Northern Europe Trip Report: Copenhagen

It’s been awhile! Life has been a whirlwind lately… Rob started a new job, we “ran” (ok, walked) our first 5k, went on an amazing Northern Europe vacation, headed down to San Diego Comic-Con, among other events.

I always love to re-live our travel so here’s the start to what will likely be a very long and drawn out Northern Europe trip report. We took two back-to-back 7-day cruises on the Disney Magic — the first week took us to the Baltics and the second week to the Norwegian fjords. I’ll start with our day in Copenhagen, which was the starting point for our adventure!

Fri, 5/29
We booked a food tour with Copenhagen Food Tours on our first morning. We did the 4-hour Culinary Experience walking tour and oh man, we ate so much!

We met our guide and the rest of our group at the Torvehallerne Market. We discovered we were the youngest ones on the tour, which pretty much became a pattern throughout our vacation. I guess we have older sensibilities. HA. (As an aside, when we were back in Copenhagen two weeks later after our cruise, we went back to Torvehallerne Market to try the fish & ships at Fiskerikajen on the recommendation of a friend — it’s THE BEST. So so good and compared to everything else in this city, it was a bargain).

We started out at the market with samples of artisan cheese to see if we could taste the difference between the same types of cheese that used ingredients from different areas of Denmark. One was more crumbly and the other was more creamy, which I preferred. I wish I could remember the name of the cheese! It also came with a blue cheese that was way too strong for me and some gooseberry jam to complement. YUM! This was paired with an amazing apple wine that I really liked. I wish we had gone back to get a bottle!

The next tasting was of Danish snack foods. We had crackers (one with preserves, the other with mustard), a piece of licorice (icky – not a licorice fan at all), white chocolate covered licorice (better because the chocolate overpowered the licorice flavor) and a super yummy and not sticky caramel. We washed all of that down with rhubarb juice and a strong shot of schnapps. WOWZERS.

From the market, we walked over to the Copenhagen Botanical Gardens where we took a quick break to relax and enjoy the beautiful (and unusually warm) weather. Here we enjoyed a couple samplings of honey — one grainy and the other more traditional and smooth. Hard to pick a favorite!

Lunch was a sampling of four open-faced sandwiches called smørrebrød, a Danish specialty. They came on rye bread with a variety of toppings — halibut, chicken salad, beef sirloin and cheese. They were AH-MAY-ZING! I loved all of them though my favorites were the halibut and chicken salad for sure.

Our next stop was Nørrebro Bryghus, a microbrewery where we got to sample three different types of beer. I don’t drink so I opted for a soda instead. But Rob reports the beer was good!

By now we were super full but we had another large item to taste! We walked over by the Round Tower to the Hanegal stand serving the quintessential Copenhagen street food — Danish style hot dogs. I ordered the classic style with a regular hot dog. It had mustard, ketchup, onions (fried and fresh) and pickles on top. The bun was rye as usual. It was SO yummy but I was so full! I still ate the whole thing. Hehe.

Our last two stops were for sweet treats. We stopped at Sømods Bolcher, a candy store where we got to see them rolling and cutting the candy. They gave us a sample of one with chocolate in the middle. Lastly, we ended up back at Torvehallerne Market for chocolate at Summerbird. The piece we got to try was marshmallow fluff on top of marzipan and then covered with chocolate. So decadent!

All in all, it was a super fun (and yummy) tour except that we could have had a better guide. While nice, I don’t think she did a great job of making sure we could all hear her and that we were together all the time. I ended up loving the concept of a food tour, though, so I’m sure I’ll seek them out for future trips.

After the tour, we walked along the Stroget, a pedestrian shopping street, and made our way to Nyhavn, which is an area by the water that’s popular for locals to hang out and drink. It was a beautiful day so Nyhavn was absolutely crowded. All the restaurants were full and people were spilling out into the sidewalk.

We took a one hour canal boat tour to see the sights from the water.

The Royal Danish Playhouse. So lovely situated right along the harbourfront.

Copenhagen Opera House

The tour traveled through the Christianshavn neighborhood where we had a view of the top of the Church of Our Saviour. It’s so gorgeous! You can even walk up that external staircase to the top.

We sailed under a number of bridges — some very low and narrow too! The tour also took us by the famous Little Mermaid (terrible angle for photos, though, as we approached it from the back) and we even passed by noma, the world-renowned 2-star Michelin restaurant run by Rene Redzepi. I tried to get reservations for two different days but no luck. SIGH. The online reservation process is nuts. I even stayed up until the wee hours of the morning to be online when reservations opened. I’m still upset.

I think it’s a must to see Copenhagen from the water but Rob obviously had a difference in opinion because he fell asleep so many times. LOL.

That night we decided to visit Tivoli Gardens. Tivoli is an amusement park in the heart of the city (it works like a fair where you pay admission to go in and there are additional charges for rides). It’s also known for being Walt Disney’s inspiration for Disneyland. Of course we had to see it! The exterior is spectacular.

The Nimb is Tivoli’s iconic building. It’s so stunning at night with all the lights. Inside is a boutique hotel and popular bars & restaurants.

There was a free concert that night so the park was crowded, especially around the lawn stage and the Concert Hall. We had dinner at Wagamama (I was craving Asian food but sadly, this was just ok) then walked around to see the various rides (nothing we really wanted to go on) and attractions. I think the lush flowers and gardens are the real stars here. It had been a long day so after a loop around the park, we headed back to our hotel (the Marriott, which I would recommend).

We were back in Copenhagen twice more before heading back home — a week later between our back-to-back cruises and then again two weeks later. I would have loved to visit Tivoli again to see it during the day but we never made it — we were so tired!

I absolutely loved Copenhagen and hope to visit again soon (maybe next time we’ll get lucky with a reservation at noma!).

Next up: Tallinn, Estonia!

For more pics, check our Flickr here.