There’s something about a city break that I just absolutely love. I think it’s the fact that you’re going on a mini holiday without the stress of having to pack loads, fit into a bikini and take loads of time off work yet you’re still getting to explore more of the world.
Recently, I jetted off to Copenhagen for a girly weekend with some family; my great-auntie is soon to be celebrating a big birthday and she’s Danish so a few days in Denmark’s capital seemed like a good way to mark it.
I’ve never been to Denmark and really didn’t know much about it before we arrived. Because we were going with family that know the city inside and out, I didn’t even do much research before jumping on the plane (very unlike me) and simply picked my little pink suitcase, grabbed my passport and headed off.
Copenhagen is truly beautiful; it’s a wonderful cocktail of urbanity and authenticity. The architecture jumps from traditional, archaic houses and cute boutique shops and cafes, to impressive granite structures and high-rises. Everywhere you turn there’s something new to look at – I once read something in a book that talked about how it’s important to look up more, not down at our feet or our phones, and in Copenhagen, looking up is certainly rewarding.
We stayed in a beautiful, minimalist Airbnb right in the centre of the city that boasted high ceilings, real wood floors, chic decor and two mezzanine bedrooms that could be accessed by ladder only. It was a cosy yet trendy hub for us to migrate to before heading out each evening and the location couldn’t have been better.
I felt very lucky to be experiencing Copenhagen with my Danish relatives; it meant we could experience some of the real traditions of the nation and feel a much less touristy. On the Friday night, we headed to a part of the city that was right on the waterfront, lined with cafes and bars and restaurants, all lit by candles and snuggly thanks to the outdoor heaters. We found one lovely looking restaurant and settled in for the evening, ordering wine and feasting on delicious food while putting the world to rights. Cosied up with blankets and the buzzing city around us, I felt right at home.
Saturday was our main “touristy” day; after a lazy morning of wandering the streets to find the yummiest of Danish pastries and coffee, we headed to the canal to take a boat tour; it’s an awesome way to see the city from a whole new perspective. We meandered down the water, soaking up the sights including the opera house and the Black Diamond library, that’s frontage is made of granite and sparkles in the sun (hence its name). We had to duck our heads when the boat went under the low bridges, and waved at the locals as they strolled past; it was such a relaxing tour.
The highlight of the weekend for me was our visit to Tivoli Gardens. We arrived at dusk, just in time to see the sun go down and the park’s hundreds of lights and lanterns begin to light up. We saw a cute pantomime show in the beautiful outdoor theatre, and had the most mouthwatering dinner of traditional Danish ‘smørrebrød’, which consists of open sandwiches with your choice of topping on rye bread. Washed down with beer and shots of Schnapps, it was a truly authentic evening. We rounded off the evening with a stroll around the lake, where an illumination show was taking place, and marvelled at the beautifully lit buildings and grounds.
A city break wouldn’t be the same without a spot of shopping; so on Sunday morning, after yet another Danish pastry (it had to be done), we moseyed around the city square, popping into Illum, an architecturally beautiful department store with clothes, homeware and accessories to die for, before heading to Cafe Norden for a spot of light lunch and a final glass of wine before the flight home.
It was a fleeting trip and I’d love to go back with Toby for another visit. The thing that struck me most about Copenhagen was its laid-back vibe and easygoing nature; they say that Denmark is one of the happiest places to live on earth, and the locals swear by Hygge, a concept that encapsulates happy living and home comforts. Its this idea, and this lifestyle, that shone out to me the most while we were there. The people were so friendly, so relaxed, so…Hygge. There was no feeling of being rushed, or being up against it, or being too serious.
When we left Tivoli Gardens, there was a sequence of those funny mirrors that you find at funfairs on the way out; you know, the ones that make you look really tall, or really short, or really squashed. We just couldn’t stop laughing: I had tears rolling down my face from finding it all so funny and at one point, we had a bunch of other people around us laughing too. It was all so lovely, and friendly. I don’t ever recall anything quite like it happening to me in London.
As city breaks go, this one was a dream. Now, where to next?