When we think of Denmark, their capital city Copenhagen rushes to our thoughts. Copenhagen is rich with memorable, colorful, and unusual avant-garde architecture and history. Most of the city’s popular attractions and sights are all within walking distance of each other.
Postcard-perfect Nyhavn is a 17th-century waterfront and canal which is lined with rows of their traditionally vivid colored homes. As you stroll leisurely along the harbor, it’s peppered with early 18th century buildings that are now restaurants, bars, and curbside cafes. It has everything a tourist is looking for.
Denmark’s well known top attractions in addition to the iconic Nyhavn are the Little Mermaid bronze sculpture, Tivoli Gardens, Christiansborg Palace and the Dutch Renaissance-era Rosenborg Castle. Each of these locations receives a deluge of traffic each year from tourists. But, there are many off the beaten path places in Copenhagen that don’t get the pomp they deserve.
A harbor promenade will lead you right to the Gefion Fountain, a massive fountain featuring the Norse Goddess Gefjon. It took artistic sculptor Anders Bundgaard nearly ten years to complete this incredible feat. The fountain came to life on July 14th, 1908 on the harbor front where locals and tourists enjoy its splendor. After extensive repairs in 1999, the fountain was back to its full glory in September 2004. The story behind the fountain’s creation is based on a mythical saga about the island of Zealand. Swedish king Gylfi was seduced into giving the Goddess Gefjun as much and as she could plow in a night. Gefjon turned her four sons into massive oxen, and they took enough land to create Zealand.
Christiansborg Palace – Royal Library Garden
In the center of Copenhagen tucked between the Royal Library, the Tøjhus Museum, and Christiansborg is a tranquil little park that many find delightful. Designed in 1920 by landscape gardener Jens Peder Andersen and Christiansborg’s architect Thorvald Jørgensen, it’s sprinkled with charming flowers, voluminous shade trees and rows of benches to enjoy the ambience.
Hop on a bus or rent a car and in about two hours, you will arrive at Møns Klint. It’s a perfect day trip. Just 140 km east of Copenhagen you can experience 6 km of giant chalky cliffs, umpteen stairs, and a peaceful shoreline. The stunning cliffs of Møns Klint offer a dramatic landscape of forest, hills, ponds, pastures, and pretty scenery. There is nothing like a tranquil walk out in nature and away from the din of traffic and tourists in Copenhagen.
Dyrehaven – (Deer Park)
Dyrehaven is a beautiful nature reserve park just 8 km north of Copenhagen that’s devoted to thousands of wild red and fallow deer and about 100 Sika deer. With 11 km square of imposing ancient oak trees, fresh air, natural woods and grasslands, it’s a perfect home for the deer to frolic freely and copious birds to live peacefully. It’s also an ideal place to enjoy a wildlife experience.
In the neighborhood of Christianshavn, a new district called Freetown Christiania was founded in 1971 due to a housing shortage. About 1000 homeless residents took up living in abandoned military barracks and formed a new bohemian feel district. It has grown over the decades into a quirky yet established community with its own unique personality. The area covers over 34 hectares of land with oodles of nature trails and calm lakes. You can also find everything from restaurants to markets to artist workshops to yoga and meditation centers.
Part of the joy of travel is veering off the well-trod roads and seeing sights that might not be in the tourist’s brochures. That’s always my goal and Copenhagen has lots to offer the inquisitive.