We visited the beautiful city of Copenhagen for the first time at the beginning of September 2021. We should have gone in 2020, but COVID-19 forced us to cancel our trip. So this year, once we got our Green Passes, we decided it was time to go see the last Scandinavian capital we missed.
After doing some math, we ended up downloading the Copenhagen Card App and buying the 48 h Copenhagen Card for 83€ p.p./98.34$ p.p. It included free public transportation, free entrance to 83 attractions and museums, a free one-hour boat tour and a 20% discount on the 48h-hop-on-hop-off-bus-tour ticket. It ended up being an extremely good decision as we used it to visit for free the Museum of Copenhagen, which we didn’t plan to, and to take buses and metros at night and whenever our feet would not want to cooperate anymore after an entire day of walking around.
Anyway, I will include all the prices so you can do your math and see for yourself if the Copenhagen Card is worth it or not, depending on what you are planning to visit.
That said, let’s buckle up and start this “Two enchanting days in Copenhagen” and a new Scandinavian adventure without further ado!
We left our home very early in the morning and went through a 2-hour flight from Dublin to Copenhagen, arriving at the city airport around 9.30 am (local hour). From there we activated our Copenhagen Card through the same app, and took the metro to Nørreport Station.
Once there, we used the app of the hop-on-hop-off company (Stromma) to truck the closest bus stop and the location of the bus itself.
1. Hop-on-hop-off bus tour
We did all the tour till the end, getting off only to have a look at the famous Little Mermaid, Gefion Fountain, and the Anglican Church of St Alban.
Stromma Hop On – Hop Off Bus 48h Ticket: 179DKK/ 24.07€/ 28.5$ p.p. (as already said, with the Copenhagen Card we got a 20% discount).
2. Little Mermaid
The Little Mermaid was a gift from Danish brewer Carl Jacobsen to the City of Copenhagen.
Hans Christian Andersen’s fairy tale, whose character Carl Jacobsen fell in love with after watching a ballet performance based on it, inspired the sculpture.
It has several times been the victim of vandalism. Twice she has lost her head, once they sawed off her arm, and several times they had paint poured on her. But every time they managed to rescue and restore her, even though the one we can all see in Copenhagen harbour is a copy as the sculptor’s heirs keep the original at an undisclosed location.
3. Gefion Fountain
The Gefion Fountain features a large-scale group of animal figures being driven by the legendary Norse goddess, Gefjun.
According to an ancient legend, the Swedish king Gylfe offered the goddess as much land as she could plough within one day and one night. So, she had transformed her four sons into immensely powerful oxen and had them plough so deeply in the ground that they raised the land and pulled it into the sea. This is how the island of Zealand, the island where Copenhagen is situated, was created.
We got off of the bus at the City Hall stop and from there we went to Vester Farimagsgade and had a delicious Vietnamese lunch at Pho Hanoi (really recommended).
From there, we reached Rådhuspladsen, where Copenhagen City Hall stands.
4. City Hall
The architect Martin Nyrop designed the City Hall in the National Romantic style, drawing inspiration from the Siena City Hall, Italy. It is – with its 105,6 m / 347 ft to the top of the tower – one of the tallest buildings in Copenhagen and offers a magnificent view of the city. Unfortunately, it was already closed when we arrived, thus we could only see it from outside and could not climb up to the tower.
City Hall Tower admission: 40 DKK/ 5.38€ / 6.38$ p.p. (free with the Copenhagen Card).
After that, we took Strøget and headed for the Cathedral.
King Frederik VI lay the foundation stone of this Neo-Classic Cathedral in 1817 on the site of an 11-century previous church.
Inside you can find Thorvaldsen’s sculptures, an interesting detail of this church, depicting Christ, above the altar, extends his arms in a welcoming gesture, and the twelve apostles insides of the nave. Paul has replaced Judas.
Afterwards, we reached Rundetårn.
Rundetårn, also known as the Round Tower, is a 17th-century 36-meter(118-foot)-tall tower and observatory. An outdoor platform from which you have a magnificent view of the old part of Copenhagen encircled the observatory. We got to the top, walking up the spiral walk, and a couple of flights of stairs.
Rundetårn admission fee: 40DKK/ 5.38€ / 6.38$ p.p. (free with the Copenhagen Card).
After that, we reached Amagertorv to see the Stork Fountain (Storkespringvandet), Denmark’s most famous fountain.
7. Stork Fountain
The Stork Fountain was a present to Crown Prince Frederik and Crown Princess Louise in connection with their upcoming silver wedding anniversary in 1888, as, back in time, this animal was a symbol of happiness. They described it as loving, family-oriented, faithful and linked with the fruitfulness waters. If the Stork made a nest on your roof, it could be a sign of luck in the future.
Nowadays, it is a popular meeting spot for locals and tourists.
Then we went to Nyhavn, famous for its beautiful coloured old houses which give this part of the city a very Amsterdam-ish vibe.
Originally, Nyhavn was a busy commercial port where ships from all over the world would dock. Sailors, ladies of pleasure, pubs and alehouses dominated the area. Today, the beautiful old houses have been renovated and restaurants dominate the old port. A perfect place to chill out in a relaxed atmosphere with views over the canal, jazz music and great food.
We then moved to Amalienborg Palace, famous for being Denmark’s royal family residence and for its Royal Guard, whose change takes place every day at noon.
9. Amalienborg Palace
Surrounding the palace square with its statue of King Frederik V from 1771, Amalienborg comprises four identical buildings. These are Christian VII’s Palace (also known as Moltke’s Palace, used as a guest residence), Frederik VIII’s Palace (also known as Brockdorff’s Palace, home of the Crown Prince family), Christian IX’s Palace (also known as Schack’s Palace, home of the Queen) and Christian VIII’s Palace (also known as Levetzau’ Palace, used as a guest palace for Prince Joachim and Princess Benedikte). In this building, you’ll find Amalienborg Museum. Unfortunately, it will be closed until January 2022 as they are preparing a new exhibition for the Queen’s Golden Jubilee.
Admission fee: 95 DKK/ 12.8€ / 15$ p.p. (free with the Copenhagen Card).
Thereafter, we visited the awe-inspiring Frederik’s Church, also known as Marble Church, with the characteristic copper green dome.
10. Frederik's Church
Frederik’s Church lies beautifully in line with Amalienborg castle and The Opera in the middle of the elegant area of Frederiksstaden, hence its official name.
King Frederik V laid the foundation stone in 1749 as part of a grand plan of making a new city district called Frederiksstaden. Then the king died, they run out of funds, and suspended the project for 100 years. They finally inaugurated the church in 1894, but they originally meant it to be made all of marble, hence the unofficial name, while in the end things went differently.
Finally, we took the 2A bus from Børsgade to Refshaleøen, a former industrial site in the harbour of Copenhagen, that now hosts Reffen, the coolest organic street food market I have been to.
In this 6000 m2 / 64583 ft2 area you’ll find over 50 start-ups as food stalls, bars and creative workshops from all over the world, projecting over another 4000m2 area by the water, which is perfect for enjoying your dishes and drinks with front-row views of Copenhagen harbour, especially at sunset. We loved it!
After a delicious breakfast at one of the many Emmerys in the city, where we tasted the famous cinnamon roll and swirl, we headed for the National Museum of Denmark to see the Viking Age exhibition.
12. National Museum of Denmark (Viking Age Exhibition)
The Viking Age Exhibition of the National Museum of Denmark comprises two parts: first, you experience Denmark’s largest collection of treasures from that age, and the remains of the world’s largest Viking ship, the legendary Danish Viking ship “Roskilde 6” with an incredible length of 37.4 m/ 123 ft.
Then you join the Vikings’ raid through a cinematic story, a special exhibition called “The Raid”, that narrates the story of Björn Ironside, who, ignited by the desire for adventure and riches, sailed with an entire fleet of 62 ships for Rome. On their way to Rome, though, they succumb to the Sultan of Cordoba’s new incendiary weapon: the Greek fire.
The exhibition is the first part of a trilogy. In 2024, the National Museum will present the next exhibition which focuses on the Vikings in the 10th Century.
Admission fee: 100 DKK/ 13.5€ / 15.9$ p.p. (free with the Copenhagen Card).
After the Museum, we had lunch in a lovely restaurant in Kompagnistræde called “Riz Raz”.
Later, we visited Christiansborg Palace.
13. Christiansborg Palace
Christiansborg Palace stands surrounded by canals hosting the Queen, the Danish parliament, the Supreme Court, and the Ministry of State.
When the Royal Family is not using Christiansborg Palace, as they use parts of the palace for various functions and events, it is possible to visit the palace on a guided tour or on your own. The palace has five attractions to visit: The Royal Reception Rooms with The Great Hall and the Queen’s tapestries, where the Queen receives foreign ambassadors to Denmark, The Royal Stables, The Royal Kitchen, The Ruins under the palace and Christiansborg Palace Chapel.
The Prime Minister of Denmark also uses The Royal Reception Rooms in connection with state visits by foreign state leaders. They used the Alexandra Hall for official dinners.
With its 106 m/ 348 ft, the Christiansborg Palace tower is the highest in Copenhagen, and it offers a magnificent view of the city’s rooftops. It is free to access the tower, and if you want to add some spice to the experience, you can dine in The Tower’s restaurant.
Palace admission fee: 160 DKK/ 21.5€ / 25.4$ p.p. (free with the Copenhagen Card).
From there, we went to Gammel Strand and took a wonderful canal boat tour.
14. Canal boat tour
Not only we sailed past some of the best sights in the city, such as The Little Mermaid, the Old Stock Exchange, the Opera, the Black Diamond, Christiansborg, but also through the colourful and lively Christianshavn where people enjoy the summer along the canals, which are a not even that subtle “re-proposal” of the ones in Amsterdam.
Canal boat tour price: 99 DKK/ 13.3€ / 15.7$ p.p. (free with the Copenhagen Card).
After the tour, we crossed the canal and took the 2A bus to Freetown Christiania, the “hippy district” of Copenhagen.
Christiania is a former military base that sat abandoned for many years before being occupied by a group of hippies in 1971. Nowadays, approximately 900 people live in the area, comprising a community that has its own rules and regulations, completely independent of the Danish government.
During its relatively brief history, Freetown Christiania has faced a certain amount of turmoil. This is mainly because of the cannabis trade (illegal elsewhere in Denmark) taking place in its famous “Green Light District”.
Today, even though many stalls have been forced to close due to conflicts surrounding drugs in the area and many residents are said to be campaigning to clear Christiania of all drug activity, you can still see many of them selling drugs in the open air and people coming by and buy it. That’s the reason you may not take any pictures while there.
That said, I will tell our first-hand experience.
We entered Christiana from a little gate surrounded by some old buildings completely covered in graffiti. Near the gate, a woman was singing and playing the guitar. No signs telling us we could not take pictures or film, thus we went ahead while taking pictures and videos.
We arrived then in a little square surrounded by some local shops, a bar and a little building turned into a staking rink where some kids were skating while a man was filming them. I was taking some pictures and my husband was filming, when an old woman approached us menacingly telling us it was not ok to take pictures because there were children around. I apologised naively, telling her we didn’t know as there were no signs till that point “inviting” not to take pictures. Thinking about it, it makes sense to me they didn’t want me to take pictures where a minor might be in, even though my intent was all but mischievous.
Then, though, we went past the corner and, besides the state of complete degradation and filth of the entire area -which was deplorable-, there were plenty of people selling cannabis at stalls and others doing it all over the place. Not to mention, other people wandering around with those vacant expressions typical of someone in some heavy drug haze.
At that exact moment, not only did I feel totally out of place, unease, almost on the line, and with a strong desire to get out of there as soon as possible, but I also felt stupid for being so naïve and having apologized for taking pictures where kids could inoffensively be in, while the same people allow others to sell and do drugs next to minors like it was nothing. I think that is silly and totally out of this world. This is just my opinion, though.
We had great expectations for this place. We planned to spend there the rest of the evening, maybe have something to eat before coming back to the city centre, but we ended up taking just a quick stroll and running away as fast as possible.
Make no mistake, I have nothing against it, but I really disliked the vibe of that place, so I ran like hell out of the place, back to “normal” Copenhagen, never to return.
Afterwards, we took the 2A bus back to the city centre.
16. Tivoli Gardens
Tivoli Gardens amusement park is just a few minutes walk from City Hall, and next to the Copenhagen Central Station.
It was founded in 1843 and has become a national treasure and an international attraction. Fairytale writer Hans Christian Andersen visited many times, as did Walt Disney and many other celebrities, who all fell in love with the gardens.
Part of Tivoli Gardens’ secret is that there is something for everyone. The scenery is beautiful, with exotic architecture, historic buildings and lush gardens. At night, thousands of coloured lights create a fairy tale atmosphere that is unique.
Tivoli’s oldest and most popular ride, the wooden Roller Coaster from 1914, is one of only seven roller coasters worldwide that have a brakeman on board every train.
When it comes to food, you can choose from a broad selection of restaurants. You’ll find everything from traditional Danish cuisine to French bistro to gourmet burgers.
Entrance fee: 135 DKK/ 18.2€ / 21.4$ p.p. (free with the Copenhagen Card) + additional fee if you want to try the rides.
After a stroll all around it, we took the 5C bus to the Nørrebro neighbourhood, as we were curious to try a restaurant we saw in one of the many Netflix shows we watched about food and restaurants all over the world.
In an episode of this TV show about pizza, they showed this restaurant called “Bæst” and their innovative project which includes the making of Neapolitan pizza in a wooden oven and with 0 km products they grow/breed themselves in the Danish countryside, such as San Marzano Tomato, cows and sheep for dairies, and pig for charcuterie.
We had very delicious pizzas followed by a good tiramisù, and then went back to our hotel. And with that, these “Two enchanting days in Copenhagen” came to an end.
We like this city with its stunning monuments and incredible history. We appreciated its multiculturalism and loved the Viking exhibition in the National Museum of Denmark and Reffen with its incredible vibe and the view over the canal at sunset.
Many people asked us about the similarity with Amsterdam, and which one was the most beautiful. So answering that, let’s start by telling we noticed this resemblance only in the canal part of the city which was inspired (if not copied) from the Dutch capital. Apart from that, Copenhagen has its layout and identity different from Amsterdam. So, telling which one is more beautiful depends on everyone’s taste. We love Amsterdam and believe its canals and peculiar layout give it a magical and unique atmosphere difficult to replicate, while to the eyes of a tourist Copenhagen may seem dispersive as between a landmark and another we can find skyscrapers and modern buildings. That said, each of them is unique and beautiful in its way, and we are extremely happy to have had the chance to visit them both!
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