Intro to Copenhagen
The capital of Denmark and capital of a once mighty Danish Empire that at various times ruled much of Scandinavia; Denmark and Copenhagen hit its peak in the 19th century. Despite on and off wars with other European powers the Danes managed to build a grand capital. Copenhagen relied heavily on the sea for its prosperity and the city is lined with charming canals. Today Denmark is a small but wealthy country known for its social welfare, like many of its Scandinavian neighbors.
Copenhagen makes for a good 4 day weekend, if you can get direct flights. It might be a little much if you’re connecting. From New York you can book awesome cheap direct flights on Norwegian Air (NOT available on Expedia or any other booking site). Copenhagen can also be explored at the beginning or end to a longer Scandinavian itinerary. You can take an overnight boat cruise to Oslo or a high speed train to Sweden.
Danes have right fully deserved a reputation for being hard working and efficient. You’ll notice this immediately upon arrival at the sleek airport where the air train will quickly whisk you right into the city’s downtown.
The city’s sightseeing card, Copenhagen Card, can be purchased at the airport. It covers the museums you’re going to see and a canal boat tour.
When we went
Early spring, Easter weekend to be exact. It was still chilly but by no means unbearable.
What we did/itinerary
Kongens Nytorv is the delightful cobbled square at the base of Nyhavn Harbor, the must have photo of Copenhagen. Upon arrival we had a coffee and took in the very Danish surroundings. At the base of the harbor where the square hits the water are tour boats that run through the canals. These serve as a great intro to the city.
You’ll see signs for Carlsberg beer everywhere. It’s the hometown beverage of choice. The Carlsberg family even funded one of the city’s finest museums, the NY Carlsberg Glyptotek museum, which has a nice collection of Van Goghs, Picassos, and Monets.
The city has two other must see museums. The National Museum traces Danish civilization back to its roots and has a collection of bog people. Ancient Danes unlucky enough to meet their end in one of the country’s marshy patches probably didn’t realize the bogs would preserve their bodies and ensure they ended up in a display case in a museum. The Danes had no shot when the Nazis invaded but that didn’t stop a heroic few from trying to resist. Their efforts and some of their homemade weapons are memorialized at the Danish Resistance Museum.
Denmark still has a royal family but they hold no real power. The impressive Christianborg Palace was built for a king in the 1920s in a older Renaissance style but now houses only government offices. The Queen uses it for some state ceremonies.
Rosenborg Palace was the home of Denmark’s greatest King, Christian IV. Inside you’ll find many artifacts from his life and a thrown room decorated with huge tapestries depicting naval battles against the hated Swedes.
Copenhagen is home to one of the world’s oldest amusement parks, Tivoli Gardens. It’s right in the city and makes for a great evening stop.
In the 1970s an army base in what was then a fairly undesirable part of town closed up. When it left, a group of free spirits moved in and never left. Christiana as it’s known is a thriving alternative community known for its lax drug policy. Marijuana is sold openly on “Pusher Street” and the local cops don’t intervene. This is either some kind of social utopia or a seedy drug nest depending on your view. Either way its perfectly safe to stroll through, just don’t take photos (really).
Roskilde is a fun, must do, day trip from Copenhagen. You’ll take the local S-Zog train to get there. The little town is home to a very famous music festival, the most important church in Denmark, and a fascinating Viking Ship Museum.
The Hotel Bethel is located in an old sailors quarter on Nyhavn. The rooms are a little sparse but the price is right, the building is beautiful, the location is great, and check out that view!
Looks like we forgot to write these down. But if you’re looking for a great area, go to Friars Square, there are a number of restaurants that spill out into the square. All make for a lovely atmosphere. Also, be sure to try one of those Danish hot dogs from one of the various stands in the city.