Christmas is kind of a big deal in Denmark. In Copenhagen giant wreaths adorn formidable wooden doors, twinkly lights border shop and restaurant facades and add sparkle to trees and foliage; wishes of “God jul” (Merry Christmas) in ornamental fonts cover storefront windows, and the requisite Christmas fir trees dot the town. On Strøget, a man with an accordion plays melodies that would make the perfect musical backdrop to a romantic comedy.
Every Christmas season, Tivoli, the second oldest amusement park in the world, transform their grounds into a majestic Christmas wonderland making it a perfect destination for families, friends, dates and tourists alike.
Copenhagen begins to quiet down during the week of Christmas. We took advantage of the calm and boarded a train for a 45-minute ride to the city of Helsingør. The city’s most famous attraction is Kronberg Palace, known also as the setting for Shakespeare’s Hamlet. The expansive grounds are magnificent and the atmosphere serene (aside from the occasional piped-in recorded sounds of incoming Calvary). The surrounding town offered its own bright charm.
Had we done a bit more advanced planning we might have joined the ranks of the Danish and tourists filling the city’s restaurants for Christmas Eve dinner. Every restaurant we contacted was booked for the evening.
We stumbled around the nearly soulless streets of Indre By looking for signs of restaurant life. We found our oasis in the form of Sultan Palace and soon other hungry, reservation-less diners joined us for the Turkish buffet.
Christmas morning we awoke to a super gift: snow! A fun treat on our last full day in Copenhagen, especially after endless rain.
This city and its people showed us a great time and we’ll miss the more relaxed pace of life and sense of calm. Now it’s on to the next country’s adventures!
Despite the cloudy skies and ever-present rain, Copenhagen is still quite beautiful. We spent our third day in the city exploring stunning views of the city and some of the art culture it offers.
Just around the block from our hostel we found plenty of architecture and design to marvel over.
View of colorful apartment buildings from our room
We walked along Gothersgade on our way to many destinations.
On the grounds of Rosenborg Castle
Almost everywhere you look the scenery is beautiful.
Hans Christian Andersens Boulevard
What our guide told us he thinks is one of the most beautiful streets in Copenhagen
Seeing Copenhagen from above was a must-do, so we visited the 110ft+ high Rundetaarn (“round tower”) and climbed the unusual spiral passage to the observatory.
After seeing the magnificent Copenhagen cityscape we ambled over to the Ny Carlsberg Glyptotek, an impressive museum filled with paintings, sculptures and ancient artifacts.
Ny Carlsberg Glyptotek
NY Carlsberg Glyptotek
Inside the museum
The Laurentian Sow
Asklepios, God of Healing
The dimly-lit stairwell that led to the mummies and sarcophaguses.
Sarcophagus of a mummified cat
Inside the Museum
Often our excursions took us down Strøget – one of the longest pedestrian-only streets in Europe – the Fifth Avenue /
Champs-Élysées / Bond Street of Copenhagen with a splash of Melrose Place. Up and down Strøget are shops, restaurants and boutiques hailing from many countries ranging from the most upscale like Gucci to more wallet-friendly options like Zara: a shopper’s paradise. Side note: the Danish are really tall; at 5’1″, I feel like a toddler clumsily climbing onto stools that are too high and ducking the flailing hands of passers-by in conversation.
For dinner that evening, we opted for a Danish meal at a restaurant within the freetown of Christiania, Spiseloppen. To say that the restaurant’s location is sketchy would greatly understate the level of anxiety we felt as we climbed each narrowing step, rising higher and higher away from safer ground, bypassing a group of thuggish-ruggish looking twenty-something men I named the “Danish Get Fresh Crew,” one of whom whistled at us as we passed by. Happily, we avoided our own Law & Order: SVU-type tale when we opened a heavy-wooden door to a perfectly respectable-looking restaurant with an affable host/server and warm and comforting dishes.
Restaurants in the shabby building
Sketchy stairwell of impending doom
Inside the restaurant
Absolutely fantastic, could-eat-it-all-day, parsnip potato leek soup with sour cream and herbs
Fried leg of lamb with julienned creamed potatoes, spinach with feta cheese, corn chips with tzatziki in a lamb sauce with ginger, coriander and chili. Very filling; unique flavors.
Nøddeflorentine Dessert with vanilla, strawberry and chocolate ice cream, apple-blueberry compote and a mango . Dee-lih-cious!
Danish rice pudding with cherry sauce which we were told is a traditional Christmas dessert. I liked the rice pudding, but the cherry sauce was incredibly rich. Still free makes things taste better.
At the end of our meal, our server informed us that it was the last night the restaurant would be open until January 17th. “We’re taking a much-needed break for the holidays.” I told my friend I couldn’t imagine a restaurant in the United States closing for almost a month to give everyone time off. We’re opening up shops on Thanksgiving Day now for goodness’ sake!
In honor of the occasion he comped us free pints of the Danish seasonal holiday beer, Tuborg Julebryg, along with a traditional Danish Christmas dessert or rice pudding topped with a cherry sauce. Tuborg, isn’t my favorite. I must admit, I prefer German and Belgian ales and lagers, but the gesture was kind nonetheless and a lovely way to end a great day.
I'm Keisha ("Kee-shuh", not to be confused with Ke$ha). I am a (later) thirty-something, non-mommy, non-wife, who lives in San Francisco, California New York and has lots of opinions on lots of things.