This summer I wanted to take my daughter away for a few days of quality time, just the two of us. I considered Barcelona and Amsterdam. These cities both offer lots of fun and culture within a small-ish area, but in the end I opted for Copenhagen. The Danish capital is a compact but beautiful (and effortlessly stylish) city, and a short 90 minute flight from London. There’s plenty to see and do, plus the added bonus of Tivoli Gardens, a theme park that is located in the centre of town. The locals are friendly and everyone we met spoke impeccable English.
I used skyscanner.net to check out the options, and booked a Luton/Copenhagen flight direct via Ryanair. I pre-booked Meet & Greet parking in the Multistorey car park at Luton, and also the priority lane at security.
Hotels in Copenhagen are not cheap. I trawled Tripadvisor and Facebook groups for recommendations, but I just wasn’t sure about paying over £200 a night to share a twin room with my daughter. I opted for an Airbnb apartment in the Vesterbro neighbourhood. This gave us more space, more facilities, and more of an insight into the real life of a local family.
I bought a ‘Copenhagen card’. For 93 Euros I purchased a card for 72 hours. This entitled the two of us to entry to all of the attractions that we wanted to visit. This meant one entry per attraction, plus extra for the rides at Tivoli. It also included transport via the train, Metro, and buses.
What we did
Day 1 – Flying from London to Copenhagen, and our first evening
– Flight from London to Copenhagen.
We parked in the Multi Storey Meet & Greet car park at Luton, which made our departure very easy.
Top tip – if your flight is not yet listed on the departure boards, head to the relevant airline’s check-in desks anyway. There was already a queue for our flight at the Ryanair check-in desk, even though it was not yet listed.
I had paid a little extra for fast track for security, but this was unnecessary as the airport was quiet. We bought lunch from Pret, and had a smooth and uneventful flight.
At Copenhagen airport I was surprised to find a long queue for passport control on arrival, and then a suprisingly long walk to baggage reclaim.
Top tip – hand luggage trolleys are readily available, grab one to ease your burden.
Once we had collected our luggage, we went to the Information desk in the arrivals hall. Here we collected our Copenhagen card and they validated it for us immediately as we planned to use it right away on the train. All trains from Platform 2 stop at Copenhagen Central Station (Kobenhavn Hovedbanegard), and the journey took around 15 minutes. On arrival it took us a few minutes to find the taxi rank, and then we jumped in a cab to our airbnb apartment. It wouldn’t have taken us long to walk, but we were hot and tired and my suitcase wheels are rubbish. I’ve since replaced it with a Samsonite 4-wheeler so I’ll no longer have this excuse.
The apartment was exactly as described on airbnb. It was located on Dannebrogsgade, a residential street that runs perpendicular to Vesterbrogade (which you walk along to get into the main centre of town). There was a fantastic playground located at the end of the street, and we were a short walk away from the bars and restaurants of the Meatpacking district. The apartment was clean and well equipped, with a Quooker hot water tap and a lovely induction hob. I’m not sure how many times I can justifiably use the phrase ‘effortlessly stylish’, but if I can, then I would definitely use it to describe this pad! It was all very hygge.
I slept in the master bedroom, my daughter slept in one of the two (small) children’s bedrooms, and we shared a bathroom (shower and toilet – no bath). There was a balcony overlooking the park and a lovely dining area and lounge. Trine (the owner) met us and was very helpful. She gave us the lowdown on the local area, and provided us with lots of guidebooks and leaflets. My only (very minor) criticisms were that the apartment was very bright at nighttime, and a little noisy. However, I always travel with eyepatches, and you can’t really expect perfect peace in a trendy, city-centre apartment. So this didn’t really bother us. There are a couple of flights of stairs to climb, and no lift available, but we were made aware of this when booking.
Once settled, we strolled west on the Vesterbrogade to explore the tourist heart of Copenhagen. En route we stopped off for a delicious ice cream at Paradise. We continued past Tivoli, all the way through the main shopping area to the canal. I had intended for us to take a canal boat tour (which is included in the Copenhagen card) but we changed our minds and looped back round to check out Ripley’s Believe it or Not. This was also included in the Copenhagen card, and we enjoyed most of the exhibits, although my daughter found the final section a bit too scary for her taste. We wouldn’t have paid extra to visit Ripley’s, but it was really nice that the Copenhagen card gave us the opportunity to try it out.
We fancied sushi for dinner, so we headed to Tivoli Garden, and took the lift up to Sticks N Sushi. The entrance to the restaurant is outside the park, but it overlooks it. This gave us a lovely overview of what we would see the following day. I’d eaten at Sticks N Sushi in London, and it originates in Denmark. It’s an upmarket chain serving sushi and skewers and much of the other food that you’d expect in a Japanese style restaurant. My daughter loved the kids meal (maki, skewers, edamame and rice) and I was very happy with one of their set meals. After dinner we walked home to the apartment, via the playground.
Day 2 – Tivoli Gardens
We walked to the Laundromat Café in Frederiksburg for a delicious breakfast. Then we headed on to spend the day at Tivoli Gardens. Our Copenhagen card gave us free entry (for one day) to Tivoli Gardens itself, which would have cost 170 DKK. Once you’re in the park, you need to buy tickets to go on the rides. Tickets can be purchased individually, or you can buy wristbands that offer unlimited rides. We opted for the unlimited ride wristbands. I did notice that some people had pre-printed barcodes that they were scanning at the ticket machines. It’s possible that this offers some kind of discount, but I didn’t explore this option.
We had such a fun time at Tivoli Gardens. The rides were all really fun, and the park is really well kept and easy to navigate. Queue times were rarely long. The food was pricey but tasty. If you want to avoid the usual theme park fare, we saw organic fish and chips on offer, plus the Tivoli Food Hall has tons of healthy options.
After a hectic morning we headed back to the apartment for a rest and a play at the playground. At dinnertime we wandered into the Meatpacking district and attempted to get a table at Mother, a trendy pizza place. It was pretty busy and instead we took ourselves off to the local branch of Sticks N Sushi, for a repeat of the previous night’s dinner. After dinner we walked back into Tivoli for more rollercoasters and ice cream.
Day 3 – Some sightseeing, and back to Tivoli Gardens
Our Airbnb host had recommended that we check out the zoo, but I felt like we should do something that we couldn’t do at home in London. First stop was the food market, Torvehallerne. I used Google Maps to figure out which bus we needed to take. All our journeys were covered by our Copenhagen card. We feasted our eyes on the array of food and drink available, and then gorged ourselves on pastries. Once we had washed it all down with a smoothie, we moved on.
Next stop was the Amalienborg Palace, via the Metro, which was very easy to navigate. The Palace was interesting, although my daughter wasn’t too excited by it. It’s not very accessible for buggies, but there are handy lockers for bag storage.
Then we moved on to Christiania. I’d always been curious about this place, Copenhagen’s mystical freetown. We walked across the harbour and passed a great looking food market, the Bridge Street Kitchen.
The walk was a great way to see this part of town, and we finished up with a stroll around Christiania itself. After this we were pretty hot and tired so we took a bus home and picked up a delicious takeaway pizza from Mother
After a rest, my daughter talked me into returning to Tivoli Gardens. On the way there she had a very tasty looking ice cream from Sicilian Is. As we had already used our Copenhagen card there the previous day, we had to pay the full entry fee plus the fee for ride wristbands, a total of 630DKK for the two of us, which was pretty steep. We had so much fun there again, and this time we braved the Demon ride several times. As it was Friday the park was much busier, as it was hosting a rock concert that evening. We finished up with dinner at the Tivoli Food Hall and then strolled home to bed.
Day 4 – Homeward bound
In the morning we strolled around the Meatpacking district to find somewhere for breakfast. As it was the weekend, we were offered a brunch buffet in a couple of different places, Carlton and A Propos. We opted for Carlton, and fully enjoyed the spread.
Then it was time to head back to the airport. Uber is not operational in Copenhagen, but I downloaded the Taxa.dk app which made it really easy to book a taxi. We should have really used our Copenhagen card to get the train to the airport, but I just couldn’t be bothered with lugging everything back to the station.
At Copenhagen airport we had to print our own luggage tags before joining the bag drop queue. We weren’t told this at first, and it was all a bit confusing – and I saw plenty of other people doing the same back and forth. Once through into Departures everything was easy, and we didn’t experience the same long queue as on our outbound journey. Then it was an uneventful flight home.
I’d do it again in a heartbeat. Copenhagen was a fabulous choice, a winning combination of culture, cosiness and quirkiness, with a theme park slap bang in the city centre. It’s not a cheap city, but the Copenhagen card was helpful, and it was also great to have an Airbnb as it meant we had our own cooking facilities.
I had such a special time with my daughter. It was so unusual for the two of us to have such a prolonged period of one-on-one time together. We both loved it, and it’s an experience I’d love to repeat each year if we can.