Travel Agent’s Dave Eisen is sailing aboard the MS Europa this week.
Copenhagen’s cruise port is within walking distance from the center of the city, which is nice when you don’t have a single krone in your pocket (I recommend older cruise passengers splurge on a taxi; most of the cruise lines also offer free shuttles). The walk is about 20 minutes, but there are many attractions to see on your way. For instance, the Little Mermaid statue is one of Copenhagen’s favorite sites and a character in a Hans Christian Andersen fairy tale. Regular sites within Copenhagen conjure images of a different time, from the postmen in bright red jackets to the horde of cycling commuters.
Once inside the city, our first stop was Amalienborg Palace, home of the royal family. Our favorite part about the visit: watching a palace sentry shoo away an unsuspecting tourist who got a little too close to a restricted area.
From there, we walked the many cobblestone streets, taking in the magnificent architecture that survived the bombing campaigns of World War II. Before leaving, everyone who had been to Copenhagen told me to visit Tivoli Gardens, situated across the street from Radhuspladsen, the city’s town square, which attracts many tourists.
Tivoli Gardens costs about $17 per person to enter and, while striking and well-maintained, is truly meant for children more than for adults. There are many rides and novelty stores— it’s reminiscent of a Busch Gardens, but on a smaller level. Myself? I was suspecting well-manicured gardens, waterways and colorful flower beds. What we got was a slimmed down amusement park. Oddly, there was one building of slot machines, which, because our ship is non-gambling, gave us pause. Ultimately, the stench of stale cigarette smoke mixed with despair prompted our quick exit.
Lunch was now a top priority. When in Copenhagen you have to try a smorrebrod, or open sandwich. You can choose from salmon, eel, shrimp, steak herring, roast beef or other delicacies. My American tastes steered me toward salami. Note: I don’t know whether it was the August weather (comfortable at around 68 degrees) or the Carlsberg draft (Carlsberg is Denmark’s national beer and a tour of the Carlsberg Brewery is a sought-out excursion), but we were swarmed by bees while sitting outside the café. I wouldn’t make it a point if it wasn’t egregious. Just know if it ever happens to you, it’s not an aberration.
After lunch, we walked Holmens Kanal and its beautiful stretch of canal houses. Canals wind their way through much of Copenhagen, albeit on a smaller scale than that of Amsterdam or Venice. Another must stop is the Christiansborg Palace, once the home of the royal family and now that of the Danish Parliament.
We took the circuitous route back to the ship and happily stumbled upon the botanical gardens, which actually is what I went in thinking Tivoli Gardens was (silly me!). It reminded my traveling companion of Golden Gate Park in San Francisco and is perfect for idling afternoon walks.
Copenhagen is an enchanting Scandinavian city with narrow secluded streets, small unassuming shops and an array of stuccoed houses, which gives it a very fairytale-like atmosphere, perfect for the birthplace of the famed children’s writer, Andersen, mentioned previously.
Tomorrow: Tallin, Estonia.
See more of the Copenhagen region in the video below: