Exploring Copenhagen + Hillerød

Exploring Copenhagen + Hillerød

After our wonderful time in Prague, we headed north to Copenhagen. Some of you reading might already know this about me, but I'm sure there are a few who don't. My mom and dad grew up in two of the largest rural Danish settlements in the U.S., Elk Horn and Kimballton, Iowa. Since I was a little girl, we have celebrated our Danish heritagewhich is on both sides of my family. Every Memorial Day weekend, the two little villages have a weekend-long celebration called Tivoli Fest. If you're familiar with Copenhagen or even Danish heritage at all, you'll probably recognize the word Tivoli. I will get into more detail about all of that later, but this is one of the main reasons we visited Denmark. It was especially fun to experience with my parents, who grew up celebrating the culture even more than I did.

Our first day was spent exploring the area around our hotel, which happened to be just a couple blocks away from Nyhavn. The canal is a 17th-century waterfront that is bustling with restaurant after restaurant, boat tours, a few occasional little shops, and more. Oh, and I forgot to mention, bicyclists ... everywhere!

I really like that the first thing we experienced was Nyhavn. It's so historic and beautiful and seeing all of the boats really set the scene. After taking all of that in, we made our way back toward the hotel to find some shopping. Little did we know we were right next to blocks and blocks and blocks of shopping — it was almost a little overwhelming! And we learned very quickly that Copenhagen is not a cheap city. So, note: if you ever plan to visit, expect to spend more than you might have planned for everything — food, taxi, beer, clothing, etc.

While in Copenhagen we also (of course!) had to visit the Tivoli Gardens. Tivoli is an amusement park (and actually the second oldest in the world, built in 1843) in the heart of Copenhagen. There are so many different areas to Tivoli, just like you'd see at Disneyland. Honestly, it was really beautiful and nostalgic just walking through the park. Unfortunately, it was raining the day we went, so we had to pause and find shelter as we made our way through each area.

So, now you know where my parent's hometowns got the name "Tivoli Fest" for their annual celebration. Another fun fact we learned while there was that Hans Christian Andersen, a Danish writer who wrote The Little Mermaid, visited the amusement park often for inspiration. It really is a magical place!

During one downpour of rain, we found shelter in this adorable little cafe. Plants, candles, and sherpa throws everywhere, it was very hygge'd up — perfect since it was cold and rainy outside. The warm, comforting coffees did just the trick, too!

We also knew we wanted to see a castle while in Denmark. So we rented a car (driving wasn't as scary as we thought it'd be) and headed north toward Hillerød to tour Frederiksborg Castle. Although the outside might not look like the fairytale castles you might have had in mind, it was still absolutely stunning! Also, don't let my pictures fool you, it was extremely windy and pretty cold while we were there. We weren't exactly prepared for the cool temps.

The 17th century, Renaissance-style castle and baroque gardens were some of the most exquisite architectures I've ever seen first-hand. And it gets even better because the inside houses the The Museum of National History. Floor-to-ceiling pantings, stunning chandeliers, and intricately carved and precisely painted ceilings, every nook and cranny had something special about it.

Because we were already north, we decided to drive to Helsingør after Frederiksborg Castle. It was only about a 30-minute drive. There's another castle there, Kronborg, but we were pretty exhausted from walking around the other one, so instead, we enjoyed the view from the pier. Only a couple of miles of the Øresund straight, which is part of the Baltic Sea, separate Denmark from Sweden. It was a pretty cool thing to experience!

For the drive back to Copenhagen, we decided to drive along the water. It was cool to see older, traditional Danish homes along the way. Once back, we went to see The Little Mermaid at Langelinie park. Some people say that this is the most uneventful, boring tourist attraction there is, but it has significance to my family. There's an exact replica of this statue in my mom's hometown. Also in the park is one of Europe's best-preserved fortresses, Kastellet, which is home to a windmill. In my Dad's hometown there is an actual 1848-built Danish windmill that was brought over in 1975. So, although these might seem boring to some, they are two iconic symbols my family has grown up knowing, and something my parents probably thought they'd never see.


Finding a place to stay was a little overwhelming because there are so many areas and so many options. I originally looked for an Airbnb, but they were too expensive. We stayed at the Wakeup Copenhagen in Borgerade 9. I thought we had one room for four adults, but turns out we got two rooms, which were connected. They were very small ... I mean very small. But, having a little separation was nice. The location was great. It was close to the major shopping area, tons of restaurants, and a few blocks from Nyhavn.


Like I said earlier, eating and drinking in Copenhagen is expensive, so be prepared to throw down some dolla bills. They have a little bit of everything, so it really depends what kind of food you are looking for.
- Bar Jacobsen (Oh, and by the way, my last name is Jacobsen and my Dad's name is Barry, so we figured we better go here!)
- Bistro Royal
- Galionen
- Skipperkroen
- Cantina
- Palæ Bar
- Jensens Bøfhus


- Nyhavn Pier
- Frederiksborg Castle/Hillerød
- Øresund Straight/Helsingør
- The Little Mermaid
- Kastellet Fortress
- Tivoli Gardens

Copenhagen was great, Denmark was great. There were still other places in Denmark we would have liked to go, but maybe in the future I will have to go back. After Copenhagen, we traveled back to Germany for the last couple days of our trip. So, stay tuned for a post about our time in Munich!!

Shelbie Renee


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