One of the great things about traveling is that you get to make friends from around the world who’ll let you stay at their place for free and show you around their city. Copenhagen is one of the destinations I was lucky enough to visit in this way, and with my travel buddies playing the part of my local tour guides I experienced the highlights of this unique city – here are five of my favourites.
I was told by my friends that this is where visitors come to get their ‘typical Copenhagen’ picture, and I could see why. Nyhavn is a former busy port, now populated with classy restaurants and bars. It is incredibly picturesque, with quaint, colourful houses lining the quayside and pretty boats with tall masts docked in the canal. Although, admittedly, you have to look past the swarming hordes of tourists to fully appreciate it. It is a popular place to grab dinner or drinks, but once I’d taken my obligatory Instagram snaps the real highlight for me was the ice-cream. Danish ice-cream is incredible, and in Nyhavn I experienced what was hands down the best I’ve ever had. The parlour had an amazing range of flavours that they piled on the cone in massive scoops, topping it with whipped cream, flakes, and strawberry sauce. Yum!
The Round Tower
As you’ve probably guessed from its pretty self-explanatory name, the Round Tower is, yep, a round tower! It’s also the oldest functioning observatory in Europe and has a viewing platform at the top from which you can get a birds-eye view of the old part of Copenhagen. This is a fab place for panoramic photos, and if you’re fortunate enough to have a local in tow they can point out all the main highlights of the city from your aerial vantage point.
Described as a free town, Christiania is a truly unique experience, a neighbourhood in Copenhagen which originated as a hippie commune with its own set of societal rules. Although dealing drugs is illegal in Denmark, drug use is prominent in Christiania, especially the use and selling of cannabis in small stalls along Pusher Street. For this reason, police do raid the area on occasion, and therefore it is inadvisable to take pictures, shout or run in this area. The green and car-free neighbourhood has a very chilled out vibe, with bars, live music, and plenty of outdoor space to relax in the sun with a drink listening to bands play. It is definitely a must-see, as there is nowhere else quite like it.
Paper Island Food Market
If you’re as big of a foodie as I am, then an indoor market filled with street food from around the world will be pretty close to your idea of heaven. Paper Island is located in Copenhagen harbour, meaning it has an amazing view overlooking sights such as the opera house, but inside its industrial halls is where the magic happens. The whole island is being developed as a new urban creative hub, but by far the most exciting part is the indoor food market. Whatever sort of food you’re craving, you’ll find it here – anything from pizza to falafel to burritos. Some of the stalls also offer exciting alcohol concoctions such as fancy cocktails, which, while pricey, look and taste incredible.
The Little Mermaid Statue
Perhaps Copenhagen’s most famous tourist attraction, the statue of Hans Christian Andersen’s Little Mermaid was a must see for me during my visit. I’ve loved the Disney adaptation for as long as I can remember, with my Ariel Barbie doll being one of my most treasured possessions and one of the only dolls whose hair I didn’t attempt a radical makeover on. I do have to admit that at the end of the day, this attraction is literally just a statue, and my Danish friends questioned why I was so keen to visit it. Once you’ve seen it, there’s not a lot else to do there, and its popularity means that it is near impossible to get close enough to get a good picture without waiting in the crowds of tourist for what feels like an age. Despite this, for a fangirl like me, it was definitely worth it.
Copenhagen is a beautiful city, and surprisingly cheap to fly to, with budget airlines often offering flights for as little as £10 each way. Perfect for a winter city break, it should definitely be a destination on your radar.