I first visited Copenhagen when I was 16 which was a loooong time ago and mainly my memories are of the vibrant Nyhavn, the Little Mermaid and feeling pretty ill after going on a few of the rides at the magical Tivoli Gardens. So when the opportunity arose ( I took my other half with some of our friends to go see Guns and Roses for a birthday treat. Yes obvs the best fiance!) to return to this city I jumped up the chance to rekindle my past memories and discover new places.
Copenhagen is the capital of Denmark and a must visit Nordic city. It can be a bit pricey but really aren’t most capital cities. It’s a beautiful old city that has a wonderful mix of old world buildings with new modern Danish architecture. Copenhagen is often considered in the top 10 for the happiest city and with their green living ambitions, quirky cafes and bars, colourful houses and beautiful surroundings it’s a must a visit destination. If you’ve not heard of the Danish concept of hygge then you would also understand why they are a happy city. The word Hugge has no English translation and is a word used to describe the feeling of being cosy and special and most important just being in the moment. This is how you should experience Copenhagen – take in the moments, put down your phone and marvel at the buildings, try to avoid getting knocked down by a bike and enjoy getting to experience this amazing city.
And if the above hasn’t sold you to get on the next plane to Copenhagen then here is my top 17 reason to visit Copenhagen.
It’s a green city
Bikes everywhere, green gardens, clean and clear harbour water, wind farms it is clear that Copenhagen is a green city. They are actually working to become carbon neutral by 2025. You can tell how serious they are with all the roads built to accommodate bikes and encourage its residents to get on two wheels instead of 4. I think it’s a fantastic goal for a capital city to strive for.
Canals and havns
As Copenhagen was originally a Viking fishing village there is lots of water around and there are canals throughout the city. It’s no Venice but it means that you should not only see the city on land but you should also get onto a boat tour to see it from the water. There is, of course, the picture perfect Nyhavn but there is also lots of pretty water areas in Christianshavn and even along Kobenhavns havn you can find Islands Brygge Harbour Bath. These baths are man-made swimming areas in the shape of a boat on the harbour allowing locals and tourists to cool down in the hotter months. They say that the water throughout the canals and harbours in Copenhagen is so clean you can drink it.
Nyhavn is the picture perfect harbour in the middle of the city and instantly recognisable as Copenhagen. The vibrant colours stand out and it just wouldn’t look the same if they were normal buildings. Now the coloured houses of Copenhagen aren’t just limited to this area. They are across the city. Rich oranges, bright blues, ravishing reds, stark whites and dusty pinks can be found on most streets. Those on Instagram- it’s like you’re in Instagram heaven.
The best fairytales were written by Danish author Hans Christian Anderson and as he lived in Copenhagen there are signs of him all over the city. You can find three of his residences in Nyhavn, several statues of him (one opposite Tivoli and one in the Kongens Have) to one of the most famous statues in the world which is also one of his characters. There is a Hans Christan Anderson Fairytale house that again helps bring some of his lesser known fables to life.
Fredericks Church or more commonly known as the Marble Church is captivating building. It is free to enter and I would suggest going in as it is just as beautiful inside as it is on the outside. You do need to be quiet when entering as it is a place of worship. When we went in another traveller hit his toe on one of the benches which created such a racket. Knowing we needed to be quiet after hearing this huge noise we then erupted into a fit of giggles. Mature as always. I love visiting cathedral and churches when in foreign cities and could have sat there in silence (after the giggles subsided) for hours.
Flat flat flat
Pretty much all of Denmark is flat which is partly why they love their bikes so much. I’d ride my bike if I didn’t have hills to ride actually who am I kidding.. push up the hills. However, when visiting this city it’s also great as it makes it really easy to walk around.
Europes longest pedestrian street
The Stroget in a pedestrian street through the centre of Copenhagen. At 1.1km long it is said to be one of the longest in Europe. It had a mix of high-end and chain stores. You’ll find lively buskers, street performers and bars and restaurants. It’s a great place to stroll along and part take in some retail therapy.
Theme park in the middle of the city
I loved Tivoli! I mean a theme park in the middle of the city! Not many places can say they have that. Tivoli is said to have inspired Walt Disney to build Disney Land due to its magical feel. The gardens are beautifully manicured, the rides have a good mix of the scardy cat people (like myself) to the more adventurous thrill seekers. There is ponds, gardens, an aquarium, carnival style games and an air of magic that makes for a very fun day. There is also a statue of Hans Christian Anderson looking across the road like he’s taking inspiration for his fables.
We learnt while we were in Copenhagen that Denmark has the longest reigning royal family. Also fun fact the current heir to the throne Crown Prince Frederick is married to an Aussie -Princess Mary. They met in Sydney many yeas ago and I remember it all in the news as it was like a modern day fairytale that an Aussie girl could become a princess. I’m still waiting for Price Harry to notice me. There are several palaces in Copenhagen that you should visit these include Rosenborg Slot, Amalienborg, Christianborg place. All show a different stage and part of Denmark royal heritage. You should also try and witness the changing of the guards at Amalienborg.The guards walk through the centre of Copenhagen leaving Rosenborg Slot at 11.30 and reading Amalienborg at 12 pm. We were lucky to catch them on their walk through and fun fact they even have to stop at the red lights.
You will never see so many bikes in one place. The only place that I think might challenge Copenhagen to bike/person ratio would be Amsterdam. You need to be careful crossing the roads as although they are on only two wheels the bikes could defo knock you over. On all roads, there is always a separate lane for bike and you will often find them lined up against any surface. There are lots of bike hire places so that you can get involved in the cycling we, however, were a little scared.
I’m not much a hot dog eater but get me to Copenhagen and I basically have to have one every day. There are lots of food trucks around the city so you can get one on the go. My only piece of advice would be they nee to make the buns a big bigger so the end doesn’t stick out. Maybe it’s a just the Danish architecture way.
The Little Mermaid
Yes she is tiny, yes it’s a bit of a walk out to see her, yes there is always lots of people there when you are trying to see her and yes she is often voted as the most underwhelming tourist attraction but in my eyes, it is still a must see. While you are out seeing her you should also walk around the Kastellet which is a star-shaped fortress.
Parks & Gardens
As mentioned above Copenhagen is a very ‘green’ city both in its ideals but also in colour. There is so much green space within the city. Park and Gardens or Have’s as they are called in Danish are scattered throughout the city. We were fortunate to stay just of Kongens Have which is a beautifully manicured park that also houses Rosenborg Slot. We also spent some time Faelledparken which is more of an athletic park with games of football, frisbee, boot camps all going on around us. After a long day of being tourists, there was nothing better than having a beer sat in the sun enjoying the park.
Street food market
This is a must if you like food or are looking for a cheaper lively night out. From The Copenhagen Street Food Marker is located on Papiroen (Paper Island) and accessible over a pedestrian and cycle bridge at the top of Nyhavn. There is so much option for food and drink and has an outdoor seating area so you can take in the harbour views. We absolutely loved it. I posted more about this place here
I have read a lot about Freetown Christiania but we didn’t go and explore this interesting place however it is somewhere that I would like to go on our next visit. It is a small Freetown within Copehenhaegn that started back in the 70’s when squatters took over an old military base. It is a community of creative people who wish to live their life differently to rest of Copenhagen. You can’t take photos in there due to the selling of illegal substances.
Danish architecture will always get a big thumbs up from me considering the Sydney Opera House was designed by a Dane. You can see examples of the Danish architecture style all over the city. The Black Diamond, the Royal Danish Opera House, The Royal Danish PlayHouse, M/S Maritime Museum of Denmark and the colourful Superkilen park. There is also a Danish Architecture Museum to discover even more gems within the country.
Bit weird to mention another country when trying to big one up however I couldn’t miss it off the list. Malmo in Sweden is super close to Copenhagen only 40 min away by train or car across the spectacular Oresund bridge. Sadly we didn’t get a chance to do this trip on our recent visit but will certainly do it on the next time we are there.
Have you been to Copenhagen? What was your favourite thing to do in the city? or have we missed anything off this list? Do let us know in the comments.