A city of light and water, Copenhagen is criss crossed by canals, and dotted with green, verdant parks. The Nordic sensibility of practical aesthetics dominate here, from the chic designs in fashion and homewares, to the architecture and layout of this 11th century city, very similar to Stockholm, another city of light water. There’s a lot more here to see, but if you are pressed for time, these are the top 5 attractions in Copenhagen.
1. Central Copenhagen
Copenhagen is a very walkable city – the attractions are located close to each other, and the landscape is flat. Head first to Radhusapladsen, the main square where Town Hall is located. On sunny weekend days, you’ll usually find a flea market or two busily setting up in the middle of the square.
Take a very very long walk along Stroget, the main shopping street of Copenhagen, and check out the incredible Danish design for sale at Ilium Borghaus. The iconic egg chair, retailing at EUR9,000 may be a little out of the budget for mere mortals, but if you hunt around you’ll be sure to find something affordable you can bring home, and there’s no better souvenir than a Danish design.
Nyhavn is very picturesque, despite its history. This used to the be unsavoury part of old Copenhagen, where the sailors would find land based entertainment – whores, drink, drugs. Hans Christian Anderson, the poet and writer, lived in an apartment in Nyhavn, no doubt drawing inspiration for his stories from the real life drama happening outside his windows and revelling in his poverty-stricken artists’ existence.
3. Tivoli Gardens
The oldest amusement park in the world, Tivoli Gardens come into their own at dusk, when the fairy lights sparkle in the trees. The rides are a little old fashioned and very charming – carousels, bumper cars, roller coasters – there’s also live shows, depending on the time of year. The Gardens were built in 1843 and have provided fun and entertainment for hundreds of years.
4. The Little Mermaid
No trip to Copenhagen is complete without a walk to see the Little Mermaid, the symbol of the city. Depending on when you go, you may find her spot empty – the Little Mermaid is a celebrity in her own right and occasionally does international tours. Her most recent was to Shanghai, China. Sculpted by Edvard Eriksen, the statue has been subject to more than her fair share of vandalism in the past.
A trip to Christiana is a completely unexpected side of law abiding, clean and orderly Copenhagen. Originally an army barracks, squatters moved in when the army moved out. They set up shop and soon had a nice plant sideline going on. This continued for years, and Christiana attracted (and still does) hippies, free spirits and anarchists. The community at Christiana is not legally part of Copenhagen, and there is no running water or electricity, no paved roads and no taxes. It’s safer to go with a local, or with friends.