One of the very super cool things that you need to embrace when you move yourself around the world is opening up to all the interesting people that you may have the opportunity to meet. They make a place what it is. Connect you to it. Share your stories, listen to theirs. Learn. Explore.
Me? I’m a people person. But you may have figured that out. I love swapping stories. Learning new perspectives. Figuring out how your from impacts your here and now. In my new blog series – meet the locals – I wanted to give you personal stories about real people. Connect you to my here. Today I am so happy to introduce you to one of them. Her name is Mai-Britt Amsler and she is a graphic designer and illustrator based in Copenhagen, Denmark.
Winter in Denmark can feel long, dark and damp. When the little white lights of a perfect Dansk Jul are boxed up and put away ‘til next… October, the limited daylight of January and into February here can be challenging. But if you are lucky and like manna from heaven, the city becomes blanketed in fluffy white flaked goodness – watch out – Copenhagen’s charm shifts into overdrive. Snow. Snow. Snow! Sne in Danish.
I fell in love on a wrong turn back in August last year. I was exploring on a recce visit while my husband was working in Aarhus. I had no idea at the time that this quiet little full of color and charm street would be in my very own neighborhood. Oh to bike home to one of those brightly painted little row houses on a coming grey day. In summer they are a bloom with tall and brilliant hollyhocks and roses and lavender. (One of the Top 10 reasons I love summer in Copenhagen!)
When our American family of five expatriated from Portland, Oregon to Copenhagen, Denmark in the depths of December’s dark Danish days, everyone said – wait for summer. It’s amazing here. And it is. Summer in Copenhagen. But, speaking from experience, just don’t expect perfect weather. When it’s blue blue skies over head, there are few places better. Be prepared for some good days and some potential grey days. Remember to bring layers! Even if you turn up during a few of the more lacking days weather wise, you can absolutely still enjoy this beautiful city and have a great time exploring. So, without further ado, here are my favorite things to do in summer in Copenhagen, so far.
My Top 10 Danish Summer Experiences in Copenhagen – in no particular order:
Tivoli is the 2nd oldest amusement park in the world. (Bakken, right up the road in Klampenborg is the oldest, but we bought annual passes to Tivoli so it makes my list and should yours too!) Tivoli is all sorts of charming, but it can be crowded with tourists in the summer. A small luxury having annual passes, we can hop in and out as we please if the lines are too long. Just chilling on the lawn while the kids dart in and out from ride to ride is truly a lovely way to spend the afternoon. Most Fridays in the summer – there are free concerts (after you pay admission) from the lawn stage. My daughter loved Jessie J recently and we can’t wait for Snoop Dogg arriving soon! You can find the current events listing here as well as visiting hours and park plans.
Simple sampans on Tivoli Lake
The Dæmon offers more excitement
Tivoli Boys Guard adds charm
Saturday fireworks at Tivoli
2. Picnics –
There is a ton of green space in Copenhagen – large parks and gardens where you can enjoy the outdoors. We love our nearby Fælledparken in Østerbro and the Kings Garden (Kongen Have) by the Rosenborg Slot in the center of town. My absolute favorite place to picnic is really anywhere by the water, particularly a beach. Bellevue Beach in Klampenborg is worth the effort to get to (just jump on the C train and get off at the Klampenborg stop – then head towards the water). If that is too far from town for you try Amager Strand towards the airport with views of the Øresund Bridge. Our go to local hangout is Svanemøllen Strand – perfect for a dip, instant grill and a game of football. (And by football, I mean American football.) You can pick up a 20DKK disposable grill (approximately €2.7 or $3.00) at most grocery stores during the summer months. There are many excellent places to procure picnic provisions – but my favorite has to be Torvehallerne – the Glass Market near Nørreport Station in the middle of town. Lots of great take away options to eat there right there or take to nearby Botanical Gardens.
Pølser picnic at the beach
Insta grill at the beach
Rosenborg Slot Rose Garden
3. Boating in the canals –
Really – you must do this. Copenhagen is a harbor town. There is water everywhere. You must get out on it. Especially in the sommer. Don’t have a boat? No problem. Go Boat rents charming electric picnic boats by the hour. There is also a boat rental outlet near Fisketorvet. You can also rent kayaks from several places. But I adore the slow, cozy, picnic table centered Go Boats for their charm, ease and maneuverability. Highly recommend it at least once. So very fun fun!
4. Swimming in the harbor –
This is a so very Copenhagen thing to do. There are several Harbor Baths on the main canal where you can swim free of charge. And by baths – don’t think large men in towels – this is just a swimming pool on the water with lifeguards. Islands Brygge can be quite a scene when the weather is nice. People go to see and be seen hanging out on the lawn. My kids ignore the masses and LOVE jumping off the platform into the cool canal. Don’t like swimming with the masses – try the Copencabana Harbor Pool by Fisketorvet Shopping Mall – you can still jump off a slightly lower platform, but there were FAR fewer people there. More geared at lap swimmers and kids who like to jump in and out repeatedly. Worked for us!
5. Biking in the breeze –
No list would be complete that didn’t include biking in Copenhagen. This town is made for it. There are ROADS with their own stop lights for bikes here. Something about warm breezy weather and just biking bespeaks sommer to me. Perfection. Now that I can ride a bike that is! Yay me! Bike to your picnic. Or to a Harbor Pool. Or to a park! Or to drinks on the water… it can ALL be done on a bike in summer. (Or really anytime here in Copenhagen.)
When in Copenhagen
6. Drinks by the water –
Literally anywhere by the water. BYOB and pull up a bench along the canal or on the beach. Copenhagen has a very tolerant open container policy which I will admit feels very strange to me, but seems to work here and with the price of a drink out, I appreciate the option. Or try one of the many charming spots right on the water. I love the little kayak bars that skirt Slotsholmen or sit on the super darling canals in Christianshavn. So cute. Not out and about in a boat? But still want to feel part of the canal action? Go to Papirøen and the home of Copenhagen Street Food. Yummy drinks and so many good food choices. Or on the opposite side of the canal down near the Kastellet (not far from tourist stop the Little Mermaid) – go to Toldbolden. Drinks are a little spendier here and the stylish crowd reflects it, but the atmosphere is lovely. Nab a lounger and enjoy the people watching on and off the water.
Copenhagen Street Food
7. Fresh Danish Jordbær and Kirsebær –
Bright red, shiny, delicious and fresh Danish strawberries and cherries. You can buy them all over town. There is a fruit stand right by the Royal Botanical Garden. Another perfect spot for a picnic in the sommer to enjoy the flowers. You can also pick up fresh fruit and vegetables with your picnic supplies and excellent take away food at the Glass Market near Nørreport Station. A sunny late afternoon, early evening at a table outside at Torvehallerne is perfection. Grab a glass of cava or rosé and the duck confit sandwich from Ma Poule or tacos from Hija de Sanchez and enjoy. Delightful.
8. Flowers everywhere –
Speaking of flowers, they are abloom everywhere in Copenhagen. Hard not to notice them. Fragrant and lovely, the roses are beautiful here. Coming from a town known as the “Rose City,” (Portland, Oregon) I appreciate and adore this about sommer here.
Roses around the doors in town
A rose a day
Dragør a bloom
9. Is –
I scream, you scream, we all scream for is cream! Danish ice cream is delicious. Paradis is a chain that is all over town and affords an excellent scoop or two. My personal favorite is Østerberg Is in Østerbro. It is a small shop on Rosenvængets Allé run by Catherine Østerberg and family. Every flavor we have tried here is fantastic, but my go to (if it is available) is the lakrids (yes, licorice! The Danes are seeping in!) and kokos (coconut.) YUM. My husband loves the avocado and the kids go for the havtorn and hyldeblomst – also very Danish flavors.
Get off at the Klampenborg Train Station and head up the hill to the bridge. Here you can hire a horse drawn carriage to take you to the oldest amusement park in the world – Bakken. Or you can ask them to take you through the enormous Dyrehaven (Deer haven) Park up to the castle and see the huge herd of royal deer. Dyrehaven is also an excellent place for a picnic.
Carriage ride through Dyrehaven
More to add? Things so very Danish that I am missing? Please share. Cheers from Denmark! – Erin
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Dancing with sommer. Playing with sommer. Flirting with sommer. But what a tease she is here in Denmark. I will admit that this past Friday was beautiful – lunch outside with a friend at a charming café patio. (I can highly recommend the avocado sandwich at Café Bopa on cute and leafy green Bopa Plads in Østerbro if you need inspiration!) Soaking up brilliant blue skies and sunny warm rays surrounded by loads of other Copenhageners doing exactly the same. Friday night followed by catching the “scene” down at Toldbolden on the water to extend our sommer day, which isn’t hard to do when the late stays so long. Stalked ourselves a table with a view and more sunshine with cold drinks and warm nuts (yes, its true) and the most excellent people watching on land and on sea. The boat traffic on the Copenhagen harbor accelerates in direct proportion to the rise in centigrade. Tourist canal boats tour with tops off (the boats, not the people) sailboats those wee and those mighty, yachts of various ilk, motor boats, zodiacs, water taxi’s, all trying to grab onto this idyllic Danish sommer ideal which has been fleeting so far. I am told that it is magical when it stays and I can well imagine from the brief glimpses we have encountered so far.