Cruise Port Pocket Guide Series: Copenhagen, Denmark
Colourfully traditional and seriously sophisticated, Copenhagen has that ‘wow’ factor you dream about, on an adventure abroad. The quaint, cobbled streets conjure fairy tales, while industrial-style bars, restaurants and buildings give it a trendy, modern edge.
You’re in luck if Copenhagen is on your cruise itinerary and you want to see the sights independently of an organised tour. It’s a delightfully walkable city, within easy reach of the four cruise terminals.
You can catch a local bus to the city centre or, if you’re at the Langelinie Pier terminal you can easily walk, with a stop at the famous Little Mermaid statue on your way to town.
From the same terminal, you’ll find Hop-On Hop-Off Buses offering various routes. This is a fantastic option for those wanting to see all the important sights, without wearing out your shoes. The average cost is approximately £29 and it’s a good idea to do a full one or two hour loop on board, then hop off at the stops you find most appealing.
If you want to simply relax and take it all in, a canal and harbour boat cruise offers a visual feast of the city from a different vantage point. Over an hour or so, you’ll glide by the Copenhagen Opera House, Amalienborg Palace, Christiansborg Palace, the Black Diamond Library and the Little Mermaid statue. Boats leave from various stops, including Nyhavn or Gammel Strand.
Packed your walking shoes and can’t wait to wear them out? Let’s start at the famous theme park, the Tivoli Gardens, which is easy to reach via taxi and bus from the terminals or elsewhere in town. Across from the shrill bells and delighted screams, you’ll find the bustling Town Hall Square, City Hall with a bell tower and the statue of Danish author, Hans Christian Anderson.
Heading towards the city centre, you can visit the National Gallery of Denmark and see Christiansborg Palace. For a storybook scene, cross the bridge into Christianshavn, full of cosy cafes, bars and friendly locals. It’s also the gateway to the hippy free town of Christiania, but be careful not to chill out too much and lose track of the time!
Your next stop can be colourful Nyhavn, which means ‘new harbour’, however it’s packed full of historical stories. Apart from once being a disreputable port full of drunken sailors, Hans Christian Anderson lived here, so it’s possibly the inspiration for countless famous fairy tales.
For that postcard Copenhagen photo, try different angles from the bridge and from both sides of the canal. You can’t go wrong and this is the shot you want for your social media update to friends at home. Nyhavn is one of the most picturesque spots to stop for a bite to eat and, though it’s a little pricey, the atmosphere and quality makes it worth it.
If it’s nearly midday though, hold your hunger for a moment and walk just a few minutes to Amalienborg Palace, just in time to see the Changing of the Guards. The home of the Danish Royal family is made up of four identical buildings and the sight is an atmospheric experience.
If you’re a quick walker and you’ve already checked out the main sites by the early afternoon, there’s plenty more to see, including Rosenborg Castle, Strøget for shopping, Glyptotek Fine-Art Museum and the Church of Our Saviour. However, if you want to spend your last hour or so soaking up the vibe of Copenhagen, find one of many scrumptious bakeries, splurge on your favourite and head to a lush grassy patch on the waterfront.