Currency: Danish Krone
In 2015 I made the New Year’s Resolution that I would really cultivate my love of travel. Little did I know that I was about to have a tumultuous year, with both career orientated and personal setbacks. One of these setbacks culminated in a painful 5 months of unemployment but the one thing that kept me focused and positive was the ability to focus on my passions. I started this blog and went on some incredible adventures, which led to two further passions being developed; my unshakable desire to help the gender equality movement and the desire to fulfil my career ambitions.
When life had somewhat stabilised and 2016 rolled around, I kept seeing the same kind of message on Facebook – “new year, new me”. But I don’t really want a new me! My goals for 2016 have been to take the steps I took last year to the next level. It may only be February, but this year has already been one of developments and changes.
Approaching your mid-twenties is a weird feeling; teenage obsessions with the Jonas Brothers and university fights about missing butter feel like last week, but at the same time the pressure to start saving for a mortgage is your present, and as a woman you are already starting to hear comments about the future of your dying eggs. While everything feels like it is speeding up and slipping away more quickly than you can control, it is good to make sure you have something to look forward to.
My first trip of 2016 was booked in spontaneous haste with my best friend Chalupa. We decided to build on our brief foray into Scandinavia (we visited Sweden in the summer) and book a weekend away to Copenhagen! Keep reading to find out whether it is possible to do Copenhagen in two days 🙂
Things to do in Copenhagen
When you are familiar with a city like London, it is always surprising when you head to another capital city and find it so charmingly compact that you don’t even need to worry about public transport. This made it a whole lot easier to pack the things we were most interested in seeing and doing into two short days.
- National Museum of Denmark (free entry)
The National Museum of Denmark is the country’s largest collection of cultural history. It spans from early Viking history, through the religious mania of the Middle Ages, ending in the present day.
As mentioned above, there was a large portion of the museum dedicated to the boom of Christianity between the 5th and 15th centuries. The art of the time reflected the suffering of Christ and the worship of the Virgin Mary.
As an ancient history fan, I was also really pleased to see an exhibit on the top level of the museum dedicated to the Babylonians, Assyrians and Egyptians. According to the exhibit, the world’s first civilisation developed in 3200 BC in Modern Iraq. This was known as Mesopotamia and it was where one of the earliest written languages was developed, cuneiform.
The only upsetting part was the fact that there were Pokémon cards exhibited, implying that these are now somewhat historical? How can that be when I’m still trying to catch them all?
- Christiansborg Palace
On the island of Slotsholmen in the centre of Copenhagen, you will find Christiansborg Palace. This opulent building contains the Danish Parliament, Ministry of State and the Supreme Court, but is still used for receiving foreign leaders.
As we visited on a Sunday, unfortunately we were not able to enter the palace but due to the vast size of the grounds and the attached Royal Chapel, we managed to take a good look around and get a feel for the place.
- Hans Christian Andersen Fairytale House (60 DK)
HCA is arguably one of Denmark’s most famous exports. Hans, the son of a shoemaker and a washer woman, grew up to become one of the most popular story tellers of all time. He penned The Little Mermaid, The Little Match Seller, Thumbelina, The Ugly Duckling and the Emperor’s New Clothes, to name but a few.
This fairytale house (which is predominantly aimed at children) is an interactive walk through of his life and his stories. What was interesting to note was how dark (and sexist) most of these stories were – usually ending in someone dying/killing themselves or humiliating someone for shits and giggles. Thanks to Disney’s artistic license however, most children don’t have to realise how traumatic these stories actually are.
- Shopping in Stroget
Stroget is a famous, pedestrianised shopping district in Copenhagen city centre with a mixture of high street and high end shops. Here you will find all the sexy Scandinavian brands like Cos, Moss, Monki and Wood Wood, alongside international brands. For more quirky and independent places however, you should check out the side streets leading off of Stroget.
- Catch the sunrise
This is something Chalupa and I try and do whenever we go somewhere, although after a pretty shoddy attempt in Budapest (4am – Chain Bridge – “where the hell is the sun?”), we have decided that this is definitely easier in the winter time.
NB: things that the internet recommends but we missed – Tivoli Gardens (which is closed in winter) and the Little Mermaid statue (which everyone says is small, overrated and too far away).
Things to eat in Copenhagen
Surprising as this may be, finding authentic Danish food in Copenhagen was not easy. The majority of restaurants we came across were serving very Americanised cuisine, your usual fare of nachos, burgers, pizza etc. We became quite disheartened about this, especially because the internet wasn’t too useful in helping us solve the problem.
For those with longer in the city, you may like to check out the increasingly popular (and budget friendly) Torvehallerne food market which will supply you with traditional treats. We didn’t have the time to look for this unfortunately and also found that good food in Copenhagen was highly expensive.
We did manage to find the following foods and places that we would recommend, however:
Fun fact: ‘Snegl’ is the Danish word for snail. This tasty little pastry is flavoured with cinnamon and chocolate and is available at most bakeries! A must try when in Copenhagen.
‘Smorrebrod’ is a kind of open faced sandwich, made with rye bread and topped with anything from meat to fish to eggs. We hunted HIGH AND LOW for an authentic version of this famous Danish dish and eventually found it at Cafe G.L. Torv. This place is really worth seeking out because it has so many different kinds of toppings, but also has incredible quality and fresh ingredients. I opted for a fried plaice and shrimp version, which the waitress really recommended. She wasn’t wrong!
- La Glace
Although we had read about a certain bakery chain called Lagkagehuset during our online research, we ended up bypassing this for another place with the most incredible shop front. This bakery is called La Glace and focuses mainly on cakes and macarons. Perhaps not the most Danish thing we could have started with, but from the queue outside and the mouth-watering window displays, we couldn’t resist going in and tasting their cakes.
We ordered two slices of cake:
‘Lucky Me’ which the website describes as “A base of pumpkin meringue, mascarpone, caramelized and salted pumpkin seeds with a chocolate mousse made of 65% cocoa. The cake is filled with raspberries, enrobed with chocolate ganache and decorated with pumpkin seeds.”
‘Blaabaer Genskaer’ which the website describes as “blueberry mousse, licorice-chocolate truffle, black currant jelly, chocolate almond base. Decorated with blueberries and French macaroon.”
The cakes were deliciously and delicately constructed and quite reasonably priced considering the obvious effort they must take to create.
- Waffle on a Stick
Also not typically Danish, although I haven’t seem this anywhere else! It does what it says on the tin really, a waffle on a stick, drizzled with warm melted chocolate. HEAVEN. Best eaten, huddled in the doorway of a shop where fashionable Danes can see you with chocolate dripping down your chin as you devour it like a savage.
While this was a really short trip, I think in reality it was the perfect amount of time to visit the city because we were able to see the main tourist sights in quite a relaxing way.
I will end on a quote from the Hans Christian Andersen museum:
“Travelling appealed to Andersen, his first trip abroad being followed by many others. Time after time he was able please his readers with travelogues. To travel is to live.”
Thanks for reading,