Copenhagen has topped the Lonely Planet top 10 list of cities to visit in 2019. They describe it as ‘the ‘capital of cool’, Scandinavia’s undisputed ‘It Kid’, an ever evolving, forever surprising epicenter of show-stopping dining, innovative design and enviably good living’ and I couldn’t agree more.
After my recent trip to Copenhagen, I have picked out 10 things I most enjoyed, and if you are planning a 2019 trip to Denmark’s cool capital you might find this useful.
#1 Explore Tivoli Gardens – Copenhagen’s Playground
I am not ashamed to say I turned into a big kid in Tivoli Gardens ;-). It is a world famous amusement park in central Copenhagen offering a huge variety of rides, beautiful gardens and a unique ambience for all ages. Fun fact: it is the second oldest amusement park in the world having opened its doors in 1843 and was also the inspiration for Walt Disney to build Disneyland.
#2 Visit Rosenborg Castle
If like me you are a fan of anything royal, you will not be disappointed by a visit to this castle. Rosenborg Castle was built by one of the most famous Scandanaivan Kings, Christian IV in the early 17th Centrury. Located in the north of the city, it is an easy 20 minute walk from Tivoli Gardens. Here you can have a gander at the Crown Jewels, royal art treasures and wonderfully decorated interiors in the Dutch Renaissance style. The beautifully landscaped Rosenborg Castle Gardens are also great for a relaxing stroll.
#3 Visit Amalienborg Palace
Keeping with the royal theme, pay a visit to Amalienborg Palace which is the Danish Royal Residence. Four identical classical palaces are built around an octagonal courtyard, one for each of the four noble families who lived here. When Christianborg burnt down in 1794, the royal family purchased Amalienborg. Be sure to visit at noon to see the changing of the Royal guard from their barracks near Rosenborg Castle through Copenhagen’s streets to Amalienborg, it is quite captivating.
#4 Learn History in the National Museum
The visit to the Danish National Museum brought back memories of history lessons with the exhibitions from the Stone Age, the Viking Ages and Middle Ages. It also houses the Renaissance and Modern Danish History. The museum is situated in the city centre, 4 minutes’ walk from Tivoli Gardens, in the Prince Palace built in 1743. It boasts a large ethnographical collection, an array of classical and eastern antiquities, and an impressive collection of viking ‘bling’. I found the Huldermose Woman, whose well preserved remains are estimated to date back to the very first decade AD.
#5 Discover Freetown Christiania
This is Copenhagen’s alternative neighbourhood, it is unlike any place I have ever visited. The residents follow counter cultural beliefs based on the hippie movement, anarchism and Marxism. It is a community that prides itself on being free of violence. Smoking marijuana is an integral part of the lifestyle here. From the minute we entered the commune, the smell of it was heavy in the air. Although cannabis is illegal in the rest of Copenhagen, it is tolerated in Christiania, however hard drug have no place here and signs to that effect are prominent throughout.
The buildings are covered in beautiful vibrant street art created from mostly reused materials. There is a funky selection of cafes and vegan restaurants as well. Even if all you do is walk through the streets of Christiania and appreciate the art, it is truly unique and well worth the visit.
#6 Explore Nyhavn Harbour
This is probably the most recognisable area of Copenhagen with its rows of colourful buildings by the beautiful waterfront. This area has a hint of Amsterdam with the boats lining the canal. It is a great place for an alfresco meal or drink in one of the many traditional restaurants, cafes and bars.
#7 Visit the iconic Little Mermaid
The Little Mermaid statue is much smaller than what you would expect at less than five feet tall. She sits on a rock near the shore a short walk from the city centre. Most people are familiar with the fairytale written by Hans Christian Andersen in 1837 about a mermaid who gives up everything to be united with a young, handsome Prince on land. Every morning and evening she swims to the surface from the bottom of the sea and perches on her rock in the water staring longingly towards the shore hoping to catch a glimpse of her beloved Prince. In 1909 Carl Jacobsen the founder of Carlsberg Breweries fell in love with the character and commissioned the sculptor Edvard Eriksen to create a sculpture of the mermaid. Eriksen’s wife posed for the statue. Disney’s ‘Little Mermaid’ Ariel has introduced a whole new generation to the story.
#8 Stroll through Stroget
Stroget is one of the longest pedestrian streets in Europe. There is a great mix of shops ranging from luxury brands like Louis Vuiton, Prada and Gucci to more budget friendly chains. If shopping is not what you are there for, they have an impressive array of restaurants bars and cafes where you can sit, people watch or simply while away the time.
#9 Fall in love with Jazz in La Fontaine
Copenhagen and Jazz have a long history dating back to the 1920’s when it made its first appearance in Europe. The city has become the jazz capital of Europe ( some even say the world). The legendary Jazz Festival is held there every July, which I hear is a wonderful time to visit.
There are many renowned jazz clubs in the city but we only managed to get into La Fontaine which was an amazing experience. The cozy atmosphere and the talent on stage made for a super night. It is a small venue so be sure to get in early as it can get crowded.
#10 Take a boat tour down the canals
Normally when I visit a new city, I like to take the hop on hop off bus tour as it is a great way to discover the lay of the land. However, most places in Copenhagen are within walking distance and I personally thought the bus tour was unnecessary. The boat tour however gives a great alternative view of the city with most sites visible whilst sailing through the charming canals.
So if Scandanavia is on your bucket list, I can’t recommend Copenhagen enough. It is a small accessible city with laid back locals, stylish ‘Scandi’ design, and a vibrant yet intimate vibe that invites you to get under its skin.