A Weekend in Copenhagen
The capital of Denmark is home to just over 760,000 people. Spanning 88km squared, it’s half the size of Amsterdam and holds a population an eleventh the size of London. While you’ll never be able to fully appreciate all that any city has to offer in a few short days, Copenhagen’s compact design lets you cover some decent ground in that time.
Eclectic art galleries, trendy marketplaces, imposing castles, lush greenery and of course, The Little Mermaid statue, Copenhagen is effortlessly chic and endlessly entertaining.
The prize for most recognisable spot in Copenhagen would have to go to Nyhavn. The 17th-century waterfront, canal and entertainment district is distinguished by its iconic and brightly-coloured facades. Nyhavn is a must for any first-time visit to the capital.
If you’re fortunate enough to visit the city during the festive season (and you actually enjoy Christmas festivities) you’ll not be disappointed by Copenhagen’s plethora of festive markets. You’re likely to come across at least two in the space of a short walk from your accommodation. Pick up some Danish donuts, hot chocolate, mulled wine and a souvenir to remember it all.
A gallery located in the heart of Copenhagen, Nikolaj Kunsthal presents contemporary art in an unlikely space. One of the oldest churches in the city, it’s no longer a place of worship and is now home to experimental and contemporary art. On display until January 7 is The Ship, a three-tiered structure designed for adults and children to interact with.
To sample a broad range of Copenhagen’s cuisine in one fell swoop, try Torvehallerne, a fully enclosed market with over 60 stalls offering everything from fresh fish to potted plants. It’s here that you’ll also find Grod: the world’s first porridge bar. You’ll likely find a queue of eager patrons curling around the stall for a bowl. I can confirm it is absolutely worth waiting for.
Built in 1606, this royal summerhouse surprises with its height. You can pay to enter and tour the king’s private writing cabinet and gawk at wax figures of the castle’s former inhabitants, or walk the grounds for free. You’ll also find the the country's oldest royal garden here, covered in beautiful roses and historic sculptures.
The Glasshouse in the Botanical Gardens
Within the Botanical Gardens are 27 glasshouses, the most notable being the old Palm House. Built in 1874, this 16 metre tall structure features a cast-iron spiral staircase that gives you a breathtaking view from above.
The Little Mermaid and Kastlette
The Little Mermaid statue is one of Copenhagen’s most well-known attractions. The bronze statue was first unveiled in 1913 - a gift to the city from Danish brewer Carl Jacobsen. Created by Edvard Eriksen, the statue depicts the fairy tale character (created by Danish author Hans Christian Andersen) perched on a rock by the waterside at the Langelinie Promenade. See the mermaid that draws the crowds and once you’re done, take a stroll through nearby Kastellet, one of the best preserved fortresses in Northern Europe.
What was once a defunct military area in the middle of the city is now the autonomous district named Freetown. Declared in 1971, the district was designed to be a “self-governing society” with its own functioning economy. It was initially a bustling encampment, known for its liberal trade in weed, its progressive stance on homosexuality and its strict no-car policy. The Danish Government has since clawed back some control from the district, which has seen Freetown slowly turn into a quiet, dilapidated community that still trades liberally in weed. It’s a completely bizarre experience, unlike anything you’re likely to see in Copenhagen or anywhere else, for that matter.