TRAVEL GUIDE: COPENHAGEN
I am so excited to share this post with you. This is part one of a four part series about the trip I just got back from, to Copenhagen and Amsterdam.
I am a firm believer in investing in travel. There is something so magical about getting outside of your norm, outside of your comfort zone and experiencing new ways of doing things. As a planner, I always have spreadsheets (seriously) with all sorts of plans lined up but that's the great thing about travel, something unexpected always happens. It sort of forces me to let go of being able to control everything and maybe, just maybe, go with the flow a little.
Copenhagen was a little add-on to my trip to Amsterdam and it ended up as, maybe, being my favorite part of the trip. Although Copenhagen is pricey (hello $18 cocktails) it is worth it for a few days. We stayed for 3 nights and that ended up being just perfect. By the time we left, we had masted the general street plan and how to get around. I even challenged us one night to try and get back without the map and we did it. So, its a pretty easy city to navigate.
As always with my travel guides, I have outlined below the best parts of the trip and the things I would recommend if you are heading there. Feel free to comment below with any questions or recommendations of your own!
WHERE WE STAYED:
Hotel Danmark: This beautiful hotel reopened a few weeks before we got there so everything was brand new. In Denmark, people are so friendly, and the staff at the Hotel Danmark was no exception. I loved the simple, very Danish, decor in the rooms. They were very comfortable with views of the beautiful buildings surrounding it. I also loved the central location. As I mentioned above, the city is very easy to navigate but we found the hotel to be in a great location near all of the key sites (but not too close to be overly touristy) Another note was that each day there was a free wine happy hour at 5pm which was great to enjoy after a busy day walking around. We kicked up our tired feet and enjoyed a glass of wine on their front patio. Soon they will have a roof terrace open which I am sure will be a stunning place to enjoy wine. Lastly, the breakfasts at the hotel were delicious. Included in you room rate is a beautiful spread of yogurt, hard boiled eggs, pastries, freshly baked bread and more. It was a great way to start the day. We loved this hotel and would highly recommend it if you venture to Copenhagen.
WHAT WE DID:
Free Walking Tour: When I first planned my trip, I realized that I didn't know much about the city's history so I planned on a walking tour the first morning there. I'll admit that partly it was to ensure we stayed awake to fight the jetlag the first day, but I did want to get my bearings on the city. We met at the city hall which was steps away from the hotel. Our tour guide's name was Magnus. Besides his sometimes overly cheesy jokes, he was very informative and really gave us a picture of what the city stood for and its history. It was amazing that the tour was completely free and so informative. They do ask for tips at the end, to support the business, but we were more than willing to contribute after having such a great tour.
Tivoli Gardens: When I was researching the trip, I decided to skip the Tivoli Gardens. I thought it was too touristy and theme parks aren't really my thing. One night while we were walking home from dinner, we peeked our heads in through the gates on the side of the park. It looked surprisingly cute and charming. We decided to check it out and were about to purchase tickets when a guy mentioned he was a local and was allowed to bring visitors in with him. He generously brought us with him completely for free. It was that kind of serendipity that you always hope for on a trip. That night was a concert in the park featuring their most famous DJ, Kato (Euro techno, need I say more?). We wandered around the second oldest theme park in the world marveling at the quaint rides, beautiful flower gardens and the fact that most of the town's locals seemed to be spending their Saturday night there. All in all, I would recommend swinging by during the evening for a fun night out and maybe even catching a concert if you are there at the right time.
Design Museum: Copenhagen Design Museum was something that I really wanted to see while I was there. I know that the Danes are famous for and very influential in design so I was excited to explore the history behind their designs. The museum is somewhat small but fun to spend an hour or so in. It is housed in a beautiful building with a very pretty interior courtyard. It's a great place to visit if you are into design and love a good history of chairs (seriously)
Go! Boat: This was hands-dow my favorite thing we did in Copenhagen. I love being out on the water and usually take every chance I get, no matter what city to see the city from the water. The fact that we got to drive our own boat made it all the more amazing. We seriously were laughing for the better part of the hour we had rented it for since we almost got stuck and puttered around the canals. All of the boats have picnic tables in the center so they are perfect for picking something up and bringing on board. We grabbed a little cheese and meat at Torvehallerne (more on that later) and enjoyed it as we cruised around. As I mentioned, this was one of our favorite things on the trip and well-worth the $60/hr cost.
Rosenborg Castle - I'm never one to skip a castle so this was most definitely on my list. The 17th century castle was beautiful and very well-preserved. A little less glamorous than those I've visited in other European countries, it still did have it unique quirks (mirrored sex room, yes that exists, those crazy Danes) The crown jewels in the basement were also a favorite part of the visit. I highly suggest strolling around the surrounding gardens after you finish up the visit.
Botanical Gardens - Speaking of gardens, I have to recommend that you visit the Botanical Gardens. I hope its a bit of a chilly day though because the gardens get very warm. You can climb up these beautiful winding Victorian stairs to the top of the main atrium and get a very steamy look down at the tropical plants. I kept trying to take photos but my lens was fogging up so much. There are also lush gardens around the main structure that are worth walking around as well. It was the perfect way to spend the last afternoon in the city.
Bicycling - As they say in Amsterdam "If you hear a bell run like hell" Well, I tend to agree and that is also true of Copenhagen. Although they tend to be less aggressive than their neighbors in the south (which is really saying something) they are a pretty crazy biking culture as well. We decided to take our chances and rent bikes. Upon asking if there were any helmets they looked at me like I was crazy and mentioned that I could go down the road to get one. It was clear that just wasn't something they did. We were glad to see the city from a locals point of view and it ended up not being as scary as I thought it was going to be. After being in Amsterdam, I would recommend that you go here vs the bigger city. It was a lot more manageable and fun.
WHAT WE ATE:
Ok so food here is a little tough because its either really expensive or...nope it's just expensive. There were a few hits and misses but these were the places that stood out.
torvehallerne - We loved this market that is housed in two beautiful greenhouse-like buildings. There are all sorts of foods here to go or to buy as gifts. I loved walking through and seeing all of the beautiful food for sale. I ended up picking up a open faced sandwich here to eat before our flight. We also go meat and cheese here before renting our GoBoat. I also wanted to note that we went to Papirøen to visit their Copenhagen Street Food market and liked torvenhallerne much better because it was less crowded and the food seemed higher quality. T
Host - This was one of our favorite meals on the trip. The meal was special without being too fancy and inventive without being fussy. We went with the 3 course option which was around $65. After the amuse bouches and the little treats they bought out it ended up being more like 6 courses and we were stuffed by the end. It was such a memorable dinner and worth the little extra we paid that night.
Gorilla - Why is this called Gorilla? I dont know the Danes are a little crazy sometimes. This place was in the trendy "Meatpacking" district of Copenhagen known as the Vestebro. We loved sitting outside and trying their delicious handmade pasta. They are also right new door to fun brewery Warpigs that makes a perfect after (or before) dinner stop.
Duck and Cover - Yes this place makes the perfect date night spot but it also serves darn good cocktails. The gin and homemade tonic was probably my favorite cocktail of the trip. The cozy almost home-like atmosphere is perfect to finish off a day in Copenhagen. A side note, we had a hard time finding good cocktails on the trip. Beer is really the drink of choice there. Even good wine was hard to come by. For someone who doesn't love beer this was a little hard for me to get used to but Duck and Cover really delivered on the cocktails.
So that is Copenhagen. The little gem of a city in Denmark. A pricey place but worth stopping by for a few days even if only to rent a little boat and cruise the canals. Next up Amsterdam, Bruges and Haarlem.