Before having a layover in Copenhagen on my way to Germany, Denmark was a place that had never really crossed my mind. Now I can easily say that I fell in love with this adorable city and would return for a longer stay with no hesitation.
The first thing I did upon arrival was exchange 150 USD to about 1000 DKK (this was for me and the two other people I was traveling with). At the currency exchange area of the airport, we asked one of the workers for directions on how exactly to get to the main area of Copenhagen. The Danish are easily the friendliest and most helpful people I’ve ever met, all the people we spoke to were so eager to help us during our whole trip! This meant finding out how to get around was no problem. The worker even took the time to mark a map with the directions in case we forgot anything. We took a train straight from the airport to Nyhavn, a waterfront district in Copenhagen, with no problems and began exploring.
I’ll never forget stepping out from the train station and seeing the city for the first time. My first impression was that it was such a charming and beautiful place. I had to stop and take a moment to take it all in.The colors and general architecture of the buildings were so picturesque, exactly how Europe looks in paintings and movies. Copenhagen was one of those places that was “love at first sight” for me and I couldn’t believe that I may have never visited it if not for having a layover there.
Of course, after flying for about 7 hours without much to eat I was starving, so our first stop was a cafe called Espresso House. This is a popular Scandinavian chain originating in Sweden, with super quick service and a cozy, comfortable vibe. I would describe it as a cuter, less crowded version of Starbucks. The menu was all in Danish, but it’s easy to tell what the items would be in English because the words look similar. Even if you can’t figure it out, most Danish people speak English (something I didn’t know before visiting, but easily figured out) so you can always ask. I ordered an iced caramel latte and a banana nut muffin, both of which were fresh and delicious.
A really cool thing that I stumbled upon in Copenhagen was an interactive art installation called the Oases in Copenhagen. It’s a huge spinning wheel that has the names and brief descriptions of different attractions around the city on it. Whatever you land on when you spin it is your suggested attraction to check out, which is perfect if you’re a tourist figuring out your next move. Great idea, right? I spun it and ended up landing “CHR. HAUNS CANAL: Enjoy a walk along the canal” and that’s exactly what I did next.
I’ve said it once and I’ll say it again; Copenhagen is so adorable, especially by the canal. There’s nothing like being in a peaceful city where everyone is sitting down in the grass drinking beer or riding by on their bikes, walking along the water and forgetting all of your problems. It’s really therapeutic. After walking around, I was especially excited to take a canal boat tour around the city. It was the first time I had ever been on a canal boat ride and it’s one of my favorite things I’ve ever done while traveling anywhere. The boat tour was an hour long, taking you all around the area while talking about the history of Copenhagen in Danish, English, and Italian. You could even have a beer while taking in the view of colorful buildings, palaces, sculptures, and more. It was such a relaxing and unique experience and I wouldn’t recommend visit Copenhagen for the first time without taking a boat ride along the canal. You should especially check this out if, like me, you don’t have much time in Copenhagen, but still want to get a glimpse at the whole city. Plus, you have the option to buy both the boat ride ticket and a discounted admission pass to an amusement park called Tivoli Gardens at the same booth, which was great because that happened to be my next activity.
The only place that I had actually planned ahead of time to go to in Copenhagen was Tivoli Gardens. This is the world’s 2nd oldest amusement park, opened in 1843. It was about a 30 minute walk from where we were in Nyhavn, probably shorter if we hadn’t gotten lost. Luckily, a few friendly Danish people saved the day and we ended up finding our way there. By this time, we were pretty close to having to go back to the airport, but decided to have a look around and get on one ride. Tivoli, like the rest of the city, was such a cute amusement park with an old-time feel. It combined the feelings of a nice stroll in the park with the excitement of a carnival. There were all kinds of rides, from roller coasters to giant swings to carousels. The costs of the rides wasn’t included in the admission though and each one cost a different amount of tickets or you could get a wrist band to get on all of them. Since we were pressed for time, we just walked around the amusement park and went on the carousel, which cost one ticket. One interesting thing we learned from this experience is that Merry-Go-Round and carousel don’t seem to translate over to Danish. We asked two different employees where to find the ride and were met with confused expressions until we described it as “the thing that spins around with the horses on it”. Despite the fact that we didn’t get to do a lot in Tivoli, I still had an amazing time even seeing it and have even more of a reason to come back to Denmark now.
After Tivoli, we had to head back to the airport to make sure we wouldn’t miss our flight and I was genuinely so sad to leave, but so glad to have experienced such a wonderful place, even in such a short amount of time. I’ve now gone from trying to get direct flights whenever possible in order to avoid layovers to hoping for long layovers in new places because I had such a great time. Denmark, I will be seeing you again!