Impressions of Copenhagen

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We’ve just got back from a very enjoyable 4 day break in Copenhagen. A city we’ve never been to before. After some fairly miserable weather for most of the summer so far in Britain (and I believe it’s been much the same in Denmark) we were very lucky to have more or less wall to wall sunshine during our stay which made the city look particularly attractive. These are my impressions of the city from our relatively brief visit.

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The city

  • A small, compact city centre. Fairly flat and very walkable.
  • An attractive, maritime city. Not too touristy either with a distinct lack of shops and stalls selling tacky gifts and souvenirs.
  • Plenty going on, including free concerts and performances.
  • Really relaxed atmosphere.
  • A lot on construction works going on for the metro and some new bridges. This had an impact on some of the sights with some of the major squares fenced off.

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  • Accommodation expensive – but probably still cheaper than London.
  • It’s worth taking a boat tour – a good way to orientate yourself and get a different view of the main sites. Only just over £4 for a one hour guided tour from Nyhaven or about £7 for a 24 hour “hop on hop off”.
  • I was amazed at the lack of oppressive security at Government buildings and the Royal palaces. Anyone can just walk right through the Danish equivalent of Buckingham palace and there were people walking their dogs and cars and taxis driving through the courtyard.
  • In many ways, the city reminded me of Liverpool.

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Transportation

  • Everybody seemed to ride a bike! They were everywhere with special bike lanes on almost every road. They were proper bike lanes too. Apparently almost 40% of Copenhagen residents cycle into work.

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  • We took the metro into the city from the airport. it was fast and efficient and not expensive. The network is very limited so not particularly useful for getting around, but it’s being expanded and this was responsible for some of the construction works.
  • Buses were plentiful and regular
  • We went out on the train to Hubelbaek, about 30 miles north of Copenhagen, to visit the Louisiana art gallery. The service ran from Malmo (in Sweden) to Helsingør with trains 3 times an hour until about 11:30 p.m with one an hour during the night. The trains were clean and spacious. Mush better than our poor quality and expensive railway system in the UK

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The people

  • Everyone spoke very fluent English.
  • Everyone seemed friendly enough.

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Eating out

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  • VERY expensive. At least £25 to £30 per person for a modest meal. £50 to £60 per head for something a bit fancier . A coffee in a café cost about £4 to £5.
  • All the restaurants we ate in charged for using a credit card.
  • Danes seemed to eat quite early compared to other European countries.
  • Bottled water in the shops was very expensive – at least £2 for half a litre. It was actually cheaper to purchase iced water from street vendors  at just over £1.

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Architecture

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  • A relatively low rise city with very few high rise buildings – a little like Paris in that respect.

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  • The buildings were generally round about the same height, but in a mix of styles. there were no long rows of uniform buildings
  • A real mixture of styles – some neoclassical, a few neo-gothic and a few at nouveau. The majority were what I’d describe as Danish vernacular.
  • A lot of the old warehouses on the harbour side have been renovated and converted to new uses. They were quite distinctive with their massive roofs.

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  • Some very attractive modern public buildings

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Museums and Galleries

  • Plenty of museums and galleries dotted around the city and also nearby.
  • Most charge an entry fee but it was generally quite reasonable.
  • The galleries tended to open late in the morning, around 11 a.m.
  • Photographs were allowed in the galleries we visited.
  • The staff in the Museums were friendly and helpful and not overbearing – quite the opposite of Budapest which we visited last year.

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10 thoughts on “Impressions of Copenhagen

  1. The city looks lovely – as I imagined it. You were lucky about the weather…

    People always say how expensive Copenhagen is, and you confirmed that in relation to restaurants, but I was pleasantly surprised about the hotel prices: it means it can be possible to go and not to spend too much – holiday bills are always a large chunk of a holiday’s expenditure.

    I love the glass cube building – do you remember what it is?

    • The modern glass cube building is the “Black Diamond” http://en.danskarkitekturguide.dk/node/6855. It’s an extension to the Royal library (the Danish equivalent of the British Library). It’s a very modern extension to an older, traditional style building. Prince Charles eat your heart out!

      Like you, I think it’s a great building. There were some other really well designed modern buildings we saw – the Opera House and the Playhouse near Nyhaven (we stayed very close to the latter). These buildings are relatively low rise and well proportioned. The Danes don’t seem to go for the phallic constructions that have been popular elsewhere, such as the Shard in London.

  2. We went to Copenhagen a couple of years ago when we were on a Baltic cruise. Of all the cities we visited it was easily my favourite especially around Nyhaven. In the middle of the second photo is a church with a dome. We went right up to the gallery at the top of the come (at the bottom of the small tower bit). The steps just went on and on and got narrower and narrower! If anyone had a heart attack they’d have had major problems getting them down again!

    • The church with the dome is the “Marble church”, that isn’t actually made of marble! We went inside and had a look around, but didn’t go up the dome. This was possible at set times during the afternoon but neither of us has ahead for heights and there is no way I’d have got my wife up that dodgy staircase.

      There’s another church on Christianhaven (the other side of the sound), the Church of Our Saviour where you can climb up the outside of the spire and that looks really scary. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Church_of_Our_Saviour,_Copenhagen
      It features in a work by the video artist Jesper Just which we saw at the Baltic in Gateshead last year. It’s towards the end

  3. WOOOW IT’S SO PRETTY! thanks alot!
    Is it always this sunny? or did you happen to get lucky? haha
    I learned a lot:) and hopefully I’ll get to visit Copenhagen one day!
    I loved your comparisons!
    And what do you mean by the “Danish were friendly enough..”? I feel some doubt there haha

    • Hi Odile

      Thanks for your comments.

      We were lucky with the weather. Copenhagen is in northern Europe and like Britain the weather is, shall we say, variable in the summer! Anywhere looks nicer in the sunshine, but Copenhagen is an attractive city, although perhaps not as pretty as Stockholm.

      As for the people. Well as a tourist interaction is minimal and mainly restricted to hotel staff, waiters, museum staff and bus drivers. They were generally helpful but not as open as people in the north of England where I live. They are, perhaps, a little more reserved. But it’s difficult to make judgements from such brief encounters.

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