Think of Copenhagen and the first thing that might come into your mind is: expensive? If not that, then perhaps wintry? Or you might be like us and feel that even though it’s so close (for those in the UK), it’s not somewhere you know very well. It’s tucked away, the sort of place you might not think of visiting. But when you do, you’re very pleased that you did.
We caught the train from the airport to the station, which costs DKK36 (approx £4.10) and is an easy, cheap and efficient way to reach the city. Make sure you buy your ticket before you board – there are machines in the baggage collection areas, plus a main ticket office in the arrivals hall. The journey only took fifteen minutes and the first thing that struck us when we emerged from Central Station was how imposing the city is, reminding us more of a Moscow or Berlin rather than the Riga or Amsterdam we were expecting. Stepping onto the January streets outside the station, everything seemed to be on a surprisingly large scale.
Where we stayed
Our beautiful hotel (The Savoy) was within walking distance of the station and it wasn’t long before we were out of the cold and into the welcoming foyer. As with everyone we met in the city, we received a friendly, warm welcome from the staff and made our way up to the top floor where our family room awaited us. It was a fantastic room, spacious (for a European city hotel) with a lovely view over the surrounding rooftops, the chiming of the church bells nearby reminding us it was time to head out and find some food. This was another advantage of the hotel; right in the heart of things with numerous bars, restaurants, shops and supermarkets right on the doorstep. We also took advantage of the tasty, filling and complimentary breakfast each morning which was a perfect start to the day, lots of coffee, fruit juice, pastries, bread, meat and cheese to choose from. Plus the added bonus that when we returned each evening there were complimentary pastries available in reception which were a welcome treat before bed.
As we say, Copenhagen is deceptively large with the distance between the main sights a little too far for us to manage on foot with the boys in tow. We’re sure that if you were travelling here without young children you could easily make your way around on foot but instead we took advantage of the excellent number 26 bus which stopped outside our hotel and took us to most of the places we wanted to get to. Tickets worked out quite expensive (DKK24 – about £2.75) if you only used them for a short hop but they were valid for an hour so would be better value if you were making either a long trip, or managed to hop back on-board within the time limit and in effect hitched a free ride. Our boys enjoyed sitting at the back and there was always space at the front for our buggy (very useful in the city to help the youngest ones cover the distances in warmth and comfort).
In general (and despite our preconceptions), we were quite lucky with the weather, as January in Denmark has a well-deserved reputation for being very cold. But we’d been warned in advance and were very well wrapped up and always made sure we dived into a shop, museum or bus whenever it got too cold.
How to keep the kids entertained
Copenhagen has so much going for it that we couldn’t hope to cover all of the sights in a few days but the following were some of our child-friendly highlights:
Wandering the streets around Nyhavn. If you’ve seen one photo of Copenhagen before, it’s probably of this colourful, picturesque street. It’s a great way to spend an hour or so, checking out the boats, grabbing a quick hot-chocolate and taking the obligatory selfie on the bridge.
Visit the Lego shop. We didn’t know Lego came from Denmark until we arrived! How lax of us, but we soon made up for it by escaping the cold and spending almost an hour marvelling at these tiny pieces of plastic turned into amazing sculptures. The super-friendly staff were always on hand to help keep the little ones entertained in the various free play areas.
National Gallery of Denmark. Visit the brilliant children’s workshops if you’re there on a weekend and let your little ones get their creative juices flowing with paints, crafts and crayons. The museum is well worth a visit on any day of the week with the building itself a spectacular sight. Leave your buggy outside and borrow one of the museum’s to give you and the little ones a smooth ride around the gallery. There are also free cloakrooms and spaces to eat your own food. Great place to visit, highly recommended.
Take the number 26 bus out to the little Mermaid statue. Head to the edge of the city and see the iconic statue, fight the crowds to get the perfect picture and grab a delicious cup of coffee or hot chocolate when you’re done.
Spend some time at the fantastic National Museum of Denmark. One of the few museums we’ve ever visited which has a dedicated Children’s section where the kids are encouraged to touch, climb and interact with the exhibits – a definite relief for parents not to have to constantly tell them not to touch things – the kids will love it.
Play in the park near Rosenborg Castle. If the weather is kind, head to the Rosenborg Castle in the heart of the city. Play in the children’s playground, walk around the grounds and take in the views of the fairytale castle.
How to keep costs down
Our other preconception proved to be wrong as we didn’t find Copenhagen as expensive as we’d been warned, mainly because we stocked up on the fantastic hotel breakfast, caught the bus most places, didn’t drink alcohol (much), and had a supermarket nearby which we used to stock up on the essentials most days. The public transport is efficient but not incredibly cheap if you only buy single trip tickets each time you travel. However, there is a travel pass (Copenhagen Card) which covers all travel in the city over a 72 hour period – recommended if you intend to use public transport a lot during your stay. As with most other cities, there is also a city card available which includes access to most major sights, museums, galleries and monuments, plus all public transport. It’s quite a large initial outlay but would be good value if you planned to fit a lot into your trip. We did the sums and decided not to get one but your mileage may vary.
We stayed at the Savoy Hotel on Vesterbrogade in the heart of the city. The room rates include an excellent breakfast.
We flew with EasyJet from London Gatwick airport, the 90 minute flight was very straightforward (it takes almost as long though to walk from the arrival gate in Copenhagem to baggage collection though – be warned!)
The Copenhagen Card costs EUR85 for 72 hours (child EUR43 although two children under 10 are included with the adult pass).
We’re very grateful for the Savoy Hotel, National Gallery of Denmark and National Museum of Denmark for supporting this blog entry. However, all words and opinions are my own.
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