1st Suggestion: Culture Vultures (4-5hrs inc travel)
National Art Gallery (1-2 hrs)
From the Langelinie cruise pier; catch the no 26 bus which will drop you opposite the impressive front of the Statens Museum for Kunst or national art museum.
Entrance is free, although there is a charge for special exhibitions – there’s plenty to see without going into these.
Go up to the 2nd floor where information in English is provided. The museum is organised in a very engaging way – artists are unexpectedly exhibited together with links drawn between them eg Rubens and Mortensen where the link is how they put colours and forms together. Rubens ‘does’ religion, Mortensen focuses on emotions and spirituality through abstract representation, but for both the link is the contrast between the central form and the rest.
The Danish collection is organised into themes eg science, religion and there are two huge rooms brilliantly filled with oil paintings.
Rosenborg Slot (1 hr)
Come out of the museum, cross the road and walk through the Kongens Have, the park that surrounds the Rosenborg Slot. The Rosenborg Slot is a pretty fairytale style castle that was originally a summerhouse built by Christian IV. The rooms are open to be viewed and the Danish Crown Jewels are housed here. There is a mini changing of the guard ceremony, which is heralded by a flautist accompanying the arriving and departing guards. Worth a visit & the park is lovely for catching a breath of fresh air and people watching! More information can be found at dkks.dk/english/.
Catch the 6A bus from outside Kongens Have (opposite Statens Museum for Kunst) to Radhuspladsen (Town Hall square) Walk along Hans Christian Boulevard with Tivoli gardens on your right. After a few minutes you’ll see The Glyptotek on the same side of the road as Tivoli.
Glyptotek means ‘collection of statues’ – and that’s mainly what is here! There are large collections of Greek, Roman and Egyptian statuary as well as collections of paintings representing Danish art as well as the early impressionists including Van Gogh, Manet, Matisse, Monet and Renoir amongst many others. Lovely winter garden just beyond the entrance.
2nd Suggestion: Royalty & history (3 – 4 hrs)
From the cruise dock at Langelinie, walk along the road with the sea to your left, pass The Little Mermaid statue, and continue as close to the harbour side as you can along Langelinie to reach the Gefion Fountain which represents the fable of the goddess Gefion ploughing enough land to form the island of Zealand.
Amalienborg (1hr including the walk, plus another 30 mins if you go into the palace)
Walk along the Esplanaden and take the first left into Amaliegade & this will lead you to Amalienborg – the hexagonal plaza that has the 4 royal palaces grouped around it. The 4 Rococo palaces were built in the 1750s and taken over by Frederik V after the Christianborg Palace burned down in 1794. The royal family still live here, mainly in the winter. Have a look at http://dkks.dk/the-amalienborg-museum-2 for more information.
Changing of the guard is at 12 noon each day – they look very similar to the guards at Buckingham Palace, except all in blue rather than red.
One of the palaces is open to the public & has a series of rooms set up as they would have been in times gone by. There are also collections of royal gifts and clothes.
There is a new park called Amaliehaven, a fountain and views of the Opera House over the harbour, as well as the Marble Church.
Marble Church (20 mins)
Marmorkirken is really called Frederikskirken. The dome was inspired by the one on S Peters in Rome and has a diameter of 102ft (31 metres) it is possible to climb up into the dome at 1pm and 3pm during the summer.
This church asks for silence as you enter & it really is a very beautiful and spiritual place – well worth a visit.
Round the outside of the church are 14 huge statues that represent prominent Danish Church Fathers.
30 minute walk (slow pace!)
From here walk along Bredgarde to Kongens Nytorv. You’ll see the Royal Theatre here. Pass along Stroget, take the second left into Nikolaj Gade, pass Nikolaj church, continue to the end and turn right onto Holmens Kanal, follow down, cross the bridge and ahead, to the right, you should see the island of Slotsholmen which houses the Christianborg palace.
This is where Copenhagen started! It was a small fishing village in the 11th century. The Danish Parliament now sits here.
The ruins under the palace are hugely interesting and will tell you everything you ever needed to know about those early days, plus quite a lot about how the role of fire in shaping the Danish royal homes!
3rd Suggestion: Shopping (can’t put a time on this – you know how long you’ll spend in each place!!)
This is Copenhagen’s Oxford St! Designer through to cheap and cheerful. Broadly speaking, the high end stores are close to Kongens Nytorv – the Illum department store is very lovely (and has nice loos!) The Royal Copenhagen shop sells the famous crockery and has opportunities on the top floor to have a go at painting under the teaching of one of the experts. You can even design and paint your own egg if you’re just there for the day, or a plate if you’re there overnight.
The Rundetarn has a huge spiral slope that Czar Peter the Great rode all the way up to the top on his horse with his wife following behind in her carriage! You’ll have to walk though – great views and exhibitions.
In the streets around the Round Tower, you’ll find the little independent design shops. Often run as co-operatives, we went into one shared by 6 artists, where they took it in turns to man the shop and explain the goodies on display. You’ll definitely find something original round here!
4th Suggestion: Hans Christian Anderson (4 – 5 hrs)
Hans Christian Anderson wasn’t born in Copenhagen, but lived there for most of his life and this is where he did his writing.
Little Mermaid (20 mins to get there and have a look)
The most famous statue in Copenhagen is ‘The Little Mermaid’. This was donated by the Carlsberg brewery in 1913 – but there have been several versions since as it regularly gets vandalised. It is surprisingly small, and best viewed from the water – so you could do a canal tour – a great way to see the sights. Catch a tour from Nyhavn. Otherwise, have a look from the land. Very close to the cruise ship pier at Langelinie – just follow the path along the harbourside. The sightseeing bus also goes past and stops for a photo opportunity.
Walk to the main road, round the Kastellet and its moat and take the 26 bus. Get off at Dronningens Tvaergade as it turns into Bredgade. The next sight along here is Marmorkirken, the Marble Church – which is worth a look.
Otherwise, go in the opposite direction towards Nyhavn.
Nyhavn (20 mins to get here, 20 mins to have a look & an icecream)
HCA spent most of his life living here. Initially on the 2nd floor of no.20, where he wrote the first fairy tales.- including The Tinderbox. Between 1845 and 1864 he lived with a family in no.67 and then spent the last years of his life at no.20
From here, walk across Kongens Nytorv, past the statue of Christian V, towards Stroget. Walk along this huge shopping street and take a right onto Købmagergade.
until you come into a small square in which stands The Round Tower (20 mins to walk)
The Rundetarn (Round Tower) (30 mins – you have to get your breath back at the top!)
Huge spiral slope inside takes you to the top and great views plus exhibitions. There was a university library at the top of this where HCA worked and was allowed to borrow books by a sympathetic librarian.
Retrace your steps to Stroget, and continue walking along it until you reach the town hall, or Radhuspladsen. (Great astronomical clock in there!)
This is Hans Christian Anderson Boulevard.
Statue (20 mins to get here)
This is one of just two statues to HCA in Copenhagen. Close by there is a HCA experience – don’t bother – it really is quite dull! Instead – cross over the road and go into
Tivoli Gardens (at least 2 hrs – otherwise not worth paying to get in!)
This is the no.1 tourist attraction in the city, and if you are staying overnight – go when dusk is falling as this is when it is at it’s most magical. The Danes are given to reminiscing about their childhood memories of Tivoli, and they regard it very fondly. HCA was reputed to have been there on the opening day and it is said that he wrote ‘The Nightingale’ inspired by a performance he saw there.
The Flying Trunk is one of the gentle rides in the park – you ride in a trunk, looking at various scenes from the HCAs stories. There is also a Hans Christian Anderson shop and the Hans Christian Anderson Castle.
Tivoli opens at 11am each day and has an entry charge of 95 DKK (about £10.50) you then pay additionally for ach ride or attraction, although there is quite a lot to do for free.
Copenhagen Card – DKK 229 (2010) which is about £26