As winter rolls in and the lead up to Christmas begins (hello tearful Christmas adverts), we begin to reach out for the warmth and cosiness that friends, family and simple pleasures can give us. The Danish have a word that perfectly describes this sentiment; Hygge and what better way to welcome in the winter than by taking a weekend break in a city famed for its design, cuisine and populated by the happiest people in the world; Copenhagen. Home to Hans Christen Andersen, the grandfather of fairy tales, I'll show you how you can star in your own fairy tale journey and get a true Danish Hygge experience.
- Where: Copenhagen, Denmark
- Month: November
- For: 3 days
- Suited to: Solo, Couples, anyone who loves CHRISTMAS!
- Expect: Stylish Individuals, Stunning Architecture, Cosy (Hygge) Atmosphere
- Accommodations: 1
- Activities: 9
- Restaurant recommendations: 4
- Cost (accommodation): ~£40 per person/night + ~£55 flights from London
- Spending: £100/day pp (depending how much you want to splash out)
The beauty of living in London is that you're never more than a few hours' flight from Europe for a weekend jaunt and Copenhagen is no exception. There are several flights form EasyJet on Fridays which can get you there with plenty of time for your first Glögg (Mulled Wine) to kick off your weekend.
Ever wondered why the people of Copenhagen seemed so fresh and healthy? The answer: walking and cycling. It is relatively easy to walk around the city to your destinations, and it's one of the best ways to get lost and really immerse yourself in the city. If you want to get the true Danish experience hiring a bike is cheap and the designated cycle lanes means you can zip around with ease.
Tip: Don't walk (or absent-mindedly stand) on the cycle lane! The city folk do not take kindly to that… not that I had any close calls or anything.
We stayed in a well-known name in the hostel industry which loses some of the usual hostel cosiness due to its huge size. However, it makes up for this through its central location, clean and simple rooms with amnesties including a restaurant, hammocks, 24-hour café..
..and a FREE photo booth so you can take awesome (or dorky) photos like these.
What to do
Rosenborg Castle: Built as a summer house and designed with breath-taking rose gardens, this popular peaceful retreat attracts 2.5 million tourist and locals per year.
Obviously coming around winter time the roses are not in bloom, however you can still get a sense of how the regal Danish used to live life.
Christianborg Palace: This palace has been burnt down twice (due to some unruly logs) and was still built and designed to become this impressive structure.
You can also head up the main tower which offer incredible 360 degree views, 160m over the skyline of Copenhagen where if you squint (or have binoculars) can take a peek into Oresund Bridge to the border of Sweden..
Tip: The tower is free, but if you want to bypass the queue you can book to visit the Tarnet restaurant. Also be sure to head up late afternoon to watch the sunset over the city.
Amalienborg: Home of the Royal Danish family and significantly lower key than United Kingdom's royal family with a distinct lack of perimeters or closed gates. Tying in with the fairy tale story that is Copenhagen; the love story between Prince Frederick of Denmark and Mary a local girl from Sydney is one for the ages.
When the two met Mary had no idea he was a prince, but through regular secret escapes to Australia, Prince Frederick courted Mary, they both fell in love and are now happily married with four beautiful children.
Tip: Also stay out of the guard’s way, they won’t move for you…I seem to have a tendency to stand in inappropriate places.
Frederick Church: Known as the Marble Church, the awe-inspiring architecture has been voted as one of the most impressive church in the city.
With the characteristic green dome imposing on Copenhagen's skyline, it's an extremely popular destination for weddings. Expect to hear celebratory wedding bells on Fridays and Saturdays.
Copenhagen Opera House: One of the most expensive and modern opera houses in the world situated right next to the canal.
The opera house dominates the landscape with impressive Copenhagen architecture and hosts several popular opera, ballet and concerts throughout the year.
Nyhavn: The picture the whole world recognises. One of the local jaunts and past residence of Hans Christen Andersen, these distinct colourful house fronts were once a notorious neighbourhood for beers, sailors and prostitution.
Fortunately, (some may say) it is now a fantastic area for dinner at the cosy restaurants or to grab a beer and rest your feet at the quayside. Hans the famous fairy tale writer used to live in no. 18, 20 and 67!
The Little Mermaid: Although some say it is one of the most disappointing attractions in the world, this little lady still attracts millions of visitors each year in her resting place at Langelinie promenade.
You may not be blown away by the statue, but the journey to her is wonderful.
Tivoli Gardens: My all-time favourite destination in Copenhagen! I met some travellers who thought it tacky, but I promise that they never ventured inside..
An inspiration for Walt Disney to create Disney Land, Tivoli Gardens is an opportunity to let your inner child out and get lost in the fairy tale, within the fairy tale.
Hot chocolate, glögg, rides and light shows galore. It really is breath taking.
Hans Christen Andersen Place: If you want a lesser known attraction, you can find where Hans first lived in Copenhagen when he was starting out as a writer. You need a little luck and perseverance, but he stayed at 1838 Hotel du Nord on the corner of Vingaardstræde and Kongens Nytorv. It's been converted into the Magasin du Nord department store, but on the 3rd floor to the very left hand side is a fire exit where a door sits apart from the stairs. In here is the perfectly preserved room of the genius story-teller.
Freetown Christiania: A self-proclaimed autonomous neighbourhood home of artists, creatives and musicians and the like. Dubbed as a hippie commune, this neighbourhood sits within its own right apart from Copenhagen. Not my favourite destination but definitely visit if you are of the creative mind set (or want to score some Maryjane).
Tip: It is still ILLEGAL to buy or smoke marijuana in Denmark. Though it is common practice in Freetown Christiania. Do so at your own risk.
Cock's & Cows: I am not ashamed to say that I am a huge Burger fan, so a majority of my meals were Burger based!
This burger bar leads the pack as a well-known brand within Denmark.
Hot Buns: A name that covers more than just its burger buns, the décor, service and atmosphere of the restaurant fits in with the cool and kitsch personality of Copenhagen.
Royal Smushi Café: Right in the heart of Copenhagen, eating this café is a full Danish experience. With tables, chairs and cutlery all by Danish designers, the signature smushi dishes are also authentic to Denmark with a slight twist: the smørrerød (open-faced sandwiches) are sushi sized allowing you to taste a variety of small dishes in one meal.
Tip: Booking here is essential!
Meatpacking District Food & Market: If you like the idea of more local food choices in one location, then no other place is better in Copenhagen. Located in the vibrant Vesterbro neighbour you can get honest food to eat at here or take some food away to prepare back home (or hostel).
Portvinsbaren: Copenhagen's dedicated port wine bar. There are more than 50 different ports to choose from, imported in from the Douro region in Portugal. Small, dimly lit and cosy, this drinking hot spot was packed when we visited. You'll definitely feel hygge here.
All-in-all Copenhagen has genuinely taken my heart because of its people, culture way of life and the insane number of things to do. One weekend is certainly not enough and I'm already planning on a second journey.
Questions? Feel free to ask me anything in the comments below!