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Trip Down Memory Lane: Scandinavian Trip Summer 2019 - Part 5

Updated: May 3, 2021

In this series I'm scratching the travel itch by re-living a trip across Scandinavia in the summer of 2019.

Day 6: Copenhagen

I set an early alarm to ensure I wouldn't miss a chance to see one of the most well known sights along the Kattegat. Along with the Skagerrak, the Kattegat separates Denmark from the Scandinavian Peninsula. Even though coffee was not available for purchase until after 7 AM, the sunrise was worth getting out of bed.

As the sun moved above the horizon, we began to pass Kronborg Castle. This is why I woke up so early. Although relatively small in size, Kronborg has quite a bit of cultural significance. Shakespeare aficionados may know the stronghold as Elsinore, or Hamlet's castle.

After passing by a few more idyllic small islands, the skyline of Copenhagen slowly came into view. The interesting architectural elements of the buildings near the port fueled even more excitement to get back on land and start exploring.

Following disembarking, we boarded the provided shuttle to the city center. Conveniently, the Copenhagen Visitor Center was only a block away from where we were dropped off, so we proceeded inside where we bought the city's attraction pass, The Copenhagen Card. This pass provides admission to 86 different attractions, use of the region's public transit, and discounts at various businesses. Well worth the roughly $120 (750 DKK) for 3 days!

We dropped our bags at the hotel, Cabinn City. Only 2 minutes by foot from Copenhagen Central Station and Tivoli, the hotel's location (and price) is its best quality. The rooms are small, yet clean, but the subpar breakfast they serve is not included in the room rate!

There are so many sights to see in Copenhagen, and my favorite way to get acquainted with a new city is to just wander around and maybe get a little lost.

Located a few short blocks from the hotel lies Rådhuspladsen, or City Hall Square. Built in 1905, the clock tower soars to a height of 105.6 meters (346.46 feet), and still stands as one of Copenhagen's tallest buildings.

The square always seemed to be a lively place with crowds enjoying the summer weather. It is a great spot to relax and watch people walk by.

Beginning from the north end of Rådhuspladsen lies one of Europe's longest pedestrian focused shopping districts, Strøget. With an average of 80,000 people strolling down the street on any given summer day, this street is never dull. Sure the same international brands are located here that are in any city, but the Danish energy still permeates through. To satisfy my craving for a genuine Danish pastry we stopped in Lagkagehuset for a spandaur and a weinerbrodstang. If you have a sweet tooth, I cannot recommend this establishment enough.

Just a short block walk off Strøget lies a serene Danish cityscape filled with uniform, yet colorful, buildings lining narrow streets. These shops and cafes bordering the street exude a cozy neighborhood feel.

St. Peter's Church may tower over the surrounding buildings, yet it doesn't detract from the cohesive neighborhood. Built in 1585, with the spire added in 1757, the church is central Copenhagen's oldest standing building.

We walked back to the Strøget to two adjoining public squares, Gammeltorv and Nytorv. Gammeltorv is Copenhagen's oldest square dating back to the 12th century, though most of the current structures were built after the catastrophic fire of 1795. The Caritas Well sits central in the square.

Brussels may have Manneken Pis, but Copenhagen has the Caritas Well. The fountain evokes love or charity by depicting a pregnant mother with her children. Apparently the birds enjoy it as well!

Across the Strøget from Gammeltorv lies Nytorv. This side of the public space is focused around the Copenhagen Court House although some delightful townhouses flank the southern edge of the square.

We didn't walk the length of Strøget because it was time to check out what else this city had in store for us. The first sight to see on our new path was the seat of Danish Parliament, Christiansborg Palace. We even got a sneak peek into Danish Civic life via the climate protest in the plaza outside.

Right across the street from Christiansborg Palace lies Børsen, Copenhagen's stock exchange completed in 1640.

The building's facade embraces the Dutch Renaissance style, but the most distinctive is its spire, which is shaped as 4 dragons intertwined.

A short walk along the Havengade Harbor Promenade lead us to Copenhagen's most iconic area, Nyhavn.

Nyhavn, translated to new harbor, was the premier place to dock when completed in 1675. As ships grew larger they could no longer fit in the relatively narrow canal. With the industry in the area dying off and its reputation of alcohol, sailors, and prostitution, the city decided to pedestrianize the area beginning in 1980.

The colorful original townhouses are now filled with pleasant, albeit expensive, cafes, restaurants, and other tourist friendly businesses. Many of the locals save some money by picking up a beer at a 7-11 to drink while sitting along the canal.

We continued to walk north along the waterfront and before long we spotted another one of Copenhagen's modern marvels.

The Copenhagen Opera House commanded our attention from across the water. Completed in 2004 it was one of the most expensive opera houses ever built, costing 2.5 billion Danish Kroner. With the orchestral pit able to accommodate 110 musicians it is also one of the largest in the world.

While we stared at the beautiful modern architecture, behind us lay Amalienborg, the home of the Danish royal family. The four palaces of the Danish monarchy are situated around an octagonal plaza.

After we viewed Queen Margrethe II's residence it was time for us to move on to the location of another world renowned Dane.

The Little Mermaid sits upon a boulder along the waterfront north of Amalienborg. Standing at only 1.25 meters (4.1 feet) the statue can be a bit disappointing for some tourists. Thankfully, we went in knowing this so our expectations were set at the right level. It may be small, but the setting is what makes it iconic.

Wowza! That was a long walk and we were getting hungry. There was one place that I knew I had to go for a snack. Torvehallerne is a hip food hall near Nørreport station. There were stalls to buy all sorts of local fare but I had my eye on one thing in particular, Smørrebrød.

Smørrebrød, literally butter and bread, is the local version of an open face sandwich. The toppings seemed to be endless and are piled beautifully on hearty rye bread. I indulged on the shrimp version. I was not disappointed!

With the evening approaching, it was time to walk back towards our hotel but we had one more stop before turning in for the night.

Tivoli Gardens is the third-oldest amusement park in the world. In true Danish form, the park is modest yet aesthetically gorgeous. Rides and rollercoasters are interspersed with well tended gardens. Its truly surreal that this is all located in central Copenhagen across the street from the central train station.

Entrance into the park was free with our Copenhagen cards although tickets for the rides were an additional cost. We of course had to enjoy a few of the rides while we were there but just exploring the grounds may have been my favorite part.

A central pond is surrounded by cafes and restaurants. There is even a place to eat on a pirate ship!

One of the world's best hotels according to many different sources is the Nimb Hotel located inside Tivoli. If our budget allowed, it would have been a spectacular stay, but with the sun setting, it was time for the 3 block trek back to our much less extravagant hotel.

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