November 5, 2015

The Christmas market at Tivoli gardens

There are many reasons why Copenhagen is on the top of my list when deciding where to take my winter holiday. It’s a very liveable and accessible city, and many of its main museums and galleries are free to visit. It also boasts some of the best restaurants in Denmark, a country famous for its delicious cuisine.

Whether you’re walking around the pretty 17th century Nyhavn waterfront, warming up with a glass of glögg, or exploring the history of one of the world’s most prolific writers, Hans Christian Andersen, you’ll want to check out my guide to having a fairy tale winter in Copenhagen.

 Copenhagen’s Nyhavn waterfront is a beautiful place to visit, whatever the weather.
Copenhagen’s Nyhavn waterfront is a beautiful place to visit, whatever the weather.

Tivoli Gardens

I love taking my family to Tivoli Gardens because everyone always has a great time. This 19th century-themed amusement park is truly a magical place, and I have to recommend it to anyone visiting Copenhagen. The fairy tale writer Hans Christian Andersen was a frequent visitor, captivated by the gardens' architecture and carefully designed floral displays. My kids also love the old wooden rollercoaster, which was built in 1914!

While there’s endless fun to be had by day, the gardens come alive at night when hundreds of lights are turned on to create an almost dream-like ambience. Over the Christmas period, between mid-November and late-December, is my favourite time to visit Tivoli, as it hosts a wonderful Christmas market. There are Christmas stalls selling all kinds of Scandinavian treats, and it’s great fun to grab a bite to eat while walking around and doing a bit of Christmas shopping.

 The Rosenborg Castle Gardens.
The Rosenborg Castle Gardens.

Hans Christian Andersen Fairy-Tale House

Due to his ties to the city, there are many tributes to writer Hans Christian Andersen throughout Copenhagen. One of the best is the Fairy-Tale House, which houses charming tableaux displays telling Andersen’s famous fantasy stories. When we visited, my children loved hearing about some of his most famous fairy tales, and I found it incredibly interesting to see his study, where he created some of his most renowned masterpieces.

There’s a statue of Andersen at the Rosenborg Castle Gardens, and perhaps more famously, a statue of the Little Mermaid sits at Langelinie Pier. Over 100 years old, the Little Mermaid statue is made of bronze and granite, and was inspired by Andersen’s story of a mermaid, who gives up her life in the sea to be with a young prince on land.

 The Little Mermaid statue in Copenhagen.
The Little Mermaid statue in Copenhagen.

Culture and Royalty

Copenhagen has some fantastic museums and galleries, and many of them are free to visit. One of my favourite places to take my family is the Nationalmuseet, also known as the National Museum of Denmark. The Nationalmuseet is a vast cultural hub with a range of incredible exhibitions, all of which I found to be really immersive. You’ll be guided through the history of Denmark, right back to ancient times, and you’ll see artefacts from Egypt, the Vikings, plus national treasures such as a prehistoric Sun Chariot. There are regular activities taking place for kids too, so book ahead to find out what’s going on during your visit.

Copenhagen’s National Gallery of Denmark is one of the finest art galleries that I’ve ever visited. A short and scenic stroll from the city centre, the newer gallery building is connected to its elder by way of a glass roof. The original red-bricked building was built in 1896, and the glass roof creates a huge bright space beneath, which is used for kids’ workshops and other creative events. Surrounded by a scenic park and lake, the gallery is in a beautiful part of town, and the works of art on display are varied. You’ll find your favourite Renaissance classic, before standing in awe in front of a 20th century masterpiece.

 The National Gallery of Denmark is a stunning place to visit both inside and out.
The National Gallery of Denmark is a stunning place to visit both inside and out.

There are numerous palaces around the city, and a fun activity to do with the children is to take them to see the changing of the guards at Amalienborg Palace. On Copenhagen’s waterfront, this palace is the Danish monarch’s winter residence, and it’s easy to get to on foot. You can also see the guards at Christiansborg Palace, the seat of the Danish government, where horses are often seen parading around the large courtyard.

 Amalienborg Palace is a pretty picture in winter.
Amalienborg Palace is a pretty picture in winter.

Itchy feet?

Copenhagen is bursting with fantastic hotels and restaurants, and can be reached from Calais in under a day. Eurotunnel Le Shuttle takes you from Folkestone to Calais in just 35 minutes, so start planning your dream fairy tale trip!

Photo Credits:
Copenhagen’s Nyhavn waterfront is a beautiful place to visit, whatever the weather. - Image by John Anes
The Rosenborg Castle Gardens. - Image by Alan Samuel
The Little Mermaid statue in Copenhagen. - Image by News Oresund
The National Gallery of Denmark is a stunning place to visit both inside and out. - Image by SMK Statens Museum for Kunst (officiel)
Amalienborg Palace is a pretty picture in winter. - Image by Robert Cutts
The Christmas market at Tivoli gardens – Image by Flickr user MattJP

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