So here I am back to regular programming, back to writing and back to blogging! I surely miss this — but not the late nights that go with it though! I know I still owe you this travel post to Copenhagen which took place barely 3 months ago… so I hope it is not too late yet to put them out here! (Although you may recall that I did write about my unforgettable experience about the city’s most well-known restaurant, Noma. It was so amazing, I was able to do a 3-part series on it! You can read more about that here.)
We arrived in Copenhagen one cool and balmy afternoon in late October. It had just rained and it was pretty cold and wet — but that I didn’t mind at all, as I really love cool weather, especially since I am coming all the way from tropical Philippines!
Copenhagen is the capital of Denmark and it is also the most populated city in the country. The city is a good combination of sorts — historically rich, and yet very modern. No wonder, it is known as Scandinavia’s “coolest” capital!
Did you know that Copenhagen is also constantly ranked as one of the “happiest cities in the world”? A day exploring the city and I immediately found out why. The Danish are particularly very warm and friendly people. They are cool, relaxed and laid back about almost everything… versus of course where I came from, where almost everyone I see is complaining about something or simply stressed out!
The backdrop of the city is also too beautiful : cobbled, bike-friendly streets, colorful town-houses, craft studios and many other artsy cafes dot the streets. Add to this its compact size and I would say Copenhagen is possibly Europe’s most seamless urban experience.
So I have here my top 12 must-visit places in the city. Since the blog article is longer than usual, I divided it into two parts. Please note that they are not arranged in any particular order or ranking.
Here goes the first installment :
Must – Visit : Torvehallerne Market
Torvehallerne Market is a must-visit for all foodies out there. This is not just your ordinary supermarket — it is a super market! Here you will find over 60 stands selling everything from fresh fish and meat to gourmet chocolates and exotic spices, as well as small places where you can have a quick bite to eat. This was where I had my first meal upon arrival in Copenhagen — so you can just imagine I was very hungry, tired… and did I say very hungry?! So yes, I had a good filling of almost everything that was in my sight: hot and crispy fish and chips, handmade pasta, as well as some of the biggest and sweetest berries I ever laid my eyes on, eaten with some artisanal dark chocolates on the side and downed with a good cup of hand-brewed coffee from Ethiopia! After lunch, I probably spent another hour there just chatting with the vendors and taste-testing (ie. eating again) all their food products!
And here’s another nice thing about this market: this place is not just about food. Just right outside are stalls selling some of the most beautiful and biggest fresh flowers you will ever see!
Must – Visit : National Museum of Denmark
With or without kids, the National Museet or the National Museum of Denmark is a must visit when in Copenhagen. Built in the 1700’s, the palace (now turned into the museum) is no longer used by the royal family, but the Great Hall still appears elegant enough to fit princes and princesses! As Denmark’s most important and largest cultural and historical museum, it hosts a broad variety of fascinating exhibitions.
Since I came here with the kids, we spent a wh0le lot of time exploring the Children’s Museum inside one of the halls. This is where they got to see how the schools of the olden times looked before, how the Viking ships were built, and what the kitchen of the Middle Ages really looked like!
Must – Visit : Tivoli Gardens
And when in Copenhagen, never miss a chance to visit the Tivoli Gardens, which is the second oldest amusement park in the world. It was built in the 1800s and until today, this park serves as an inspiration for all theme parks in the world! Fairy tale writer Hans Christian Andersen visited this place many times which inspired him to write his world-renowned Nightingale. Stories and legends also abound saying how this amusement park gave Walt Disney the idea of creating what we now know as Disneyland!
The rides here are all designed to match Tivoli’s architecture and gardens which were built all the way in the 1800’s. Some rides including this vintage carousel are just beautifully nostalgic, don’t you think?
Must – Visit : Nyhavn
Nyhavn is another must visit here in Copenhagen. It may be one of the biggest tourist attractions but this little town is a local favorite as well. This is a 17th century waterfront canal and entertainment district in one — it is lined with brightly colored town houses, bars, cafes and restaurants.
The atmosphere here is very relaxed – there’s great food all around and jazz music can be heard in the streets. Again, the famous Danish author Hans Christian Andersen lived here in house no. 20 (look for it!) and this was where he wrote the famous The Princess and the Pea children’s fairy tale.
They also say that Nyhavn is the most colorful town you will ever find in this side of Europe. Well, I’m sure you will also agree with me that this place has such a picture-worthy backdrop (and I will admit that I had dozens and dozens of photos here — in this same spot where I was standing)!
And if there’s only one tour you have to join in this city, let it be the Canal Tours Copenhagen, which is is a nice and relaxing way of seeing Copenhagen from a different perspective. During this one-hour tour, you will get to see so many interesting places, such as : The Copenhagen Opera House, Amalienborg Palace, Christiansborg Palace, the impressive Black Diamond Library, and of course, the Little Mermaid. Both kids and grown ups will surely enjoy this tour via water!
Must – Visit : Christiania
Christiania, the famous free town of Copenhagen, otherwise known as the city’s Green Light District, is without a doubt one of Denmark’s most popular tourist attractions. It is named as such because this is the only “free town” in Copenhagen, a place where residents are free to do whatever pleases them including — can you believe this, vandalizing their neighborhood and smoking marijuana?!!
It was established in 1971 when, in the midst of a housing shortage, squatters took over an abandoned military base and formed an alternative society. Today the area is known for Pusher Street where you can buy marijuana (and no other hard drugs) from various stalls and smoke freely! There are hardly any laws that govern the residents here — except those that they themselves made up for their town!
Christiania is a controversial area loved by many but is also a place always debated on. The gritty main district is filled with marijuana dealers and smokers, but it also includes nature trails and a lake. The Free Town is also home to a few restaurants and bars, a market, artist workshops, and concert venues. There is plenty of street art to admire here, and residents live in converted army barracks or unique hand-built homes. It’s a fascinating place with a clear 70’s hippie feel to it, and it is here where you can catch a glimpse of a non-traditional and very interesting way of life.
Must – Visit : Amalienborg Palace
Amalienborg Palace is a must for anyone who likes to read up on or learn more about royal history. This is the official residence of the reigning Queen of Denmark, Queen Margaret II and the Danish Royal Family. It is quite unique and impressive since the palace is made up of four former mansions facing a central square.
Amalienborg is famous for its Royal Guard, called Den Kongelige Livgarde. Every day you can experience the changing of the guards, as they march from their barracks through the streets of Copenhagen and end up at Amalienborg, where the changing of the guard takes place at 12:00 noon. So make sure to time your visit here!
Excited much about this cool city? There’s more to see and learn about Copenhagen. Click here to read Part 2 and find out more about the other must-visits in this city!
To see my other photos in Copenhagen, type #TSMinCopenhagen on Instagram, or click here.