This is part two of the recap of my recent week-long solo trip, starting in Iceland and making the quick flight to Copenhagen, Denmark. Below you’ll find a journal of what I did and what I loved – both as a way for me to remember 🙂 and a way to share with others who are making a trip to Copenhagen!
Many thanks to the friends who sent me recommendations, including Lauren at Live Happy Inspired – I did many of them!
After a short flight from Iceland to Copenhagen, I was again in a situation where I needed to stay awake even though I was jet lagged and tired. I made my way easily from the airport to a metro station a few minutes from my hostel, marveling at how clean and new public transportation is in Euopean cities. I checked in and walked into the room where I was staying. I had decided to stay in a hostel in Copenhagen mostly for cost reasons (though it was still expensive), and also in case I was really lonely at this point in the trip. I figured trying out different options – an AirBnb in Iceland and a hostel in Denmark – would allow me to get a better idea of what I’d like doing in the future.
Overall, I was really happy that I had chosen to stay in a one person room in a hostel, where I had all of the privacy, but could partake in the vibe of the hostel if I wanted to. To be honest, I had gotten really used to being alone at this point in the trip and was loving reflection that comes with being alone for a long period of time.
Regardless, I didn’t spend a lot of time in ANY room I stayed in. I dropped my stuff and went on another free walking tour, and ended up doing one that picked up at our hostel. I learned a lot about the history and the architecture of the city, including some of the funny tales I’m sure every tour guide tells. Walking tours, in my opinion, are still the best way to get some quick facts about where you are, but this one wasn’t my favorite.
The tour ended just on the edge of the Free Town of Christiania, a self-proclaimed autonomous town, and a very strange place. In 1971, some hippies in Copenhagen stumbled upon the place where Christiania now is, which was then some military barracks that were no longer in use. Finding that the military never shut off the water or electricity, the hippies decided to live there long term, asking the government to be a free town, able to make their own rules for their community. This community, however, is really well known for its cannabis culture, since it’s exempt from the rules of the regular government. I walked through, quickly, realizing that this was really interesting but soooooo not for me.
After that, I walked to Paper Island, which currently hosts Copenhagen Street Food, a sort of indoor food market with many delicious local food options. For those of you in SF – or those of you who have visited me in SF – it reminded me of a sort of indoor Off The Grid. After eating my way through Iceland, I decided for a single “healthy meal – and got some chicken skewers and a few lettuce wraps.
From here, I walked through Nyhavn, the main strip on the canal that is in ALL of the popular photos of Copenhagen. I could walk that one little street for days, just enjoying the people watching. The canal was lined with beautiful boats, and the colors of the homes and restaurants along the water made for a colorful scene.
After making a stop at the hostel to reshower and get ready, I rallied and went out to the cutest cocktail bar, called Duck and Cover. It was EXACTLY what I wanted – dark, quiet, and full of good cocktails. I sat at the bar and ordered a gin and tonic, and talked that night with the bartender and bar manager who had sat down for a drink after his earlier shift. This was what I wanted out of my solo trip abroad: some great conversation with a few locals, and the folks at Duck and Cover were great companions.
When I came back to my hostel, I felt a little bad about not wanting to go out at the hostel and be a part of that culture, but then I remembered that was the whole point of going on a trip alone – I didn’t have to do anything I didn’t want to, and that was beautiful.
I made a quick stop for a croissant and tea, then I started making my way to Designmuseum Danmark on the other side of town. On my way, I somehow started walking with the guard on their way to the palace, and decided to make a quick detour to Amalienborg Palace to see what the fuss was about. There was huge group of people – so I didn’t see much – but it’s always amazing to see the fanfare the royals have as part of the changing of the guard. Part of me is always thinks about how inefficient these shows of pagentry are, but part of me also thinks of how cool it is that they take the time to do things the same way they did so long ago.
After the “show,” I made my way to Designmuseum Danmark, my initial destination. While I’m not a huge museum person, there are some I enjoy, and this was certainly one of them. The design history in Denmark is so unique to this place, and it was so interesting to see all of the things we know now come from here – including basically every chair design you’ve ever seen. My favorite installation though was a series all about the little black dress – included in a larger exhibition called “I am black velvet” featuring exquisite haute couture work from Erik Mortensen, who has worked for Pierre Balmain and Jean Louis Scherrer.
After feeling re-energized from the museum, I made my way to the Little Mermaid statue, taking a long walk through Kastellet, a fortress that’s been preserved and made into a beautiful outdoor area. The Little Mermaid is a tourist trap, sure, but a cute one nonetheless. Hungry, I walked to Toldboden and had the most expensive but most delicious burger and a beer I’ve had in awhile.
From there, I walked everywhere I wanted to get to on my short trip: the Botanical Garden, Rosenborg Castle, and another walk through Nyhavn. My cousin and her family were joining me later – I was no longer going to be alone! – but I wanted to make sure I saw what I wanted to get to in case they had specific plans during their visit.
After making a pit stop and getting ready at my home base, I made my way to Torvehallerne, an indoor/outdoor market that was very reminiscent of Boston’s Fanueil Hall. Luckily for me, it was ALSO the host of a food festival which had a CHEESE BAR in it. I truly lived my best life, sampling five cheeses with some sourdough bread and a beer, enjoying my last hours of solitude on my solo trip.
My cousin Liz and her family met up with me here, where we had a quick dinner at a funny little Mexican place, and then did a bunch of walking to see Nyhavvn at night.
For my last day of the trip, I met up with Liz, Mack and Lilly in the morning and started off with the BEST salmon bagel and a Canal tour on the water. Do note, there are two of these big boat tours that cruise the canal – one is a little larger and a little nicer at the very front of the canal near Nyhavvn, and then there is one just SLIGHTLY less nice up on the right for about $20 less. Obviously do that one.
By boat, we were able to see so many things that I knew we wouldn’t have the chance to walk to – some of which I had seen the day before. But the boat trip itself was awesome – I might even recommend it over a walking tour in Copenhagen just to make sure you can see everything.
After spotting the Church of our Savior and its swirling tower, we decided to walk to it, and up it! We spent the money to walk to the top of the tower (a donation really, to a local charity on behalf of the church), which was so so worth it for the views. This was one of my favorite parts of the trip, but definitely not for you if you don’t like heights! It’s windy up there.
I started to play tour guide, walking to a few of my favorite places from the few days before. We ended up at Copenhagen Street food again, getting hotdogs and mojitos from two places right at the beginning when you walk in the door. They were SO GOOD and made me really happy we had returned there – it’s just such a cool place. From there, we walked around a bunch, making stops at Rosenborg Castle, Amalienborg Palace, and a few little shops and stops along the way.
After much Yelp searching, we walked to Lo-Jo’s Social, a tapas and cocktail bar that was super cute. We all split a bunch of things, including some sliders, delicious fries, and a small kale salad to try to at least eat a little green.
After having some wine there, we went to another bar for a nightcap and some nachos :). I said my goodbyes to the fam, knowing that the next day I’d want to just chill and get to the airport early for my flight.
I had such a different experience in CPH than I did in Reykjavik,
Where i ate:
- Copenhagen Street Food (twice! Don’t miss it. Although I did hear that is only in this location through this year)
- Duck and Cover (cutest cocktail bar!)
- Toldboden (burger and a beer near Little Mermaid)
- Lo-Jo’s Social (tapas and wine bar, looked like a popular happy hour spot)
Where I went:
- Designmuseum Danmark
- Rosenborg Castle
- Amalienborg Palace
- The Little Mermaid
- Botanical Garden
- Church of our Savior
Where I stayed: