Castles, Carlsberg, and Canals: Highlights from My Trip to Copenhagen

 

I know I’ve said it over and over again on this blog, but one of the best things about living in London is the ability to, well, leave London from time to time. Between Gatwick, Heathrow, and London City airports, us Londoners have the rest of Europe at our fingertips and it doesn’t cost much to fly at all.

My latest European adventure took be to Copenhagen, the canaled capital of Denmark. Less than 2 hours from London, my other half and I took off in the morning and by lunchtime we were chowing down on burgers in Tivoli Gardens.

We stayed at Scandic Copenhagen, a chain hotel (mainly in Scandinavia) located close to Copenhagen Central Station. Accommodation was clean, comfortable, cheap, and came with free breakfast and free wifi – two huge added bonuses. We were a little outside the historic centre of Copenhagen, but that was nothing a little walking couldn’t solve. Armed with the Copenhagen Card (it’s totally worth it), over 3.5 days and 3 nights my boyfriend and I discovered a city full of beautiful canals, castles, and Carlsberg beer!

Canal Tour

We kicked off our first full day in Copenhagen with a canal tour of the city (free with the Copenhagen Card). I like exploring new cities on a guided tour when I first arrive, as I think it’s a great way to get your bearings and help plan the rest of your stay.

Copenhagen Canal Tour

The tour lasted an hour and took us past Nyhavn, a famous 17th-century waterfront, as well as a few castles, the famous Mermaid sculpture, and Christianshavn which is home to a well known hippie commune.

Christiansborg Palace

The canal tour dropped us off at Gammel Stand, next to Christiansborg Palace. Seeking refuge from the sweltering heat (it was 30 degrees!), we decided to check it out. Entrance was free with the Copenhagen Card (score!) and we were ask to wear operating room-style booties over our shoes before we entered.

Christiansborg Palace

Christiansborg is not fully furnished like other historic palaces, but its architectural features are so well preserved and so impressive that I hardly noticed. After having visited Windsor Palace which is actively in use and dozens of other palaces across Europe, I have to say that Christiansborg ranks right up there with the best of them. It’s also right in the centre of the city, so don’t miss it if you visit Copenhagen.

Christiansborg Palace

Christiansborg Palace

Christiansborg Palace

Christianshavn

From fairytale castles to hippie communes, Copenhagen sure does offer a lot of contrast. Not far beyond the gilded walls of Christiansborg lay Christianshavn, an independent ‘alternative’ commune. Christianshavn has its own flag and presumably its own rules. It’s a bit tucked away behind a few rows of affluent canal streets, but you’ll know it when you see it.

Christianshavn

At the risk of sounding uptight, this probably isn’t the place to bring the kiddies. My take on Christianshavn is that it was probably founded with good intentions, but has since morphed into kind of a caricature of itself as more and more tourists began to pour in and inject more krones into the community.

Christianshavn from Above

Christianshavn

The commune was roughly divided into a ‘tourist’ shopping area where no cameras were allowed. There was also a cluster of bars and restaurants off to the side where let’s just say there was a lot of mary jane going around. It was interesting to see, but not really my scene.

Tivoli Gardens

I may be knocking on the door of 27, but I’m still a kid at heart. I love rides, roller coasters, and carnival games. That’s why  I was really excited to discover that the world’s 2nd-oldest theme park, called Tivoli Gardens, is located right in the centre of Copenhagen!

Entrance to Tivoli was free thanks to the Copenhagen Card (this card is a life-saver), thought rides cost a little extra. You can either buy a ride pass at the ticket counter or pay for each right separately. Because a certain someone who I call my boyfriend does not particularly enjoy theme park rides, I only tried out a few rides and paid for them individually.

Tivoli Gardens on a lovely summer’s evening

The thing you need to know about Tivoli Gardens is that it’s not Six Flags. It doesn’t have state-of-the-art pulse-pounding roller coasters. Instead, it has a great turn-of-the-century feel, gorgeous landscaping, great restaurants, and a few older style roller coasters and carnival rides.

Tivoli Gardens – One of Many Restaurants

The evening we visited the weather was absolutely marvellous and it seemed like all of Copenhagen came out to enjoy dinner alfresco.

Frederiksborg Castle

Like in many other European cities, Copenhagen slows down a little on Sundays. Stores don’t open until noon (if at all), and some tourist attractions also operate on limited hours. Instead of hanging out in the city I opted to take a 40-minute ride to Hillerød to visit Frederiksborg Castle. The train to Hillerød and entrance to the castle were, you guessed it, free with the Copenhagen Card.

Frederiksborg Castle

Frederiksborg Castle

The castle is surrounded by a lake . . . or maybe it’s a moat . . . I’m not sure. There’s a great walking trail that goes around the lake/moat and offers the best views of Fredriksborg. The outside of the castle is, in my opinion, more impressive than the inside. I tried to take a few interior shots, but unfortunately they didn’t turn out so well.

Nyhavn

Nyhavn is Copenhagen’s old seamen’s port turned ultra touristy district. It’s lined with brightly coloured buildings and is fun to look at, but packed with tourists. I stopped by for a quick visit just to see it in person.

Nyhavn

Carlsberg Brewery

I booked a Monday afternoon flight back to London, which gave us just enough time to enjoy a leisurely visit to the Carlsberg Brewery before heading to the airport. We arrived at the brewery 10-minutes before our 72-hour Copenhagen Cards expired and managed to get in for free.

Included in the tour were two free beer sample vouchers and we were allowed to have a look at Carlsberg’s old brew house at our leisure. I’m not really a beer person, but I do appreciate the value of historic buildings and also found the story of the company fascinating.

Carlsberg Brewery Compound

Jutland horses at Carlsberg Brewery

The real highlight of the Carlsberg Brewery tour for we were the stables, which housed a dozen or so Jutland horses. Jutlands look like clydesdales, but there are in fact only 1000 of them in the world. You can pet the horses (at your own risk) and even go for an old-fashioned ride around the grounds on a horse-driven carriage.

The carriage ride dropped us off right in front of Carlsberg’s little beer garden, which was the perfect place to dive into lunch before flying back home.

An Instagram Tour of Copenhagen

 

I just got back last night from a 3.5 day/3 night trip to Copenhagen and this morning I was greeted by a pile of e-mails in my inbox and a mountain of work to do. As a freelancer, I should be thankful for the work, but it’s left me precious little time to keep you updated on my travels.

In the next week or so I definitely plan on sharing with you guys all the juicy details on Copenhagen, but in the mean time I’ll wet your whistle with an Instagram tour of the Danish city.

The first place I visited after checking into my hotel was Tivoli Gardens, the 2nd oldest theme park in the world. This is the view from the top of the ferris wheel there.

More Tivoli Gardens

Christianshavn is a hippie colony just outside the city centre. It operates independently from Denmark and is one of the most unique places I’ve ever visited.

Copenhagen is famous for its design and architecture prowess. These converted boat buildings caught my eye on a canal tour through the city.

Colourful Nyhavn is probably the most popular tourist attraction in all of Copenhagen.

Smorrebrod (Danish open faced sandwich)

On Sunday I took a half day trip to Hillerod to visit Fredriksborg Castle

Of course, no trip to Copenhagen would be complete without visiting Carlsberg Brewery :)

Carlsberg proved to be the perfect place to spend the afternoon before heading the airport.

Just a reminder – you can follow me on Instagram at girlinlondon_rtw.

Upcoming Travels and GiL on Instragram!

 

I’ll admit, this summer hasn’t gone quite as expected. What started out as a season full of promise and grand plans to enjoy and explore London ended up turning into week after week of struggling to fight off a lingering cold.

I’m one of those annoying people who never gets sick, but when I do, I make it count. It started off with a stuffy nose in late May and morphed into a terrible chest infection that I’m still feeling the effects of today.

However, now that the worst is behind me I can turn my attention to the future. My grand summer in London may be a disappointment, but I have high hopes for my upcoming travels.

Copenhagen, Denmark

Flicker User: Jacob Surland

Copenhagen has been near the top of my ‘Weekend Break’ list for quite some time, so I’m really excited about visiting in late July. I’m taking a Friday and Monday off so that I can enjoy the city for four whole days. There are a lot of sites on my to-do list, including Tivoli Gardens and Nyhavn. I booked the trip based on a great last minute deal on British Airways’ website, and splitting the cost with my other half always help keep the budget in check.

Venice, Italy

Flickr User: Tambako the Jaguar

It’s been five years since I last visited Italy, so I thought this summer was finally the time to go back. I’ll only be in Venice for three days and two nights, so I imagine it’s going to be one of those constantly-on-the-run sightseeing holidays. I’ll be staying at Generator Hostel Venice, who graciously offered me one night’s stay, and I’m really looking forward to seeing the city in person. It’s one of those places I’ve dreamed about visiting since I was a kid and I’m literally counting down the days until the trip!

Bergen, Norway

Flickr User: anieto2k

The August bank holiday is a perfect excuse to get away from London and I booked a trip to beautiful Bergen, Norway many, many, many months ago. It’s just a quick 3-day getaway, but I’ve packed it full of fjords, mountain biking, and scenic train rides.

To save cash I booked one-way tickets to Bergen using British Airways Avios points, and will be returning to London on Norwegian Air, a budget airline. Since I’ll only be there a few days the hotel costs are minimal (especially when split with a partner), and the biggest expense of the trip will be a 1-day tour of Berekvam and Flam with Norway Active.

Bangkok, Thailand

Flickr User: Nik Cyclist

If you’re a regular Girl in London reader you’ll know that I make frequent trips to Bangkok to visit my family. I was last there in April and will be returning again in September. I’m not so much a tourist in Bangkok these days as I am a resident, but I always keep an eye out for useful tips to share with you all when I’m over there. I’ve been taking Thai lessons for the past few weeks in an effort to learn the language and this will be the first trip where I think I’ll be able to speak significant amounts of Thai.

I pay for all my flights to London outright, since using Avios points on long-haul flights isn’t favourable. The good news is that my accommodation is free (thanks, dad!), and so are all my living expenses throughout my visit, including food and transportation. I also work part-time on writing projects on most trips, so what seems like an expensive indulgence actually turns out to not cost me much, if at all. I also rack up tons of Avois points as an added bonus.

Nice, France

Flickr User: Dale Harvey

Last year for my birthday the bf and I took a trip to balmy Iceland. I loved the trip so much that I seriously thought about going again to celebrate my big 2-7, but decided against it since I’d rather visit the Nordic nation in a different season.

Instead, I’ll be ushering in my late-twenties in a slightly more glamorous location – Nice, France. Since my birthday is in October, it aligns well with Nice’s ‘shoulder season’. Shorter days and slightly cooler climes in the South of France mean cheaper flights and hotels, and empty beaches.

This time around, our round-trip flights are coming courtesy of British Airways Avios points and only cost £30/person (score!). I’ve booked a snazzy suite in a 3* hotel as opposed to a standard room in a 4* hotel in an effort to get more value for money. So far the plan is to explore Nice, the beach (if weather permits), Monaco, and possibly Cannes.

Finally . . . Girl in London is now on Instragram!
Writing ‘Girl in London’ always makes me feel like I’m referring to myself in the third person, but I guess I’ll get used to it over time. I’ve finally created an Instragram account for ‘Girl in London’ called girlinlondon_rtw (girlinlondon was taken, as you might have guessed).

My goal with the Instragram account is to take you with me in my suitcase and provide snapshots of London as well as all the different places I travel to. Since I’ll be kicking off a long string of trips next week, I thought it was the perfect time to get the account up and running.

I promise to try to keep the selfies to the minimum.