October 1, 2018
What Copenhagen lacks in size it makes up for in unique culture, design and colour. Having experienced five days of a stunning Copenhagen summer, I want to share with you a glimpse of the trip, a taster if you will – a day in the life of Denmark’s capital, Copenhagen.
Known for its grandiose castles, picturesque canals and quality restaurants, Denmark’s capital is a vibrant destination just screaming out for tourist attention. It’s a small city, with a population sitting halfway between that of the Sunshine Coast and Brisbane, but the quality of food, design, history and architecture means it possesses all of the qualities of any of the larger European capitals, and because of its pint size, it’s easier to see it all in a matter of days.
On arrival to the Copenhagen central station from the airport, I take in the sights, smells and sounds of this modern city. Apart from the immediate and constant aroma of freshly baked goods (drool), the first thing I notice about my new surroundings is the sheer number of bikes taking up footpaths, bike lanes and parks. It’s well known as a city for cyclists, so-much-so that its inhabitants clock up 1.4 million kilometres on bikes in a single weekday.
Within an hour of checking into The Urban House Hostel in the inner city suburb of Vestebro I make like the locals and hire a bike that will allow me to take in this gorgeous city over the next five days. The hostel offers its own bike hire facility along with many other handy amenities for all types of travellers. There are even families staying in this hostel, which is a small but comforting detail when you are travelling by yourself.
Once I have chosen a trusty sidekick in the form of a forest green bicycle, I decide to loop around the city centre on my new set of wheels, taking in canals, a historic fortress, a museum for design lovers, a recognisable childhood figure, and an Insta-worthy hub, before heading to a gentrified district famous for its restaurants.
“This city was designed by and for locals, down to the most intricate details. It’s no wonder it’s one of the happiest cities in the world.”
As I ride towards my first destination, The Kastelet Star Fortress, I admire the beauty of the Sankt Jørgens Sø; three rectangular lakes that have curved along the city centre since the beginning of the 16th Century. To the right are rows of gorgeous pastel five-storey buildings that I can’t help but be romanticised by. The unique architecture of this city ranges from charming to contemporary and I stop my bike every few hundred metres to take a photo of my ‘new favourite building’. As I ride, the dwellings change from five storeys to two, and the colours from pastel to dark grey. Their gardens are lush and green and these homes are perfect little cubes covered in vines and flowers, like something out of a story book. I plan my future life in these gorgeous cottages before riding on.
The Kastelet Star Fortress is cemented in Copenhagen’s history and has served as a military site since 1662. Today, it’s a well-preserved rampart consisting of beautiful architecture, inviting parklands and a moat.
Nearby, I discover the Designmuseum Denmark, and considering the Danes designed Lego and The Sydney Opera House, and are known for their contemporary furniture designers, I figure it’s worth a visit. I’m not disappointed and spend a couple of hours wandering through the exhibits.
With Copenhagen being home to The Little Mermaid author, Hans Christian Andersen, there’s naturally a statue dedicated to the much-loved story. Friends had told me the statue was an anticlimax, and once I push through the crowds and selfie sticks to witness my favourite fairytale character in real life, I understand their warnings. But while it’s an unassuming structure, you simply can’t go to Copenhagen without seeing it.
Nyhavn is my next stop of the day. Initially built as a commercial port, it’s now one of the major tourist attractions of the city. With its brightly coloured buildings, abundance of restaurants and bustling atmosphere, you can easily spend a lot of time here simply doing nothing. I grab myself a bite to eat and sit by the edge of the water taking in the beauty.
On my way to the Meatpacking district for dinner, I am astounded by the public architecture, infrastructure and design I encounter along the way. Public libraries are as beautiful as they are practical, walkways are wide and accommodating, bridges are fun and functional and the swimming baths that surround a waterway are free from pollution, allowing the locals to fully embrace the three months of warm weather they receive in a year. Copenhagen is at the forefront of sustainability and modern design and I have to stop and take in the jubilant screams of teenagers jumping from the public diving platforms into the deep blue water below, to acknowledge that this city was designed by and for locals, down to the most intricate details. It’s no wonder it’s one of the happiest cities in the world.
I finally make it to the Meatpacking district for dinner. It’s 9pm and the sun is still up. There are plenty of restaurants, breweries, shops and spaces to see here, but I choose Monster Italian, which create saltwater sourdough pizzas. I wash it down with an Aperol spritz and reflect on my first day in this colourful city. I am one very happy traveller.
I think about all the incredible things I still have to see. But for now, it’s back to the hostel to rest my weary legs ready to do it all again tomorrow.
My other top Copenhagen recommendations:
• Torvehallerne market
• Rosenborg Castle
• Kings Garden
• Strøget shopping district
• Amager Strandpark
• The Union Kitchen
• Freetown Christiania
• Copenhagen Street Food Marketplace
• The Tivoli Gardens
• Mikkeller Brewery
• War Pigs Restaurant