This time two years ago, I was on my way to a spontaneous trip to Copenhagen. The spring term had just started, and on Friday of week one, we hopped on an Uber to go to the airport as quickly as possible. I finished my last lecture of the day at 6pm, and the flight was to depart at 8.45pm. I had to hurry back to my room, get my stuff, and leave. This was the beginning of a weekend in Denmark. We were delighted to find out that it was snowing there!
As we had limited time in the city and wanted to see as much of it as we could, we decided to go on a walking tour. It was a free walking tour in English that departed from the City Hall and lasted about 2.5 hours. It was freezing and snowing outside (-2oC) but we had a 30-minute break in a warm café near Nyhavn, the famous harbour in Copenhagen. We ate quickly and then headed out to the snow for more photos.
The highlight of the tour was the Little Mermaid, a small bronze sculpture inspired by a fairy-tale by H. C. Andersen. We also passed Amalienborg, the residence of the Danish royal family, where we learned the reasons the Danes are considered the happiest citizens, despite not seeing much sun and paying huge taxes. (Hint: it’s because they receive many services for free. For example, medical treatment).
“The Danes are considered the happiest citizens, despite not seeing much sun and paying huge taxes”
You can find these kind of tours in different European cities (we took one in Kraków as well), and they are really good if you want something cheap. Although they are named “free”, you are expected to give a tip at the end, based on how much you liked it. But again, it will cost less than going on a proper walking/sightseeing tour. Another advantage of such tours is that the guide wants to make a good impression to get more tips, so you can assume that he/she will be friendly, funny, etc. My advice on tipping is to give half the amount you would give on a paid tour per person.
In the afternoon, we visited the Guinness World Records Museum, an interesting small museum featuring information about worldwide records. After that, we walked around the city centre and then returned to the hotel, as it was as cold as -6oC at night, the lowest temperature I had ever experienced.
On our second and last day, we decided to visit the Tower of Christiansborg Palace for the views across Copenhagen. The weather was nice: it was sunny and everything was covered in snow, and we could enjoy some great views. The entrance to the tower was also free.
Our next stop was Christiania, in the area of Christianshavn. The district has its own interesting story with hippies and conflicts between the locals and the government that is worth keeping in mind before visiting. After that, we collected our luggage from the hotel and headed to the airport. The quickest and cheapest way was by train.
In general, Copenhagen is an expensive city, but with a bit of planning and a few free attractions in mind, you can see a lot for less. Of course, there are many more things to do: there are many interesting museums and palaces to explore, and don’t forget the Tivoli Park, Copenhagen’s most known amusement park. Unfortunately, even though our hotel was five minutes away from the park, it was closed for winter.
There are more bikes in Copenhagen than people! Copenhagen is a bike-friendly city and renting a bike is the cheapest way to move around.
Ed: For more travel stories and tips, visit Elina’s blog at empnefsysandtravel.com