Hubby and I were exhausted after hiking and exploring nonstop for 11 days in Iceland and the Faroe Islands, but we still had four full days left in our two-week vacay!
Hubby had found a cheap non-stop flight from Paris to Denver, so we just had to make our way south to Paris in order to get home. Hubby had grand [and unrealistic] plans of visiting many places before we ended up in Paris, including Copenhagen, Brussels, and Berlin. As I have admitted before, I’m not much of a “city girl” when it comes to vacations, so when I ended up being in charge of our travel plans, I nixed all of those cities, with the exception of Copenhagen, since it was one of the few places that flew directly to/from the Faroe Islands.
Our itinerary was pretty simple: one full day in Copenhagen and one full day in Paris. We didn’t plan on renting a vehicle in either place, so we would just be exploring as much as we could on our weary feet.
We arrived in Copenhagen at six o’clock on the first night and by the time we made it to our Airbnb, we only had a few glimpses of the city before the sunset, one of which was how impressive the bike life was! Bicycles here, bicycle there, bicycles everywhere! Swoon!
Our first and only agenda the first night was food and drinks. We found an incredible sushi place to eat at and ended the night at a welcome sight, a cocktail bar.
DAY 1 >> PEDAL BOATS, STREET FOOD, NYHAVN, AND THE ALTERNATIVE WALKING TOUR
Without any set plans in Copenhagen, we looked forward to our first guilt-free opportunity to sleep in on our trip… but the city had other plans for us.
Our Airbnb was located in a seemingly quiet, residential neighborhood two miles southeast of downtown Copenhagen, but little did we know that construction of a large apartment building was going up one short block away from our fifth floor penthouse suite. We were abruptly woken up at six o’clock in the morning by the abnormally loud noises of a crane and several jack hammers.
Hubby and I live in a new neighborhood that’s been bustling with residential construction ever since we moved in three years ago, and we also both work downtown where we are surrounded by commercial construction, so construction noise is nothing new for us, but this was a special kind of construction noise that was so comically loud that it made us wonder if the universe was playing a cruel joke on us during our relaxing vacation. The cute sheep in the Faroe Islands were one thing, but this was not cute at all.
Hubby and I had to some good laughs in bed as we tried ignoring the noise to go back to sleep, but we eventually forfeited and got ready for breakfast. Coincidentally, much like the sheep, the construction noise also dialed down to a reasonable level right after we had decided to get up.
After a filling, tapas-like breakfast at a cute cafe near our Airbnb, we set off for our first activity in Copenhagen. The night before when hubby and I were brainstorming activities to do and sights to see in Copenhagen, I expressed to hubby how exhausted I was of planning our itinerary in Iceland and the Faroe Islands and needed him to take over.
While we had considered doing a very touristy canal tour that would allow us to sit back and have someone else take us to all the must-see sights, hubby ended up having a much better surprise activity for us: swan pedal boats in the canal! While the activity certainly didn’t give our legs the much-needed break they probably deserved, it was one of the first times on our trip that we could sit back, put our cameras away, and just have some good old-fashioned fun.
After our pedal boat activity, we found ourselves walking up and down the streets of Copenhagen in order to simply find a restroom, which seemed to be a common theme on our whole trip. This unintentional tour took us to a few touristy sights that we could visit just to say we had visited. More importantly, we were able to kill some time until lunch, which this perpetually-hungry, nature-loving girl was looking forward to more than looking at a bunch of old buildings.
By lunchtime, we had worked up an appetite and traveled a great distance in search of a popular indoor mecca of food and drink vendors called Copenhagen Street Food. When we finally arrived at the location of the street food fair, we were a bit surprised to find a somewhat underwhelming number of food options, but glad that it was outdoors instead.
As it turns out, we ended up at the temporary outdoor replacement of the indoor food mecca, called Broens Gadekøkken, which was actually no where near the original Copenhagen Street Food.
Nonetheless, we enjoyed our food and drink selections at the outdoor food truck collab and after we finished our lunch, we noticed that we were conveniently close to the iconic neighborhood Nyhavn, which consists of several colorful buildings lined along the canal. We did a quick tour through this busy district and made our way to our one planned activity for the day, a free walking tour of Copenhagen. More walking… joy!
When we arrived at the coffee shop meeting location for the free walking tour, we saw that there was a check-in table inside, so hubby proceeded to check us in while I fetched some coffee for myself.
After getting coffee and finding hubby, he commented that the free tour was oddly not free after all, as the tour organizer had casually asked for hubby’s credit card after checking in. We were puzzled, but figured it was just a typical touristy gimmick we had fallen for.
As it turns out, it technically wasn’t a touristy gimmick we had fallen for, but somewhat of a bait-and-switch. Apparently the free tour met outside the coffee shop and we likely didn’t even have to check-in for that tour. We ended up signing ourselves up for an alternative, paid tour inside the coffee shop literally called “The Alternative Tour”.
Despite the annoyance of paying for a tour we thought was going to be free, The Alternative Tour ended up being a worthwhile use of our time. The tour guide taught us about the “dark” side of Copenhagen including the prostitutes, sex trade, drugs, and “fixing houses”. He ended our tour with an in-depth description of Freetown Christiania, a controversial and semi-autonomous neighborhood in Copenhagen famous for its wild and unique residents, rules, and buildings, and send us on our way to self-explore the unique and unpolished town.
By the time we ended our long Alternative Walking Tour and walked through the sketchy “town” of Christiania, it was thankfully time for food again. We made our way back to Nyhavn and concluded our day in Copenhagen with a nice dinner at a delicious fish restaurant along the canal called Havfruen.
DAY TWO >> WINDOW SHOPPING IN COPENHAGEN
After completing a full day of walking the previous day, I woke up on the second morning not feeling sad at all that we would already have to say goodbye to Copenhagen.
Our flight from Copenhagen to Paris was not departing until 7:15 pm, so not only did we still have a lot of hours left in Copenhagen, but we needed a plan for our heavy luggage if we were to do more touring on our second day. Fortunately, hubby immediately came to the rescue and found a website called “Luggage Hero,” which provided a list of local shops that rented out spare space to tourists for luggage storage.
It certainly seemed pretty sketchy to be dropping off our luggage at a random sandwich shop that morning, not knowing whether we would actually see it again, but we were grateful that we wouldn’t have to wheel it around the cobblestone sidewalks of the city for an entire day.
At the improvised luggage shop, we traded our 50-pound suitcases for deli sandwiches and found a spot to relax at beside the canal in Nyhavn.
Although Copenhagen was no beach in Hawaii, one of the great things about the city was the legal public drinking, so we took advantage of the acceptable activity of wining and dining in public while watching the boats go by in the canal.
After a relaxing lunch by the canal, we meandered around the city some more and found a few cute shops to check out before we began our long commute back to the airport.
Although I certainly hadn’t looked forward to spending any of our vacation days in a big city, if there was any city I could make an exception for, it was Copenhagen. For two days we were able adore the colorful brick buildings and infectious bike culture of this diverse and adorable city.
Up next: The City of Lights