Last year my boyfriend surprised me with flights to Copenhagen last winter over the new years holiday! I’ve been promising my friend Jade this Copenhagen travel blog for months now! I’m sorry it took so long! Here’s a few things to do on your visit!
The free walking tour (Sandeman’s)
Starts at the city hall (beginning of stroget) at 11am and 3pm (3 hours long).
I really enjoy free walking tours. I loved hearing the history of this city and all its quirky traits. It was very cold, so wrap up warm if you are going in winter. Every time the tour guide stopped we had to jiggle and side step to stay warm. My favourite part was hearing about the famous Danish people and they’re adventures.
This tour finishes at Nyhavn Canal.
Eating and drinking here is more expensive, but you can enjoy it for free as you stroll along the canal. you must venture inside some of the cosy pubs and housed the fishermen, Sailors and prostitutes in times gone by. They are beautifully cosy, a taster of Danish hygge.
It would be a nice place to visit in summer, when people are enjoying picnics along the canal. I also found some good swim spots, but it was far too cold when we visited at the end of December.
The Little Mermaid
Hans Christian Anderson is the Danish author of ‘The little mermaid’ story.
He was a failed ballet dancer turned writer. Andersons original story of unrequited love is darker than the Disney version, and it’s 102 years old!
1 million visitors come here every year! Sometimes they ship her off for special events so we got lucky with our dates. She was just back from a trip abroad.
You will know you have found it because you will see the crowd of tourists before you see her. There will be a flock of tourists here at all times. Go early or late to better your chances at a photo without strangers heads. I love this photo of a fellow tourist posing as the little mermaid. I’ve been told it’s a nice place to watch the sunset.
I was able to get this photo excluding tourists heads because the girl that was posing in front of the statue slipped and fell. I used the opportunity to get a photo of her without anyone in the way. Sounds a bit mean, but I checked that she was okay first 🙂
You’ll find this place if you are heading to The Little Mermaid from the Royal Palace (Amaliensborg palace). With all my travel research before my trip, I knew nothing of this place. I think that is why I loved it so much! A wonderful unexpected surprise, as we were looking for The Little Mermaid.
No one had mentioned this place in any blogs I had read before arrival (and I read nearly every blog I could find!).
Kastellet is a preserved fortress. It includes a church, a memorial, a windmill, public park, and historic site.Open to the public. Originally a citadel, the buildings inside are now used as military barracks.
Mon-Sun 6am -10pm
Tivoli opens April – Sept and the month of Christmas. It opened in 1843 and is the second oldest theme park. The first is also in Denmark. Disney Land is said to be inspired from Tivoli.
We didn’t actually go inside. It was only open one of the evenings we were there. You can see inside from the gates and the fences. If you’re into fairgrounds…this is your place!
A self-governing hippie city with a very interesting history, that I advise you to read up on to fully understand this strange place. It was originally a military barracks that was left abandoned until squatters came in and took ownership in 1971. They declared themselves a free state and as a result drugs are legal in this little city. Police are not allowed in the area.
But even free cities need rules…no running, no photos, no cars. I got some sneaky photos for the blog, but I didn’t want to break the rules and upset anyone. The guys selling weed (in the ‘green zone’) cover their faces with scarfs. I would advise that if you are taking sneaky photos, make sure they are not in them, if you don’t want any trouble.
There has been recent talks of the government removing the squatters and selling the land to property developers. I personally hope they don’t. This little area of Copenhagen is unique, and it would be a shame to loose it to more apartment blocks.
We ended up here by chance, as a lot of the things we wanted to see were closed over the new years holidays. It is a tranquil place to explore and unwind…and the warmth inside is welcoming on a cold winters day in Copenhagen. I particularly loved the spiral stairs to the top of the dome.
Royal Palace and gardens
You can go to the top for 360 views of the city….but of course, it was closed when we went!
Stroget means ‘shopping’, and it is the longest shopping street in Europe (1.1km).
If you like shopping, and don’t mind the Danish price tag, you’ll love it! I personally have lost interest in shopping, especially when I’m in a new place with loads to see, so we just walked along it for a nosey!
We ended our walking tour here. We didn’t go inside and we didn’t see the changing of the guards. Flags will be flying at the royal palace when the royal family are home.We walked to the little mermaid through Kastellet from Amaliensborg Palace once the tour ended.
Bouncy streets 🙂
We found some street trampolines on our walk to Christianshavn. I didn’t take note of the street, but if you stick to the waters edge you’ll find them, (or even better … ask a local).
This gets it’s own section, because I feel it is important to delve into the Danish culture while you’re there. If you haven’t already heard of Hygge, let me attempt to explain. There isn’t a direct translation of ‘hygge’ into English, but it can be described in many ways eg. cosy, candlelit time with friends. A lot of Danes will pick a place to eat or drink depending on its ‘hygge’ factor over its quality of food or drink. It can be time spent alone, cozied up with a blanket, hot drink, fluffy socks and a good book in front of the fire, or a causal dinner party with close friends, ambient lighting and candles. This word is infiltrated into the Danish language and can be used as a verb or noun to describe people, places and things that create a hygge like mood/feel. The Danish are the happiest people in the world, according to numerous UN surveys. This could be due to their free healthcare, their short working days, or maybe it’s all down to how important they value Hygge.
You can even do a Hygge and Happinees tour …
I have just finished reading ‘The little book of Hygge’ and I am enjoyed it thoroughly. My friend Jude bought me this book! She knows me well, as it has been on my Amazon Wishlist since my trip to Copenhagen.
Hygge is something I have loved and appreciated before I knew there was a word for it. I am definitely an ‘old soul’ and I’m slightly introverted, so hygge like gatherings and atmosphere is right up my street. I plan on reading ‘The year of living Danishly’ next.
I recommend both of these books before, after, or during your trip to Denmark.
New Years Eve in Copenhagen
One of the most surreal New Years Eve experiences. It’s essentially a huge street party with no rules. The fireworks go off in every direction, in the middle of crowds of people and moving traffic. No health and safety set up, and basically a free for all! If you have fireworks you can light them anywhere. Saying that, I didn’t see any trouble or accidents! Buy a few cans of Carlsberg and head toward Tivoli and the main square for the celebrations (and be careful not to walk into fireworks).
What we missed
We missed quite a lot on our trip, as most of the tourist attractions and local food markets etc. were closed over the holidays. If you are planning on travelling at this time of year, be sure to check opening times, or maybe stay a day or two longer to make sure you’re around when things are back up and running.
- Stedsans Rooftop Farm restaurant
I found this by accident after my trip. I was gutted I didn’t get to go, but it seems to be only open from May – October, so I wouldn’t have got to go anyway. I love everything about this place. I’m very tempted to go back in the summer to see this place. It started as a communal roof garden and is now a popular restaurant. Open Thurdsay-Sunday.
We didn’t go here for two reasons…
- very, very expensive
- has to be booked months in advance
The name is two Danish words combined ‘nordisk’ (Nordic) and ‘mad’ (food). They are always top of the list of the worlds best restaurants and they hold two Michelin stars. Like The Little Mermaid statue, they travel all around the world, so everyone can experience NOMA. Be sure to check it is open when you are planning a visit, if this is top of your list.
- Boat tour
Explore the city by boat bycyklen 25dkk or a goboat. Good idea for a summer trip (too chilly for us in winter). You can also rent kayaks from kayak republic.
- Day trip to Malmo, Sweden – via Oresund Bridge Tunnel
- The Candy factory Bolsjefabrikken- Alternative cultural centre
- Frederiksberg slot – open every last Saturday of the month.
- National Museum
- National Gallery
Grundtvig’s Church – rare example of expressionist church architecture
- Dryehaven Park – deer park
- Amager Faelled Nokken – where hobbits go on holiday
- Christiansborg Palace
- Mirror house – Vesterbrograde
- Superkilen uber park
- Torvehallerne – Street food market
We went here, but it was closed over the holidays.
- Island Brygge Harbour Bath – if I make it back in the summer I will be here.
- Amager Beach, Strand Park
- Paper island – Papiroen – street food
- Assistens Cemetery
Full of Danish nobles, but not the creepy cemetery you would think it to be. The Danes have picnics here, and enjoy the green space.
- The Black Diamond – National Library of Denmark (also closed).
- Ny Carlsberg Glyptotek – Art Museum funded by the Carlsberg family.
Worth a visit for the beautiful indoor garden.
- Watch the sunset at the Horseman statue, Parliament. (You won’t see it at Nyhavn Harbour)
Parliament Building main tower is free. Open 11-9pm
- Carlsberg brewery – Tues-Sun 10am-4pm
We didn’t get to the brewery as it was closed over the New Years break, but we did make sure to taste the local beer 🙂 Don’t miss the elephant gate at the Carlsberg Brewery.
What to eat
- smorrebrod – open sandwiches
You will see these everywhere…
- La Glace – oldest confectionary shop (1870)
I wasn’t vegetarian/vegan back in January 2016, so I can’t recommend any good food spots. You can check out ‘happycow.net’. 11 vegan restaurants! I would have been spoilt for choice!
byhost – maps out apple trees, and berries locations for free eating in the city.
Facts I collected
- Danish are the happiest people in the world according to numerous surveys and studies. Free healthcare, short working hours, free university, great public transport, ‘hygge’ etc. High taxes and living expenses don’t seem to bother them. They spend time deciding on a career, so they work for love, not money (and they never work late).
- Danes eat burgers with a knife and fork.
- Lego was created here.
- Queen Margaret the Second helped translate The Lord of the Rings into Danish. She smokes cigars and is a bit inappropriate. The Danish love her!
- Copenhaegn aims to be the first carbon neutral city.
- Norrebro and Osterbro – cheapest areas.
- Twice as many bikes as cars.
- One of the most environmentally friendly countries.
- Unnecessary to tip.
- Hotel Central – smallest hotel with only one room and a café.
- travel app ‘like a local’
Like trip advisor, but information from locals.
- free city bikes
20DKK deposit + you get it back
- Copenahgen card
Free boat trip and entry fees if you are planning to visit lots of museums.
- Many stores only accept Danish cards! Bring Cash!
- Taxi to airport = approx. 20mins 230DK
Where to stay
Normally we use Air BnB for short city breaks, but everywhere was booked up over the Christmas and New Years holidays. We ended up staying in a private room in Urban House hostel. I must say it’s a really nice hostel, probably one of the nicest I’ve stayed in. The location was perfect! A stone throw from the train station and a five minute walk to the main square. The bar downstairs was lively and full of locals as well as travellers, which was great over the New Years celebrations. They even have a ‘hangover pit’ full of beanbags and cushions where you can recover from the night before.
The only thing we didn’t like was the location of our bedroom (above the DJ box). If you stay here, bring earplugs in case you get stuck in our room, or be sure to ask for a room away from the music. It didn’t bother me too much, as I can sleep through anything, but my boyfriend didn’t get much sleep.
And Finally …
Please comment below! I’d love to hear about your trip and any places we didn’t get to see.
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Enjoy the adventure and return safely,
The wandering boomerang