Secretly, I’ve always thought visiting a Nordic country would be fascinating, although I have previously chosen more ‘mainstream’ destinations to visit. However, when I found myself in Europe earlier in the year for a friend’s wedding, and with another good friend living in Copenhagen, I found the perfect opportunity to visit. In the short time that I spent in the Danish capital, I fell in love for many different reasons. If you get a chance to go, I would highly recommend it – I’m already planning my next visit.
We went in June, during the northern summer, however don’t expect a heat wave at this time of year. The weather was pleasant and on one sunny day, my partner and I borrowed a Danish bike to take in the sights. I highly recommend the experience, as bikes are at the top of the transport hierarchy.
We paid a visit to the grave of Danish author Hans Christian Anderson – who created beloved fairy tales such as The Little Mermaid and The Ugly Duckling – in the Assistens Kirkegård in the Nørrebro area of the city. Don’t be put off by the thought of wandering through a cemetery; it’s a popular place for groups to gather and have picnics in the lush green of the gardens. It was lovely to wander around and sip on a coffee in the warm sun and hear the chattering of locals who were also enjoying the atmosphere.
Another place on our hit list was the Amalienborg Palaces (top) – four palaces surrounding the plaza with identical exteriors but different interiors. This is where ‘our’ Mary resides with her family. It was quite modest but regal. We were lucky enough to be riding past as the changing of the guards began, which is similar to Buckingham Palace but with a Nordic twist.
Copenhagen is home to one of the most famous restaurants in the world, Noma. Not everyone has the bank balance to eat there, however, the level of cuisine in the rest of the city is certainly of a high standard. We were lucky enough to experience this with little wine bars, cafes and restaurants where we lost several hours enjoying the local company. There are also several markets that are definitely worth a visit. Torvehallerne is a fresh produce market with stalls offering food and drink. If you’re staying in accommodation with your own kitchen, then this place is definitely the place to buy your produce. After your shopping, why not pull up a stool and order a glass of beer and a Danish open sandwich? A very tasty but inexpensive lunch to have on the run. If you just want to eat a variety of good food visit the Copenhagen Street Food Market. It’s a trendy area on the river, housed in a huge warehouse where hundreds of different stalls offer a wide variety of meals.
Of course, when you’re in Copenhagen, a visit to Georg Jenson and Royal Copenhagen is a must. No need to pull out the wallet, just wander around the beautiful shops and take it all in. I was in awe and imagined my kitchen looking exactly like they had displayed. Downstairs there is a cute little café next to Royal Copenhagen, which is useful for a pick-me-up after all that browsing and daydreaming.
A place I didn’t particularly like, but still think is worth a visit, is Freetown Christiania. It’s a self-proclaimed autonomous neighbourhood of about 850 residents, covering 84 acres in the borough of Christianshavn. It’s a hippy commune with its own ‘laws’ and has been quite controversial in the past. Although we only spent 15 minutes walking around, because it was uncomfortable and confronting, I didn’t find it a very welcoming or friendly place. However, our Danish friends – who weren’t with us – reassured us there are nice parts and it can be a good place to spend a summer afternoon.
I really appreciated the different aspects of the Danish lifestyle, such as their balanced approach to family and work life, and how they respect bike riders above other transport. I would love to go back to experience the other special things you could find in this lovely city. Although, from what I’ve heard about Nordic winters, it might be best to stick to the summer.