Scandinavia is notoriously expensive, but don’t let that put you off visiting this region of the world because if you’re smart you can quite easily visit many of the big cities on tight funds.
Last week I popped across the waters to Copenhagen with £200.00 in my pocket, on an Easyjet flight that cost me £56.93 return. And I have to say I was blown away by the city.
It’s strange to have fallen in love so much with Copenhagen, because I actually did live there for a couple of years when I was a child. I moved back to the UK when I was 10, and I have really fond memories of my childhood in Denmark. But for some reason I’ve never returned since the day we moved back home.
So with a bit of familiarity I went back to my childhood playground, and really enjoyed the city for what it is. A clean, beautiful, thriving metropolis.
Not only is this a great city to visit with friends, but it’s also ridiculously child friendly- something that obviously bypassed me in my youth. There are toilets with changing facilities all over the city. And they’re all really well maintained. The Danish take pride in their city and it shows.
^^ The Danes sunbathe, picnic and play with their children in the City graveyards. To them it’s just open space. This particular graveyard is the resting place of Hans Christian Anderson.
For those of you travelling with wheels, the Danes have your well-being at heart. The popular prams used by the Danish are huge. They don’t change from bassinet to toddler seat, they just have the toddler seat lifted up in the bassinet ‘old skool style’. I saw many of the vintage looking Silver Cross prams being pushed- something which is rare in the UK simply because not everywhere is pram friendly. But with lifts and easy access for everyone in the capital, there’s no need to go compact and light with your pram if you don’t want to (also this makes the city disabled friendly).
If you’re a keen cycler, this is a really bike friendly city. With a special rail on most steps to slot your bike wheels into, it’s easy going up and down stairs if you don’t want to use the lifts. And all trains are equipped with the ability to hold loads of bikes as well. Most of the roads have cycle lanes, and unlike Amsterdam there’s a clear, easy and laid back attitude to cycling.
To make the experience as cheap as possible, try to plan as much of your itinerary into as few days as possible. We spent three full days and two nights in Copenhagen and we managed a nice leisurely break and ticked many things off our lists. By keeping the trip short it meant we saved on accommodation. But to be fair we found ourselves a steal with the Copenhagen Downtown Hostel. For £69.00 each for a private ensuite triple room with free dinner every night we were onto a winner.
The rooms are basic and compact, but perfectly comfortable.
^^ Loads of plug sockets too. We had 5 in our room.
And the hostel was atmospheric and full of great people. There were younger travellers, older travellers, travellers with families and lone travellers. Every kind of person possible was at the hostel. If you do travel with children, I’d request a room away from the street as the noise can get quite loud in the evenings where the bar stays open until the very early hours.
^^ Playing card games on the first night.
The hostel itself was stylish and there were some great touches particularly in the communal areas. They even have a kitchen for you to use if you want to do your own cooking, saving even more money. Breakfast is all you can eat for £6.50.
On our second day, if you take a look at my Snapshot of Copenhagen post, you’ll notice we really jam-packed our itinerary. To be honest, it’s because that was the day we hired bikes from the hostel, costing £8.00 for the day. We managed to experience so much of Copenhagen that day, with The Little Mermaid and the free state of Christiania being free, it meant we saved quite a lot as well.
I do have to say if you do intend to visit Christiania just be aware that it’s basically a haven for cannabis smokers. I’m not a smoker myself, but I was interested in seeing how the community works as a whole. They are anti hard drugs, don’t tolerate violence, racism or homophobia and love yoga and meditation. I thought I’d love it for its freedom, but actually I really disliked it, and it’s not somewhere I’d want to bring my child under any circumstance. In fact I was disturbed to see people raise their children within the community because it wasn’t quite the happy free state I thought it was going to be.
^^ Steps upto someones house.
While the surrounding area of Christiania was quite interesting; with large graffiti and buildings made from recycled wares, the main street that runs through the state is known as Pusher Street. And I felt so uncomfortable walking down the street. The smell of cannabis was so strong, and the sellers all had black balaclavas on. You can’t take photos down that one street- probably because the selling of cannabis is actually still illegal in Denmark (but the police tend to overlook it most of the time) and the sellers are all quite paranoid (figures) and it just wasn’t a nice experience.
After walking down that street we decided to get straight back on our bikes and return to an area we liked. Nyhvan.
This harbour is beautiful. It’s social and the Danes love to chat and have a drink while dangling their legs off the harbours edge. With loads of restaurants there are many places to eat, but instead of paying over the odds for food, this is the place to pick up some great street food. At the beginning of Nyhavn is a small street market where they sell some delicious food.
With a chorizo sausage, a couple of pieces of pork, some chicken all barbecued and sat upon some fresh bread and a fresh salad you can’t go wrong. Stick your legs over the water’s edge and enjoy a feast!
This is also the place to grab a boat around the waterways of Copenhagen as well (£4.00 an adult, £1.50 a child). But if you want to splash the cash a little bit for something spectacular make sure you consider Go Boat next to Islands Brygge Harbour.
With Go Boat you are able to navigate your own solar-powered picnic boat around the harbours and canals. You don’t need any experience to navigate the boats and it was one of our favourite experiences of our trip. The boats can hold a maximum of 8 people and are charged by the hour and not the person. We rented a boat for an hour at £40.00. If you can, order a huge picnic from Go Boat and stay on the boat for two or three hours. We had a few Corona’s on our little jaunt but we did enviously look on as a family stepped onto their boat with a massive picnic hamper, huge lobsters and a big bottle of something delicious.
^^ My Titanic moment.
Although we didn’t get the chance, it’s worth staying around Islands Brygge Harbour to enjoy some open air swimming with some beautiful people. The pools are actually part of the canal and there are a variety of 5 pools to play with. Two pools are specifically for children with one of them having a water depth of only 30cm. And there’s also a diving pool with a wooden tower where you can jump off at different heights.
Tivoli is a must for everyone. Children will love it, and adults will be enchanted by it. It’s a 19th century amusement park that has something for everyone. It’s open during the day but it’s worth visiting at night as well because it’s just so beautiful when it’s all lit up.
Hans Christian Anderson (the guy behind most of the fairy tales) and Walt Disney were big fans of Tivoli and no doubt it had a large impact on their work individually. You can pay to visit Tivoli for just £10.00 (over 8 years old) but that doesn’t include any of the rides. For an additional £21.00 you can go on all the rides as many times as you like, or if you prefer you can buy tickets for the rides individually. But some rides; as we found out, require three tickets (between one and three tickets depending on the type of ride), so perhaps find out which ones you want to go on and weigh up costings. It’s quite pricey but worth it. We bought three individual tickets and went on one ride- the oldest running wooden rollercoaster in the world, it was built in 1914. It was so much fun. It was exhilarating and worth it.
On your final day buy a 24 hour city pass for £8.00 from the train station and head to Valby (if you have children under the age of 12 it might be worth buying the 24hr all zones ticket for £13.00 but offers free travel for two children). This train ticket will also get you back to the airport later on as well- and anywhere else you might want to visit within zones 1-4.
Valby is actually the area I used to live in, so I thought I might recognise the train station and be able to navigate my way home. But no, either my memory is lacking or its massively changed since I was little.
In Valby is the Cisternerne. A creepy cave within the city. The Cisterns used to hold the drinking water for the Danish capital. It costs £5.00 to go in and is worth it for the scare factor. With rather chilling music playing and the pathways all glowing and water falling from the ceilings, it’s quite atmospheric in a ‘please don’t leave me behind’ kind of way.
Across the road from the Cisternerne’s is the amazing Copenhagen Zoo.
I don’t think I went here as a child, and really my parents should hang their heads in shame because it’s spectacular. It’s £17.00 for an adult to go in and £9.50 for children from the age of 3-11. I felt like everyone had the chance to see the animals close up and without restrictive barriers and fences.
^^ The pool space was amazing with underwater viewing available. The polar bear spent ages playing in the water. For an amazing photo of him make sure to check out my previous post.
The animals had appropriate space and freedom and were obviously well looked after.
With many baby animals running around and some kinky iguanas hoping to reproduce (much to the dismay of all the monkeys they were homed with), the zoo programme is obviously healthy and homes happy animals. For children there were interactive games for them to get involved in, and a great farm area for them to get hands on.
Walking around I was quite sad that I didn’t have my Son with me, because this is the kind of zoo that I think every child would love and be enamoured with.
Copenhagen is more affordable than you think. It’s a city worth visiting for everyone, there’s something for all ages and it’s just beautiful. I’m really quite sad I didn’t get to live there for longer when I was younger. Both my Sister and I loved growing up in Denmark. And you can see why it’s voted the happiest country in the world. Everything is just so stress free.
I hope this post has given you some insight into Copenhagen. Just so you know there is also a Copenhagen card that offers unlimited public transportation and free entry into 72 attractions. 72 hours costs £59.00 per adult and £30.00 per child, it’s worth checking it against individual prices and seeing which one is most cost-effective.