I’ve had a pining to visit Denmark for quite some time. After reading The Year Living Danishly by Helen Russell and learning all about the joys of ‘Hygge’ and their happy lifestyle, I developed a small obsession.
Turns out my best friend Amber had too – so it wasn’t long before we had hatched a plan between us on good old WhatsApp to visit the capital, Copenhagen. Amber now lives in Germany so this was the perfect excuse for us to catch up and have a mini break exploring one of Europe’s most fascinating cities.
By the time we had met at the airport, caught the train to Valby to drop off our bags at the hotel and headed back out to the city centre, it was around 4.30pm. We decided to save all major touristy quests for the following day.
We ambled through the lovely Strøget (Copenhagen’s answer to Oxford Street) and nibbled on some delicious roasted almonds.
Being St Paddy’s Day we felt obliged to have some pints in an Irish Pub – possibly the most expensive pint of cider I have ever tasted but hey, it hit the spot! After visiting a few more traditional pubs and bars dotted along the high street, we demolished an all you can eat buffet.
We set off fairly early at 9 to grab breakfast at Kaffe Kalaset, a cute little café on the corner of Vendersgade and Nansensgad. We had heard it could get incredibly busy, so by 10am sharp we were outside, waiting for the doors to be open like super keen beans. This turned out to be a wise move as within minutes the café was absolutely packed.
The décor is awesome – the walls are decorated with old radios. Every little detail, right down to the menu had a vintagey rustic feel. We went all out on the food and ordered a gigantic ‘Tante Green’, a brunch dish consisting of scrambled eggs, grilled vege, falafel, small baked potatos, humus, brie, fruit and skyr yoghurts with musli. SO scrummy!
Stomachs suitably satisfied, we walked through the pretty Orstedsparken public park, heading to the city centre. At 12, we embarked on the Classical Free Walking Tour– in 90 minutes you’ll learn all about Copenhagen’s Cathedral, the Round Tower and Rosenborg Palace. Very interesting and worth doing to help get your bearings – you can book your place via the website here.
I’ll have to be honest, during the tour the weather took a turn for the worse. It rained and rained, the wind howled and put it bluntly… it was bloody FREEZING! My umbrella flew into the sky, nearly taking out somebody in the street (my friend found this absolutely hysterical). Anyway, it didn’t matter – we headed back to explore the insides of the Round Tower.
The Round Tower is a beautiful 17th century building and the oldest functioning observatory in Europe. Pretty impressive. We checked out an interesting art exhibition, freaked ourselves out by standing on the floating glass floor (you can see the tower’s core by standing on a glass floor, hovering 25 metres above the ground) and marveled at the incredible view of the city from the top (photo below).
By the time we had finished exploring, the sun was starting to make an appearance – perfect timing for Nyhavn!
So we headed to the beautiful Nyhavn – a perfect waterfront district with gorgeous colourful houses dotted along the canal. It’s stunning and an absolute must if you’re visiting Copenhagen. The pictures say it all really – just gorgeous!
From there we headed to Christiana – a green, car-free hippy commune established back in 1971. It’s a fascinating story and worth reading up on. After reading so much about Christiana online, I didn’t know what to expect. Some say its ‘dirty and disgusting’, others say its a ‘beautiful and creative’. It certainly is interesting.
After entering, it really did feel like a world away from the clean, minimalistic Copenhagen. It is a bit dirty and the streets are noticeably littered which is a shame – a juxtaposition to the supposedly ‘green’ eco-friendly ethos of the town.
I had seen warnings on a number of websites not to take photographs – I couldn’t resist some quick snaps whilst walking in but I did respect the notices when walking down ‘Pusher Street’ as drugs are openly being sold. It wouldn’t be somewhere I would fancy walking in the dark but everyone seemed friendly enough.
We sat and had a pint outside at the local pub and took in our surroundings; colourful graffiti covering the buildings, houses with skate parks as gardens and the smell of weed everywhere. It’s definitely worth checking out as it has charm!
Another early-ish rise for a breakfast mission. We headed to Torvehallerene Market, purely to sample Grød – a stall that dishes out porridge with seasonal ingredients. I went for the Barey-Otto (mushrooms, parmesan, pickled Portobello & fresh tyme) and Amber went for the more traditional breakfast-y option, Acai-Chia Porridge. Both ridiculously tasty.
It’s by the far the most orderly market I have ever come across! Clean, spacious – more like an indoor shop with separate stalls.
Well fed, we walked to Rosenborg Castle, a royal hermitage set in the King’s Garden in the heart of the city. A beautiful building – with smiley guards who were perfectly happy to have their photographs taken!
Our next stop was The Little Mermaid – quite the stomp from the castle but we were determined to see Denmark’s most recognised landmark.
On route we stumbled across a lovely little district called Nyboder – an area full of former navy houses dating back to the 1600s. We spent a bit of time admiring the rows and rows of gorgeous orange terraced houses. If you’re into photography, you’ll adore this area. When we arrived at the Little Mermaid there was already a crowd of people snapping away. If you’re expecting a gigantic, epic statue…you may be a little underwhelmed as it very small but nonetheless, very pretty and definitely worth visiting.
From here we went on to Paper Town. As the guide book says; ‘Paper Island has a prominent place in Copenhagen Harbour and offers a handful of creative buildings with everything from art to showrooms and street food.‘ Be prepared to have your senses go into overdrive – gorgeous vintage clothes, every possible type of street food you can think of, art exhibitions… We spent a good half an hour walking around the market, trying to decide what to eat (a difficult task as I wanted to try just about everything). I settled on some delicious Korean grub and Amber went for a vegan burger and polenta fries. Yum. Outside is the Yoko Ono Wishtree Garden – the idea is to simply write down your wish on some paper and tie it to a tree, a lovely idea. So we did just that and spent a while snooping at the other wishes.
Our day ended strolling to the Frederiksberg… our feet were a little worn by this point so we spent an hour drinking multiple cups of tea and coffee in a cosy café, complete with squidgy sofas and of course, candles. Perfection.
Overall, I absolutely loved Copenhagen. A beautiful, quirky city full of surprises. I could have easily spent another week exploring – until next time.