In the spring I decided to go with two friends to two Scandinavian countries: Denmark and Sweden. Due to the geographic proximity, we were able to visit Copenhagen in Denmark and Malmo in Sweden, in a cold but unforgettable experience.
Facts about the city:
Copenhagen was considered the happiest city and the best place to live in the world.
Founded in 1847, the original Carlsberg brewery is located in Copenhagen and is now one of the most popular places to visit in the capital. The urban fairy tale park has inspired Walt Disney in their theme park creations!
In April I visited Copenhagen with Paula and Carla. Paula is one of my best friends and Carla is a girl who also lives in Paredes and that I met in Porto, while doing a French course. They did not even know each other but it worked out very well, we all had a good time together! In the plane we ran into my friend Rita’s parents, such a small world. They went with us by train to the city center.
We arrived late at night and checked in at our hostel: Copenhagen Downtown Hostel. We stayed in a triple room which was not very big, but OK. We paid a total of €412, all three of us, for three nights. That is, about 45 € per person, per night. We had cheaper options, but this hostel was very well located and it was considered even one of the best hostels in Europe – partly because of the lively bar that exists on the ground floor. At night we went to the bar of our hostel to drink a beer. The atmosphere there is indeed amazing, always full of people from all over the world.
Danish people are more civilized than we are. If we return the empty water bottles we bought, they give us part of the money back. People are also super nice: they are beautiful, speak good English and are always smiling. They ride bike a lot too. It was only strange for us that the currency is not Euro in these two countries.
The next day we had breakfast at the hostel and went for a walk. We passed Rådhuspladsen (City Hall Square) and the Danish Royal Theater (Kongelige Teater). The theater was founded in 1748, first serving as the theater of the king, and then as the theater of the country. The theater presents opera, the Royal Danish Ballet, classical music concerts (by the Royal Danish Orchestra, which dates back to 1448), and drama.
Then we took a boat tour, which began in Nyhavn, is a famous 17th-century water canal. It is lined by brightly colored 17th and early 18th century townhouses and bars, cafes and restaurants. The canal harbours many historical wooden ships. Hans Christian Andersen used to live there.
The boat passed by the Opera, several churches and the statue of the Little Mermaid. The Copenhagen Opera House is among the most modern opera houses in the world. It is also one of the most expensive opera houses ever built with construction costs well over US$500 million.
The Little Mermaid bronze statue is one of the most famous landmark in Copenhagen! Inspired by Hans Christian Andersen’s story, the statue was given to city by Carl Jacobsen, a Danish brewer after he saw a ballet of the tale. The statue, full of meaning, it is in a beautiful open place, but far from the center. Also, the statue is very small live so we only saw it from the water.
It was very cold! After the tour we wanted to warm up and went to Papirøen (paper island), which is a kind of market in a warehouse on a island with several restaurants where we can have lunch. Upon entering the former warehouse, you’ll notice that it has been transformed into a hipster mecca perfect for your newest Instagram Story. The food stalls and trucks within the warehouse are completely different from any others that you’ve seen before. From an old, bright green bus serving coffee, to a little wooden house selling burgers, and colorful carts selling Korean street food, you’ll need to walk around to take it all in.
Before we finally got to Papirøen, we caught a boat in the wrong direction and made an unnecessary turn to the city! At least we didn’t have to pay for it.
Next we went to Christiania, a self-proclaimed autonomous anarchist district of about 850 to 1,000 residents, covering 34 hectares. It’s like a hippie community where they also sell drugs. It was strange to me to see the camouflaged shops and the hooded men and guns at the entrance of each store/tent.
It was temporarily closed by residents in April 2011 by the Danish government, but later re-opened. Christiania has been a source of controversy since its creation in a squatted military area in 1971. Its cannabis trade was tolerated by authorities until 2004. In the years following 2004, measures for normalizing the legal status of the community led to conflicts, police raids and negotiations.
The area can be considered quite rough and dodgy. According to Copenhagen police the area around Pusher Street is controlled by organised criminal groups. They discourage visitors to photograph, run and talk on the phone in the area.
We also went to the Church of Our Savior (Vor Frelsers Kirke). It is most famous for its helix spire with an external winding staircase that can be climbed to the top, offering extensive views over central Copenhagen. The staircase of this tower begins internally, almost two people pass at the same time, and it gets narrower, until it is necessary to wait if you’re going up for the people who are trying to go down.
We crossed Christianshavn water canal and the Stock Exchange building until we reached Christiansborg Palace (Christiansborg Slot). Then we climbed from the elevator to the tower and took some cool panoramic pictures from above.
The Christiansborg Palace is the seat of the Danish Parliament, the Danish Prime Minister’s Office and the Supreme Court of Denmark. Also, several parts of the palace are used by the Danish monarch, including the Royal Reception Rooms, the Palace Chapel and the Royal Stables. The palace is thus home to the three supreme powers: the executive power, the legislative power, and the judicial power. It is the only building in the world that houses all three of a country’s branches of government.
The palace today bears witness to three eras of Danish architecture, as the result of two serious fires. The first fire occurred in 1794 and the second in 1884. The main part of the current palace, finished in 1928, is in the historicist Neo-baroque style. The chapel dates to 1826 and is in a neoclassical style. The showgrounds were built 1738-46, in a baroque style.
Afterwards we had breakfast and we still visited the Marble Church (Marmorkirken) and the Amalienborg Palace, which is the official residence of the royal family, and where there is also the exchange of guards like in London. Amalienborg Palace is located between the Marble Church and the Operaen, in an octagonal square with four identical buildings and an equestrian statue of Frederik V. We finished the day in the bar of the hostel again, listening to music from the 90s.
The next day we went for a stroll around Strøget and I bought some new Adidas shoes. Strøget is a pedestrian, car free shopping area. This popular tourist attraction in the center of town is one of the longest pedestrian shopping streets in Europe at 1.1 km.
We went to the Roud Tower (Rundetaarn), which was built as an astronomical observatory. It is most noted for its equestrian staircase, a 7.5-turn helical corridor leading to the top. Today the Round Tower serves as an observation tower for expansive views of Copenhagen, a public astronomical observatory and a historical monument.
After we discovered a nice park by mistake This was not the park we were looking for on the map, but we had a lot of fun there! We took pictures with Carla’s Instax, tried to take pictures in the air jumping and still fed some ducks that walked around there. After we went to Rosenborg Castle and the Botanical Garden.
The castle was originally built as a country summerhouse in 1606 and is an example of Christian IV’s many architectural projects. The castle is open to the public for tours and houses a museum exhibiting the Royal Collections, artifacts spanning a breadth of royal Danish culture, from the late 16th century of Christian IV to the 19th century.
We ended the day at Tivoli, which is the second oldest amusement park in Europe (opened in 1843) and is right in the center of Copenhagen. We paid about 13 € for the entrance. I love it! It was big, vintage style, with a large lake in the middle, and a lot of revivalist amusements.
We tried one called Vertigo and I never felt such adrenaline in my life! It was giant, with two airplanes at each end, and it went up and down at incredible speed as the planes spun on themselves as well. Our heads were upside down! From above we saw the whole city and when we went down it seemed that we were about to touch the ground and die.
After the Tivoli we went to the train station. We stopped at Dunkin’ Donuts and Starbucks and then took the train to the airport. Tak (thank you) Copenhagen, I loved this trip!
Facts about the city:
The Øresund Bridge opened in 2000 and since then thousands of cars and trains have crossed the strait between Denmark and Sweden. The bridge consists of both a bridge, a tunnel and the artificial island Peberholmen. Combined it adds up to a total length of 16 km.
We left Copenhagen and took a train to Malmö, Sweden. We took advantage of the geographical proximity of these two countries and the two cities, which are divided only by water and the Øresund bridge, and we visited two countries in a single trip. This bridge is very interesting because it is half bridge, half tunnel: it is 8 km long: 4 km on an artificial island and suddenly the island ends and the train plunges into the sea through a tunnel of 4 km more. It only takes about 20, 30 minutes to be crossed. Because of the refugees, police had to control our identity in order to let us cross.
Malmö is a small town, but super cute. You can see everything in one afternoon. We visited a lighthouse and the Stortorget. Stortorget was built in 1536. Stortorget became Malmö’s new marketplace and was the largest city square in Northern Europe for a very long time. The Town Hall is located in this square.
Then we visited Södergatan (a shopping street with a funny statue of an orchestra) and Lilla Torg. Lilla Torg is a main square, with beautiful old houses. It’s a great spot to take a stroll or enjoy a coffee and it was built in 1592. We also visited a church: St. Petri Kyrka. Construction started in 1319. It is built in the Gothic style and has a 105 m tall tower.
Then we went to Kungsparken, which is a park with a gorgeous giant mill, a lake, water canals and ducklings. After that we went to visit the Malmöhus. The Malmöhus Castle was built in 1437 by Erik of Pomerania, inhabited by the kings of Denmark in the 1500s, and used as a prison until 1914. Currently it houses a history museum, art museum, aquarium, and terrarium. We visited both museums and the aquarium.
We had lunch in a nice restaurant and bought some souvenirs. At the end of the day, we returned to Denmark and said goodbye to Sweden. It was an amazing trip!