I have so far lived my life believing that I was born to be a jack (or jill?) of all trades. I would be interested in something, learn about it, be somewhat decent at it and move on to new things.
Until I found myself in Copenhagen more than five years ago and fell completely in love with the city. Since then, I found that I can be especially good at something, i.e. travelling back to the same city over and over again just to do the same things that I love.
Till date, I have travelled to Copenhagen on five different occasions, and I have met the Crown Prince of Denmark (here we go again), which is why I think I am properly qualified to give my opinion on what the best things to do in this city are.
So here are my personal favourites, in random order.
Take a stroll at Nyhavn
My absolute favourite place, and this lovely harbour has been featured numerous times in this blog. Walking to Nyhavn from Kongens Nytorv Metro Station is like finding a colourful surprise after a somewhat gray (albeit beautiful) stroll at the heart of Copenhagen.
A few streets and turns later, there it is, the iconic harbour of Nyhavn.
If you notice, there was a line of people forming at the dock. They were going for the Copenhagen Canal Tour, which brings me to my next point.
Take the Copenhagen Canal Tour
I know that canal tours are available all around Europe, from Amsterdam to Stockholm to Bruges and any other cities with a canal flowing through the city. But for some (probably biased) reason, Copenhagen’s canal tour remains at the top of my list (I fell asleep during the one in Stockholm), perhaps because it was the first ever one that I went for in Europe, but equally likely because the views were a lot more stunning than the rest.
Starting from 17th-century style Nyhavn, this one-hour tour feels like a travel through time as it explores the different parts of Copenhagen that flourish by the water. The remains of an old castle that was burned down ages ago, an ancient brewery with some interesting trivia of Danes and their love for beer, and old wooden ships anchored somewhere at the canal.
In the very same tour, you can see how this city has progressed into modern era, with buildings like the Opera House and the Black Diamond, as well as luxurious waterfront apartments.
I shall stop here before giving too much spoiler about the tour. Bottom line, it is a great way to see the city in a short period of time. Recommended to do at the start of your visit in Copenhagen so you know what the city has to offer, before going to visit the sights that you like best.
Say hello to The Little Mermaid (Den Lille Havfrue)
This little statue is always a subject of debate no matter where she goes. People often debate of her importance to the city; there was a national debate whether she should be brought over to Shanghai for World Expo in 2010; tourists debate whether she is overrated. To me, the statue itself may not be extremely impressive and does not have as much historical value as people think she does, but it is still a must-visit anyway, just because.
Plus, the Mermaid Park provides a gorgeous sight to anyone especially in the summer.
And at the end of the walk, you are rewarded with finding the legendary lady perched on a pile of rocks. Or if you are lucky and happen to be visiting on the Mermaid’s birthday, you can see a boat full of young girls letting go of balloons and jumping into the water afterwards. Not a bad sight after all, especially for guys.
Let’s stray a little further from the canal and enter into a new quarter altogether. Christiania is the epitome of a hippie town, being a self-proclaimed autonomous neighbourhood within Copenhagen. As you enter the wooden gate of Christiania, you are leaving behind the neat and orderly Copenhagen and into a place where everything is just that little bit crazier.
And when I say crazy, I mean that the whole place smells of weed, or it seemed rather normal for a guy to appear stark naked out of nowhere, or for a tour guide to be dressed like a witch (she was very lovely fyi) or for a house to have only its roof above ground.
Or you can suddenly see a Nepalese Boudhanath appear in front of you.
And there is an awesome burger place in this little town (although the absence of weed from the burger is not guaranteed now that I think about it).
A word of disclaimer: Take pictures at your own risk. There is a massive ‘NO PHOTOGRAPHY’ sign near the entrance to Christiania. Rumours say that someone will come and smash your camera if you dare to take pictures, although I’m not sure where this restriction ends. So far I have managed to sneak these pictures once the sign is no longer in sight, and I have come out unscathed so far.
Closest Metro: Christianshavn.
Relive your childhood at Tivoli
I am in danger of listing down every single thing that I have done in Copenhagen, so I am going to be extra selective and squeeze in my last (but not least) favourite activity in this city: entering the magical land of Tivoli.
Opened in 1843, Tivoli is the second oldest amusement parks in the world, preceded only by Dyrehavsbakken, also in Denmark. Don’t expect Tivoli to be anything like your modern Disneyland or Universal Studios. It still preserves much of its old-school feel, with wooden roller coasters and buildings, but over time more exciting rides have been added to the parks, including “Vertigo” and “The Star Flyer” the world’s second tallest carousel.
Tivoli is equally fun by day and night. Everything is more visible when the sun is still up and it is probably less chilly for you to take those crazy rides, while at night the park has a whole new magical feel altogether when the lights start to twinkle.
The entrance to Tivoli is right next to Copenhagen Central Station so there is no excuse for you to skip this place.
So there you are, if you have limited time in Copenhagen, I would strongly recommend you NOT to miss any of these things!