What do you do when you’ve spent a few days in Malmö, Sweden, your flight leaves from Copenhagen, you have nearly a full day to kill before hitting the airport … and you have a 9-month-old literally attached to you at all times?
It’s obvious, isn’t it? You spend the day walking around Denmark’s gorgeous capital city. Why? Because the sky is blue, the sun is shining, you aren’t too hung over from the Parabere Forum after party. Also, because your husband has been confined to a hotel room for the past two days with a cranky baby who — surprise, surprise — hates snow.
Regardless of circumstances, when you’re in Copenhagen, you explore the city on foot. And eat everything in sight. (And traipse around until you find the Little Mermaid, damn it.)
And if you’re only there for six hours, be realistic. You won’t have enough time to see everything you want. You just need to let things happen. Especially when you’re travelling with a baby, because you never know if said baby is going to enjoy herself or become a total demon-child who decides she hates all things Nordic.
We were pretty lucky this trip — the babe was more than happy to be carted around in her wrap sling, where she could take in the sights from a warm, comfortable position.
She’s also cute in a Viking hat. I think she knows this. Denmark might be her spirit country.
We left Malmö at 11:30 am and were in Copenhagen, via train (110 Swedish krona or about $14 USD) by noon. It was an easy trip across the famous Oresund Bridge, with plenty of available seats and a beautiful view through the window.
We disembarked at Copenhagen Central Station (on signage the station was called København H), inserted baby girl into her sling, and made our way to Tivoli Food Hall — it’s just across the road from the train station and I was told by roughly 1.2 million people that we should go there for lunch.
The iconic Tivoli Gardens were under construction during our visit, but the food hall was open and full of delicious options. This place is definitely worth a visit, especially if, like me, you arrive in Copenhagen absolutely starving. For a casual dining destination, though, it’s not very baby-friendly. There are only two or three high chairs available, and Copenhagen is crawling with young families, so I had to hold the baby while I awkwardly ate with one hand.
There are many different food stations at Tivoli Food Hall, but our favourite was Hallernes Smørrebrød. It served fresh Danish open-faced sandwiches with all kinds of different toppings. It was a soul-satisfying snack and a good way to get local flavour in right at the start of our trip. I also managed to fit in some ramen and spring rolls.
After lunch, we headed through the pedestrian shopping area of Strøget, which takes you on a scenic journey past beautiful squares, historic government buildings and (most importantly) the massive LEGO store. This walk will also take you to King’s New Square and toward Nyhavn — one of the most iconic areas of Copenhagen, with its multicoloured buildings and a canal that seemingly springs up out of nowhere. If you follow the canal, you will eventually reach the harbour and the stunning performing arts centre of Skuespilhuset. This modern building blends beautifully into the surrounding marine environment and it has a café in case you need to stop and (ahem) breast feed.
Following the harbour around the performing arts centre, you’ll find yourself in a quiet part of the city. Then you’re suddenly outside the Queen’s winter residence of Amalienborg. It is beyond stunning. You can take a 45-minute tour of the palace (95 Danish krone, or about $16 USD, per adult; children can visit for free) and wander the beautiful rococo-style grounds.
How to Quickly Tour Denmark’s Capital City
Farther down the road you will come to Den Kongelige Afstøbningssamling, an art gallery specializing in plaster casts of European classical sculptures (that’s not actually Michaelangelo’s David out front!).
Finally, after what seems like a lifetime of walking with a 26-pound baby attached to your body (did I mention she’s heavy?), you arrive at a 17th-century fortress called Kastellet. It is a star-shaped island surrounded by a moat that is easily accessed via two bridges. You can explore the fortress and museum or keep walking along the harbour for another few minutes. If you do keep walking, you’ll come across what has been described as the “most underwhelming tourist attraction of all time.” That’s right — we found the Little Mermaid!
I, personally, enjoyed the statue. I didn’t expect anything other than a statue, so I wasn’t disappointed. I got some photos, enjoyed the scenery, and rested my weary back on a nearby bench.
On our way back to the city centre, we stopped in Nyhavn for ice cream and waffles at Vaffelbageren. After all that walking, we deserved a treat.
We then bought loads of LEGO for our other two rugrats (who stayed home in Ireland) and made our way past Central Station going in the opposite direction. A friend had recommended we visit the trendy meat-packing district to try Warpigs (Flæsketorvet 25) for dinner — a family-friendly, heavy metal-blasting, craft-beer brewery (that also makes craft sodas!).
Warpigs also, funnily enough, specializes in Texas-style barbecue. To accompany our beer we indulged in mouth-watering pulled pork, brisket, ribs, mac and cheese, and several types of BBQ sauce to drizzle over our meat-a-palooza. It was a great final meal in a city that stole our hearts in just six hours. We’ll be back, but next time we’re investing in one of these amazing city bike tours (from $60 USD per person).
We were never going to get in to Michelin-starred restaurants Noma or Geranium with a baby strapped to our fronts, but I’m not bothered. Copenhagen is full of amazing food and family-friendly activity options that will suit you — and your clan — no matter how long or short your city-stay might be.