Maybe you followed along with us on our honeymoon adventure via social media, but we wanted to share with you our AMAZING experience with surprise travel and the beautiful place that is Copenhagen, Denmark. We first heard about Whisked Away: Surprise Travel from one of our own couples and we were intrigued. We decided to go for it because 1) we like surprises, 2) I didn't want to plan a honeymoon on top of a wedding, and 3) there were so many places we wanted to go that it was nice to let someone else decide for us and even introduce us to a place that we didn't know about! We submitted our budget, general dates, continent (Europe), where we've already been, what we like to do while we travel, and a few other things. From there, Charlotte from Whisked Away books your flights, accommodations, and an optional walking tour. Two weeks out from departure we got an email with the weather forecast and some packing tips. This is all we knew:
Not too long after getting the email, we received a large packet in the mail with all of our trip information in it. Jess, wanting to give the surprise the fullest effect, made us wait until we got to the airport to open it!!! You can only imagine how hard that was not to peek!
So fast forward two weeks to our day of departure...
One of the coolest things about waiting until we got to the airport was that all of our family and friends were super eager to find out where we were headed as well... so we actually opened our envelope live on social media! Kim's coworkers tuned in from a conference room, friends were live chatting us, and everyone was following along.
Day 1 - Tivoli Gardens
The overnight flight wasn't too terrible and I think we both slept at least a little. After a short layover in Munich, we were soon in Copenhagen with a good half a day to explore! We checked into our awesome hotel and were impressed with the bedding set up... queen-sized bed and two twin-sized duvets.... brilliant! No cover stealing! We soon set out on the town and walked about a mile to the main town square and Tivoli Gardens. We got the Copenhagen Card to help us get into various places over the next few days and that covered our entrance to the park. Did you know that Walt Disney visited and stole ideas from Tivoli to create Disney World? We got the unlimited ride pass and we rode a bunch of roller coasters! After we were done messing with gravity, we stopped for a beer along the lakeside.
Day 2 - Walking Tour, Cisterns, Carlsberg
For our first full day in Copenhagen, Whisked Away had signed us up for a free Sandeman's walking tour. Our guide was a sociology graduate student currently studying in Copenhagen, so she was able to give us a really interesting perspective on their history and culture. The tour was about 3 hours long and took us from the City Hall Square through parts of the old city, through the iconic Nyhavn, ending in Amalienborg, the royal courtyard.
From there, we decided to make the most of our Copenhagen Card, so we hopped a bus across town. We visited the Cisterns, which is a former water reservoir turned art installation. There were 3 chambers in the cistern: one had a fire feature, one was a mirror maze, and the last had singing bowls and balls on a track to hit them just right and make them sing. Just down the road from there is Carlsberg Brewery and museum (they have the largest collection of unopened beer bottles in the world!). We learned all about brewing history in Denmark, ordered flights of beer and made some friends with other travelers!
Day 3 - Frederiksborg Castle
We ventured a little out of Copenhagen this day and took the train to visit Frederiksborg Castle in Hillerod! The castle was beautiful and ornate and the baroque gardens were absolutely gorgeous. After touring the castle for an hour or so, we visited a little cottage behind the gardens that was serving traditional open-faced Danish sandwiches for lunch. It had been a busy few days, so we decided to take this evening a little easier. We returned to our hotel for a nap, and then hit up a local food hall for dinner and ended the night at a gin bar there. Neither of us realized we liked gin and tonics so much, but the tonic there is also a lot nicer than in the US.
Day 4 - Canal Tour and Gro Spiseri
We started our morning by checking out a little coffee shop recommended in our Whisked Away booklet. As you can see, we were quite pleased with our breakfast! From there we headed to Gammel Strand for our pre-booked Canal Tour. While the walking tour gave us a good idea of the old city, the canal tour really gave us a larger perspective of Copenhagen as a whole. We passed by the royal courtyard again and saw the back of the Little Mermaid statue surrounded by tourists haha.. we will come back, don't worry!
After the boat ride, we found a place to eat lunch in Nyhavn (which means new harbor by the way) and then walked around the outside of the Royal Danish Playhouse where there were food trucks, drink stands, and everyone was out soaking up the sun in the provided lounge chairs. We relaxed there for a bit before venturing into Freetown Christiania, which is an "alternative" neighborhood. The people in Christiania have developed their own set of rules, independent of the Danish government, but what they are most known for is their open sale of weed. We've never seen anything like that before.
Checking out another recommended restaurant, we made dinner reservations at Gro Spiseri, a rooftop garden and restaurant. The dinner takes place in a glass house at a long table where you will get to talk to the other diners during the night. Everything made there is organic and local. The chefs all work together to develop the menu and the food was beautiful and insanely creative.
Day 5 - Aquarium, Round Tower, and the Little Mermaid
On day 5, we were all over the place. We started at the aquarium, just south of Copenhagen and right on the water. We saw all sorts of creatures including otters and hammerhead sharks! We also made friends with a toad that was trying to swim through the glass to us. We had lunch at the airport and we tried an elderflower juice. Denmark loves elderflower and loves natural juices.
In the second half of the day, we rented motor-powered bikes and attempted to navigate Copenhagen's bike culture. They have bike lanes everywhere that even have their own stop lights! We visited the Round Tower, an 18th century astronomy tower marking the geographical center of Copenhagen, and enjoyed the view. We shopped nearby for a bit before riding up to see the Little Mermaid and we got there right before the tourist bus pulled up. We finished the day hopping between a cocktail place, dinner, and a Mikkeller bar.
Day 6 - Kronborg Castle and the Louisiana Museum
We began the day by walking to the train station and hopping a train to Helsingør to check out Kronborg Castle, the inspiration for Elsinore in Hamlet. The ground are located on the edge of the water, about 2 miles from Sweden. We explored the underground tunnels (cold and creepy!) and the castle itself, which was rather plain compared to the first castle, but still very pretty. After exploring everything there, we checked out the Maritime Museum, because... why not? It turned out to be really interesting, interactive, and high tech! We played a shipping/trading game and Jess won by a long shot.
On the way back from Helsingør, it was recommended to us to check out the Louisiana Museum of Modern Art. Even though neither of us are really into art museums, we were told the grounds were beautiful... and they really were! We saw the Picasso Ceramics exhibit and shared some wine with a view.
Day 7- Roskilde and the Viking Ship Museum
We ate breakfast at a place called Grød, a porridge place, and dear God we want them to come to the US. Then, for our last day-trip out of Copenhagen, we took a train to the viking city of Roskilde. We visited the Viking Ship Museum, which we could've spent all day at! We saw reconstructions of the old preserved pieces of wood that had been found under the harbor in the 1970's as well as recreations based on those artifacts. The museum serves as a fully functioning ship building operation using Viking methods and few modern tools. We saw rope-making, a blacksmith, and woodworking in action! And then they actually sail these recreated ships for experimental purposes to test the soundness and accuracy of their builds! It was all very impressive and shows their appreciation for their history.
We wandered around the town of Roskilde a little before going back to Copenhagen, but returned in time to have dinner. We ventured out by the Lakes, a row of three rectangular lakes in the middle of the city, and when it's nice out, everyone in Copenhagen apparently picks up a bottle of wine or case of beer sits lakeside for a picnic. Do as the locals do I guess! There was music playing and everyone was just having a great time watching the sunset.
Day 8 - Rosenborg Castle
This was our first day in Denmark that we didn't really have a plan (Whisked Away prepared us well with things to do!), but we decided to bike around and check out some of the attractions we hadn't yet seen. We started at the Rosenborg Castle right in downtown, which is where the royal family showcase their collections of treasures, including the Danish Crown Jewels. The royal family collected everything... from Murano glass, to amber, to china, to ivory, and of course gold.
It was Ascension Day, a national holiday in Denmark, which meant that many stores were closed and tourist attractions were mobbed, so we spent the rest of this day basically just biking around and eating. We found here a number of Paper Islands stalls had moved and grabbed lunch and then we biked to highly recommended ice cream shop. As we were warned, the wait was almost a half hour, but it was worth it!
Day 9 - Last Day Adventures
We started our final day with a full Danish breakfast platter and, man, was it fantastic! Fully energized, we hopped on a bus to Jægersborggade, a hip neighborhood known for its unique shops and Michelin recognized restaurants. We ate some deliciously crafted chocolates made on-site, ventured into a variety of stores, and shared some nitrogen ice cream. We then took a stroll through the cemetary… strange in most cases, but this one was just like a park with walking trails and lots of people. We saw the graves of Hans Christain Anderson and Kierkegaard. Then we wandered into Nørrebro where we shopped and grabbed a beer. Being our last day in Copenhagen, we checked out the free Botanical Garden with its huge greenhouse and stopped at a game bar before dinner.
Our last meal in Copenhagen came from a place that was highly recommended by everyone (including Whisked Away!). It was a place called Pony, not too far from our hotel and is the younger sibling of a well-known Michelin starred restaurant that was previosuly located in that space. We got a table that allowed us to look over the bar at the food preparation and chat with the chefs. We ordered a few à la carte dishes and the four-course menu, the "Pony Kick" to get the best of everything. It was definitely on the adventurous side, but all extraordinarily good! It was a wonderful way to complete our visit to Copenhagen before catching an early taxi to the airport the next morning.
So would we go back and do it all over again? ABSOLUTELY! Using Whisked Away took off all of the pressure of planning, added an element of surprise, and picked the perfect location! We loved the culture in Denmark and how friendly everyone was. We learned about the word "Hygge" (pronounced hue-guh), which is the Danish concept of coziness. There is no equivalent word in the English language, it encompasses a feeling of cozy contentment and well-being through enjoying the simple things in life. The concept of Hygge really resonated with us, and we've brought small aspects of the Scandinavian lifestyle back with us, such as candles throughout the house and yes, the two single duvets haha.
We spent almost 10 days there, which was enough to learn our way around and really get a feel for the place rather than a whirlwind tour of many cities in Europe. We found ourselves wishing we had our own bikes to be able to bike everywhere because we could totally see ourselves fitting living that way there. We also lucked out with the perfect weather because contrary to our original forecast it was sunny with highs in the 70's every single day! This trip was enough to make us both consider moving to Copenhagen at some point in our lives... (don't worry Mom and Dad...not now)... but maybe one day ;)