One Week in Denmark: A Copenhagen Based Itinerary

In the fall I was lucky enough to stay in Copenhagen, Denmark for an entire week. There were so many things I wanted to do during my time in Denmark, but here is what I was able to fit in to just one week:

Day One: Arrive in Copenhagen

Full of jetlag, I arrived in Copenhagen in the morning and decided to simply explore the city and enjoy the atmosphere without any particular destinations in mind. I window shopped on the pedestrian street, Stroget and visited the tourist information center for maps to plan out the rest of my week. After mingling in the hostel, I was off to bed early to be well rested for my first of three day trips!

Day Two: Day Trip to Frederiksborg Castle in Hillerod

After a 45 minute train ride I arrived in Hillerod, and made my way towards Frederiksborg Castle. While the skies were clear, I decided to explore the baroque style gardens before visiting the interior of the castle which houses Denmark’s National History Museum. Read all about my day trip here!

Day 3: Day Trip to Roskilde

Since I purchased a 24 hour train pass the day before, I figured I might as well do a second day trip 25 minutes away to Roskilde. The UNESCO World Hertitage Site the Roskilde Cathedral is located in Roskilde. It holds the world record for most royals buried in a single church. Roskilde is also home to the Viking Museum. The indoor/outdoor museum houses 5 salvaged original Viking ships plus many Viking ship recreations tethered on the docks.

Day 4: Explore Copenhagen

For my first full day in the city center, I spent the morning exploring Nyhavn, walking down “Pusher Street” in the free town of Christiania, visiting the Church of our Savior and observing the exterior of Christianborg Palace. After a quick lunch break my new friend and I headed to the Guinness Book of World Records Museum and the Hans Christian Anderson Museum to round out our afternoon.

Since I visited in October, I was just in time for the Halloween themed reopening of Tivoli Garden‘s! We spent the evening traveling around the world, riding rides,  and enjoying the Halloween festivities.

Day 5: Carlsberg Brewery and more exploring in Copenhagen

To begin my day I headed out on a short bus ride with my new friend to Carlsberg Brewery! There we saw a history of Denmark’s beer brewing companies, the Guinness World Record holding largest beer collection, and tasted some delicious brews in the Carlsberg tasting room. Last but not least we took a horse drawn carriage ride through the picturesque streets of Valby!

 

Once we arrived back in Copenhagen’s city center we visited the Marble Church and the royal residence Amelianberg Palace. After the changing of the guards, we made our way towards the famous Little Mermaid statue. Just around the corner, we ended our day exploring the 16th century star shaped fortress called Kastellet or the Citadel.

Day 6: Visit the Kings Garden and the Botanical Garden

After a quick breakfast, I headed out to explore the King’s Garden, just outside the Rosenborg Castle. Designed by King Christian IV in 1606, it is Denmark’s oldest national palace garden.

Just up the road lies the Botanical Garden, a part of Denmark’s Natural History Museum. The garden is arranged by types of plants that live in each biome. Overall there are over 13,000 species of plants!

Day 7: Day trip to see Kronberg Castle and the Louisiana Modern Art Museum

For my last full day in Denmark I decided to embark on one final day trip to see Kronborg Castle otherwise known as Hamlet’s Castle located a 40 minute train ride away from the city center in Helsinger. The renaissance castle is considered the setting for William Shakespeare’s famous tragedy, “Hamlet.” Luckily when I visited there was a Renaissance Fair going on! Read all about it here!  On the way back to the city center I stopped in Humlebaek to visit the Louisiana Museum on Modern Art. The museum features both indoor and outdoor exhibits of all mediums.

Day 8: Fly home

This trip was especially different for me, I’ve very rarely visited one city for an extended period of time. I made very lose plans, then when I made a friend at the hostel I followed along seeing places she wanted to see! While I’m sure there is plenty more to see in and around Copenhagen, this is how I made the most of my time in Denmark!

Attending the Renaissance Fair at Kronborg Castle: A Day Trip from Copenhagen, Denmark

On my last full day in Copenhagen, I decided to venture out of the city center to Helsinger to visit Kronborg Castle, otherwise known as “Hamlet’s Castle”. It is theorized that William Shakespeare was inspired by the lavish banquets hosted by Danish King Frederik IV and Queen Sophie when writing his famous tragedy “Hamlet.”

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After a 40 minute train ride, I could see Kronborg Castle immediately after exiting the train station. On my short walk along the water towards the castle, I found a silver merman statue, similar to the Little Mermaid in Copenhagen, peering towards the ocean. Also along the waters edge were two cute, brightly colored light houses and the statue Herakles og Hydraen or Hercules and the Hydra.

Normally the castle grounds are free to explore in the winter, only the interior has a cost, but I quickly realized today was different. I had stumbled upon a Renaissance fair! There were people dressed in the Renaissance fashion of royalty, guards and common folk alike, plus tents lining the moat selling sweets and handmade items.

After looking at the day’s schedule, I decided to tour the inside of the castle first before attending any Renaissance fair events. While it definitely wasn’t as ornate as the Frederiksborg Castle I visited earlier in the week, the Kronborg castle stemmed from a simpler time period. Visitors were free to explore the bed chambers of King Frederik IV and Queen Sophie, see the King’s elaborately woven tapestry collection and walk through the expansive great hall where banquets were held.

Another feature of the castle itself was the “Casemates”, elaborate tunnels beneath the castle. I stumbled around the dark passages for around ten minutes before reaching the surface. After going underground, I next went to one of the highest points of the castle, the canon tower. After 145 steps up a winding staircase to the top, I could see views of the surrounding city as well as the courtyard below.

Next it was time for some Renaissance fair activities! First up was the “sea battle.” Two tiny row boats with Danish and Swedish soldiers “fought” in the castle moat. It was very much organized chaos but hilariously (possibly drunkenly) done. They even had miniature canons to “shoot” at each other! Kids and their families lined the moat taking in the spectacle.

Next up was the horseman and gentry training, where different weapons of the Renaissance period were demonstrated including the lance and the saber. To follow up what we just learned we got to watch a riding tournament. Although I couldn’t understand what anyone was saying as it was in Dannish, it looked to be another face off between Denmark and Sweden. Two champions from each side competed in various tests of skill such as speed, accuracy of a lance, and use of a saber by cutting apples all while still on horseback! In the end the tournament was won by popular vote so unsurprisingly Denmark took home the victory.

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Although my trip to Kronborg Castle was not exactly what I was expecting, the Renaissance fair added quite a bit of excitement! It was so fun to see the towering castle in a Renaissance setting. If you can, the Renaissance Fair at Kronberg Castle is definitely worth the visit!

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3 Parks to Visit in Copenhagen, Denmark

When you visit a bustling city center you wouldn’t be surprised to see busy shopping streets, and skyscrapers,  but it’s not a guarantee that there will be a quiet place to relax. During my week in Copenhagen, Denmark I found three outdoor spaces to explore all within walking distance from the city center and they were free! If you have the need to get away from the hustle and bustle, check out one of these three parks!

The King’s Garden:

Situated around Rosenborg Castle, the King’s Garden is Denmark’s oldest national palace garden. In 1606, King Christian IV designed the Renaissance style garden while the castle was being constructed. There are multiple areas to walk through including a rose garden, a fountain area, and a children’s play area.

 

The Botanical Garden:

Just a block away from the King’s Garden, the Botanical Garden is a part of Denmark’s Natural History Museum. The Botanical Garden is arranged in different sections each with a different type of plant. My favorite area was the rock garden where you could climb winding paths up a small hill displaying plants from mountainous regions. Overall there are over 13,000 species of plants in the garden. There are also greenhouses to explore but unfortunately they are closed on Mondays in the winter months.

 

Kastellet:

The last Copenhagen getaway is a well preserved star-shaped fortress commissioned back in 1662. Just around the corner from Copenhagen’s famous The Little Mermaid statue, Kastellet or “The Citadel” allows visitors to walk along its ramparts enjoying views of the city. There’s even a historic windmill up there! On ground level along cobblestone streets, there are picturesque 18th century barracks to wander through.

 

If you are looking for a way to escape the city life within walking distance, head to one of these parks!

Visiting the Carlsberg Brewery: The Copenhagen ExBEERience

During my week in Copenhagen, I learned about the famous Carlsberg beers from another girl staying at my hostel. Carlsberg breweries were founded and are still located just outside of central Copenhagen but they export beer worldwide. My new friend had already made plans to go visit the brewery while she was there and I was more than happy to go along for the ride!

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We took the bus from outside Copenhagen Central Station to the town of Valby to get to the Carlsberg Brewery. Turns out there is a free shuttle you can take instead, find its pick up location here! After a short walk down the cobblestone streets we found the brewery entrance. Admittance into the brewery is 100 DKK (~17 USD or 70 DKK/$12 with a student ID) which includes either 2 free beers or a beer and a “free gift.” The gift is a pin with the company logo on it so unless you collect them you’ll probably opt for the second beer.

The first room you’ll enter houses the Guinness World Record largest collection of beer bottles. That day the exhibition had 16,919 bottles of beer from all all over Europe. The entire collection has 22,558 bottles in it!

Next came the museum which started with a history of beer in Denmark, not just the Carlsberg Brewery. J.C. Jacobsen opened his first brewery in 1847 (located where the museum is now!) and named it Carlsberg after his son Carl. Father and son eventually disagreed on how the family business should be run, creating two separate Carlsberg Breweries, Old and New Carlsberg. After J. C. Jacobsen’s death the companies combined forming the Carlsberg Brewery we have today.

After the museum you can explore the Sculpture Garden which includes a replica of the Little Mermaid statue in downtown Copenhagen. From the sculpture garden you enter the stables and can meet some of the brewery horses! Similar to the Anhauser Busch Clydesdales in the United States, the Carlsberg has their own team of Jutland horses. They switched to using only the Danish breed around 1930. The best part is they offer free horse drawn carriage rides through the quant, quiet streets of Valby!

After the carriage ride we headed to the brewhouse for our free beers, you can chose from a variety of Carlsberg beers.  Wanting to catch the next shuttle back we finished our beers quickly and headed out in search of the main entrance with the Elephant Gate, an entrance to the brewery grounds. One of Calrsberg’s signature beers is the Carlsberg Elephant which was first brewed in 1959. Although there was construction going on, the elephant statues were still worth a visit before catching the shuttle bus back to the city center. Overall the Carlsberg brewery had lots to offer and was a great way to spend our morning!

 

3 Day Trips Less than an Hour from Copenhagen, Denmark

While there are plenty of things to do walking distance from Copenhagen’s city center, there are also a few gems just a train ride away. If you are looking for more to do in your time in Copenhagen, consider one of these three day trips:

1) Frederiksborg Castle in Hillerod (45 minutes by train from the city center)

Built in the 1500s under King Christian IV, Frederiksborg Castle now houses the Museum of National History. The 85 rooms in the castle show a chronological history of Denmark starting in the 1500s up until present day. Another feature of Frederiksborg Castle is the grounds. The baroque style gardens are beautiful and easy to walk through providing amazing views of the castle. Once you’ve explored the gardens there are trails through the woods to find the Bath House Palace, the King’s Spring and Christian IV’s stone.

2) Roskilde  (25 minutes by train from the city center)

Grab a map at the tourist center then take the short hike to the Viking Museum on the waters edge. The museum houses five 800 year old Viking ships. During the warmer months you can sail out on replicas on the salvaged ships. There are tours and demonstrations throughout the day to learn the tools the Vikings used to create their vessels.

Also in Roskilde is the UNESCO World Heritage site the Roskilde Cathedral. For over 1000 years there has been a church on the site of the current cathedral. It holds the world record for most royals buried in a church with 39 Danish Kings and Queens calling Roskilde Cathedral their final resting place.

 

3) Kronborg Castle in Helsinger and the Louisiana in Humlebaek (45 minutes by train)

Kronborg Castle, also known as “Hamlet’s Castle” is the setting for Shakespeare’s famous play, Hamlet. Shakespeare was allegedly inspired by the lavish banquets Frederik II held at the castle in the 1600s. When I visited the Renaissance Fair was going on on the grounds for their autumn break from school, you can read all about it here! On a regular day you can tour the interior of the castle to see Frederik II and Queen Sophie’s bed chambers , the King’s intricately woven tapestries and the underground tunnels called the Casemates.

Just a few train stations away from Helsinger heading back towards Central Copenhagen, is the Louisiana Modern Art Museum in Humlebaek. The museum features both an outdoor sculpture garden and indoor exhibits. Just note it is a modern art museum, so nudity was a part of many art pieces.

While there is so much to see in Copenhagen’s city center, these jam packed day trips were well worth the trip!

Celebrating 100 Blog Posts!

As we reach the beginning of February the novelty of the new year starts to wear off, but here at It’s a Schmahl World, we are celebrating a blogging milestone! Today we are posting our 100th post! When we started this blog to write about our travels, we didn’t expect to be where we are today. In this post, we’ll look back at how our lives have changed from being two young professionals working full time to a Peace Corps volunteer and an engineering graduate student.

 

 

Back to where it all began, our first post It’s a Schmahl World after all… published in February of 2016. Both Kim and I were working full time saving up all our paid time off to travel. We went on trips with our family to Washington DC for the 4th of July and a quick trip to Colombia for our first time in South America! Kim was able to go to Europe with her college roommates, 5 years after graduation! Highlights of their two week trip were hiking through Plitvice Park in Croatia, visiting the baths and ruin bars in Budapest, exploring palaces and the opera house in Vienna, and wandering the narrow streets and canals of Venice.

 

 

Occasionally I was lucky enough to travel for work, one time all the way across the globe to Japan for two weeks. For my first time in Asia, I got the chance to attend a festival the small city of Utsunomiya, wander the temples of Nikko and explore parts of Tokyo for a day. I even reached waaayyyy out of my comfort zone to experience a Japanese onsen (or a naked bath house).

 

 

September of 2016 came with an exciting road trip around Iceland’s Ring Road for Nelson and I. We snorkeled between the tectonic plates, hiked on a glacier, saw some amazing waterfalls and last but not least we got engaged! While planning is still in the works over a year later, Nelson and I are finally going to tie the knot in July of 2018.

 

 

Kim was the next to have a major life change when she decided to join the American Peace Corps to teach high school math in Liberia. Before she left we went on one last family vacation to Florida. We made the most of our limited time together exploring Key West, Disney World and the Ringling Museum.

 

 

In June of 2017, Kim packed her bags and began the long journey to Liberia. After a bit of training in Washington DC, they received 3 months of training in the of Kakata, just an hour outside of Monrovia, Liberia’s capital. Currently she has been teaching at her site for the last 5 months and learning the ins and outs of her community. See all of her updates about living in Liberia here!

 

 

To wrap up our life changes through 100 posts we’ll look at a recent big change in my life. I left my full time job and my first order of business was to go on an amazing week long 10 year friendaversary trip to Tuscany, Italy with two friends from Girl Scouts. I traveled solo for the first time to Copenhagen, Denmark and now after my sabbatical I have started going to school full time to get my masters degree in Mechanical Engineering!

 

 

When we began this blog, we never would have guessed where we’d be now, after 100 posts… who knows where we will be after the next 100 posts, but we are excited to continue the journey!

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Visiting Roskilde: A Day Trip from Copenhagen, Denmark

During my week in Copenhagen, I had a little time left on my 24 hour train pass from the trip to Frederiksborg Castle the day before so I decided to hop on the train from Copenhagen Central Station for the 25 minute ride out to Roskilde. When I arrived I stopped in at the Tourist center for a map of the city then walked around the outside of the Roskilde Cathedral. I opted to tour the inside later since there was a service going on, be sure to check the schedule posted by the door!

After a bit of a hike I made it to the Viking museum. Situated on the waters edge, the Viking Museum houses 5 original Viking ships excavated in 1962 from the Roskilde Fjords. The ships had been decommissioned by the Vikings, filled with rocks and sunk in the water to block the easiest route to the city. Only someone familiar with Roskilde’s waterways would be able to find their way to the city. The ships are all different types ranging from the second longest Viking warship ever discovered to a small simple fishing vessel. The exact history of these ships is difficult to know for certain since not many Vikings were literate. There are tours throughout the day covering the history of the salvaged Viking ships so ask at the ticket kiosk or note the signs around the museum!

The Viking Museum also has an outdoor areas where workers work in the open and in small workshops to create replicas of the salvaged ships. The process to recreate the ships is as similar as possible to how they were originally built by the Vikings. the wood used in the boat is carefully chosen from branches that are similar in shape to that part of the ship and Viking tools such as axes are the only ones used on the recreations. During the summer months you can ride out into the Fjords on the recreations. While that is not an option in the winter, I was able to climb around on the warship replica.

The Viking Museum has a cafe for a lunch break and picnic tables outside to enjoy the (hopefully) nice weather. After refueling I walked along the docks enjoying the gorgeous views across the water and looking at other small viking boat replicas moored along the docks.

Retracing my steps, I headed back to the Roskilde Cathedral, a UNESCO World Heritage site. The entrance fee is usually 60 DKK (~10USD or 40DKK, ~6.50USD, for students) but I accidentally got there 30 minutes before the cathedral closed so they let me in for free! Thirty minutes is definitely not enough time to explore the massive cathedral but I did my best. For over 1000 years a church has stood at that location. The cathedral also holds the world record for number of royals buried in a single church with 39 Danish kings and queens laid to rest there.

After a little time exploring the town square I hopped on the train back to Copenhagen’s city center. Only 25 minutes away, Roskilde was the perfect trip for day filled with history.