Sunday, August 18, 2013

Copenhagen with Kids: Itinerary and Advice

Before beginning our week-long trip to Scandinavia, our first three days in Copenhagen were the portion of the trip I was most looking forward to. And it did not disappoint. Frankly, I'm surprised this isn't a more popular city to include in the typical American's European travels (or Brits, for that matter). There was so much to see, it's easily walkable, and everyone speaks English. Win, win, win as far as combining ease of travel and loads of fun.

We basically had 2 full days, and 2 days where we spent some of our time arriving and departing. Ideally, one more day in the city would have been nice, but we were able to cover most of what I had hoped to see in our time there. You should know that we returned to our apartment each afternoon for naps. If your kids are a bit older and don't need that, you could cover more ground. (Although my husband and I were both thankful for the downtime, as we did a lot of walking.)

Here's our itinerary for 3 days in Copenhagen with young kids:

Day 1: Fly from London Stansted Airport to Copenhagen. Even though our flight left extremely early, we still didn't arrive at our apartment until mid-day. The boys were exhausted, so off they went to nap while we settled into our apartment.

Later that afternoon, we had a snack at Botanisk Have (the botanical gardens) and then walked to Rosenborg Slot. Rosenborg Slot is a towering castle, built as a summer residence for Christian IV. We didn't go inside, and instead enjoyed the sunshine and admired it from the outside. It is surrounded by Kongens Have (King's Garden), a vast and green park area perfect for picnics. It has a wonderful playground for young kids, too. So you can easily fill a 1/2 day here if you did go inside the palace. You can read more about our time at Rosenborg Slot and Kongens Have here.

On our way back to the apartment in the evening, we swung through a large market, called Torvehallerne. Here you'll find everything from fresh produce to sushi. I wish we had picked up dinner here. (We got some delicious Thai takeout instead, so we didn't exactly starve.)

Day 2: We ate breakfast in and wandered around the Latin Quarter. Be sure to mark this area on your map, as it has several large squares surrounded by cafes that are perfect for dining with young kids if the weather is nice.

Then we walked to the Nationalmuseet (National Museum) for some fun in their children's wing. This is a great spot to head if you find yourself with a rainy day to fill. While I wish our kids had been a bit more patient in the more adult-oriented sections of the museum that we attempted, my husband and I agreed that even we learned a lot about Danish history just by reading everything on display in the children's area. (Big Arrow still can't decide if Vikings are cool or bad guys, but we love that he learned so much about them!)

After leaving the museum, we stopped at the Lego store in the bustling Stroget shopping area. (While Legos were invented in Denmark, the staff at the store tell me they sell the same products at this shop that you'd find anywhere else.) Even if you're not interested in shopping, this is a lively street with cafes and street performers and it is a fun place to stroll. It's also pedestrian-only if the kids are ready to break free from the stroller!

Later that afternoon, we played at Orstedsparken (a park near our apartment) and went out for gelato.

Day 3: We walked to the Nyhavn harbor area first thing in the morning, and then took an hour-long harbor cruise. My husband and I enjoyed the cruise the most out of all that we did in Copenhagen. From the boat, we saw many of the famous Copenhagen sites, including Amalienborg Palace and The Little Mermaid statue. After the cruise, we returned to Kongens Have to have a picnic for lunch.

That afternoon, we spent several hours at Tivoli Gardens, including dinner on a pirate ship. I'm not much for amusement parks, but Tivoli is truly a charming place. I can see why Walt Disney decided to undertake his own parks after being inspired by this place.

General Tips for Visiting Copenhagen with Kids:
  • Bring a great stroller. We didn't look into bus transportation, but the metro stops are spaced quite a distance apart. For that reason, it just made more sense to walk everywhere. 
  • We were lucky to visit in the warm summer months and had great weather, which lends itself nicely to free outdoor activities. If the forecast isn't so great for your visit, look into the Copenhagen Card, which will provide free or discount admission to lots of attractions. (But given the itinerary above, the only attractions we paid to see were the harbor cruise and Tivoli Gardens.)
  • Plan to picnic. Dining out in this city is extremely expensive. You'll spend at least a $100 for four people if you're going to sit down and have a server somewhere. In general, we ate out once each day and either cooked in our apartment or bought picnic fixings for our other meals.
  • Skip The Little Mermaid. I was glad we got to see it from the water on our harbor cruise, but it was mobbed with tourists from the cruise ships that dock nearby. If you're walking around the city, it's quite a hike from the main tourist areas. 
If I Return:
  • Amalienborg Palace looked beautiful from our harbor cruise. I wish we had time to at least admire it up close from the ground instead of just from the water.
  • Visit a beach. I had researched a beach just a quick Metro ride away at Amager Beach Park. It would have been fun to let the kids loose on a beach for a bit and take a break from urban sightseeing.
  • There were many more museums to see, but given the beautiful weather, we couldn't resist doing more outdoor activities.
This post is a part of Travel Tips Tuesday at Walking on Travels and Suitcases and Sippy Cups.