(First published on travelwrite.co.za)
CAROLINE HURRY explores this compact, stylish designer city using her 72-hour Copenhagen card…
Copenhagen city is full of domes, twisty spires, wide canals reflecting 17th century buildings, and cafés on cobblestones where British tourists chase ales with schnapps – mind how you go!
A guided canal trip will sail you past the Opera House, Black Diamond, and Little Mermaid, in a traditional low boat. The Little Mermaid now has a polished stainless-steel big brother, known as Han, unveiled in 2012 by Elmgreen & Dragset, a contemporary art couple.
You’ll find him at the end of the pier in Helsingør in front of Kronborg, aka Hamlet’s Castle, which stages Shakespearian productions in the courtyard. Opposite Kronborg is the Maritime Museum that traces the seafaring history of the Danes from the Vikings to the Maersk shipping empire.
A converted dry dock, you descend a giant ramp into the museum buried 10 metres below ground, where uneven sloping floors, recorded foghorns and seagull sounds, eccentrically-angled display cases, cargo, video projections and salty exhibitions, imbue the interior with all the sensations of a ship at sea.
Designed by Danish architects BIG – Bjarke Ingels Group – it’s a pervasive sensory experience, an offbeat world full of nautical fun and maritime adventure. Next door, the Culture Yard, a buzzing community centre offers a concert hall, exhibitions, and plenty of restaurants.
One fine Saturday afternoon, we met my oldest (as in known him for 20 years) friend, the eminently elegant and always hilarious Henrik Thierlein, press officer for Visit Copenhagen who arrived on a gorgeous white bike, available to rent. He treated us to lunch at the Europa Cafe famous for traditional Danish food such as delicious smørrebrød or steak tartare, all washed down with a Carlsberg. Europa is on Amagertorv close to the distinctive Stork Fountain, which dates back to the 1800s.
Afterwards we took a stroll down Strøget, Scandinavia’s longest pedestrian street, filled with designer shops, restaurants, the Round Tower, Royal Copenhagen pottery, and buskers, one famous regular being Yul Anderson, a Californian-born, self-taught pianist. What a treat to find him banging out the honky-tonk blues on his baby grand for all to enjoy but that’s Copenhagen for you: a surprise around every corner.
We also visited Den Blå Planet, northern Europe’s largest aquarium where starfish-shaped building contours surrounded by water provide an under-sea sensation as rays, moray eels, and hammerheads swim overhead. The architecture is inspired by a whirlpool comprising new five ‘arms’ reach out across the globe – from the steep bird cliffs of the Faroe Islands to the beautiful coral reefs of the world’s oceans. From Kastrup Metro station it’s a quick walk to The National Aquarium.
The north of Copenhagen is festooned with forests. On any of the sun-dappled paths you may encounter red squirrels, dog walkers, or pick wild raspberries.
- Cycling is the best way to explore Copenhagen and smart bikes with an inbuilt computer and GPS route planner are available for hire at 25 locations or book one online at www.bycyklen.dk
- A Copenhagen Card gives you access to all transport including boat tours, and free entrance to 79 attractions.
- Caroline Hurry flew to Copenhagen on British Airways Club World, which is to be recommended!