Copenhagen certainly reminds me of my home city of Melbourne. There is a multitude of different weather throughout the day and it has a very different kind of European vibe.
The capital of the small Scandinavian country of Denmark, Copenhagen sits on the harbour and has been an epicentre for trade, culture and history within Scandinavia for centuries.
Although the country is relatively small, a trip to its capital can keep you busy for days as it has so much to offer for all types of traveller. However, do be wary of your wallet – not that it’s going to be stolen (and the Danish are so friendly they would return it to you if you lost it) but it’s not exactly one of the cheapest cities in Europe to visit.
If you are on a budget I always suggest starting a trip to a new location with a free walking tour. Copenhagen Free Walking Tours take you around the major sights of the city, and also offer in depth history lesson.
Amalienborg is the home of the Danish royal family, and was built in the 18th century, in the rococo style. Queen Margrethe II of Denmark and all her family live within different parts of the building.
I was hoping I could see our very own Aussie royal – Mary, Crown Princess of Denmark, who is married to the eldest and first in line to the Kingdom of Denmark, however I had no luck… 🙁 Maybe next time!
Our tour guide mentioned that the royal family in Denmark work like everyday individuals in Danish society, and has even seen Frederik’s brother, Prince Joachim, out walking his dog. Within Amalienborg there is a changing of the guard you can sit and watch.
Right by Amalienborg is Øresund, where on the other side of the body of water on the island of Holmen is the Copenhagen Opera House (Operaen).
It is one of the most modern opera houses in the world and the most expensive (2019), completed back in 2004 and costing over $500 million USD.
On the other side of Amalienborg – opposite the Copenhagen Opera House – is Frederik’s Church, an 18th century Lutheran church which is the largest domed church in Scandinavia. When you look at it you can see some similarities with St Peter’s Basilica in Rome.
Nyhaven was the next stop on the tour, and this is one of two iconic spots that the city of Copenhagen is known for. Nyhaven is a 17th century harbour and canal that is renowned for its brightly coloured townhouses, bars, restaurants and cafes with the oldest house being built in 1681 (Imagine the real estate pricing there!).
This portion of the city really does have that Scandinavian vibe, which would be beautiful in spring/summer weather (It was still pretty though in overcast and raining for me).
The Royal Danish Theatre was built in 1874 for the King, but is now known as the main theatre for the country, performing opera, classical concerts and ballet.
Nearby is the Bishop Absalon statue – a bishop riding a horse, wielding an axe… how holy. Born in 1128, he was a key political figure (back when the church and crown had complete influence in politics) in Danish history and built the first fortification of the city that is now known as modern day Copenhagen.
Strøget is one of the longest shopping streets in Europe, and has been pedestrian-only since 1962. If you are keen on doing some shopping, this is your spot to visit.
Another area where the locals hang out is City Hall Square, which does indeed house City Hall and is bustling.
The Church of Our Lady, Copenhagen is the cathedral in Copenhagen right by Copenhagen University. It was completed in 1829 after being rebuilt following the fire that destroyed the previous cathedral in 1807. The original style was Gothic, but was rebuilt in Neoclassicism. The inside is large and very white. Very simple compared to other cathedrals you see across Europe.
With the free walking tour over there are many places for you to eat across the city. With dishes like Fiskefrikadeller (fish cakes), Frikadeller (Danish meatballs), Rød pølse (Red sausage – there are countless hot dog stands across the city), and Smørrebrød (open faced sandwiches) there are restaurants across the city that meet your budget but still allow you to have a traditional authentic Danish experience.
Day two was just as hectic as day one. Sometimes I do wish I had longer to spend on my trips, but this is the cost of working full time and wanting to visit everywhere in the world!
The Round Tower, also known as Rundetaarn in Danish, is a 17th century tower that was built in the Dutch Baroque style, and has an astronomy tower. It is a small museum as you make your way to the top that will cost you 25 DKK (£3.00). It goes into the history of science within Denmark over time.
Christiansborg Palace is a very important building in Copenhagen. Building began in 1167 with elements added containing baroque, neoclassicism, and neo-baroque aspects as the centuries went by. It is used by the Danish parliament, the Supreme Court of Denmark and the Danish monarch. It really shows the history of Danish architecture.
Not far away is the King’s Garden, which was originally established in the 17th century and is a peaceful place to walk through and enjoy the flora and statues. Within the King’s Gardens is the Rosenborg Castle, which was built in 1624 in the Dutch Renaissance style. It was originally built as a summer house and residence for the royal family until 1710.
For 115 DKK (£14) you can take a tour of the castle, which shows some of the pieces and paintings from Danish history.
The most well-known tourist attraction in Copenhagen was also on my to-do list. The Little Mermaid statue was unveiled in 1913 and sits on a rock at the Langelinie promenade. It is based on the fairy tale by Hans Christian Anderson “The Little Mermaid”. The statue has copies and sister status across the world!
I find this attraction highly overrated. When you are there are way too many tourists clustered around the small statue, so it is quite difficult to get a photo without someone else in it. It is literally by itself past Kastellet, the star-shaped military fortress.
If you are in Copenhagen do go and see it, however there is so much more to see in Copenhagen you should not sacrifice other things to spend too much time at the statue.
On my final day there was a torrential downpour, so a lot of the day was spent relaxing indoors. Luckily, by the evening the rain stopped and it gave me the opportunity to go to Tivoli Gardens amusement park in the centre of town.
Due to the storm earlier on, the amusement park was empty so it gave me the opportunity to ride everything with no queues. An unlimited ride pass will cost 216 DKK (£26 – 2019), and outside of the rides there are heaps of beautiful light shows with themes changing all the time.
Even with everything I saw, Copenhagen had so much more to offer and genuinely was one of my favourite places to visit. I’m hoping the next time it’s not as cold and wet when I visit!
Copenhagen looks so good – I have never seen a post where it looked anything less than amazing! It is so expensive over there though 🙁 I would love to visit and do a budget trip there – I love reading how people manage to do it! Nyhaven is beautttiffulll!
You won’t believe that in the 8 years that I lived in Berlin I’ve never been to Copenhagen! I did go when I was a teen, that’s why it’s not on my bucket list. But truth be told, I don’t remember much. Your post puts Denmark back in its due place on my list!
It’s always like that though!
For me, back in Australia, I had never really been outside of Victoria and NSW the states and there were so many amazing places to see across my country that weren’t that far like Tasmania which has beautiful forests.
I’m glad Demark is back on your list!
We went to Tivoli on a rain day, too. It was the best as we rode the Rutschebanen about 16 times. 😊
Copenhagen is on my travel list and I am hoping to go visit in 2020! I’ve never actually thought to do a walking tour before but that would be such a good way to see the city and get the history behind it!
Love to read about our small home city from your perspective Cai!
We are glad you liked your weekend-getaway, and yes the Little Mermaid is enormously overrated!
Next time you go, you simply have to call us up, and we will take you on a private local tour 😉 Then we also expect to see you back in Melbourne next time we drop by. Haha
I certainly do want to visit again as it did rain most of the time I was there 😂
If you’re both in town I’ll see if you’re around!
I’d also love to see more of Denmark too.