We have had a busy time in Copenhagen thus far. It is a fairly compact city so it is easy to visit its main sights in a couple of days. It reminds me of two other smaller cities of Europe: Amsterdam for its canals and Dublin for its walkability.
Today was Saturday so when we set out at 10 a.m. there was hardly anyone on the streets. We were headed for the canal tour so decided to walk via the Rosenberg Castle and the King’s Garden. We had purchased the Copenhagen Card so we have admittance to all major attractions and public transportation.
When we arrived at the castle we got our tickets and stood in line to enter only to be told that I had to check the tote bag that I had over my shoulder. (You can carry a small purse but nothing larger.) My husband had seen people paying to check lockers and decided that this was a whole waste of time, so we left the castle without seeing the crown jewels (I am sure they are lovely). It was a perfect example of inconveniencing a tourist…if they had put up a sign at the entrance about the bags, then we probably would have complied. But we did not want to go back and go through the process. I had nothing in my shoulder tote but a small purse anyway!)
We then had a pleasant walk through the King’s Garden and ended up a Nyhavn (“New Harbor”) which, after Tivoli, is probably the city’s second tourism center. Here is where the canal tours depart…the Hop On, Hop Off buses stop…street entertainers do their thing and there was also an antique/crafts market running. (www.nyhavn.eu)
We took the canal tour and it was definitely the best thing we did after Tivoli. On this one-hour tour you will see all the city’s main sights, including the new Opera House, Playhouse and Black Diamond (an extension of the library) and many other key buildings including the Parliament and home of Queen Margarethe. And…it takes you right up to the famed Little Mermaid statue in the harbor. This is certainly the easiest way to see it. The open-air tour runs year around and is a must-do. There is live narration in Danish and English and other languages as needed. (70 DKK for adults and 40 DKK for children. About $14/$8).
Another alternative is the Hop On-Hop Off Red Buses and the Jump On-Jump Off Green buses. They take you to all those main sights on land, however, the narration if by headphone. (These are not free with the Copenhagen card, however, there is a 10 percent discount on the red bus.)
Another attraction of the Nyhavn area is a collection of some 25 open-air restaurants along the pier. We stopped here for lunch…mussels and a lovely fish soup…and enjoyed the people-watching. This being Saturday, there were many young Danish families strolling with prams.
This reminds me that I have forgotten to mention one of the most distinctive characteristics of this city, how bicycle-friendly it is. There are bicycles everywhere…many with large front and rear carriers for children. All major boulevards have special lanes for bikes, and you see all sorts of people on them. Many dressed for the office. My new friend Bo Larsen, who heads up Cruise Copenhagen and Cruise Baltic, says that everyone rides and that cars must give way to bicycles. “It is simply a way of life here,” he says. “Almost everyone uses bicycles to get around the city.”
There are many bicycle rentals available to tourists and most hotels have bicycles available to their customers as well. We also noted a number of people kayaking through the main canals. These kayak tours are available to visitors as well. Seeing the city by bicycle or kayak would definitely give you a different perspective.
Tonight we had dinner at a tapas restaurant near our hotel called Pintxos. Dinner for the two of us with a bottle of wine cost about 600 DKK…or about $125. Food and drink are definitely more expensive here in Denmark.
Next: Tomorrow we board the Emerald Princess.