Copenhagen is not the first city that comes to mind when considering a city break, as it is cold, wet and ridiculously expensive.
In short, there are a number of good reasons to ignore the Danish capital. Especially since the Vikings have succumbed to a middle-class existence, there are no longer ‘big bad bearded men’ to flirt with.
So why would you still want to visit Copenhagen?
Sightseeing in Copenhagen
Well, Copenhagen still makes for a nice weekend break because the city has a green heart with a pleasant mix of historic buildings and modern facades.
The city has only half a million inhabitants, which is small for a capital even for European standards, thus ideal for a short and sweet weekend of sightseeing. Most sights can easily be reached by walking, cycling or in case of bad weather by public transport.
Topping the ‘must see’ list is the one and only ‘Little Mermaid’, indeed one of those icons that need to be ticked off the bucket list.
The little mermaid
In the unlikely case that you have never heard of it, it’s a tiny but fine bronze sculpture from 1913, which stands at the entrance of the city harbour.
The mermaid is to Copenhagen as the Eiffel Tower is to Paris or the Big Ben to London. Of course with a height of only 1.25 meters, the dimensions of the statue are considerably smaller than the main attractions in the other metropolises, but so is the city itself.
Tivoli park is the second oldest amusement park in the world and after the mermaid the second biggest attraction in Copenhagen. On the park grounds, you will find plenty of restaurants, theatres, interesting architecture and lush gardens. Entrance tickets go from ten euros. The park is right in the centre, next to the Central Railway Station.
On your way from the historic centre to the mermaid, you pass the colourful Nyhavn. This was originally a busy commercial port where ships from all over the world moored. The area has always been famous for its nightlife. Even nowadays the renovated buildings mainly house bars and restaurants. The oldest property in this neighbourhood is no. 9, dating back to 1681.
Especially in the summer, the old ‘new’ harbour is a convivial place, an ideal spot to relax on the terraces overlooking the harbour.
Amalienborg is the residence of the Danish royal family. From outside it is nothing special, but at noon you can watch the changing of the guard, who goes by the name of “Den Kongelige Livgarde”.
By visiting the museum pertaining to the palace you can see the sculptures, tapestries, paintings, gold and furniture of the royal family. The museum is closed on Mondays, except during holiday periods.
The botanical garden is a wonderful nostalgic place with historic greenhouses. The most striking element is the 16-meter high palm house built in 1874. The gardens cover an area of ten hectares with more than 13,000 (!) different plant species.
Kastellet is a fortification near the little mermaid. The fortifications are particularly special by the pentagonal shape with five bastions. On the Kastellet grounds, you will find a church, a prison and a windmill.
Although the complex is owned by the Danish Ministry of Defense, it is also a cultural-historical monument, with a museum and a park accessible to the public.
We stayed at Hotel Saga, a good budget option. The hotel is at walking distance (150m) from Central Station. The rooms have comfortable beds. However, it is located on the second and third floor of the building, without an elevator. Therefore it is not suitable for those with impaired mobility.
In the area, you will find many restaurants. For other accommodation options in Copenhagen click here.
If you’re serious about sightseeing the “Copenhagen Card” might be an idea. The card is not cheap but you get access to 79 museums and attractions and it comes with public transport included.
Using the Flixbus is an economical way to see Europe. However it is rather slow, but an environmentally friendly option. If you prefer to fly, look here for cheap flights.
In Denmark pay with the Danish krone. But you will probably do so electronically. Even relatively small amounts (coffee) can be paid by card. So do not take too much cash, because otherwise afterwards the surplus Kroners have to be exchanged with a probable loss.
If you wish to combine your city trip with a visit to Legoland, this can be arranged as a day trip by taking public transport (bus and train) from Copenhagen, but probably feels rushed as it takes approximately 4 hours to get there. The park opens its gates at ten o’clock.
Legoland also has its own airport; Billund, for those eager to get there quickly.
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