Copenhagen, Denmark, is said to be the happiest city in the world, and it's no wonder that I am on a happy high after last week! I spent 4 days in the city, exploring the waterways and parks, getting an eyeful of the famed Danish design, plus a couple of fun experiences and of course plenty of Nordic cuisine! Here's my pick of the top things to do in Copenhagen; a photo-guide to a beautiful and world-class city.
The Canals & Waterfronts
Christianshavn Canal is one of most picturesque places in Copenhagen. From the canal, the freetown of Christiania is a short walk. It's what I imagine Woodstock would have looked like. No pix, as photography is not allowed inside, you will just have to take my word for it!
On the way to Christiania, drop by at the Church of Our Saviour, with its iconic spire and the spiral staircase hugging it from the outside. Climb the 400 steps to the top for a fantastic view of the city.
Nyhavn is one of the most well-known images of Copenhagen. This canal is lined with lovely colourful buildings, many of which house restaurants, cafes and shops. I recommend Nyhavns Færgekro for smørrebrød and schnapps.
Many of Copenhagen's attractions are along its extensive waterfronts. My favourite was the shiny Black Diamond Library building. Take a canal boat tour to see the city from the water. Tours depart from Nyhavn and Gammel Strand, with English and Danish commentary.
View from PapirØen, which houses Copenhagen Street Food - a cool collection of food trucks and stalls from around the world.
Instead of taking the car or taxi to work, most Copenhagen locals bike everywhere. There are city bikes that you can rent from street corners, or take a guided city tour with Cycling Copenhagen. On the bike tour, I came across Sogreni (on Skt Peders Stræde), a shop that handcrafts gorgeous bikes.
The city has dedicated bike lanes and several bridges exclusively for bikes. The newest of the bike bridges is the Circle Bridge on Christianshavn Canal, which has a unique design with five circular platforms. The bright orange skyway, or the Snake Bridge (below), opened last year and it's a pleasure to go cycling on.
I have one word for you - Torvehallerne! It's a covered market where you will find everything from coffee, beer & wine to smørrebrød, pizza & sushi, and everything in between. There's also a fresh produce market, including fruits, vegetables, meat and poultry.
(Truer words have not been spoken. Skål!)
Food & Drink
Schnapps & Beer
P.S. Head to Visit Carlsberg for a Copenhagen 'Exbeerience'!
And of course try some New Nordic cuisine! My favourite meal in Copenhagen was at Manfred & Vin on Jægersborggade in Nørrebro district. More about the meal in a separate post.
End with a coffee at Coffee Collective, also on Jægersborggade.
At the Viking Ship Museum in Roskilde (35km from Copenhagen) you can not only see restored Viking ships, but also eat a Viking lunch, and most importantly, pretend to be a Viking and go sailing out in the fjord! Easily the most fun experience I had in Copenhagen.
Another short trip outside Copenhagen is to the Kronborg Castle in the town of Helsingør (50km from Copenhagen). This castle was the inspiration behind Elsinore in Shakespeare's Hamlet.
Take a guided tour of the castle with 'Horatio', who really brings alive Hamlet for you!
Hans Christian Andersen
Denmark's beloved writer Hans Christian Andersen lived (and died) in Copenhagen. There is a Fairy-Tale House on Rådhuspladsen where you can see an exhibition about the writer and his works. You can also visit his grave at Assistens Cemetery.
The cemetery itself is a beautiful, green, public space where locals jog, bike and even picnic!
No trip to Copenhagen is complete without a visit to Tivoli Gardens, a 19th-century amusement park and pleasure garden. It's the second oldest theme park in the world, and features a 100-year old wooden roller coaster. You have gotta try it!
Everybody heads to Strøget, the longest pedestrian street in Europe, lined on either side by fancy shops, cafes and restaurants. But for a different (non-touristy) experience, explore Jægersborggade, in Nørrebro. This street has many small, artisanal shops where you can buy vintage items, handmade Danish design of all sorts, and of course lots of places to rest your feet and grab a bite.
As you can see, the popular Little Mermaid is conspicuous by her absence. That's because I didn't go pay her a visit. I just caught a glimpse of her on the canal boat tour, so here's a picture of her back. Notice the cascading curls on her back? Not a perspective you usually see. Oh, and I have no idea what that photo-bomber is doing, and I don't want to know!
Hope you have enjoyed this photo-guide on what to see and do in Copenhagen. I will be doing more detailed posts / features soon. The photo below is of Højbro Plads, a public square where the equestrian statue of Absalon stands. Absalon was the 12th-century bishop-warrior who built the first fortification of the city that is today's Copenhagen.
Have you been to Copenhagen? What is your favourite spot? Do share in the comments below.
Disclosure: This was a press trip by Scandinavian Tourist Board, India, and Visit Copenhagen.
Labels: Copenhagen, Denmark, Photoessay, travel