24 Hours in Copenhagen

Hi hi – I was greeted as I walked into the reception of the hotel in Copenhagen. It’s such a chirpy way to say hello (actually spelled hej hej in Danish) and I immediately felt welcomed into the cosy wood-beamed reception of the 71 Nyhavn hotel.

I’m only in the Danish capital for about 24 hours, so location as they say is everything. I picked the 71 Nyhavn hotel for just that reason. I had a choice of this or the Admiral hotel. While I was walking past, I popped into the Admiral and was glad I hadn’t stayed there. Not that it didn’t also look welcoming with its fairy-lit reception area, but it’s so much bigger than the 71 Nyhavn. Sometimes size isn’t everything, and I was happier staying in a smaller hotel, especially when the staff greeted by name at breakfast the next morning.

So, location. The 71 Nyhavn sits on the Nyhavn canal that’s lined with colourful Dutch-style houses. The writer Hans Christian Andersen lived at no. 67 along with drunken sailors enjoying a beer or some fish from the restaurants along the quayside. This is still one of the areas to come for lunch (frokost) as there’s plenty of choice. And whatever time of year, you can sit outside and enjoy the view – in winter covered in blankets.

At the end of Nyhavn harbour, just 5 minutes walk from the hotel, is Kongens Nytorv. Here, you’ll find the metro station from where it’s only 20 minutes to the airport (Lufthavnen) and costs just 36 danish kroner (approx. £3.60). Don’t do as I do though and buy the ticket in advance as it’s only valid for 1hr 15.

Next to Kongens Nytorv is the Magasin du Nord department store, with a whole floor dedicated to chocolate, and I even found a bar called “Fit Fiona” in purple by Danish company, Simply Chocolate. Kongens Nytorv is also the start/end of Stroget pedestrian shopping street. A couple of other stores to look out for are Illums department store, and also Georg Jensen’s famed silver shop.

After a brief shopping spell, I decided to head to the other side of the harbour to the independent state of Christiania. A kindly local told me to walk just past the church (the golden spire of Vor Frelsers church is clearly visible), and turn left. Christiania is there just under the archway advising you to “Beware Here Be Dragons”. There’s no taking photos here … while tourists are always welcome, there are a number of stalls selling hash, which is still illegal here, so the stallholders ask for anonymity hiding behind their camouflaged entrances. Apparently Copenhagen wants the area back, and it’s definitely a little rough round the edges, but I was told that you should come here for Sunday brunch.

That evening, I would have loved to have been organised and booked an opera (although for those who know me, I’ll have to wait until my cousin sings there). There’s a yellow ferry that crosses the harbour from next to the hotel, so if I’d have been going the hotel would be the perfect location.

I also hadn’t managed to get a table at world-renowned Michelin-starred restaurant Noma. While it’s opposite the hotel across the main harbour, you’ll have to wait until later in 2016 before they finally fill in the middle of the pedestrian/cycling bridge Inderhavnsbroen. For now, it’s the ferry again. As I couldn’t get a table there, I headed south along the harbourside to the green-painted The Standard restaurant in the old Sweden-Denmark ferry building. While the food is recommended, it’s also a jazz club. And all a leisurely 5-minute stroll back to the hotel.

The next morning, I had the breakfast in the hotel that’s included in the price of the room. While I was there, the hotel’s restaurant was under renovation, so it was a cold buffet with fruit, cereals and meats. Then there was still plenty of time to head back the 5 minutes along Nyhavn to the canal boat tour. For just 40 DKK (approx. £4), the boat takes you under low bridges on a 50- to 60-minute guided tour of the three harbours: Nyhavn; Christianshavn and Frederiksholms kanal. All three have painted houses that were introduced here by King Christian in the 16th century after a visit to Amsterdam. Frederiksholm is currently being regenerated and will soon have new cafes, Of course, the boat also goes along the harbour past the Opera House and as far as the Little Mermaid (Lille Havfrue). I was advised by a number of people not to bother with seeing it as it’s quite small and overrated. And they’re right to a certain extent, but at least I hadn’t walked all the way and been disappointed.

Back at Nyhavn, a couple on the boat said they were heading to the Changing the Guard at Amalienborg palace at 12 noon, so I joined them for the 5-minute walk along Toldbodgade. While it was interesting, there did seem to be a lot of nothing going on. The best entertainment was the Danish policeman who obviously had a night job as a stand-up comedian.

Not feeling it, I headed back to the harbourside walk as I realised the opera house was facing the palace with an uninterrupted view. What a fantastic place it must be to look from the opera house to the palace. Oh well, maybe next time …