Copenhagen is not a touristy city in the sense that Paris or Rome is but it has a touch of the fairyland setting which must have inspired Hans Christian Andersen. There is not the stress that one finds in bustling cities but rather an easy-going spirit that is called zen. The cars go by at a leisurely pace and rarely do you hear drivers honking at the mass of cyclists as everyone seems to respect law and order. There is a great deal of tolerance and respect for one's neighbour.
The Christiania settlement is just one example. Imagine an entirely enclosed area where "anything goes" yes, a colony in which almost everything is tolerated. Call it a hippies' colony if you like, though the term "alternative community" sounds better. In fact if you want to see something in Copenhagen that you don't find anywhere else in this earth then Christiania is the place to go.
If you are afraid to venture into such a place alone (there's no need to, actually, in the daytime because you will often find groups of schoolchildren there), you can join the Christiania visit which starts most days at 15h00. Notices everywhere remind you that you are not allowed to take photos and everywhere you go you will find graffiti or what some call alternative art while soft drugs such as hashish are openly displayed for sale at between 50 and 120 Kroner a gram. There is a limit to this though, as hard drugs are not tolerated.
Christiania first came into existence in 1971 when hippies, vagabonds and the homeless took over an abandoned military base and began squatting on it, gradually turning this uncharted territory into a self-sufficient colony over the years. Today Christiania has become one of the top tourist attractions in Copenhagen with many souvenir stalls selling items made by the Christianites themselves and an immense open-air cafeteria at Cafe Bar Nemoland with some 50 picnic-style tables spread out for a snack or drink during the visit.
The original Little Mermaid by Edvard Eriksen in 1913.
The Little Mermaid by Edvard Eriksen has been sitting demurely and wistfully alone on a rock in Langelinie since 1913 (except for 6 months in 2010 when it was sent to China for the Shanghai Expo). As it is the symbol of Denmark, most tourists do not leave the city without visiting it. But not too many people know about the new mermaid on the other side of the road where the canal is. Called the “genetically modified Little Mermaid” (photo on right), it was also made from bronze in 2006 by the renowned Danish sculptor Bjorn Norgaard. In the square next to it are other open-air sculptural works by the same artist carrying the theme "Genetically Modified Paradise". Bus No. 26 goes there.
The Tivoli Gardens amusement park is certainly one of the "must" places to visit while in Copenhagen. However it is closed on certain months of the year so try not to come when it is closed. You can find out the dates when it is open from its official website here. The photo on the left shows the Tivoli Gardens all dressed up and ready to greet its visitors for Halloween. The park is just opposite the Bernstorffsgade side of the central station. At night the multi-coloured illuminations turn it into a veritable fairyland. Believe it or not it has been there since 1843!
The little port of Nyhavn crammed with restaurants, cafes and colourful ancient houses all along the left side of the canal is a great place to chill out during the daytime as well as at night. You can take one of the boat rides lasting a full hour from here either before or after a beer (preferably Carlsberg, seeing that you are in Denmark!) From its humble and seedy beginnings as a place frequented by sailors, Nyhavn has become one of the trendy places to be in. Even the avant-garde theatre (Det Kongelige Teater) is located here (photo on right).
Man-sized statue of H.C. Andersen along the Hans Christian Andersen Boulevard.
One man's name is associated with Copenhagen more than any other and that is Hans Christian Andersen, author of The Little Mermaid, The Emperor's New Clothes and many other tales. It is no wonder that a statue of his was erected in the Rosenborg Garden (Kongens Have) and another along the boulevard that carries his name (photo on left). Although born in Odense, he moved to Copenhagen when he was 14 and lived there till his death at the age of 70. Photo on right shows one of the houses in Nyhavn where he stayed for some 20 years.
House in No. 67 Nyhavn where H. C. Andersen lived from 1845-1864.