Copenhagen is an increasingly popular city break destination, probably because it’s famed for its beautiful colourful harbour and historic attractions. Its been a must-see for me for a few years now, so I was thrilled when a friend and I planned a long weekend in what is commonly known as the happiest city in the world.
Our First Day In Copenhagen
We arrived around 11am on our first day in the city, after a quick and easy flight from London. Our first task was to collect our Copenhagen Cards from the airport. Copenhagen Cards are essentially an all-inclusive city pass that allows you to travel freely around the city and gets you free entry into over 80 attractions. You can pay for the cards online in advance (which is what we did) and then collect them at the airport. The Copenhagen Cards run in hours, so we went for the 120-hour option as we were in the city for 3 days.
Once we had collected our cards, we made our way to the hotel. We stayed in a Scandic hotel in the Sydhavn area, which was a 5-minute train journey from the centre of the city. The hotel is best described as the Danish version of a Premier Inn or Travelodge – not overly fussy but perfectly okay for what we needed.
After checking in and sorting out our bags, we headed out to explore the city. We had made an itinerary in advance of our trip because we wanted to fit as much into our holiday as physically possible! Our first stop was (unsurprisingly) Nyhavn – the famous colourful harbour that I’m sure has made an appearance on your Instagram feed before. As we were walking from Copenhagen Central Station to Nyhavn, it began to rain and thunderstorm but we didn’t let this put us off. We’re British – we can survive the rain!
Despite the weather, Nyhavn was even more incredible in real life than I had expected. The buildings were just so beautiful, especially in contrast to the stormy skies above us. Whilst there isn’t too much to do there except walk up and down and maybe get a (very expensive) meal, it’s definitely a must-see.
We then began to make our way to Amalienborg Palace, the home of the Danish Royal Family and famous for the public changing of the guards ceremonies. As you walk into the palace square, it’s really quite amazing that you are so close to these historic buildings. It’s as if you could just walk up to the front door of Buckingham Palace without a care in the world! After strolling around outside, we headed into the museum (free with the Copenhagen Card) where you can learn more about the past family members that took residence here and visit stunning recreated rooms and treasures from the Royal Family. I really enjoyed visiting the Palace – it was a good and relatively quick insight into the history of the Danish Royal Family – and we even got to see the end of the changing of the guards!
Next up on our itinerary was The Little Mermaid statue. Again, a very popular and famous landmark based on the Hans Christian Anderson fairytale. There seems to be mixed reviews for this attraction online, with many feeling it’s overrated and not worth a visit. Whilst the statue is a bit of a walk from the main city and it’s attractions, if you’re a Disney fan or even a bit curious, I’d recommend going. Yes, she is literally just a statue on the edge of the water, but the area that surrounds her is really calming and she is a landmark after all.
We made our way back to the city centre after a long sit down with The Little Mermaid and grabbed some dinner at The Hard Rock Cafe as after 22,000 steps that day, we just wanted to eat somewhere we knew and could find easily. After dinner, we headed back to the hotel for an early night.
Day Two: Thrills and Fairytales
We got up bright and early on our second day in Copenhagen and headed out firstly to The Wonderful World Of Hans Christian Anderson. I’m a huge big kid at heart and I love the magic of fairytales, so I couldn’t resist a visit to this museum to learn more about the man behind the stories. The museum itself is small and aimed more at children, with lots of interactive elements and little to read. It’s a very sweet attraction, with statues and figures that play out some of Anderson’s most well-known tales. Again, this was a free attraction with our Copenhagen Card and if I’m really honest, I’m not sure I would have been totally happy to pay to enter as it is quite small (but very good none the less).
We then headed to another famous Copenhagen attraction – the historic theme park, Tivoli. The park and gardens originally opened in 1843 and is the second oldest theme park in the world. Tivoli is known for its beautiful gardens and old fashioned rides, as well as some more modern attractions.
Tivoli more than lives up to the hype. It’s stunning both day and night and is well worth a visit. We got our entry free with (you guessed it) the Copenhagen Card, but you do have to pay extra for a wristband for access to all the rides. This worked out at around £30, which isn’t bad if you are a bit of a thrill-seeker and will make good use of it.
There are rides for all the family at Tivoli, from a ferris wheel to a man-powered wooden rollercoaster, to a virtual reality coaster and a sky-high swing. My personal highlight was the wooden coaster; it reminded me a lot of Thunder Mountain at Disneyland Paris!
After many hours in Tivoli, we needed some rest and relaxation, so we made our way to the canal for a boat tour. I can’t remember the name of the company that ran it, but the tour itself was called The Grand Tour of Copenhagen and was an hour long. The tour took you all around the different suburbs of the city, and out to The Little Mermaid statue among other landmarks and famous bridges. Honestly, I can’t remember a lot of what the guide told us, but it was a great way to see more of the city and have a bit of a break!
After the canal tour, we headed to dinner at Cocks & Cows. Again, the Copenhagen Card came to our rescue as we couldn’t make up our minds for dinner, but we saw this place in their leaflet AND we got 20% off so gave it a shot! Cocks & Cows is a burger restaurant, but think upmarket, not Five Guys or take-out food. There are so many options to choose from, including about 5 different types of fries on the side. The service was fast and friendly, and it was probably one of the nicest burgers I’ve had in a very long time alongside some life-changing curly fries.
Day Three: The Day We Went Up The Tall Things
Our third day in Copenhagen was also our last full day in the city, so we really tried to do and see as much as possible. We began the day by taking a long walk across to the other side of the city to go to The Church Of Our Saviour. The church is famous for its’ serpentine spire and incredible views, which can be seen after climbing the 400 steps to the top.
Sadly, we couldn’t go inside the church as there were services on, but we climbed the tower anyway. The climb begins on regular staircases, with rooms on each floor where you can watch films about the church’s history, or take a look at some artefacts. As you get further up, you find you are climbing within the inside of the bare church structure, up steeper ladders and spiral staircases. It is quite a physical task – so bear this in mind before you visit.
Once you get to the viewing platform, it’s all worth it. You have views of the entire city from all angles as the platform circles around the exterior of the building. You can even walk up the serpentine spire if you’re brave enough. The stairs up the spine are very narrow and there is only a small metal railing on the outside edge. We visited on quite a windy day, and only made it halfway up the spire before it got too narrow – my hips were touching both the outside barrier and the inside edge of the church itself!
After very slowly descending the church tower, we headed to Freetown Christiania, a private and unique neighbourhood of Copenhagen. You cannot take pictures inside the area – but imagine self-built houses, handmade clothes and the odd bit of marijuana. It’s a really interesting place to visit, to see how these people have made lives for themselves “off-grid” so to speak is really amazing. I’d definitely recommend a visit, it’ll make you think about the world – and Copenhagen – a little differently.
By this time, we were starting to get hungry, and chanced upon Pasta La Pasta on Google Maps. The menu is small, but perfectly formed with Italian classics. You can choose to eat in or take-away, and the portions are just right for a light but filling lunch. What amazed me was the price – this place is relatively cheap compared to other eateries in the area and of a much higher quality. The server was telling us how all of their pasta is handmade from scratch in Italy and driven over to Copenhagen twice a week. If a delivery is late, the dish is taken off the menu. It really was a lovely little place with fantastic food.
After lunch, we were pretty exhausted to be honest. Each day of the holiday we had walked over 20,000 steps, and we decided to take it easy. We had a casual stroll down Stroget, the main shopping street in the city, before making our way up the Round Tower for yet more views. The Round Tower is easier to climb as you walk up and around the building on a ramp, rather than up steps. Again, there are things to see on the way up the tower, including a view of the accompanying church, an art installation and the gift shop. Once at the top we simply sat and took in the views for an hour or so.
Our last day in Copenhagen mainly consisted of travel, so I won’t bore you with the details. I hope you have enjoyed reading more about this incredible city, and I would urge you all to add it to your travel lists! I’ve also got a bunch of other travel diaries here.
Have you been to Copenhagen, or are you planning a trip? Let me know in the comments!