On a recent work trip to Europe, I was in Copenhagen for a day and managed to spare around 4 hours for sightseeing before my flight to Stockholm. While 4 hours is not enough for this beautiful city, I couldn’t leave its shores without a peak at the very minimum. And so I asked a couple of locals on the “must see” places in Copenhagen (with limited time). There were quite a few suggestions and some really enticing ideas such as the Hamlet’s Castle, but I decided to be realistic and managed to short list 3 sights that I could definitely go to and roam at my leisure pace. And I am sharing my experiences of the same below –
Tivoli Gardens – A hands down winner, this park was recommended by all locals. In fact one of them said – “You have to visit the Tivoli Gardens. It’s an amusement park but still an absolute must”. Intrigued we decided to visit and see for ourselves why an amusement park was this highly recommended by everyone. On entering we realized that the century old Tivoli is actually a lot more than just an amusement park. It has quite a few rides but it also has theatres, modern concert venues, gourmet restaurants, a brewery, a mini princess castle, a lake and a lot of Hans Christian Andersen paraphernalia all around. We spent a good 2 hours here just walking around and seeing the beautiful design, layouts, landscapes, colored motifs and the variety of eating options. I loved the detailing in everything and the beautiful burst of color everywhere. While we didn’t take any of the rides, they were all modern and I am sure, super fun. Please note that – there are two kinds of entrance tickets here – one ticket that is just for entry and does not include any rides and there is another ticket that allows entry and access to rides.
Nyhavn – We then went to the famous and the absolutely touristy Nyhavn. Nyhavn is the most common image of Copenhagen (that you see everywhere) with its charming houses painted in a variety of colours and clustered around the canal-side. We just took a quick walk through here and saw the various restaurants, shops and cafes but it was definitely a place that I could have liked to spend a few hours in with a cup of coffee or ice cream and dangling my feet in the gorgeous blue waters from the local jetty or to just with a book.
Den Lille Havfrue or the Little Mermaid – A little further down from Nyhavn is Edvard Eriksen’s famous statue of the Little Mermaid. This statue of Hans Christian Andersen’s tragic heroine was unveiled in 1913 and was presented to the city of Copenhagen by the Danish brewer Carl Jacobsen. Story goes that Carl Jocobsen fell in love with this character during a ballet performance, based on the fairy tale, and commissioned Edvard Eriksen (a sculptor) to create a statue of the mermaid. But for all the hype and the crowd surrounding it, I felt that the statue (sitting quietly on her rock with her head bowed) was actually quite small, unassuming and extremely overrated as an attraction. Though I wouldn’t recommend a visit to see the Little Mermaid, I would definitely recommend a visit here to see the beautiful views of the harbor around it and to have a summer lunch picnic in the gorgeous green gardens (Amaliehaven Park) surrounding it. Alternatively you can choose to see the Little Mermaid as part of a canal tour.
Amalienborg Slotsplads – Our last quick stop in Copenhagen was the Amalienborg. This is actually a group of four Rococo palaces built around an octagonal square by royal architect Nicolai Eigtved in the 1750s. These palaces are magnificent and still inhabited by the royal family. Queen Margrethe lives in Christian IV’s palace with her husband, Prince Consort Henrik while Crown Prince Frederik and Crown Princess Mary live in Frederik VIII’s Palace. Part of Christian VIII’s Palace is a museum (Amalienborg Museum) but we didn’t have time for it. We visited the square in the centre of the palaces and saw the huge statue of Frederik V. Like all palaces there is a changing of the guards ceremony every day at noon.
Odds and Ends – But apart from all the sights above, the best part of my Copenhagen trip was just seeing all kinds of random sights that are never a part of any recommendation or guide books – the unique architecture of buildings all around especially that of the Copenhagen stock exchange, the beautiful lamp posts, cyclists rushing everywhere (yes Copenhagen has more cycles that cars) but most of all a gorgeous sunset against a backdrop of wind mills.
Though I didn’t see much of Copenhagen I loved whatever I saw and would definitely return someday with a cycle and see Copenhagen as its locals see it every day.