The story of two Nebraska gals, with Scandinavian roots returning to the homeland after generations, after the coincidence of being Fulbright Spain ETAs living an hour apart in Galicia!
Brooke and I met on the 5+ hour train from Santiago, stopping in Ourense, on the way to Madrid at the crack of dawn. One sunset flight later, and we arrived in Copenhagen. We ended our ridiculously long day of travel across western Europe with a gourmet pizza and cocktails right down the street from our hotel.
Post dinner, we actually MADE FRIENDS with our really fun, chill roommates Arina and Lia from Germany. We hung out together in the hostel with dozens of other travelers, before Brooke and I made Danish friends who took us around to some bars and a nightclub in the meatpacking district called Jolene. We grabbed some falafel post club, and hit the hay a little before 4 a.m.
Day One in Copenhagen
Brooke and I woke up in our hostel ready to see all of Copenhagen. The lack of sleep the night before was no hindrance, as you can see below. The sun was shining, the air was crisp on the canal, and we began our day with Danish pastries.
Our first stop was to take a photo on the canal. I love the Copenhagen canal, and after visiting both Amsterdam and Copenhagen, I far prefer the Scandinavian version, with colorful yet tasteful canal houses lining the way.
We began our sightseeing at Frederik’s Church, and we were both taken aback by the brightness of the church and beautiful pink petals hanging from the dome in an art exposition. I remember remarking that it is this kind of church that makes me feel the spirit of a benevolent God, unlike the many dark cloisters in Spain.
Churchillparken, Kastellet, and Gefionspringvandet
Next up, we headed to a park just beginning its transition to autumn. This park led us into a small military island shapes like a star, with many buildings, windmills, and marching soldiers. Finally, we came upon a huge pond and statue as we moved closer to the water.
The Little Mermaid
Right where the previously mentioned park meets the sea, we saw dozens of tourists taking photos in precarious positions on the rocks. Behind the veil of selfie sticks, the Little Mermaid statue by Edvard Eriksen in 1913 sits upon the surface of the water. The statue was created to depict the Little Mermaid of the Danish fairytale by Hans Christian Andersen.
It’s not Denmark without some design. Brooke and I headed to the design museum in Copenhagen to check out various pieces of future and decor, the highlight being the chairs. The museum was gorgeous, even including a courtyard fit for royalty.
Ice Cream on the Canal, Tivoli, Danish Dinner & Pastries
Copenhagen eats and activities were really great. From ice cream and other desserts that can be found lining the canal, the Tivoli amusement park which was decorated for halloween, danish pastries and hardy fish dinners (not for veggie Brooke), we were entertained every moment in the city.
Once the sun was down, Brooke and I met our friend from the night before who had offered to give us a tour of Freetown Christiania, known as a free town of artists, craftsmen, and for “legal” marijuana. People claim that it is legal to smoke there, but our friend from Copenhagen told us that it isn’t really legal, but the police rarely enter the zone. Photos cannot be taken of the people there, but it is okay to take photos of the place. I suggest learning more about it here. I returned when the sun was up the next day, and those pictures are below.
Day Two began with a train ride to Malmö, Sweden, directly across the water on one of the world’s longest bridges. When we arrived in Malmö, it was surprisingly quiet. We spent our day meandering through gardens, parks, castles, and squares.
The photos below are from the Castle in Malmö, which looked more like a walled fort and housed a bizarre natural history museum, see feathered clothing below.
Views of Malmö
After visiting the castle and parks, we headed towards the city square where we grabbed lunch, found Fjallraven backpacks, and the main cathedral.
Moderna Museet Malmö
Malmö is a pretty quiet city, so we headed to the museum of modern art to fill our afternoon. It was a gorgeous little museum tucked a few blocks away from the city center. Everything in Scandinavia is aesthetically pleasing, even the museum’s yellow bathrooms.
Carrot Cake and Café
The final stop in Malmö was to a VERY busy, beautiful cafe. I ordered myself a skim latte, and Brooke ordered an oat milk latte. We shared a piece of carrot cake and relaxed until it was time to catch our train back to Copenhagen.
Golden Hour on the Canal
In the evening, Brooke and I walked all the way along the canal during golden hour. There is nothing better than a crisp fall evening as the sun sets. We were headed back to Christiania.
Brooke and I both wanted to see Christiania in the daylight. The night before it was dark so we really couldn’t get familiar with our surroundings and felt a little caught off guard. This evening we were able to see why people call this Freetown “beautiful.” There is amazing pad thai, awesome graffiti, and amazing views over the water. Plus the artsy, experimental vibes were way more inviting during golden hour. I now agree it’s a beautiful place, but I definitely suggest going during daylight for any tourists interested in seeing this unique corner of Copenhagen.
Rundetaarn – The Round Tower
The next morning, Brooke and I grabbed a light breakfast of Danish pastry and coffee, and we went to Rundetaarn, a round tower with no stairs and only a ramp all the way up. At the top of the tower, we had a view overlooking Copenhagen on all sides.
Following the tower, we went to Rosenborg Castle. The Castle is located in the middle of the city, surrounded by a gorgeous park and rose garden which is free and open to the public. Entering the Castle requires a ticket.
We meandered through ornately decorated rooms in the castle proper before going down into the armory to see the crown jewels.
The crown jewels were kept down below the castle in the armory.
Following our castle tour, Brooke and I went to find lunch at one of Copenhagen’s most popular markets. Torvehallerne has everything from craft beer, to flower, to seasonings, fresh fish, super expensive juices, and more.
Brooke and I each spent about $25 on burgers that we ordered at a window and for juices. Later we realized that the conversion rate was a little different than we first expected and need up spending quite a few Danish Krones.
Botanisk Have – Botanical Garden
After lunch, Brooke and I walked to a nearby park and botanical garden. We sat in front of picture perfect ponds and lush curvy pathways. The weather during our weekend had been so perfect, sunny days with some brisk fall air. We tried to sit in the sun and enjoy the ducks and other park goers.
The final destination in Denmark was to go to the Lego Store, because Legos are from Denmark. We went to one on the main shopping street with large recreations of dragons, Starwars characters, and a creation of Copenhagen’s canal houses.
Final Cafés and Danish Pastries
Finally, Brooke and I stopped for a few more Danish pastries throughout the day (breakfast and afternoon snack shown below) before we left the county. After a final snack and spending our remaining Danish Krone, we went to the hostel, grabbed our suitcases, and went straight to the airport.
Copenhagen was one of my favorite destinations in Europe this year. I was so impressed from the design, food, cleanliness, and friendliness of the Danish. I would most definitely love to return to Scandinavia in the future, next time to track down my ancestor’s roots.