*From an article I wrote for “Panorama” magazine (Indonesia), September-October 2016 edition, with an extra.
1. Climb the towers
Though less famous than Prague’s, the towers of Copenhagen are actually pretty popular. Churches, hotels, government buildings and other landmarks often have towers with distinctive spires, and they offer some of the best bird’s-eye views of the city. While not all towers are open to the public, some that are can be visited by paying the admission fees. Christiansborg Palace–home to the Danish Parliament’s, Prime Minister’s and Supreme Court’s offices–even allow visitors to go up its tower for free. The towers in the city centre are relatively close to one another, but each has its own unique view of the city. You should check the opening hours beforehand as there are those that can be visited only on weekends and those that are closed during winter.
2. Dip into one of the harbour baths
To Copenhagen locals, adults and children alike, swimming at the harbour bath is a favourite pastime. There are three harbour baths on the Copenhagen Harbour: Islands Brygge, the most famous one; Fisketorvet, located next to a shopping mall of the same name and is nicknamed Copencabana; and Sluseholmen, a little apart from the other two. All baths have free admissions and can be used during summer. For those who like challenges, Islands Brygge and Sluseholmen are also open for dipping in ice-cold water during winter. (Go give it a try!) The baths have on-duty lifeguards during busy times and the water quality is strictly monitored. Even if you don’t feel like swimming, the waterfront area near the baths is itself an attraction, especially to design and architecture buffs.
3. Go locals-watching, instead of tourists-watching, at Superkilen
Stretching almost a kilometre long, Superkilen is a public park in Nørrebro, an ethnically diverse district home to residents from no less than 60 countries. The park was built with the intention to represent a multicultural Copenhagen. There are Thai boxing arena, British rubbish bins, neon signs from Qatar and the US, even Moroccan mosaic tile fountain scattered around the park’s three thematic areas: red square, black square and green park. If you’ve grown tired of tourist-packed Strøget and Nyhavn, Superkilen is a nice place for people-watching.
4. Join the City Hall Midnight Tour
Tours of the city hall can be found in many places in the world. What’s unique in Copenhagen is that in addition to the usual tours, the city government also offers Midnight Tour programmes whose main attraction is enjoying the cityscape from the city hall tower at midnight. Tours start at 10pm or 10.30pm and last two or two and a half hours. Besides exploring the building’s chambers on their way up to the tower, tour participants will get to try the Copenhagen City Hall’s famous pancakes. Seasonal tours of the city hall include Full Moon and Christmas Tours. Since tours in English are organised irregularly, you should check their Facebook Page for the upcoming schedule. Tickets can be bought online at billetto.dk.
5. Eat cheap and exotic street food
Located on the islet of Papirøen inside an old paper warehouse by the inner harbour, Copenhagen Street Food provides culinary treats more affordable than those at other cafes and restaurants in the city centre. You’ve got plenty to choose from Brazilian to Korean, Italian to Thai, Turkish to Mexican, and of course Danish. Buy your food from the food trucks or stalls inside the building, and enjoy it on one of the benches or lounge sofas. If you prefer, you can join the outdoor crowds and have your meal while watching the harbour buses, boats and yachts passing by.
Bonus: Go gemstone-hunting
Did you know that the world’s largest diamond and crystal can be found in Copenhagen? Almost everybody knows about Black Diamond, the unofficial name of the Royal Library, one of the coolest in the world. Not far from the great diamond, about 650 metres to the west along the waterfront, stands Krystallen, a structure that houses the headquarters of Nykredit, a Danish financial services company. The eco-friendly building resembles a crystal; the plaza on its side has the largest fountain in Denmark. So, as you see, Copenhagen’s got not only a giant diamond but also a giant crystal. Impressive!