A Weekend in Copenhagen

When you have best friends all over the world, the opportunity to travel is boundless. And when it's their birthday and you just so happen to be on the same continent, what other choice do you have but to take a weekend trip to celebrate with them? That is how I ended up spending the weekend in Copenhagen, exploring a city rich with history and old beauty and meeting some extremely fun people. When attending a birthday in Denmark, I found that these three things are important.

  1. Bring presents. Of course, it is a birthday party after all.
  2. Dress appropriately. Denmark isn't known for being a very warm place, but dressing nice in the cold weather is easy if you: bring a jacket, wear stockings, stay indoors.
  3. Be prepared for an epic hangover. As I haven't drunk very much over the last year, this did not end well for me.

Arriving in Copenhagen: Airport to City

After an extremely early wake up and flight from Athens to Copenhagen, I arrived at Copenhagen Airport. It's well signed and easy to navigate through. Fortunately, I had a local picking me up and driving me around, so I didn't need to worry about public transport. However, the airport is only 8 kilometers from the city center and there is a Metro Station (considered the easiest way of getting to and from the airport), a bus terminal and taxi's. More information about transportation can be found here. On the drive to the City, you can see the spires from old churches and other important buildings rising high, almost piercing the sky. It was a truly remarkable sight, and gave me the first impressions of how old and regal the city is.

Copenhagen and Bicycles

Until arriving in Copenhagen, I had never seen so many people riding bicycles. Everyone has a bike and according to my Danish friends, the bike's own the road. There were as many bikes in the streets as there were cars, and there were traffic lights specifically for the cyclists. Driving to the city from the airport, I was amazed at how little the cyclists paid attention to the cars, it was a complete change in the cultures that I'm used to where the cyclists are begging for the drivers to pay more attention. For tourists, cycling is a great way to get around the city and see as much as possible, but if you hire a car know that cars should give way to cyclists and pedestrians. Be warned, many of the cyclists are not riding leisurely, I was surprised at how quickly they were cycling. If I get to go back for a longer trip in warmer weather, I'll definitely be biking around as much as possible.

Friday Night: The Birthday Party

Of course, my recollections of my first night in Copenhagen are not all clear. However, there are things that I do remember. The restaurant that the party was held in was called “Ravage Restaurant and Bar” and is located a short walk from Nyhavn (the popular tourist area where the photos with the colorful houses are mostly taken). Ravage was a very, very nice place and serves French cuisine. (Ravage Website) The inside was dimly light with candles and soft chandeliers and the food was fantastic. Throughout the night, we were also served a lot of great tasting alcohol, which is only suitable at a party. Upon leaving the restaurant, sometime after midnight, we walked through the City to some nightclubs. I wish I could write more about where they were, but I have little memory. What I can tell you is that everyone I met (before and after being drunk) could speak English and were all very friendly and helpful. The nightlife in Copenhagen did not disappoint, I know that I had so much fun laughing and dancing that I lost my voice. More about the variety of nightlife can be found here.

Saturday: Sightseeing

Copenhagen is very clean, very old and has plenty to see. The Danish take pride in their appearance and their history. The buildings, no matter how old, are all well maintained and protected. Walking around, there are so many places that have the year they were built inscribed in the stone and it isn't unusual to see dates from the 1700s on them. The morning was spent walking through Christianshavn to the City Center, looking for a place to eat some breakfast/brunch.
  • A place I recommend going to eat at is the Food Market on Paper Island. I wasn't able to eat there (it wasn't quite ready for customers when we arrived), but walked through and it was a really cool place. Sort of like an indoor market and cafeteria, with food and drink stalls and large communal tables and benches. Find more information here.
After eating a delicious meal, it was time to walk and see the sites of Copenhagen. And it was spectacular. If I had more time in the city, it would have been even more amazing, however I wasn't able to see and do as much as I wanted due to illness. Some of the places I recommend going to within the city are:
  • Christiansborg Palace. You cannot miss this enormous castle situated near the center of the city. The Palace offers tours of different areas inside, but you can walk in and through the biggest front doors that I've ever come across and see inside the walls. It's impossible not to feel the heaviness of how regal this place is.
    copenhagen april 2016

    Christiansborg Palace

  • The Round Tower or “Rundetaarn.” 
  • Amalienborg PalaceThe homes of the Royal family. As these are actual homes, they are not open for visitors. There is a museum that visitors can enter. Tourists can also witness the changing of the guards, and view the remarkable architecture of these buildings from the 1700s.
    copenhagen april 2016

    Standing inside the shelter for the Guards when it's cold at Christiansborg Palace

  • Strøget shopping street.
  • Nyhavn.
  • Pisserenden. Lies to the north of Strøget shopping street. An area with off-beat shops, cafes, and a more alternative atmosphere. Specifically, you should sit down for coffee, tea, or a break at The Living Room. More information on the area here.
It's a short list, but it was a short trip. It took a few hours walking around the city to do and see the places mentioned above and more, but it was worth it. Saturday night was spent with my friend and her friends, where we sat down to eat Indian, talk, eat cake and sleep. During the night, I found out how different the culture towards work and education is in Denmark compared to Australia and America. Often, the people I was with made comments about how “you shouldn't have to sacrifice study for work.” It blew my mind. However, when the government is paying for its citizens to have a free education, the attitudes are of course going to be different. The biggest complaint and worry the locals had about Denmark is the way it's taxes work, and a little bit about the weather being a little unpredictable.

Sunday: Departure and Travel

Unfortunately, my illness hit me hard on Sunday and so instead of enjoying the Danish pastries for breakfast and walking through Christianshavn and the city again, I was stuck in bed and the bathroom, trying to hold myself together to get home back to Greece. But no more about that, it's not so important. I was told that the airport in Copenhagen was an easy place to navigate. However, it could've been because I was ill, but I did not find it an easy place. What I recommend doing before arrival at the airport is checking in for your flight online. There are no check-in counters, only self-serve areas for getting your bag tag (which you need to be checked in or have your booking number to do.) To avoid unnecessary stress, I really, really think you should have an e-ticket and be checked in if you possibly can be. The security took about 20 minutes when I was there, but the loudspeakers said it was taking longer than usual. I would suggest arriving approximately one hour and a half before your flight. Overall, I had a really great time visiting with a friend, meeting new people, experiencing somewhere that was completely different to what I am used to, and really feeling the history that is in Copenhagen. I would definitely recommend going again, maybe I'll see you there!  

Alex Sheedy

Alex is a professional basketball player who lives to travel, write and experience the world while pursuing an active lifestyle. In 23 years, this Australian girl has lived in four countries and visited another three, and hopes to one day look back on her life and smile at the beautiful memories she has of the world. On her website, Alex blogs about her life on the road as an athlete and a wanderer, and details other opinions and important things in her life.