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Die kleine Meerjungfrau von Kopenhagen, Bild: footageclips / shutterstock

Copenhagen – between cosmopolitan flair and island idyll

Where Scandinavian elegance is combined with Central European joie de vivre lies “Wonderful Copenhagen”. The Danish capital Copenhagen is the largest, most fun-loving and most permissive city in Scandinavia. On the eastern shore of the island of Zealand on the Øresund, Copenhagen exudes a very special atmosphere. How could it be otherwise? The famous Little Mermaid greets us from the waters and the royal family also cultivates a carefree lifestyle close to the people.
Copenhagen was founded in 1167 on the Øresund by Bishop Absolon of Roskilde and is now one of the most charming cities in the world.

Welcome to a relaxed, cosmopolitan atmosphere, with fun-loving people in a historic, cozy metropolis!

Exploring a charming port city

Copenhagen, Børsen
The Old Stock Exchange (Børsen), Image: foto-select / shutterstock

The history of Copenhagen in Denmark begins in the 11th century. Once a small fishing village, Copenhagen was granted city rights in 1254. Despite the destruction by the Hanseatic League (1368), the city developed into a flourishing trading centre. In 1445, King Christoffer elevated Copenhagen to the capital and residence city. With many stately buildings, Christian IV gave the city its present face in essential parts.

History and tradition meet the traveller at every turn in the residential city. The atmosphere is open-minded and yet pleasantly tranquil. The framework for this is the spacious city architecture with the patina of the castles as well as churches and palaces of a centuries-old royal residence, the proximity of the sea with a network of canals and waterways, many parks and green spaces and, last but not least, the cheerful, informal way of life of the Danes.

Copenhagen, Nyhavn
Nyhavn, the “New Harbour” in Copenhagen, Image: Nattee Chalermtiragool / shutterstock

Thanks to its spacious city location, Copenhagen could afford to do without the supposed blessing of progress in recent years. It defended itself against clear-cutting in favor of traffic as well as against excesses of modern architecture. The city stands unparalleled for a sensible urban development policy. Although it houses five castles, it is easier to find a parking space in Copenhagen’s city center than in Frankfurt or Hanover.

Most of the sights can be easily reached on foot.

Before we start from the busy town hall square, the city’s landmark should be mentioned first. It is as inconspicuous as it is amiable: For over 100 years, the “Little Mermaid” has been greeting people at Copenhagen Harbour. It is reminiscent of the fairy tale of the same name by the Danish writer Hans Christian Andersen. She waits longingly for her prince at the entrance to the harbor and appears almost melancholy.

Stroll through the shopping district

Around the clock, the Rathausplatz is the beating heart of the city. The square is dominated by the town hall, built between 1892 and 1905, which is partly based on the Italian Renaissance and partly medieval Danish architecture and has a 105-metre-high tower. The building is richly decorated with paintings and sculptures. The golden figure above the portal shows the city’s founder Absolon. In fact, the bronze statue of the fairy tale writer Andersen right next to the town hall is more popular as a photo motif.

Copenhagen, Axel Towers
The Axel Towers, Image: Sun_Shine / shutterstock

From the Town Hall Square, the famous Strøget shopping street runs right through the centre.
In addition to many art and cultural sites, Europe’s largest pedestrian zone is offered. The first name Strøget means “dash” in English and is the collective name for Nygade, Gammeltorv, Frederiksberggade, Vimmelskafftet, Østergade and Amagertorv. Soon you come across flagship stores of major Danish brands. On the way, you linger at the playful Caritas fountain. Only a few steps further is the “Vor Frue Kirke” – Copenhagen’s cathedral. On Købma Straight, a street also lined with shops, the Round Tower (Rundetårn) from 1642 offers a ravishing view over Copenhagen’s rooftops. On the almost two-kilometre-long “Strøget”, countless restaurants and cafés in charming town houses enchant you. The road ends at Kongens Nyrtov. All around, magnificent facades are impressive. The luxury Hotel d’Angleterre, the Magasin du Nord department store and the headquarters of all the city’s important stages such as the “Kongelige Teater” and the “Kunsthall Charlottenburg” form an overwhelming backdrop.

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If you then cross Andersen Boulevard, you will first come to the House of the Federation of Austrian Industries. Behind it is the world-famous Tivoli amusement park, whose main entrance is in Vesterbrogade. A visit is particularly recommended in the evening. The park, which is always festively decorated, attracts visitors with carousels, artistry, pantomime, cafés, restaurants and countless entertainment venues. As a popular meeting place for Copenhageners from children to retirement age and countless tourists, the park convinces with a unique, lively atmosphere. The colourful hustle and bustle never seems intrusive, but authentic and cheerful.

Royal and maritime corners

Copenhagen
Image: CatalinT / shutterstock

Right next to Charlottenburg Palace, the view opens up to the New Harbour surrounded by ancient gabled houses. The colourful houses are lined up on Nyhavn. The “father” of the Little Mermaid, Hans Christian Andersen, lived in the area. Nyhavn, from where the boats depart for a city tour, was once Copenhagen’s notorious district. A last nostalgic whiff of the old harbour red light can still be felt. Today, the numerous small colorful houses form a particularly charming part of the city, with inns, bars and tattoo parlors. It is still common among seafarers to get tattoos here.

Nearby, Amalienborg Palace opens its palace gates. The Copenhagen residence of the Danish ruling house and seat of the queen is surrounded by four wings, formerly separate noble palaces. The centre of the square is decorated with the equestrian statue of Frederik V (1771).

The changing of the guard is daily at 12 noon. The soldiers march photogenically towards the Schlossplatz – behind them the massive dome of the Marmorkirken, built between 1746 and 1894.

Now it is not far to the imposing Gefion Fountain at the carefully restored castle. The oldest parts of the former citadel date back to 1625.

Entertainment in the trendy districts

Copenhagen
View of Copenhagen, Image: S-F/shutterstock

At the northwestern end of the pedestrian zone, Nørreport Station is an ideal starting point for further exploration. Just around the corner, Rosenborg Castle stands idyllically in one of Copenhagen’s most popular parks. The state rooms inside are decorated with precious gold and silver ornaments, huge lion sculptures and valuable tapestries.

Nevertheless, you are standing at the gates of the market hall “Torvehallerne KBH”.

Also worth seeing is the multi-cultural district of Nørrebo, a little further from the centre, full of exotic restaurants, with young, wild designer shops and crammed antique shops.
Opposite is the Christianshavn district, which looks almost Dutch with its canals.

One of Copenhagen’s most famous neighborhoods is undoubtedly the alternative “Free State” Christiania. In 1971, the hippies occupied the then unused military site.

In the north, the old naval base Holmen adjoins and inspires with listed buildings, noble apartments and cultural institutions.

Vesterbro is the cult district behind the train station. Within a few years, the hotspot district became a lively jewel box of urban life.

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It is said that Copenhagen’s pavement does not make you tired when strolling. This is also desirable if you want to visit and marvel at all the things worth seeing, bizarre, magnificent and dreamy about the city. This also includes a brilliant museum landscape.

The most important museums in Copenhagen at a glance:

  • With modern museum concepts, the National Museum guides visitors through Denmark’s history and provides excellent insights into the prehistoric era – from the Stone Age to the Viking Age. Children love the large area, which allows a playful journey through cultures and eras.
  • One of the most important collections of ancient sculptures from Greece, Egypt, and Rome is home to the
    Ny Carlsberg Glyptotek
    .
  • With an exciting mix of old and modern parts of Danish art from all eras, Denmark’s national gallery “Statens Museum for Kunst” attracts visitors.
  • Denmark’s crown jewels can be admired at Rosenborg Castle. In addition, the Rosenborg Museum provides exciting insights into the 300-year-old history of the monarchy.

The dance steps of the guards in front of Amalienburg Castle and the picturesque fish market remain unforgettable. The tower of the Church of the Redeemer with the curious outer spiral staircase, the gigantic architecture of Grundtvig’s Church, Christiansborg Palace, the old drawbridge “Knippelsbro” and much more – Copenhagen has a lasting effect.

Facts about Copenhagen

  1. Copenhagen has a population of about 790,000 inhabitants and is the largest city in Denmark.
  2. Copenhagen is one of the oldest cities in Europe and was founded in the 12th century.
  3. The city is known for its cycling culture and has an extensive network of bike lanes that make it easy for residents and visitors to get around in an environmentally friendly way.
  4. The most famous attraction in Copenhagen is the Little Mermaid, a bronze statue inspired by Hans Christian Andersen that is located on the harbor.
  5. Copenhagen also has a famous amusement mile, Tivoli, which opened in 1843 and is now one of the oldest theme parks in the world.
  6. Copenhagen is also known for its architecture, including the Opera House, designed by Henning Larsen, and the Experimentarium, a science museum designed by CEBRA.
  7. The city also has a vibrant art scene, including the Ny Carlsberg Glyptotek, an art museum with a collection of works from ancient times to the present day.
  8. The cuisine in Copenhagen is known for its fish dishes, especially the well-known smørrebrød, a traditional sandwich that is often served with various toppings such as smoked salmon or herring.
  9. Copenhagen is also an environmentally conscious city and has set itself the goal of becoming the world’s first carbon-neutral capital by 2025.
  10. After all, Copenhagen is also known for its high quality of life and has been voted the most livable city in the world several times.

Copenhagen’s climate

Month Average maximum temperature (°C) Average low temperature (°C) Average rainfall (mm) Average number of rainy days
January 2 -2 49 17
February 2 -2 31 13
March 5 -1 42 14
April 10 3 42 13
May 15 8 43 13
June 19 12 52 12
July 21 14 63 13
August 21 14 62 13
September 17 11 60 15
October 12 7 59 17
November 7 3 59 18
December 3 -1 55 18

 

Copenhagen experiences a temperate maritime climate with cool summers and relatively mild winters. Rainfall is fairly evenly distributed throughout the year, with a slight increase in summer. The rainiest months are July and August, while winter is generally colder and darker. This climate chart can be helpful in determining the best time to visit Copenhagen, especially if you’re planning outdoor activities or exploring the city.