I’m not gonna lie about why this post about Copenhagen, a trip I embarked on over a month ago, took so long to write. I actually had a really hard time coming up with a way to present Copenhagen to the world through my eyes. As far as Europe goes, I’m definitely a southern European kinda gal. And yet, so many things in my life have taken me up north. I lived in Finland for four years, I now live in London, and I have many friends in Copenhagen. Even as a child I visited various town in Sweden and Estonia. Back in 2015, I made my first visit to Copenhagen and, needless to say, it was not love at first sight. However, second time rounds are notorious for turning things on its head.
Like I mentioned, I travel to Portugal and Spain quite often and love the southern European style and flare. Consequently, everything in Copenhagen is “extra” foreign to me. The architecture is remarkably different, as everything has clean lines and simple charm.
A popular tourist attraction is the Round Tower. Originally an astronomical observatory, it was one of the many architectural projects of Christian IV. It really is an architectural marvel. I absolutely love the spiral ramp and the white interior. An extra tip though, don’t go to the top of the tower on a foggy day.
Copenhagen is home to many churches and, again, strikingly different than the southern European/Catholic tradition. Both stylistically and architecturally, Danish (and Nordic) religious buildings just have a totally different air about them. The first church I came across was Vor Frue Kirke. This church is considered a royal church because there have been several coronations here, as well as a few royal weddings. The church is originally from 1187, but Denmark’s finest architect, Christian Frederik Hansen, and the city magistrate redesigned the cathedral in the Neo-Classical style (a clear reaction against rococo).
The interior is decorated with the twelve apostles, the Risen Christ displaying the wounds in his body (in a niche above the altar) and in front of the altar the baptismal fount in the form of an angel holding a large scallop shell, all in Italian carrara marble. All of these sculptures were completed in Rome by the famous Danish sculptor Bertel Thorvaldsen.
The most famous church in Copenhagen, however, is probably the Frederiks Kirke, more popularly known as the Marble Church. Of course the day the group and I went to go explore Amalienborg and the Marble Church was the day that there was intense fog (all my photos were awful and so I provide you with the lovely photo right below, courtesy of my friend Tiffany who got to spend an extra day in Copenhagen).
Photo courtesy of my friend, Tiffany
Other architectural gems include the various Danish Royal Palaces. There are three in Copenhagen: Amalienborg, Christiansborg, and Rosenborg. I honestly was pretty underwhelmed by them as palaces, so the key thing is not to think of them as palaces but as mansions. This way you don’t have things like the Palace of Versailles in the back of your mind. These buildings are beautiful in their own right.
Rosenborg is a renaissance castle, which today functions as more of a museum and public space.
Christiansborg was the main residence of Danish kings until 1794 when the royal family decided to move to Amalienborg due to a large fire. The most notable aspect is the tower, which is free to enter! You get some fantastic views of Copenhagen because you get to see it from so many angles.
Amalienborg is the winter home of the monarch. It consists of four identical classicizing palace façades with rococo interiors around an octagonal courtyard. Currently, the Queen herself resides in Christian IX’s Palace and the Crown Prince in Frederik VIII’s Palace. Over each palace is a flag, and when it is raised it means the royal family member is home.
Of course, Copenhagen has plenty of modern architecture as well. In fact, it has absolutely stunning, modern buildings! Such examples include the The Black Diamond (part of the Royal Library), the Royal Danish Opera House, and the Royal Danish Playhouse.
Photo courtesy of my friend, Tiffany
Somehow over the past two years I’ve become a foodie. I have now officially become a food snob of sorts and really, REALLY appreciate good food. However, being a foodie is sometimes not within the budget, so it breaks my heart a little when I have to settle for a grocery store sandwich.
This is why it’s nice to have friends in high places. My friend Mette, who moved to Copenhagen from another part of Denmark, made my friends and I some delicious smørrebrød! We had some traditional ones and some more modern types, and it was all so delicious. It was the perfect introduction to Danish food.
Though the Danish do indeed eat traditional food, people in Copenhagen most definitely do not eat it all the time. As a hub for modern cuisine, city dwellers enjoy a vast array of cuisines. For example, a heck of a lot of hip pizza joints. Tiffany’s friend, who visited us from Aarhus, took us to Mother, a delicious pizza restaurant in the meatpacking district. They pride themselves on developing a delicious dough, and having direct imports from Italy. I had the “Nick says it’s good” pizza, which consists of mozzarella, cauliflower, green olives, anchovies, capers, chili, and pecorino cheese. Yum! The atmosphere of the place is also super neat.
Another hip thing to do in Copenhagen is to go for brunch, which seems quite humorous coming from an American city background where brunch is incredibly common. But, I will say, there was no disappointment! Going off recommendations given by both my friend Mette and Shally’s friend, Maja, we headed to Bopa Square for two wonderful options: Café Bopa and Café Pixie. Both are pretty delicious options, so you can’t really go wrong. My friends and I decided to go to Pixie, and I opted for a vegetarian brunch. It was absolutely delicious. It consisted of scrambled eggs with chives, pico de gallo with avocado, edamame puree with black sesame, yogurt with granola, vesterhavsost (a Danish cheese), orange-almond cake, a small croissant, øland wheat bread, rye bread, and butter. Yum yum!
You know you’re in a great city if you’re having an amazing time just walking around. The streets of Copenhagen are particularly charming.
No matter where you end up staying in Copenhagen, the city centre will be the apple of your eye. First thing we need to talk about is the forever famous Nyhavn. Lined with brightly coloured 17th and 18th century houses, this waterfront proves to be a very photogenic place. We woke up at 6am in the morning to write our bikes furiously to Nyhavn for the sunrise. Though incredibly sleep-deprived, the sunrise was beautiful. No regrets!
Another good stop is the Botanical Gardens. The most notable is the old Palm House from 1874 that is 16 metres tall and has narrow, cast-iron spiral stairs leading to a passageway at the top.
Speaking of streets, you can’t talk about them without mentioning Strøget. It is one of the longest pedestrian-only shopping streets in Europe, if not the longest. It is also quite charming and pretty, so I like to just wander around and window shop.
Walking the streets also means taking in all the street art. Copenhagen is a very picturesque city, so go crazy with your camera and inhale everything the city has to offer!
Photo courtesy of my friend, Tiffany