Copenhagen was the first of the Scandinavian cities I visited as part of a Baltic Cruise a couple of years ago and I was not sure what to expect; on the one hand, I know that Copenhagen has been around for a very long time, but on the other hand every Scandinavian export that I have come across is very modern, polished and innovative! Well, this is a city of contrasts and it will fascinate you and surprise you around every corner. You can get there easily from all over the UK and Europe – there are several budget airlines that fly there making a weekend break in the city a very attractive option.
What to do in Copenhagen and where to go
This will largely depend on how much time you have; there are loads of things to see – the local tourist website “what to do in Copenhagen” list, has a Top 30 attractions rather than the usual Top 10!
Because we only had about 8 hours in the city, when we decided what to do in Copenhagen, we wanted to just visit whatever could be easily reached on foot, and started in the historic old harbour, which is rather ironically named Nyhavn, or New Haven. This was once a very busy working harbour visited by ships from all over world; as such it was a rather down-market area frequented by sailors and prostitutes. Over a number of years the area was cleaned-up and gentrified, and today is a major tourist attraction and meeting place for the locals in summer. All the quaint old leaning houses have been spruced up and it is the perfect place to linger over a beer or eat in a fancy restaurant. The author Hans Christian Anderson loved Nyhavn – he famously lived in three different houses along the quayside!
This impressive structure is actually composed of 4 identical buildings in the Danish Rococco style and is presently home to the Queen of Denmark. Two of the four palaces can be toured, but we contented ourselves with a walking tour of the outside!
Copenhagen has many pedestrian streets which makes walking around a pleasure. Quite near the town centre you will find the famous Tivoli Gardens which will be celebrating its 175 anniversary in 2013. Today the Gardens are home to a huge amusement park with some death-defying rides, but there are also lovely gardens, large open spaces, fountains and many restaurants. It really comes alive at night, I am told; unfortunately we could not check that out for ourselves.
If you want a taste of what life was like back in the 70’s, go and see Christiania, a so-called “Free Town” where residents have created their own laid-back hippie-style village which, although frowned upon by the authorities, is allowed to continue its colourful existence. Be aware that this can be a rather dangerous area, controlled by drug lords and that you should avoid any photography in the area. It is really best to visit as part of a tour.
Art and Culture:
Copenhagen has a wealth of galleries and museums you can visit, starting with the ARKEN Museum of Modern Art, the Brede Vaerk – a museum of industrialization, and the Danish Film Institutes “Film House” which contains cinemas and an “edutainment”centre where you can learn all about film making. There is also a Geological museum and an Open Air Museum showcasing original farmhouses from all over the country.
If you like shopping, and are wondering what to do in Copenhagen, Denmark is the home of fine crystal, silver, and porcelain and one of the best places to shop for gifts is on the long pedestrian shopping street of Stroget. There are also many clothing stores and department stores.