From the beautiful sunset behind the harbour to the hustle and bustle of the street food market, my first visit to the Danish capital was astounding. After spending some time there, it doesn’t come as a surprise that it’s one of the safest cities in the world and was voted one of the happiest places to live.
Denmark is also to thank for many popular inventions, including Lego and Insulin. On a walking tour of Copenhagen we learnt the story of the famous viking Harald Bluetooth, who help establish communication between Denmark and Norway. His name was later used for the well known technology we use today that was also invented in Denmark.
The capital encapsulates the creativity, innovation and culture of Denmark very well and should be top of your Scandinavian bucket list. Whether you’re spending one day in Copenhagen or a week, here are my some of my favourite activities in the city that won’t break the bank.
1. Visit the Nyhavn
The Nyhavn (New Harbour) is a beautiful area. Brightly coloured cafes, bars and restaurants line the canal and the wooden ships give it an authentic feel. There is always a great atmosphere in this area of town, especially when the sun is shining, this is a must do in Copenhagen.
2. Free Walking Tour
The Sandermans New Europe free walking tours are a favourite of mine, the Copenhagen tour did not disappoint. You’ll visit all the best Copenhagen attractions from the home of Hans Christian Anderson to the Danish Parliament.
It runs every day at 11am from the Dragon fountain. Remember, the tour may be “free” but the guides work for tips so I’d always recommend having some change to hand.
I particularly enjoyed hearing about the history of the city and how the Carlsberg brewery made such an impact on the city.
3. Christiansborg Palace Tower
For a view across the entire city, consider visiting the tallest tower in Copenhagen at Christiansborg Palace – best of all, it’s completely free to head up the tower. Entry to the palace itself starts at 50DKK (about £6/€6.70/$8) but I gave this a miss.
4. Explore Christiania
If you’re planning to visit Copenhagen then make sure you check out Christiania, the city’s alternative neighbourhood. Originally a military base it was taken over by hippies in the 70’s. It’s a strange area, best known for its vibrant scenery and open cannabis trade so I’d recommend visiting during the day if travelling solo or with children.
5. Take a Bus Boat
One of my favourite things to do in Copenhagen was to experience the city by water, you can either take the hop on hop off boat for a guided tour or use the cheaper harbour bus.
The boats go right up to the sea near the little mermaid statue and all the way back to the royal library so you’ll get the opportunity to see all of top Copenhagen attractions from the water.
6. Rosenburg Castle
One of Copenhagen’s top attractions is Rosenburg Castle. The 17th century building is easily accessible, located in the heart of the city near the botanical gardens. If you want to head inside it will cost you 110DKK (about £13/€14.80/$17.50) but just experiencing the gardens was enough for me.
It’s a wonderful place to relax and watch the world go by. I’d recommend taking a picnic and enjoying the surrounding parks.
7. Little Mermaid Statue
An iconic Copenhagen attraction, no trip would be complete without a visit to the little mermaid. Inspired by Han Christian Andersens fairy tale, she was a gift to the city by brewer Carl Jacobsen.
I was a little underwhelmed by the statue, but the stroll up to the statue and the wonderful views across the sea makes it a worthwhile way to spend a few hours and you don’t need to spend a penny.
8. Copenhagen Street Food
The original street food market on Paper Island was one of my favourite places to visit in Copenhagen. Located in an old warehouse it consisted of vendors selling food from all parts of the world as well as drinks and a great atmosphere.
SInce my visit, the original venue closed down, however I was thrilled to hear that a brand new street food market has now opened called Reffen, I can’t wait to visit again and try it out.
9. Cycle the City
I quickly discovered that Danish people love to cycle – Copenhagen looks like it was built for cycling. I spotted more bikes than cars and there are cycle lanes everywhere.
You can hire a bike from one of the many bicycle hire shops for about 75DKK (around £9/€10/$12). Alternatively, use the city bikes that have a built in screen for navigation.
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