Copenhagen is regularly voted the happiest city in the world – I spent a weekend there to find out why. From the UK it’s just a 1.5 hour flight, then a 15 minute journey by taxi or metro to the centre of town / Nyhavn.
Copenhagen is pretty flat and built around waterways, resulting in a very walkable city. Starting at Nyhavn we could walk everywhere with ease. It’s a small and safe city, open-minded and clean.
Everyone seems to cycle here – there are many more bikes and scooters on the streets than cars. Apparently there are more bikes than inhabitants and after our trip I believe that is probably true! You can rent a bike for about £3.50 per hour and they are everywhere. It is reported that 62% of people living in Copenhagen commute by bike to work, school or university.
Most visitors want to see the historical centre, the hippie neighbourhood Cristiania and the meatpacking district Vesterbro. Read on to find out my top tips for a weekend in the Danish capital.
Friday lunchtime we flew from Edinburgh to Copenhagen with EasyJet. In an hour and a half we arrived and within 2.5 hours we were at our hotel just round the corner from Nyhavn. Our hotel was in such a good location https://www.copenhagenstrand.com rooms were quite basic but had everything we needed and the breakfast was fab!
Once we had checked in we headed straight to Nyhavn in search of some Hygge 🙂 we sat outside the colourful buildings on the waterfront wrapped in blankets and under patio heaters and fires having a drink. We then went across the road to Gorm’s for a pizza which was delicious! 🙂
Up early to see the sights and make a plan for the day.
- Obligatory photos at Nyhavn 🙂
- Strøget – Wander through the town centre. This pedestrian street runs on and on, and whether you’re up for high-street or high-end shopping the chances are you’ll find what you’re looking for here. It’s one of the largest pedestrian shopping areas in the world. It is very clean and you get the sense that people here have plenty money, lots of very large designer shops (Louis Vuitton, Gucci, Moncler to name but a few).
- The Round Tower – The 17th century tower and observatory Rundetaarn, or the round tower, is the oldest functioning observatory in Europe. The observatory is encircled by an outdoor platform from which you have a magnificent view of the old part of Copenhagen. To get there you need to walk up the spiral walk, which is 268,5 meters long at the outer wall and only 85,5 meters long close to the core of the building. Great views await you at the top. We were here at noon when all the bells are ringing out accross the city which was a great experience.
- Rosenborg Castle – A royal hermitage set in the King’s Garden in the heart of Copenhagen, Rosenborg Castle features 400 years of splendor, royal art treasures and the Crown Jewels and Royal Regalia. We didn’t go inside but its a beautiful building to just experience and has the bonus of being located in a beautiful green space/park.
- Torvehallerne – a new take on the old marketplace concept. Situated in the city center next to the Nørreport train station, the market is enclosed in a two-part glass and steel structure which allows natural light to flood the indoor space. The high ceilings give way for the individual stalls, keeping in mind the history surrounding the produce they sell. Here one can find cuisines from around the world. Tea vendors, paleo take-aways, quality cafés, fishmongers and butchers, no matter what the fare, all the businesses operating from Torvehallerne are of the very highest quality. We wandered around for a while just browsing the different stalls and eateries, it was very busy and seats were hard to come by, but we got a table before too long and had a lovely lunch and drink before heading to the Metro to visit Christiania.
- Christiania – a former military base that sat abandoned for many years before becoming the neighborhood we know today. In 1971, a group of hippies broke down the barricades and began squatting there. Nowadays, approximately 900 people live in the area, comprising a community that has its own rules and regulations completely independent of the Danish government. It felt a little intimidating when we walked down the ‘street’ where they sell the cannabis, with someone at the start saying ‘no photos’ but it was fine and nobody bothered us. I’m glad I got to see it, such a different way of life from anything we know back home. As well as the residential space there are many cafes and small shops selling hand made goods.
- Church of our saviour – Our Saviour’s is one of Denmark’s most famous churches. Ever since the serpentine spire was inaugurated in 1752, is has been a popular passtime to climb the 400 steps to the top.
Here on the top, Our Saviour Himself stands on top of a golden globe and keeps watch over the royal city of Copenhagen. We didnt go up but its a very impressive structure.
- Dinner and drinks at Vesterbro. A very cool area with many bars, restaurants and night clubs. We had dinner here: https://www.restaurantgorilla.dk/ and drinks here: https://www.noho.bar/
- Changing of the guard at Amalienborg Palace – The ceremony takes place daily with the guard leaving Rosenborg Castle at 11:30 to arrive at Amalienborg Palace for the ceremony at 12:00. We were lucky that while in Copenhagen the Queen was in residence so the guards were accompanied by the Royal Guards music band. Very busy with lots of people trying to get pictures and videos so get there early to secure a good spot! Check out my video below, we literally bumped into the band as they were marching through Strøget.
- Little mermaid statue – sitting on a rock next to the promenade is surely the most famous landmark in the city. The sculptor Edvard Eriksen created the mermaid in 1913 as a tribute to the author Hans Christian Andersen, and it’s inspired by Andersen’s eponymous fairytale. When you get up close to the statue what will surprise you is how small it actually is, but you’ll have to take a photo because it’s simply one of those international identifiers. We knew before going that this was not exactly a ‘wow’ sight but when in Rome….
- Lunch in Skipperkroen Nyhavn. Nice Fish and chips in Nyhavn.
- Metro to the airport – The metro in Copenhagen is so simple to use and has the added bonus of being clean. We asked a few people to confirm we were on the right train and everyone was friendly and happy to help. A very quick and cheap option for getting around the city (especially to and from the airport).
- Copenhagen Airport – very nice with lots of high end stores (Saint Lauren, Gucci etc.)
Other things to do
Other things to do and see that we didn’t have time to or chose not to visit:
- Tivoli (closed when we were there in January but is supposed to be fabulous!)
- Museums – Throughout the city there are many museums showcasing the most important periods in Danish history.
- Canal Tours – take a boat tour through the canals to see some of the main sights.
- Rent a boat – you can rent a sustainable boat powered by solar energy. This would be a cool experience in summer.
- Botanical Garden
- Carlsberg Visitor Centre – currently closed for renovation.
Before we went everyone said that Copenhagen was super expensive, but in truth we didn’t find that to be the case. While not cheap we didn’t find the cost of drinks, food and transport much different to home (Edinburgh).
In summary its a very cool place for a weekend break. We went in January and it was super cold so might be better to go in the warmer months. It really is such a short flight from the UK with lots of fun things to see and do 🙂
Thanks for visiting my blog – if you have any questions or comments please leave them below.