Denmark – Copenhagen (Kobenhavn)
Copenhagen in my opinion is one of the most diverse, historically charged, beautiful cities I have yet visited. The city is the largest in Denmark and is also the capital city of the Kingdom of Denmark. We chose this as the third and final destination on our journey through Denmark from Germany as no trip to Denmark is complete without a visit to the capital. The city is in fact located on 2 separate islands namely the islands of Amager and Zealand. Most of the city is located on the island of Zealand and only a small portion on Amager with Sweden being a stones throw away. Malmö Sweden is located just across the strait of Øresund.
Copenhagen was founded around the 10th century and unlike many cities in Europe, largely escaped the destruction of the 2 world wars waged in the last century. There was some damaged caused by the Allied bombings of the city however this is nowhere near what the larger cities in Germany suffered. This has enabled the city to preserve a number of buildings in their original stated and did not need to be reconstructed after the war. This has enabled the Danes preserve these buildings as they were hundreds of years ago. This preservation added to the authentic feel knowing that these were the original buildings, as they were. I don’t know about you but to me, it makes a difference and it definitely felt different to me.
Red Bus Tour & Copenhagen Harbour Boat Tour
When I travel to new cities, I really find huge value in starting with the Red Bus Tours. This gives a very good overview of the city, where things are located and some of the history behind the noteworthy landmarks throughout the given city. The Red Bus Tour that we bought tickets for had 3 routes available, 2 by road and the 3rd being the harbour boat tour. The Bus tour I felt was not up to the same standard that we had experienced in London and Hamburg which we were a little disappointed about. That aside, it still provided a good overview of the main city sights and where everything was in relation to our accommodation.
The Harbor Tour more than made up for the disappointing Bus Tour as we had a live tour guide that spoke Danish, German and English. His knowledge and professionalism was really great and the hour long tour was one of the highlights of the trip. You get a real appreciation of how beautiful the city is and how the history of the city has dictated the development of the various areas.
The Little Mermaid and Others
The Little Mermaid is the most photographed statue in the city. I can often be seen teeming with tourists attempting to take a snap with lovely lass and that makes it quite a crowded hot spot. The statue is actually quite small being about the size of normal person.
The statue itself has been vandalized many times over its history with her head being cut off, her head together with arms being cut off, being blown up, covered in paint, wearing a Burka, wearing a bikini just to name a few things that the statue has had to endure during her lifetime.
The background to the statue is regrettable as it is very industrial with a number of smoke stacks and other paraphernalia which detracts from the statue itself. If you take a photo of her, try to take from the bottom looking up to minimize the unsightly background.
Copenhagen is alive with many statues and monuments paying tribute to it’s rich history in additions to it’s Nordic Mythological beliefs. Many of these have been constructed as fountains and are beautiful to see in action on a clear day.
Cathedrals & Churches
Two churches really stood out for us during our tour of the city namely the Church of Our Saviour and Friedrik’s Church or commonly known as The Marble Church. These 2 churches play a large role in defining the skyline of Copenhagen. Having visited London in the summer, the Marble Church has a strong resemblance to that of St. Pauls Cathedral. It also features and imposing dome structure that is green copper in colour and is adorned in gold gilding which shines bright when the sunlight catches it.
The Church of Our Saviour (left) was a truly unique building featuring a beautifully ornate gold gilded external spiral staircase that is open the public to climb to the top should you be in the mood to climb the stairs to the top. When the weather is clear, this vantage point provides a magnificent panorama of the centre of the city and is a social media posters delight.
Fredrick’s Church (Marmorkirken Right) forms the focal point of the Frederiksstaden district and is located west of Amalienborg Palace but can be seen from the tour buses that run through the city too.
Frederick’s Church has the largest church dome in Scandinavia with a diameter or span of 31m. The Dome has been constructed with 12 separate columns and has been fashioned after the famous St. Peter’s Basilica located in Rome. There is a gold inscription located on the entablature of the front portico are the words: HERRENS ORD BLIVER EVINDELIG (Translation: “the word of the Lord endureth for ever.” – 1 Peter 1:25, KJV).
I have seen many cathedrals across Europe and these are really worth going out of your way to visit. When the weather is good and the sun shining, the gold inlays of the buildings are highlighted and makes for spectacular photos.
Most noteworthy things in Denmark are expensive, even by European standards and eating out is no exception. A culture of street food and markets has developed out of necessity as eating out at restaurants can become exorbitantly expensive. The best food market that we discovered was the Torvehallerne KBH Food Market.
This market is located in 3 separate glass halls with a number of outside markets around and between these 3 main buildings. A disappointment was that dogs are not allowed inside the halls, so we were forced to leave our Ozzie outside. The markets are a mixture of raw produce, ready to eat food and drinks and home-ware outlets.
The presentation of the food was amazing with great care being placed on produce being of a high quality and most of all, fresh. The Danes are the 4th largest coffee consumers in the world with an average of 4 cups being consumed per person per day. This accounts for the amount of coffee shops and coffee culture in Denmark. In these types of markets, expect to find only the best quality coffee on offer as with such a high consumption comes also the demand for exceptionally high quality.
Pro Tip: there is a restaurant called Grød in the market and the offer a special caramel & apple porridge breakfast meal(right). Do yourself a favour and try this and I can guarantee you will not be sorry.
When doing a google search for Nyhavn, you will most likely be inundated with photos of colourful facades and old ships along the Nyhavn Canal. This is an absolutely breathtaking part of the city that is alive with restaurants, street side cafes and loads of tourists.
When walking along the promenade, one can see the house where H.C. Andersen lived when he was a resident in Copenhagen. There is also a huge amount of tourists attempting to take a selfie with the house in the background as it has been maintained in the original colours as it was back then.
There is an hour long harbour and city canal tour that leaves from this point. It costs approx. 50 DKK and is really well worth it. It is narrated by a live guide and provides a really beautiful perspective of the city.
Copenhagen is competing with the likes of Amsterdam in the Netherlands for the top spot related to being the most bicycle friendly city in the world. The Danes have been at the forefront of the drive to promote the use of either public transportation or clean energy vehicles, ie bicycles. They have done this by requiring new cars to be exorbitantly taxed prompting some to possibly reconsider their decision to purchase one.
Denmark has been investing heavily in infrastructure in the form of their road and bridge network but more importantly in their bus and tram systems within the boundaries of Copenhagen. Before visiting Copenhagen, it’s always a good idea to download the local public transport app which is DSB in this case. This is for the entire Denmark and will assist with ticket purchases, route planning and all other topics related to travelling in Denmark.
Denmark is an incredibly beautiful city and cycling is a way of life for most residents of the city. There are a number of companies operating in the city offering visitors the opportunity to experience this unique way of life and rental bicycles are made available at the touch of a button from your mobile phone. Companies such as Donkey Republic, Bar 50 and Bycyklen all offer rentals for various rates and combinations.
The principle of bicycle rental is similar to the car sharing arrangement that has become popular in Europe. It requires that you download the app, enter your details and credit card number for billing. Once this has been done, you will be able to access all the bikes that are registered to that particular company at the various stations located across the city. Some companies require that you return a rental to a station whereas others allow you to leave the bicycle where you want to provide this does not obstruct and walk or driveways.
It was our experience that compared to Germany, Denmark’s public transport system was in fact very expensive. However, when we looked at the country as a whole, it was expensive in all aspects and the public transport system is then no surprise. The system works well and the main station is supported by a tourist information centre should you be unsure of what to purchase or how the system works.
Dogs are allowed on the tram and underground system however not on all buses. We found that this was not clearly indicated which buses were no-dog buses and which ones were dog-friendly. On the same route to and from our apartment, we also saw the irregular application of the ruling of where dogs are allowed which does complicate things somewhat.
Fun Fact: There are 5 bicycles for ever 4 people in the city of Copenhagen. This is a testament to the culture of cycling in Denmark.
Tivoli Gardens, also known just as Tivoli, is the second oldest amusement park in Europe. Opened in 1846, the entertainment centre plays host to approx. 4.6 million visitors per year. The end of year brings with it the Christmas theme where the gardens are decked out with fake snow and a distinct winter feel. The gardens do not allow dogs into them and with good reason as the themed rides could excite or upset animals with the amount of screaming on the roller coaster for example.
The Gardens do not only offer themed amusement rides but also include a number of restaurants, shops, games and other entertainment. The Tivoli Food Hall is located adjacent to the gardens themselves and have a wide range of food and drinks on offer.
There are ticket automates located at the entrances of Tivoli where you can purchase tickets. Tickets on offer are “entrance only” or an “all-inclusive ticket” which allows access to the rides. Should you purchase an entrance ticket and wish to upgrade to ride, there are possibilities in the gardens to do so.
The Tivoli Gardens are extensive in layout and there is so much there to see. Allow an absolute minimum of 4 hours to see the gardens with the idea of spending an afternoon/evening there as the park is open till late in the evening.
A Short Summary
We spent a total of 3 days in total but felt that we should have shortened the stays in Aarhus and Odense to have more time in Copenhagen. There is just so much to see there and we were not able to get around to it all. We will return in Summer to Copenhagen to visit some of the sites that we were not able to get to. These include:
- The Ice Bar
- Statens Museum for Kunst
- The Royal Danish Theatre
- The Royal Danish Playhouse (left) and Opera House
The city is constantly changing and given the extensive list of things to see and do, one will need multiple visits to Copenhagen to cover it all. If you have any questions about our Copenhagen Adventure, leave something in the comments section and I will get back to you with an answer.