Copenhagen is one of my favourite European destinations. With such famous attractions as the “Little Mermaid” statue, the Tivoli amusement park, and the Carlsberg Brewery, it’s easy to find something to please every age and every taste.
Before saying anything about my fave things to do in Denmark’s royal city, a word of caution: Some Danes have a problem with non-Danes, especially if they happen to have dark hair and eyes (as I do). At least two shop clerks refused to speak to me because I didn’t speak Danish. A couple of other stores declined to accept my credit card – even though a sign in the shop window and at the cash counter clearly indicated that they accepted the card. Best talk to one of the locals about the reason for all of this – it’s far too complicated to get into here. Rest assured, however, that such inconveniences aren’t reserved for tourists as problems are worse for Danes who marry non-Danes (they can’t live in the country as a married couple for several years due to some peculiar laws!). Like I said, ask the locals about it all. And don’t get too stressed re the credit card thing as cash machines are easily accessed in most parts of the city.
While such things are a bit of a bother, there is much about Copenhagen that makes all the fuss worth enduring.
When planning your trip, inquire about the CPHCard which is available for purchase at tourist offices, major train stations, and the airport. The card entitles the bearer to free entry to about 60 museums and attractions, free transport by train, bus and Metro, as well as discounts on restaurants and car rentals.
A fun way to get oriented is aboard a canal tour. Check for ticket offices in Nyhavn and Gammel Strand. Or hop on a waterbus - routes sail from the "Little Mermaid" (Trekroner Fortress) in the North to Fisketorvet (Shopping Center) in the South by changing at Gammel Strand, Nyhavn, the Opera and at Christianshavn. FYI, the best seafood restaurants are located along the canals, too.
The Danish Design Center is a great place to immerse yourself in classic Danish design. Located at HC Andersens Boulevard 27, this is THE place to see jewelry and tableware by Georg Jensen, furniture by Arne Jacobsen, and work by many of their fellow Danes both past and present. There is a seniors’ discount, but if you’re really watching your budget, go on Wed between 17:00 and 21:00 when admission is free for all.
Literary buffs can’t leave town without an excursion to Elsinore to visit Kronborg Castle, better known as Hamlet’s home. Note that different parts of the castle have different admission fees and there is no seniors’ discount. I felt the cost was worth it, however, especially given that admission to two other sights – the National Museum (Ny Vestergade 10) and the Royal Library with its so-called Black Diamond addition (located at Søren Kierkegaards Plads 1) – was free.
Located in the centre of Copenhagen is a destination for the young and the young at heart. The famous Tivoli Gardens boast a wide range of entertainment options from concerts and theatre to an aquarium and an amusement park. The Gardens are especially pretty at night and during special seasonal celebrations. While there is no seniors’ break, there is a special admission for families.
Copenhagen's largest shopping area is centred on Europe's longest pedestrian shopping street, Strøget, and the streets that surround it. This is great place for finding internationally known fashion labels, unique textiles, Danish design items, music, new and used books, etc. Prefer to poke around flea markets? Then save your Saturdays to explore markets behind the Frederiksberg City Hall (one of the busiest), on Israels Plads, close to the Nørreport S-Train Station (the oldest market in town), and on the grand Kongens Nytorv Square (arts & crafts). For antiques, stroll by Gammel Strand on Fridays and Saturdays. There are also markets around town on Sundays.
Other must-sees/must-dos in Copenhagen:
Take advantage of the city’s free bikes to explore the area like a local
Statens Museum for Kunst, the Danish national gallery (free except for special exhibits)
Castle of Rosenborg (discount & package with Amalienborg Palace entrance)
Botanical Gardens (free admission)
Enjoy a locally brewed beer (the oldest Danish micro brewery, The Apollo, is located near the Tivoli Gardens). Take an excursion to the Carlsberg Brewery.
Eat a Danish pastry, meatballs, and open-face sandwiches. Hot dogs are another local favourite.
Immerse yourself in all things Hans Christian Andersen
There’s so much more to do and see in and around Copenhagen. If that’s not enough to keep you busy, Sweden is a mere 30 minutes away.