My first foray into Scandinavia came as quite a surprise. I was offered a chance to film some news features in Denmark in November and immediately jumped at the opportunity.
Copenhagen was our first stop and it was incredibly easy to love. It was fall, the city was covered in gold leaves, and the temperature was a cold, crisp 3-8 degrees celsius.
We’d been very lucky to be blessed with good weather for most of the trip since it tends to get quite wet and cloudy this time of year. It was a city of bicycles, and cars were few and far between.
Apart from being a green city, it was also very clean, the people were super helpful and lovely (despite some warning that the Danes could be quite forward and curt) and I really enjoyed the food and architecture.
The iconic canal that features as the postcard shot of Copenhagen is a 17th-century entertainment and food district which lines a canal with boats offering a tour of the city. I adored the soft pastel buildings and shophouses that line the water, and there was a wonderful selection of bars and foods to choose from.
Copenhageners love the outdoors and often eat and drink outside even in the cold weather. Some even take a dip in the freezing waters in winter!
When it came to food, Smørrebrød is a convenient and popular snack for breakfast and lunch. It’s essentially an open-faced sandwich of dark rye bread topped with ingredients like cured fish, meats, eggs and a variety of vegetables and sauces.
There is quite a variety of highly-rated restaurants and modern cuisines. But because we were on a tight schedule, we mainly stuck to local staples including this gorgeous sirloin steak with Danish craft beers at a popular restaurant and bar called Banksia located just a short walk from our hotel.
The warm, delicious meals really helped keep us going during the long hours of filming in the cold. Despite it being a work trip, we definitely took some moments to soak in the spirit of the city. The white seagulls calling to the ocean, the busy warm bars and taverns lining the water bank and the hundreds of cyclists wrapped up in thick wooden jackets to keep the biting wind at bay.
One of the things I loved most about the city was its stunning architecture.
Most government buildings like Børsen (pictured below), which is a 17th-century stock exchange in the Renaissance style, are often well preserved both inside and out, which really showcased its rich history.
One of the more popular attractions has got to be Christianborg Palace. It’s where the Danish Parliament sits alongside the Danish Prime Minister’s Office and the Supreme Court of Denmark.
Did you know Denmark had a queen? Queen Margrethe II has been the incumbent monarch in Denmark since 1972.
Papirøen (Paper Island) Market – Copenhagen Street Food
Papirøen,or paper island, is also another fascinating place to visit. It used to host many paper factories back in the day, but has now been converted to a place teeming with creativity. It hosts an art museum, office spaces for creatives and even a popular temporary street food market which would probably be around for another year.
Our host Ina took us around to sample the wonderful array of food there. Here’s a healthy organic meal of grilled salmon, kale, sweet potato and dark bread.
It’s a sprawling complex of foods from all over the world, with some good coffee, beers and cocktails for those seeking a refuge from the cold. Expect grilled sausages, Asian stir-frys, steaks sizzling on the grill, juicy gourmet burgers and even organic and vegetarian options for the health nuts!
We took a stroll along the bridge after lunch while admiring the view of the city from across the water. There is also a beautiful public library nearby with a gorgeous view of the sea. It was a glass building that let in some wonderful natural light, and people could curl up in deck chairs outdoors and read with a hot drink in hand.
Your stay in Copenhagen will not be complete without a stop at the charming Tivoli Gardens. It’s oldest operating amusement park in the world, and has been running since its opening in 1843!
I fell in love with the old carousels and vintage rides. The musical laughter and screams of delight as the antique roller coasters and flying saucers took the young and old alike soaring into a child-like euphoria.
I arrived in time for the last of the Halloween celebrations and it was so lovely to bask in the orange glow of the jack-o-lanterns, makeshift stores selling costumes and silly hats and live plays and performances.
There was even a pumpkin patch for kids to play in. How adorable! Christmas is also a great time to visit Tivoli.
There was simply a warm magic in the air, and i could see why even the locals made regular trips there. Across generations the Danish had fond memories of growing up in the park. And I soaked it all up along with a cup of hot chocolate with marshmallows and the absolutely delicious Danish hotdogs.
Copenhagen is a city that is super efficient. It boasts a close-knit community which while friendly to tourists, is not exactly open to immigrants. The locals are proud of their culture and language and it’s easy for them to identify a non-native speaker. Most Danes speak fluent English so you’ll have no problems getting around. We’ve met so many helpful passersby there who were friendly and made our trip a real breeze.
As a visitor, there is plenty to see and enjoy particularly if you’re a foodie with an abundance of talented chefs and Michelin-starred establishments.
If you’ve got time, why not rent a bike (there are even free ones for visitors) and go museum hopping, take a romantic boat cruise along the canal or even a short train ride to the other municipalities? Sweden is also just across the bridge and a 30-minute drive away, which makes it an excellent springboard to visit the rest of the Scandinavian countries. Copenhagen, I’ll definitely be back!