Denmark’s cool capital city has been on my list since my mum went years ago and loved it. As soon as I got there I wished I hadn’t waited so long and when I left I knew I’d be going back. Copenhagen’s mix of old and new, laid back vibe and Scandi cool are perfect for a weekend with the girls. And its really not as expensive as you might think.
My annual challenge is to find somewhere that the six of us can go for two nights and offers a good blend of interesting sights and decent shopping, as well as great food and drink options. Very important as it’s what we spend a lot of our time doing – because it’s really just an extended girls night out.
I always look for a fairly short flight so not too much time is spent travelling and Copenhagen is an ideal 1 hour 50 minutes from London. We went with Norwegian which is pretty good for a low cost airline and a return fare was less than £100. From the airport its an easy 13 minute train ride to the Central Station and the fab Andersen Hotel is just a few minutes walk from there.
Compared to other European cities the hotel was definitely more pricey at just short of £100 each a night, but with the cheap flight it was still less than £300 all in which is pretty similar to other trips. And the hotel was well worth it – very stylish rooms, great breakfast and our favourite feature – wine hour. We made very good use of that at 5pm each day!
Once checked in we went walking which is always the best way to get a feel for a new city. And Copenhagen is an easy place to both walk and cycle around. There were bikes everywhere but it felt very different to in and around London. The bikes were all the sit up and beg type being rather sedately ridden, rather than the sports cycles I constantly seem to dodge at home. Our destination was Nyhavn, Copenhagen’s most photogenic canal.
Needless to say its a busy place with plenty of tourists taking a boat trip or admiring the colourful 17th century town houses. Its also home to Charlottenborg Slot, the Royal Academy of Fine Arts. There are regular exhibitions inside and on this occasion one installation was outside too. A spectacular collage of African jute sacks was covering the entire building.
But despite its popularity Nyhavn was a great spot for sitting in the sunshine and having our first taste of Danish cuisine at H.C. Andersens Cafe. I had the ‘Open Sandwich with Potatoes’, which was a lot nicer than its sounds with new potatoes, avocado creme, smoked cheese and radishes on Danish rye bread.
Continuing the Andersen theme we next decided to track down another of Copenhagen’s most photographed sites, the Little Mermaid, which was not as easy as we expected.
First our route first took us around by the Skuespilhueset, the city’s very modern playhouse theatre. It’s on the harbour front where there were also lots of people sprawled in decks chairs enjoying the beautiful autumn sunshine. Opposite is Paper Island, home to Copenhagen Street Food, a huge market of all kinds of food stalls.
We wandered along the other side of the water, passing by the entrance to Amalienborg Slot, home of the current queen, Margrethe I. Not far from here and housed in an old hospital is Designmuseum Danmark, which we didn’t have time for but is definitely on my list for next time.
Pressing on we found it was quite a walk to the Little Mermaid and not particularly well sign posted. We walked along one path for a while before realising we need to be a level below and the only way to get there was retracing our steps. Still, eventually we found her and took the obligatory photo.
Back at the hotel wine hour was in full swing and that night it lasted a lot longer than an hour as a very generous member of staff was in charge. Eventually we dragged ourselves away to get ready for dinner in the trendy Kodbyen, Copenhagen’s meatpacking district. Fish was on the menu for most of us though, at Kodbyens Fiskebar. After dinner we walked amongst the cyclists and bars to have a couple more for the road at Pate Pate, which you won’t be surprised to learn is in an old pate factory.
Having already passed by a couple of Copenhagen’s castles, or Slots as they are called in Danish, the following morning we headed for a proper visit to Rosenborg Slot, one of the cities most fabulous and famous landmarks. Built in the 17th century its like a fairytale castle on the outside, while inside its packed with beautifully preserved rooms.
It’s a wonderful place to spend time moving from one gorgeous room to another, including the Treasury where the Crown Jewels are displayed, and the basement which is filled with royal regalia and gifts, as well as some huge wine barrels.
It wasn’t far to walk from here to another Copenhagen landmark, the Rundetaarn, a 35m high red brick round tower. There’s a spiral ramp which makes it easy to walk up and see the great views from the top. Part way up is the Library Hall where there was a really cool art exhibition, so well worth stopping off.
Rundetaarn is close to the city’s main shopping district with the long pedestrianised Stroget and many other streets off it that were packed with plenty of great looking goods for sale. We were ready for lunch and spotted an entrance and lift to a range of rooftop restaurants. It was all very swish looking, so it was only once we’d walked all round checking out the options that we realised we were on the top floor of Illums Bolihgus department store. Not your average in-store food court.
After lunch we decided we’d rather explore the streets of the Latin Quarter than more shops and also found Vor Frue Kirke, Copenhagen’s neoclasical cathedral which we’d spotted from the top of the round tower. I really liked its high vaulted ceilings and columns.
That evening we walked the opposite way out of the hotel to the previous night and headed to Vesterbrogade, the main road in the Vesterbro district. Dinner was booked at Madklubben, another cool spot with an industrial chic look. They were running late but gave us a free bottle of fizz which we were happy with, but the service issues did continue as they had a massive party in a private room. Food was great though.
Cocktails were next on the agenda and there were plenty of options in Vesterbro, but we were surprised to find that for most bars you needed a booking. After having no luck at Lidkoeb and the pretty tiny Duck & Cover we got lucky at Curfew where the lovely waitress found us a spot by asking some people to squish in a bit. It was a really great bar that did fab cocktails and squishing made for some friendly conversations with other tables.
The next day was my birthday so we treated ourselves to some fizz with our orange juice for breakfast and set off for Tivoli Gardens, Denmark’s top tourist attraction and the second oldest amusement park in the world. And unusually for a park like this, its right in the city centre.
We weren’t really sure what to expect as not regular visitors to amusement parks, but we thought it was great. Some fun and scary rides alongside traditional games and stalls, open air shows and all in a really lovely setting including a lake with a big old pirate ship that’s a restaurant.
I rather unwisely agreed to venture on to the Fatamorgana where you’re strapped in seats that shoot to top of a very high tower and then spin around out and over the city streets below. Unwise because I have vertigo. No idea what I was thinking, it was absolutely terrifying!
As well as the rides there were some fun stalls with games like Galoppen where you rapidly roll balls to make your plastic horse and jockey race to the finish. And there are stacks of places to eat in Tivoli too. We opted for traditional Danish restaurant, Faergekroen Bryghus, which coincidentally but rather fittingly was part of the same group as H.C. Andersens Cafe where we’d had lunch on the first day.
And that was pretty much the end of our weekend in Copenhagen, apart from a quick train ride back to the airport where we had one last wine hour to toast another fab European city break.
Click on a photo below to scroll through the galleries and check the Europe section of my blog for lots of other great short break ideas.