Back at the beginning of March this year, I visited Copenhagen for the first time. As the final instalment of a three weekend-long succession of city breaks, the past month had already seen me battling hail and gale force winds at the top of the Eiffel Tower and nipping in and out of cafés and museums to avoid the cold in Rotterdam, but nothing could have prepared me for the biting temperatures of Copenhagen.
So, with the winter chill creeping in all over the Northern hemisphere, here are my recommendations for some must-visit places to help you thaw out during a yuletide trip to this chilly city.
Frederiks Kirke aka The Marble Church
With its great dome rising high above the city’s rooftops, this church is a familiar sight for many of the city’s visitors, but that’s mostly because it is situated by the Amalienborg Palace where many tourists flood to see the changing of the guard; something that happens every day at noon.
However, just past the palace lies ones of the most breathtakingly beautiful churches in all of Europe. Just as stunning inside as it is from the outside, it boasts the largest church dome in all of Scandinavia and is the perfect place to feel inspired whilst you wait for the feeling to return to your hands and feet.
As I have mentioned above, many tourists come to Amalienborg Palace to see the daily changing of the guards, but it’s not just outside of the Palace where all the action happens.
Thankfully, much of the royal residence is open to the public and there are guided tours of several period rooms where you can warm your cockles in ultimate luxury before nipping back outside and trying to make one of the guards smile (give up now, it’s never going to happen).
Rundetaarn aka Round Tower
The Round Tower is one of the city’s most recognizable attractions and it brings a whole new meaning to the phrase; “it’s not the destination, it’s the journey”. Sure, the unparalleled panoramic view that can be seen from the top of this 115ft tower is sensational, but when there’s so much fun to be had inside, who cares?
From checking out the current exhibition to nosing around in the bell loft or even just enjoying a warming refreshment in the café, it’s the perfect winter hideaway; so head to the city’s Latin Quarter and, for a modest entrance charge (DKK 25), you too can enjoy discovering what’s around the spiral in one of Copenhagen’s oldest and most unique attractions.
The Latin Quarter
Stop and stay a while, the Latin Quarter has more on offer than the Round Tower alone. Along the tiny streets of this ancient neighborhood a whole treasure trove awaits. From musty old bookstores to quaint boutiques, music shops and jazz clubs, there are plenty of places ready and waiting to welcome you into the warm. I promise you, it will feel like you’re in the opening scene of the Danish version of Beauty and the Beast…well kind of.
Hop-on, Hop-off and The Little Mermaid
No trip to this great city would be complete without a visit to this famous little mermaid, but she’s much further away from the city center than the map would otherwise suggest. In my quest for a glimpse of Edvard Eriksen’s renowned statue, I found myself almost blown from the banks of the Citadel (Kastellet) as I clutched onto my hat in a desperate attempt to avoid winding up like Bridget Jones after that minibreak/headscarf mishap.
So how can you avoid potentially being blown into the harbor? For a fairly reasonable sum, you can get an all-day ticket to a hop-on hop-off boat (or bus) service. All of these services will take you to Copenhagen’s most popular tourist haunts, which means no more long treks up to the Little Mermaid’s rock or in between your sightseeing hotspots for an entire day. You will not only save time, but you’ll be able to warm yourself on the boat in between stop offs. Music to anyone’s ears on a blustering, winter’s day.
Cosy up in one of Copenhagen’s cafés
There are many wonderful cafes and bars dotted around Copenhagen where you can recharge with a hot cup of coffee or indulge in a warming glass a glogg (mulled wine). Few places are as magical or as excellent value for money as Paludan’s book café.
As a passionate advocate of both the written word and a cup of tea (yes, I am just as quintessentially English as Mary Poppins), few things excite me more than a literary café. Within easy walking distance of the city center, this is the type of place where you can cosy up between the stacks with a hot beverage (liquor coffee with cream, anyone?), grab a book or a chess board and sit for hours, soaking in the atmosphere.
In short, Copenhagen isn’t the warmest city you could visit this winter, but it is an incredible one; so wrap up warm, take heed of my advice and do your best not to get blown into the icy depths as you pucker up for your Little Mermaid selfie.