What did you get up to this weekend? “Oh, you know. The usual… we spent 19 hours in Copenhagen, visited Tivoli, toured the Danish capital on foot, sipped Carlsbergs all day long, visited the trendy Vesterbro and ate the best pizza of my life. Then we returned this morning on our £7 flight and came straight into work… you know… normal DreamFlyDiscover stuff… You?”.
That’s one my favourite Monday mornings back-to-back conversations ever. This very discussion happened only last year. The wife and I casually flew out Sunday, did our thing and then flew straight back to work on the Monday. We were buzzing from our random little break. But how? Why? What’s Copenhagen all about? Let’s explore…
So I was sitting at work one day when my colleague jokingly quotes a special offer from his HotUKDeals app. “£14 return to Copenhagen… Anybody want to go?”. The 4 of us smirked and Googled Copenhagen before making various excuses. I, however, was straight on WhatsApp to The Wife. “£14 rtn to Copenhagen, this weekend. What u think?”. Quick as a flash she replied “I’ve just found some good hotels… book it!“. It was done. My friends were still gossiping about the deal when I looked up from my phone and said “Booked it. Thanks!” And that was it. I love having a spontaneous wife. Our random trip to Copenhagen was confirmed. As for why… well… £14. Simple as that. Besides, we had no plans at home that weekend!
OK the exactly bit sounds a bit creepy…. However we used booking.com to find that Hotel Ansgar ticked all the boxes and was pretty close to the Central Station (as this would be our mode of transport from the airport). The city is easily walkable and most hotels come with the tag “good location”- in a small city this isn’t much help (it’s all good). However, we were situated walking distance from everything… but… it is a small city. OK I’m not winning this one here ; just stay anywhere with a good location (p.s. it’s all good!).
Seriously though, our hotel was located West of Central Station when perhaps the main tourist attractions, museums and shopping areas are to the East. However the West is home to trendy Vesterbro and great eateries with a soho-esque vibe. Each to their own. The hotel was fine for what we needed and a great price. Improvements to the metro line in the area meant finding it was a bit of a maze but signposting was adequate.
As above, we had snagged some amazing £14 return tickets from Ryanair departing from Luton Airport. The flight was approx 90 minutes and carrying just hand luggage meant the process was a breeze. On the Copenhagen end you’re looking at 1 efficient train and a transfer time of approx exactly 13 minutes-ish-or-so-exactly…
What’s to do?
Tivoli. You just have to visit. It’s the second oldest theme park in the world and often quoted as the inspiration for Walter Disney’s Mouseland (or whatever it’s called). Entry is a reasonably low price of £12 and then rides are extra. We opted just for entry as the park is just beautiful to walk around. The themeing is beautiful, the walking is pleasant and there’s a real feeling of escapism. We enjoyed our first and second beers here, easily spending more on beer than we did on our flights…. take that how you will.
Onwards and upwards, we headed to the town square to commence our free walking tour courtesy of CopenhagenFreeWalkingTours.dk/ and our wonderful tour guide Rodger. We knew we were pressed for time on this visit so took the option of a free tour – “let’s cram it all in to 2 hours and decide where to go from there”. The tour was very worthwhile and we got to see The City Hall, Christiansborg Palace, The Old City Cente, The Picturesque Harbour Nyhavn & Royal Palace Amalienborg just to name a few. The humorous stories, local knowledge and endless chit-chat made this informal tour a great way to learn about the city- we came back overflowing with local knowledge.
Post-tour we were left to wander. We avoided the famous Mermaid as we’d heard it was underwhelming and our feet were a little on the tired side. We headed down Nyhavn (the famous, multi coloured harbour) but opted not to drink as we’d heard of outrageous prices. Copenhagen is also home to plenty of museums and days could be spent exploring each and every one of them. We’re also spoilt for museums in London so we always choose to avoid these when abroad.
We headed home via Vesterbro (the happening young sector) but quickly find that being a Sunday everything is pretty much closed. Back to our hotel for a quick rum, shower and we slip on our fancy clothes for an evening out. We’ve read good reviews about Mother in the meat packing district; to our delight the restaurants and bars are busy (full in fact) and we sip cocktails as we wait for a table. We order from our sour dough pizzas from the funky menu and relax in the uber cool environment before enjoying the finest pizzas of my lifetime. Slim sour dough, fresh toppings, rich sauces- heaven. This was worth the journey alone.
We head back to the hotel feeling merry and catch a short sleep. Waking up at 4am to catch the earliest flight out of Copenhagen was no pleasure. Our short walk to Central Station was met with disappointment and frustration as we couldn’t find out train despite speaking to the ticket office the day before. There was a real lack of simple information available and this general area was home to many drunk homeless people…. not the most pleasant way to leave the city.
After scratching out heads for the best part of 15 minutes of our journey we tried hailing a taxi. This is easier said than done at this awkward hour that is too late for revelers and too early for commuters. Eventually we found an Indian taxi driver who originally lived near us in London. The charge to the airport was something extortionate and I think it was more expensive than the 2 return flights… so watch out on the taxi front! It was an amusing journey though….. The taxi driver was listening to a London based Bhangra/Indian radio station. Being that we live local to the station and so did he (once upon a time) the driver decided to ring up his ‘friend’ (and radio DJ) in order to give me a ‘shout out’. It was all a bit confusing and we watched the taxi driver swerving from lane to lane on his phone, dodging lamp posts and stray animals. Eventually after the phone cut out several times he passed the phone to me. Here I was in Copenhagen on the phone to an Indian radio DJ round the corner from my home in London…. all kinds of strange! I kind of apologised and said I had no idea why i was speaking to him and the DJ retorted “don’t worry, that guy is a bit of a dickhead. Ignore him. Hes not my friend anyway”….. !! ha. We left the taxi and paid the exorbitant fair and I’m never sure if i did get my shout out….
Our tour guide Roger, a Londoner who loved Copenhagen dearly, was shocked when we told him how short our stay in Copenhagen was but to be fair…. it was perfect for us. We feel like we got into the spirit of the city, saw the highlights and experienced a little bit of culture before we left for home. We didn’t feel like Copenhagen was packed with things to do and the cost of beer and wine was always going to be a bit of a drawback for this jolly couple.
Ideally we would have spent one night and two FULL days just to take things a little slower. However, for what we paid for it, 19 hours actually felt about right! If we had more time we would have explored the free-town of Christiania where drugs are smoked freely and life is a little more chill. Having said that, if we had somewhere in the region of 6-16 hours spare we would have definitely taken the highly recommended, short train journey across the sea to Malmo, Sweden, just to say we experienced two countries in one hit. And that just about sums up Copenhagen…. if you’re there for two days or more people often recommend popping to Sweden… I don’t think i’ve ever been in a capital city (especially one so spotlessly beautiful, economically active and quaintly characterful) where one of the top rated things to do is to leave… Similarly its most famous statue in the Mermaid which locals tell you to avoid and its bustling Nyhavn is known to be a tourists trap. The Danish are either very hard to impress or are seriously modest!! I’m sure we missed out on a lot of sights in our short time… but we also feel like we actually didn’t miss out on all too much.
Would I visit again? Perhaps surprisingly… yes I would. With such a convenient and well priced return journey it will always be on my list of things to do if I have a quiet weekend with nothing on. Tivoli needs more exploring and it also hosts some great musical acts in the summer months that is certainly worth keeping an eye on.
Overall for a weekend that cost just approx £130pp (including all transport, hotel and a bit of spending) it was definitely worth the adventure… and for us, that’s what life’s all about! 🙂
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