As originally featured on the website Hilton Mom Voyage By Lisa Grabelle
I LOVE traveling. Obviously, I LOVE my kids, too. But there’s something else I LOVE…my amazing husband of 16 years!
So this summer my husband and I vacationed without our girls and discovered what just may be the perfect romantic getaway — Copenhagen, Denmark! Copenhagen has everything you could ever dream of to share with your special someone: fairy-tale charm blended with chic modern style, gourmet restaurants, lush gardens and world-class museums, plus a bit of royalty thrown in. There’s no way you won’t fall in love all over again.
Copenhagen is a supremely walkable city (hand-holding permitted). Below is a four-day Copenhagen itinerary for romance, but the city is on the small side so you can easily see your favorite sights over a weekend. While this itinerary provides our ideas on the best things to do in Copenhagen, Denmark for couples, I also identified the family-friendly attractions with a “*” because Copenhagen is also great for kids. As a mom, I couldn’t help myself!
DAY 1: WELCOME TO ROMANTIC COPENHAGEN
Start with a Free Walking Tour of Copenhagen* to get an overview of the city center. The guides are knowledgeable and enthusiastic! This tour hits many of the highlights, and often includes the Changing of the Guard in Amalienborg Palace.* During the brief break on the tour, join the locals and grab a world famous polse (Danish grilled hotdog). I would strongly recommend ordering the med det hele with the works including fried onions and relish. Tip: If one of you has the onions, then make sure you both do!
After the tour we headed over to Nyvahn Harbor,* which we absolutely loved! It is quintessential Copenhagen — elaborate sailboats, brightly colored old sailors’ quarters, and throngs of people eating delicious Danish cuisine at one of the many outdoor cafés, drinking beer while sitting on the quay (public beer drinking is allowed!), and snacking on ice cream piled high in waffle cones. This is THE picture-perfect place to engage in prime-time people watching.
We enjoyed lunch waterside with Cap Horn’s* famous smorrebrod, open-faced sandwiches overflowing with toppings. Then we spent the afternoon meandering among the beautiful Kogens Have* (King’s Garden), the colorful grounds of Rosenborg Castle,* and the spectacularly verdant paths of the Botanisk Have* (Botanical Gardens).
My hubby was even sweet enough to indulge me in a bit of shopping. As we strolled along the quaint cobblestone streets of the Stroget,* I dropped into uniquely Danish stores such as Royal Copenhagen Porcelain and Illums Bolighus.
Well, all nights in Copenhagen are romantic, but for us it was our wedding anniversary! We found a perfect way to celebrate — at Copenhagen’s popular Tivoli Gardens.* Founded in 1843, during the day Tivoli is a world-famous family-friendly amusement park, but at night, thousands of sparkling fairy-lights switch on and Tivoli’s true romantic magic comes alive!
After taking a spin on some of the rides (Shh, don’t tell our girls!), we chose to dine at Nimb Terrasse. The magical ambiance of a beautiful restaurant in the heart of Tivoli Gardens offered an unforgettable experience! And the Nordic gastronomy was presented beautifully in a finely-crafted multi-course tasting menu along with wine pairings. Nimb prides itself in only sourcing organic greens and working closely with local farmers and fishermen. The impeccable service added to a memorable celebratory dining experience. Tip: While the ingredients of New Nordic Cuisine can be unfamiliar and intimidating to some Americans, dive in! You won’t regret it.
To top off our perfect anniversary night, after dinner we joined the locals and danced the night away under the stars listening to the Tivoli Big Band as they played familiar songs with English lyrics (including many Frank Sinatra hits) and then snuggled up watching the fireworks burst in the sky. Romance, defined!
DAY 2: EXPLORE A LITTLE FURTHER
If art museums are your thing, start your day by visiting the Statens Museum for Kunst (National Art Gallery of Denmark) or the Ny Carlsberg Glyptotek, featuring Impressionists and Danish artists. We began our day by exploring the hip streets of Norrebro and stopping in for a casual lunch at the Torvehallerne KPH,* a gourmet food market.
And then I did something that will make my husband love me forever…I took him on the Segway Tours Copenhagen. Love, love love! Copenhagen is the perfect location for Segways because it’s a flat city with wide bicycle lanes, and it was great for first-time Segway drivers like us. We Segwayed all over town, even to the famous Little Mermaid!* This tour included expert live narration by our guide throughout via super-cool radio receivers inside our helmets, plus plenty of photo-ops, AND a bucket of beer and other beverages to end the tour!
And what could be more romantic than writing your names on a padlock and locking it on the walking bridge over the Copenhagen Harbor, Bryggenbroen?* My sweetheart and I made our “love lock” neon orange in the hope that when we return one day with our girls we can easily find it!
We then ambled through quaint Christianshavn, known as Little Amsterdam, with its scenic canals, eclectic mix of new and old boats and outdoor cafés. My husband and I also found it fascinating to explore the alternative, self-governing, community of Freetown Christiania. Tip: I strongly recommend that you read more about Christiania, including its hippie culture and strict rules limiting photography, before you visit. We strolled through this intriguing village and even enjoyed a free outdoor rock concert.
After a short visit, we enjoyed our casual dinner at Copenhagen Street Food on Paper Island* with its festive industrial space filled with authentic international street foods. The area even offers live entertainment on many weekend nights. End your night chilling at one of the Latin Quarter bars.
DAY 3: A FAIRY-TALE ROMANCE
As much as we adored Copenhagen, we wanted to see more of Denmark. And we did it “royally” with Stromma’s Castle Tour of North Zealand.* The all-day double-decker bus adventure took us through quaint seaside fisherman towns and brought us to real-live castles: the imposing Kronburg Castle* (actually Elsinor Castle where Hamlet “lived!”) and the gorgeous Frederiksborg Castle* surrounded by a beautiful lake and elaborate Baroque gardens. Our Stromma tour guide expertly led us through both castles and to a brief viewing of the exterior of Fredensborg Castle. Such a relaxing day! Trust me when I say it was a pleasure to have no worries about navigating the many trains and buses we would have needed to manage this day trip on our own. We were even able to order tasty sandwiches that were delivered to our first stop.
Returning to Copenhagen, we embarked on our next gastronomic adventure at Den Lille Fede. FABULOUS! The restaurant was romantically cozy and perfect for a date night! We went all in, opting for their seven-course tasting menu that was truly an adventure in Danish cuisine! The theatrical presentation and fascinating description of each course during our three-hour feast enthralled us. Their menu changes every month to keep up with what is in season. WOW! A foodie’s dream! With excellent service, a phenomenal wine list, the choice to dine indoors or out and a truly creative take on each dish, our meal at Den Lille Fede was a meal we will never forget!
DAY 4: CRUISIN’ AND JAZZIN’ TOGETHER
For our last day in Copenhagen, we wanted to finish big and totally Danish!
We spent the morning learning about anything and everything Danish at the Nationalmuseet* from Denmark’s inception to modern day. A real treat was taking the elevator ride to the top of the Christiansborg Palace* tower for a majestic view. For a casual lunch, we ate in the lower level of the historic Magasin du Nord* department store.
Copenhagen is a magical city that demands to be seen from the water. So we cuddled up and took the Netto-Badene* canal and harbor tour. We passed many sights along the water, including the gorgeous Opera House, the imposing architectural feat of the “Black Diamond” and the Little Mermaid statue, this time from a different vantage point.
For our Grand Finale we experienced the ultimate romantic combination — dinner and music — at the oh-so-trendy Alamanak, a waterside restaurant serving delicious modern Danish food, located on the ground floor of The Standard Jazz Club. Tip: There are three highly-rated restaurants in The Standard, including the Alamanak.
The Almanak offers breathtaking views, both indoor and outdoor, and an immaculate open kitchen. The restaurant itself is chic, light and airy. We enjoyed their extensive wine menu, top-notch service and superb dishes. Once your fabulous dinner is done, simply slip upstairs to The Standard Jazz Club, an exceptionally cozy and classy venue to listen to first-rate jazz. In this intimate club, the acoustics are fantastic and every seat affords a great view of the talented musicians. Tip: Consider purchasing the dine and jazz ticket combo for a perfect date night!
HOW TO GET AROUND COPENHAGEN:
The easy-to-navigate transportation system, and the fact that the city is so walkable, added to our pleasurable experience in Copenhagen! My husband liked sitting in the front row of the driverless high-tech metro system. (It’s like Disney’s monorail for adults.) We purchased a three-day transportation card that included all local buses, trains, and metros. Tip: Do NOT rent a car in Copenhagen! Cars are scarce and strongly discouraged. You can rent bikes like the locals (just know that most Danish do not wear helmets).
WHERE TO STAY IN COPENHAGEN:
Hilton Copenhagen Airport is a modern, top-quality hotel that is very convenient for your trip. Connected to the airport, just steps from the arrival terminal, train station, and metro station, all the major stops in Copenhagen are close by. Because we arrived late at night via plane and took a train early in the morning to Stockholm, we loved this convenient location. Plus, our spacious room had a beautiful view overlooking the airport and was perfectly quiet!
A few of the tours and meals we received were complimentary so I could share my experiences with you, however all opinions are my own.
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