It feels like ages ago now, but last September we had a short European city break to Copenhagen. I’ve been meaning to write about the holiday for a while as we had a great time and found it to be a very toddler-friendly place, however, life and general laziness got in the way. Typical.
So eight months later, I’ve finally managed to get around to it – the only issue now is remembering what we did. This isn’t helped by the fact that both my laptop and external hard drive recently broke, meaning that I lost most of the photos we had which served as a reminder for my ageing brain. Proper bummer. However, with a patchy memory and my social media activity, I reckon I can piece together the stuff we did when hanging out with the Danes.
Why Copenhagen? Well, the missus and I love Scandinavia. Having been to Sweden, Norway and Iceland previously on European breaks, it was only a matter of time that we ticked off Denmark. There’s just something about the people, the culture and the cities which really appeal to us – throw in the fact that they’re renowned for being so child and family-focused, it makes a visit with a toddler a no-brainer.
I’d love to showcase the city and it’s appeal using my brilliantly descriptive rhetoric. However, I’m not that good of a writer. Instead, I’ll steal a few words from Lonely Planet:
“Its cobbled, bike-friendly streets are an enticing concoction of sherbet-hued town houses, craft studios and candlelit cafes. Add to this its compact size and it is possibly Europe’s most seamless urban experience. The city’s good looks are also intrinsically linked to the famed Danish flair for design, with its industrial-chic bar, fashion scenes and culinary revolution. Yet Copenhagen is more than just seasonal cocktails and geometric threads; a bounty of beautiful beaches, wooded parks and elegant lakes also await just minutes away.”
Our break coincided with the missus changing jobs, so we went for two nights / three days during August. We booked our flights and hotel together, so for two adults and a toddler, it came in at just over £400. This saw us maximise our time with an early morning flight out there and a early evening flight back, and stay in a family room at Scandic Copenhagen – a chain we’ve used previously when staying in Berlin. We also spent £120 on two Copenhagen Cards before flying out, which we knew would cover our travel and provide entry to over 70 different attractions.
At this point, let me mention the travelling with kids guide by travel search engine, KAYAK. Having recently read this, I found some useful info I didn’t know about travelling with kids. For instance, their research showed that it could actually cost more to have an infant on your lap versus buying them a seat to themselves on the plane – that’s not something I’d have considered. In addition, they did an analysis of how kid-friendly certain airlines are, which is worthwhile keeping in mind for future holidays – for instance, British Airways offer free on-board entertainment for kids, whereas others do not.
Back to Copenhagen. With so many things available to do, I thought I’d share seven of the most toddler-friendly things that we did. So, without further ado, here’s the list:
7) Hans Christian Andersen Fairy-Tale House
Arguably the most famous Dane (other than Peter Schmeichel), this museum takes you on an interactive tour of Andersens’ work. With lights, sounds and live readings, you can explore a number of exhibits of his world-renowned fairy tales and stories, such as The Little Mermaid and The Emperor’s New Clothes. It’s a little weird and creepy at times, but Toddler L seemed to enjoy it!
6) Tycho Brahe Planetarium
Located just across the road from the hotel we stayed at, the Planetarium provides information on astronomy, space and exploration. Although the actual subject matter might be a bit advanced for your toddler, there’s plenty of space for them to explore and things for them to play with. For the over 3’s, there’s an IMAX theatre, however Toddler L was too young for this.
We did however have a wander around the exhibits which focused on the solar system and wider universe, including one of the largest pieces of moon rock on display in the world. The most interactive part saw us journey through space as we visited places like a spaceship and mission control centre. I’m not sure how much Toddler L learnt, but she enjoyed twisting dials, turning knobs and playing with the space-themed toys.
5) LEGO Shop
Even though LEGO shops aren’t as unique as they once were – there’s now 13 in the UK, with 3 in London – they are still cool places to visit with a toddler. Throw in the fact that LEGO is a Danish company, a trip to their flagship store is a must. With things like the Pick-A-Brick Wall, the interactive play area and the Copenhagen-themed builds, there’s plenty for toddlers and adults alike to look at and play with.
4) Paper Island (Copenhagen Street Food)
Although the industrial-looking buildings – which previously served as paper storage (hence the name) – aren’t much to look at aesthetically, inside you have an entire hall of street food from around the world. If your toddler is anything like ours, then food features quite prominently on their wish list – as such, a visit here for lunch is a must. We had burritos, ice-cream and smoothies, all bought from different food trucks in the colourful hall. Luckily, the sun was out so we were able to eat on deck chairs outside as we watched the world go by on the water in front of us. A great place to spend a few hours chilling out and trying new food.
3) Canal Tours Copenhagen
One of the best ways to take in a new city is with an organised, guided tour. We’re partial to a hop-on, hop-off bus tour, but decided to mix it up with a canal tour in Copenhagen. Setting off from Ved Stranden, the tour took us around the harbour, down the canals and passed some of the most well-known sights, to give a different perspective on the city. Going on a different mode of transport is always entertaining for a toddler, so although she may not have understood the commentary, she was more than happy taking in the views from the water.
2) National Aquarium Denmark, Den Blå Planet
Toddler L loves all things fish (and animals), so a trip to the largest aquarium in Northern Europe was right up our street. Although not in the centre, you can get a free shuttle bus from outside Copenhagen Visitor Centre, which takes you there via the airport. Very handy for your flight back if you time it right.
Within the cool looking, modern building, the aquarium is divided into zones. So you have things like The Rainforest which has crocodiles, snakes, piranhas, catfish and stringrays, Cold Water which is home to sea lions, puffins and a variety of fish, as well as The Warm Ocean which has a huge tank and houses thousands of fish including different species of shark. There’s also a large cafe and decent play area outside. Definitely one of the best aquariums we’ve been to.
1) Tivoli Gardens Amusement Park
For anyone who knows anything about Copenhagen, seeing that Tivoli tops my list will be of no surprise. Dating back to 1843, Tivoli is the second-oldest operating amusement park in the world. With something for everyone, it really is an awesome place to visit. There’s gardens, historic buildings, pavilions, open-air stage shows, food outlets and (new and old) rides, ranging from the 1914 wooden roller-coaster through to the 2016 Fatamorgana.
In fact, we didn’t even go on any rides when we visited, but we loved walking around taking everything in. Try to visit Tivoli during the day and at night – or coincide your visit to cover both – as it feels totally different. From dusk, all of the fairy lights turn on and it becomes a pretty magical and enchanting place. Unsurprisingly, Toddler L loved it at Tivoli, as did I!
So those are 7 of the most toddler-friendly things we did when on holiday in Copenhagen. Have you visited the city before? Have you done any of these things? Would you add anything to the list? Let me know below!
N.B. This is a commissioned post written in collaboration with KAYAK