Copenhagen Travel Guide | Places to see & things to do

Dear Readers,

This blog post on Copenhagen travel guide & two others on (Geranium & food experiences) Copenhagen are very special because they are penned down by my husband 😉 Rajeev.

He’s so proactive in planning our trips and putting things together that it would have been ditzy on my part to not invite him to write a comprehensive blog post on our trip. I personally gush over his writing style because it’s really different compared to mine. Rajeev is super meticulous with anything he lays his hands on and is almost never satisfied with anything that isn’t up to his pristine standard. If I’d been the one to write all 3 Copenhagen blog posts, he’d probably give me a listicle full of feedback which is why it’s best that Rajeev writes them himself. Happy Reading folks and a big, warm, heartfelt gratitude to my Raj for taking this up. 

*smiling ear to ear*

Best,

Aakansha



Aakansha and I unashamedly profess ourselves to be foodies. We plan our vacations around food. People have lists of things to see and do when they travel. We have lists of restaurants to dine at and street food to gorge on. Our trip to Copenhagen was a much needed escape in almost a year. So without breaking tradition, we started planning our trip around every kind of culinary experience Copenhagen had to offer. This blog post entails all the things you must do in Copenhagen apart from food. This is your trusted Copenhagen travel guide.

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I have broken down our trip into 3 blog posts. The first will talk about (and show) the magnificent city of Copenhagen in all its glory. You will read about (almost) everything to see and do in this wonderful Nordic city. The second post will be all about mouth-watering, tantalizing, jaw-dropping food in this city. If you truly love to eat, Copenhagen is surely a bucket list city. The third and final post will be about our absolutely decadent dinner at the 3 Michelin starred, 2nd best restaurant in the world, Geranium.

I hope you enjoy reading about and drooling over Copenhagen.

Copenhagen- A city like no other

One of the first things we noticed about Copenhagen was how well organized, efficient and sustainable the city is. Public transport is freakishly reliable, a big chunk of cars on the roads are electric, there are dedicated cycling lanes throughout the city and the people are friendly, welcoming and absolute in obeying the law. Denmark is always high on the list of happiest countries in the world and it feels like it once you spend a few days in the city.f2e1a0e0-70dc-4f7c-a6da-cde23d7b261b


A note about moving around in Copenhagen

Almost everyone cycles in Copenhagen. It is one of the best cities to explore on a bike and there are multiple bike rental apps available (Donkey Republic is the most used). However, you need to follow a set of strict rules when cycling anywhere and the penalties for breaking them are eye-watering to say the least. We tried our hand at cycling but concluded that it wasn’t for us. So we ended up buying an all-inclusive transport pass that allowed us to use buses, trains, metro and subway throughout the city.


Exploring the streets of Copenhagen. The building on the right is the old stock exchange
Exploring the streets of Copenhagen. The building on the right is the old stock exchange

Hygge (said hu-gae)  is a term you might encounter in Copenhagen. The Danes are obsessed with it. Basically it means a warm, happy feeling in your heart. You can feel hygge when you sit by a fire and sip hot chocolate on a cold December night. Or when you are out drinking beer with friends and having a great time. Or when you are digging into a delicious pastry at your favorite bageri (Danish for bakery) in the morning. Suffice to say at the end of our trip, the hygge was strong inside us.

Exploring the streets of Copenhagen
Exploring the streets of Copenhagen

Denmark has a global reputation for being a powerhouse of design and contemporary architecture and much of it is on display around the city. There are interesting modern buildings and complexes dotted throughout the city but there are several beautiful 17th and 18th century buildings if you are an admirer of classical architecture like me.

The Black Diamond Library...a prime specimen of modern architecture in Copenhagen
The Black Diamond Library (above) and the Danish Architecture Center (below)…..prime specimens of modern architecture in Copenhagen

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Christiansborg Palace is an example of classical architecture in Copenhagen
Christiansborg Palace is an example of classical architecture in Copenhagen

On that note, here is a list of things to do and places to see in Copenhagen

NYHAVN

Nyhavn harbor
Nyhavn harbor

Nyhavn (said new-haun) is that postcard perfect area of Copenhagen that you will see posted on all travel pages and websites when you research Copenhagen. Before it became the tourist hotspot of the city, it was a harbor where fishermen and merchants docked their boats in the 17th century all the way up to the 1960s. Now this area is perfect for chugging beer or sipping cocktails in one of the many restaurants that line the canal on either side while admiring the view of colorful buildings and docked boats.

Soaking up the winter sun at Nyhavn
Soaking up the winter sun at Nyhavn

Hans Christian Anderson, the famous Danish author of stories like The Little Mermaid and The Ugly Duckling lived in Nyhavn for 18 years.

The most quintessential activity to do when visiting Copenhagen is a canal tour that departs from Nyhavn and takes you around the waters surrounding Copenhagen and some of its internal canals. We did this tour on our 3rd day in Copenhagen and I highly recommend this tour. We could spot the statue of the Little Mermaid as well as an old Danish warship and submarine in the harbor.

WALKING TOUR OF COPENHAGEN

Our second day in Copenhagen started off with a 3 hour walking tour of the city. Aakansha and I prefer to do walking tours as they are a great way of learning about a city and its people and to familiarize ourselves with different areas of the city. We started this tour from Rådhuspladsen (the City Hall) and explored areas like Strøget (main shopping street), Christiansborg Palace, Frederik’s Church and Amalienborg Palace (the Danish Queen’s current residence). Here we were also able to witness the changing of the guards ceremony that takes place at noon everyday.

Exploring every nook and cranny of this magnificent city
Exploring every nook and cranny of this magnificent city

Our guide Laura gave us insights about Danish culture and history. What we found particularly saddening was that much of Copenhagen had been destroyed and subsequently rebuilt because of two massive fires that broke out in the city in 1728 and 1795.

CHRISTIANSBORG PALACE

Christiansborg Palace and the riding grounds
Christiansborg Palace and the riding grounds
Sunset view of Copenhagen from Christiansborg Palace tower
Sunset view of Copenhagen from Christiansborg Palace tower

Christiansborg Palace is a beautiful castle complex in the heart of the city that is now the Parliament building, Supreme Court and Prime Minister’s office all in one. The tower is freely accessible via a lift and offered breathtaking views of the city when Aakansha and I spontaneously decided to visit it moments before sunset. Right in front of the Palace is a riding ground and stable for the royal horses.

STRØGET STREET

Strøget is Copenhagen’s main shopping street where you will find any and every brand you can think of as well as lots of restaurants and cafes to take a break from your shopping spree. 

AMALIENBORG PALACE & FREDERIK’S CHURCH

Fredrik's Chruch
Frederik’s Chruch
Frederik's Church
Frederik’s Church

Amalienborg Palace is the Danish Queen’s current residence where she lives along with her son Frederik and his wife and kids. Our walking tour guide told us she is regarded as the coolest queen in the world. She speaks five languages, is educated from the best universities, paints, designs sets and costumes for theater and until recently had no qualms about chain smoking in public. 

She also illustrated the Danish language version of Lord Of The Rings books……now that’s a seriously cool queen.

TORVEHALLERNE FOOD AND PRODUCE MARKET

Copenhagen's best coffee at Torvehallerne market
Copenhagen’s best coffee at Torvehallerne market

Copenhagen’s central food market is situated inside two glasshouses. One of them has a large collection of casual restaurants and cafes with food from all across the globe. The other glasshouse is a produce market where you can buy all kinds of fruits, veggies, meats and cheeses. There’s also a flower market in the middle of these two glasshouses. 

Starting our day with butter and cheese in sourdough bread and coffee at Coffee Collective in Torvehallerne
Starting our day with butter and cheese in sourdough bread and coffee at Coffee Collective in Torvehallerne

Read all about our favorite places to eat in Torvehallerne in this blogpost about Food in Copenhagen

BOTANICAL GARDEN & PALM HOUSE

Palm House at the Botanical Garden
Palm House at the Botanical Garden

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We spent a couple of hours reading about and admiring the flora inside the Palm House
We spent a couple of hours reading about and admiring the flora inside the Palm House
The highest point inside the Palm House offered a bird's eye of the flora
The highest point inside the Palm House offered a bird’s eye view of the flora

Situated adjacent to Torvehallerne food market is Copenhagen’s botanical garden. This garden is a beautiful green space with ponds and walking paths and is perfect for a stroll when the sun is out. The Palm House is a gigantic glasshouse inside the garden that is home to a huge variety of exotic plants and trees from places as far as South America, Australia and Africa. There are different rooms inside the Palm House where the conditions and temperature are precisely controlled to ensure the health of the plants inside. We also climbed up a staircase to the dome of the Palm House to get a bird’s eye view of all the gigantic trees inside. 

RUNDETÃ…RN (ROUND TOWER)

The Round Tower
The Round Tower
By the round tower
Selfie by The Round Tower (where many astronomical discoveries were made- pun intended!
At the top of Round Tower
At the top of Round Tower
Exhibition of Hans Christian Andersen at the Round Tower
Exhibition of Hans Christian Andersen at the Round Tower
Observation deck at the Round Tower
Observation deck at the Round Tower

The Round Tower is a must visit if you want sweeping 360 degree views of Copenhagen. It is a historic monument that has inspired astronomers, writers and historic figures. Hans Christian Anderson himself was inspired to write many of his stories in the library inside the Round Tower. At the top of the tower is an observatory that is still in use today. 

ROSENBORG CASTLE AND KING’S GARDEN

Rosenborg Castle
Rosenborg Castle
King's Garden
King’s Garden

Hop, skip and jump from the Round Tower is Rosenborg Castle and King’s Garden. Although we did not get an opportunity to take a tour of the castle, we did take a sunset stroll in the garden and basked in the beauty of Rosenborg Castle in the evening sunlight. This is another perfect spot for a leisurely picnic or to simply take a breather from exploring the city.

FOOD TOUR WITH A LOCAL

Since we profess ourselves to be downright foodies, we knew for sure we had to do a food tour with a local to discover the hole-in-the-wall and underrated places to eat that we would have otherwise missed out on. Our guide Céline was the most charming, honest and joyous person we met on our trip. She engaged us in thought provoking conversations while making sure we sample all the goodies Copenhagen has to offer. Her insights helped us understand an expat’s perspective on living in Copenhagen.

The oldest bakery in Copenhagen....a charming spot we discovered on our food tour
The oldest bakery in Copenhagen….a charming spot we discovered on our food tour
Somods Bolcher, Copenhagen's oldest candy shop
Somods Bolcher, Copenhagen’s oldest candy shop

KASTELLET

Windmill at Kastellet
Windmill at Kastellet
St. Alban's Church
St. Alban’s Church

If you look at Copenhagen on Google Maps you will spot a star shaped area on the eastern side of the city. This place, called Kastellet, is a historic fortress that is now open to the public as a park. I believe Kastellet is one of the most scenic spots of Copenhagen. We spotted a beautiful church (St. Alban’s Church), old cannons and soldiers’ barracks and a picturesque windmill along with endless walking paths to explore Kastellet. 

NY CARLSBERG GLYPTOTEK MUSEUM

A trip to Copenhagen will not be complete without a visit to this museum. If you love admiring beautifully detailed sculptures and pondering over historic civilizations, the Glyptotek museum is a must see. The museum has rooms dedicated to Egyptian, Roman, Greek and French sculptures and artifacts. We lost track of time walking inside the halls while contemplating life in these ancient civilizations. This museum honestly is one of the best we’ve seen.

The Glyptotek Museum
The Glyptotek Museum
Sculpture at the Glyptotek Museum
Sculpture at the Glyptotek Museum
Sculpture at the Glyptotek Museum
Sculptures at the Glyptotek Museum

CHURCH OF OUR SAVIOUR

The spiral steps at Church Of Our Saviour and the dizzying view
The spiral steps at Church Of Our Saviour and the dizzying view
The spire of the Church Of Our Saviour. We were at the top of the spiral staircase
The spire of the Church Of Our Saviour. We were at the top of the spiral staircase

On the opposite side of the harbor of Copenhagen is the neighborhood of Christiania which is home to the most breathtaking view of Copenhagen. Church Of Our Saviour is a Baroque style church whose spire has a staircase on the outside that wraps around it like a corkscrew. Aakansha and I braved the cold and suddenly snowy weather of Copenhagen on our last day to climb all the way up the spire. Suffice to say our efforts paid off. We got sweeping 360 degree views of Copenhagen as far as our eyes could see. We highly recommend climbing up the spire of this church. We first had to navigate a series of staircases inside the church before stepping out on a platform from where the spiral corkscrew steps began. As beautiful as the views are from the top, it has to be said that the staircases inside the church feel too cramped and claustrophobic. But once outside on the platform, the climb, though dizzying, is short and simple.

REFFEN FOOD MARKET

Reffen street food market
Reffen street food market
Reffen street food market
Reffen street food market
We kicked off our Reffen food market day with a healthy ginger and fruit drink
We kicked off our Reffen food market day with a healthy apple, pineapple and ginger drink from The Green Garden

We were lucky enough to be in Copenhagen on 30th of March which happened to be the opening day of the Reffen food market. This is a huge outdoor space that has been built into a quirky and edgy food market. Restaurants and bars are set up inside shipping containers and the food choices are to die for. We spent a couple of hours in Reffen and honestly wished we had one more day to eat our way through the entire market. Read more about what we sampled in Reffen food market in this post about Food in Copenhagen

I hope this post serves as a useful guide for you when you plan your trip to Copenhagen. I have tried to recollect every detail of the sights of Copenhagen in this post and I hope it does justice to this wonderfully vibrant city.

Happy traveling to all

 

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