Peter and I just wrapped up a long weekend (three nights) in Copenhagen. This was our first vacation to a Nordic country.
The weekend was centered around Peter running the Copenhagen half marathon which was in preparation for the Berlin marathon.
Half marathon and marathon ‘vacations’ are always… boring.
We stayed at an Airbnb. The property and the host were both outstanding but I felt the property was located just a tad too far from the city centre, although easily accessible via bike.
Truth be told, I wasn’t overly excited to visit Copenhagen. With the exception of cinnamon rolls, the food did not excite me.
We arrived at our Airbnb at midnight on a Thursday. We spent the next hour chatting with our Airbnb host. This Airbnb stay was the first Airbnb we have stayed at where the host actually lives at the property.
All other Airbnb stays have been at properties managed by a property management company or properties that have appeared on the short-term rental market due to the owners becoming “accidental landlords”. Accidental landlords are owners who have innocently fallen victim to the housing market crash and need to rent their property because they can’t, or don’t want to sell it.
Our Airbnb told us her story and it’s an incredible one. The guest bedroom in her apartment is always available and she rents her entire apartment twice a month (which is what we did).
On weekends when guests have rented her entire apartment, she volunteers and stays at a women’s shelter.
The apartment was fully renovated two years ago. It’s huge and modern and I may have joked about moving in permanently when we were checking out.
Since we arrived so late, we only had two full days to sightsee, well I had two full days. Peter had one full day and then Sunday was the half marathon.
Peter did not take Friday off of work so he spent the day working from the apartment. I walked and biked around Copenhagen like I lived there. It was so easy.
Just like in Amsterdam, the main mode of transportation is a bicycle. Bikes have their own traffic lights and lanes and, as far as I could tell, have priority over all other types of transportation.
I felt safer on the bike than I did walking, not because of cars but because there were bikes everywhere and bikes are silent.
Two bikes were included with our Airbnb. They were old beach cruiser-style bikes and we fit right in with the locals.
Sometimes it was hard to find our bikes in the bike parking!
After Peter finished his workday on Friday, we went to a popular beer bar called Mikkeller and then grabbed a bite to eat at a nearby Greek restaurant.
Saturday was the only full sightseeing day that we did together. We biked to the “free town” of Christiania which was a little bit like Amsterdam except not as nice. I don’t know how else to explain this place. It was not my cuppa tea by any means.
In short, the residents of Christiania have made up their own rules and claim to be independent of any government. In total, it covers an area about the size of one New York City block. It reeked of marijuana – a smell I cannot tolerate.
There was a mixture of tourists like ourselves and residents. I felt like the residents were very angry and so I did not take a lot of photos. It felt uncomfortable.
Following our extremely brief visit to Christiania, we rode our bikes to the main shopping district in Copenhagen. By way of recommendation, we entered a department store called Illums Bolighus.
I took one look around and told myself that my design soul resides in Copenhagen (my food soul resides in Greece).
Our Airbnb host told us that Danes spend a lot of time in their homes and, therefore, spend a lot of money designing and decorating their homes. Design is a huge part of Danish culture and everything is visually stunning, including the people. Honestly, I’ve never seen so many beautiful people in one place in my life.
Even the street art is really pretty, like this building that bordered a local park.
The phrase at the bottom of the art in the photo above says, “fri leg” which means play free.
Prior to our long weekend in Copenhagen, I happened to catch a television show about schools in Sweden.
The show stated that, in Sweden, children do not attend school until they are seven years old and that there is no pressure or emphasis on learning how to read and write before they start school.
It went on to state that Swedes believe that children should spend their childhoods being children and that doing so will lead them to be more well-rounded adults.
I asked our Airbnb host what age Danish children start school and she said around seven years old, so similar to Swedish children.
Peter and I do not have children but I can see how Copenhagen would be a great place to raise a family. It’s no surprise that Denmark was named “World’s Happiest Country in 2013,” a designation that Danes are, well, pretty happy about.
Our next stop on our self-guided tour of Copenhagen was Nyhavn Harbor.
The weather was perfect and the area wasn’t too overrun by people, well, not as overrun as it could have been. My only regret was that I didn’t take more photos of this beautiful area.
Our final stop during daylight hours was to a very nice market called Torvehallerne. This market was built in 2011 and has everything anyone could ever need with the exception of maybe a bed and shower.
We loved this market so much that we went back after the half marathon the following day. Our favorite stall was this French sandwichery that sold roasted duck wraps. I will dream of the duck wrap for the rest of my life.
Copenhagen half marathon
On Sunday, Peter woke up early and ran the Copenhagen half marathon. I met him somewhere along the course and gave him a thumbs-up, hoping that would get him through the pain and to the finish line. He finished in one hour and 50 minutes.
As with so many of our long weekend breaks, two full days was not enough time to adequately explore Copenhagen. We’d jump on the opportunity to revisit Copenhagen if presented with one.
Eat, drink, and shop recommendations
Finally, a few recommendations for Copenhagen.