Of all the Scandinavian cities I visited during my Euro trip, I found Copenhagen the most beautiful and captivating. Maybe it was the iconic squares, or the brick roads, or the majestic palaces – or maybe it’s a combination of all these. But there is a certain charm and magic in the Danish capital that made me want to live there.
It was a cool 6degC afternoon when we arrived in Copenhagen via bus from Gothenburg. We spent 2 weeks in Lillehammer so the weather in Copenhagen was warmer than what we got used to. The apartment we rented was in a residential area near the city center so, while carrying our heavy bags across the brick pavements, we already got to see typical Danish life.
Copenhagen, of the bicycle paths and scenic canals, where a pint of Carlsberg should accompany every meal and where different cultures mix from all continents, is a “generous and elderly” city with a flair. It has been a city since the 13th century but it has adapted graciously into the post modern times.
In this Danish capital, shopping is non-stop for locals and tourists who visit Strøget, one of the longest pedestrian shopping streets in Europe, street laws give priority to cyclists, and conversations over sweet pastry and fragrant coffee can go on and on.
Of the one and a half day I spent in Copenhagen, I learned why so many people want to make this city home and why so many cities strive to be like it.
The Danish Crown
The palaces scattered around Copenhagen give it a regal feel – from the Christiansborg Palace, seat of the Danish Parliament, the Prime Minister, and the Supreme Court, to the 400-year-old Rosenborg Castle which was once the home of the royals.
Crossing the century-old marble bridge, we entered the Christiansborg Palace grounds just before sunset. The palace has big halls donned in Baroque and Neo-baroque designs. Though visitors cannot enter the palace, we can pass through the middle door to reach the palace square with Christian IX’s equestrian statue.
Amalienborg, home to the Danish royals, is another must-see palace. It consists of 4 identical palace facades forming a square in the middle. At the center is a state of King Frederick V who was Amalienborg’s founder.
Unlike Christiansborg, there are parts of the palace that visitors can enter for a hefty price. One ticket to see the former offices and living rooms of the royals costs DKR 50. It’s pretty worth it, considering it’s the first European palace I ever entered.
A few blocks away from Amalienborg is another palace that looks like it’s been pulled out of a fairytale book. I found Rosenborg castle the most beautiful of all the 3 palaces, not just for its sprawling gardens and amazing art collection, but because of the design of this renaissance castle.
Built in 1606, it now serves as a museum for artifacts spanning a breadth of royal Danish culture from the 16th to the 19th century. On it’s third floor is long hall where the danish throne, the coronation chair, and 3 silver lions are displayed.
But the most important piece of royal Danish history in Rosenburg Castle are the crown jewels, located in a treasury under the castle. Aside from the crowns, various jewels and gold collections are on display for visitors. My favorite part of the treasury though are the wine cellars with wine bottles tagged as old as 1615. I could just imagine how those would taste.
Another aspect that gives Copenhagen its color is its multicultural society. From the Indians who own liquor shops to the Vietnamese and Thais who run restaurants to the Bulgarians who create business startups, Copenhagen is a welcoming city to every race.
And with cultural diversity, as I’ve observed in my travels, comes good food. The Danish capital is where I had best meals I had in Scandinavia – and this includes the moose burger I had in Lillehammer.
We were lucky to have found a world-renowned restaurant, Tivollihallen which is just behind the city hall, for our first meal in the city. This became our benchmark for good Danish food.
One of the first places we visited was the National Museum of Denmark, which covers 14,000 years of Danish history – from the reindeer hunters of the Ice Age to religious of the Middle Ages. It is here where I understood why so many cultures mix well in Copenhagen – because the city itself has been influenced by different cultures over the centuries.
The February 2015 shootings in Copenhagen really did come as a shock because this country, this city has been one of the world’s most peaceful in decades. While some idiotic terrorists are trying to break this peace, Copenhagen proved that it can bounce back better.
Hordes of tourists try to cross the wooden plank that separates the waterside of Laengelinie and the rock where Edvard Eriksen put up his famous bronze masterpiece. I successfully took my turn and snapped a selfie with the Little Mermaid.
The Little Mermaid, which was inspired by the fairytale of Danish author Hans Christian Andersen, is one of the most iconic statues in the world and one of Copenhagen’s most visited sites. It is a mainstay in magnets, shirts, and other souvenirs from the city.
While it is nothing more than a little statue on a rock, it is a fitting representation of Copenhagen – a city that had surpassed wars and battles over the centuries and still stands strong.
The last stop on our itinerary was Nyhavn, the 17th century waterfront known for its restaurants and colorful facades. Having a photo taken here is on the bucket list of many travelers because of its charming veneer and deep history.
It is a fitting end to our journey in Copenhagen, I thought. We end our trip in one of the most beautiful heritages in the world.
Early next morning, we headed to the airport for our flight to Amsterdam, our last stop. Copenhagen, of the wooden yachts, towering cathedrals, and wide squares, where tourists line up for a photo with a statue, and where parties are the best example of multiculturalism, is an amazing concept of a city.
One of the most famous quotes about the city is this: “If Copenhagen were a person, that person would be generous, beautiful, elderly, but with a flair. A human being that has certain propensities for quarreling, filled with imagination and with appetite for the new and with respect for the old – somebody who takes good care of things and of people.” (Connie Nielsen)
In my one and a half days in the city, I saw how generous and welcoming Copenhagen is. Needless to say, I fell in love with Copenhagen and I feel a part of my heart will always want to go back.