Ahh Copenhagen, what a delight! Having been reared on a range of traditional Christmas stories, I’ve long had the dreamy image of the Nordic countries in Winter painted in my head. This festive season I finally embarked on my own advent adventure to the Danish capital. Better still, Copenhagen was listed as Lonely Planet’s No.1 Top City for 2019 in their Best in Travel guide. Living the dream and on trend!
It began with an overnight stay in London Gatwick, where I caught mere pockets of sleep after an early breakfast of ‘Eggs Royale’ and unlimited tea at 3am. Having endured a similar routine before our trip to Croatia, I felt better prepared for our dawn flight this time around.
Stepping off the tarmac in Denmark, we made a bee-line for the metro into Copenhagen and wandered out of the majestic station to find ourselves in the perfect juxtaposition; Tivoli Gardens sprawled out before us, with our hotel mere steps away. Check-in wasn’t until 3pm, so naturally we strolled across the road to explore the magical fairground.
Tivoli is a vast pleasure-ground for the young at heart and holds the title of the world’s second oldest amusement park. (the oldest also residing on the outskirts of Denmark’s capital). The park had only opened minutes before and so roamed free of the crowds, immediately seeking out a bratwurst brunch from a takeaway cabin in Chinatown. It proved the perfect comfort food, given the bitter cold outside.
We happily wasted several hours exploring the many attractions and decorative landscaping, all beautifully dusted with plenty of festive sparkle. Then with our feet exhausted, we made towards the hotel, grateful for an early check-in. The hotel shouted old grandeur with the rooms spruced up to evoke a cosy vintage charm.
Having lasted this long we gave in to wearing fatigue, waking again as darkening clouds began to gather overhead. Newly rejuvenated we joined the bustling throng of people on the streets and wandered down the shopping concourse that seemed to run for miles, with beautiful Christmas lights aglow.
Though we were destined for the Nyhavn canal, we took time to enjoy the Christmas markets that adorned the various squares en-route and my heart filled with a childish glee. Not least because we tucked into a plate of Dutch pancakes smothered in molten chocolate and baileys. The sky was black, the air crisp as we wandered round the remaining stalls on the waterfront, great hotels competed with their festive lights, mulled wine and roasted meat wafting into the night, merriment all around.
We wandered along the waterside and admired the row of multi-coloured houses in the evening light, wooden sails sitting still in the water, reflecting the trail of lights neatly strung along the street. It wasn’t long before the cold began to takeover and so we fled to comfort of a cosy pub below-ground.
Savouring a cold pint in festively decorated snug was an absolute dream, as I tuned in to the traditional music playing behind the tones if conversation. Despite the oblique darkness the evening was still young, and so we went to dinner at Mama Rosa, the most intriguing maze of a restaurant. The evening was completed with an essential return to Tivoli at night, which offered a completely new perspective, the winter wonderland transformed. I sipped on hot chocolate under the freezing sky, as thrills of excitement filled the air and contemplated a magnificent end to a beautiful day of exploration.
We took advantage of a lie-in the following morning and enjoyed brunch instead of breakfast after check-out. We took to a table in an adjoining coffee house and passed a peaceful hour people-watching, before we ventured back down towards the beauty of Nyhavn, inadvertently splurging on further pancakes and mulled wine; the Pogues played out and the atmosphere was infectious in the most delightful way.
Fuelled on the festivities we wandered for a while by the furthest water’s edge in search of Den Lille Havfrue (The Little Mermaid). Thankfully we made it seconds before the onslaught of the sightseeing bus. Then we took a spontaneous detour through the quieter back-streets to uncover Rundetaarn, a 17th century round-tower with an observation deck offering 360 degree views of the city from above. We made it in perfect time to catch the distant glimmer of a sunset and gained a whole new perspective on the city.
As darkness fell once again, we dashed around for some last-minute gift shopping and savoured a drink in the Hard Rock Café , before making off for the airport. However, our lack of sleep must have finally caught up with us, as we managed to lose our way quite rapidly in the dark despite standing metres from the station. With a bit of luck we caught the train with seconds to spare and I journeyed home that night with a wholesome heart, warmed by the experience, thankful for the opportunity. Despite our limited time-scale I think Copenhagen has got to be one of my travel highlights.