The journey through Copenhagen continues with day 2 of our adventures! Keep reading! (Too far ahead? Go back to Day 1!)
Our second day in Copenhagen started off relaxed, we let ourselves get a good bit of sleep and some food in our stomach before journeying on. The night before, we planned out what we wanted to see – our main destinations for the day were going to be Rosenborg Castle, Christiansborg, Christianshavn, and the Copenhagen Street Food (on Papirøen).
Our first stop for the day was at the beautiful Rosenborg Castle, located in the heart of the King’s Gardens. Built in the 17th century for Christian IV, the castle is a renaissance masterpiece and currently is home to Denmark’s crown jewels. (Learn more.) Again, being under the student budget we were on, we chose to forgo visiting the inside of the castle. As always, if you have time, go inside and have a look. Rosenborg is very well preserved and you’ll get to see a lot of the artifacts and belongings of Christian IV here.
For my friends and I, we decided to explore the grounds and gardens surrounding the castle. Even in the cold weather the castle is quite a sight to behold. I can only imagine how much lovelier it would look when the flowers and trees are in full bloom.
The Round Tower (Rundetaarn)
As we made our way back through Nørreport, we passed by the Rundetaarn. The tower dates back to Christian IV’s time where it acted as a multi-purpose building that had a church, observatory, and library inside. (Learn more.) This is one of the most popular places to visit in Copenhagen and if you are willing to spiral 209 meters up to the top (Note: there is an entrance fee), you’ll get to see all that the building has to offer and marvel at the view of the city from the viewing platform.
Walking on Through City Hall & Tivoli Gardens
Because we only got to see the City Hall (København Rådhus) at night, we chose to take a slightly longer route around the city to get to Christiansborg. We were also hoping to visit Tivoli Gardens and perhaps go on a few rides. Unfortunately, the amusement park was under construction and not opened yet. (Side note: 2016 happened to be the first time the park would have an extended opening starting in April – instead of the usual summer opening. In hindsight, it made sense that fixes were being made to accommodate all the anticipated traffic in the months ahead.) Regardless, for both City Hall and Tivoli Gardens (if you’re around in the spring/summer), spend time here. There are usually free tours of the City Hall and the tower in the mornings, and Tivoli is a great place to enjoy and let your inner child out! (Learn more about the City Hall and Tivoli Gardens).
After looping through, we finally arrived at Christiansborg. As noted in my Day 1 post, Christiansborg is located on its own little island called Slotsholmen. Christiansborg Palace is home to all three branches of power in Denmark (executive – PM, judicial – supreme court, and legislative – parliament) as well as certain rooms which are used by the Danish Royal Family (learn more). For those who want an interior look at the Palace, you’re in luck as the Royal Reception Rooms, Royal Kitchen, Royal Stables, and ruins are all open to visitors. As always, beware the entrance fees – if you are only interested in seeing a particular room, you can pay separate admission fees. Otherwise, you can save yourself a few DKK by purchasing a combination ticket! Take a sneak peak from the video below:
(Video Credit: Visit Copenhagen)
Onwards to Christianshavn
After taking pictures and wandering around the Palace grounds for a while, we marched on forward to the neighborhood of Christianshavn (only about 10-15 minute walk from Christiansborg). Christianshavn and Holmen are a series of artificial islands off the “main land” of Copenhagen. These islands were initially used as fortification for the city during Christian IV’s time. They eventually became a place for merchants. Today, Christianshavn is mostly residential, but remains a popular cultural/bohemian hub in the city.
Vor Frelsers Kirke (The Church of Our Savior)
Our first stop in Christianshavn was Vor Frelsers Kirke. Known for its serpentine spire, it is also one of the most recognizable churches in Copenhagen. At Vor Frelsers Kirke, you can spiral your way up the 400 steps of the church tower for a spectacular 360° views of the city. (Note #1: the Tower is sometimes closed in inclement weather for the safety of visitors. Note #2: If you have the Copenhagen Card for tourists, you can bypass the entrance fee!) Luckily for us, the clouds had parted as the day went on, and the views from the top were breathtaking! (Learn more here).
The Freetown of Christiania
Once we made our way down the Tower, we headed over to perhaps the most “infamous” place in Copenhagen – the Freetown of Christiania. Most people know it to be full of cannabis and criminal activity, but the history of the town goes much further than that. Christiania was founded in 1971 when people took over the old military barracks in Bådmandsgade – where the controversial Pusher Street is. While the reasons for creating Christiania vary depending on who tells it, most believe that the town was founded initially as a revolt against the government for lack of affordable housing in Copenhagen. (Learn more about Christiania’s history).
Since we were a group of four females, we were a little hesitant in walking a little too far into unknown territory. We did try walking a bit past Pusher Street, tucking our cameras and phones away after seeing the “No Photos” signs outside. We ended up turning back around feeling a little unsure and unable to cope with the strong scent of marijuana floating through the air. Instead, we decided to stay where most of the tourists were, and lingered. (Side story: I remember talking with one of my floormates back in London about this, and he asked me about my thoughts on Christiania. I said it was a bit dodgy and he agreed. He said that even as a male, he felt a bit uncomfortable in Christiania as well. With that being said, nothing bad happened to either of us, and the people of Christiania don’t really approach you or make you feel like you aren’t welcome. I think perhaps it is just the overall vibe and misconceptions/notions we have about the town that makes us wary of the place. Strangely enough though, the last big violent crime that happened here was just a few months after our visit in August 2016. Read about it here.)
Copenhagen Street Food
Last stop for the day was just a stone’s throw away at Papirøen (Paper Island) where the Copenhagen Street Food building can be found. Essentially, Copenhagen Street Food is a marketplace for street food in the city. There are a ton of vendors from around the world that make and sell their food here. (Learn more).
(Video Credit: Copenhagen Street Food)
Situated right by the waterfront of København Havns, this was a great place to end our day and get some delicious food in our bellies. There’s a great assortment of foods to try out from Danish to Halal. I ended up deciding to order from Copper and Wheat (learn more), a stall known for their amazing Belgian fries. I opted for the croque monsieur with a side of fries, and it was delicious and served completely fresh (definitely worth waiting for).
And with that, our two short but action packed days in Copenhagen came to an end. After taking some final pictures by the waterfront and around Christianshavn, we walked back to the metro and headed to the airport.
All in all, this was such a fun trip (and was my first time leaving the UK since being abroad that year) and a much needed break from the chaos of studying. Although Copenhagen may seem tiny compared to a big city like London or New York, there are so many things to do that we weren’t even able to check out entirely. Nevertheless, it just means we will have to come back to visit again – and hopefully soon!