Wonderful, wonderful Copenhagen! Ten things you must do

48 hours in CopenhagenRex

The Danes are proud of their capital city - and it's easy to see why. With its eclectic mix of districts, thousands of bicycles and peaceful way of life, Copenhagen is a wonderful choice for a city break.

There's a certain beauty to this place, especially on a blue-skied crisp day. Of course, you can't always control the weather but you can pick where you visit when you get there (see our guide, below). We flew to Copenhagen with BA, a painless hour and a half flight from Heathrow, and spent 48 hours in the city that brought the world Carlsberg and Hans Christian Andersen.

One thing you can't fail to notice is the Danish concept of hyggelige - basically a sense of cosiness, wellbeing and conviviality - which oozes from all corners of Copenhagen and its public spaces. Bars, restaurants and cafes all buzz with it, and when you add in the Danes' naturally friendly nature, it's virtually impossible not to leave this Scandinavian city feeling a certain joie de vivre.

Copenhagen may not be cheap - but it's friendly, pretty, clean, safe and ridiculously easy to get around - we reckon it's well worth that little bit of extra spending money. Here are our top ten things to do...

Ten things to do in Copenhagen
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Wonderful, wonderful Copenhagen! Ten things you must do

Catch a bus-style boat across the harbour in Copenhagen's port to see one of the world's most appreciated and modern Opera houses. Crashing through chunks of ice on the way made the experience all the more exciting. The Opera House (Operaen), which towers over 14 storeys and took four years and 2.5 billion Danish Kroner to build, was certainly something to marvel over.

The harbour is also home to Denmark's most famous tourism hotspot The Little Mermaid statue, made in memorial of Hans Christian Andersen's 1837 fairytale, which went on to become a Disney blockbuster. The canal tours will take you to visit it, or you can make your own way to it on one of the cities much loved bikes.

Spend an afternoon by the harbour and stroll around Downtown Copenhagen, the oldest district, with small, narrow cobbled streets, plus the famous Strøget Street which goes from the City Hall Square to Kongens Nytorv and is always packed with people, street artists and of course shops. 

Nearer to the capital, it's well worth a visit to Kronborg Castle in Elsinore, Øresund, which is one of northern Europe's most important Renaissance castles. Known from Shakespeare's Hamlet, it's the most famous castle in Denmark and is visited each year by about 200,000 Danes and tourists.

Like the Brits, the Danish have a Royal family and their castles are spectacular. To see one of the best, take a train North to Hillerød (line E) to Frederiksborg Castle. Beautifully situated in the middle of a lake and surrounded by a Baroque garden, it makes an incredible sight. The largest Renaissance Castle in Scandinavia, it was built in the first decades of the 17th century by King Christian IV and incorporates the finest Renaissance architecture. The castle now houses the Museum of National History, where you can see 500 years of Danish past.

Copenhagen began as a port and is still connected by its many canals. Unfortunately the bitterly cold weather when we visited meant the waters were too frozen to take a canal boat tour - but we have it on good authority that this is the best way to see the city's five districts!  Copenhagen may be Denmark's capital city but it certainly never seems busy or cramped. The busiest place you will find is Strøget Street and the downtown area, where people from across the country and even Sweden come to shop.

Denmark, a country which has more pigs than it does people, is famous for its pork. You'll find no shortage of quality places to eat in Copenhagen, but the hotdogs from street vendors are also great. The gourmet hotdog vendor next to Andersen Bakery (Bernstorffsgade 5) is even better. Order the prized Grand Danois (DKK50), made with organic pork sausage, Bornholm mustard, and a Chanterelle sauce and you'll definitely be full.

One of the most memorable places we dined was a delightful 1940's style cafe-come-restaurant. We ate a brunch consisting of a savoury muffin with a sort of ham and potato omelette at Granola cafe on Vaernedamsvej off Vesterbrogade. Thankfully most Danish people speak English so even if you don't understand the menus you only have to ask and they're happy to explain.

If beer is more your tipple and you don't mind moving from beside the water to get it, specialist beer bar Mikkeller is a must visit. Located in the Vesterbro district, the most fashionable and lively area of the city, but which used to be known for its sex industry and having more butchers per square kilometre than anywhere else in Europe, you can find Mikkeller tucked away just off Vesterbrogade. This local gem contains over 20 different types of homebrewed beer; to give you some idea of their creativity in 2010 alone Mikkeller launched 76 new beers.

Nothing beats sitting outside with one of the "blanket bars" (blankets are provided by proprietors when it's cold) watching the world (and beautiful Danish people) pass by. We found a wine bar, called Ved Stranden, which boasted over 500 different types of fine wine, mainly Austrian, plus a very helpful connoisseur/waitress who helped us pick something perfect.


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