It’s always nice to have a little adventure over your birthday isn’t it? Given mine is less than two weeks before Christmas, I wanted to find somewhere beautifully festive for a few days. After stumbling across a photo of Tivoli Gardens at Christmas I was sold on Copenhagen in Denmark. It wasn’t hard to convince my boyfriend either, so off we went on our first overseas trip together.
Ps, how beautiful is it to fly after the country has been covered in a blanket of snow just after the sun has risen?
In just under two hours we had landed in Copenhagen airport and thankfully it was pretty straight forward to get to the city centre from there. At the end of terminal 3 you’ll find the train station, trains are every 10 minutes during the day, it takes about 15 minutes and less than 40dkk to get to Central Station.
We stayed in the Copenhagen Downtown Hostel which was a 15 minute walk from the station. During this walk my eyes were trying to take in how beautiful the city was in the last bit of daylight. The hostel was cheap and cheerful… we had a double private ensuite room, which was plenty big enough for us both, but the bathroom was a little strange – the shower was practically above the toilet! The downstairs cafe/bar was nice and lively though, if you need a spot to rest your head for a few nights, I do recommend here.
After freshening up we pop out to explore our new lil neighbourhood, aka suss out all the spots I can buy “glogg” (mulled wine) and lose it over all the cute Christmas lights.
All the buildings are sunk into the ground, I can’t help but think there’s so many hidden gems to eat and drink that are tucked away. Our first night we couldn’t resist Slice of San Francisco, a place with a handful of great Mexican dishes, all home cooked by the lady who owns it (who by the way, makes some of the best salsa I’ve ever had). She can cater to veggies, vegans and coeliacs too, oh and compared to the rest of Copenhagen she isn’t too expensive either.
After dinner we continued our evening stroll, heading towards Christiansborg Palace which is home to the highest tower in Copenhagen. You can get a lift up to the 360* viewing deck of the tower for free, so we dashed up just before they shut for the night and had the place to ourselves. During the day you can go in the Palace, which is something I’d have like to had done if we had more time.
Casual heart attack when we noticed the above sculptures in the river… what the actual f?
Given it was about 0 degrees and we couldn’t feel our faces, we headed back to the hostel for a drink after we passed Borsen, the old stock exchange building. I was looking forward to seeing all these beautiful buildings in daylight!
Happy Birthday to me! And what better way to spend our morning than eating some incredible pancakes at Next Door Cafe, a cosy spot off the main shopping streets.
It was nice to stroll back along the river by day and see the Borsen and Christiansborg Palace side by side.
We also took the free lift back up to the Christiansborg viewing platform to see the city by day.
I was excited to finally see Nyhavn in real life, after seeing it so many times in photos and on TV, I love the colours and architecture of the buildings so much. As cute as it was at Christmas, I would love to go back and see it in the summer and go on a boat.
Despite wearing thermals under all my clothes, I was bloody freezing so glogg was an essential in keeping warm.
At the end of Nyhavn was another cute Christmas market, and the posh Hotel D’Angleterre which had become a giant advent calendar. After a quick mooch around the market, we turned around and walked back along Nyhavn and across the bridge into Freetown Christiania.
For those of you unfamiliar with Freetown Chrisiania, it’s an old military area that was taken over by squatting hippies in the 70s. Today it’s more famous for it’s Pusher Street, a street laden with little stalls selling canabis. There’s a no photo rule in place to protect the sellers, but it’s certainly an interesting place to see. After been legally classified as a district, Christiania was made illegal a month ago (read about it here).
You can’t buy property in Christiania, you have to know the residents and apply for a home, most of which look poorly built from the outside and covered in graffiti. I imagine it’s a peaceful place to live though, with it’s own churches and schools. Everyone in the community has their own role.
We were a couple miles away from the hostel and frozen to the bone so we headed back to have a little rest, aka lie under the duvet to warm back up. Birthday naps are essential right?
Now it was time for what I was most excited about on our trip… Tivoli! Tivoli Gardens is the world’s second oldest amusement park and Walt Disney himself even visited to take inspiration for Disneyland.
Entry on the day to the park is 80DKK which is about £10, with packages including unlimited ride tickets also available. Otherwise, if you just want to walk around and enjoy the park just riding a couple of rides, you can buy tokens as you go.
You can also find one of the world’s oldest wooden rollercoasters which even has a man stood riding in between the carriages to control the breaks, how he doesn’t get flung from the ride I’ll never know.
The park is divided up in to different country themes, with China being my favourite. Despite the addition of all the cute lit up Christmas stalls, I imagine the park to be covered in fairy lights all year round.
Oh and randomly there’s a Wagamama’s in the middle of the park, bonus points.
It truly was one of the most magical places I have ever seen. The most perfect end to my birthday.
After some of the best breakfast ever at Cafe Norden we were ready for another full day of exploring this beautiful city. First up, the Botanical Gardens, it might not be prime time to be admiring the outdoor plants but at least we could escape into the greenhouses for a bit. I love the gorgeous spiral stair cases taking you to the upper level.
If I ever find myself back in Copenhagen on a warmer day I’ll certainly come back to see the gardens in all their glory.
Just down the road from the Botanical Gardens you’ll find the stunning Rosenborg Castle, a 400 year old, fairytale palace complete with a moat. You can also pay to go inside to view the crown jewels and thrown room, but it had already closed for the day by the time we arrived just after 2pm.
When can I move in?
We accidentally stumbled by the incredible Frederik’s Church, the picture doesn’t do justice on how big it actually is.
Across from Frederik’s Church is Amalienborg Palace, the current residence of Copenhagen’s royal family. Personally if I was a Queen I’d trade in the above and head back to Rosenborg.
Eventually we finally made it to the little mermaid statue, a homage to Hans Christian Anderson, the famous Copenhagen author. A lot of people told me it was small and disappointing, but despite the low expectations I could appreciate it for what it was. Plus, I’d seen so many photos of it over the years and inside I was happy to see it for real.
Expectations vs Reality?
Yet another accidental fairytale architecture find, St Albans church by the Kastellet star shaped military fortress.
Making our way back to the hostel to warm up, we found ourselves walking back along Nyhavn at dusk.
We passed by the Bastard Cafe daily and it was constantly bustling with people, so we had to finally spend an evening there. It’s a cafe filled with hundreds of boardgames, some available to hire for free and others for a small membership fee. After managing to sneak on a table with another gaming group, we spent a cute evening playing a vintage Las Vegas edition of Monopoly. Go early to make sure you get a seat, this place fills up fast.
After drooling over the pastries, I finally got the Danish bakery breakfast I’d been dreaming of and it didn’t disappoint.
We had a couple hours to kill before heading over to the airport so firstly we headed up Rundetaarn (the Round Tower). For 25dkk you can climb to the top of the of the tower and enjoy the city view from the top.
To get up the tower the floor spirals all the way up, with little nooks and information about the towers history to break up the ascent, oh and an art gallery too. It was definitely more fun going back down.
If only it was sunny…
We had a late flight so for the afternoon we got on the train towards the airport and got off a stop early at Kastrup, to visit Den Blå Planet, Copenhagen’s Aquarium (170dkk entry).
I think my boyfriend was looking forward to this the most all trip! Like the rest of Copenhagen, we seemed to have it to ourselves…
We managed to spend hours in the aquarium, enjoying a delicious tea in the cafe overlooking the water too. I can’t recommend this more, especially if you can squeeze it in before a flight home. It took us about 20 minutes to walk to the airport at closing time. They also have free lockers that are large enough to store luggage.
At the end of the day we got to watch the two otters get their dinner – shrimps in ice. To make it stimulating the otters have to smash the ice to get to the shellfish, they would bang it against the tank to break it apart.
So there’s my little trip diary, I hope it’s useful for any of you heading to the beautiful Danish city. Leave me a comment if you’ve been to Copenhagen and what was your favourite place to visit.