City Break: Copenhagen

Copenhagen was the first ‘Scandi’ city I visited, so I didn’t really know what to expect. I suppose somewhere in the back of my mind I had visions of narrow waterways and chocolate-box street fronts. While there is certainly a chocolate-box beauty to many of the city’s buildings, streets and picturesque squares, especially in the centre, I found to my delight that there is nothing narrow about Copenhagen. The closeness of cities like Venice and Amsterdam certainly contributes to their unique charms, but I found the sense of space and openness in Copenhagen wonderfully liberating. Here is a city where you can really breathe.

One of the great things about Copenhagen is that it is a compact capital city, which means it’s easily walkable – especially the historic centre. Wide boulevards and bridges, spacious squares, and a sprawling waterfront all contribute to the expansive feeling of this beautiful city. The main waterfront was one of my favourite places to take a seat and watch the world go by, there’s so much to look at from the historic buildings and riverside statues to the amazing boats and other people all enjoying this peaceful space. On the waterfront you can also find the Royal Danish Library, located in an incredible building called The Black Diamond. Both book nerds and architecture enthusiasts should definitely sign up for one of the free guided tours offered here. If you don’t fancy the tour, I still highly recommend a visit, especially if it’s just to take a stroll through the delightfully tranquil garden that sits behind the oldest part of the library.

The Rosenborg Castle is, of course, one of the city’s key attractions and rightly so – it’s filled with beautiful historical artefacts and curios and you can easily spend an afternoon exploring here. Those lucky enough to visit in summer should take full advantage of the palace’s stunning rose gardens. However, if you are horticulturally minded, don’t miss out on a trip to the Copenhagen Botanical Gardens, which are just a stone’s throw from Rosenborg. As well as a gorgeous palm house, there’s also a magical butterfly house here and the wider park is the perfect spot for a relaxed picnic.

The city centre is packed with things to see and do but to get the full Copenhagen experience you have to venture a bit further out and explore the trendy suburb of Nørrebro. Full of stylish shops, pretty cafes, quality bars and restaurants, this chic area really encapsulates the easy, laid-back style that typifies the city and its inhabitants. From clothes and candles to colourful ceramics, pottering about Copenhagen’s little independent stores is a real treat for the senses and brilliant for picking up genuinely unique mementos from your trip. A walk around a cemetery might not be everyone’s idea of a top holiday activity but the Assistens Kirkegard in Nørrebro is a lovely place to explore. Not only will you get your dose of daily green inside the city but you can search for the graves of famous Danish artists, writers and scientists who are buried here, and if you keep your eyes peeled you might even see some red squirrels as they scamper about between the headstones and scurry up the cemetery’s pine trees.

One of the greatest pleasures of any holiday is enjoying the food and drink of your chosen destination and Copenhagen is no exception! The very first thing I ate on my trip was an astonishingly delicious vegan hotdog at a charming little café on Jægersborggade in Nørrebro, a street that’s also teeming with cute vintage and second-hand shops. In addition to the iconic Danish pastries, accompanied by excellent coffee in the city’s multitude of bakeries and cafes, Copenhagen is also home to some exceptional beers. Make sure you check out the famous Mikellar & Friends bar, where you’ll find a spectacular range of brilliant beers on tap from various microbreweries. For the ultimate foodie experience in Copenhagen, you must visit one of the city’s incredible markets. I could have spent hours and hours just wandering around the stalls of the Torvehallerne market and sampling everything on offer from traditional Danish delicacies to delicious international delights.

City breaks are a brilliant way to travel, but a city break is not always a restful event; often you’re on your feet for most of the day and trying to cram as much sightseeing as you can into a short stay – exciting and enriching, certainly, but not necessarily relaxing. For me, Copenhagen was different. Whether because of the sense of openness and freedom, the city’s naturally relaxed attitude, or perhaps just a decision to slow down and enjoy what we could at our own pace without trying to see and do everything, I didn’t leave with that usual sense of city break exhaustion. Despite only spending a few days in Copenhagen, by the time that I left I really felt that I had had a proper summer holiday and I returned home feeling fulfilled, relaxed and rejuvenated. If that’s not travel at it’s best, I don’t know what is!

Written by Bridie Chomse, Travel Bureau Marketing Executive.

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