Copenhagen, the city that cares more about the cyclists also boasts of being the first country to depend majorly on natural sources of energies. The city that was once the home of Hans Christian Anderson, has still retained the beautiful sceneries as a memorial of his writings. A disturbingly quiet rhythm of the city mesmerised me initially. Then it became a routine to be in such tranquillity. It is so surprising that the world doesn’t believe in keeping harmony with nature and its rhythm whereas Copenhagen has achieved it quite gracefully. The city is a modern settlement yet in the lap of nature.
Copenhagen is a perfect city for the tourists to get a glimpse of the modern architectural oasis in the middle of a number of lakes and green spaces. History, literature, architecture, nature, food and beer, this city has the masters from all fields of art. Dotted with fairytale-like palaces and gardens, the imperial architecture of Copenhagen is a sight to devour. Be it the Frederiksborg Palace or Rosenborg Castle, the awe-inspiring architecture is completely unmatched. While the city loves its open sky, no building beyond 5-6 floors is ever built in Copenhagen.
Free pure air, water, recreation areas, parks, lakes, towns to a never-ending list of free things to do, this city is a touristic masterpiece.
While I would not want you to miss some of the iconic places worth spending money, the free things to do here are also should not be missed. However, almost all the places in Copenhagen turn free for you if you are a Copenhagen Cardholder.
Take a Stroll at Nyhavn
The colorful buildings at Nyhavn have become an identity of Copenhagen. The picturesque harbour looks like a fresh art by a painter who is fond of bright colours. Entering the Nyhavn canal, that looks more colourful with the reflection of the historic buildings, feels like a dream where you are taken off to some set of a movie. It is the oldest harbour in Copenhagen with some of the buildings ageing back to the 15th and 16th centuries.
The colorful boats anchored at the canal just enhance the feel of the olden days. The market along the buildings is one of the oldest markets with really interesting flavours to savour. The cafes and bakeries in the buildings are famous for their cheesecake. The cakes aren’t too heavy unlike other common cheesecakes found around the world. You can also sit on the benches set up on the opposite bank. And can listen to some music played by the street players.
Explore Kastellet – Star Shaped Fort
The trend of building star-shaped forts prevailed in the bygone era of European kingdoms. It was built for the better defence and to make it more invincible as well as naturally beautiful. If you are expecting to see some normal architecture in star-shape, then you would be disappointed. The land at the sea-coast is carved in the shape of a star and the important buildings are right in the centre. It looks like a fossil of a huge starfish that emerged from the sea once upon a time. The fort is made in such a manner that none can cross from one wing to the other. All the wings would only lead you to the centre of the fort.
While you stand at the edge of one tail of this star, the story of ‘The Ugly Duckling’ would come alive before you. The greenery, the azure sky and the cathedral paints a perfect backdrop for the little ducklings to follow their mommy duck creating hundreds of beautiful ripples in the water.
Winston Churchill had planted a few trees on these grassy tails which have now turned into a high canopied green park.
The fort area also has a fountain with the sculpture of a Norse Goddess and a cathedral.
The Fountain is perched on one of the wings of Kastellet The Gefjun fountain was the gift of Carlsberg Foundation on its 50th Anniversary. The interesting thing about the fountain is the mythological story of the Goddess Gefjun. The King Gylfi promised a land to Goddess Gefjun that she can plough within a night. The goddess then turned all the four of her sons into oxen and ploughed a territory out of the earth. The ploughed territory was thrown into the sea creating two large lakes. And the new island created by it was named by the Goddess as Zealand. The city of Copenhagen was established on the same land created by this Goddess.
The fountain is also an architectural masterpiece. The sparkling water of the fountain makes it more of a magical sight.
Gammel Torv: Laze around The old town Square
The Old Town Square houses a few of the important historic buildings including the old Palace of Justice. Most buildings are built in the Roman style with huge pillars. The square is a happening place with a number of musicians playing different instruments or some jugglers entertaining the crowd.
Get a View of the City skyline from Christainborg Tower
The Royal Residence and the ruins of the palace have the entrance fee. However, the tower in the entrance hall is free to access for all. You might need to stand in a queue before you find your way to the elevator. It is an excellent viewpoint for the 360-degree scenery of the city.
Enjoy the Change of Royal Dutch Guards Ritual at Christainborg and Amalienborg Palace
My first impression of these guards was that of wax statues. Then, suddenly they started marching and I had to blink my eyes to believe this robotic act. Clad in the traditional military dress, these soldiers look like those in the paintings of a storybook.
Relax or swim at the Main Canal Promenade
On a sunny day, the canal turns all alive with water sports and hundreds of people enjoying the sunbath and swimming. Being nearer to the North Pole Copenhageners crave for sunlight throughout the winter and thus, sunny days are the blessings of the Sun God. You can rent a kayak and go for kayaking or can just swim around.
Rock N Roll at Christiania – The Free Town
An alternative, carefree lifestyle is what you can see in this hippie town on the bank of a lake. The houses aren’t built conventionally here nor do people do any conventional stuff. The walls are never painted in a particular colour. In fact, the wall art changes with every visit you take here. It is also a great place to observe graffiti artists at the task. The marijuana is sold illegally on the streets of Christiania. The tourists are not advised to fall for any price or offer. Don’t even try to click the main street of the town where the marijuana is sold. Once you are done exploring the touristy part of Christiania, i.e. the creative buildings and garden exhibits, you can move towards the water.
As you move along the cutely decorated huts and gardens along the river, you would also find the teens partying and chilling around. I had easily moved around all by myself despite the warnings and the hype of it being unsafe.
If you are afraid or feel unsafe you can also go with any local. The experience is not worth missing.
Chill around Copenhagen’s Lakes and Gardens
With a number of lakes all around this island, you can be in the company of nature even in the bustling city. While Christiania is one of the best places I found to sit along a water body, you can choose your own waterfront.
Botanical garden is another favourite of the locals for a picnic on a sunny day. It is located in the heart of the city and is a must visit on you visit to this colourful city.
Rosenberg Castle Garden
The entry into the Rosenberg Castle is free for the Copenhagen Card Holders. The entry is now restricted as the building is used by the military department. The garden surrounding the castle is free for all. You can roam around the garden and get a mesmerizing view of the palace on a sunny day.
Walk in the Colorful Streets
Copenhagen was a busy harbor town on the east coast of Zealand. The old town street hasn’t lost its charm even a bit. Coffee tables and cosy sitting corners on these streets is the best thing about these streets. I didn’t follow any specific route. I just bumped into beautiful streets with every random turn that I took.
You can also opt to go for Free Street Walks. You can take the info about the same from the Tourist Info Office located opposite to Tivoli Garden’s main entrance. Such free walks work on tips and the customers are free to choose the amount they pay.
Free Museums in Copenhagen
The following museums have free entry for the visitors throughout the year(except on the fixed holidays)
- National Gallery
- National Museum
- Danish Resistance Museum
- Hirschsprung (Friday Only)
- Glyptoteket – Ny Carlsberg Museum (Tuesday Only)
- Nikolaj Kunsthal (Wednesday only)
So, grab your chance to take a glimpse into Danish culture.
City Hall Square
City Hall square is super crowded at any time of the day. If you do not mind the crowd, you can sit here for some street performances.
Sit with ‘The Little Mermaid’ and her sisters
“The Little Mermaid” by H C Anderson was written during his days in Copenhagen. Although most of us have read the story, it was more popularised by Disney’s cartoon series where we all were the fans of Ariel.
The little mermaid falls in love with a charming son of a trader. While the young boy barely remembers the face of his saviour he also falls in love with her. The little mermaid Ariel sits back waiting for her prince to return and find her one day. And the statue depicting the same little mermaid was put up at the shore in the 19th century. It is funny that she was painted red and golden a few times by some prankster. Even one of her hands was broken once. However, the statue is now restored perfectly.
A few metres ahead on the shore is the statue of a genetically modified mermaid. Yes, a mermaid with silicon breasts, lifted eyebrows and bigger eyes. She is believed to have been put up to accompany the lonely mermaid on the shore.
Ride a bike with Bycyklen
When you are in the paradise of cyclists, how can you miss cycling here? Copenhagen is the first country to think about the pedestrians and cyclists than about the motorists. It is the first country to have a separate bike riders’ bridges and lanes.
It is no more free owing to the loss incurred due to stolen bikes. However, you can choose to use it on a sharing basis. You need to log-in with your account details on their app. And once you have the account with all credit card details, you can just log-in on the front screen of the white colour cycles. You can park it on any Bycyklen stand with built-in electric locks. The charges range from 25 DKK per hour or 70 DKK for a day. Read more about the system on their official website. Moreover, you can also get a discount with your Copenhagen Card.
Isn’t that fun!!!
Travel Tips – Be in your Budget
- The food in Copenhagen can be quite expensive but the Chinese and the Mexican Food shops on the main shopping street is quite cheaper. Buffets are always cheaper than specially ordered food.
- Buy the day ticket valid on all public transport if you wish to quickly explore the city. Or just rent a bicycle.
- You must buy a Copenhagen Card if you stay in Copenhagen for 2 days or wish to complete the exploration in a day without wasting your time in the queue.
- Where to stay? stay near the city centre in order to conveniently explore the city attractions.
- How to reach Copenhagen: Air India runs direct flights from Delhi to Copenhagen thrice a week.
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This Post is written in collaboration with wonderful Copenhagen. However, all the experiences and the views are of my own.