Many moons ago I was watching a documentary about happiness, and learned that Denmark was rated as one of the happiest countries in the world. The Danish people have a strong sense of togetherness, often living in communities with others sharing tasks like a big family. This intrigued me, and I had been wanting to visit this Scandanavian country ever since.
While I’m not usually drawn to big cities, Copenhagen was at the top of my list of places to visit while living in Europe, and after spending a few days visiting I can see why the Danish folk are so damn happy. My dad, my stepmom, and I spent a few days exploring the city, eating the local cuisine, and riding bikes along the back roads.
Can you even visit Copenhagen without riding a bike?
One of the perks of traveling with family, is that I get to stay in fancy hotels. Sure, I could buy myself a fancy hotel if I really wanted to, but I typically like traveling light – including where I sleep. We stayed at The Raddison Blu, and the hotel offered all day bike rentals. We spent an entire day riding bikes around to some of the popular locations in Denmark.
Places like…The Marble Church, which is made out of…you guessed it, marble. Before arriving at The Marble Church we passed through the royal courtyard of Amalienborg, home of the Danish royal family.
Places like…The Citadel, also known as one of Copenhagens Fortresses. This fortress was commissioned in 1662 and sits in a star shape along a beautiful park, with a long trail to wander. I wanted to come here mostly to see the giant windmill tucked in the back.
Places like…The Little Mermaid statue, because Hans Christian Andersen, the author of The Little Mermaid book was Danish and lived in Copenhagen. The mermaid has had a rough life, being decapitated twice, painted different colors, and even had an attempted bombing. These events have made her stronger than ever.
Keep fighting the fight mermaid!
Places like…The Round Tower which happens to be the oldest functioning observatory in Europe. The tower provides a nice view of the city, and has a beautiful spiral ramp, but my favorite part is the original bathroom from the 17th century. The bathroom showcased what it was like to poo into a bottomless pit.
PortaPotty before it was a thing.
Places like…Gefion Fountain, where according to an ancient legend, Gefion was the goddess who ploughed the island of Zealand out of Sweden. The Swedish king Gylfe offered the goddess Gefion as much land as she was capable of ploughing within one day and one night. Gefion turned her four sons into oxen and ploughed a ton land, thus creating the island of Zealand.
What a boss. I’d consider having kids if this were an option.
Places like…like places we weren’t sure of what they were. My favorite thing about biking around a new city is discovering things I’d likely miss without the easy transportation.
We saw a lot of cool places on our self guided bike tour, but my favorite place was Nyhavn, the 17th century waterfront canal you’d see in a typical photo of Copenhagen. The area was riddled with tourists, but it was a dream. We took a boat cruise our first evening in the city, and this was the central hub of all our adventures.
Fun fact about Nyhavn: the world’s oldest functioning tattoo parlor is located in the basement of Nyhavn 17. In fact it has been operating since 1884. Notably their most famous client was King Frederik IX.
Damn, I knew I should have gotten a tattoo!
To end our day of biking we parked near a corner restaurant that was a bit less touristy than Nyhavn. We had dinner next to the water, and our server was a charming man from Canada. He didn’t speak a lick of Danish, which makes me want to move to Denmark and work. The amount of English spoken in this city was surprising.
We saw a handful of other places while in Copenhagen, but this post just highlights the things we saw while biking. This was a fun way to explore with only a tentative plan of where we would go. In my next post I’ll share the other places we visited, and the other food I ate!
Q: What’s your favorite way to see a new city? Bike/formal tour/car/etc…?