From bicycles to boats and castles, Copenhagen offers a multitude of attractions
The capital city, Copenhagen, is situated on Sealand, the largest island in Denmark, and is home to over two million people. What gives it its charm are the canals – the heart of the city – lined with quaint colourful houses adjoining buildings, both old and new, shops, restaurants and sidewalk cafés along the promenades that stretch to the harbour.
A trip on the canals is a must to enjoy the essence of this historic city. As well as taking one of the larger cruises, you can also hire a self-driven, solar-powered GoBoat. Resembling a motor boat, they seat up to eight people and are a leisurely way to enjoy summer evenings and get close-up views of some of the city’s landmarks including the Black Diamond Library and Christanborg Palace.
Travel back to by-gone days at the beautiful palaces found in central Copenhagen. Rosenborg Palace houses many royal art treasures, including the Crown Jewels and Royal Regalia. And Amalienborg Palace is the prime residence of the Danish Royal family. Frederiksborg Castle, about 30–40km north of Copenhagen is the home of Denmark’s Museum of National History. Built in the 1600s in Dutch Renaissance-style, the intricate craftsmanship of the chapel and great hall is particularly splendid and it’s a treasure trove of tapestries, historic paintings and other artefacts. Take time to wander through the elegant parterre Baroque Garden with its fabulous statues and large fountains.
What to do
Take a guided bicycle tour trip that’s sure to include The Bicycle Snake, a bridge crossing the harbour, which takes you on a route past many classic buildings, Langelinie pier with its great view of The Royal Danish Opera House and the iconic Little Mermaid statue. Displayed on a rock in the harbour it was commissioned in 1913 to commemorate the famous Danish writer, Hans Christian Anderson.
There’s also a lot to explore on foot and Strøget, one of the longest, car-free streets in the world, is part of the city’s main shopping area. A bustling web of interleading streets, it’s lined with charming shopfronts, pretty cafés, art shops and stalls alongside famous outlets including designer furniture and homeware stores such as HAY Copenhagen and Illums Bolighus where there’s an array of items displaying the functional, clean lines and simple aesthetics Danish design is famous for.
For art lovers there’s Arken Museum of Modern Art. The architecture is an attraction in itself. Designed to resemble a beached ship, the building blends harmoniously with a lagoon and meadow plantings. Here you can get lost in the thought-provoking works of Michael Kvium and Damien Hirst.
The Louisiana Museum of Modern Art is situated about 35km from the city in a tranqil, park setting. It houses an exquisite collection of modern art by international artists such as Giacometti, Kiefer, Henry Moore, Picasso, Rauschenberg and Warhol.
The Danish love of art extends to its striking architecture, and if you share this passion, take a tour and sample some noteworthy buildings such as 8TALLET, an apartment block with its unusual angles, level changes and roof covered with greenery, which are seamlessly integrated with the meadow and wetlands of Kalvebod Fælled. Architectural photographer and well-known Instagrammer, Astrid Maria Rasmussen (@Astridkbh) is the ideal guide.
What to eat
Copenhagen, recognised as a world food destination, boasts many superb eateries. There’s also a huge focus on fresh, locally sourced seasonal ingredients. A Danish tradition you can’t miss is smørrebrød. Available everywhere, these signature open sandwiches come with a huge choice of toppings from lavish to simple, including cheese, charcuterie, smoked eel and scrambled eggs. The Danish are also known for their fondness of sweet things and the layered cakes (lagkage) with lashings of whipped cream, custard and hazelnut praline and toppings of chocolate and strawberries are irresistible.
A must for the sight-seeing list is the delightful Tivoli Gardens. Founded in 1843, it’s one of the oldest amusement parks in the world and offers pantomime theatre, music, exotic architecture, historic buildings, pretty gardens, food and great restaurants while maintaining a magical old-world atmosphere.
PLANNING YOUR TRIP
WHEN TO GO In summer from June to August when the days are longer and the weather is warmer.
GETTING THERE There are no direct flights to Denmark.
We flew Quatar Airlines via Doha, but there are other alternative stopovers in Europe.
VISAS South Africans require a Schengen visa to enter Denmark. Visit VFS Global vfsglobal-denmark.com/SouthAfrica
MUST-SEE SIGHTS Tivoli Gardens and Frederiksborg Castle.
VALUE FOR MONEY A Copenhagen Card gives you free entry to 79 museums and attractions and includes public transport on buses and the Metro, plus discounts on certain bicycle tours and other sight-seeing trips, restaurants and cafés. You can also download the app.
SHOP UP A STORM at Sostrene Grenes Handelskompangnie in the main shopping area for good quality, reasonably priced gifts.
WHAT TO PACK Comfortable shoes as most places are within walking distance
and there are many cobbled streets.
NICE TO KNOW Meet the Danes is a great concept where a Danish family hosts visitors in their homes and treats them to a traditional meal. meetthedanes.com