Jessica is back once again to catch you up on her latest travels! In this edition, she shares with you her quick city break in Copenhagen this past summer.
Hmm, visiting one of the top places on my bucket list without me, how dare she…
Prior to joining Ricky for the FIFA World Cup in Moscow this summer, I spent two amazing weeks in Scandinavia.
Visiting Iceland with my friends last May and seeing the astonishing landscape once inhabited by Vikings had naturally put Scandinavia on my bucket list. However, the high costs of food and accommodation in the region had deterred me and Ricky from visiting up until this point.
Enter my mom, who loves to travel as much as we do. When she had expressed an interest in going somewhere this summer, I figured Scandinavia was the perfect place for a mother-daughter trip (with mother paying for stuff 😉 ), and a few months later, I found myself in Scandinavia enjoying salted fish and lingonberries to my heart’s content.
While the primary focus of our trip was the beautiful landscapes of Norway, we scheduled some time to visit the major cities as well. We started our trip in Stockholm, Sweden, then moved onto the Lofoten Islands – the islands of northern Norway – then Oslo, before ending our trip in Copenhagen, Denmark.
Of all the cities we visited, Copenhagen was by far my favourite. We only had two days in the city and wanted to see everything, so our days were pretty jam-packed. Strap on your running shoes, bring your raincoat, and join me on my 48-hour expedition of the city!
2:45pm | Landed
We landed in Copenhagen at 2:45pm after a short one-hour flight from Oslo on Scandinavian Airlines. Getting to the city centre from the airport was incredibly easy and fast; the 14 km journey can be made by train, metro, bus, or taxi/Uber. We decided to take the train, as our hotel was located within a five-minute walk from Copenhagen Central Station (København H Station).
The entrance of the train station is in Terminal 3 and it was very easy to locate as there were many signs directing us there. Tickets train ride cost 36 DKK ($7) for adults and can be purchased from the machines, which are located right outside the station. The three-stop ride to København H takes around 15 minutes.
4:00pm | Vesterbro
Our room wasn’t ready yet when we arrived at the hotel, and since we were famished at that point, we decided to go for a walk and look for something to eat. Our hotel was located in Vesterbro, an area that was once known for its red light district, but has since turned into a trendy hipster neighbourhood.
There are still few remnants of strip clubs and sex stores, but it’s mostly filled with local handmade craft stores, cafes, and – to my delight – plant stores full of twisted vines and fruit trees.
We had lunch and strolled around the neighbourhood. I fell in love with so many knickknacks that were sold in these stores and had to pried away from one particular 4,000 DKK ($800) purse.
Around this time, Denmark was playing against Australia in the World Cup, and everyone in town was wearing red. Every shopkeeper had the game on in their stores. It was amazing to see the spirit and national pride throughout the city!
7:00pm | Assistens Cemetery
Our room was ready upon our return, and we spent a while relaxing before heading out again to visit the beautiful Assistens Cemetery, located in the Norrebro neighbourhood.
This is the final resting place of many notable Danes, including writer Hans Christian Andersen, physicist Niels Bohr, and signer Natasja Saad. Many of the older gravestones from the 18th century were beautifully decorated and very intriguing to look at.
In addition to the gravestones of famous people, the cemetery has beautiful trees and shrubs which provide refuge from the hot summer sun. It was a peaceful stroll and a great way to absorb some Danish history.
9:00am | Coffee and Pastry
Enjoy Danish pastries with a cup of coffee at one of the many bakeries sprinkled throughout the city. Trust me, any one you go to will satisfy all your sweet cravings for the day.
10:00am | Walking Tour of Copenhagen
Copenhagen is a very walkable city, so a walking tour was ideal. There are many free tours offered every day, most of which begin at Copenhagen City Hall.
The tour brought us to many of the major attractions, including the Royal Palace and the Opera House, along some of the city’s oldest streets. While we could have visited these places ourselves, I like these walking tours because they provide an insider’s view of the city, and the guide provided us with a great overview of the social and political history of the city.
Along the tour, we saw Amalienborg, the Queen’s winter residence; the Supreme Court; and numerous statues and monuments throughout the city. While most walking tours are free to join, the guides’ incomes depend solely on tips, so don’t forget to bring some cash!
1:30pm | The Little Mermaid… and the Genetically Modified Little Mermaid
The walking tour ended at the Copenhagen Opera House, which was about a 10-minute walk from the iconic Little Mermaid sculpture, based on Hans Christian Andersen’s fairy tale. We walked along the harbourfront, expecting to be blown away by its beauty.
However, while it’s definitely a must see, prepare to be disappointed – she’s rather small, and it was extremely difficult to get a decent picture with the maiden as there was a large crowd waiting to be photographed with her.
Another 10-minute walk away lies the Genetically Modified Paradise, which houses the Genetically Modified Little Mermaid. Like her organic counterpart, she is in the water, sitting on a small island. Around her are other quasi-lifelike abstract sculptures, which to be honest I found much more interesting than the Little Mermaid, and as an added bonus the crowds here are much smaller as well.
3:00pm | Design Museum Denmark
In the past few years, I have become obsessed with Scandinavian design, so for me, the Design Museum Denmark was a must go. It showcases Danish designs at various stages throughout history. The best part of the museum is the hallway that’s filled with hundreds of Danish chairs. I spent around an hour in this room alone marvelling at the ergonomic and simplistic design of the chairs.
Regular admission is 115 DKK ($23), and the museum is free for students and everyone under the age of 26, so don’t forget your ID!
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Down the street is Frederik’s Church, a beautiful building made of marble with a copper dome. It’s quite hard to miss!
4:30pm | Nyhavn
Even though we walked through this area during our tour, I wanted to come back and get a few more shots of the iconic docks of Nyhavn from different angles. This area has become something of a tourist trap in recent times, with pricey seafood restaurants and souvenir shops dotted along the boardwalk. Even so, it’s a destination worth checking out quickly (and of course a classic Instagram spot!)
6:00 | Dinner at Torvehallerne Market
I’m a sucker for all kinds of food markets, and the Torvehallerne Market was one of my favourites I’ve been to around the world.
It’s certainly not as large as Pike Place Market in Seattle, but what it lacks in size, it makes up in substance and quality. Even though it was later in the day when I went, the market was still teeming with activity, from coffee shops supplying the all-nighter crowd to sushi vendors serving up a quick dinner.
It was a beautiful evening, so we opted to have a picnic at the park instead of going out for dinner (sadly we couldn’t secure a table at Noma this time around). We picked up a variety of our favourite foods, including shrimp, sausage, freshly baked bread, and a vegetable salad, and enjoyed a lovely picnic in the great outdoors. Delicious!
10:00am | Freetown Christiania
After a late start to our day, we went to Freetown Christiania, a hippie commune that was established on a military base in the 70s. This place is jam-packed with quirky artwork and many structurally questionable houses which are nonetheless beautiful and unique.
Freetown Christiania has its own laws and claims some degree of independence from the Danish government, who keep a close eye on the commune but otherwise generally leave Christianians to their own devices. They even have their own flag and currency!
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Perhaps the most famous part of Christiania is Pusher Street, where there are dozens of stalls selling different kinds of marijuana. When we arrived, we witnessed cops in the middle of a raid and dealers trying to escape. However, no more than an hour later, the scene was clear once again, and the booths were back in business.
1:00pm | Church of Our Saviour
Just a few steps away from Christiania is the Church of Our Saviour, a stunning piece of architecture with a serpentine spiral staircase that wraps around the exterior of the tower. The climb starts with many steep irregular wooden steps at the base before leading out to the spire, where the steps get very narrow. It’s very much worth the exertions, though, because the view from the top is truly breathtaking!
Needless to say, it was difficult to squeeze everything I wanted to see in Copenhagen in under 48 hours. There were additional things that I wanted to check out but simply didn’t have enough time, like the Tivoli Gardens and the National Museum of Denmark. One thing’s for sure – as a lover of simple design, coffee, and of course Danish pastries, I found that Copenhagen has all the makings of my perfect city, and I can’t wait to return!