When I was 8 my parents took me on my first overseas trip to Fiji. That was before all the airline security restrictions and kids were allowed to visit the flight deck. The pilots let me sit in the jump seat for landing and I was hooked! From then on, I knew I wanted to be a pilot and travel the world.
The photography part came a little later. As a child, I used to love picking up other people’s cameras and taking random photos but I didn’t really get into photography as a hobby or seriously until my mid-twenties. One city that I visited recently which was incredibly photogenic was Copenhagen.
Three Special Days in Copenhagen
During my travels, I heard a lot of other travellers talk about how much they loved Denmark. However, I actually had no plans to visit Copenhagen until recently. We met a Danish girl travelling in Australia a few years ago and we became close friends. Then during a recent trip to visit Iceland, we stopped by Copenhagen to visit her and absolutely fell in love with the city!
We spent three days in Copenhagen during winter which isn’t peak tourist season. But I felt like we got to experience a different side of the Danish culture during winter. It was snowing while we were there and the city is so pretty at that time of year. Visiting in winter also gave us a good excuse to try the amazing restaurants that Copenhagen is famous for.
My Favourite Place: Kastellet
I loved Kastellet (the Military Barracks) in Copenhagen. It was such a photogenic place and it was a bit away from the usual tourist path. We had the place mostly to ourselves in the middle of the day which made it easy to capture photos. I also loved photographing Nyhavn with its colourful buildings and Amalienborg Palace where the royal family reside.
Top 8 Things To Do in Copenhagen
Copenhagen has a cosy atmosphere about it which is felt by visitors as soon as they arrive. From the quirky architecture and locals, to the fantastic restaurants and cafes, to the stunning gardens and amusement parks – here are the top 8 classic things to see and do in Copenhagen:
1. Discover Amazing Views from the Round Tower
As the name suggests, the Round Tower is a cylindrical shaped medieval tower built in the 17th Century by King Christian IV. There’s a cobbled spiral ramp inside and a tiny ladder at the top. Once you squeeze through the ‘hole in the roof’ there’s a spectacular 360-degree view over the city.
2. Learn about Medieval History at Rosenborg Castle
Rosenborg Castle was the home of King Christian IV in the 17th Century but is now a medieval museum which displays an amazing collection of royal portraits, furniture and medieval artifacts. In the basement, you will find a spectacular display of the Royal Crown Jewels under heavy guard. Many of these beautiful pieces are still worn by Danish royalty today.
3. See the Danish Parliament at Christiansborg Palace
This palace is home to the Danish Parliament and is used by the royal family for events and functions. The lavishly decorated Royal Reception Rooms are worth a visit to learn about Denmark’s history and democracy.
4. Take Photos at the Popular Nyhavn Harbour
Nyhavn Harbour is one of the most recognisable spots in Copenhagen, featuring a row of colourful buildings and boats parked along a narrow canal. This is a great place to take photos but I wouldn’t recommend eating in the restaurants that line the harbour as it’s a bit of a tourist trap.
5. Visit Amalienborg Palace (Danish Royal Palace)
Visiting the Danish Royal Palace was one of the highlights of my time in Copenhagen. The palace is set over four buildings surrounding the Palace Square which is open for the public to wander around freely. The changing of the Royal Guard is a must-see experience. This occurs daily at 12 noon.
6. Wander around the Military Barracks of Kastellet
One of the most underrated places in Copenhagen is Kastellet. If you are a passionate photographer, then allow at least an hour or two to wander around the star-shaped military barracks and take photos to your heart’s content. It’s also a popular place for locals to take a walk or jog.
7. Spend a Night at Tivoli Gardens Theme Park
One of the oldest amusement parks still in operation in the world, a visit to the Tivoli Gardens will feel like a fairytale. I recommend visiting at night when the gardens are lit up by fairy lights and the nearby Tivoli Food Hall comes alive with entertainment. Such a great night out!
8. Try the Traditional Smorrebrod Meal
One simply cannot visit the Scandinavian food capital without trying a traditional meal of Smorrebrod. Traditionally enjoyed at lunchtime, this open-face sandwich is served on rye bread topped with various combinations of cheeses, deli meats, seafood and pickled vegetables.
Experience “Hygge” in Copenhagen
We were lucky to have my friend who lives there to show us around. It was so good to experience Copenhagen from a local’s perspective. The Danes are welcoming and polite. I love their simplistic approach to life. Because we visited in winter, we went to experience Danish “hygge” which is a concept of feeling cosy with friends, relaxing and dining together.
Food Scene of Copenhagen
The Danish people know how to do good food and in Copenhagen this is taken to the next level! But their approach is about more than just the food. Getting together over a meal is a massive part of their culture and every food experience we had in Copenhagen was all encompassing.
Whether it’s a coffee at Torvehallerne market, a Danish Smorrebrod (open face sandwich) at Restaurant Schonnemann, or a Michelin starred dining experience at Noma, Geranium or Relae. I loved their approach to using fresh, local and seasonal ingredients. If you are looking for somewhere to drink, then the cocktails at 1105 Cocktail Bar are divine!
Best Design Hotels in Copenhagen
I loved the choice of modern Scandi-style design hotels in Copenhagen. We stayed at Skt Petri in the city centre which had a beautiful open-plan lobby and a great bar. If you are after a mid-range design hotel, check out Hotel SP34 by Brochner Hotels. Or for something more fancy, Nimb Hotel near the Tivoli Gardens is like something out of a fairytale.
Enjoy this Bike-Friendly City
One of the things that really stood out about Copenhagen was just how bike friendly the city is. Even in winter, we spent most of our time exploring the city by bicycle. It’s my favourite mode of transport to get around a city because it’s eco-friendly and you can cover much more ground on a bike.
Most Danes use bicycles as their primary form of transport and there is a huge network of bike lanes throughout the city. This makes it a fantastic city to get around even if you don’t consider yourself a cycling enthusiast!
Need to Know Before you Go
An important thing to keep in mind before planning your visit is that Copenhagen is not a cheap place to experience. Expect to pay around $5 for a cup of coffee or $10 for a beer at most bars. If you can’t afford the price tag at a Michelin-starred restaurant, don’t worry. Even the hot dog stands of Copenhagen are known for serving some of the best food in the city!
The Danish are modest when it comes to money and social status. They value a society of equality and respect – so don’t talk about how much money you earn around Danes or you will be met with a blank stare.
Before you step out onto the street, be sure to look out for bicycles. They have right of way in Copenhagen, even over pedestrians. Even though their native language is Danish, the local people in Copenhagen speak better English than you and me! Thanks for reading and enjoy your visit!