Copenhagen is definitely a city where I could live. It was my first time in Northern Europe and I can say that this unique culture immediately fascinated me: an incredible respect for nature, a deep attitude toward sustainability and highly advanced technologies, an outstanding valorisation for the cultural heritage and the importance of individual freedom.
This weekend trip came as an unexpected surprise in this period of uncertainty for our travelling soul. And when I say surprise, it was uncertain until the last minute, in fact the country closed its borders to people coming from France the day after our arrival!
Here's our 3-day itinerary to discover the highlights of the city, but also a few hidden gems. As you may know, I like to have a real immersion in the destination by being in contact with its people, its culture and traditions.
From the airport, there's a direct train or a metro line to the central station that only takes 15min. I suggest you to buy a single ticket (about 36 DDK = 4,80euro) and to buy the Copenhagen pass one at the station. This pass is includes unlimited transports, access to the main attractions of the city and various discounts for restaurants and shops. It can last from 1 to 5 days and the price varies from 56euro to 134euro, it's totally worth it! Click here to know more about Copenhagen Pass
The best option to visit the city is to rent a bike, but it rained a lot when we were there, so we opted for public transports which are incredibly efficient! Click here to discover how to rent a bike on spot!
As for the currency, in Danemark you'll find the Danish Crown : 1euro corresponds to about 7,44 DDK. It's better to avoid withdrawing money on spot, in fact card payments are accepted everywhere!
Concerning the accommodation choice, the most important thing is to be close to a train/metro station, there's always space for bikes at the entrance of building and believe me or not, most of them are not even locked. This tells a lot about the Nordic culture! We stayed in the neighbourhood called Vesterbro.
Day 1 : royal heritage and pastel colours
Once arrived at Copenhagen Airport, it took us a while to get familiar with the language and understand the directions to the city center. It seems a bit weird to be in Europe and to face such a diverse language compared to ours, especially for the presence of new sounds for our hears! Fortunately, Danish people have a perfect English, so we often asked for information directly. Once arrived at the central station, we walked to the apartment that we rent for the weekend to leave our luggage and we went out immediately: we were so curious to discover this city!
The Rounded Tower
After a quick lunch break with a Polser, the typical hot dog served by food tracks along the street, we started our visit with the Rundetaarn, the Rounded Tower. This building dates back to the XVII century and it's now the oldest functioning observatory in Europe. In fact, the famous astronomer Brahe and its discoveries marked the history of Danemark at that time. It's possible to access the top for a special view over the old part of the city!
The grey sky accompanied us all along this trip as a typical trademark of the destination and I must say that it made us appreciate even more the Northern architecture, its colours and shapes.
Rosenborg Castle and the King's Gardens
Danemark's history is characterised by a strong royal heritage and while visiting Copenhagen, it's easy to notice the various castles built by the royal families over the years. Rosenborg Castle was built by one of the most famous Scandinavian king, Christian IV, and it hosts the Danish Crown Jewels, a breathtaking collection of precious royal objects. It's Renaissance style and the well-preserved interior rooms will definitely
make you feel like you'r going back in time!
This building was a church until a terrible fire burnt down most of it. It became a naval museum and it's now the Center of Contemporary Art. We visited the small center trying some interactive activities (especially made for families) and we went up to the library through the main stairs.
A walk in Nyhavn
Nyhavn probably reflects the image that you have in mind when you think about Copenhagen. A series of pastel-painted houses right along the canal that divides the island of Copenhagen in two sides, boats with curious visitors passing by, people walking while eating a polsen... There's a unique atmosphere and what I loved the most was to explore the typical courtyards hidden by the most touristic restaurants.
From here, it's easy to continue your walk until Amaliensborg, the residence of the royal family, and Frederiks Kirke, also known as the the Marble church. Impossible not to be fascinated by this rococo pearl! Your walk along the canal will continue with the Design Museum of Danemark and the world-wide famous Little Mermaid. I was aware of its incredibly small size, but I think that we really had the chance to observe this work of art without the usual crowd due to mass tourism. Another spot that we discovered in the area is the Gefion Fountain: an incredible structure that we found very fascinating!
Day 2 : on the trail of Shakespeare
Helsingor: Krongborg Castle & local food market
For our second day, we grabbed a delicious cinnamon roll in a tiny bakery to start our train ride to Helsingor to visit Kronborg Castle. It only takes about 45 minutes to reach this picturesque village and the ticket is included in Copenhagen Pass. Kronborg Castle is supposed to have inspired Shakespeare to write the famous Hamlet and the most incredible thing is that the visit of the building is done through a group of talented actors that reproduced the tragedy in front of the visitors.
Definitely one of the best moments of the trip!
For the lunch break, we decided to follow the signs on the pear and we found a Local Food Market: various stands of food with recipes from all over the world. I'm in love with this kind of places which unify different culinary traditions in one location!
Time to go back to Copenhagen to explore some new neighbourhoods. Christiania is without any doubt the one that surprised me the most. It's a kind of hippie paradise, an independent area of the city where weed, street art, music and freedom are the key words. It's absolutely unique and it deserves a visit while in Copenhagen!
For the evening, we enjoyed the magic lights of a beautiful sunset right after a storm and reached Tivoli Gardens, the second oldest amusement park in Europe still operating. It's like entering in an old movie: the lights, the decoration, the style of the shows... It's a new universe hidden in the city center! The entrance is free with the Copenhagen pass, whereas tickets for the rides can be bought inside the park at the automatic machines (about 10euro/ride). It's quite expensive, but I suggest you to choose at least one of the attractions to try the experience! The best time to visit Tivoli is at night to observe the light shows and the final fireworks after the closing.
Day 3 : Hygge
For our last day, we decided to have a boat trip in order to observe the city from another perspective. It's a great choice, because it allows you to have a look at some more residential or industrial neighbourhoods such as Sydhavn, Holmen and Nordhavn. We chose a tour proposed by the city pass, they often start in Nyhavn or Stranden (Check here).
Bolsen, Christiansborg and the Royal Library
The morning walk continued through Bolsen and Christiansborg, the majestic government building. The palace hides a precious gem, one of my favourite spot in the city: the Royal Library and its idillic gardens.
In the afternoon, we opted for a brunch suggested by one of my Italian friends that has been living in Danemark for a few years. Kalaset has a vintage deco that reminded me of La Recyclerie in Paris: a vintage deco made of second-hand objects, plants and flowers, fresh seasonal ingredients and a particular willingness to enjoy life. In fact, the word Kalas stands for casual get-together, the kind of party where you eat, drink and celebrate life.
Last stop before going back to airport: Superkilen. This public park is located in Norrebro and it has a very particular design. Doing some researches on the internet, I discovered that it was designed with the aim of promoting cultural tolerance by bringing refugees and locals together. Such a nice concept!
Well, Copenhagen left something in my heart. It made me think a lot about the kind of city where I could see myself in a few years and the lifestyle that I'd like to adopt.
If there's a perfect word to describe this city and its culture is Hygge.
Hygge is as Danish as æbleskiver and it goes far in illuminating the Danish soul. In essence, hygge means creating a warm atmosphere and enjoying the good things in life with good people. (Visitdanemark.com)
Hope you'll have the chance to visit Copenhagen one day! If you need further information, don't hesitate to contact me. I'd be happy to help :)