Copenhagen was not at all what I expected it to be yet it left me yearning to experience more of the Danish way of life. My friend Kristy and I arrived on a freezing cold Thursday evening and quickly navigated ourselves to our Airbnb in trendy Vesterbro so that we could get some rest. Over the next three days, we toughed out the cold rainy weather and trekked our way across the city. Copenhagen is a perfectly manageable size and we feel like we were able to explore it fairly well in a weekend! Spending more time in Scandinavia (though perhaps, in the summer) is definitely on my travel bucket list.
A weekend in Copenhagen:
In order to get a feel for the city right away, we signed up for a “Free Tour of Copenhagen” that kicked off at 11am on Friday morning. This tour is rated #1 on Trip Advisor and completely lived up to our expectations! We enjoyed it so much that we ended up signing up for a Pub Crawl and a different walking tour with the same company. The walking tours rely on tips, so it is up to you to decide how much you thought the tour was worth! We took the Grand Tour of Copenhagen to kick off our trip on Friday and the Christianhavn tour on Saturday afternoon. We had great tour guides on both that made our time cheerful even in the freezing cold! I recommend doing a walking tour in any city to get a good feel for the area and learn a lot of history in a little bit of time.
Unfortunately, Copenhagen has burnt down several times over its long history and is sort of a collection of buildings from various decades. While it does not contain the same ancient architectural feats as Rome or the cohesiveness of Oxford, Copenhagen is still absolutely beautiful. The Danes love efficiency, timeliness, and practicality. We were very surprised at how industrial the city was! I especially loved Nyhavn – an old sailor’s post refurbished into beautiful colorful buildings where Han Christian Anderson once lived.
Our first tour, The Grand Tour of Copenhagen, lasted 3 hours and took us all around the city. We saw the City Hall, Christiansborg palace, old City Center, Nyhavn harbor, The Royal Opera, and the Royal Palace of Amalienborg. Here are my favorite pictures from around the city! Our tour guide, Biran, also taught us my new favorite word: hygge which describes a general feeling or mood that comes from taking pleasure in every day moments. It can be used to describe clothing, a coffee date, or anything that creates a nice warm atmosphere and is pronounced hue-guh.
Our second tour, Christianshavn, showed us a different side of Copenhagen life. We walked down cobblestone neighborhood roads, talked about architecture and unique churches, and ended in the Free Town of Christiania. This area was created during a housing shortage in Copenhagen when a bunch of locals moved into abandoned military housing. By the time the government tried to kick them out, it was too late. Today, drugs are basically legal and a few hundred people (including children!) call it home. It is completely safe to walk through and quite a cool area to see. Unfortunately, I do not have any photos, as they are not allowed (for obvious reasons). The neighborhood has a very vibrant and important influence on the art in Copenhagen.
On Saturday morning while the weather held, Kristy and I decided to sign up for a guided canal boat tour. This is another great way to see a lot in a little bit of time. From the water, we saw the Copenhagen Opera House, Amalienborg Palace, Christianborg Palace, Black Diamond Library, and the very tiny Little Mermaid statue. This is a very relaxing way to see the city.
My favorite part about Copenhagen was their cool indoor food markets! We made 2 trips out to the Copenhagen Street Food market on Paper Island, which is unfortunately a temporary set up. I’m so glad that I got to visit while it is still open! I tried a Danish hot dog, pizza, and a cream filled doughnut that was heated with a blowtorch and then covered in ice cream and chocolate syrup. We also got to meet up with our fellow Teaching Fellow Nathan here who is studying in Copenhagen and absolutely loving it!
On Sunday, we had a relaxing day and visited Torvehallerne, Copenhagen’s glass food market. There are two indoor areas here full of all types of vendors and an outdoor area with a farmer’s market and gorgeous flowers. We ate Denmark’s famous smørrebrød open faced sandwiches for lunch and then stopped by later for a Danish dessert called Romkugler. If I lived here I would visit every week to pick up groceries! There are so many amazing things to try.
Finally, we visited the Rosenborg Castle – only a 10 minute walk from the glass market. This gorgeous castle built by the Scandinavian King, Christian the IV in the early 17th century and is surrounded by public parks. We spent a couple hours exploring the gorgeous grounds and the museum located inside the castle itself. I couldn’t believe how grand it was! There are incredible jewel-incrusted crowns and tapestries, beautiful glass collections, and lots of portraits of various royalties. This was an absolutely perfect way to end the trip!