Over Easter, I went on a mini tour of Scandinavia, stopping off in Copenhagen, Gothenberg and Oslo. Copenhagen was my favourite of all the places we visited, because it’s so diverse while also being so compact. In minutes you can move from the traditional canal side district with its coloured houses and fishing boats to the bustling streets of the main shopping hub, before stopping by Denmark’s royal palace complex and then hopping across to the permanent outdoor fairground, Tivoli Gardens. It’s an intriguing mix of so many different styles of architecture, and I was reminded of Paris, Moscow and Italy at various points as we were walking around. What’s fantastic is that there is so much to see and do and yet it all feels so spacious, calm and unhurried. It’s an absolutely perfect place to spend a weekend.
We were in Copenhagen for two days, and we packed plenty into our schedule to ensure we got to see the best the city had on offer. Our home whilst in the city was a houseboat on the canal at Christianshavn, which is quite a trendy neighbourhood with lots of nice cafes that is a short walk into the city centre. We loved staying on the houseboat, because obviously having your own boat has to be the ultimate dream, and we had great fun pretending to drive it (our host very wisely didn’t leave us the keys to the engine!) and revelled in our smugness when we sat on the deck at night with our wine and our specially selected playlist of boat themed songs, imagining ourselves the envy of passers-by without such adventurous accommodation! If you too want to enjoy being Captain of your own ship for a few days, there are plenty available to rent on airbnb.
One of the best spontaneous activities we enjoyed was to climb up the incredible spiral tower of the Baroque Vor Frelsers Kirke, which towers over Christianshavn and offers spectacular views of the city, if you’re brave enough to make the climb! On our descent, we popped into Christiania, which is very close by, and is the former ‘free state’ of Copenhagen, peopled by those looking to live an eco friendly, alternative lifestyle; it’s amazing to see how the people who live there have constructed homes and businesses out of recycled materials, and you’ll certainly see some characters as you walk through! I loved having dinner in Kongens Nytorv, the pretty stretch of the canal where the houses all look like they’ve been standing since the 17th century and are painted in lovely bright colours; it really is quintessential Scandinavia. It’s a must-do to explore Tivoli Gardens, which is the open air fairground by the station, filled with rides and shops and restaurants, as well as peacocks and beautiful flowers. I wasn’t brave enough to go on the biggest ride, the screams from which you can hear on the other side of the city, but if you’ve got a stronger stomach for heights than me, then it would be a fantastic experience, I’m sure! The main Art Gallery in Copenhagen is a real pleasure to visit, with some absolutely beautiful works by lesser known Scandinavian artists that I thoroughly enjoyed seeing, as well as the more famous ones, such as Hammershoi. I also really enjoyed wandering through the Stroget, the pedestrian streets where the main shops and cafes are, and going over to the fort area, where you’ll find the Little Mermaid statue sitting in the water. We had a wonderful dinner on our last night at Almanak, a luxurious waterside restaurant run by two chefs from Copenhagen’s famous Michelin-starred Noma, but without the ridiculous prices, followed by a lovely late night stroll along the harbour, where the innovatively designed glass opera house perches and there are trampolines built into the decking to help you burn off all the delicious food Denmark has on offer! I really did love every minute; Copenhagen was the perfect starting point for our Scandinavian adventure!