Planning a cruise or land tour to Northern Europe? Make sure to schedule some extra days in Copenhagen, Denmark’s capital city and Scandinavia’s center of culture and cool. Here are just a few experiences to put on your must see list:
The Little Mermaid Statue:
At Langelinje Pier sits Copenhagen’s most famous resident welcoming all to the the city’s harbor. This bronze and granite statue was inspired by famed Danish author Hans Christian Andersen’s fairy tale about the “original” mermaid.
Europe’s second oldest amusement park is rumored to have been the park that inspired Walt Disney to make his own wonderland. Besides the usual park attractions, Tivoli features a resident symphony orchestra, a Chinese Harlequin Theatre, and a convenient city-center location. Visit at night to see the park lit by thousands of twinkling lights — there are plenty of cozy gardens and park benches to laze the evening away.
Stroll down Strøget:
This pedestrian shopping zone stretches from Town Hall Square to Kongens Nytorv (The Kings New Square). Check out a multitude of outdoor restaurants, street performances, chain stores, and designer boutiques for all kinds of budgets.
Formally a busy 17th century commercial port, the rainbow-colored wood and brick townhouses that line the canal have been lovingly restored and cafes and music venues have taken the place of sailors and alehouses. Hans Christian Anderson lived in three of the homes at different points in his life (number 18 houses a gift shop with Anderson-themed products). During holiday time the area is perfectly lit and gift markets fill the cobblestone streets.
Danish Jewish Museum:
Designed by famed architect Daniel Libeskind, this thoughtfully planned museum leads you through 400 years of Jewish life in Copenhagen. It focuses on the unique circumstance that lead to the majority of Danish Jews being saved from Nazi persecution by their Danish compatriots during World War II. The museum is built around the concept of the Hebrew word “Mitzvah” which translates to “obligation” or “good deed,” a lesson that requires reinforcement even today.
Located on the tiny island of Slotsholmen, this palace and center of power plays host to the Danish Parliament, the Supreme Court, and the Ministry of State. Visit the Royal Reception Rooms and Great Hall to view the Queen’s grand tapestries – the magnificent setting for royal galas and state visits.
Get a taste of royal life at this residence of the Danish Royal Family, one of the world’s oldest monarchies. Visit at noontime to witness the changing of the guards as they march from their barracks by Rosenborg Castle through the city streets to Amalienborg.
Home to the elaborate Crown Jewels, this castle is set in the colorful King’s Garden. In the Knight’s Hall sits the Coronation Thrones and three life-size silver lions standing guard.
Danish War Museum:
Take a walk through Danish history from the 1500’s until today — from samurai swords to Knights in shining amour, from World War II to the war in Afghanistan. Located in the historic arsenal building.
Day trip to Malmö, Sweden:
Reaching Malmö from Copenhagen is fast and easy: they are only 30 kilometers apart. Trains depart from Copenhagen Central Station every 20 minutes and the travel time is 35 minutes to the center of Malmö. You can also take a direct train from Copenhagen Airport. Remember to bring your passport!
Day trip to Kronborg Castle & Louisiana Museum of Art:
This 16th century castle was the model for the majestic home of Shakespeare’s Prince Hamlet. After your tour, take a walk in picturesque Elsinore where you’ll find cute cobblestone streets, colorful crooked houses, and even a modern interpretation of Copenhagen’s favorite mermaid. On your way back to Copenhagen, visit the Louisiana Museum of Art. This internationally renowned museum offers contemporary art, unique architecture, and a lovely panoramic view over the Øresund Sound.
Indulge in Hygge:
Pronounced “hoo-ga,” the Danish concept of hygge means creating a nice, warm atmosphere and enjoying the good things in life with good people around you. Practice your hygge at the numerous cafes, parks, and gardens sprinkled throughout the city. And, this top Copenhagen “attraction” is something that you can easily bring home with you to keep those blissful vacation memories brewing. If you’ve ever enjoyed reading a book in a comfy chair on a rainy morning, or sipping a cup of hot cocoa in front of a fire on a snowy day, you’ve experienced hygge without even knowing it!
Combine your visit to Copenhagen with a visit to Stockholm, Sweden. Click here to see my Top Twelve Recommendations for Stockholm.
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