Travel Journal #10: Our 5 Days in Copenhagen, Denmark
After our time in New York, we headed to Scandinavia and kicked off our time there with 5 days in Copenhagen! While we didn’t have the best weather (it was pretty cloudy and rained at least some every day) we really loved exploring Denmark’s capital.
Copenhagen feels like a bit more of a chill city than other European capitals. You’ll find beautiful buildings and outdoor spaces, people on bikes EVERYWHERE, and that Scandinavian “happiness” that everyone talks about feels like a general aura of contentment throughout the city.
There was a lot we were looking forward to in Copenhagen (for me, I was probably most excited about Tivoli Gardens and the Louisiana Museum of Modern Art), and of course we found some unexpected surprises we loved.
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Copenhagen Day One: Monday, May 30, 2022
We arrived in Copenhagen at around lunchtime, and the timing ended up being perfect. We were able to get our bags and hop on the metro (which oh my gosh what an amazing metro system they have) just in time to check into or AirBnB. We stayed near the Marble Church and it ended up being a great location: just a couple of blocks away from the metro and on a quiet street.
After getting settled in, we headed to Gasoline Grill for some late lunch of burgers and fries. Yes, we were in Copenhagen, but traveling with a hamburger-loving kiddo meant that finding some familiar food on our first day would be a good strategy for getting her on board with being in a new place.
And I am SO glad that we ate here, because the burgers and Gasoline Grill were fantastic! Seriously, don’t miss these burgers when you’re in Copenhagen just because you don’t think you want to eat a burger in Denmark.
After lunch we headed to Gammel Strand were we got tickets for a canal tour with our Copenhagen Card. It also started drizzling on us here, and once we got on the boat I was pretty disappointed because the rain made it hard to see anything. It’s a good lesson to just roll with the punches while traveling though (admittedly not super easy to do after an overnight flight) because after just a bit the rain let up and we were able to step outside and crack the windows and enjoy a beautiful Copenhagen afternoon.
To end the evening, we headed to see the iconic Nyhavn, where we took lots of pictures and ate some Copenhagen hot dogs. And then we were eager to head back for bed because we were exhausted.
Copenhagen Day Two: Tuesday, May 31, 2022
We were a little slow getting started this morning (ok, maybe just E and I were) but we headed to get some pastries at Bagt and then went to our first stop of the day: The Copenhagen Botanical Garden.
After doing a lot more walking than we needed to (we had trouble finding the entrance because of some construction that was going on), we finally got in and really enjoyed strolling around the beautiful grounds. The main attraction though is the Conservatory and Butterfly House which we really enjoyed. I seriously thought our kiddo could have stayed in the butterfly house all day taking pictures. And while we have our own awesome butterfly house near home, it was so fun seeing the different variety of species they had in Copenhagen.
For lunch, we headed to Torvhallerne, a food hall that was just a couple blocks away from the Botanical Garden. Food halls are such a great option when traveling because everyone can get what they want. Gerrit got an classic Danish open faced sandwich from Smørrebrød, while E and I opted for some French food.
For the afternoon we went to Rosenborg Castle, which ended up being one of our favorite things we did in Copenhagen. This Castle was built in 1607 and the rooms were gorgeous! I mean, there is a whole room made of marble, a bathroom completely covered with painted blue and white tiles, and a throne in the The Knights’ Hall made of actual narwhal tusks. Plus there are crown jewels, and clothes from Christian IV still covered with blood from when he lost his eye in a battle (which he apparently liked to show off at parties…the clothes, not the eye, although who knows maybe that too).
After the castle we went through the King’s Gardens where we found a dragon playground and lots of school kids out enjoying the sunshine. This was another thing I loved in Denmark: so many kids everywhere! There were so many kids taking field tips or parents out trying to entertain their young children and I loved this because it was a reminder of how we are all the same everywhere really.
For dinner, we headed to Halifax Burgers. (Again, burgers felt like key for getting our kid on board with the trip and keeping her going.) Then we headed to explore Christianshavn just a bit. We didn’t do anything major here, just strolled around a bit, found the circle bridge, and sat and enjoyed the view of the harbor.
Copenhagen Day Three: Wednesday, June 1, 2022
It’s Tivoli Gardens day! One of the world’s oldest theme parks! But first we had to get breakfast. We ate at Skt Peders Bagari where I got a vanilla custard pastry that I honestly still dream about.
Tivoli Gardens opened at 11:00, so we headed in as soon as we could. We used our Copenhagen Card for admission, but then purchased an unlimited rides pass so we didn’t have to worry about budgeting out rides throughout the day. The first thing our kiddo wanted to do was a ride she had seen a picture of called The Lighthouse. It’s kind of a Dumbo-like ride, except you have a pedal a bicycle to make your ride vehicle go up. (Rides that made you do the work yourself really seemed to be a theme here.)
We continued with some rides in that area (we rode The Camel Trail, a kiddie roller coaster, multiple times) before we got lunch at Viften, which I really enjoyed. I had some fantastic Danish meatballs.
Then we rode the iconic Dragon Boats, which you steer yourself around a little lake.
Then it was roller coaster time! I was very excited about riding The Demon, but since our kiddo wanted no part in a roller coaster that went upside down, Gerrit and I took turns. He went first, so E and I went to ride The Flying Trunk (Tivoli’s dark ride that tells Hans Christian Anderson stories) and then The Vintage Cars, which felt so lovely and old fashioned.
Then it was my turn for The Demon, and I LOVED it. This may be one of my favorite roller coasters ever because it doesn’t have any big drops (I’m not a fan of big drops) but it has some great inversions (which are my favorite).
After the bumper cars, we headed to The Milky Way Express, which was BY FAR our kiddo’s favorite ride of the day. Honestly, we spent most of the rest of the day continuing to go back to this roller coaster which I think we rode a total of at least seven times.
But we also enjoyed some other great Tivoli rides. We loved The Galley Ships, which felt like something you would find at a state fair. I also thought The Mine was super cute, although when we exited that ride in the late afternoon we came out to find a hail storm going on! Gerrit also rode Tik Tak which is something I would never get on because it spins you in every possible way you can spin.
Finally, we ended the day on The Roller Coaster, which is the classic Tivoli coaster that still has a brake man that rides to control the vehicle. We loved it (although it was a little rougher of a ride than the other coasters) and you can tell the brakemen have ridden it SO many times, because the guy on our vehicle seemed to ride half of it standing up.
We loved our day at Tivoli and were a little sad to leave. But we headed to get some dinner at Tivoli Food Hall (connected to the theme park, but also accessible from the outside).
Copenhagen Day Four: Thursday, June 2, 2022
Today was our day to explore some other parts of Copenhagen, although I’ll be honest…it wasn’t my favorite day. We didn’t have great weather (rainy and cold) and we were all feeling a little tired.
We started out the day at Amelienborg Palace, which I was not particularly impressed with. Honestly, if you’re going to Copenhagen, feel free to skip it. There were very limited rooms which you could actually see, and every room was absolutely COVERED in memorabilia. Like so much so that it just felt kind of junky.
After Amelienborg, we walked down to see the Little Mermaid Statue, which again feels like something that wasn’t that exciting to see (but something we felt like we should see since we were there). The walk was a little longer than we thought it would be and it was kind of dreary and cold, so it just wasn’t the best combination of things. Plus, the statue really isn’t that exciting (sorry, Copenhagen).
To head back toward our apartment, we walked through Kastellet, which honestly was really beautiful and pretty cool to see. There’s not much to do there, but it’s a nice area with some pretty views.
For lunch, because we were feeling a little tired and I seriously could not make a decision about a restaurant, we ended up stopping at a grocery store for some sandwich stuff. This was a perfect decision because we really needed to sit back and relax for a bit, and I took a little nap after lunch.
For the afternoon we headed to a couple more Copenhagen attractions.
We went to the National Museum of Demark, which has displays on honestly the WHOLE history of Denmark. There was no way we could see it all, but we checked out the Viking display and the children’s museum area (which is a really great area of kids!).
Then we headed to the Round Tower, which was probably the favorite for all of us today. This tower is attached to Trinity Church and you can climb a winding ramp up to the top for some pretty awesome views of Copenhagen.
For dinner we headed to Sporvejen (I promise, the last burger of Copenhagen for us!) and really enjoyed sitting outside under an awning with some heaters blowing on us.
Copenhagen Day Five: Friday, June 3, 2022
For our last day in Copenhagen, we actually headed outside of the city to see some major attractions north of Copenhagen.
We took the train north about 40 minutes to Humlebæk, where we went to the Louisiana Museum of Modern Art. This museum not only has some awesome modern art displays, but it also has the most gorgeous grounds and is in the coolest mid-century modern-style building. OH and they also have an amazing children’s wing where children can do all kinds of art projects based on what they have seen in the museum.
I seriously could have spent all day here, especially wandering through the grounds outside. We ate lunch at the museum’s café overlooking the water, and even though the morning was pretty cloudy it was still so lovely.
But we had to get back on the train and head to Helsingør if we wanted to make it to our next stop: Kronborg Castle.
I’ll be honest here, we got off the train and we were tired and the castle looked SO far away. I wasn’t sure I wanted to keeping going. But we did, and I’m so glad. We loved Kronborg Castle, which is also known as Hamlet’s castle because it is where Hamlet was set.
We didn’t have a ton of time here, but we were able to explore a good amount of the rooms, and then we went to the Jim Lyngvild Royal History exhibit which was what is currently on display until the end of 2022. This was our favorite thing! Lyngvild has reimagined basically all of Danish royalty, designing new costumes and having people model them for giant portraits. And then there was a hall where all the costumes were displayed. We were so fascinated by this, in fact, that we bought a coffee table book with all the pictures and details about Danish Royalty.
Before catching the train back to Copenhagen, we spent some time in Helsingør, and we really wished we had had more time. This felt like it would be a great city for a slower paced trip, and we really enjoyed walking through the pedestrian street in the sun that finally peeked out.
And that’s a wrap on Copenhagen before we headed to Norway!
We really loved this city a lot. It is so family-friendly, had lots of things for kids, and felt more chill than a lot of other European capitals. And even though we didn’t have the best weather while were there (it rained a lot) we loved it here and would love to return one day.