Next on my list: Denmark. As you can probably tell, I am on a whim of ticking the beautiful region of Northern Europe off my list. For that reason, it was time to visit Denmark, the alluring country of eternal hygge and the most happy city in the world – Copenhagen.
Copenhagen – a place full of pastel-coloured streets, compact layout and hundreds of bikes on every corner, has greeted me in the most magical and freezing way possible.
And just to make this adventure even sweeter, my partner in crime was joining me!
Flying from Dublin to Copenhagen takes as little as two and a half hours so Copenhagen is a perfect spot for a weekend getaway. Considering we were visiting in the winter months, it was crucial I packed a few (and by few, I mean more than few) extra layers as I wanted to explore the city by foot – and trust me, I was grateful I wasn’t too optimistic!
Taking off the weekend to a great start, it couldn’t have been started better than by visiting the city and the neighbourhood of Nyhavn at midnight, grabbing a (very) cheeky glass of Glögg while tuning into fantastic live music and taking in the Danish hygge. (Yes, Nyhavn is the place you have seen on all the postcards and pictures on the internet). A warm and cosy bar was a great pick-me-up contrasting the -10 degrees temperature outside. Fact: I’ve worn about four layers, top and bottom and still managed to feel the cold!
One of the most wonderful things that have really affected my experience positively in Copenhagen was the fact that the public transport runs 24 hours, seven days a week and is extremely efficient. I.e. No limits!
We were greeted by the first snow of 2017, which has been predicted for us the night before. How fun it was to wake up to white fields! Not so fun later however, when the snow turned into slush… As the daylight hours are very short, the day’s itinerary has been packed. It wouldn’t be my type of a city break without a compulsory (and free) New Europe Tour! This tour took us around Copenhagen and highlighted the Amalienborg, The City Hall, Copenhagen Opera House, The Marble Church, Gefionspringvandet, as well as clued us into the myths, stories and historical facts. Unfortunately I have never been the one for history. Therefore, I’m unable to recall many of the stories I’ve heard, oops! But I have certainly taken in the beautiful baroque and gothic architecture throughout.
A perfect end to this beautiful day would involve a visit to the Copenhagen Street Food market recommended by so many, however I was disappointed to realise it has been closed for the Christmas holidays (similarly to the Tivoli Gardens). My heart was broken… but on a high note, I’ve seen a lot of love scattered around this area of the city, as pictured below. ♥ #loveisallyouneed 😉
After this (not so little) disappointment we’ve decided to ‘splurge’ and ‘indulge’ in one of the eateries – Ved Kajen at Nyhavn, which in fact I really enjoyed. It cost approximately 200DKK per person and has worked in a buffet-style, meaning I had a chance to eat three full plates of food – getting my money’s worth? I hope so! To top the first night up, we took a quick stroll around the Freetown of Christiania, which I will talk a little more about later in the post 😉 .
Did you know that Hans Christian Andersen (pictured below) was a Danish author, famous for his numerous fairy tales which have been translated into more than 125 languages? The Little Mermaid, a famous statue at the harbour was inspired by Andersen’s fairytale about a mermaid who gives up everything to be with a young, handsome prince on land (yes, there is a story behind it!).
Day number trois was made for vegan brunching, long walks by the harbour and taking in all the glory of the Freetown of Christiania. I got to know about 42 Raw through one of my Instagram followers – and after checking out 42 Raw’s Instagram page itself, I really didn’t want to be the one to miss out on this fully raw lunch spot… and guess what, sticking to #veganuary!
And so, after little deliberation we have found the place (passing by many beautiful and colourful spots) and indulged in a protein burger and a brunch consisting of sweet potato fries, granola with apples and coconut yoghurt, pancakes, hummus, guac and chill mayo – it was the most satisfying and fulfilling lunch. I must say I couldn’t decide if I had a taste for savoury or sweet – but the problem was solved, thanks 42 Raw! The price point is a little up there with ranges of about 129DKK, but to me, it was more of an experience as I haven’t ever tried a vegan restaurant, therefore I didn’t mind the cost.
Fuelled, happy and ready to go, we headed for the harbour of Copenhagen, the neighbourhood of Østerbro to check out the beauty of the Citadel and meet The Little Mermaid herself.
The temperatures have been insane which resulted in frozen water, however still not managing to discourage many runners scattered around the Citadel (the MOTIVATION!).
I have absolutely loved the feel of the Citadel. The colours, the open space, the history behind it, I loved it all. It is a perfect spot for a chilled day out. Built in 1664, The Citadel is a star fortress which houses various military activities but mainly serves for a public park and a historic site. The entry is free, which understandably makes it a must-see during your stay in Copenhagen.
Just five minutes walk from the Citadel, The Little Mermaid is (still) waiting for her prince. Did you know that this sculpture is over a hundred years old and weighs 175kg? Although it has went through many acts of vandalism (even getting her head cut off), the statue has been restored each time and continues to wait (the most hopeful statue ever 😉 ).
After many recommendations from the locals and my curiosity growing with each, we have also decided to (yet again) stumble upon The Freetown of Christiania. This time in daylight. Being completely honest, I have never even heard of this area of Copenhagen before the tour and had no idea it was such a popular tourist attraction. Christiania consists of former military barracks of Bådsmandsstræde and parts of the city ramparts, and is very famous due to the fact it has developed its own set of rules, independent of the Danish government. This (controversially) includes open cannabis trade in the Green Light District which, to see in action was a very peculiar and interesting experience. But don’t be afraid, seeing kids passing by this area will ease your mind – and any sort of violence is strictly prohibited, of course! #hippies♥
As you enter, it is important you read and stick to certain rules which apply in the neighbourhood – one of them being a ‘ban’ of taking pictures. I couldn’t resist however! I guess you could consider me living on the edge? 😉
Although Copenhagen is renowned to be the one of the most expensive cities in Europe, I was pleasantly surprised by the fact Christiania’s own branded beer has only cost 20DKK – that’s cheaper than a cup of hot choc!
And with the last visit to Christiania, it was also a few hours until our flight’s departure to Dublin. Arriving at the airport was quick and easy however the queue for the customs was absolutely insane (approximately 100m!). Therefore, that left us with no last chances of treating ourselves to Danish treats, which in fact was a little disappointing.
Overall, Copenhagen has been all I ever imagined, and more. I was surprised by the fact the city can be so alternative and not entirely ‘traditional’ as I had in mind. The kindness of people has also exceeded my expectations but made this trip just a little sweeter, despite the freezing weather.
This time, I have also spent the nights in a lovely, cosy Airbnb in the area of Bagsværd. Nothing beats a good, local Airbnb.
Tips on visiting Copenhagen:
♥ Invest in a 24 hour all zone ticket (130 DKK) and don’t worry about not getting your money’s worth – the public transport will always be there for you!
♥ Not a tip, but you will notice that the Danes are one of the sweetest people you will meet – take a moment and appreciate them for their kindness when you collect your coffee.
♥ Try to avoid tourist traps around the Nyhavn and very popular tourist areas – the conversion rate from GBP to DKK is a little confusing so you might lose track on how much you are actually spending on your meals – be aware if you’re on a really tight budget.
♥ Stay safe and be aware of the cyclists! They are doing a great thing for the world but are not always the most aware members of the public.
♥ Figure out the metro and train system in 5 by dowloading the Rejseplanen app.
♥ If you’re checking out early but have some free time until your flight, drop off your luggage at the Copenhagen Central Railway Station (70DKK for 24 hours) and keep exploring!
♥ Visit Nyhavn in daylight and take all the beautiful pictures you need – something I regret not doing in retrospect.
As always, all views are my own.