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Copenhagen operates like a fine-tuned machine with its well organized social systems, efficient public transportation, ultra-wide bicycle lanes and expansive network of walkways. Ease of movement makes the Danish capital a convenient destination for all types of travelers, from solo explorers to large groups. However, make sure to stop and enjoy the numerous museums, churches, botanical gardens and city parks (such as Kongens Have and Kastellet) that have their own vibe and set of characteristics. Here are a few great photo ops to get your Copenhagen adventure started.
For the most quintessential snap of Copenhagen, Nyhavn is an absolute must-see. Nyhavn is a storied port where ships continue to dock today, set against a backdrop of colorful houses. The docking area is lined with cozy cafés, shops and information centers; check out Hans Christian Andersen’s dwelling at No. 20 and the oldest Nyhavn building at No. 9, dating back to 1681. With its wide spectrum of colors and tangled skyline of nautical masts, Nyhavn is certainly a favorite Copenhagen tableau.
2. Tivoli Gardens
With a history spanning two centuries, Tivoli Gardens is a midtown amusement park famous for its vibrant light displays. Tivoli was considered to be on the outskirts of town when it was first constructed, but today it lies in central Copenhagen, directly adjacent to Copenhagen Central Station. Tivoli is most alive at night when the lights illuminate the rides, restaurants and markets, and with a brand new indoor food court, Tivoli now offers more dining options than ever before. Be aware that there will always be considerable crowds and long lines, but it’s worth it when you can enjoy the lights while you wait.
3. Vor Frelsers Kirke
The tower of Vor Frelsers Kirke is easily recognized on the Copenhagen skyline due to its brick and gold twisting spire. According to legend, the architect of the tower mistakenly designed it to twist in the wrong direction and, distraught from his blunder, threw himself from the top. While dramatic, the story isn’t true — but visitors still enjoy a trip to the top for an excellent view. If the tower isn’t open, it is still worth stopping in to see (and possibly hear) the spectacular 1698 pipe organ, having miraculously survived three centuries and still functioning after its 1965 restoration.
Adjacent to Vor Frelsers Kirke is the free community of Christiania, a self-sustaining commune founded on the cornerstones of non-violence, forward-thinking and community care. There are several entrances into Christiania, including a lakeside path that leads to some of the residences. While this district is an incredibly photogenic place with beautiful street art, please note that photography is not permitted everywhere due to Christiania laws, which do not necessarily align with the laws in Denmark. For this reason, look for signs that say “Photo OK” (like the one in this picture) and, more importantly, keep an eye out for signs that adorn photo-free zones, like on Pusher Street.
Amalienborg is Denmark’s royal palace as well as the residence of the Danish royals, whom are descendants of the oldest monarchy in the world. The vast plaza is secured by the Royal Guard, and the changing of the guard takes place at noon each day. Visit the Amalienborg Museum to learn about Denmark’s most recent royals as well as the history of the monarchy, then head over to Frederiks Kirke to check out the stunning dome in the background. Amalienborg is beautiful, but the church dome makes the view truly spectacular and complete.
Lined with a variety of shops and chains, Copenhagen’s favorite pedestrian street is a bustling destination for locals and visitors. Technically not just one street, the Strøget area covers the streets of Frederiksberggade, Nygade, Vimmelskaftet and Østergade, as well as the squares Nytorv, Gammeltorv and Amagertorv. Find musicians and markets in the squares or along the streets and enjoy access to a selection of budget chains as well as luxury brands. Additionally, look for favorite Strøget attractions such as the lovely church, Helligåndskirken.
While you’re roaming around Strøget, keep an eye out for Rundetaarn (Round Tower); it’s pretty hard to miss. If you want a good leg workout, climb to the top for a great view of the Copenhagen from midtown; you can even see over to Øresund Bridge and Sweden on a clear day. This 17th century tower was originally built as an astronomical observatory, meant to mirror that of famous Danish astronomer Tycho Brahe. If you are visiting Copenhagen in the springtime, check to see whether or not you’ll be around for the Rundetaarn Unicycle Race; it’s just as spectacular as it sounds, and yes, it is a unicycle race up and down the tower.
8. The Wave at Ofelia Plads
This nested triangle sculpture at Ofelia Plads is the stuff of geometric dreams. It was a part of Frost Festival this past winter, and is a tunnel that consists of forty glowing triangles that stand about 4 meters in height. The triangles light up, change colors and make noises to create a truly dynamic experience. To get to Ofelia Plads, take the metro to Kongens Nytorv and make your way to Nyhavn; Ofelia Plads is adjacent to this. Get the perfect angle every time when you visit The Wave, day or night.
9. Ny Carlsberg Glyptotek
Denmark isn’t necessarily a tropical paradise, but you’ll be able to bask in the shade of palm trees under the dome at Ny Carlsberg Glyptotek. This art myseum and sculpture house is filled with all sorts of sculpted masterpieces, from elaborate caricatures to an array of noses. In addition to sculpted works, the museum also plays host to paintings and a refreshing indoor garden, with rotating exhibits throughout the year. Also, be advised that the museum is closed on Mondays but is open until 10pm on Thursdays.
For those who are fans of Olafur Eliasson, the Danish-Icelandic artist who designed the award-winning Harpa in Reykjavík, definitely check out Cirkelbroen (Circle Bridge.) Aptly named, this bridge consists of five simple circle bases and three masts that are meant to represent docked ships. According to the architect, this bridge is a celebration of pedestrian life; walking from ship to ship in the harbor is something that Eliasson remembers fondly from his childhood. Impeccably designed and simple, this bridge is perfect for a snap.
Feature photo of the harbor of Nyhavn (Photo by Yoann JEZEQUEL Photography/Getty Images)
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