As part of our Scandinavia trip, we spent 4 nights in Copenhagen (3 nights at the start, and 1 night at the end) with our 3 year old boy and almost 6 year old girl. March in Copenhagen is wet, windy, and often quite chilly but we still had a blast. Just be sure to come prepared for the weather! The residents of the city definitely live up to the mentality of, “No bad weather, just bad clothing” because kids and adults were outside in all the weather playing, biking, and commuting without a care in the world!
I’ll do a quick overview and then go into some more detail:
Day 1: Arrival in Scandinavia via airplane. Landed 2 pm. Taxied from the airport to our AirBnB. Then took a walk to see the Little Mermaid statue in the rain and cold, got groceries, and ordered takeaway from a nearby Thai place. Our apartment was not really in downtown, but was just north of the Little Mermaid statue on the outskirts of downtown.
Day 2: Walked to downtown through Amalianborg (palace) and Nyhavn (gorgeous colorful harbor). Played at Kunstlegepladsen (a playground), had lunch with a friend at her house, walked to Kongens Have (King’s Garden) and played on their playground, explored Rosenborg Castle, and walked home.
Day 3: Took a train and bus to the Experimentarium, an awesome science museum for kids with lots of hands on items. Post nap, walked around Kastellet.
Day 4: Walked to Christiansborg Slotsplads (castle), napped and packed, and caught the ferry to Oslo.
End of Trip: Day 10: Train from Stockholm. Arrived 2 pm. Checked in to hotel and walked to Orstedsparken (park) and played on their playgrounds.
Day 11: Walked to Skydebanehaven (park) and played on their playground (sense a theme?). Checked out at 11 and took a taxi to the airport to head home!
With little kids, we clearly have to balance sightseeing with playing, early dinner, and early bedtime (and naptime on days we can manage it!). Also, living in Egypt we are lacking in good playgrounds and parks, green space to run, and the ability to walk everywhere. So we enjoyed simply being outside in fresh air and even the rain was a different experience coming from a desert country. There was so much more we could have done with more time or a willingness to have a busier schedule!
Copenhagen, like much of Scandinavia, is pretty pricy–especially compared to the cheap prices in Egypt! Getting into the Great Pyramids of Giza complex is about $10–more than half what it cost to enter one castle in Copenhagen! We really analyze what is worth paying for with the kids and try to do free things as much as possible.
Copenhagen is covered in cobblestones. Any stroller you bring needs to be able to handle small, bumpy cobblestones.
Little Mermaid Statue: Edvard Eriksen built this famous statue and it was unveiled in 1913. It is a very popular tourist attraction, but actually fairly small and off the beaten track. Our apartment was near it, so we saw it several times walking to and from things. However, if you’re not staying near it, it can go on your B List of things to see! It is, however, free and in the water just off a pretty walking path. Stroller friendly.
Kastellet: A very well-preserved fortress with a star moat around it and 2 bridges. Contains a windmill and church and various military buildings. Very pretty with lots of grass, paths both down low and up on the ramparts, and nice red buildings. Mostly used as a public park, though it still has an active military presence. Located near the Little Mermaid Statue. If you’re staying on that end of town or have extra time, it is worth walking through and around. Outside the moat on the western side is Legepladsen pa Kastellet, a small playground with a castle-like feature. Free and stroller friendly.
Amalienborg: This is the royal palace and it is open for visitors. We did not pay to enter (only so many museums, palaces, and castles my kids are willing to see), but we did enjoy walking around the outside for free. People regularly walk through the palace grounds on their way to their destinations. Entry is 105 DKK, or about $15, for adults and free for children 17 and under. Entry starts at 10 am and ends between 3 and 5 pm depending on the month. Visit Copenhagen’s site has good info as well. Outside is stroller friendly.
Nyhavn: This is the gorgeous harbor with painted houses you have probably seen pictures of! It has many cafes, restaurants, and bars, and is the starting point for the canal tour. You’ll also find many tourists wandering around taking photos! We had fairly grey, rainy, dull weather but I am sure it is gorgeous during a lovely sunset or a sunny day! Free. Stroller friendly.
Rosenborg Castle: Built in the 17th century and containing a well preserved interior and Denmark’s Crown Jewels, this is one of the few places we paid to enter. Entry is 110 DKK, or about $16, for adults and free for kids 17 and under. No strollers, backpacks or large purses allowed. They do have free lockers available that were convenient and easy to use for storing our bags. Slow line for getting tickets. My 6 year old enjoyed it. My 3 year old kept wanting to touch things, which was obviously not allowed! He and I moved through at a very quick pace and I kept a firm grip on his hand. The castle grounds are free and lovely. They abut the King’s Garden (Kongens Have), which are green and spacious with walking paths and flowers. There is also a very cool playground in the north eastern portion of the park with wooden dragons to climb on, moats, balancing logs, and more. The grounds are stroller friendly and free.
Experimentarium: If your kids like science, this is the place to go! It is a bit out of town and we had to take a short train ride and then a short bus ride there. Googlemaps helped let us know what route and people were very helpful! We arrived just before the 10 am opening (9:30 on weekdays) and there was a huge line already. Turns out, you can buy tickets online which I highly recommend! Our son loved the construction zone with an excavator and our daughter loved the human body and water zone a lot. There is a special area for kids 5 and under, which was cute and they liked. Kids 0-2 free, 3-11 115 DKK (about $17), 12+ 195 DKK (about $30). There is a cafeteria with some good food options. Not cheap, but yummy. You can also bring your own food to eat in the cafeteria.
Christiansborg Slotsplad: We visited the grounds of this palace, but you could go inside as well. You can get individual tickets for the ruins, stable, kitchen, and reception rooms or a combination ticket. Prices range from 50DKK to 160 DKK (about $8-24) for adults with kids free. Grounds were free for all. In the morning, they often train and exercise the horses used for pulling carriages and we got to see that. The garden space is lovely.
Kunstlegepladsen på Nikolaj Plads: (Googlemap pin) This small playground right in the heart of Downtown is great for a mid-sightseeing break! It has swings, slides, and climbing structures and is surrounded by some very photogenic buildings!
Ørstedsparken: (Googlemap pin) A lovely park with a pond, bridges, walking paths, plenty of grass and flowers, and 2 playgrounds. One playground was larger, fenced in, had a bathroom, ride on toys, climbing structures, sand box, and more. The other one was smaller and more a natural feeling playground with wooden structures and things to climb on. No fence or facilities. Larger one was in the southwestern corner of the park and the smaller one was in the north western corner.
Skydebanehaven: Another great playground. A little farther from your Downtown tourist area, but if you are staying near the main railroad station (København V area), it is worth a trip. Opens at 9:30 am. Huge collection of ride on toys and the coolest collection of trike-like bikes I have seen. Plus a giant wooden parrot slide, sand box, play structures, and more. Fenced in.
Tivoli Gardens: Tivoli is probably the most popular activity in Copenhagen with kids (and just adults too). However, it is not open year round and we missed the spring opening but just a short period. They open approximately early April through late September and then again for a few weeks at Halloween, Christmas, and February. It has a ton of rides, activities, gardens, and food.
National Museum and the Children’s Museum: We didn’t make it here, and I was fairly bummed we ran out of time! It has exhibits from the Stone Age, the Viking Age, the Middle Ages, the Renaissance and Modern Danish History. There is also a hands-on children’s museum with lots of interactive displays and things to do. It is designed for kids ages 4-10. Admission is free for kids and 75 DKK for adults ($11). The regular museum is 95 DKK ($14)
There is a ton more to do in Copenhagen, but we couldn’t get to it all in the time we had! The Visit Copenhagen Site is very useful. You can also buy a Copenhagen Card for admission and transportation deals.
Food in Copenhagen:
Food is pricy here! We bought eggs and fruit to make our own breakfast at home each morning. One night we did Asian take out, 2 nights we cooked simple fare at home, and the final night we ate at our hotel.
The Danes love their Danishes! Bakeries and pastries are everywhere. We often did an afternoon stop for some coffee and pastries. My absolute favorite was the direktørsnegl, a cinnamon roll type creation covered in chocolate. DD5’s favorite was the vanilla version of it, the kanelsnegl. However, most of the trip we couldn’t remember direktørsnegl and instead referred to them among ourselves as the Dragon Strudel! This article has some great info.
Here is another great article about food in Denmark and Copenhagen specifically.
Lodging in Copenhagen
Our first 3 nights in Copenhagen we stayed in an AirBnB. There are many great options in Copenhagen. We booked rather last minute and so didn’t have as many options as we would have otherwise. We ended up with a nice place that was a bit farther away from things than I would have liked. Still walking distance, but not in the heart of it all. We were just north of Kastellet in Østerbro.
On our return, we spent our final night at Absalon Hotel near the main train station. This was mostly because we were arriving via train and then we didn’t have to taxi with our luggage. We had the junior suite which had a large bed in the bedroom and then a pull out sofa in the living room. Very spacious. They also have a family room if you don’t need a separate bedroom. Breakfast was delicious, check in was smooth, and they even provide smart phones for guests to use free of charge while sightseeing with calling and data abilities!
If you are picking a spot to stay and want to be near all the tourist destinations for easy walking, I’d suggest being within or near the triangle formed by Rosenborg Castle, Christiansborg Palace, and Amalienborg Palace. If you can get near the Kongens Nytorv Metro, then you are near the direct line to the airport. If you are arriving via train to the Copenhagen Central Station (København H), then being near Tivoli or the National Museum (Nationalmuseet) might be convenient.
Weather in Spring
We visited mid March. Our weather was mostly low 40s (F) (about 4-7C) with clouds and rain off and on. Things were mostly always wet, but we had periods of sunshine and blue skies followed by heavier rain and clouds. However, this doesn’t stop people from being outside. Kids all had rain pants they wear over their clothing, or on chillier days, snow suits. Adults biked everywhere and many pulled or pushed little carts with kids in them. We brought layers and had sweatshirts, winter coats, and rain jackets that we could pull on and off as needed. One day it was particularly windy and we were very glad for our layers. Gloves were also a must for us. Wear shoes that can handle water well.
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