I love the Easter weekend because it’s one of the few Bank Holidays my husband doesn’t have to work, which means that we can go away for a few days. Over the years we’ve spent Easter in different parts of the UK and further afield like Rome, Madeira, Lisbon and Madrid. This year we chose Copenhagen, the capital of Denmark.
We had four nights and three full days in Copenhagen and it was enough time to really explore the city and see all the ‘must-see’ sights. We stayed in the fabulous Skt Petri hotel which was in a perfect location for exploring the city.
Here’s what we got up to.
The Round Tower
We were staying at Hotel Skt Petri, which was about a 2 minute walk to The Round Tower so it was the first thing we did on our first day in Copenhagen (after coffee, of course!). It was built in 1642 by Christian IV as an observatory, which was its official role for over 200 years. Now it’s a tourist attraction as well a venue which hosts concerts in the library and also art exhibitions.
At first I was imagining hundreds of stairs to get to the top but actually it’s a ramp – which was a relief! As you get higher up, it’s nice to look out the large windows at the view.
There are very narrow stairs to get right up to the top, which requires going up in single file and one-way only. The view at the top was lovely but it had railings which sort of spoilt it a bit. Of course it’s for safety purposes but perhaps perspex would be better so the view isn’t ruined by bars…
Lunch in Nyhavn
Nyhavn is synonymous with Copenhagen – it’s the area with all the lovely coloured buildings that you see on guide books and travel websites. It’s an old harbour that used to be full of brothels and pubs but has been turned into a respectable area with restaurants and bars – and tourists flock to it.
It is definitely not to be missed when visiting Copenhagen but when the weather is good – like it was when went – good luck getting an outside table! When you visit, I highly recommend getting churros and ice-cream from Rajisimmo 3 – they were so delicious that we went back another day to have them again!
A harbour tour
A great way to see the city from the water and to find out more about Copenhagen’s history and important buildings (both new and old), is to do a sightseeing boat tour. The one we did was only an hour but we got to see lots – and learn lots too. By the way… can you spot the sculpture under the water? It’s Agnete and the Merman by Danish sculptor Suste Bonnen.
We even got to see the back of the Little Mermaid, which was good because otherwise we wouldn’t have seen it at all. Lots of people told us it’s not really worth seeing as it’s crowded with tourists, is quite small and a bit underwhelming. I have to say, seeing it just from the back, I’d have to agree!
Christiania – Copenhagen’s freetown
On our last day we hired bicycles and did loads of cycling around Copenhagen. One of the places we stopped to visit was Christiania, a freetown. It dates back to the 1970s when a group of squatters moved in to abandoned army barracks. They wanted to create a community that was self-sustaining and free of state laws.
I was surprised by how big it was and later learned that it’s Copenhagen’s biggest music and cultural venue. It’s also well known for its cannabis stalls (even though it’s illegal in Denmark) and we spotted loads when we were there. As well as live music, there are also cafes, restaurants and food and drink stalls as well as market stalls to buy items such as clothing, jewellery and more. If you visit, be mindful that they ask you not to take photos, although there are some areas where photos are allowed. It’s a fascinating place and this ‘ You are now entering the EU’ sign above an exit also made me laugh!
Fun and excitement at Tivoli
To me, one of the most interesting things about Copenhagen is that they have a massive theme park in the city centre! If theme parks aren’t your thing, trust me it’s worth going anyway to visit Tivoli because there’s lots to see and do even if you don’t want to go on any rides.
Tivoli was opened in 1843 and was a source of inspiration for Hans Christian Anderson who wrote The Nightingale after visiting. Walt Disney, who visited in the 1950s, was fascinated and enchanted by it and it’s rumoured to have inspired Disney World.
The park still has traditional rides, such as the Ferris Wheel, which dates back to 1943 and the Roller Coaster which was built in 1914 and is one of the oldest of its kind. There are also shows that take place daily on the two stages and if you visit on a Saturday night, you’ll be treated to a fireworks show before closing.
Rosenborg Castle was built in 1606 – 1634 as a summer residence for Christian IV. At that time it was in the countryside but now it’s right in the city! It sits in the Kongens Have park and the castle was opened to the public in 1838. We didn’t go inside but we did sit in the park and admire the view. There is a lovely rose garden next to the castle, which is free to visit.
Meat packing district
We went to see the meat packing district because we had bicycles and it was easy to get to. The only reason to go there, really, is if you’re going to one of the bars or restaurants. If you’ve watched Rick Stein’s Long Weekends he visits the area to eat at Kødbyens Fiskebar. It’s a cool area but only worth going to for food or drink – otherwise there’s not much going on.
Islands Brygge is a waterfront area of Copenhagen, which has various parts that you can swim in (in the warmer months!) called the Island Brygge Harbour baths. It’s a nice place to go for a stroll or a cycle around, which is what we did. There’s also a park on one side and even an old railway car to signify its past as an industrial area.
We loved exploring Copenhagen! It’s a beautiful city with an interesting history and lots of historical and cultural things to see and do. I was surprised though by how expensive it is. A coffee, for example, is about £4 to £5! Expensive but worth it. I was also surprised by how good the food was. We enjoyed every single meal we had. Here’s the best restaurants in Copenhagen that we ate at.