturally beautiful red and yellow buildings around there. Not forgetting a windmill!
Copenhagen is home to something incredible churches and the best one we visited was the Marble Church, near one of the Queen’s palaces. It has a distinctive green and gold ornate roof and it’s just as amazing inside. It’s one of those places that you actually have to be at to really get a sense of how huge and intricately designed it is. Pictures just do not do it justice.
On our final day, we visited Paper Island, named so because of the fact that the warehouse on it used to hold a lot of paper (for some kind of reason). The warehouse has now been turned into a street food market. It holds around 20 food and drink stalls of all sorts of cuisines. There’s so much choice that’s it’s difficult to make a decision but we settled for a gourmet hot dog. The best decision we made. It was the tastiest thing ever! You could easily eat a lot of food there and also spend a lot of money if you’re not careful. It was rustic, vibrant, bustling and I loved it.
One of the issues with Copenhagen, and Scandinavia in general, is that the food and drink is quite expensive because they tax it heavily over there. Which makes eating out quite pricey. Say you go to a coffee shop and order two coffees and two muffins, you’re looking at paying around £15-£20 over there. So you just have to bare in mind that most of your money will be spent on food. We visited Mikkeller bar whilst we were out there too and it cost us around £5 for about 1/3 of a beer. Mikkeller beer is expensive over here too but it’s still a pretty steep price to pay. Attractions and museums are around £10 each depending on what you’re going to, which is a fair price, and that almost balanced it out. There are also plenty of things to do out there that are free, including the botanical gardens at Copenhagen University which are really fun.
The reason that Copenhagen stole my heart was not only for all of the things we did that I’ve mentioned. It was because of the culture. It looks like such an easy and relaxing place to live and they do say that Denmark is one of the happiest places on Earth. There are more bikes than cars out there and cyclists have their own proper cycle paths with traffic lights and all. Bikes are literally everywhere. And you get the sense that everyone is quite healthy out there. I didn’t see one person smoke in the week that I was there, which was odd for me. Also, everyone is so kind in Copenhagen, so happy to help us useless English-speaking travellers. It was the first place that I’d visited outside of England where I actually thought, I could really see myself living here. I’m trying to figure out if this could be possible because I just didn’t want to leave. I could eat Danishes every morning and bike to work and shop at Monki all the time and life would be great.
If you’re considering going to Copenhagen, I highly recommend it. It’s not just a holiday, it’s an experience of a completely different culture and way of life. There’s so much to do and see, so much to take your breath away and to excite you. I couldn’t have loved it any more than I did!