Copenhagen, where do I even start? Contrary to what we imagined Copenhagen to be like, this modern city is bursting with life with its laid back culture and rich history. This city is beautiful, not just in its architecture, but its people too. We were in awe of Copenhagen’s high tech transport network and modern infrastructure. Whether you’re on a tight budget or not , and you are unsure what to do in Copenhagen. Here’s our list of 8 things to do in Copenhagen.
1. Eat Like a local
The number one reason why we travel is to immerse ourselves in the local culture. The best way to do it is to eat like a local. If you are in Copenhagen for a short period, I do recommend heading down to Nyhavn. There, you will find numerous restaurants littered along the river canal with locals and tourists enjoying a nice local meal while enjoying the serenity of the waterfront and buildings dating back as far as the 17th Century. The widely popular local food known as “Open Sandwich” can be found in most restaurants. Choose a restaurant of your choice and enjoy your meal!
2. Visit the one of the oldest theme park in the world
What’s not to like about a theme park? In the heart of Copenhagen lies one of the world’s oldest theme park, Tivoli Garden. The park was first opened in 1844 and it has been evolving through the centuries, while retaining its original charm. The park is full of nostalgic backdrops, awesome for photography. It’s a mix of east meets west. To sum it better, it looks like a circus meets theme park. With a Chinese themed pagoda and theater, next to a Turkish themed roller coaster ride.
We had so much fun in Tivoli that we went back twice.
3. Get a bird’s eye view of the city
Head to Rundetaarn or commonly known as “The Round Tower”, the oldest observatory in Europe and be treated with a bird’s eye view of Copenhagen. The Round Tower was built in the 17th Century for astronomy. Today, visitors can enjoy sights of the city at the top of the tower. On a clear day, you may even spot Sweden from afar.
Walking up to the observatory deck is an adventure itself. Instead of stairs, the way up and down is a spiral ramp. Interesting fact: the ramp turns 7.5 times around the core before reaching the observatory deck.
4. Cycle like a local
Copenhagen is well-equipped with bicycles around the city. You can choose to rent a biycle from a bicycle rental shop or use Bycyklen, something similar to Singapore’s Obike and mobike. We rented our bicycles from the hotel and spent an entire day cycling around Copenhagen. There are designated cycling lanes which connects you to the different parts of town. Do note that you should always park your bicycles at a corner without obstructing the pedestrian pavement when you visits the attractions.
Take the chance to cycle to the Little Mermaid, The current statue is a replica. Apparently, the statue broke many times because of tourists hoarding over it. Even though there are loads of tourists rushing to take a picture with it, it can be part of your check list that you’ve seen it. If you want to take a picture with the statue WITHOUT hordes of tourists, we suggest you head to the Carlsberg Brewery. There’s an exact same replica in the courtyard.
5. Hop on a river cruise
Feeling lazy? Consider the river cruise in Copenhagen that takes you to the different places of interest in the city. The guide will point out the places of interest while sharing brief bits of history with you. It was a slow ride that allowed us to soak in the history at a slow pace. The entire river cruise took about an hour.
6. Head down to the Carlsberg Experience
While Amsterdam has the Heineken Experience, Copenhagen has the Carlsberg Experience. We were amazed by the rich history of Carlsberg we never knew about. From how the brand name was conceived to the turbulent times Carlsberg went through to keep the company going.
Luckily for us, we were at the brewery when Euro 2016 was on, and we had a blast drinking beer while watching soccer with the locals. There was so much excitement in the atmosphere.
7. Castle/Palace hunting
Immerse yourself in royalty at Amalienborg Palace
This palace is a must see place while you are in Copenhagen. It is home to the Danish Royal family from the 16th Century until today. The palace is currently resided by the crown prince and princess. Do head down early to witness the guards changing ceremony at 12 noon before heading to the palace to view the exhibits in halls decked with gold plated pillars, intricate ceiling murals and sparkling chandeliers. Walking through the grand hallways felt as if we were back in time; passing by portraits of the royalty in the 16th century, to emblems, medals and letters written during the WWII and to present day wedding dresses and baby christening clothes. Every room we ventured into blew us away. It was as if seeing a documentary from History Channel coming alive.
Visit the government building, Christiansborg Palace
Christiansborg Palace was the first royal palace built. It was hit by two separate fire incidents and gone through reconstruction thrice. Today, the palace is the official government building and parliament sessions are held in one of the buildings.
Fun fact: The current Christiansborg Palace looks rather dirty and black because the palace had a third fire accident. So the “black” that you see on the exterior of the buildings are the “burnt marks”. The bridge you see in the picture above (foreground) is slightly “whiter” because it was built after the third fire accident. The bridge was built as a means of escape in the event of another fire accident.
Similar to Amalienborg Palace, you could walk through the different rooms and be awe with the detailed and thoughtful design put in place to meet the different occasions. If you are a history buff, take the old ruins tour and follow the guide to see the ruins of the very first palace built all the way back to the 12th century. The ruins were discovered unknowingly during the construction of the current palace. We were amazed how such structure could stand through the test of time.
After the tour, head to the tower which takes you to a secret attic at the top of the palace. You will be treated with a birds eye view of the city.
There are other areas in Christiansborg Palace to be explored, for instance, the Royal Kitchen and the Royal Stables. We enjoyed ourselves exploring the Royal Kitchen and playing with the copper cookware.
The highlight for Marilynn was the porcelain set on display. Each plate was handmade and featured a unique design that was different from the others.
Day Trip to Helsingør, Kronborg Castle
If you have an extra day in Copenhagen, you might want to take a day trip to Helsingor where you can find Kronborg Castle. This castle is home to Shakespeare’s “Hamlet”. It is this castle, which inspired Shakespeare to write the play (of the same name) and today, it is a world-renowned play. Head to the castle and immerse yourselves in the story of Hamlet. The artifacts in the castle were well-preserved too, from the humongous tapestries, to the poster beds.
8. Day Trip across the border to Sweden for shopping!
If you have additional time after visiting Kronborg Castle, why not consider taking a short 30 minute boat ride to Helsingborg, Sweden. In this town, head to “IKEA Möbelvaruhus Helsingborg” where you can find 3 huge shopping malls to visit and shop. When we were there, we couldn’t resist helping ourselves to IKEA’s famous meatballs and shopping at the H&M outlet.
Initially, we thought Copenhagen was a boring city. However, after exploring the city on bicycles and their reliable transport system, our opinions were changed. This is a friendly city who will render help to “blur” tourists like ourselves. There’s so much to do in Copenhagen, just waiting for you to explore.