Worm your way up to dazzling Denmark and experience northern Europe’s chilly climes with a trip to the cute Scandinavian capital of Copenhagen: it’s so far north they don’t even have the euro. But don’t be dissuaded, it’s still in the EU so border controls are as chilled as the climate. Experience cool Scandinavian architecture, gorgeous gardens, relaxing canal boat tours, the Changing of the Guard and the hugely characteristic hippie commune of Christiania where squatters’ rights and weed hold more sway than city laws.
With a population of around 1.2 million (with 1.9 million in the metropolitan area), the Danish capital is spread across two islands (Zealand and Amager) and is large enough to take up a few days while remaining navigable. Originally a Viking fishing village in the 10th century, Copenhagen is the focal-point around which most of modern Danish history has pivoted, stage to countless kings, wars with Sweden and Germany and contemporary ultra-liberal politics, all of which have influenced the varied urban landscape. The canal system and prominent bicycle culture lend the city a distinctly Amsterdam-feel, but Copenhagen is unique in many ways with its array of resplendent palaces and prominent royal family, along with several opera houses and an expansive industrial harbour area (a site of impressive feats of engineering and technological innovation). It is also one of the most environmentally friendly cities in the world.
For navigating the city, pretty Nyhavn is a good starting point and is probably Copenhagen’s most charismatic site with its colourful facades, trendy bars/cafes and bustling canal area (from which most boat tours depart, for around 100Kr or £12). From here, embark north past the palace and basilica along the seafront; soak in the harbour scenery and sculpture park; wander across dainty bridges around the ramparts of an ancient citadel, and glimpse perhaps Copenhagen’s most renowned image: the Little Mermaid (as a dedication to Danish writer Hans Christian Anderson). Head back south through the Old Town and browse the chic high-street stores, old churches and strangely Scandinavian indoor food market (selling everything from meat to Danish pastries).
Venture east to Christiania: located on the man-made peninsula of Christianshavn (accessible by bridge), it provides an almost other-worldly retreat from the elegant and refined atmosphere of the rest of Copenhagen. Use open-air urinals, marvel at mind-boggling graffiti and try to get your head around a completely random assortment of home-made buildings, structures and mini-markets. It’s all spread around a surprisingly sizeable chunk of land beside the sea that makes this place feel like a post-apocalyptic theme park. Just remember not to bring your camera though – it’s not looked upon kindly by Christianshavn’s locals.
Get back in touch with reality with a visit to the nearby Church of Our Saviour… the external staircase and commanding views will most definitely be enough to shock you back into Copenhagen’s mainstream.
Copenhagen is a place where equal rights and liberal attitudes take precedence, a land where the atmosphere is incredibly safe and remarkably relaxed. Euroventure to Copenhagen and be dazzled by Denmark: you won’t regret anything except how much the beer costs (and who cares when you can have locally brewed Carlsberg, Tuborg and more!)