Five Things to Do in Copenhagen, Denmark

Wednesday 2 May 2018

For most, it's not always possible to travel to far-flung destinations without lots of saving and planning. So after we got married, we had an affordable post-wedding trip to Spain, followed by a slightly more expensive (& exciting) mini moon to Copenhagen, in Denmark.

Flying to Scandinavia from Bristol is becoming easier than ever, as new direct flights are continuing to pop up to cities in Iceland, Norway, Sweden and Denmark. I'd heard such good things about Copenhagen, so we planned a five day trip to this buzzing city. 

Partly due to work commitments and partly due to the fact we're rather spontaneous travellers, we didn't research much before we went... although we did receive a few tips from friends who had been previously (cheers)! Most people only visit for a weekend, but as we were there for longer, we could take our time to really explore. There's so much to see and do in this incredible city, but I've selected just a handful of my favourite places to visit / things to see. 

In case you're considering a visit in the near future, here are the my top five things to do in Copenhagen:

Copenhagen in October

Nyhavn Harbour Copenhagen Denmark

1. Nyhavn

If you've seen photos of Copenhagen on Instagram or Pinterest, it's likely you've spotted a snap of the colourful little harbour of Nyhavn, which was once a Viking fishing village. Beautiful in both the day and at night, I thoroughly recommend exploring this quaint area and its iconic waterfront. It's a well known fact that famous fairy-tale author Hans Christian Anderson lived in Nyhaven and although it would cost a fortune to live here now, back in the early 19th century it wasn't quite as alluring. It was, however, a place where Hans wrote many of his books. If you're a fan of his work, you'll also want to visit the wonderful Hans Christian Andersen Fairytale House.

Food Markets in Copenhagen

Photo by Nick Karvounis on Unsplash

2. Explore the local food markets

Part of the appeal of travelling is tasting the local food, right!? We stayed in Nørrebro (so hipster but so awesome), which wasn't far from the Torvehallerne KBH food market. This food market is really nice and has a varied selection, so there's something to suit everyone - it's extremely popular with both locals and tourists alike. Grab yourself a delicious Danish pastry, try a local Smørrebrød (an open sandwich) or opt for something a little more filling like some delicious, locally sourced seafood!

My favourite food market was definitely the trendy Paper Island, or Papirøen. Less polished than Torvehallerne KBH, vendors sell street food from around the world in what's essentially one big warehouse. This warehouse was originally used by the Danish press association to store paper - which is how it got its name! It has a really cool, laid-back atmosphere and a bit of a festival feel to it. As well as tasty grub, you can buy local beers and incredible cocktails. Vendors pump out the tunes and apparently there's sometimes a DJ at the entrance! The eating area is communal and it just has all the good vibes. We found it cheaper to eat here than at local restaurants.

UPDATE: Sad news, apparently Paper Island closed after our visit! But they're working on a replacement... 

Most Overrated Attraction in Copenhagen
Amalienborg Palace
HDMS Peder Skram Copenhagen
Things to Do in Copenhagen

3. Canal Tour

One of the best ways to see the sights is to hop on a boat tour! We opted for Stromma Canal Tours' Grand Tour, which is an hour long tour of the harbour and canals. We caught it from Nyhavn harbour and although there are a few other boat companies, we chose this one as the Tripadvisor reviews were so good. We didn't really know what to expect, we've been on a few other boat trips in different European cities, but we were extremely impressed by this one! The guide was very knowledgeable and would relay information in both English and Danish. What I love most about the locals are how friendly and witty they are, we found the whole experience informative and fun. The best part of the trip was seeing several of the main tourist attractions from a different perspective! 

The Little Mermaid is one of the most popular sights in Copenhagen, it was a little far from where we were staying, but thankfully our boat went straight past it. As you can see from the photo below, it's not that impressive. It's actually kind of laughable, look at all those people taking photos of a tiny little mermaid statue!? It's probably the most overrated attraction in Copenhagen. Sorry Disney fans. 

The canal tour itself costs 80DKK, which is about £10, and it's definitely worth the small price tag. 

The Round Tower
Photo by manu schwendener on Unsplash

4. The Round Tower aka Rundetaarn

The round tower is the oldest functioning observatory in Europe. We sort of stumbled across this one by accident, but it had good reviews so we figured we'd swing by (also - who wouldn't want to run up / down the spiral path!?). Once through the doors, you make your way up the spiral walkway to the original library, which Hans Christian Anderson used to visit. Instead of books, it now houses really cool art exhibitions. I absolutely loved the art on display here, which is probably why it was one of my favourite attractions in Copenhagen! There's also a sweet little gift shop which pleased the shopaholic in me. 

Many visitors get excited about the glass floor in the hollow core of the tower. You can stand on this little plate and look 25 metres down... through the middle of the tower. WAH! Sadly the glass is a little scratched so it wasn't as scary as it should be! If you're a bit of a scaredy cat (no judgement here), the glass is 50mm thick so there's nothing to be worried about, it's just a cool thing to do. 

Bristol Travel Blog
Christiansborg Palace Statues in Tower
Christiansborg Palace Copenhagen

5. Christiansborg Palace

While we were wandering around the city, we ended up at the Christianborg Palace. We didn't plan to visit it and we were completely without 4G, but we wandered in because it looked nice from the outside. Turns out, the palace is the home of Danish politics and Queen Margrethe uses the royal reception rooms for official arrangements and events. Fancy.

The grounds are just beautiful, and so is the interior. Hello Instagram. You do pay to go inside but not to be missed is the free Christiansborg Palace Tower. We just joined the back of the queue not really knowing what it was (standard) and after a brief security check, we made our way up in a lift. Exciting! You then change lifts on the toliet/restaurant level and up you go! 

It's the tallest tower in Copenhagen and apparently on a clear day you can see Sweden! It was a bit cloudy for us but the view was still stunning. The tower is open every day, except for Mondays. It also has a really lovely looking restaurant if you're feeling particularly flush / extra.

Overall impressions of Copenhagen?

Expensive! Danes are impeccably dressed so I stood out like a sore thumb wearing all my brightly coloured clothes (black / grey clothing almost feels like a uniform here). There are bikes EVERYWHERE which is fun, but it was too cold to cycle when we visited. I got the impression it's a very young, stylish, hipster city - I felt extremely uncool compared to the locals. I loved it though and I'd go again, but in the summer. 

Next on my Scandinavian hit list? Norway! Dream big. If you'd like to read about my adventure in Stockholm, you check out my previous post (SPOILER: It's AMAZING).

Have you been to Denmark? What are your travel plans for the year? - T

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