Being only a 90 minute flight time from Edinburgh, the Danish capital of Copenhagen is the perfect weekend getaway for a quick stop of culture, history and (my favourite part) food! I recently visited for a few days on a quick budget trip and Copenhagen definitely made an impression on me.
Leaving on the last flight from Edinburgh, I arrived in Copenhagen quite late. However getting to the city centre was one of the easiest and quickest I’ve ever experienced in a main city. As soon as you walk out of the airport the trains are only a stone throw away. Easy to use machines are a quick way to pay and grab your ticket for the journey to the city centre. Heading to platform number two, there were trains every 20 minutes that take you into the central rail station. Trains are spacious, safe and quick as you arrive at the station in a mere fifteen minutes.
Knowing that this was a very quick trip I wanted convenience and value for money when it came to my accommodation. I decided to stay in the very modern Wake up Copenhagen in the Carsten Niebuhrs Gade neighbourhood. This hotel was a great base being only a 10 minutes’ walk from train station and a 25 minute walk into the centre. If you have ever stayed at hotels such as Citizen M or Premier Inn hub then this establishment is along the same lines. Check-in was extremely fast and efficient and the room was clean, functional and modern, perfect for a short city trip. After a restful night sleep it was time to check out the city, here is my two day itinerary to help you get the best out of your short time here.
Directly across from the train station, is the renowned Andersen Bakery. This is a perfect place for breakfast or brunch. As soon as you step inside, grab a ticket from the machine and wait until your number is called. This bakery has an abundance of delicious Danish pastries, I made sure I tried a few! They were more than I hoped for, buttery, flaky, delicious and moreish, all washed down with their refillable black coffee. It was surprisingly inexpensive and the service was very quick and friendly, even helping us to pronounce some of the Danish names for each of the pastries.
A fantastic way to travel in the city is by bike. Copenhagen was named ‘cycle city of the year’ and with its spacious and city wide cycle network and flat terrain, I am not surprised by this. On this trip though, together with my non cycling partner, I decided to walk everywhere. Walking in this city is so easy as its not over crowded, its very clean and everything is in close proximity to each other. Walking from Andersen Bakery take a left after the famous Tivoli Gardens, then you will pass some amazing architectural sights such as the Glyptoteket Museum and the National museum of Denmark. Stroll across the Frederiksholms Kanal via the city’s only marble bridge, which is one of the few surviving original features after a fire destroyed everything in the surrounding area in 1884.
This marble bridge leads you to the inner city island of Slotsholmen where you can see gorgeous Christiansborg Palace and accompanying riding house. We were lucky enough to see the beautiful white horses training in front of this magnificent building.
As you walk through the palace ground you will arrive at Holmens Kanal, continue along this road and take in views such as the captivating Børsen. This building has a unique spire of four dragons with their intertwined tails reaching 56 metres high.
If you can take your eyes off the many beautiful buildings, approach the impressive dominant building of Denmark’s National Bank. If you take a left, you’ll pass the Det Kongelige Theatre and will arrive in the large public square in the centre of Copenhagen called Kongens Nytorv (currently a bit of a building site as they are building a new metro system). Just off this square you will be led to the most photographed and beautiful area of Nyhavn. This beautiful 17th century harbour is lined with bright coloured townhouses, hotels, restaurants and its nearby water, housing gorgeous wooden boats.
If your not quite ready for lunch and fancy a little treat I highly recommend heading to Vaffelbageren on the street corner of Nyhavn. Here, they serve a delicious selection of ice cream served in there homemade cones dusted with an array of delights to tantalise your taste buds.
If all that walking and sightseeing has increased your appetite, I recommend visiting Papirøen (Paper Island). Crossing the Inderhavnsbroen, a contemporary cycle and pedestrian bridge, you will arrive at the fantastic Copenhagen Street Food market. This indoor area has an abundance of different food stalls where you can choose from traditional Danish food or items from around the world. If its a gorgeous day, take your food and sit outside looking across the harbour. However you can always opt to sit inside, in front of a log burning fire, enjoying the delights of your chosen food.
After your tummy is satisfied (which i am sure it will be) take a walk back over the bridge through the city to the amazing Rosenborg Castle and Barracks. This 17th century castle sits proudly in its surrounding gardens, which are the oldest and most visited gardens in Copenhagen.
Next to the palace are the Rosenborg Barracks, this houses the guards who are posted throughout different palaces around the city.
As you walk through the castle interior you will be amazed at how well preserved the rooms, furniture and art work are. The castle was built by King Christian IV and you can view some of his exuberant rooms such as his writing room and bathroom.
The most impressive of the rooms is the Knight’s Hall which displays the coronation thrones and the beautiful gold statues of three life sized lions.
In the vaults under the castle, you can also get a great glimpse of a collection of the crown jewels from past and present kings and queens of Denmark.
After all that walking, its probably time to rest those aching feet. A great way to do this is to go on the grand tour. An open boat tour leaves the harbour at Nyhavn. This allows you to see sights such as the contemporary opera house, a number of Copenhagen’s beautiful bridges, its laid back canal life from different neighbourhoods and of course get a glimpse of the famous Little Mermaid. It is a fantastic way to see the city from a different prospective, especially if the weather is on your side.
After a quick trip back to the hotel to get refreshed, it was time to head out for dinner. I choose to walk to the restaurant which was about a 30 minute from the hotel. I managed to catch some more beautiful sights and surprises along the way. Walking the same route from the hotel as i became accustomed to, i took midway detour. Instead of going through the palace at the marble bridge, turn right up from Frederiksholms Kanal and you will pass numerous sights such as Copenhagen University and the oldest fountain in Copenhagen called Caritas Well which was built in 1608.
The restaurant that we chose to visit was The Olive Kitchen and Bar. This cosy, rustic family run restaurant ranks number seven on tripadvisor in Copenhagen. The service was spectacular, very genuine and attentive. It was one of my friends birthday and they provided us with some complimentary bubbly and cocktails before we chose our meal. The menu choice was varied but I eventually opted for the Panko Parmesan Chicken. This was deliciously served with a zingy lemon caper sauce, whose simple flavours married together beautifully. It was just the right amount to satisfy me.
In order to finish the night in style, why not treat yourself to a plush cocktail. I recommend the luxurious baroque establishment of Brønnum. A cocktail bar located next to the royal theatre, directly across from the luxurious Hotel D’Angleterre (more on that later), this impressive establishment is classy, cosy and luxurious,. Its main bar is contemporary yet traditional with a beautiful bar embellished with wood carvings originating from Seville.
I enjoyed a delicious Bella Vista, a gorgeous concoction of Reyka Vodka, Dom Perignon Syrup, cranberry and lime juice and Kiehl’s Nashi Blossom. To finish of the experience and grapefruit Eau de Toilette was sprayed to complete the olfactory experience.
The atmosphere is cool, chic and friendly with its service being quick and professional. Through the back there is another room painted with beautiful colours of trompe oeil, which makes you feel like you have stepped into some exuberant Italian villa. Although it wasn’t open when i visited, there are further rooms through the back that feature small private cocktail suites , draped with a luxurious sense of style.
After some tasty drinks it was time to walk back to the hotel and experience a beautiful moonlit walk after a very busy and memorable first day in the city.
I loved Andersen Bakery so much that I went back, this time trying a few of their smaller pastries and also one of Denmark’s tradition, Smørrebrød. This traditional open sandwich consists of a piece of buttered rye bread with a selection of different toppings. I opted for the pickled herring and curried mayo, perhaps not a breakfast choice but it was delicious never the less.
After seeing an impressive corkscrew steeple of a church from yesterday’s boat tour we had to head there and check it out. The Church of Our Saviour is an impressive baroque church that has a towering steeple with a winding stair case around it, which can be climbed for a small fee. Be aware that this is not for people with a fear of heights or small spaces. The 400 hundred small wooden steps to get up can be a little daunting and just make sure you have plenty of water. Climbing the small steps was amazing as you feel like you have gone back in time, your hands brushing against the noughts in the wood, absorbing the history of the place . You then pass the Forty Eight bronze bells of the church, be aware that they are currently active and will chime on the odd occasion. We were lucky enough to be there on time to hear the midday melody.
Climbing to the top is worth all the effort. As soon as you get outside, you are greeted with beautiful sweeping panoramic views of the city looking over the neighbourhoods of Christiansborg, Klovermarken, Chrisianshavn Canal and the harbour.
After this exhilarating experience, it was time to visit the renowned Freetown of Christiana. This area of Copenhagen classes itself as a completely different place to Denmark, having its own flag and currency. You definitely know your heading somewhere different when the sign above you reads ‘You are now leaving the EU’. It’s vibe is peaceful, raw and artistic, as if stepping into some post apocalyptic land that somehow works. Something, which is very prominent in this are is the use of recreation Marijuana; sold from street vendors and shops but only to the locals. Unfortunately I wasn’t able to take a lot of photos here as photography within Christiania is forbidden.
After visiting some sights in the morning, it was time to hit Copenhagen’s impressive shopping areas. One of the most well known is Strøget which boasts to be the longest pedestrian street in the world. It is filled to the brim with designer shops, up market cafe’s and the beautiful Illum department store. Illum is a contemporary store selling floors and floors of designer clothes and products.
Head to the top floor where you can grab some food or a coffee. Why not head out onto the rooftop to catch some wonderful views of the surrounding area?
On the same street, I opted for lunch at a very Parisian looking establishment called Europa 1989. This restaurant was very sophisticated yet laid back with a great choice of food and drink. I was drawn to try their brunch option of Skyr w/fresh berries & maple syrup, Maribo cheese from Sønderhaven farm dairy & homemade jam, mini omelette w/sausage & bacon, smoked salmon from Fanø with herb creme and fresh fruit. It was a perfect selection of small portions to satisfy my hunger and allowed me to taste some produce from around the country.
After a delicious brunch we then decided to walk to the infamous little mermaid statue. Passing numerous architectural splendours such as Frederik’s church.
Continuing from the church we then arrived at the impressive Amalienborg Palace, the home of the Danish Royal family. Here there are not one but four palaces surrounding the large square each belonging to Christian VII’s, Christian VIII’s, Frederick VIII’s and Christian IX’s. Outside each of the palaces you can see them guarded day and night by Royal Life Guards.
As you Continue from the palace you will arrive at a very British looking St Alban’s Church, next to the impressive Gefion Fountain.
After what seems like a very long walk, you will then arrive at famous; The Little Mermaid bronze statue by Edvard Eriksen. I was a little underwhelmed by this statue, however the walk alone and the sights seen along the way were worth it.
After a long walk back into the centre of the city what better way to finish of the trip than a refined afternoon coffee at the impressive Hotel D’Angleterre.
On a cold day this hotel was a warm luxurious rest bite. Sitting in the dark atmospheric bar, it was great to sit with a warm coffee and chocolates, endlessly people watching through its lavish windows.
Unfortunately, the clocks chimed and i realised it was time to bid this wonderful city farewell. I sadly walked back to my hotel to collect my luggage and made my way to the main train station. As i got my train ticket to the airport, i was able to glance at the opening of Tivoli gardens amusement park, the second oldest park in the world. Unfortunately due to the time of year I just missed the chance to visit this popular sight, but now I have an excuse to come back to this amazing city!
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