I had decided before turning 40 that I wanted to embark upon a solo trip for a weekend. The wanderlust in me wanted to experience a different city, a different culture but on my own. It’s something I’ve always wanted to do and having done it, I highly recommend it. You really don’t have to be in your early 20’s, neither do you have to live it up in hostels. Check out my blog; 6 reasons why we should all travel solo at least once in our lifetime.
So with my mind set on a solo trip I was certain a long weekend to a European city not too far away from home was the most sensible option. I chose Copenhagen because from what I had read, it’s a laid back city with charm and lots of Hygge. A concept I definitely explored being on my own.
1 | Explore Nyhaven
Seriously, who doesn’t love a row of buildings all painted in different colours? Nyhaven is packed full of pretty rainbow coloured houses with beautiful white window panes all along the canal.
It’s a popular tourist spot, everyone vying for the perfect Instagram shot. But it’s a lovely place to park yourself for a few hours, sip on a cocktail or two and just people watch.
2 | Visit The Little Mermaid
Probably one of Copenhagen’s most visited attraction and sadly in my opinion a little underwhelming. Having been around for more than a hundred years, It’s a lot smaller than I had imagined but it’s still something you have to visit and take a photo of as it’s an attraction that is instantly recognisable. The statue was sculpted by Edvard Eriksen as a tribute to one of Denmark’s most famous authors, Hans Christian Anderson and his fairy tale story. It’s a fair walk from the city centre but a scenic one. Alternatively, you can get a canal boat from Nyhaven that passes the statue so you can avoid the walk if you so wish. I can get quite busy so I would recommend to go as early as possible.
3 | Attend a Free Walking Tour
At the City Hall Square every day, there are a number of free walking tours you can join. Some of them prefer you to book your ticket online but with others you can just turn up. I signed up with the Sandeman’s 3 hour walking tour of Copenhagen. It was a fairly large group that was then split into two. Our group’s tour guide was Allan, a native Copenhagener, who was highly entertaining. He told us some interesting stories, like how Bluetooth is named after King Harald Blaatand who was otherwise known as Bluetooth. He provided us with some great food and drink options and explained why the Danes love Hygge and regularly top the pools for being the happiest people in the world.
I love a walking tour of any city and make it a top priority wherever I’m traveling. I find the pace of walking provides you the most detail. Copenhagen itself is a very walkable city and even after the tour is over, there is plenty of opportunity to explore different areas.
4 | Tivoli Gardens
Tivoli Gardens, located pretty much in the centre of Copenhagen contains the second oldest amusement park in the world (the oldest also in Denmark). You can ride on one of the world’s oldest wooden roller coasters or relax in the Japanese inspired gardens. It has an array of food options and makes for a great family day out. Please note that Tivoli Gardens is not open all year round, so check before you go.
5 | Stroll along Stroget
Stroget is the main high street in the centre of Copenhagen that claims to be one of the longest pedestrian shopping streets in Europe. Here you’ll find anything from the budget friendly shops like Flying Tiger to the high end fashion shops of /Louis Vuitton and Prada. In between there are some beautiful sights to see, including Church of our Lady, The Royal Danish Theatre to Nyhaven at the other end. Food and drink options are also plentiful.
6 | Visit the National Museum of Denmark
This museum is a must see. You can easily spend a few hours in here and I promise you, you won’t get bored. I joined their free Meet the Vikings tour and it was top notch! I gained a good overview of the history of civilisation in Denmark from the early times all the way through to the Vikings.
It’s such a a great place for children too – scattered around are boredom buttons and anything can happen when you find them and give them a push! They also have a Children’s museum which is essentially a kid’s indoor playground where they can have fun discovering the past, takes voyage on a Viking ship and make a snack in the Medieval kitchen.
Another thing I was impressed with – they have free lockers when you enter for your coats and bags – a winner for me!
7 | Rent a bike
Copenhagen over the past few decades has really invested in cycling as a transport and as such there are more bicycles than people. On a Monday morning you can regularly see more people commuting to work by bike than cars. And it’s so safe you often see riders without helmets or locks. Having said that, Danes on bikes can go pretty fast so be careful when crossing roads. Renting a bike is fairly cheap and easy to do.
8 | Try some Danish pastries and Smorgasbord
The concept of Danish pastries was actually bought to Denmark by the Austrians and are now eaten and enjoyed around the world. In Copenhagen, the home of Hygge there is a big cafe culture and you can expect to find masses of delicious pastries. One of the chain cafes here, Lagkagehuset is worth a visit.
Here you’ll find some excellent pastries to try and a warm atmosphere to match. Another cafe restaurant I liked was Cafe Norden, approximately half way up Stroget. The Chai Latte here was served in a big bowl and was divine to drink. It’s also a nice place to people watch.
A Smorgasbord is essentially an open sandwich and the city is littered with restaurants that have their own take on these sandwiches. Worth a try for sure, the options available are endless.
I just want to also add another place – not cafe but a bar. Taphouse (not far from Stroget) was recommended by the tour guide. Although Denmark is famous for Carlsberg, micro-brewing has become really popular in the last decade and many small scale trendy bars with different types of beer have sprung up. Beer is not my preferred tipple but I was impressed with this bar. With over 60 beers to choose from and different sized glasses to drink from, you can easily spend a few hours mingling with locals and tourists at the bar and the staff are very friendly and knowledgeable.
One more thing (haha) – the food scene here has exploded in recent years, with Nordic cuisine at the forefront of innovative menus. Noma was voted Best Restaurant in the World in 2010 and since then you have Michelin starred restaurants such as Alchemist and Geranium, all pushing the gastronomy boundaries. Since I was travelling alone I didn’t fancy experiencing a calibre of these types of restaurants alone. It just means I’ll have to go back one day!
9 | Rundetaarn
Also known as the Round Tower it has one of the best views over Copenhagen and is also the oldest functioning observatory in Europe. It’s still used by amateur astronomers today. What I love about this tower is the absence of stairs (apart from right at the top) and instead you have a gentle slope that spirals around – 209 metres to be exact. At the top you will find its latest attraction; a floating glass floor. not for the faint hearted!
Other things to mention
As I’ve gotten older (well at least I think it’s my age) we have chosen taxi’s to get fro airport to hotel. However, in Copenhagen the train and metro are so efficient, cheap and actually quicker than a taxi (about 15 minutes to City Centre). And not to mention better for your carbon footprint.
This is my Top 9 – there are plenty of other places and attractions to explore such as Amalienborg Palace, Carlsberg Brewery and Rosenberg Castle and if you purchase the Copenhagen card a lot of these attractions are included in the price. Travel is also included and is unlimited in the entire region of Copenhagen. Find our more about the Copenhagen card.
Hotel I stayed in
I would highly recommend the hotel I chose. I actually spent ages choosing a hotel, mainly because I was travelling alone and I wanted a hotel that was in a good location that also had great amenities.
I stayed at the Axel Guldsmeden Hotel for 3 nights. It’s a four star hotel with Scandi style and charm with a beautifully decorated courtyard. The ethos of the hotel is to be environmentally sustainable and appeals to the eco-conscious traveller with a wooden door key, refillable and recyclable water bottles and bamboo toothbrushes. In terms of location, it’s a 5 minute walk from Copenhagen Central station and the neighbourhood is considered to be on the trendier parts of the city.
I loved their cosy spa located in the basement, with candles lit and mud masks in paper cups. The breakfast is slightly overpriced but does have an impressive selection of organic goodies.
I do want to explore more European cities and ones that are not the obvious choice. If you have recommendations, please let me know in the comments below.