I happened to be in Copenhagen several times, either passing by or coming for shorter or longer visit. Once I even lived there for some time. I got up in the morning and just like other Danes I cycled into town. This was the most convenient way to meet local people and get to know the city. Probably any person visiting Denmark will notice that it is a country that has been extremely well organized and structured. Therefore, to make an overall contrast I would like to share some of my subjective thoughts and experiences in a less structured way hoping to offer some travel tips for those traveling to Danish capital.
For the beginning, it is worth to mention that one of the highlights that drives young people into Copenhagen is Christiania. Formally, it is not part of neither Denmark, nor Copenhagen. It remains a self-proclaimed independent state with roughly 850 inhabitants and size of 35 hectares. It has aroused much controversy since its inception in 1971. It was started out by some squatters settling down an abandoned military base. Over time, Christiania became an integral part of urban folklore and even the ever existing conflict with Danish authorities regarding the possession, use and sale of cannabis was finally given up. Today, it is merely a quiet hippie town. Before you leave Christiania you will see a sign “You are now entering the EU”.
Copenhagen is crossed by multiple canals. It attracts enthusiasts of kayaking, rowing and those who prefer to live on the water. It also provides the opportunity for sightseeing by a tourist boat. Nyhavn is a historic seventeenth-century harbor, which originally was a hub for merchant ships from around the world. An entertainment center was needed for the thriving harbor. Many restaurants, pubs and playhouses with girls were built up in the area. All that visiting sailors would need to have a bit of fun after their long voyages. Hans Christian Andersen used to live in Nyhavn and this place was his good inspiration.
Over time, as full ocean vessels grew larger and larger, much of the Nyhavn’s traffic was overtaken by larger harbors. Nowodays, Nyhavn is beautifully renovated boulevard of buildings with colorful facades and historic boats moored by the shore.
The easiest way for a quick trip outside the city is a cycling tour around the island of Amager (the one where the airport is located). The island is large enough to forget about the city stress, actually it is large enough even to get lost. You will reach the southern edge through various fields, villages and little forests. There are some wild unattended beaches ideal for kitesurfing. Then you can tour the airport and a few kilometers further north there is Amager Strandpark, a city park perfect for sport enthusiasts, especially skateboarding and watersports, as well as those who simply like to relax on artificially created sandy beach strip
Some more kilometers to the north there is another interesting site. Jægersborg Dyrehave is a park with an area of 11 square kilometers. It has a population of more than 2,100 deer. Come there if you like to see these animals. Meeting some of them it is absolutely inevitable!
Speaking of animals, the Copenhagen zoo one of the city’s highlights. There’s also been quite a lot international controversy around it. Particularly those concerning purposeful killing of giraffes, lions and other animals by zoo staff. Whether it has been done in the name of science, or to preserve the best genes, to infuriate people or just for any other reason, it does not justify it. What matters though, is the simple observation: the strength of propaganda and people’s trust in local authorities made most of them believe it was rightful decision!
Now it’s time for Copenhagen in a nutshell, in other words, a 42.2 km run along city streets. Running a marathon is one of the best ways to discover interesting parts of any given city. At least that is the intention of the organizers. The Nykredit Copenhagen’s Marathon route will guide runners through selected parts of the city that are considered notable. The start and finish of the marathon are located on the Islands Brygge boulevard on the island of Amager. Runners will pass great Langebro bridge and run towards in the central part of the city. Running through the city center, as well as districts of Østerbro, Nørrebro and Vesterbro lets you see the iconic monuments of architecture, as well as various places of historical and cultural importance. The route takes us through green Østerbro, multicultural Nørrebro and modern Vesterbro. Most important factor are the crowds of cheering supporters. There is loud music, concerts, orchestras, choirs and DJs, all of them scattered along the way. Cheering gives you so much energy – I completed the first half of the race in less than hour and a half, completely forgetting about the remaining half of the race. As I was passing a Kenyan girl running like an antelope I woke up to the fact that I’m perhaps running a little bit too fast. Eventually, I managed to finish the race in 3 hours and 13 minutes. It is enough time to discover main parts of the entire city. Those in a hurry are able to finish the race in less than three hours, but some who like to do more sightseeing, took it easy and used as many as six hours to finish the race.
Another great way of experiencing Denmark is cycling through it. The route from Gedser to Copenhagen runs across the islands of Falster and Sealand. Covering a distance of 150km at moderately recreational pace takes an average of eight hours. In the south of Denmark at some points you will see abandoned villages where nobody wants to live. Every second household is for sale. The road towards the capital is a perfect quality cycling lane mostly separated from the car traffic. For several hours you will ride through many fields, meadows, forests and villages and once in a while you will see a subtle hill breaking the prevailing flat landscape.