Copenhagen is amazing. Everyone who has a pulse and enjoys living needs to go. We spent a weekend and could have spent much more time exploring the city. We both agree that it was our best weekend so far. The food, the drinks, the culture, the history, the clean water. You should have booked a ticket yesterday.
We arrived on Friday morning, after the short hour and a half flight from London Gatwick on Norwegian Air. The wide availability of low cost airlines in Europe still amazes me and makes our traveling financially viable. They might not even provide water or basic amenities but they did allow us to fly to Copenhagen for £56 one way for both of us. For that I am grateful.
A major travel pet peeve of ours is arriving in a city for a weekend getaway and finding no logical public transportation option or staring at an hour-plus long transfer, or worse, both. This was not an issue in Copenhagen. For about £8 for both of us, we hopped on the metro located inside the airport and pulled into our metro stop within twenty minutes. By comparison, the Stansted Express we took home from London Stansted Airport took forty minutes, then required a switch to the Underground and cost £42 for both of us one way. Winner: Copenhagen.
We spent the weekend at the Avenues Hotel, a small boutique hotel situated just north of the city center, in an neighbourhood called Fredericksberg. The hotel was fantastic and had an amazing breakfast buffet, chock full of meat, cheese, bread and Danish pastries and a huge bar/lounge space that we took full advantage of both nights, sipping some adult beverages on super comfy couches. The rooms were small but perfect for us, and at £100 per night for a four star hotel in an expensive city including that stunning breakfast, it was well worth it for us. It was also a short walk from both restaurants we had booked, so it was a short stumble home after dinner both nights.
Copenhagen is the first city we visited were we managed to not step foot into a single museum. That was certainly not a comment on the low quality of museums, as the city was full of museums that we had intended on visiting. However, we decided to walk and walk we did.
Our first day we also avoided city center all together, instead heading over to the Carlsberg Brewery and partaking in a tour. The complex at this massive brewery is nothing short of stunning, with building after buildings dedicated to the art of brewing. The tour was self guided and was very detailed about the beer making process and the long history of the Jacobsen family, the founders of Carlsberg. The £19.90 admission for two included two beers per person at the bar, a massive modern beer hall looking down into the bottling line. We managed to spend almost two hours in the complex and would recommend it to anyone with at least a passing interest in beer.
Our one full day in Copenhagen, we signed up for a free three hour walking tour. I was suspicious of this idea, especially when I saw about fifty people standing in the town hall square, waiting for the tour to start. Luckily, the tour turned out to be a fun experience, with an energetic tour leader that was funny and informative without being cheesy. We covered a lot of ground, focused on heart of the city. We learned a lot about Copenhagen and the history of Denmark and was all very informal and relaxed. It was a great way to see and learn about the city in an afternoon.
Our tour concluded at Amalienborg Palace, current home of the Danish Royal family. As luck would have it, the Queen returned as we were in the Palace square. With no escort vehicles and no gates surrounding the Palace, Buckingham Palace this was not. To show you how low key the Danish Royal family is, the current Prince meet his wife in a pub in Sydney during the 2000 Olympics, as he traveled unescorted by security.
We continued our walking trend, taking in the famous mermaid statue (donated to the city by the Jacobsen family), mostly due to the fact that my mom told me I had to see this landmark. Overall, the city is striking, with a rainbow of colours and a shocking number of copper towers, providing a fantastic back drop to the large harbour and canals. It should be noted too how absurdly clean the harbour was. We could clearly see the harbour floor in about ten feet of water and even the canals had crystal clear water. People actively swim in the water, jumping off swimming docks in city center. Imagine doing that in NYC and hopping in the Hudson. Yikes.
The food was a major inspiration for this trip, as we booked two restaurants, Manfreds and Relae, prior to making hotel and airfare arrangements. We did casual things for lunch, relying in takeaway since our dinners were more elaborate affairs. We stopped at a cafe on our way to Carlsberg for some smorrebrod, a classic Danish meal of open-faced sandwiches. Small squares of buttered rye bread act simply as a vehicle to get the elaborate spread of toppings to your mouth.
We also had some hot dogs, a popular snack food, fully loaded with spicy mustard, ketchup, remoulded, fried onions, cabbage and pickles. There was no one to eat these and not spill shit everywhere. We also randomly had a tasty beef shawarma sandwich from a busy Turkish kebab shop.
Our two big dinners were fantastic, are you can read my review posts for the nitty gritty. They were both solid and only made me want to explore the cities culinary scene more, which is always a great sign.
This was a truly great weekend getaway for us. We both throughly enjoyed Copenhagen. The city was clean, safe and very pretty. It was certainly not a cheap city, but we found it less expensive than London, which is not hard. It is also one of the greenest and, according to a recent poll, happiest places in the world. Bike lanes galore, driverless metro system, sparkling clean harbour water and twenty five percent of all food consumed by its residents is certified organic. It is even pushing to be the first carbon neutral capital by 2025. It is a progressive, exciting city, worthy of a quick visit or a lengthy stay.