I spent two lovely days in Copenhagen, the capital of Denmark. There is so much to see and do and I think I could’ve spent an entire week there without getting bored. If you are doing a baltic cruise, Copenhagen is a great place to start from. I stayed one night at the Annex Copenhagen Hotel, which is right near the Copenhagen Central Train Station and Tivoli Gardens. It shares a building with Absalon Hotel, which offers a little bit nicer, yet more expensive, room options. It is in a great location. I was able to walk or catch a short bus ride to all attractions.
I started the morning off with Rosenborg Castle. This impressive palace was built in 1606 and was used as the seat of Danish kings for about a hundred years. The castle was opened to the public in 1838 and it houses a museum which displays Royal Collections including the Crown Jewels and the Danish Crown Regalia. It costs 110 DKK for adults.
The castle is surrounded by beautiful gardens, which is definitely worth visiting – especially in the summer when all the flowers bloom. It is, in fact, the oldest royal garden in the whole country. It was established in the 17th century to provide a place for the king to relax, as well as to supply the court with fresh fruit and vegetables. It was opened to the public at the end of the 18th century and it has become the most visited park in Copenhagen.
About a 20-minute walk from the palace is Kastellet. This fortress is one of the best-preserved fortifications in Europe. It was built in 1663 as a fortress and since the 19th century, it has been used as a prison. The buildings inside the Citadel were used as military barracks and offices. The park is now a lovely place to take a walk.
Be sure to walk all the way around the star-shaped island. You will come across Kastelsmollen. This windmill was built on the grounds of the citadel as a precaution so that there was a place to grind the grain for flour in the event of a siege. It is the only windmill in Copenhagen that still works.
Not far from the fortress is the staple of Copenhagen, The Little Mermaid statue. Unveiled in 1913, the sculpture was a gift from Danish brewer Carl Jacobsen to the City of Copenhagen. The sculpture is made of bronze and granite and was inspired by Hans Christian Andersen’s fairy tale about a mermaid who gives up everything to be united with a young, handsome prince on land. There will usually be a crowd of people waiting to take a selfie with the mermaid, so if you wish to avoid crowds then it is better to visit early in the morning.
Following the water back toward the other side of the fortress, you will come to St. Alban’s Anglican Church. It is the only Anglican Church in Denmark and serves members made up of over twenty-five different nationalities. It is free to enter the church and you will be warmly welcomed by someone handing you an information page in your language.
The church is situated in the beautiful Churchillparken with Gefion Fountain. The fountain has a statue of a woman with four bulls in front of her set at the top. The statue represents the pagan goddess Gefion. According to a legend, she turned her own sons into bulls and used them to plough all the land she could within 24 hours. The land that she had sloughed was granted to her by the King Gylfe of Zealand, and eventually became Zealand, the main island of Denmark.
Next, I took a 10-minute walk to Amalienborg Palace. The place complex, which serves as the residence of the Danish royals, consists of four palaces that are exact copies of one another, all organized symmetrically around small square. The statue of a man on a horse in the middle of the square depicts King Frederick V, who ruled the country in the 18th century. The palaces, built between 1750 and 1760, have been the home to the Danish monarchs ever since the Christiansborg Palace burned to the ground in 1794. While some of the palaces are not open to the public, the Christian VII’s Palace serves as a museum and is open to visitors for 105 DKK. Visit at noon if you want to see the changing of the guard ceremony.
From the palace, you can get a great view of Frederik’s Church, popularly known as the Marble Church. It is easily recognizable by its large green dome, which is the largest of its kind in all of Scandinavia. Some say it was inspired by the famous St. Peter’s Basilica in Rome. You can enter the dome to get a beautiful view of the the surrounding city. Admission to the church is free and the dome costs 35 DKK and only occurs at certain times throughout the day.
On the same street is Alexander Nevsky Church, which is the only Russian Orthodox Church in Copenhagen. It was built by the Russian government in the late 1800s prompted by Princess Dagmar of Denmark’s marriage to Alexander Alexandrovich.
Next, I walked through Saint Ann’s Square. Although it’s called a square, it is, in fact, a road filled with greenery and plants. The “square” was built over a canal. On the road you will pass by Garrison Church.
If you walk for another five minutes, you will come to Nyhavn, the New Port of Copenhagen, which is my favorite area. It is a narrow port full of beautiful ships from the old times, lined by rows of colorful buildings. The port is now considered an iconic sight of the city. This is a great spot to have lunch as there are several restaurants along the water to choose from. You can also take a boat tour from this area.
Across the street is Charlottenborg Palace. Initially built as a mansion for a Norwegian general, it is now the base of the Royal Danish Academy of Fine Arts. Next to the palace is the Royal Danish Theater.
These two buildings face King’s New Square, a lively square that features many architecturally beautiful and interesting houses along its main area paved with cobblestone. During the winter season, a large ice-skating rink is placed here.
On the other side of the square, be sure to take a walk down Street Shopping Street. The longest and oldest pedestrian street in the world, according to the city of Copenhagen sources, this street is the place to go to if you crave some high-end shopping experiences or just some souvenir shopping. You can find many artisans and performers around every corner here. If you are here at noon, you will see the royal guard perform a ceremonial march through the entire length of the street, heading from Rosenborg Castle to Amalienborg Palace.
While I was walking along the street, I was intrigued by the Guiness World Records museum. I paid 105 DKK to learn about the most incredible world records from all over. I loved how interactive the museum was. You can test yourself in the museum’s activity rooms.
After my visit at the museum, I walked to Christiansborg Palace. The palace serves as the seat of the Danish parliament, the Ministry of State, and the Supreme Court. Additionally, some of its parts are still used by the Royal Family for various events and ceremonies. Some parts of the palace are open to the public with guided tours and no advance booking is necessary. I chose to only look at it from the outside.
My next sight was Nikolaj Copenhagen Contemporary Art Center which occupies the former St. Nicholas Church. You can go up to the tower to get a good view of the city.
Walking toward the river, I stopped at Church of Holmen. First built as an anchor forge in 1563, it was converted into a naval church.
Across from the church is Borsen, the Old Stock Exchange. Dating back to 1625, it is one of the oldest buildings in Copenhagen. According to legend, the dragon-tailed spire guards the building against enemy attacks and fires, and surprisingly, it has many times been spared from damage, when fires have broken out in neighboring buildings. Today, the building is used for Galla dinners, conferences, parties, and other events.
A bit further down the road was Church of Our Savior. It is most famous for its helix spire with an external winding staircase that can be climbed to the top, offering extensive views over central Copenhagen. The line was very line so I decided to skip it, although I would love to go up when I return to Copenhagen one day.
I ended the evening with Tivoli Gardens. It is one of the oldest and most visited theme parks in the world, operating since 1843. The park boasts one of the oldest wooden roller coasters in the world called Rutschebanen, which was built back in 1914. Also, the world’s second tallest carousel, the Star Flyer, can be found here. There’s a plethora of exciting attractions, events, and restaurants in the park. It is definitely worth seeing both by day and after dusk when it gets all lit up. Rides are individually priced or you can purchase an unlimited wrist band. You can pay just to enter the park if you don’t want to ride any rides. If you can’t decide where to eat, the Tivoli Food Hall, which has several restaurants, is a great option and can also be accessed from outside of the park.
My flight out of Copenhagen on my second day departed at 10 PM so I had majority of the day to continue sight seeing. I started the morning off by walking around the outside of Tivoli Gardens. I stopped at New Carlsberg Glyptotek, an art museum that displays a great collection of Egyptian and Greek items, as well as Roman art. Apart from the collection of antiquities, the museum also contains a collection of French and Danish art.
On the opposite side of Tivoli Gardens and across from the main entrance is Axeltorv, a public square. The notable buildings here are the Circus Building, the Palads Cinema, and Axel Towers.
Not far from this square is another popular square. City Hall Square is over 120 years old and can hold over 50,000 people. Unfortunately when I was there, construction was occurring. It is frequently used for hosting events like concerts or celebrations. The square is surrounded by shops, restaurants, and statues.
Towering directly over the square is the building that made it famous, the Copenhagen City Hall. City Hall is the headquarters of the municipal council, as well as the Lord Mayor of the Copenhagen Municipality. It is one of the tallest buildings in Copenhagen, and offers a great view over the city. City Hall is an open building where you can come and go as you please during the opening hours, except from the tower where you’ll need to be escorted by a guide. Tower visits occur Monday to Friday at 11 AM and 2 PM and on Saturday at 12 PM for 30 DKK.
Taking another walk down Stroget Street, I stopped at Church of Our Lady. It is situated on Free Plays public square, next to the main building of the University of Copenhagen. There is free admission to the church. In the public square, there is a local market.
Next, I took the easy walk up Round Tower to get an awesome view of the city. Instead of stairs, you just walk up an inclined ramp to the top. Be sure to take a look at the astronomical observatory, which is a separate set of stairs from the top viewpoint. The tower costs 25 DKK.
There are churches on just about every corner of Copenhagen. The last one that I stopped at was Church of the Holy Ghost. It is one of the oldest churches in Copenhagen, founded at the beginning of the 15th century and is located on Stroget street. Admission to the church is free.
I was given two restaurant recommendations from friends and when I realized that they were walking distance from one another, I decided to eat at both of them for lunch. I started at Hija de Sanchez and had their delicious tacos. Everything is made from scratch and they import their own corn from Oaxaca to make the masa and all of the tortillas are freshly made. They even have their own homemade organic cheese. There are two locations in Copenhagen, but I went to the one near my hotel.
I then went to War Pigs to have their amazing BBQ. Here you will find authentic Texas barbecue and American-Danish style brews. They always have 22 fresh beers on tap, most of them brewed, as well as a selection of bottles and spirits, and a wine list to keep everyone happy during their visit. The BBQ is traditional Texan style: slow-low smoked and dry rub spiced. They sell out of meat most nights so don’t go too late if you want to make sure to taste their tender cuts.
I still had time to kill in the afternoon, so I took a bus to Torvehallerne Indoor Market. Here you can find over 60 stands selling everything from fresh fish and meat to gourmet chocolate and exotic spices, as well as small places where you can have a quick bite to eat. I decided just to have a drink at one of the bars.
Afterwards, I took a short walk to Pebble Lake. There was a nice path around the lake and you can rent paddle boats if you’d like. I followed the lakes back toward the hotel, where I passes the planetarium building. If you have time, a visit to the Tycho Brahe Planetarium would be some great educational entertainment.
My final stop of my trip was at another recommendation, Urban House bar, where I enjoyed a nice cocktail. This was conveniently right across from my hotel so I could easily go pick up my luggage before heading to the airport.