Traveling to Copenhagen is to reach the best city to live in the world, where bicycles have a status of preference over motor vehicles. When I considered a year-end trip to Copenhagen, my idea was mainly to discover Scandinavia at Christmas around this time. I wanted a comfortable and a well-connected city that is interesting to discover in this special time of the year. Finally, we opted to visit Copenhagen to perfectly meet all that we were looking for.
It seems crazy when we talk about completely snowy cities. But when there are cheap flights the desire to travel can be much more than the good weather or the heat of a good chimney. Copenhagen is an excellent city to enjoy in winter. Also, how many times are you lucky enough to walk through a beautiful white city?
We only knew that in the destination we were waiting between 0 and 2 degrees of temperature. Nothing else. We had no idea of what to expect in Copenhagen. Well, we knew something about canals with colorful houses, the statue of the Little Mermaid, and the cold. But nothing more. And here goes a spoiler. The first impression was good, and the last too. But let's go in parts.
24 Hours in Copenhagen
The trip officially began at the moment that we landed at the Copenhagen airport. Copenhagen is a small city, and it is ultra easy and very fast to get to the center from the airport by metro. In about 15 minutes by subway, we arrive straight from the airport to Norreport station. Our hotel is 5 minutes walk from here.
After leaving the central station of the city we went to the hotel. Our accommodation was in the tourist area of Nyhavn. It is one of the cheapest hotels I found, located in the center of the city. It had cost us a lot to find a relatively cheap place, where we could spend two days without ruining ourselves. The wide window leads directly to Israels Plads. After checking-in, putting on leggings, two shirts, a sweatshirt, scarf, sweater, and coat, we left the backpacks and went out into the street!
We start looking for a cheap supermarket where to buy some food and drink, we found ourselves face to face with the bakery next door! So we took advantage to get something. The objective of the day is only one. It is to wander through the capital of Denmark and get along with her, which was not difficult. The day was quite clear and we had to take advantage of the few hours of sunshine that were ahead of us. In winter, in this part of Europe, around 3 o'clock in the afternoon it begins to get dark and at 4 o'clock it is the night.
Copenhagen is like one of those crystal balls with artificial snow, only here the snow is true. The little houses are like in a fairytale with pastel colors, large windows, and facades of stone and brick. Stroget, the pedestrian area that runs through the old town is nice. We decided to deviate and get lost in the alleyways that open on both sides, full of parked bikes and showcases of designer shops, clothing, and antiques.
Sometimes we get to sneak into the courtyard of some building. Frozen snowflakes fall from the sky but nobody seems to notice, not even the flowers, which continue to live their eternal spring, passing the cold through the lining of the pistil.
A woman greets her grandchildren from the window of a yellow house and everyone has blue or green eyes. The only brown is my eyes, the bricks of the churches, the Tower of Charlottenborg, the Round Tower, the chocolate and the coca cola. Also the wood of the boats, the trunks of the trees and the entrance of the Tivoli. This amusement park of the city is one of the oldest in Europe. It seems that the Danes have the colors of the Baltic even in the eyes.
We arrived at the Nyhavn canal, one of the most famous and emblematic places in the city, and we soon understand the reason. With the permission of The Little Mermaid, Nyhavn is surely the most representative stamp of Copenhagen. It is the main channel of the city, full of restaurants, impressive boats and people sitting in the sun enjoying their drink.
The reflection of their houses in the cold and transparent waters of the canal is authentic poetry. It is strange to think that this much-sought-after place today was one of the most chunky neighborhoods in the city in the past. Here we could find the worst pubs in Copenhagen, frequented by fishermen, sailors, and women.
If Nyhavn is elegance, beauty, and tranquility, Christiania is the other side of the coin. It is the rebellious child of Copenhagen, a place full of murals, leather jackets, and prohibitions. Christiania is what you do not expect to find in a "serious" and "traditional" city like Copenhagen. The place is full of peculiar little houses on the shores of the "beach" and famous for having a street, the Pusher Street where you can buy soft drugs.
Now there are fewer hippies and a little more posture, full of blond people, hipster and tattooed, smoking marijuana as if there was not a tomorrow. The truth is that the little houses are very cute, full of graffiti, flowers, and bicycles everywhere.
When we left Christiania, in the Christianshavn area, we went to do the same as everyone else. It is to eat and drink on the street. Not too far from there are the Copenhagen Opera and Papiroen (Paper Island) that houses a very cool street food market. Here I ate a delicious Moroccan sandwich and a pizza, of course. But the surprises do not end here.
And speaking of pretty, seeing the size of the smorrebrod (the typical bread of Denmark) in the little bar where we thought to eat, we changed plans. It turns out that Copenhagen is also one of the cities in the world with the most Michelin-starred restaurants. We continue our walk this time to Rosenborg Castle. On this road, the blue sky gave way to a leaden atmosphere that also began to presage that the night would soon cover all of Copenhagen.
After dinner, we have the waffle with chocolate. And after finishing such a sweet dessert, we went to the hotel. But of course, for us, it was rather early. It was not even 9 o'clock at night, so we thought about doing something. We look at our guide and go out for a few beers, quite close to the hotel.
We ended the night in a free jazz concert, where we could lie on some loungers carrying our own drink, without having to buy it in the bar that had been set up. And with a walk through Nytorv and Gammeltorv (new square and old square) we were back at the hotel. And about 12 o'clock at night, we went to sleep!
Day 2 - In search of the little mermaid
We woke up the next day rested. In the early hours of the morning, a lot of light comes in, despite the curtain, which is not very thick. As every December 31, and even more if you are traveling, it would not be any day and we would enjoy many moments to remember. The breakfast is a buffet with different types of bread, cold meats, jams, cereals, coffee, milk, and orange juice.
We would cross the Langebro bridge. Once again we enjoyed the almost endless views of the Danish canals, this time heading towards the City Hall. Our first stop of the day would be the colossal building of the Christiansborg Palace, on the islet of Slotsholmen. At present, it is the only building in the world that houses the three branches of government. It is the seat of Parliament, the office of the Prime Minister and the Danish Supreme Court.
We started the road to the emblematic monument and symbol of the city: the little mermaid. On the way, we passed by the royal palace (Amalienborg). It was quite impressive, where everyone was waiting to see the changing of the guard. We also passed through the marble church, the Churchill Park, and the Kastellet. It is an ancient citadel and today is the headquarters of the Danish intelligence agency.
Finally, we found the famous mermaid. It is a life-size statue, placed on top of some rocks and located in a rather ugly place in Copenhagen. There we saw how hordes of lady tourists stake their lives to get as close as possible to it and take the Instagram and Facebook photo. We are satisfied to see it from afar.
On the way to Tivoli, we stopped for a brunch just opposite the restaurant where we ate yesterday. It is a buffet with the typical brunch of bread, sausages, salad, pasta, yogurts, cereals, fruit, and more.
The day continued with a walk through the center. And the whole city is beautiful. Everywhere we look, the facades of the houses are beautiful. There are palaces, fountains, sculptures, and parks to lie down and picnic everywhere. We chose to eat near the Tivoli Gardens, with free wifi and thousands of wasps. We returned to the center of the city, again to delight in its streets with Christmas lights.
Unfortunately, Christmas in Copenhagen ends much earlier than in the countries south of Europe. Most of the decoration of the streets had already been removed. We could barely enjoy some decorations by Straedet, a thoroughfare full of shops and cafes. We also entered the famous Lego store, which is said to be the largest in Europe.
It has only been a day and a half in the small Danish capital, but it has been worth it. For dinner, we chose the restaurant, which offers an oriental buffet with kebabs and sushi. From the dining room, there are views of the small lake with boats.
With this last visit, we finished an intense journey that was still far from over. Well, we must not forget that we were on December 31st and it was time to celebrate the change of year in a very special place. The Tivoli Gardens was waiting for us and we still had many hours ahead to enjoy Copenhagen and welcome the New Year.
One of the main reasons why we like to travel so much is to live new experiences. These are moments that mark and remain stored in our memory. That is why, whenever we have time to travel at the end of the year, we try to make that special night even more so with the perfect choice of place to celebrate it.
On this occasion, being in Copenhagen, we wanted nothing more than to do so with a visit to the Tivoli Gardens. The Danish capital has many attractions, but possibly this tourist attraction in the heart of the city was the most important reason for us to travel to Copenhagen at that time. So we thought it was a fabulous place to spend New Year's Eve in Copenhagen.
Despite its centric enclave, once we are inside, it is like being in another world, especially at nightfall, when the fantasy environment becomes much more remarkable. From the moment we entered the access from Vesterbrogade we immersed ourselves in the Nordic mythology, including the Valhalla Castle.
The first thing we find in the gardens of Tivoli is a beautiful garden adorned with thousands of lights in which at that time is a beautiful Christmas market. While in the rest of Copenhagen Christmas had practically flown from its streets, including the Christmas markets, here it is preserved and spoiled until the end of the year. There are dozens of stalls with caramel apples, lollipops, and products that will delight the sweetest tooth.
Soon we discover one of the most photographed buildings in the park, with a unique structure in the shape of an Arab palace. It is certainly a pretty building and especially at night, it looks great. In a way, it gave me the impression of being in front of the Taj Mahal once again, although saving the logical differences, especially in size.
From this point branch many roads that will take us to several locations with different themes. Inspired by China there is a unique pagoda that is reflected beautifully in the beautiful lake in front of us. Before that show of light and sound the streets of Chinatown are closed, as well as its restaurants, but once finished it reactivates all the activity.
At 22:45 there is a show of water and lights on the lake and at 23:45 we see the fireworks show right in front of the concert hall. The chimes of the Town Hall Tower gave us the starting signal a few seconds before marking 12 o'clock at night. At this point, many people leave the park to live the experience in the square itself.
We placed ourselves in the lake next to the pagoda and enjoyed the new round of fireworks that was spectacular. Although the park closes the entrance at 00:00, we stay until 1 am. This time it was time to enjoy the city of Copenhagen from the heights visiting the Round Tower or Rundetaarn. On that night the tower of the town hall was amazing with all those colors and lights around it, giving once again the impression that we were remembering our New Year's Eve in London.
Every time I write about a New Year's Eve, I usually say that it was incredible because that's how we felt, but Copenhagen left the bar very high. We were in an area of the park tremendously comfortable, and with fewer people, than there were hours before and in a charming setting in which the images and videos fall short for the special moment.
And with this moment to remember, we leave the Tivoli Gardens, a visit that will always be marked among all those Christmas trips we have made. When we left we found the streets crowded, the happy people celebrated the arrival of the New Year and it did not seem like they were going to go to bed very soon.
Upon arriving at the hotel we could still see fireworks from the window in different neighborhoods of Copenhagen, something that had been going on for hours. Every year we discover a new European city, I am stunned up to the level they reach and the generalized madness. Especially surprising in a city like Copenhagen, with such a relaxed atmosphere.
With the sound of the last fires of the night, we went to bed. We had started a new year and once again as we like, traveling.
And everything comes to an end. We got up late because the night before we enjoyed the night and we went to bed late. So we decided not to get up early. We get up to take a refreshing shower and leave the hotel to go to the airport and take the flight.
Here ends the little adventure. Everything was fast but it was worth it.