CROWN JEWELS, ROYAL GUARDS & ROLLERCOASTER RIDES
After feasting on your hotel buffet – Danish hotels have a well-earned reputation for providing a glorious spread of healthy and tasty goodies – make your way to the attractive parklands of Kongens Have, west along Gothersgade from Nyhavn, and your first stop on today’s itinerary. With its copper-green spiral turrets dominating the skyline above the gardens, ROSENBORG CASTLE [open daily from 10am, June to August from 9am–5pm, closed Mondays in winter | 110kr, under-18s free] looks like something Hans Christian Anderson might have dreamt up. Built in the early seventeenth century by Christian IV, Denmark’s most famous ruler, the Dutch Renaissance castle is a royal repository, stuffed full of the treasures acquired by subsequent kings. The lavish Great Hall, where three prowling silver lions guard the king and queen’s elaborately carved thrones and an impressive armoury of ceremonial weapons, is the main sight within the castle itself, though kids will no doubt enjoy peering into Christian IV’s drop toilet, a much simpler “throne”. You’ll need to go down into the basement to find Rosenborg’s real crown jewels, though. Literally. Here, protected in glass cases, are the sapphire-studded Crown of the Absolute Monarchs and a sparkling set of jewellery that belonged to Queen Sophie Magdalene, all of it mounted with emeralds and encrusted with diamonds.
Rosenborg is also home to the barracks of the Livgarden, the bearskin-hatted Royal Life Guards. At 11.30am each day, the guards march from here to AMALIENBORG, the Danish queen’s winter residence, just north of Nyhavn. It’s quite surreal watching them parade through the streets of Copenhagen, but make sure you’re in the Palace Square for noon, when they perform the CHANGING OF THE GUARD.
The end of the ceremonial handover is your cue to leave the Palace Square and head south to TIVOLI GARDENS [open daily until 11pm, Fri & Sat till midnight | 120kr, under-8s 50kr, under-3s free, free entry with Copenhagen Card | rides 30–90kr; unlimited rides 230kr] for an afternoon of good old-fashioned fun. The historic amusement park is a half-hour walk from Amalienborg, or bus #26 runs from Bredgade, the street just west of the palace, to Tivoli’s main entrance on Vesterbrogade (20 minutes; you’ll just need a one-zone ticket). Tivoli has been entertaining young and old for over 175 years – Hans Christian Anderson was a regular visitor and Walt Disney sought inspiration here for his own theme parks – and it remains as popular as ever thanks to an appealing blend of kid-friendly classics and contemporary coasters. There are over thirty rides, from chain swings, carousels and a vintage wooden rollercoaster to the Demon, a virtual-reality simulator, and the 100kph Vertigo, on which you’ll get to experience what 5G feels like. Pantomimes, concerts, musicals and dance performances are also regularly held in the park's open-air theatre and various other venues, but even if you don’t see any of these, make sure you catch the Tivoli Illuminations, when a sound-and-laser show lights up the gardens after dark.
TOP TIP If you're going to be doing a fair bit of sightseeing and travelling around, you might find it’s worth investing in a COPENHAGEN CARD. A 72-hour card (€93, under-16s €47, up to 2 children under 10 free with every adult cardholder) will last you a three-day weekend (though if you time it right, you could get by with a 48-hour card; €77/€39) and includes free unlimited travel on public transport throughout greater Copenhagen (including the metro or train ride to and from the airport), plus free entry to the vast majority of the city's attractions (Rosenborg Castle, Blue Planet and entry to Tivoli are all covered by the card), as well as some tours and activities, such as Stromma’s canal-boat tours.
WHERE TO EAT
Bet you didn’t expect to be taking your kids for dinner in a community centre? But this colourfully converted old church in the hip southern district of Vesterbro is novelty dining with a difference. Much like Copenhagen itself, it’s a welcoming, democratic little place, where locals and interested visitors come together to share hearty home-cooked meals (50kr, under-5s free). Arrive no later than 5.45pm for the 6pm sitting (tickets go on sale on the door at 5pm), pull up a chair at any of the squeezed-together tables and help yourself to a serving of chickpea fritters, chili with Cajun rice or cracked beef with potatoes (the menu changes daily). It’s not really about the food, though. Eating here is more about community spirit and sitting down to eat with a room full or strangers – or, as Absalon themselves put it, “two hundred friends you don’t yet know” (with the emphasis firmly on the “yet”). Don’t forget to take your plates back to the kitchen once you’ve finished. Absalon is at 73 Sønder Boulevard, a twenty-minute walk from Tivoli or a seven-minute taxi ride.
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