Twelve hours in Copenhagen

Saturday morning, close to 11 o’clock. The train had just passed over the Øresund Bridge. Although extremely close, the Baltic Sea was merely visible, due to the dense fog. After a few more minutes, the train arrived at København H, the city’s main station. It was the middle of winter, the weather was cold, and the sky was cloudy and grey. “At least it’s not raining or snowing”, I thought. Well, I didn’t have to wait much longer for that to happen…

This is how I remember the start of the twelve hours spent in Copenhagen, part of the New Year’s Eve vacation from Malmö, which you can discover here. The construction of the Øresund Bridge, opened back in 2000, has eased and facilitated the transport between the two cities. Before, if you wanted to go from one to the other, you had only one possibility: taking the ferry. During the day, trains leave quite often, one each 20 minutes, and even during the night there’s a train leaving each hour. Be prepared to pay around 220 SEK (approximately €22.5) for a round trip. In case you plan such a vacation and wish to check the schedule in advance, here’s the link to the train company’s website.

Copenhagen - Rådhus

One question quickly arises: what can you do or see, in such a short time, in a capital city? Enough, if you plan everything right. At least from a sightseeing perspective. Visiting museums won’t be easy, because this activity is really time consuming. As usual, I’ve preferred to walk a lot. Just that this time, I’ve completely eliminated the museums part from the itinerary.

Copenhagen is a cool city, very eco-friendly (was named the European Green Capital in 2014), and home to the happiest people in the world (according to the World Happiness Report). Everywhere you go, you’ll spot beautiful houses and impressive buildings. And a lot of bicycles, of course! Danish people love to cycle, and the city was developed in a way to facilitate this type of transport. Somehow, it reminded me of Amsterdam.

Copenhagen - Kastellet church

Moving around the city on foot is easy and intuitive as well, because most of the main attractions are connected and at a walking distance one from the other. If you’re not a big fan of walking long distances, and in case the weather allows it, renting a bike might be a good solution.

Guide to Copenhagen

Many landmarks and things to do are located inside the central area, called Indre By. This is the historical, geographical and political heart of the city. Now, let’s start walking:

Right next to the central station is the second oldest operating amusement park in the world, Tivoli Gardens, opened in 1843. Some of its rides are definitely worth a try, too bad that I had to pass up the chance. In the evening, the weather was freezing, and going on the rides didn’t seem like a good idea. Plus, the entrance fee and the rides are not cheap, and I believe that this place deserves at least a few hours. Hopefully, there will be a next time for me.

Copenhagen - Main entrance of Tivoli Gardens

→ Rådhuspladsen is one of the biggest squares of the city and the starting point for measuring distances in Denmark. The Rådhus (the City hall) and the Palace Hotel will immediately capture your attention, due to their grandeur. There are also several interesting sculptures around, the most impressive one being the Dragon Fountain.

Copenhagen - Rådhuspladsen with the Palace Hotel and the City hall

Copenhagen - Inside the Rådhus

Want to do some shopping? Then Strøget street is the right place for you. Connecting two major squares, Rådhuspladsen and Kongens Nytorv, it’s one of the longest pedestrian shopping streets in Europe, at over one kilometer in length.

Copenhagen - Strøget, main shopping street

Once you reached Kongens Nytorv square, Nyhavn, the famous 17th century waterfront and canal, is right around the corner. It’s one of the liveliest areas of the city, with brightly coloured houses, bars, cafes and restaurants.

Copenhagen - Nyhavn

Copenhagen is a royal city, so it’s easy to guess that it has multiple castles and palaces. While walking around Indre By, there’s a big chance to spot Christiansborg Palace (the seat of the Danish Parliament), Amalienborg Palace (home of the Danish royal family) and Rosenborg Castle (a museum hosting the Royal Danish Collection).

Copenhagen - Amalienborg Slotsplads

East of Amalienborg Palace, across the canal, it’s the Operaen, the national opera house of Denmark. In my opinion, this building is simply outstanding, a true piece of art, being among the most modern and expensive opera houses in the world.

Copenhagen - Opera House

West of Amalienborg Palace, it’s the city’s most important church, Frederiks Kirke. Sometimes called the Marble Church, for its rococo architecture, it resembles St. Peter’s Basilica in Rome.

Copenhagen - Frederiks Kirke Dome

Copenhagen - Frederiks Kirke interior

→ Kastellet (the Citadel) was the most northern point reached in Copenhagen. Built almost 400 years ago, it is a star shaped fortress that has kept its original design unspoiled over the years. The area is serving both as a public park and as a historic monument, and inside you can admire five bastions, several other military buildings, a church and a windmill.

Copenhagen - Kastellet windmill

No trip to Copenhagen is complete without a visit to Christiania, the hippie self-proclaimed autonomous district, famous for the Pusher Street and the Green Light District. Here you’ll see a lot of stalls selling different varieties of weed and hashish, in spite of the fact that these drugs are not legal in Denmark. It’s a district that had raised a lot of controversies, throughout the years. My tip is to have a walk during the day, not like I have, in the evening, because you won’t see much, nor enjoy its vibe.

Copenhagen - graffiti in Christiania

Food and drink

In terms of bars and restaurants, I have to admit that I haven’t tried anything spectacular, despite the fact that Copenhagen has a lot of premium restaurants (over a dozen being Michelin starred). If you’re up for a good pizza at a decent price, then try MadBaren (Store Kongensgade 77), a small family restaurant business, which I’ve discovered by mistake. The owner is quite friendly and talkative; our conversation went on and on, for tens of minutes. You can have a coffee or something sweet at one of the many Espresso House locations, a chain of coffee shops, similar to Starbucks. For ice cream and waffles, I recommend Vaffelbageren (). They’ve been around since 1953, so they know what they’re doing.

At 11 PM, the train back to Malmö was leaving København H station. The twelve hours were over, but I knew that the memories formed during those hours would last forever. One of the most important things was that, at the end of the day, I was able to say that I felt the hygge!  (“hygge” is, I quote: “a Danish word used when acknowledging a feeling or moment, whether alone or with friends, at home or out, ordinary or extraordinary as cosy, charming or special“).

Copenhagen - Holiday decorations

Hav det godt! Hej hej!

Author: Marian Bulacu

Live. Love. Travel. Make a difference.

Twelve hours in Copenhagen
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