Copenhagen is not commonly in the Top 10 Most Popular City Breaks in Europe, but I don’t understand why! There is so much to do here, it is uniquely Danish, and also offers the perfect blend of history and modern points of interest. It’s perfect for couples and families, is one of the cleanest cities in the world and has the most welcoming residents. What’s not to love?!
Flying in to the Danish capital is a joy. The airport is spotlessly clean and well organised, and signs are in both Danish and English, so it is very easy to find your way around. Although in some ways the airport doesn’t feel too big, let me tell you, there is a hike to be had from many terminals, including ours! Once you have made it to the main entrance however, the journey gets even better.
Copenhagen’s public transport is just as you might expect it to be. Clean, spacious & functional. There are members of staff at the airport’s train station helping tourists use the self-service ticket machines. These are available in English, and the staff are very friendly. They can even help you plan your journey to your hotel, if you need it.
Where To Stay
After hours of relentless investigation, we decided to book a stay at the Tivoli Hotel, and I must say, we are glad we did. We arrived at the hotel 4 hours early after a long day traveling and, although our booked Standard room wasn’t ready, we were offered to upgrade to an Executive Room for the princely sum of 300DKK (around £35). Not only were those rooms ready immediately, but they were also larger, came with a complimentary box of gourmet chocolates, a quieter breakfast buffet, bath robes & slippers, bottled water, and access to the executive lounge which served free snacks and drinks in the afternoon. A no-brainer in my opinion! The room was stunning, offered floor-to-ceiling views over the city and had plenty of space to spread out in. The hotel was immaculately clean and the staff were very welcoming. There were more amenities than we could use in a weekend visit; a cafe, multiple restaurants, a swimming pool, sauna, fitness centre and an amazing children’s play room, but we didn’t get a chance to use any of them! The location is also good, just a 10 minute walk from Tivoli Park & Gardens and surrounded by wide pavements, train stations & cycle lanes. If you prefer to be driven, the concierge staff are more than happy to call a taxi for you.
What To Do
Tivoli Gardens – The famous historical amusement park which inspired Walt Disney! This is a must-do for families and couples, whether you ride anything or not. As well as the usual rides and games you would expect at a theme park, there is often live music and shows playing around the gardens too. Not to mention photo opportunities and many food options to enjoy. It’s not huge, but I would recommend allowing at least a full afternoon to enjoy the park.
Kastellet – A Star-shaped Fortress, complete with Danish windmill. Unique and fascinating, this man-made marvel is a great place to start the day! On our main walking/sightseeing day, we caught a bus from our hotel to Østerport station essentially walked back to our hotel via as many monuments as we could! Conveniently beside the water’s edge, the next point of interest is right around the corner!
The Little Mermaid – Although appropriately small in size, Copenhagen’s most famous resident is a monument dedicated to the famous Danish fairytale author Hans Christian Andersen. It’s not known if the locals also call her Ariel, but that’s how I know her! Pack your patience if you are visiting her though, as tour buses often stop here, allowing a conveyor belt of 30-40 people at a time to crowd round trying to snap a perfect seaside selfie!
Gefion Fountain – A beautiful fountain depicting the mythical story of the creation of Zealand (the land upon which Denmark sits). If you continue South along the harbour from The Little Mermaid, you will find this beside a lovely little church called St. Alban’s Church.
Frederik’s Church – Next on our walking route, this landmark is also known as the Marble Church and is topped with an iconic copper-green and gold dome.
Amalienborg Palace – Again conveniently a short stroll away, this is the home of the Danish royal family. The palace is guarded by The Royal Life Guard, dressed in similar attire to our very own Beefeaters, complete with bearskin hats! Surprisingly, it feels as though you could walk straight up to a window, but be warned – these guards can and will approach anyone who steps over the line! Next up, Nyhavn!
Nyhavn – This is the picturesque harbour which is often depicted on postcards and souvenirs of Copenhagen. It’s no surprise as it’s bold colours and straight lines make for fabulous photos (on a sunny day)! We just so happened to be here just as the rain started to fall, so our pictures do not do it justice! Take some time to grab a coffee and a cake in one of the cafes here. It’s a good time to pause and take in the atmosphere.
Rosenborg Castle & The Kings Garden – Home to the Crown Jewels and beautiful landscaped gardens. We didn’t actually go inside on this visit, however the grounds surrounding this whimsical castle were enough to make it a must-see for us. The classic copper-green roof that adorns this charming former-home to the monarchy makes for a lovely photo.
The Round Tower – A short stroll South-west will lead you to a 17th-century observation tower, Rundetaarn. This former astronomical observation tower is open to visitors to enjoy the views during the day, and is just as fascinating inside as out. It’s almost step-free all the way to the top, opting for a sloping floor for the majority of the ascent. Think of it like an inside-out helter-skelter! It will exhaust most little (and some big) legs, so maybe don’t drag your little ones up here at the start of a long day!
Strøget – Directly South of the Round Tower is Copenhagen’s main shopping district. Think of this as the Oxford Street of Copenhagen, but completely pedestrianised! It’s pleasant enough to stroll around, but many of the shops here are high street names which you can find at home. You can also get your big-name food chains here too, such as TGI Fridays and McDonalds, if you must.
Other Places to Visit – If you have more time, you may want to visit Copenhagen Zoo, the Botanical Gardens or even the beach (Amager Strand). If the arts are your thing, you may want to catch a performance at the Opera House or visit some of the many art galleries throughout the city. You will be spoilt for choice!
What To Eat
Being a coastal capital, this city is awash with fresh seafood restaurants. Everywhere you go, you’ll be invited to try the local delicacies of Pickled Herring and ‘fiskefrikadeller’ – a pan-fried fish cake. If you prefer your food a little less fishy, the traditional Danish Hot Dog is a must! There are hot dog wagons everywhere, which is both a good and a bad thing, because you will smell them and want them over-and-over again! If you fancy trying an array of different foods all in one place, the Tivoli Food Hall at Tivoli Gardens is a safe bet. ‘Gorm’ do fantastic fresh pizzas made to order, but there is cuisine from all over the world served here: Mexican, Moroccan, Thai, French, Japanese Sushi and of course Danish! I’m sure you will find something you love here!
Expect to need plenty of spending money. Denmark is not the cheapest country to visit (the cost of living here is higher than the UK) however tipping is not expected, so the price you see is the price you pay. And don’t think the service will be less because of it – everyone still goes above and beyond to make you feel welcome here!
Take your money on payment card. A credit, debit or travel money card, whatever suits your needs best. It is obviously safer than taking cash, and almost everywhere takes card payments, even for small things like a coffee or a hot dog! Even our taxi took a payment card! Be sure to check with the driver before you travel though, just in case!
Wear your comfy walking shoes. This city is best explored on foot! The transportation system is fantastic if you need it, but we found we could walk to most places in a day. There are maps and sign posts everywhere, so you probably won’t need to buy a map. Of course there is always Google Maps if you get totally lost!
Pack for all weathers. We visited in April, so just like in the UK, you can get four seasons in a day. The breeze can be nippy by the harbour, the sun can beat down on you in the parks and the rain can come out of nowhere! Multiple layers and a shower proof jacket should see you well for most of the year.
What is your favourite European City Break? Have you made it to Copenhagen yet? Let us know in the comments – we’re always on the lookout for inspiration!