In all honesty, I never thought I would be in Copenhagen last year. I’ve always thought that I would graduate first before I ever get the chance to go. It all started just months before I started my placement in Japan. As usual, I was procrastinating and I had a random urge to find out how expensive international fares are from Tokyo. Lo and behold! Lucky Tokyoites actually had better deals compared to Australia, especially with flights to Scandinavia.
How I got here:
My main destination is Iceland. However, with all the efforts that came with the application of Schengen visa, I might as well explore Scandinavia.
I originally intended to fly directly to Reykjavik but the price was quite good for a multi-city ticket hence I chose to fly to Copenhagen and return to Tokyo from Helsinki. I would fly to Reykjavik from Copenhagen and Reykjavik to Helsinki.
Tone and Walk in Copenhagen
I only have one full day to enjoy the sights of Copenhagen before I depart for Iceland. Iceland is quite notorious for being expensive, a reputation that Denmark shares. I won’t even complain of the price because I just did activities that were free.
There is something about walking that tingles your senses. You have glimpses of strangers as they pass you by, you hear the sound of traffic, and you watch if any interesting event would take place in the pedestrian. Ones you consider mundane back home becomes interesting when you are in a new place.
That day, I ventured out without a plan and without the pressure to visit the “must-sees”. I walked for hours, with random destinations in mind. In a delightful surprise, I ended up spending less than $50 USD for that day. After all, there are still many activities that you could do for free.
Free things to do in Copenhagen
1.) Sunrise in Nyhavn
Nyhavn is one of Denmark’s iconic attraction. This picturesque waterfront is featured in hundreds of postcards and books. In the early days, Nyhavn was a busy port with ships from all over the world in its docks. The area was brimming with sailors. At present, gone were the pubs and alehouses that hosted travellers but in their stead, are the renovated old houses we see today.
Many of these beautiful townhouses are home to restaurants, and shops where you can enjoy the atmosphere of the place.
The Christmas market was already open when I came to Copenhagen, I think that the holiday spirit added extra magic to this already charming city. After, all who wouldn’t enjoy walking along cobbled streets with a cup of hot chocolate?
2.) Amalienborg Palace
Amalienborg is the residence of the Danish Royal family. It is a sprawling complex with four mansions, and an octagonal courtyard. The palace is built in classical, rococo architecture and features opulent interiors in each of the palaces.
You can explore the grounds however there are entrance fees if you want to visit the palaces.
Amalienborg is a masterpiece where the best craftsmen and builders are assembled in its construction.
I did not go inside the palace however I would recommend a visit to the Amalienborg Museum should you be interested in seeing the interiors. The exhibit’s collections give glimpse to how the royals live and some of the century-old traditions that are still followed today.
Now, I think this is the place where I let my inhibitions (and my kroner) go. I cannot resist markets and food whenever I travel, no matter how hard I try to be frugal.
The bustling Torvehallerne was no exception. You will find over 80 stalls selling Danish delicacies, fresh produce, meat and gourmet goods. One should not miss out smørrebrød.
Smørrebrød is an open-faced sandwich where thick rye bread is top with assortment of toppings from cold cuts, cheese or even pickled herring. Hallernes is a popular stall in Torvehallerne. People queue here for their delicious smorrebrod.
While I’m not entirely a fan of rye bread, it is quite delicious when it is incorporated to a smorrebrod. As you queue, you are treated to the sight of trays of smorrebrod in the glass counter. Truly, it was a sight to behold for me
Check out the market’s website here to learn more.
3.) LEGO Store
Enjoy your pick of colourful building bricks and sets in LEGO’s flagship store. Whether you are visiting with kids or not, this store might just bring out your creative side. The store features hundreds of products, themed sets and exclusive merchandise that you would only find here.
You can choose your pick of LEGO bricks in the “Pick-A-Brick Wall”. There are interactive spaces as well in which you could use LEGO products to build your creations. The store also displays several themed sets. I loved their set of Death Star from Star Wars and the giant display of the LEGO royal guard.
4.) Black Diamond
Straight out of James Bond film? That was my impression when I learned of the library’s name and when I saw it’s exterior. This modern library is an extension of the Royal Danish Library in central Copenhagen. Black Diamond’s notable feature is the building’s glaze of black granite, called Absolute Black. Despite its dark exterior, the glass facade in the atrium allows sunlight to enter, filling up the central space of the library with natural light.
5.) Rosenborg Castle
Rosenborg Castle is another castle in central Copenhagen. I found myself resting here after hours of walking. It is free to relax in the park though you would have to pay 110 dkk ($18 USD) to enter the castle grounds. The castle is home to royal art treasures, Crown Jewels and Royal Regalia that are more than three centuries old. I would have loved to see the luxurious interiors of the Knight’s Hall.
7.) The Tower of Christianborg
What better way to end a trip than a scenic sunset? The Tower of Christianborg is the highest tower in Copenhagen with its height of 106 metres. There is no entrance fee to access the tower but prepare to queue. You would understand the queue though as you are rewarded with a sweeping view of the city at the top.
Since I was only there for less than 24 hours, I consider this as a sampler of what Copenhagen has to offer. It is a beautiful city with a vibrant cultural, arts and food scene hence I recommend you stay longer than just one day.
Expenses for the day:
24- City Pass (unlimited transport including to and from the airport): 80 DKK ($12 USD)
Smorrebrod: Mine was 72 DKK ($11 USD) but the price starts at 58 DKK ($9.50 USD)