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. It's small. While you’ll never be able to 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.
Brunch in Copenhagen
If there's a meal you don't want to miss in Copenhagen, it's brunch. While there are many cafes offering tasty spreads, none are more attractive than Mad & Kaffe. Offering almost twenty different menu items, you'll face the impossible task of selecting 3, 5 or 7 options. Flaky croissants and scrambled eggs with chive and mushroom feature on the menu alongside chorizo sausage and pink grapefruit with tarragon sugar. You won't be disappointed but you will have to wait in line.
Even if you’re not a fan of stomach-turning drops and nausea-inducing merry-go-rounds, a visit to Tivoli should be on your list. Having first opened in 1843, Tivoli is the second-oldest operating amusement park in the world. During the day, the gardens are alive with laughter, shrieks, flowers and foliages. In the evening, the gardens sparkle with thousands of fairy lights. The summer months signal the beginning of Tivoli’s Summer Classical, where classical concerts are performed on the main stage to captive audiences. Tivoli gardens is much more than your average amusement park.
View from The Rundetaarn
Walking through the cobbled streets is one way to take in a city - another is to get up high. If you’re keen to take in the city sights from above, the historical Rundetaarn is an ideal place to do it. The 17th century tower was built as an astronomical observatory. Today, it is the oldest functioning observatory in Europe. A unique ramp wraps around the tower, leading from bottom to top - a design feature chosen to ease the movement of heavy machinery. From the top of the 42 metre-tall tower, you’ll take in a 360 degree view of central Copenhagen.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Seasonal Activities in Copenhagen
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.