Copenhagen is a very mixed, modern and old city and it seems to have a lot of clever ideas and designs, but for some reason I just never felt like it was visually beautiful. That said there was still a lot of interesting things to be found and they might have stolen Mary, but no hard feelings Denmark.
Getting in and where we stayed
We got a cheap cheap flight from Bergen in Norway direct to Copenhagen for 60€ and from there it’s a breeze to catch the metro into Copenhagen Central. Just 36DKK for a 2-zone ticket and it takes less than 20 minutes.
We also got a sweet deal on an AirBnB in Vesterbro. It was a little old, but it was self contained and in a great location. Vesterbro used to be really dingey, but it’s now really hip and full of cafés, bars, brunch and artsy places. You just have to walk away from Central Station a bit, past the odd strip joint, sex shop or hooker and once you’ve done that you feel the air change!
After a quick coffee stop at Kaffe, our first point of interest was Rosenborg Castle. It’s really nice and not stupidly big like Amalienborg. People loved soaking up the sun in the park and I can see why.
Inside the castle there’s a wealth of relics to look at, plus the crown jewels. It was 145DKK for a combined ticket with Amalienborg (valid across two days) and so it was definitely worth it to see the two.
Amalienborg is the home of the royal family and endearingly all their junk for the public to see. Rosenborg was definitely more interesting, but here you get to see some of the preserved palace rooms.
Amusingly one of the former King Frederik’s loved photographs of his family so much his room actually looked like this.
Upstairs you seem to literally walk through the royal’s storage facilities. All sorts of old things stashed away and not displayed very well. I didn’t even see Princess Mary either! Pfft, what a waste of time.
Copenhagen has a ton of museums, but after going fairly far over budget already we just took advantage of some free stuff.
The Davids Samling Collection is provided free by a wealthy collector of all sorts of arabic and religious relics. I was most amused by weapons that reminded me of Diablo II.
The Danish Architecture Museum is free on Wednesday nights which is just as well because it was super small, but very interesting. It talked all about how Copenhagen is designed and how the Danish believe they can best use space by building multifunctional spaces so that people can come together and use them. Lots of good urban planning ideas.
The Danes are super active people with 43% actively exercising and they love running – they have the highest number of marathon runners per capita (yet the Ethiopians always win :p). Oddly, they have the most parkour parks in the world, but only 1% of the population does it.
I had never heard of Tivoli, but it’s a world famous theme park right in the centre of Copenhagen. It seems extremely popular and it seems to be doing what dead old Australian theme parks like Wonderland sadly couldn’t do – nightlife 😦
Maybe it’s the fact that it’s right in the city. Maybe it’s the charm and the amusements. Maybe it’s that it is relevant to all ages. Actually that last point is a weird one.
At Tivoli you have families with children playing carnival games and eating fairy floss. Oldies watching sophisticated theatre and shows. Young adults on rides, getting drunk and/or stoned at concerts in the centre of the park and then publicly urinating virtually naked. Or you can just go there and have a low key dinner at an American themed diner. The place just doesn’t make sense!? How can all of these things coexist? It’s incredible and it seems to be working!
If Vesterbro isn’t cool enough for you, you can always stay at Nimb for a cool 10,000DKK.
Is a 17th century waterfront north of Central. It has loads of colourful buildings, bars, cafés and boats. It seemed to be pretty happening here and there’s no need to walk further to see The Mermaid. Trust me, just stay here.
Christiania Free Town
Like Tivoli I guess, Christiania is a strange existence in the middle of Copenhagen too. During the 70s a bunch of squatters, mainly hippies I think, moved into the old military complex there and created their own independent society.
The government turned a blind eye until expansion of Copenhagen meant that the land was very valuable. An association was created which bought the land and that same association is also the one that decides who moves in and what the rules should be for Free Town entirely by democracy.
Over time though, the freedom was taken advantage of by drug gangs and the main street, appropriately named Pusher Street, became a troubled place. Recently though, things escalated and shit got real, so Christiania’s residents called on the Danish police for help and they cleared out the gangs with a bit of brute force. Best to always check what the situation is before going.
When we went it all felt pretty safe and there were even security cameras installed in the streets. There weren’t all that many hippies, art or cool things around though besides brunch. It all just felt very dingey lacking much of a positive vibe sadly. You have to wonder what they will do when all the buildings start collapsing with no one to maintain them.
It’s incredible and really model that 50% of Danes commute by bike here. That figure is huge! But it’s brilliant, the roads are clear yet largely just single lane with huge bike paths on either side. The air smells good when you walk about the city through the swarms of bikes.
No one wears a helmet and everyone is considerate. It just works so well, everybody wins and are healthier, and it’s just too bad that Australia is not the same.
Apparently the Danes are big on brunch and burgers which suits me just fine. I did a bunch of research before going for a burger and landed on Friends & Brgrs which seemed to be a Finnish chain.
It was great for 130DKK with chips and a drink. A healthy portion, literally because I was happy without feeling stuffed, but had I really been hungry, it wouldn’t have done the job.
The other good option seems to be Cocks & Cows for which there was a line a mile long. They use meat instead of mince so perhaps the Danes just like their steak better. The burgers looked good, but just too small for my liking. Max’s seemed to just be some cheap and nasty chain so I wouldn’t go there.
Verdict: Nothing beats Grill’d burgers and chips at home though!
Cakes also seem to be a big deal around here and we tried both Bertels Salon and Conditori La Glace. Both were good in their own ways.
Loads of good brews in Vesterbro which leads me to believe there’s plenty of good coffee elsewhere too.
On Istedgade I had great coffee at Kaffe near Dannebrogsgade, Kaffe Lladro and Petrol Cafe (in order of best to least best).