“To Travel Is To Live” – Hans Christian Anderson
At the beginning of December, we visited Denmark’s idyllic city Copenhagen. Any city in Europe will get you in the Christmas spirit at this time of year but Copenhagen was particularly magical. We were instantly surrounded by tasteful Christmas lights, multiple Christmas markets and even managed to get well acquainted with the Danish concept of ‘hygge’ (to be cosy in both body and soul).
Copenhagen has an incredible pace of life. Despite being a city, people appear relaxed and we felt none of the hustle and bustle usually experienced in city destinations. We immediately felt the calm atmosphere take hold of us and could quite well understand how Danes achieve being one of the happiest nations on earth.
For any trip to Copenhagen, Tivoli Gardens is a must do venture, but choose December dates if you really want the festive experience. This fairytale land from 1843 of theme park rides, shops and restaurants transforms into one of the most incredible Christmas wonderlands you will ever experience. Sit back with a large Gløgg (Danish Mulled Wine) under an outdoor heater, wrapped in a warm blanket and soak up the magical atmosphere. Tivoli is the 2nd oldest theme park in the world and despite its additions since then, it has held on to its original charm.
If you are planning to visit Tivoli Gardens soon, we highly recommend you purchase Skip-the-Line Tickets in advance of your trip.
The Little Mermaid
You can’t really visit Copenhagen without bearing witness to The Little Mermaid statue either. And she is little. Be careful, because you might miss her. The whole city has wonderful fairytale specific experiences so if you love your children’s stories, give yourself time to explore and learn about the work of Hans Christian Anderson and other famous writers who were inspired by this place. After visiting The Little Mermaid, we walked through the Citadel. This is one of Copenhagen’s many wonderful gardens to enjoy. It’s great to have the choice of moving around the city in green and tranquil surroundings.
If you love beer, we’d recommend the Carlsberg Ex’beer’ience. You can shop, eat, taste beers and take a guided tour. It is a little further out of the more central areas of Copenhagen so aim to take advantage of the free shuttle bus. If, like us, you miss it, a walk through these less consumer-focused areas of Copenhagen will give you an insight into day-to-day family life here and make for a pleasant inner city adventure, especially if you are blessed with brilliant winter sun. Wrap up warm though because the temperatures at this time of year are rather chilly indeed.
Wakeup Copenhagen Borgerade
For a base, we chose Wakeup Copenhagen Borgerade, a great location for shopping with easy access to lots of wonderful Christmas markets at this time of year. From Copenhagen Airport, jump on the metro for just 20 minutes and find this hotel around a 5 minute walk from metro station Kongens Nytorv. Wakeup Copenhagen is modern and clean with small rooms with en-suite bathrooms. It is an ideal choice for a short break where you spend almost all of your time out exploring and don’t need your room to be anything fancy or grand. Copenhagen’s metro is straight forward to understand with very few lines and is very clean for a subway system. This location is also close to Nyhavn, a fantastic waterfront location with a variety of restaurants and picture-perfect, colourful buildings.
If you are planning a visit soon, check out your accommodation options in Copenhagen.
Copenhagen is a little pricey so personally I believe a short visit is ideal. You can experience many landmarks in a day or 2 with everything being fairly close together and easily accessible, so our trip of 2 nights was perfect for not over spending but still getting to experience this wonderful city.
Food in Copenhagen
We believe a mix of planning and spontaneity make for the best holidays. You want to make sure you don’t miss anything unique but at the same time you need to have the flexibility to enjoy something you didn’t know was there. We stumbled across all the places we ate and drank in during our stay and were never disappointed by the quality offered. Tivoli has a huge selection of restaurants inside the park and the area of Nyhavn offers a wide range of places to eat and drink in a very Danish setting. If you have specific dietary requirements though, I would recommend doing a little research into places that could accommodate you. We struggled to find soya milk in any coffee shop and the menus we saw didn’t appear to have vegan friendly meals, or even a good selection of vegetarian options.
The local currency is Danish Krone so this is one of those European cities where you can still get excited about handling a different currency. Denominations are high and it is super easy to not realize how much things are costing. My theory is, if it’s only for 48 hours, how much damage can I really do?
Try your best to get on board with a little Danish. A thank you always goes a long way! But if you struggle or are shy, we found that all menus were translated into English and Danes were happy to chat in English too. Tak Copenhagen!
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This Danish concept of ‘cosiness’ is strongly felt everywhere. You will notice that restaurants and bars offer outdoor seating even in the cold winter months, with blankets for wrapping up warm and feeling comfortable. It gets dark early in Danish winters, around 3.30pm during our visit, so you can appreciate the need to find little pleasures in these long, dark winters. In Copenhagen, they have mastered this well and it’s so wonderful to have the option of doing things outdoors during the colder months.
Lastly, don’t miss out on a Danish Pastry before leaving dear Copenhagen. You won’t be disappointed. From London, Copenhagen is roughly a 2 hour flight. Get Going!
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If now you need more, check out my other European Travel Diaries.
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Our ‘Must Read’ For Denmark is:
Our Book Review: This book explains the concept of ‘hygge’ and inspires the reader to mimic the Danes; a recipe for happiness, cosiness and feeling good. Whether you read it before you leave for Denmark to get you in the mood, purchase it after a visit to bring ‘hygge’ home with you or enjoy it as aeroplane reading, this book is brilliant for anyone who loves culture, interior design and real connection.