Copenhagen is one of those places that you always say ‘oh it would be nice to go there’ but it never really makes it any further up on your list of priorities. To me, most of the Scandinavian countries sit in the same boat, so this summer, I decided to tackle three countries in 8 days.
Rather than fly into the beautiful city – which may have seemed like the logical way to travel – I travelled by train from Germany. This in itself was an amazing experience. A few hours on the train, followed by a short ferry ride from Puttgarden to Rødbyhavn and then another couple of hours on a different train – although the ferry ride was due to some sort of technical difficulty, because apparently the train actually goes over the water…on its own ferry.
By the time we got to Copenhagen, we were a little worn out but still excited. It took us about half an hour to walk to the hotel from the station and our accommodation was clean, affordable and in prime location at the Wakeup Copenhagen, Borgergade.
The hotel was great and exactly what we were looking for. The room was cosy and clean and super functional. The two nights for two people cost around £150 (which works out at about £37.50 pppn).
After settling into our room, we headed out to a nice little restaurant we’d spotted on the way, called Cantina. The quaint little restaurant with windows big enough to walk through was almost opposite the Wakeup and was perfect to satisfy our hunger. With amazing pizzas starting at 100 DKK it was the perfect way to start our trip.
We decided to explore the area a little and walked back through the main shopping district we’d dragged our suitcases through only a few hours before. Although all the shops were shut, the bars and restaurants were a hubbub of activity.
As is tradition in every city we visit, we made our way to the Hard Rock Café on Rådhuspladsen for some cocktails and the obligatory t-shirt purchase. We then marvelled at Copenhagen’s city hall and Tivoli Gardens just out front before wandering back up Strøget – one of the longest pedestrian shopping streets in Europe – to the hotel.
Our first day began bright and early with coffee and croissants at MJ Coffee on the corner of Borgergade and Gothersgade. It was a great little spot to people watch and bask in the surprisingly warm sun.
A boat tour of Copenhagen
The first activity on our agenda was a bout tour – the perfect way to get around the city and see the sights whilst saving time and money.
(We love doing city tours when we visit a new place, especially when we’re not sure what we want to do and just want to get a good feel of the city. The Hop On Hop Off ones are often the best)
Our chosen tour was with Netto Boats and cost just 40 DKK per person but was well worth it. The guide was insightful, informative and entertaining and took us on a complete canal tour of the city.
(There are loads of boat tour companies down by the Harbour. Whilst we had researched the company we want to use, it was also a bit of random choice and it just so happened these guys were a fairly good price – if you wanted to just rock up and find one, it wouldn’t be that difficult.)
After disembarking, Lee suggested we indulge my love of books and visit The Royal Library – also called The Black Diamond because of the way the glass sparkles like diamonds when it reflects the water.
(This is why these tours are so good – we hadn’t thought to visit the Library before but you really couldn’t miss it when we were cruising the canals and it looked like the ideal stop-off point.)
The library was amazing; it overlooked the canal and was kitted out with comfy deckchairs by the water. We stopped by the café for a snack before walking through the beautiful nearby gardens.
The gardens were over the road behind the Danish Jewish Museum of Culture and History, tucked between the trees in a small oasis of calm and stunning foliage. And filled with millennials playing Pokemon Go – there’s a gym there.
Carlsberg factory tour
We walked back towards the City Hall and down Vesterbrogade to where the Carlsberg Tour Bus waited. This was a free service that came as part of our ticket – which cost a reasonable 95 DKK – and is definitely easier than attempting to navigate the public transport routes.
(You can also buy your entry ticket from the bus steward.)
The brewery is a self-guided tour that took us through the old converted warehouses and distilleries and gave us an insight into the origin of the global beer brand. They even had the world record for the largest collection of unopened beer bottles; there was a display on the first floor with literally thousands of beer bottles from all over the world.
Like any beer factory tour, we had taster coupons to cash in and took some time to chill out and enjoy a beer or two – I may have chickened out and stuck with a soft drink, but did find myself a Tuborg tuktuk.
With the weather being so good, there was an outdoor grill and marquee that was open to visitors, serving beer, sausages and burgers. After a quick pit-stop for lunch, we jumped in the back of a horse-drawn wagon, ready for the tour that takes you through the still-functioning factory. We were really lucky because these tours only leave at certain times of the day and I think we managed to catch the last one!
The tour took us away from the old factory and weaved it’s way between the grand old buildings where we enjoyed a therapeutic – yet somewhat bumpy – ride.
The tour was excellent, and really added to the whole experience. We even got to see the famous Carlsberg elephants.
After being on our feet all day, it’s safe to say we were exhausted. We trudged back to the hotel and pretty much collapsed onto the bed. After an hour or two of recuperation, we realised the day was still young and headed back down the high street, did a spot of shopping and visited Copenhagen’s only Lego shop, because – of course – we just had to.
We only had one whole day in Copenhagen, so it was important we did as much as we could. And whilst we’d looked at Tivoli Gardens in our research, we’d discounted it. Now, being in the city, we knew it was something we had to do.
Entry was 110 DKK which gave us access to a wonderland of entertainment; live music, live entertainment and a beautiful space – I wish we could have stayed there all week.
The Gardens had an amazing collection of additional activities for an additional cost. Although technically classed as a theme park, it was a lot tamer than Disneyland (but just as fantastical) and include some of the more typical funfair rides.
As well as the rides and funfair stalls, there was loads of free entertainment that ranged from live music to live dance.
In between all this were extravagantly themed restaurants and cafes – more choice than you would ever need. We chose to pay the entry fee of a few DKK per person and enjoy the mini aquarium which was well worth it.
By this point, it was getting late and we were exhausted. We made our way back to our hotel to catch an early(ish) night so we could feel fresh for the 6 hour train to Stockholm the following day.