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COPENHAGEN (Kobenhavn)

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Nyhavn, Copenhagen
Nyhavn, © Can Stock Photo / swisshippo

Copenhagen is the capital of Denmark and its largest city, with an urban population in excess of one million.  Its name translates to "merchant's habor".  The city was founded in 1167 at the current site of Christiansborg Palace.  It has seen many struggles to retain its pre-dominance over access between the Atlantic and the Baltic Sea.  Copenhagen is a major port on ocean liner cruises to Scandinavia.  Cruise ships take the pastoral German Kiel Canal between Copenhagen and the North Atlantic.

Weather:

June to September are the best months to visit Copenhagen for weather.  Temperatures are cool at best.  They average around 68 F (20 C) for highs and 50 F (10 C) for lows during the summer months.

   

Transportation:

Public transportation is available from the cruise ship docks to the home of Hans Christian Anderson, the Tivoli Gardens and the Stoget pedestrian shopping area.  Copenhagen Kastrup Airport (CPH) is the hub for Scandanavian Airlines.  It's located about 15 minutes by train from Central Station in the city center and the Old Town.

Little Mermaid, Copenhagen

Little Mermaid, © Can Stock Photo / Kaferphoto

Attractions in Copenhagen:

Things to see and do:

Most of the attractions in Copenhagen are located close together in the old town site and are easily accessible on foot or by the modern subway system.

  • Tivoli Gardens - this amusement park was an inspiration for Walt Disney to build Disneyland.  Grøften is located here and is one of the most famous restaurants in Copenhagen.  City Hall Square is located at the entrance to the Tivoli.  The square has room for 50,000 people.  On the opposite side of the square is the Stroget.  The Stroget is the longest pedestrian-only shopping street in Europe.  It continues all the way to Kongens Nytorv Square and the beginning of Nyhavn.

  • Nyhavn - the 17th century brightly painted row houses of "New Harbour" aren't so new any more.  This area of waterfront, built by King Christian V, stretches from Kongens Nytorv Square to the Royal Playhouse.  Hans Christian Andersen wrote fairy tales in house #20.  Take a one hour canal cruise from Nyhavn, such as Stromma's Grand Tour from Nyhavn.

  • Amalienborg Royal Palace - the winter residence of the Danish royal family.  See the changing of the guard.  Visit the Amalienborg Museum.  See the Lutheran Marble Church also known as the Danish National Church and the Church of Denmark.  Stroll the Amalie Garden on the Waterfront too.

  • Rosenborg Castle - 16th century summer palace and garden of King Christian IV.  See the king's elaborate 1596 coronation crown.  The Botanical Gardens and Museum of the University of Copenhagen are located adjacent to the castle and so is the National Gallery of Denmark.  The Søerne or "The lakes" are nearby.

Tivoli Gardens entrance, Copenhagen

Tivoli Gardens entrance, © Can Stock Photo / frankix

  • Kastellet - The Copenhagen Fortress constructed in the early 1600s as a pentagon shaped rampart.  Just outside the ramparts to the south is the Gefion Fountain.  It is the largest monument in Copenhagen.  Gefion turns her four sons to oxen and uses them to plough and create the island Copenhagen is now on.  Beside the Gefion Fountain is St. Albans Church and the Museum of Danish ResistanceThe Little Mermaid is located at the northeast corner of the rampart at the water's edge.  This is a surprisingly small statue with a large following of spectators. On the Kastellet grounds outside the western rampart, you will find the Swedish Gustaf Church.

  • Christiansborg Palace - seat of the Danish Parliament.  Nearby is the Thorvaldsens Museum (works of Bertel Thorvaldsen).

  • Christianshavn - 17th and 18 century buildings and canals filled with sail boats.  It includes Christiania - a self managed community and spin off of the hippie era.  The Church of Our Savior with its spiral staircase steeple is the centerpiece of Christianshavn.

Church of Our Lady or Copenhagen Cathedral

Church of Our Lady or Copenhagen Cathedral, © Can Stock Photo / tupungato

  • Copenhagen Cathedral (Church of Our Lady) also known as the National Cathedral of Denmark.  A memorial in front of this Lutheran church commemorates the break of Denmark from the Catholic Church.  Inside the church are life-size sculptures of the 12 apostles and Christ, created by Bertel Thorvaldsen.  Also at this location is Gammeltorv, the oldest square in Copenhagen.  The Fountain of Charity in the square is the oldest fountain in the city.  Visit Denmark's greatest museum, the National Museum here as well. 

  • The Royal Library and its Black Diamond wing.  The Old Stock Exchange is nearby.

  • The Royal Theatre administers the Royal Danish Playhouse and the Copenhagen Opera House

  • Frederiksberg Slot (Castle) and Gardens - royal residences located about 10 minutes west of the old city center.

  • Grundtvigs Church - located a 10 minute drive north from the old city center.

Saint Albans Church and the Gefion Fountain, Copenhagen

Saint Albans Church and the Gefion Fountain, © Can Stock Photo / chrisdorney

  • The Round Tower - built by King Christian IV in 1642, it provides views of the city and an observatory.  It is built beside Trinity Church.

  • Saint Nikolaj Church - now housing the Copenhagen Contemporary Art Center.  This former church appears frequently in pictures of Copenhagen due to its proximity to the canal at the Gammel Strand and to Christiansborg Castle on the opposite bank.

  • Vesterbro - an area transformed to boutiques, design studios, cafes and bars.

  • Carlsberg Brewery - guided tours of one of the oldest breweries in Scandinavia

  • Havnebadet Islands Brygge - Public pools in the harbour for summer swimming.

  • City Bike - leave a deposit to unlock a blue bike and get your deposit back when you return it.

  • Ny Carlsberg Glyptotek - classic Egyptian, Roman and Etruscan art

  • Louisiana Museum of Modern Art, Museum of Copenhagen, Arken Museum of Modern Art

  • Dyrehaven - "The Deer Park", north of town but easily accessible on the S Train.  The 400 year old Bakken Amusement Park is located here providing a stark contrast to the pastoral views of deer in the fields of the former hunting grounds of Danish royalty.

Christiansborg Castle, Copenhagen

Christiansborg Castle - left and Saint Nikolaij Church - right, © Can Stock Photo / anshar

Things to see and do near Copenhagen:

  • Roskilde Viking Ship Museum - see 5 Viking ships, 30 minutes west of Copenhagen.  Also visit the Roskilde Cathedral. 

  • Take a 40 minute drive to Kronborg Castle, in the city of Elsinore - made famous by Shakespeare in Hamlet.

  • Take the Øresund Bridge-tunnel from Copenhagen to Malmo, Sweden.

  • For a unique experience for children, travel 3 hours to the Jutland peninsula and visit Legoland - Billund.

Copenhagen Tours:

Hotels in Copenhagen:

Take That Vacation Recommendations for Copenhagen:

Copenhagen Kastrup Airport - (CPH) - including a list of hotels with a shuttle.


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