3 days in Copenhagen’s city centre and its neighbourhoods
This is our fourth time in Europe and we are focusing on Scandinavia this time. I sort of forgot that our Greece trip last year is also considered Europe, but since we were mostly concentrated in Greece that time, and not a few different countries at once, I kept thinking this was our third.
It’s a huge journey from Australia to Europe. I hardly look forward to it, but long flights are something you have to deal with when you’re on an island in the southern hemisphere and you’re just generally far from where you want to visit! I never like to keep the feeling of a long haul flight in my mind. In fact, I forget how arduous it is by the time we have another one. Thankfully, we had business class on our side this time, since we were able to book flights with frequent flyer/credit card points well over a year ago. It made the sleeping part of the flight more comfortable, and I actually remembered compression socks this time.
After flying for 7 hours, laying over in Singapore for a couple of hours, and then flying for another 12 hours, we landed in Copenhagen at the wee hour of 7:00am. This always weirds me out, and always amuses me, and I love to tell people about this bizarre feeling of flying in the morning or midday, spending an entire day on a plane, and arriving super early the next morning. Ah, timezones. You funny thing, you. It never feels as fun the opposite way around, though, when you realise you lose an entire day in flying to Australia from somewhere like Europe or the US. 😅 I always disliked the joke about us being in the future, because we’re not—but when you travel, it sort of feels that way.
Since it was rather early, our hotel room wasn’t ready, but we had already planned to explore the town. We started with Nyhavn, by the waterfront, and it was extremely quiet. The sun was nice, and we soon realised it would be very humid during our stay. Considering rain was in the weather forecast and we had only been looking at the temperature, we were pretty surprised by the humidity making it feel so much warmer as we didn’t even think to look at that. My raincoat was serving me well by keeping me warm, too.
We purchased LycaMobile SIM cards from a vending machine at the airport after passing through immigration. It was easy to set up but took a few minutes for it to connect. Once we connected to mobile networks, we purchased the Copenhagen Card on its phone app. The “Discover” card got us into most of the attractions we wanted to see and all the transport we needed to take. We bought a three-day pass, which we activated just before we jumped on the train from the airport. This meant that the 72 hours would expire just after we would be due to leave the city, so it would be perfect timing. The card gives free entrance to many attractions in Copenhagen, including some in the city of Helsingborg and in some other areas of Denmark. We didn’t have time to take a day trip elsewhere, but the card would be very worth it for covering the cost of travelling to well outside of Copenhagen itself. It was easy to activate on our phones, and you don’t need to “tap” the card, but you just need to be ready to show the card to an officer if asked. There are pretty hefty fines for not paying for public transport in Denmark.
We spent our first day exploring the city. The Round Tower gave us a nice view of Copenhagen, though as far as European cities go, I don’t think it was that magnificent of a view. The interesting part about the tower was the steep and flat floor inside that led to the top, with only a small set of stairs just at the very top. It made it somewhat easier to walk up and down, and although the venue isn’t completely accessible, we saw someone being pushed up in their wheelchair!
Walking down shopping streets in Europe is always interesting to me because we don’t often have the same stores—or even the same items in stock, because of the opposite seasons—in Australia, so we spent some time looking at clothing stores we’d never been to. We killed some time in the Guinness World Records Museum, but it was rather underwhelming and not well maintained.
That evening we went to the well-known brewpub Warpigs, in the “meatpacking district” in the area of Vesterbro. We only checked out that area, which you could kind of tell was a meatpacking area because of the big parking area and industrial style of buildings. We would return to explore more of Vesterbro a couple days later.
We dedicated the following day to exploring specific neighbourhoods outside of the central area that we were keen on exploring. We went to Nørrebro, supposedly a rather hip area of Copenhagen, and Østerbro, which was home to the biggest park in Copenhagen, Fælledparken.
We started with a semi-fancy brunch at a place called Sidecar, that had tasty bottomless brunch of both hot and cold food. On the way there we took a walk through the Assistens Cemetery where famous author Hans Christian Andersen, was buried. There is a mermaid statue in town but we didn’t bother going out of our way to check it out, as to be honest, we weren’t that interested. 😅 Normalise not ticking off every tourist attraction wherever you travel! I think that we learned after our first Europe trip that we were really not that into some of the museums and galleries, and that just because something was well-known didn’t mean that it was worth our time (personally). There are also lots of tourist traps out there.
I was very keen on seeing Superkilen in Nørrebro after looking at extravagant photos of it. Photos can either not do a place justice, or be taken in a way that make them look more impressive. Thankfully, the photos really lived up to how the public park looked in real life. Bold and interesting.
We didn’t spend a lot of time relaxing in Fælledparken, as we were just enjoying walking through the greenery and looking around, but every time I see large green spaces on my travels, I can imagine how much the locals would enjoy it. At least I’m the kind of person who enjoys those spaces back at home! 🌳
The Danish Design Museum was included in our Copenhagen card and it looked like it was interesting based on the photos, so we stopped by there before returning to our hotel for a break. It was a lot bigger than we expected, and we spent much longer there than expected, too. We didn’t realise until we walked through it that it wasn’t just Danish-focused but it was about the evolution and use of design in humans’ lives in general. I was particularly enthralled by the temporary special exhibition upon entry, which showcased some art and interactive art that explored mental health and mental well-being.
There was a rudimentary gym in our hotel so we had a quick workout in the afternoon. This is our only trip we’ve taken since travelling together that we have really considered maintaining a workout routine on a trip. After a handful of three-to-four week trips without access to a gym with weights, we would come back home always feeling like we had to catch up on our strength again. But we sought out some gyms in the places we are travelling this time, so that we can work out at least twice or three times a week.
In the evening we visited Tivoli, an old theme park with all the hallmarks of a traditional amusement park, but obviously still very popular. We ate at a restaurant there (it was OK) and enjoyed being amongst the crowds and seeing people enjoy themselves. We decided not to go on any rides, but I convinced Nick to play the whack-a-mole game with me because I feel like it’s one of the less “scammy” games that aren’t purely based on luck—and I actually like it. I got many more points than Nick and ended up getting enough points to get a prize. I didn’t correctly look at the amount the prize token was, so I just got a shitty little squashy stress ball with a face on it, but the woman gave me the change so I traded it in for a small plushie doughnut. Hilarious. If you use the Copenhagen card you can get free entry into Tivoli, and walk around and enjoy everything, but you will need to pay for a rides ticket and any games you want to play.
The following day we did a bit more walking and exploring, coming back to Vesterbro for breakfast/brunch. It was here that I was enthralled by the combination of peaches and cheese, something I have spotted a couple of times in our Scandinavian travels.
After more walking, we stopped by a food hall just to get a beverage as it was a warm day. Then we walked to Freetown Christiania, a mostly non-governed area that has a small population and a “pusher street” where people sell marijuana—although it is illegal. Tourists are welcome but photos are not allowed in the “pusher street”. Photos were allowed generally, but it’s recommended not to take photos of people as they may not like it.
Our next stop was CopenHill (also known as Amager Bakke), which we visited on foot. It was a bit of a long walk and my legs were tired! I was looking forward to catching the bus after. The waste management plant doubles as a recreational space too, with skiing and snowboarding, a hiking trail, and an outdoor rock climbing wall on one side of the building. We weren’t intending on participating in any of the activities (it’s also been a while since I’ve rock climbed), so we just took the elevator up to the top and walked the stairs all the way down after checking out the view. The steps were nice and large and easy to step down. We saw a couple of people skiing and snowboarding down the grassy terrain, which was covered in a special sort of mesh. I don’t know much about skiing and snowboarding but I assume it was to create some kind of traction. Nick asked, “Do you think it gets covered in snow in the winter?” I definitely assumed so—it would be perfect!
That evening it actually started to rain very heavily, but we were glad it kept away for most of our stay in Copenhagen. For dinner we went to a pretty fancy Asian fusion restaurant called Sticks’n’sushi, which was not far from where we were staying. Nick made a comment part way during our trip, “I bet at some point you’re going to say you’re so sick of everything and that you feel like Asian food”. He’s not wrong—I do this on virtually every trip. I just love a lot of Asian cuisine, OK. 🥲
I did feel like I was craving some fish, though! It was a nice way to end our stay in Copenhagen. I think that although we didn’t explore much outside of the city and could have seen more of Denmark, we had a solid few days where I feel like we saw enough of the city and its neighbourhoods. If you think I’m wrong, let me know. 😉
Other posts about this Scandinavian trip: