“To move, to breathe, to fly, to float,
To gain all while you give,
To roam the roads of lands remote,
To travel is to live.”
― Hans Christian Andersen in his autobiography
The Fairy Tale of My Life
Danish born fairytale author Hans Christian Andersen brought us countless stories we revisit time and time again, from the ever popular The Little Mermaid to timeless classics like The Ugly Duckling. If to travel and roam the roads of lands remote is to live, you must visit the seaside wonder of Copenhagen. Here’s a quick guide to some must-see sights!
- Tivoli Gardens
If you’re looking for whimsy and fun, you simply must visit Tivoli Gardens. A haven of beautiful design choices and neat shops, this amusement park and pleasure gardens heavily influenced Walt Disney’s concept for Disneyland. Rides range from ta journey through Hans Christian Anderson’s stories reminiscent of It’s a Small World to thrill-inducing outdoor coasters. Make sure you snag a Butter Burger from Gasoline Grill (your tastebuds will thank you), and try to ride the massive swings at dusk for a special sunset view of Copenhagen!
The most picturesque point in Copenhagen is Nyhavn, a colorful waterfront canal in the entertainment district near the city’s center. You may have seen a replica of these colorful houses in your grandmother’s house growing up, as it is one of Copenhagen’s most iconic sites. There’s plenty of restaurants to dine at while taking in the view, and the city rotates which boats may dock there to add to the aesthetic beauty. There’s even a theatre company known as Båttheatret who performs atop a boat in this very canal! Be sure to bring your camera and your best outfit.
- Christiansborg Palace
While visiting Christiansborg, everyone in the family has an opportunity for fun. The Royal Reception Rooms hold Danish history, antique furniture, and an exquisite set of modern tapestries commissioned by the current queen. I’ve never seen such a rainbow of color in a royal room! Below the castle lay the ruins, often themed for interactive family-friendly exhibits. We got our fair share of art-and-crafts creatures on our trip. There’s also a church, stables, and even a theatre on the palace grounds! For picturesque snapshots and a peek into Danish royal history, this is the castle for you.
- Church of Our Savior
If you love heights and views, the Church of Our Savior is the one for you! This baroque church nestled centrally in the city boasts a climbable spiral staircase all the way to the top for a breathtaking, 360 degree view of the city. If any member of your group is afraid of heights, they can stay lower to watch a documentary about the church or even wave at brave climbers from below! We had both types in our trip, and they were able to capture pictures of us looking like ants way up high in the air. There’s something magical about being able to know a city from an aerial view.
- Kronborg Castle: Dungeons & Holger Danske
Kronborg Castle is well-known as the castle the famous playwright William Shakespeare allegedly set his tragedy Hamlet, but what lies below is just as fascinating. Visiting Kronbog is worth the metro ride out to the seaside castle. Be sure to go below ground and visit its underground network of tunnels! These were used as a defense for those staying at the castle and often housed soldiers to protect those nearby. If in real danger, even the royals would be sent to the dimly lit ground or to navigate a tunnel to its end hundreds of feet away from the castle for a secret escape. Don’t forget to find the famed Danish warrior Holger Danske while below!
- Rosenborg Castle
For a side of whimsy to your royal tourism, head over to Rosenborg Castle! Whether it be a chair that would make guests seem as if they had wet themselves or the ability to talk through passages in the wall, the home of the Royal Treasury boasts humor, too. Hang around for a bit and you may also witness a changing of the guard. I personally was struck by the flower renderings on the wall in the staircase done by German-born artist Maria Sybilla Merian.
- Torvehallerne Market
Within walking distance of Rosenborg Castle lies your stomach’s favorite stop. Torvehallerne Market is a bustling collection of over 80 shops selling food, spices, drink, lotion, soaps, and especially seafood. You can grab to-go or take a seat at the counters at any stand to enjoy some local delicacies. In particular, you will notice a plethora of open-faced sandwiches known as Smørrebørd. These are typical Danish entree often made on rye bread with everything from raw fish to chicken salad, perfect for a light snack or even a meal!
- Take a Canal Tour
The best way to see this seaside city is by way of water; like its cousin Amsterdam, Copenhagen’s canal tours offer a beautiful, informative look at its capital. Thanks to our travel agents at Millennium Tours, we were able to use our Copenhagen Cards for a free ride! Since we visited in summer, early evening was both refreshing and shady enough to make our ride pleasurable. This is a great way to see buildings across town, get acquainted with the geography, and learn about Danish history from the Danes themselves! Expert Tip: Hans Christian Andersen’s The Little Mermaid statue is a bit far from other sites, but most canal tours will drive you right by it!
- National Museum of Denmark (Nationalmuseet)
Ancient Danish history is Viking History, and the best way to experience it is by visiting the National Museum of Denmark. It is neat to see the thousands of years of history in their floors, dating back to prehistory with Viking ancestors’ bodies found in the bogs of the Nordic country. They chronicle Danish history from antiquity to today, and the museum also boasts a robust international collection complete with a wayang kulit pupper theatre setup! Their special Viking exhibit is definitely a must-see.
- The Round Tower (Rundetaarn)
Nestled in the center of the shopping district lies the Rundetaarn, a former astronomical observatory. You can most definitely get your steps in as you climb the ADA-accessible ramp to the top, provide yet another view of the city. If you have travelers who were too afraid or for another reason unable to climb the Church of Our Savior Tower, the Rundetaarn is the one for you! Scientific and site-worthy, make sure to stop by as you shop.
- The Lego Store
Speaking of shopping, did you know Legos were invented in Denmark? Be sure to stop by the Lego storefront for a chance to search for your favorite new set in the place where it all started.
All of these are just the start to all that Copenhagen has to offer. I cannot wait to go back soon!