Copenhagen Chronicles: The Overview

My wife Katie and I visited Oslo in the build up to launching Baltzersen’s back in early 2012.  At the end of last summer we decided to visit another one of Scandinavia’s capitals, ostensibly to gather ideas for developing the business, but a second reason was a final chance to get away before the birth of our first child in June.  Copenhagen was the chosen destination; this was primarily price led as it seems a much more affordable option than Stockholm when it comes to flights.

We flew with Easyjet from Manchester and we had to admit that it went like clockwork.  We took off on time, arrived on time and with no baggage to reclaim were in the centre of Copenhagen, via the metro system, 20 minutes after the wheels touched the runway.

We stayed in the Clarion Hotel Neptun, just one street away from the tourist centre of Nyhavn.  We stayed with the same chain in Oslo and really enjoyed the experience.   These hotels offer a bed and breakfast rate that also includes a light evening buffet – we ate here each evening to keep costs down.  Rooms are sufficiently spacious, clean and the wifi more than acceptable.

It’s difficult to spend time here when you have a limited budget and not become a little bit obsessed with comparing the price of everything back home.  Let me save you some time; everything is more expensive in Copenhagen.  It’s best that you accept this as a fact and try to get over it from the start.  If you want to eat out then target lunch rather than dinner but be aware it will at times still be eye-wateringly expensive.

Copenhagen is a city for cyclists.  There are bikes everywhere and the vast majority are not locked such is the embarrassment riches, you know it’s serious when bike racks need to be double deckers.  These cyclists, or two wheeled silent killers, are catered for in all regards by a road system that gives them equality with all other road users.  As a pedestrian unused to such a situation you must have your wits about you at all times as it is easy to stray onto the wrong path and no mercy will be shown to the errant footslogger.  It is a refreshing change though, and Katie did pose the question which came first; ‘the cycle paths or the cycles?’.  Only Copenhageners would know.

Shot of a double decker bike rack in Copenhagen

We used the metro system only to get into the city and back out to the airport.  It does not seem to be as comprehensive as the system in Oslo or other similar systems.  The vast majority of our travel was done on foot, a good option for the clear weather we had although I would not describe the city as compact so we covered some mileage.

We didn’t see many of the sights.  It’s not that there aren’t any, we were just a lot more focused on planning our movements around the food/drink we were going to consume.  We did make it out to the statue of ‘The Little Mermaid’, walk by various buildings of note and through the botanical gardens (a good yardstick of any city) but it wasn’t really what we came for.  We are only human so we did pop in to one of the Lego shops – this must be fairly compulsory.

The Little Mermaid in Copenhagen

Lego version of Nyhavn in Copenhagen

We have both travelled pretty extensively in the last 10 years but after spending three days in Copenhagen we’re not entirely sure we quite got it.  What we mean is that we were slightly baffled by the place, it was like nowhere else we had been.  It did not feel like a capital city at all.  There was no concentration of activity, no hustle and bustle.  The streets are wide avenues with plenty of space to walk.  I don’t think we felt ever restricted or hemmed in by the volume of foot traffic – it just felt kind of deserted.  We thought perhaps during lunchtime places would get busy but we never saw anyone struggle to get a table at anywhere we ate; even the food hall remained incredibly quiet and civilised.  This wasn’t a problem for us, in fact in many ways it was ideal, but that lack of buzz so usually associated with capital cities the world over still felt strange.

Wide avenues in Copenhagen

Perhaps it was some kind of holiday where lots of people leave the city and go away, but we didn’t see the signs of this.  I think by the end of the trip we reached the conclusion that Copenhagen is an entirely different proposition once spring reaches full bloom or even later once summer is upon us.  If you are looking for a quiet getaway for two where you can sample some great food and drink, albeit at a price (get over it!), then Copenhagen in March could be the one for you.

I have broken the details of what we did into several blogs, the first of which is Smørrebrød at Royal ‘Smushi’ Café.

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