Famed for little more than the Little Mermaid statue and Tivoli Gardens, the wonders of Copenhagen are known by few people. Copenhagen is a sizzling city which houses an eclectic mix of European culture and history, as well as a deep background in Nordic food.
Copenhagen, known locally as København, was given its name due to its origins as a merchants’ harbour. Consequently, one of the most famous attractions in Copenhagen is Nyhavn. Originally a busy commercial port for ships to dock, today the port is a perfect picture-postcard scene of beautiful rainbow coloured houses.
One of the most famous attractions in Copenhagen is Nyhavn
A gorgeous place to visit at any time of the year due to its relaxed atmosphere and quaint restaurants, Nyhavn is especially enjoyable during summer. It’s the perfect place to end a long day of exploring with gorgeous food and jazz music in the air by the canal.
If you have the time, have a look at one of the many houses lining the quay which have housed prominent artists. House no. 20 was where Hans Christian Andersen lived when he wrote fairytales such as ‘the Tinder-Box’, ‘Little Claus and Big Claus’, and ‘the Princess and the Pea’.
For those looking for a shopping spree during their trip, Denmark boasts Strøget, one of Europe’s longest pedestrian streets. The 1.1km stretch covers the streets Frederiksberggade, Nygade, Vimmelskaftet and Østergade, running from City Hall Square to Kongens Nytorv square. LEGO Group, one of the world’s best-known Danish toy manufacturers also has a flagship store on the street. This is well worth a visit, housing an interactive play area that gives you the chance to build and create your very own Lego characters as souvenirs to bring back!
If you can only make one trip, try their famous ‘Sport’s Cake’, a house specialty made with crushed nougat…
In the centre of Strøget, you will also come across the highly popular patisserie, La Glace. It’s unmissable with its consistently long queues throughout the day. To dine-in requires at least a 45 minute wait, so the trick is to ask for the takeaway selection and they’ll usher you right past the queue! You will undoubtedly be spoilt for choice; La Glace has an impressive selection of delicious cakes made from the best ingredients, keeping customers coming back for more. If you can only make one trip, try their famous ‘Sport’s Cake’, a house specialty made with crushed nougat, whipped cream, a macaroon bottom and caramalised choux pastry. Yum!
Denmark is renowned for housing some of the oldest amusement theme parks in the world. Tivoli Gardens is the second oldest amusement park in the world after Dyrehavsbakken in Klampenborg. It is world-renowned and may possibly be the most famous place to visit in Copenhagen. Inside, there are a plethora of rides, activities and exhibits for everyone to see.
A must-do attraction is the theme park’s wooden roller coaster, Rutschebanen, built in 1914. Still fully operational today, it’s manually operated by an operator who rides in the carriage with you, definitely a talking point of the trip!
Seated at Langelinje Pier, there is one statue that most guidebooks will tell you can’t be missed: The Little Mermaid Statue. The sculpture was inspired by Hans Christian Andersen’s fairytale about a mermaid who gives up everything to be united with a young, handsome prince on land. The Little Mermaid was a gift to the city of Copenhagen from Danish brewer Carl Jacobsen and turned 100 years old in 2013. She has gone through some rough times and has been decapitated twice, had her arm sawn off and even had paint poured on her! However she remains intact and restored in her place at the pier.
For a little something off the beaten track, visit Christiana. A place of alternative living founded in 1971, the Freetown of Christiana is an entirely unique place which houses a society within a society. Today, around 1000 people live and work in Christiana, mainly as artisans.
The community works on collective ownership, only paying the Danish state for water and electricity. The whole area was officially made a legal free town in 2011 when Christiana bought the whole area from the state for DKK 76.5 million. Christiana has its own flag and even currency, Løn (although Danish crowns are accepted here as well).
The Little Mermaid was a gift to the city of Copenhagen from Danish brewer Carl Jacobsen and turned 100 years old in 2013.
Walk through the town and visit the infamous Pusher Street where one can illegally buy pot, hash and other soft drugs. However, do note that cameras are not allowed! Christiana is truly one of a kind, and for many people, has become a symbol of Danish liberal lifestyle.
Being a culturally rich country, Copenhagen houses many historical attractions such as the Amalienborg and Christiansborg palaces, Rosenborg Castle and Frederik’s Church. These attractions are ornately decorated and serve as a good representation of the depth of history and royal wealth that Copenhagen once flaunted. Do take the time to visit the Rundetaarn as well, which is known as the oldest functioning observatory in Europe. One of its interesting features is that you can see the tower’s core by standing on a glass floor 25 metres above the ground.
Danes are known for their food. With 15 Michelin-starred restaurants, Copenhagen is increasingly recognised as an international gourmet destination.
Throughout your trip, don’t forget to have a taste of the local Danish delights, as the Danes are known for their food. With 15 Michelin-starred restaurants, Copenhagen is increasingly recognised as an international gourmet destination. Local restaurant Noma, specialising in Nordic cuisine, has been named Best Restaurant in the World in 2010, 2011, 2012 and again in 2014. Apart from high-end cuisine, there are many eateries that serve quintessentially Danish cuisine. A very common and traditional Danish dish is Smørrebrød, an open sandwich usually served on traditional rye bread. Danish pastries are also another crowd favourite, which can be sampled from numerous bakeries around the city. Copenhagen is well worth a visit; a city that has a heartbeat of its own and will leave you coming back for more.
Photos courtesy of Nicole Teh, Joanna Hill and moluda via Flickr.