copenhagen

A change is as good as a rest: my weekend in Copenhagen

As I’ve written before, I’m a big believer in resting. Modern life is so hectic and there’s a lot of expectation to constantly be doing or bettering yourself somehow. I think this is a load of rubbish: sometimes, you just need to rest your lil’ brain and give your body a break.

But when the fatigue is mental rather than physical—as I’ve experienced after a few stressful weeks—sleep isn’t always the answer to my ‘I need rejuventation’ prayers.

At times like this, what’s needed is a complete break from the ordinary. A change is as good as a rest, and all that. Switching up your landscape, getting away from an environment that’s been stressing you out, and exploring new places can be a great way of refreshing a frazzled brain.

So last weekend, I jetted off to Copenhagen for a dreamy long bank holiday. And if you’re looking for a European weekend break, I couldn’t recommend this charming little city more. A short flight from Luton meant arriving was a breeze, and we stayed in a peaceful and appropriately Scandi-styled AirBnB, in a perfect central location, which I’d highly recommend.

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Then we set about enjoying three days of delicious Danish food, historic buildings, quirky theme parks, boat rides, stunning views—plus milesandmiles of soul-restoring walks. According to my phone, we stomped 28,000 steps on Saturday—getting that level of exercise in is a huge mental health boost, helped along nicely by the faultless blue skies.

I don’t like to romanticise travel as a mental-health fix all, because it definitely isn’t. But cities like Copenhagen—calm, beautiful, easy to navigate and with plenty to do—are a great option if you do need some time away to recharge and reset an overworked mind.

Caveat: the one downside of Copenhagen is that’s it’s expensive. So if you’re thinking about going, a shorter weekend trip is definitely the way to go. Not sure my credit card could have withstood another day… But if you do book those flights, my tips to enjoying your stay are below—and some of them are even free!

EAT

  • Danish pastries, naturally! We spent a good few hours in pursuit of Copenhagen’s best ‘kanelsnegle’ or cinnamon roll, with some excellent results. Head to Meyers Bageri in trendy Jægersborggade to enjoy one of the city’s finest, topped with chocolate. Sounds weird, but there’s a beautiful nearby cemetery (final resting place of Hans Christian Anderson) where you can enjoy your treats.

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  • Bust out your best hipster chic for a visit to the Meatpacking District in Vesterbro. Kødbyens Fiskebar is a great spot if being by the water has given you a hankering for some fish. However, my ultimate culinary highlight of the trip was Paté Paté. We ordered a heap of small plates and the waiter paired them so thoughtfully that I genuinely got completely buzzed over a cucumber salad and have spent the whole week trying to recreate it.

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  • For a midday refuel, hit up Torvehallerne Market, and pick up some treats to take home while you’re at it. Denmark is known for its ‘smørrebrød’, a type of open sandwich—the offerings at the market are oh-so instragrammable and delicious, too. If you need a caffeine hit, suck it up and endure the queue (and price) for Coffee Collective: these guys have made coffee an art form. We enjoyed ours outside in the sun, with some more delicious pastries from Laura’s Bakery.

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  • Don’t eat, but certainly enjoy a drink on Nyhavn, one of Copenhagen’s most iconic spots. Prices are high but worth it for the picture-postcard location.

DO

  • Bring your walking shoes, because this city is made for long and leisurely walks. Start at Kastellet, the distinctive star-shaped military fortress that offers sensational views and excellent dog-spotting. Head down to Langelinie, a quayside which is also home to the Little Mermaid statue (tiny, covered in tourists, couldn’t even get a photo). Keep strolling down along the water to Amaliehaven, a tiny but perfectly formed park just outside Amalienborg, the Queen’s winter residence. Walk down past the Theatre to Nyhven, cross the bridge and head into Freetown Christiana. Soak up the alternative ambience before carrying on to the Christianhaven Ramparts, which you can follow across the bridge to Tivoli Gardens.

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  • Admittedly, I’m a big kid when it comes to stuff like this—but if the words ‘amusement park’ make you wrinkle your nose (as did my boyfriend), prepare to make an exception for Tivoli Gardens. Even if rollercoasters aren’t your thing, the park is filled with live music, spots to relax, and beautiful gardens. It’s certainly one of the prettiest places I’ve seen in a long time. We went during the day, but I’d advise going at night to take full advantage of the fairy-tale jumble of lights illuminating the park.
  • To get a sense of the city, head up the ‘Rundetaarn’ or ‘Round Tower’ for a sensational cityscape. Just make sure you’ve had a pastry to give your legs have enough energy to plod up the spiral ramp, first.

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  • There are plenty of good museums about, but if you’re interested in Scandinavian design (who isn’t, in 2018?) then definitely hit up the Design Museum. It’s free if you’re under-26, an unexpected and welcome bonus in this otherwise wildly expensive city.
  • If the weather’s good, plan ahead and hire a GoBoat! We spent 2 hours cruising the waterways on a sunny Sunday afternoon. This was a serious trip highlight, mainly because I absolutely love being on a boat of any description. And also because I got to drink beer, sunbathe and snap pictures for two hours whilst Adam worried about steering us through Copenhagen’s canals.

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Thanks for reading – and let me know in the comments if you have any recommendations for mind-soothing city breaks!

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