The sun is out. The cherry blossoms are out. And the people are most definitely out.
As we walk along the water’s edge there are groups of friends happily sprawled on the grass, some with picnic blankets and drinks, others just feeling the grass beneath them with their smiling faces to the sun.
The local friends I am with, Kaj and Jens, explain that just a few weeks ago it was still scarf and gloves weather, and as we find a spot in a cafe and order some wine there’s definitely a celebratory feeling in the air.
It’s my first day in Copenhagen so it may be a little soon to declare undying love but I hear a twist on Cole Porter’s classic in my head and find myself humming I Love Copenhagen in the Springtime.
As far as first impressions go, Copenhagen worked her magic and made a very very good one.
Having just travelled more than 30 hours from Sydney to Copenhagen with a bit of a long transit time in Changi airport I wasn’t sure how well I’d fare on the first day, but it turned out I was so inspired by everything I saw jetlag decided to give me a day pass to just enjoy myself.
Technically we did start the day just outside of the city, at the Louisiana Museum of Modern Art, which is one of those museums that is both filled with an impressive collection of art, and is an interesting spot in itself.
The museum has around 3,500 works of art and the architecture alone is worth a visit, and as you wander around the gardens amongst sculptures you can take in panoramic views of Sweden across the water.
The museum is 25 miles north of Copenhagen and as the boys had a car it was a lovely drive through interesting neighbourhoods and past some rather grand homes. You can also get there by public transport, and it’s about a ten minute walk from the Humlebæk train station.
You can find the info on how to get to Louisiana Museum of Modern Art here.
From Louisiana we popped a little further up the road to Kronborg Castle, considered one of the most outstanding Renaissance castles in the world and best known as Elsinore in Shakespeare’s Hamlet. There’s also amaritime museum right next to the castle, but as Copenhagen was calling we didn’t have time to visit that one this time around. Now I just have another reason to go back.
Copenhagen Streets Are Made for Walking
While it was wonderful to be able to drive around with the guys and see things out of the city, the good news is when they had to back to work on the Monday and I was left to my own devices I needed nothing more than my own two feet to get around.
Okay, I did take a canal boat tour, so let’s make that my own two feet and a canal boat. I’d heard the boats were a good way to see the city and get a little history lesson, and indeed they were.
There are different kinds of tours, but I went for the Netto-Badene ones which was only 40kr (around $10) for an hour’s guided tour and great value.
The only thing I forgot to do was make sure I had water on me before jumping on board, as it was a rather hot day and you can’t buy drinks on the boat. So take a tip from me and make sure you have something to drink and some sunscreen to top up if it’s in the heat of the day.
But back to that walkable city point I was making. If you stay central as I did at the Copenhagen Island Hotel then it’s easy to walk around to palaces, gardens, through fun shopping neighbourhoods, along the big shopping malls and to Nyhavn, the charming old port lined with beautiful old houses where the canal boat tours can be found.
As Copenhagen is mostly flat (I heard talk of a hill somewhere but didn’t see one myself) it’s so easy to stroll around. This is one city you definitely want to wear your walking shoes.
Borgen Fans Unite – You Can Visit Danish Parliament
As luck would have it, a couple friends of mine from Australia, Devon and Shalini were also in Copenhagen at the same time as me. As a fan of the TV show Borgen I was very excited to discover a friend of Devon’s was a politician and had offered to show us around Christiansborg Palace, the home of the Danish Parliament.
Josephine Fock is a member of the Alternative Party and is working hard to help Denmark move forward in good ways.
But the good news is you don’t have to have a friend who’s a friend of a politician to do a tour.
As Josephine explained they’re proud of having the most open parliament in the world and they have tours every day. You don’t have to be a fan of Nordic Noir television to enjoy that one (though if you’re a Borgen lover like me I reckon you’ll love it all the more).
Copenhagen Island Hotel
As I mentioned earlier, staying central and exploring the city by foot is a great idea, and I was in a very good position to do just that at the Copenhagen Island Hotel.
This stylish, contemporary hotel is the creation of architect Kim Utzon who is the son of Jorn Utzon who gave us the Sydney Opera House. I smiled when I saw my bed had the shape of a sail above it which of course was a nod to the harbour view outside my window, but also reminded me of those other famous sails on a special building back in Sydney.
My room was airy with a high ceiling and super comfortable bed. And the breakfast spread in the morning was the generous kind that can fuel you for a whole day of exploring.
The hotel is on the water’s edge, and thanks to a bridge right outside reception you can easily start the day on either side of the harbour.
It’s just a few minutes’ walk from the old meatpacking district which is now one of the hottest spots in the city for bars and restaurants. I ate there both nights and enjoyed tucking into pizza at Mother, though I found my Kodbyens Fiskebar experience the next night a little underwhelming.
I’ll confess all of the Michelin guide signs in their window did catch my eye so I thought I’d give that one a go. Perhaps the fish and chips was the wrong dish to go for, but the fish was a little soggy, the chips were yummy but there weren’t enough of them, and I ended up filling myself up at the end of my meal with the bread.
The rest of the way home I had food envy as I looked in the other restaurants, and I know the next time I’m back I’ll be working my way around some more of those.
When a slightly disappointing fish and chips is the only blemish on a wonderful city stay, you know you’re onto a good thing.
Yes, I love Copenhagen in the springtime. And I will happily try the city in all seasons so I can sing a Copenhagen version of the whole song.
Amanda Woods stayed as a guest of the Copenhagen Island Hotel but as usual all opinions remain her own.