I’m a sucker for Scandinavian cities and after visiting Oslo, Bergen, Göteborg and Stockholm, it was time to visit Copenhagen. Traveling to Copenhagen by train is a bit trying, but it’s possible. The weather was glorious, which isn’t always a given when traveling north. Towards the end it rained in the mornings, but there is no shortage of great museums to visit.
The best thing to do upon visiting Copenhagen is to spend the first day wandering around, getting your bearings and a feel for the vibe of the city. Just be sure not to get run over by one of the many bicycles in the city!
Buildings and Structures
As with other Scandinavian cities, Copenhagen has a mix of old and new buildings and the new ones are architecturally very interesting.
Royal Danish Library: Also known as the Black Diamond, the modern addition to the old library also provides rooms for conferences and meeting, exhibits and concerts.
Royal Opera House: This opera house is to date the most expensive opera houses ever built. The building of the opera house was a bit controversial on several levels, but I think it’s turned out to be an interesting building. I would have loved to have been able to see the inside but unfortunately that wasn’t possible.
There are also plenty of interesting bridges to cross and marvel at. A new bridge is bound to open soon and it is amazing with two arms which swing together across the harbor river and connect to make a bridge.
If you need a reprieve from walking around town, have a seat in one of the gardens such as the botanical garden, the library garden or the garden belonging to Rosenborg castle.
The building of the castle begin in 1605 and lasted 28 years. It was the royal residence until around 1710. Today it is possible to visit the castle and see the beautiful crown jewels.
One of Copenhagen’s iconic buildings is the Rundetårn or Round Tower. It was built as an astronomical observatory and is most known for it equestrian staircase. Horses could pull a carriage almost up to the top of the tower and back down again. The core of the tower is hollow and is the cartographic center of Denmark. It’s worth climbing the tower to marvel at the view from the top.
The present day Church of Our Lady, Copenhagen’s cathedral, was completed in 1829. It was designed in the neo-classical style and features statues by Bertel Thorvaldsen. The crown prince and princess of Denmark were married here in 2004.
Frederik’s Church has the largest church dome in Denmark. It is also called the Marble Church because of the amount of marble used to build it.
The Trinitatis Church is adjacent to the Round Tower and was consecrated in 1656. It was originally built to be used by the scholars working in the Round Tower.
The Church of Our Savior is a baroque church and most known for the spiral tower with an external winding staircase. But I rather liked the inside and the many elephants depicted. Some are easy to spot, others not, and there are around 40 elephants to be found in the church.
There are plenty of museums scattered across the city and they all sound very interesting: design, art, history and even a museum dedicated to Greenland and the Faroe Islands. I can highly recommend visiting the National Museum of Denmark which highlights Danish history. There is beautiful Viking jewelry and prehistoric art to be seen as well as a fabulous ethnographic collection. There is also an exhibit on former Danish colonies. I had known about some of them, but not all.
Another interesting museum to visit is the Glyptothek. The museum was built by the son of the founder of the Carlsberg brewery. The museum is home to many sculptures and artifacts from Egypt, Greece and Rome, but also has a large collection of sculptures by Rodin. The collection of paintings by French impressionists and from the Danish Golden Age is impressive. The domed garden in the center of the building is home to beautiful palm trees and a fountain with benches scattered around. At the end of our visit we stepped into a temple-like room where a ballet dancer was dancing for a private shooting.
One the reasons to go to Copenhagen is to eat! Copenhagen is home to the coveted restaurant noma, and food activist Claus Meyer who is said to be the founder of the New Nordic Cuisine, promoting local, natural and seasonal produce to make new and traditional dishes. This also means incorporating herbs and plants in ways you wouldn’t expect. Cream infused with pine needles, anyone? This is, by the way, delicious with fish. The food is fantastic, although I think the Danes could use a lighter hand when making their cream bases sauces. For lunch definitely check out the Torvehallern food market. If you get something to go, you can enjoy your food in the botanical gardens two streets over. I can recommend making a stop at the taqueria (yes, Mexican) Hija de Sanchez. If you’re feeling like something more traditional, eat Smørrebrød (rye bread topped with pickled herring, potatoes or meat) at the museum café Smör in the Danish National Museum. If you are looking for baked goods, especially Danish cinnamon rolls, look no further than Meyers Bageri.
Vækst: The New Nordic Cuisine plays a big role at the restaurant which gives you the feeling that you are sitting in a garden. Surrounded by plants and sitting next to a greenhouse, the food is fresh and the staff very friendly. It’s not easy to decide what to eat, but whatever you choose it will be delicious.
Kødbyens Fiskebar: THE place to go for fresh fish. Not only is the fish extremely fresh, it is served with unusual but delicious flavors. This place came highly recommended by my best friend Alex and it didn’t disappoint. We each had one raw and one cooked fish dish and of course dessert.
Krog’s Fish Restaurant: The Fiskebar is hip and Krog’s is Copenhagen’s oldest fish restaurant. Both are perfect in their own right. I was too busy enjoying my Haddock to take pictures, but I can recommend this restaurant.
Orangeriet: In Vækst you felt like you were sitting in a greenhouse, at the Orangeriet you are sitting in one. Simply decorated in white and with nosegays on the tables, the food shines at this restaurant that is anything but plain.