To say we loved Copenhagen is almost an understatement. We adored Copenhagen. The people are so pleasant and kind, and the city itself is just wonderful. Copenhagen is nice and small so you really can see almost everything in a short amount of time. Granted, I had two weeks, but I split things over several days, if you packed a few days, you'd definitely see a lot quickly.
So all that said, I put together a little list of some of my favorite things, that I'd definitely tell you not to miss if you're going to Copenhagen. I'm sure you could find a few different lists on the great world wide web but here's mine in no particular order. This post is a tad long but I've given all I could think to include.
1. Nyhavn: Definitely the "big" tourist destination of Copenhagen but still my very favorite. (did you see Pitch Perfect 2 recently? They showed the girls here!). So picturesque and quaint. We went for a breakfast there and loved it. These restaurants are generally expensive as it is the tourist hotspot, so make it a small meal or make it one of your special meals, but either way please eat there! We were there in March, it was still chilly but all the tables had blankets on each chair and heat lamps, so it was still wonderful to enjoy the water side.
Some other things to check out there: The ice cream (I had the brownie one with strawberry...SO good!). There's a store there right on the street corner called Zane. Go in! I went in this store probably more times than I really should have but I couldn't help it. Kevin is lucky I didn't buy half the store! Many sites will recommend catching the canal tour out of Nyhavn as well. We really loved it and you'll learn different things on this tour (plus see the city from a different perspective) than the walking tour.
You'll see our experience with Nyhavn, here, here, here and here.
2. The Walking Tour: There's two groups that do the walking tours, this is the group we used. Kevin and I went on separate tours (since I went on mine when he was at work, and he did his after I'd already left) but we both learned some different things. We both only went on the classic tour though I'm sure the other ones are interesting too, you go through Christianshavn (or if you're there in May there's another one for northern part of the city), but it just wasn't a place to see on the top of our lists.
This tour was one of the final things I did in the city. It was fun as I'd already been to most of the places and had spent more time in each location than we did on the tour plus I had a good handle on where we were in the city. However, if you've got limited time, I'd do this tour first. You'll get a good grasp on where things are and you'll have a good idea on where you really want to spend time going back to. The tour guides tell great history stories and also some funny ones! I hands down recommend getting a walking tour in!
You'll see our experience on The Walking Tour, here.
3. Get a bike! This will exponentially increase your time touring the city. Rent a bike for the entire time you'll be there and you'll see more than you ever thought. It is worth every penny! In addition, you'll get the real experience of living in Copenhagen, it's what all the locals do. Rent yourself a bike, pick one that has a basket (for the goodies you purchase, or your purse/backpack), make sure you also get a lock and bike lights(locals don't lock up their bikes and crime rate is VERY low but you're renting so be wise and lock it up. Bike lights are required at night). Their bike lanes are awesome and you'll get the hang of it pretty quickly. And do yourself a favor, don't compare yourself with the locals, they've been riding bikes to work/everywhere a heck of a lot longer than you have!
It'd be extra wise to spend some time before your trip familiarizing yourself with some of the biking laws. More people bike than drive so they're particular on what is and isn't allowed and of course there's also certain common courtesy...and you can get a traffic violation on a bike. In the month, Kevin was there and in my two weeks, we neither received one nor saw one being given but it is just something to be knowledgeable about. WE LOVED OUR BIKES!
4. Check out some of their beautiful parks! I used to think it was strange that a lot of people would recommend checking out a park, but the parks of Copenhagen, like many European parks, are stunning and offer more than just your common green space/walking paths. Faelledparken is HUGE and has a cafe in the middle of it. It also is right by the soccer stadium if that's of interest to you. The gardens at Rosenborg are beautiful as well. And there's also the Botanical Garden by Rosenborg, which is free, and quite lovely. Personally, we loved the Sondermarken and Frederiksberg Gardens (probably because we lived close to there).
Give yourself time for a morning run or an evening stroll and just enjoy these great public areas, locals are always there. We were there in March, it was still winter time and the parks were full of people! I can only imagine how much more beautiful and busy they are when it is warmer.You'll also probably run into a pacifier tree while you're in one of those parks, which is just kind of fun to see.
You'll see our experience with some of the parks, here, here and here.
5. Eat: For lunch sometime you HAVE to go to Torvehallen. I WISH we had a place like this back home so much. I absolutely loved it! Torvehallen is composed of two buildings are each are full of different booths with all kinds of foods. It would be so much fun to get a little something from several and make a meal out of it. The place is almost always bustling with people. Kevin went to Copenhagen Street Foods and says it was awesome too. Otherwise, everything to eat there is great! We had fun trying their famous open-face sandwiches (called smorrebrod), pizza with chicken and potatoes on top, cheeses, and of course Danish danishes (bakeries are everywhere). You can probably find any food type you want (though I don't recall seeing Mexican, haha), and while it might seem silly to get a slice of pizza while you're there, do it! This is the real deal pizza, no pappa johns here!
You'll see our experience with foods, here, here, here, here and here.
6. Kastellet: is an old star fortress, one of the few remaining in Europe apparently. I loved walking the grounds, it has a beautiful raised trail around it.They have all kinds of festivals on the grounds in the warmer months. Also, The Little Mermaid isn't far from there. My tour guide called it the 2nd most disappointing tourist icon in all of Europe (not sure what the first was) but it's still fun to see plus if you make it a part of something else over that way, like Kastellet, you won't waste a bunch of time. Overall, don't miss this area, it's too pretty to leave out.You'll see our experience with Kastellet & The Little Mermaid here,
7. Amalienborg: is where the royals live. It is a very cool square/round-about with four homes that once belonged to wealthy families but now belong to the crown.You'll get to see this on the walking tour. You can go inside the museum but it was pricy and apparently not very worth it, from what I hear. The changing of the guards happens here too so that's neat to see. Amelienborg is on an axis with the Royal Opera House and Frederik's Church (nicknamed the Marble Church) so you can easily see both.
The Opera House is hard and time consuming to get to but the Marble Church is worth all the time you'll give it. Do go inside there! It is such a beautiful church,and they even have little prayer pamphlets for you to spend some time in prayer with the Lord. I loved it. You can go up the church tower for a good view of the city but open times are sparse, and I'd recommend going up the Christiansborg Palace tower (plus Christiansborg Tower is free), see more below.
You'll see our experience with this area, here, and here.
8. Museums & Shops: There are several museums and many of them are free! It's probably going to depend on what you're interested in and what you have time for. If you love museums then take some time figuring out which ones you want to go to because from I understand they're excellent. I only ended up going to the Design Museum but I definitely loved my time in there. At the time it had a special series on the child but it has a chair series, a furniture area, and a fashion collection. I walked the whole museum, it's not a very big one in my opinion, and spent a lot of time in there but you could definitely do it quicker. Bottom line, what is important to you? Artifacts/history/art or architecture/parks/city? Research and set forth your plan.
There are also a ton of wonderful shops to check out while you're there. Denmark is a design mecca of sorts so there are some very beautiful furniture and design icons to see. Stroget (a one mile outdoor shopping street, all pedestrian) is a great place to find several in one place. If shopping is your thing, don't miss Stroget! You'll see plenty of big name brands we have in the states but there are also several more local/European brands. Shops I'd recommend visiting that are "design" shops are Illumnus Bolghius, Hay House, Stilleben (across from there is a great little shop with some cool prints of Copenhaven/Denmark), and the Design Zoo (though it's sorta out of the way, and not in Stroget). Of couse, Lego was invented in Denmark so don't miss checking out one of their shops!
You'll see our experience with the Design Museum and Design Shops here.
9. Get a View! There are several ways to get a view of the beautiful city but we had two favorites. During the day, go to the Christiansborg Tower, and for an evening scene, check out The Round Tower. The Chistiansborg Tower is free and is a part of the Christiansborg Palace (which is a cool place to see, I hear their museum areas are great but I didn't make it to those). You do have to go through a short security process but you take an elevator for most of it and you get a pretty great view of the city.
The Round Tower is part of a church and on Stroget. Most of the locals joke about this because it isn't the tallest tower in the area but we loved it. If you get a clear night while you're there, go at night! They have one of the oldest telescopes in the world and will narrow it onto planets and let you look into it. This part is open on Wednesday nights. We got to see Jupiter while we were there. Pretty darn cool. For this tower you do have to pay but it was definitely worth it. They've also done a spectacular job highlighting the old structure. I loved that part.
You'll see our experience with towers, here, and here.
10. Palaces and Castles. I wish I'd spent some time and money into going inside some of these. There are so many beautiful old palaces with great history but they're definitely on the pricier end to go inside. If you're counting pennies, at least go to the grounds of these great buildings. Usually you can go through the grounds/gardens for free. Of those within biking/walking distance in Copenhagen, Frederiksberg, Rosenborg, Christiansborg, and Amielenborg all are available to tour. I had planned to tour Rosenborg and would have loved to check out Frederiksberg but I couldn't go when they were open. If you love seeing interiors, I'm certain these would be well worth their cost!
EXTRA: We went in the winter and I'm sure there are several more great things to check out if you're there when it's warmer. We understand Baakan and Tivoli are some of the coolest and oldest amusement parks in the world. Of course, Copenhagen is on the water so there are some pretty beach areas too (which we did check out despite the cold). In between Frederiksberg (suburb area) and the main city of Copenhagen are some pretty ponds that have little boats you can rent out. And if you're there for long enough and want to check another country off your list, you can get to Malmo, Sweden for about $15 and a 40 minute train ride. It's a small city so there's not a whole lot to see but still worth it
And one more thing! To make planning your trip and your routes easy, use the favorite star feature for pin pointing all the places you want to try and see on Google Maps! This is what we did Copenhagen, Paris, Malmo, and even here in the states for D.C.
Here's a snippet of my map for Copenhagen:
Following our time in Copenhagen?
one-Arriving in Copenhagen: The first bike ride
two-A Sunday together: Discovering Nyhavn, a church, Amalienborg, and more
three-Monday & Tuesday: my first days while Kevin is at work. Exploring the city by a run, seeing historical sites, and some new architecture.
four-The little home we lived in
five-Wednesday & Thursday & Friday: More exploration of the city
six- The story behind the Pacifier trees of Copenhagen
seven- our 27 hour trip to PARIS!
eight-A preview of our portrait session with the Eiffel Tower!
nine- Changing of the guards, ice cream, The Royal Library...
ten-The day I was on a movie set in Nyhavn
eleven- My final days of exploring
twelve-My thoughts on being a house wife
thirteen- Our final days together in Copenhagen & Exploring Malmo, Sweden