Copenhagen. Day 2. My itinerary for the day included exploring the major historic tourist sights and delicious restaurants and foods of Copenhagen.
This recap is part of a multi-day post of my visit to Copenhagen and on to Stockholm.
If you need to catch up with the journey so far, then you can read about it here:
Day 1: My journey from Los Angeles to Copenhagen, Denmark
Breakfast at Cafe Dyrehaven
For me, breakfast is the best way to start off the day in a new city.
After a quick search on Yelp, I stumbled across Cafe Dyrehaven, a small, cozy, and funky cafe located in the Vesterbro district about 15 minutes by foot from my hotel.
Cafe Dyrehaven served it all: breakfast, lunch, and dinner.
I came to this spot for the breakfast. More specifically the Breakfast Plate (120 krone or about $17.62) complete with eggs benedict, spinach and tomatoes, muesli, and bread topped with avocado.
This thing was delicious. The eggs were cooked perfectly, the hollandaise sauce was luscious, the muesli was crunchy, the avocado spread on the toast was unique and had a great texture, the spinach was fresh and green, and the tomatoes were seasoned to perfection.
After a delicious breakfast, I was ready for a long day of sightseeing in Copenhagen.
City Hall Square (Rådhuspladsen)
My walk through the heart of Copenhagen began at City Hall Square (Rådhuspladsen), a bustling square in the heart of central Copenhagen.
The square was dominated by City Hall and its massive tower. At all hours of the day the square was busy with tourists, people walking around, food carts, lively events, and unfortunately, construction.
The square was once the location of the Western City Gate. The walls were removed around 1850 to make more room for the some 140,000 people who packed inside the city walls. Lots of people mixed with limited space led to hygiene problems and cholera outbreaks.
If you are facing City Hall, the Palace Hotel will be on your left. If you want a great photo opportunity, head to the right of city hall to find the seated statue facing Tivoli Gardens.
Statue of Hans Christian Andersen
Just to the right of City Hall, across the street from Tivoli Gardens, was the bronze statue of the seated Hans Christian Andersen.
Hans Christian Andersen was a Danish author best remembered for his fairy tales.
If you look closely, you might notice the well-worn knees of the statue. For that perfect photo opportunity, do as the Danes do and climb up onto the statue’s knees.
Andersen is looking at Tivoli Gardens, which was the first great public amusement park in Europe when founded in 1843. Many stories written by Anderson were inspired by Tivoli Gardens.
Head back into Rådhuspladsen. On the opposite side of the square, near the oddly located Burger King and 7-11, is the entrance to the Strøget.
A walk down the Strøget
The Strøget is a charming pedestrian shopping street and popular tourist attraction that runs through the heart of Copenhagen. The street runs from City Hall to the Nyhavn (New Harbor) quarter.
As you stroll down the 0.7 mile (1.1 kilometer) Strøget, you will pass by lovely old squares, churches, all sorts of restaurants, international stores, clothing stores, bars, cafes, souvenir shops, and more.
Though many of the old buildings that once stood here have been torn down to make way for modern buildings, you can still find many hidden historic gems by wandering off the main drag. If you look above the ground floor of many buildings, you can still see some of the 19th century character that has survived modernization.
Continuing a few minutes down the Strøget will bring you to a small adjacent squares.
Gammeltorv and Nytorv
This square found along the Strøget pedestrian street is actually made up of two small squares: Gammeltorv (Old Square or Old Market) and Nytorv (New Square or New Market). Both made up the old town center.
Gammeltorv, the oldest square in Copenhagen, dates back to the foundation of the city in the 12th century. Over the years, the square has been home to a marketplace, the original town hall of Copenhagen, a meat market, a car park, and finally a pedestrian square.
The highlight of Gammeltorv is the Caritas Fountain or Fountain of Charity, one of the finest Renaissance monuments in the city. This fountain has provided drinking water to residents of Copenhagen since the early 1600s. The statue on the fountain features a pregnant woman squirting water from her breasts with a little boy “urinating” into the basin. At the time, the statue was a little too progressive. The figures were both corked and raised out of view.
Adjacent to Gammeltorv is Nytorv, the new square. The highlight of Nytorv is the neoclassical facade of the former City Hall and courthouse. Most of the square was rebuilt after the 1807 British bombardment.
In the 17th and 18th centuries, Nytorv was used as the location of punishment, public humiliation, and executions. On the pavement on the small raised area near the courthouse is a plaque that reads “Here stood the town’s kag (whipping post) until 1780.”
Let’s take a quick side trip off the Strøget. From the square, look out for Nørregade. Walk about 100 meters down the street until you reach a large Greek style looking building.
The Greek style Church of Our Lady
This Greek style looking building is known as Church of Our Lady.
In 1521, a young Prince Christian traveled to Germany where he was influenced by Martin Luther. When he returned, he sought to take the Danish throne by force and break from the Roman Catholic Church to become Lutheran. Through his reforms, Christian established Lutheranism as the state religion.
In 1536, Prince Christian was crowned King Christian III at this location.
The original church that once stood at this location was destroyed during the British bombardment of 1807. The neoclassical style church as seen today was completed in 1829. It was designed by architect Christian Frederik Hansen.
The interior of Church of Our Lady is neoclassical, simple in style, and temple like. There are no sculptures or paintings of Mary inside. The nave was lined by sculptures of the 12 apostles, each in a meditative pose holding a symbolic piece.
At the center was the statue of Risen Christ, with Christ wearing a burial shroud with his arms wide open asking those to come to him. A replica of this statue can be found at the visitors center at Temple Square in Salt Lake City, Utah.
Exit the church and turn right. Continue for about 75 meters until you reach the intersection with Sankt Peders Stræde where you will see a towering brick church.
The red brick Sankt Peders Church
This beautiful red brick church is known as Sankt Peders Church.
Many parts of the church, such as the nave, choir, and parts of the tower date back to the 15th century, making it the oldest building in central Copenhagen.
The architecture of the church is Gothic with Baroque features. The spire, built between 1756 and 1757, was built in the Rococo style.
The church is the parish church of the German-speaking community in Copenhagen. The church still holds services in German to this day.
Unfortunately on my visit, the interior of the church was closed for the winter, so off to the next sight.
Head back down Nørregade and rejoin the Strøget. Continue north along the pedestrian street until you reach King’s New Square (Kongens Nytorv) where you will see the colorful buildings of Nyhavn.
The colorful Nyhavn harbor
This colorful area is known as Nyhavn, or New Harbor. It is one of the most beautiful places in all of Copenhagen and one of my favorite places to visit.
Many of the brightly colored buildings seen today date back to the 17th and 18th centuries. Over the years, the buildings have been used as townhouses, restaurants, bars, and cafes. The area was once popular with sailors for its easy access to beer and prostitutes.
Today, the area is packed with trendy cafes, jazz clubs, restaurants, bars, tattoo shops, and the eyesore Hong Kong Night Club.
Docked in the canal were many historical wooden ships and old sailboats of all sizes.
If you are looking for great photo opportunities, this is your spot.
Walk towards the end of the harbor near King’s New Square (Kongens Nytorv). From here, walk north up Bredgade for about five minutes. When you reach Frederiksgade, turn right to enter the courtyard of Amalienborg Palace.
You are now standing in the circular courtyard of Amalienborg Palace.
The mansion to your left as you walk into the courtyard is the residence of Queen Margrethe II and her husband. If the flag is flying, the queen is currently home.
The mansion across the courtyard on the right is the residence of Crown Prince Frederik and his wife. Frederik is heir to the throne.
At the center of the courtyard is a statue of Frederik V on horseback. Frederik watches over an area that was named after him, Frederiksstaden. The area was designed as a luxury neighborhood for the business elite and nobility during a period of prosperity for Denmark. It was not until 1794 that the king moved here after a fire destroyed his other palace.
If you have some extra time, walk inland from Amalienborg Palace towards Frederik’s Church, more commonly known as The Marble Church.
The Marble Church
The Marble Church, officially Frederik’s Church, might not be the largest church you have ever seen, but its enormous presence will make it feel that way.
This Evangelical Lutheran church, which was completed in 1894, is well known for its stunning rococo architecture. The massive church dome, inspired by St. Peter’s Basilica in Rome, is the largest church dome in all of Scandinavia at 101 feet (31 meters).
If the church is open, be sure to step inside to view its large, peaceful, Pantheon style interior.
Today, The Marble Church remains an important focal point of the elegant Frederiksstaden district.
From The Marble Church, head back towards Amalienborg Palace and head north towards Kastellet Park.
Gefion Fountain near Kastellet Park
This beautiful fountain, near Kastellet Park, is known as the Gefion Fountain.
The fountain, designed by Danish artist Anders Bundgaard, is actually the largest memorial in Copenhagen. The memorial was dedicated by the Carlsberg Brewery in honor of its 50th anniversary.
The fountain depicts a mythical story about a goddess who was given only one night to create an island from a hunk of Swedish land. The island became Zealand, Denmark’s largest island which you are now currently standing on. Supposedly the chunk of land she removed created Vänern, the largest lake in Sweden.
How did she get the job done? Easy. She transformed her four sons into the four oxen you see depicted in the statue. The oxen did all of the heavy duty work for her.
It was rainy and windy, but I had one more sight to check out before I called it a day.
Continuing for five minutes through the park and along the harbor will bring you to the most famous statue in Copenhagen, The Little Mermaid.
The Little Mermaid, an iconic statue of Denmark
Just past the Gefion Fountain, down towards the water along the Langelinie promenade, was the The Little Mermaid statue.
This bronze statue was actually a gift to the city in 1909 from Carl Jacobson, the son of the founder of Carlsberg Brewery.
The idea for the statue was inspired by a Hans Christian Andersen fairy tale about a mermaid. Jacobson wanted to immortalize the mermaid from the story. He hired sculptor Edvard Eriksen to make him a statute, and the rest is history.
If you arrive at the right time, you might get a few minutes alone with the statue to snap a few close up photos. Other times you will be surrounded by busloads of tourists. Just be careful walking along the rocks as they can be slippery and uneven.
Dinner at Kødbyens Deli
After a long day of sightseeing, it was time to eat.
This time, I headed back to Kødbyen (Meatpacking District) to check out a small but popular place known as Kødbyens Deli.
I read a lot of great things about the small deli that served up delicious English style Fish n’ Chips, burgers, chili con carne, fish cakes, salads, and more.
Since the place was so small, most people did take away. There was a small seating area for guests to sit and eat inside if they chose. I decided to do take away.
For me, I went with the Fish n’ Chips (80 krone or about $11.77). This delicious dish was made with fresh cod fillets that were first beer battered, then tossed in panko bread crumbs, and fried fresh.
The two large pieces of fish were hot, flaky, and juicy with a crispy golden brown crust. On the side was a generous portion of the thick hand cut chips. The tartar sauce that accompanied the fish was creamy with a perfect hint of lemon juice.
The perfect way to end a day.