Before leaving Europe for Canada, I took the opportunity to go to a few European cities where I had not been before: Copenhagen, Maastricht, Madrid and Venice.
Going to Copenhagen is a great idea, and I will tell you about my three days in Copenhagen – they ended up full of hygge, cinnamon buns and coffee, because I found in the Danish capital the same coffee culture as in Melbourne and I really enjoyed it!
I absolutely wanted to visit Copenhagen and discover Scandinavia for the first time. I had found a very cheap flight Paris-Copenhagen for less than fifty euros in the midst of school holidays…. in February. Problem, it’s cold in Denmark in February but after all, after experimenting minus fifty degrees in Canada, the cold does not scare me!
I arrived in Copenhagen the day after a snowstorm and I was generally cold, because it was wet, and my camera got cold too, I had to charge the batteries every day. It was between zero degrees and minus ten degrees Celsius.
Find all my good addresses for a three-day visit to Copenhagen on the map below or use the summary to go directly to the part that interests you!
Table of Contents
- The trip to Copenhagen
- First day in Copenhagen
- Second day in Copenhagen
- Third day in Copenhagen
- My impressions after 3 days in Copenhagen
- Tips to visit Copenhagen
The trip to Copenhagen
I was lucky when I left Paris, the plane scheduled for the early evening was four hours late. I say “lucky”, because the delay was due to the airline: they forgot to charter a plane. This therefore fell within the legitimate reasons for compensating passengers. I managed to get 250 euros in compensation for this delay, which fully reimbursed my stay there. Life in Copenhagen is quite expensive and my 3 days there set me back 205 euros.
Note that in Denmark, they don’t use the euro! If you are going to visit Copenhagen, you will need to change currency and pay with Danish kroner.
In short, instead of arriving at 9 p.m. in Copenhagen, I arrived after midnight. I was reassured that the metro runs all night and I chose a youth hostel whose reception desk was open all night. On the other hand… if the reception is open all night, it’s because the hostel housed a huge bar. After all my Australian experiences, I thought I was able to recognize a party hostel from the Internet listing, but in fact not. So I do not recommend you to sleep there!
First day in Copenhagen
Due to lack of sleep (my room was on the first floor directly above the bar) and noisy roommates, I did something new: get up at seven, have the free breakfast (the main reason of my choice of this hostel for the cost of living in Copenhagen) and leave early.
Before 9am, after about fifteen minutes of walking, I arrived in Nyhavn, absolutely deserted. There were no tourists, just snow, it was perfect.
The city center
I continued walking and went for a coffee at Original Coffee on the rooftop of the Illum department store, to pass the time before going on a free walking tour.
In general, I love free walking tours, they are the best possible introduction to a city, its culture, its geography, its people, its history in an hour or two. I did it everywhere, from Berlin to Halifax to Kuala Lumpur and it was in Copenhagen for the first time in my life that I left without paying.
Already, we were more than a hundred people and there were only two guides available. So that made fifty people per group… Difficult to follow, listen, exchange in these conditions. The duration of the visit has been reduced from 3 hours to 2:30 hours. But above all, the guide had an almost racist humour, he adapted his jokes to the nationality of his visitors and he was bashing other Scandinavian countries. It didn’t really make me laugh.
I only liked the part around the Royal Palace. We stood freely in the middle of the Palace, open to the public, without guard or police presence. The place is part of the city and is accessible like any street. The Danish royal family lives alongside its citizens without protecting themselves from them.
After this disappointing free walking tour, I took the way to Mormors, to eat a delicious salmon sandwich. I then went to see the Marble Church , Frederik’s Church , which is a Rococo evangelist church. Yes, you read that right. It is not really usual to find so many ornaments in a Protestant church!
I then continued to walk, passing notably by the Danish Parliament. Like the city center, it is completely free to access and is even a fairly convenient shortcut. Copenhagen is beautiful, golden under the blue sky, everything is refined.
My final destination was the Glyptotek , a museum – art gallery that is free on Tuesdays (their website). The crowd was really reasonable and I loved my visit. Lockers are available, so no need to burden yourself with your big coat, and you can just enjoy it.
There is everything, a palm grove, statues, Greco-Roman art, fabulous tiles, temporary and permanent exhibitions. During my visit, the temporary exhibition housed Degas dancers.
My first day ended after visiting Glyptotek. Night falls early in winter in Copenhagen, I went to pick some groceries for dinner and spent the evening at the hostel.
Second day in Copenhagen
The little Mermaid
Quite motivated by how getting up early the day before allowed me to discover Nyhavn without tourists, I decided to repeat the experience to go this time see the statue of the Little Mermaid . The statue is a bit far off the city center but the walk along the river is very pleasant. I was all alone, there was absolutely no one anywhere.
And yes, at 9 a.m. in Copenhagen in the morning, the winter light makes the Little Mermaid backlit!
I went back the next day on a boat cruise and the Little Mermaid was surrounded by tourists. It’s a popular spot, I don’t regret going early, the difference was striking.
The Little Mermaid was also vandalized few months after my trip!
The Copenhagen Citadel
To walk back to downtown Copenhagen, I decided not to take the same path and I choose to go through the Citadel. This is probably the least favourite moment of my 3 days in Copenhagen.
It was still pretty early – probably around 9 a.m. – and I was absolutely all alone in the middle of the military barracks. Of course, Denmark is a safe and secure country, but I did not feel comfortable, it felt like trespassing, I quickly left the place.
St Paul’s Gate
St Paul’s Gate / Sankt Pauls Gade in Danish is a lovely part of Copenhagen that looks like London and where life seems to stop. It is a few steps from a very busy street and yet there is no more noise, neither that of cars nor that of the city. The streets are cobbled and everything invites a neighborhood life.
I love castles, that’s why I went to visit Rosenborg Castle. This castle was finished in 1633 and was the royal residence from that date to 1710 (ie not long ago). But the then ruler decided to make it the museum of royal collections, which Rosenborg still is today.
This is where you will see the Danish Crown Jewels!
The castle is very, very Renaissance: everything is dark, from the wood to the hangings. There is brown, burgundy, it’s not very colorful. But the visit is pleasant, the leaflets are complete and there are not too many people.
After my visit to Rosenborg Castle, I headed to Torvehallerne Market for a bite to eat. I really liked this space, big, airy, pleasant.
I followed the same diet the whole time I was in Copenhagen: a salmon sandwich (Smørrebrød), a cinnamon wrap (Kanel Snegle) and a black coffee!
Climb to the top of Parliament
The penultimate stage of this already busy second day in Copenhagen: I climbed to the top of Parliament . When I visit a new city, I always look for a tower to see the city from above.
In Copenhagen, there are three possibilities, but the Parliament seemed the best: with its 106 meters, it is the tallest tower in the city, it was open even in winter and it’s free (more info here).
The Copenhagen Botanical Gardens
And to end this day, I went to the Copenhagen Botanical Gardens. I would have liked to warm up in the greenhouses – I had just visited Serres d’Auteuil in Paris – but unfortunately it was closed. The garden was accessible and it’s a walk that made me want to come back in summer!
Visiting the greenhouse is now longer free – you will find all the practical information on the website of the University of Copenhagen, which manages the botanical garden.
Third day in Copenhagen
For this last day in Copenhagen, I had to slow down: both because of the weather – the blue sky had given way to gloomy, gray and humid weather – and also because I had to return to Paris!
I started the day by going to Nyhavn, again, because that’s where the cruises depart from in the port of Copenhagen .
I paid 70 crowns for this cruise. I believe I had found a promotional flyer at my hostel, because in 2020 an hour by boat now costs 105 crowns.
But before getting on the boat, I had another cinnamon roll.
Going on a cruise allows you to have another vision of a city, like climbing to the top of a tower, it’s something I like to do if possible. In Budapest, in Halifax, it’s always a good experience.
The contrast between the more classical architecture and the modern one of the Copenhagen Opera House or the library is fascinating.
Walk in Vesterbro
I spent the afternoon walking around the Vesterbro neighborhood . My goal was to reach the elephant statues of Calsberg but I didn’t have time! Vesterbro looked like the hipster part of Copenhagen, but it was quite quiet in the rain.
Coming back to the city center, I found Tivoli and more urban poetry.
And I went for a cheesecake at Bertels’ (here’s their website to drool over the pictures, unless you understand Danish). And after these three very busy days, I left Copenhagen to return to Paris!
My impressions after 3 days in Copenhagen
- the city is architecturally, historically and culturally rich
- free admission to certain tourist sites
- everyone speaks English
- the coffee and cakes (obviously)
I enjoyed less:
- the cost of living, everything is expensive and VAT reaches 25%
- the coldness of people, that seems like rudeness at times
- construction everywhere, I don’t know if it’s like that all the time or if I haven’t been lucky!
- and the noise level. Copenhagen is not a quiet city, except on the waterfront.
Tips to visit Copenhagen
There are a few tourist spots that I excluded from my itinerary in Copenhagen:
- the Tivoli amusement park, which was closed for the winter,
- and the Christiana district. Christiana is an autonomous city within Copenhagen, which until recently had its own currency and laws. The sale of cannabis is tolerated there but personally it is not something that attracts me so I did not go at all.
I also almost visited the Design Museum but a visit to the souvenir shop reminded me that no, actually design and furniture are not really my cup of tea either! The tour must be cool for the amateurs though.
The Norrebro neighborhood was also on my list, but visit Copenhagen in three days is not much and choices must be choices!
The Copenhagen metro is 24 hours a day. A ticket from the airport to the city center costs 36 crowns, but don’t forget to validate it. I didn’t have to take the metro the rest of the time, only getting around on foot.
Everyone speaks English everywhere.
What are you waiting for? Go visit Copenhagen!