EXPLORING COPENHAGEN’S CANALS
Assuming you’re catching a mid-morning flight so you can maximise your time in COPENHAGEN, you’ll probably arrive in Indre By, the city centre, around mid-afternoon. Drop your bags off at your hotel, then head straight for picturesque NYHAVN, the cul-de-sac canal lined with brightly painted merchants' houses that has become a symbol of the city. Copenhagen (“Merchant Harbour”) gets its name from the traders who once peddled goods on the docks here, and the cafés that line the waterfront are still a great spot for people-watching.
Nyhavn is the departure point for GUIDED CANAL-BOAT TOURS, a brilliant way of exploring Copenhagen’s network of canals and of getting a handle on the city’s layout. Tours with Stromma [boats depart every 10 to 30 minutes until 6pm, till 5pm mid-March to early May, till 9pm mid-June to mid-August, | 1hr | 85kr/95kr, under-16s 43kr, under-6s free, free with Copenhagen Card for departures from Ved Stranden, opposite the island of Slottsholmen, a 10-minute walk to the southwest] set off from the land-locked end of Nyhavn and travel up the harbour as far as THE LITTLE MERMAID STATUE (prepare your kids for this, though – she’s very petite, as the name implies, and she faces away from the water, so you only really get a good view of her back). On the way, you’ll pass the modern Danish design icons of the Opera House and the Black Diamond library before threading through the canals of pretty Christianshavn and around Slotsholmen, the historical heart of Copenhagen and now home to the Danish Parliament. Note that from mid-October to mid-March, the last boat leaves Nyhavn at 3.30pm (3pm from Van Stranden), so if you’ve visiting Copenhagen in winter, you’ll probably need to save your canal tour for Day 2.
If you’ve got young kids in tow, they’re bound to appreciate a detour on the way back to your hotel via Strøget, Copenhagen’s main shopping street and the home (at Vimmelskaftet 37) of the flagship LEGO STORE [open till 7pm on Fridays, till 6pm on Saturdays]. There’s a Pick-A-Brick Wall and a play area, and you should be able to find some exclusive sets here, but the main reason for popping in is to have a look at the clever little displays, including a mini-brick replica of Nyhavn and a life-sized Royal Life Guard.
TOP TIP A fun alternative to an organised tour is to RENT A SOLAR-POWERED BOAT from GoBoat [from mid-March to October daily 9.30am until sunset | 1hr 449kr per boat, 2hr 799kr per boat, longer rentals available] and putter around the canals as captain of your own vessel. You can pick up a map at GoBoat’s pavilion (next to the Islands Brygge Harbour Baths, on the opposite side of the harbour to Tivoli Gardens); the boats take up to eight passengers, with seats set around a picnic table, so you can bring your own lunch or stop off at the street-food market in front of the Nordatlantens Brygge art centre on Chrisitanshavn, a twenty-minute ride north of the pavilion.
WHERE TO EAT
This trendy food hall near Nørreport Station, one stop on the metro or a 15-minute walk from Nyhavn, is Copenhagen’s best food market. There are sixty different stalls selling everything from fresh fish to fruit and veg, and whilst the gourmet hotdogs, tacos and artisan pizzas will no doubt tempt your children, it’s worth seeking out Hallernes Smørrebrød, for their traditional Danish open-faced sandwiches. Share a few between you and choose from over a dozen toppings, including meatballs, prawn and egg mayonnaise and, of course, herring.
THE LIJOMA LOWDOWN
Delve deeper with our tips on what to read before you go, foods your kids must try, and some key cultural advice
From loft apartments to funky B&Bs – our pick of the most memorable places for families to stay in Copenhagen
NEED TO KNOW
A handy overview of Copenhagen’s weather and climate throughout the year, with recommendations for the best time to visit
Pre-trip practicalities, including getting there, visas and passports, health and safety and how to get around