Copenhagen may just be the most perfectly designed city I have seen. The roads are broad. The pavements are broad. All roads have a cycle track (this is necessary because 52% of the population cycle). Buses are frequent and cover most locations, supplemented by a metro. Recycling bins are divided into various categories instead of the catch all ‘recycle’ bins seen in other cities.
The city isn’t just practical, it’s also incredibly beautiful. The older buildings have character and charm, and the wide streets emphasise the beautiful buildings that line them. The newer buildings are ‘cool’; all metal and top-to-floor glass. The lakes that form a central point of the city are vast spaces of water home to ducks and an assortment of other birds who spend most of the day preening and snacking on bread thrown in by children. The paths around the lake are pounded by joggers – even though most people cycle they still fit in another form of exercise! Prams are clearly old school; here, something that looks like a wheelbarrow is fitted to the front of the bike and kids are cycled around in it. There is also a version of a pram with 3 wheels that can be pushed in front of you as you run around the lakes.
Nyhavn (the harbour) is the place for drinks. Colourful buildings form a backdrop to netto boats on the canal. Restaurants and cafes line the streets with many serving smørrebrød (rye bread with toppings). I am still awed by how cool everyone looks. Walking past the cafes I could see the locals enjoying drinks: open jackets, sunglasses, hair blowing in the wind and an aura of nonchalance. This is clearly a city where people enjoy life. A little further down, I saw a group of three white-haired men playing rock music as loudly as they could whilst encouraging each other to get through the stack of beer cans on the table. A short walk away is the waterfront which has a nice view. The theatre (Skuespilhuest) has a restaurant which looks out onto the water.
I got off the bus at Osterport station and walked towards the statue of The Little Mermaid. On the way I passed Kastellet (the citadel); the citadel is enclosed by a star-shaped moat and beautiful gardens. It also has a windmill. There is a view of neat rows of red and green barracks. The marina is filled with boats (unsurprisingly) and once I had passed the boats the crowd of tourists led me to the famous statue inspired by Hans Christian Andersen’s (rather grim) fairytale. I then walked past Skt. Alban Church which has a beautiful black and white façade and an interesting fountain outside featuring a warrior queen and a python.
The lack of security around Amalienborg Palace was surprising as was the structure of the palace. Instead of one building, the palace is comprised of different buildings arranged around an open space. The domed Marble Church can be seen through a gap in the buildings; this church is stunning. The green-blue façade shimmers in the sunlight and the gold detailing adds grandeur.
Christiansborg Palace is impressive, as is the Borsen which is next to it. The palace is surrounded by a row of large stone balls – I thought this was a good example of how anti-terror protection can be designed in a manner that blends in with a building’s original architecture. There is free entry to the tower which has a city view but I didn’t get to experience this as the queue was too long.
I then took the bus to Freetown Christiania which is an area where around 1000 people live an alternative lifestyle. The street art is incredible! However, I did find it quite odd to see many people just milling about smoking whilst tourists walked around their neighbourhood. This was followed by a walk past a series of beautiful buildings: City Hall, the National Museum, Copenhagen University and the Library. The Round Tower is also in this area. I headed over to the Hallernes stall at Torvehallerne market where I tried out what I had heard was the best smørrebrød (open sandwiches) in town and I was not disappointed. The salmon smørrebrød was my favourite: fresh salmon and tangy pickled fennel were laid on rye bread and pomegranate seeds provided pops of colour and flavour. The second one I tried had frikadeller (flat meatballs) and potato salad and was both tasty and filling.
The King’s Garden has free entry. This was also a good way to look at Rosenborg Palace which was a leisure palace and therefore smaller. It is different to the other palaces because it is made out of red brick.
A visit to the botanical gardens was the perfect way to end a day of sightseeing with plenty of benches to relax and take in the sound of birds chirping and the sight of leaves rustling in the wind.
The metro is simple to use; it only has 2 lines. Line 2 is the line that connects the airport to the city centre. Bus stops have yellow signs on the road. Tickets can be bought on the bus. Buses are very frequent during the day. A 1 hour transport ticket is 24 kroner for 2 zones and 36 for 3 zones (this includes the airport).
Food is expensive here. The main supermarkets are Irma and Netto. 7/11 has a good range of both sweet and savoury baked goods.