After a week in Sweden, I decided to return to London via Copenhagen- partly because it was cheaper, (strange but true fact)- and partly because it seemed like a way more fun idea than just going straight home. Denmark is known for being rather expensive, so as is my normal style when visiting a highly-priced location, I turned the whole experience into a game of ‘how-little-can-I-spend-whilst-still-having-fun-times.’ So here you go pals- in no particular order are my top purse-friendly things to do or see in Copenhagen.
Check out Nyhavn
This is the harbour full of colourful townhouses from the 17th and early 18th centuries, a lot of which are now restaurants, bars and coffee shops. Apparently it was dug out by Swedish prisoners of war, whaddya know!?
It’s beaut to have a little stroll along here at any time of the day or night, even in the icy freezing morning cold like I did, and despite it being a popular place it never seemed to get too packed out with people.
Related: Swedish Summers
Eat street food
In particular: hot dogs. I’d been told that hotdogs in Copenhagen are kind of a big deal, and I’m pleased to say I was not disappointed in the slightest. They are mega-cheap and mega-good, and come with all the trimmings. Well done you Copenhageners, you. (On a side note, also: churros. Good.)
Sad times for me as I discovered after having left Denmark that there is an entire market- Copenhagen Street Food– dedicated to just this thing. It’s located on Paper Island, which is just across the water from Nyhavn and the New Royal Theatre, so very very accessible if you’ve done your research. Unlike me.
View the city from the Round Tower
Danish design is sleek, modern and generally downright beaut, and seemingly this is a historical trait of the Danes. The Round Tower was built in the 17th Century as an observatory, and what makes it quite astonishing (maybe I’m just easily astonished), is that there are no stairs to get to the top; instead there is just one long spiral. Like an internal helter skelter, know what I’m saying!?
You can climb the tower to see across the red rooftops of the city, for a mere 250DKK.
Go on a Palace Hunt
It seems to me as if every time a new king alighted to the throne, he decided the most important thing he would need to do was build himself a new palace; as a result the city is now full of the things. To be fair to those old kings of yore, the various palaces strewn across the city are very lovely-looking indeed.
Rosenborg Castle is set in its own big patch of gardens, complete with ice-skating ducks, topiary and a statue or two thrown in for good measure.
And at 12pm every day, the changing of the guard occurs at Amalienborg Palace. I somehow stumbled into this without at first realising, but it was actually a good thing to chance upon, I reckon! Amalienborg comprises 4 palaces centering around a courtyard, and as I walked into this courtyard I realised that there was quite a collection of people building underneath the statue in the middle, looking expectantly (and creepily quietly), towards the direction I was walking from. Once I had figured out that they weren’t actually waiting for me to do something, crowd psychology worked on me and I decided to hang out with the gang for a bit and see what on earth all the silent fuss was about. Within a few minutes, the sound of drums and whistles could be heard, and not the ravey kind, I hasten to add.
These guys, dressed up to the nines in their blue uniforms and furry busbies were marching in perfect time to ‘It’s a Long Way to Tipperary,’ played by their co-soldiers on their soldierly instruments. It was all very marvellous and proper, and involved a lot of shouting (once the music stopped), and well-choreographed stepping. All I’m saying is, as grand as it is to see, I did feel a bit sorry for those chaps as it was bloody freezing and it’s quite a drawn-out way of going for your coffee break. Which is what I presumed they were doing once each guard had been changed. Bravo to them.
I might have missed out on the street food market, but I did manage to locate Torvehallerne, which is another covered food market near the central train station. What a lovely place it is too…whilst wandering I tucked into a pastry from Granny’s House which is a very cute little place on the corner of one of the buildings, involving many varieties of baked goods and vintage tea sets.
If like me, food is one of your top ten things in the history of the world, you should probably give this place a visit.
Get lost in the local jungle
That’s right! Copenhagen has it’s own real live jungle, you guys!
Hidden in the University of Copenhagen Botanical Gardens is a great big massive and very elegant-looking series of glasshouses. The gardens themselves are beaut (and involve more ice-skating ducks, in winter), and a very peaceful place to have a roam around.
The main greenhouse is divided into rooms housing various collections of plants; in the winter it makes for a bit of a shock to the system to go from the sub-zero temperature of outside to the humid conditions within. Especially when wearing all the layers, I tell you. But it is rather interesting and double awesomely, you can just wander in and have a little nosey around free of charge and that’s all good and fine. A spiral staircase leads to a narrow walkway around the top of the glass dome in the largest room, so as long as you’re not afraid of heights it’s definitely a place I’d recommend checking out!
Say hi to the Little Mermaid
She’s a good lass.
I’m going to be honest here, when I first decided to come to Copenhagen I wasn’t too bothered about seeing the Little Mermaid statue. But, actually…wouldn’t it have been a bit of a dumb thing if I’d have gone all the way there and not seen her??
Am I right!?
Well, anyway I decided I was right, that would have been dumb, so set off at around sunset to pay her a visit. And it was rather lovely actually! The statue itself is rather small, just perching on her rock looking mildly forlorn, but it was all rather peaceful and tranquil and actually I think it’s one of those things in life that you just have to do if you find yourself in that part of the world.
Good old Hans Christian Andersen himself (author of the Little Mermaid, obv), lived in the city, so it’s rather fitting that she gets to chill out here all day long nowadays. The walk back along the Langelinie promenade is totally worth it too, as long as you bear in mind the temperature and length of time you’ve been outdoors for. If it’s -3 degrees you’re probably going to start feeling it, eventually.
For those on a strict budget (especially if you’re travelling solo), it’s worth checking out a hostel as Copenhagen’s hotels are a pricey old business. I stayed at the Generator Hostel (there’re Generators popping up all over Europe these days), and for the equivalent of roughly £16 it ticked all the boxes I would ever need to tick for such a thing!
I stayed in a 6-bed all-female dorm with a private bathroom, met some awesome people, they’ve got a stylishly-designed area to chill out in, plus a bar, a restaurant, and a pétanque pitch. They have larger dorms for less money, or private dorms for more. Take your pick, pals.
Warm up in a cafe or two by drinking all the coffee
Well, not all the coffee. That would be a bit rude really, wouldn’t it? But the Danes love a bit of coffee and so it’s worth venturing into a few places to see what they have to offer.
For truly well-crafted high quality coffee take a look at The Coffee Collective…they take their coffee making extremely seriously, that’s for sure. There are currently three shops in Copenhagen.
If you want something a bit more atmospheric and vintage-feeling, head to Mormors. Two minutes from Amalienborg, it’s basically like stepping into your Danish grandma’s living room. There’s records playing, all sorts of strange vintage memorabilia displayed in side-cabinets, cross-stitch pictures adorning the walls. It is seriously CUTE, I’ll tell you that free of charge.
So there you have it. A very fleeting but affordable visit to Denmark.
I missed out a few things on my trip that I’d like to go back and take a look at…namely Tivoli Gardens and Christianshavn, but…all in good time, chaps. All in good time.