24th July 2016
Hello there and welcome back to my blog! As you may have spotted on my Snapchat (jack_edwardss) and Instagram (@jackbenedwards), way back in March I headed out to Denmark with my family for a city break in the captivating capital: Copenhagen. Due to my busy schedule at the time (as well as general procrastination), I never actually had a chance to share my experience of the Danish capital with you all. Today, I wanted to right this wrong and finally share my trip with you, although, presumably, this will only really result in self-pity that I am not currently in Copenhagen. Honestly, I absolutely fell in love with that onion of a city and can’t wait to head back to discover more of its many layers one day. See what I did there?
Copenhagen is an edgy and worldly Nordic city, painted in pretty pastels. The compact city is most commonly manoeuvred by bicycles, though everything is also easily accessible on foot. Each street contains its own pleasures; hosting cutting-edge art and design, quaint coffee shops and nine centuries of fascinating heritage. The city was home to the iconic fairy-teller Hans Christian Anderson (The Ugly Duckling, Thumbelina, The Little Mermaid), and pays homage to his work with its iconic Little Mermaid statue – who, incidentally, has survived two decapitations, multiple amputations and has even been painted red at one point. The city can also be explored by bus or boat, and a touristic journey down the Nyhavn canal should not be missed. This is a city bursting with life – the Nordic block’s cool hipster friend who is always visiting art galleries and doing their own thing. Copenhagen is sophisticated and stylish, but also so much more than that: it is a genuinely spellbinding place to be.
Our hotel was the Admiral, situated on the river, with a view over the water of the Opera House and National Library (which had me enthralled from the word go, as a self-professed Literary nerd), in touching distance of the postcard-perfect entertainment centre of Nyhavn. Set in a converted 18th-century warehouse, the hotel is decorated in a rustic-chic style, staying true to its history but with a modern twist.
Nyhavn is Copenhagen’s own capital. It is the picturesque perfection of a colourful 17th-century waterfront – the place you’ll spot on the cover of every travel guide. Each sherbet-painted building is home to a funky independent shop or, more usually, an inviting bar or restaurant. In the daytime, you can sit outside (blankets optional in the colder months), watch the boats go by and snack on some famous Smørrebrød. Allow me to explain: Smørrebrød is essentially an open sandwich on a delicious rye bread base, with absolutely every topping imaginable as an option. Sounds simple, but has so much potential to satiate anyone’s tastebuds. Nyhavn isn’t necessarily the cheapest place to find this, but it’s still a pretty cool place to stop for a bite to eat. Even once the sun sets, this waterfront continues to pulsate with life as visitors return to end the day in style under the refuge of its outdoor-heaters.
Danish pastries are an obvious must – which, thankfully, isn’t too much of a difficulty considering they are available pretty much on demand at every street corner. A personal favourite stop-off was ‘Holm’s Bagery’ which served a delicious mix of coffee, pastries and pizza – what more could you really ask for? The city is also littered with many independent restaurants, each of which has its own delectable menu and style. Definitely keep your eye out for some nifty restaurants while walking around during the day, or invest in a Google search, as you don’t want to miss any of the many hidden gems.
Another notable spot to visit is the Botanical Gardens, which can be found in an illustrious giant greenhouse surrounded by large grounds. Home to every species of plant imaginable (not that I spend much time imagining plant species, which is probably why I hated A Level Biology so much), this is a breath of fresh air without stepping out of the city walls. Around the top of the building is a balcony – accessible by a spiralled staircase – which encircles the entire dome and is a hidden treasure I’m thankful I didn’t miss. This is free to visit and is very close to the Danish Art Gallery which is another place I’d recommend visiting for a bit of culture and contemporary design. Again, this is free to enter – whipee!
A little further out from the city is Grundtvig’s Kirke; somewhere which quite frankly took my breath away. This is a truly beautiful building and a rare example of expressionist church architecture. The Gothic yet simplistic interior contrasts the imposing facade of the building, which is situated unusually in the middle of a residential area. We certainly stood in awe of this incredible piece of architecture for quite some time, before retiring to a lovely café just ‘round the corner for a quick coffee break. I hope the photos below give some kind of justice to the beauty of this place, but that’s a challenge I’m not sure my iPhone camera could achieve.
Of course, there’s also the famous Tivoli Gardens, which was unfortunately closed on the weekend I visited Copenhagen – a perfect reason / excuse to go back, I’m arguing – as well as the stunning Rosenborg Palace, Amalienborg and, for the beer lovers, the Carlsberg factory. Freetown Christiania is also worth a visit; a self-proclaimed autonomous neighbourhood within Copenhagen where pretty much anything goes. I’m told that a modern art gallery called Louisiana is also very fascinating, but we just didn’t quite have enough time for that!
I hope this has given you a quick taster and whistle-stop tour of the city, but I feel my words could never do it justice – you’ve got to see it to believe it! Although we managed to see a vast majority of what we wanted to in the short weekend we visited Copenhagen, there’s definitely still much more I’d like to explore and will certainly return sometime soon. Thank you very much for reading, have a lovely day and, until next time, goodbye! Or should I say “farvel” – the Danish word for goodbye? No, no I should not.
By Jack Edwards