Copenhagen is a gem of a city, especially in summertime. This short walk is a good introduction to the heart of the city centre.
Start at Rådhuspladsen (The City Hall Square), a large open space that represents the civic and commercial centre of town. The City Hall building (from 1905) is worth diving inside of as it features the Jens Olsen’s Verdensur (World Clock). Elsewhere in the square stands the statue of the Lure Players, it was erected on the centenary of the brewer J.C. Jacobsen’s birthday and is 100 years old this year. The figures are playing Bronze Age instruments, normally found in pairs by archaeologists. Originals can see at the National Museum. The gate of Tivoli Gardens also overlooks the square, although the main entrance is actually on Vesterbrogade around the corner. Tivoli has been a public amusement garden since 1843 and is full of rides, side shows, theatres, a concert hall and many restaurants and cafés.
The wonderful Carlsberg Glyptotek is on the next block to the south of the gardens on Hans Christian Andersen’s Boulevard. Featuring mainly classical sculpture of the ancient Mediterranean cultures, this extensive private collection is well worth a short visit.
Across the square is Strøget, the longest pedestrian street in Copenhagen (and in fact in the whole of Europe). However, instead of battling your way through the crowds on the busy shopping street, you could walk up the parallel street on the left (Vestergade), heading through the Latin Quarter as you stroll past small boutiques and cafes. Turn left at Nørregade into the Old Town for a short diversion where you will see Copenhagen Cathedral, called Our Lady’s Church. With its plain but beautiful interior and interesting history, it’s worth popping into. Opposite the Cathedral is Copenhagen University, dating from the end of 15th Century. The statues lined up in front of the main building are of famous Danish scientists and writers. On the right you can catch a glimpse of the roof of the Round Tower, which is a short walk away. You will also walk past a restaurant called Det Lille Apotek which is the oldest restaurant in town and where Hans Christian Andersen wrote some of his most famous works.
Make a stop at the Round Tower. Originally built in 1642 by King Christian IV as an astronomic observatory. It is connected by a passage to the Holy Trinity Church next door and used to house student library. Nowadays, the old library hall is used for concerts and the observatory for amateur astronomy. The 685 foot long ramp takes you up to the top, 114 feet above the ground, where you can admire the whole city. In 1716 Peter the Great famously rode his horse up to the top and his wife Katarina would travel up in a two-wheeled carriage.
Once back at the bottom, make your way down Kobmagergade back towards Strøget. When you reach the main street you are in Amagertorv square which is a superb place to enjoy street entertainers and performance artists. Try to locate number 6, a red brick building from the 17th century built for the Mayor of Copenhagen. The house has copper drainpipes decorated with dragons’ heads. The gateway is flanked by two cannon barrels used to protect the entrance way.
After some time here, continue onto the last stretch of the pedestrian street and walk towards Kongens Nytorv, an oval shaped open space with quite a bit of traffic. Make your way across the square with the National Theatre on your right and come to the top end of Nyhavn, the picture postcard street with a canal down the middle, colourful houses and warehouses and boats tied up at the quays. This is one of the places that the canal cruises leave from. This used to be a sailors hangout and today boasts many old characteristic bars and fish restaurants. Hans Christian Andersen lived in three of the houses along the canal. This is the perfect place to take a break and enjoy the feel of Copenhagen.
*The Tourist information office on the corner of Tivoli Gardens has a superb free walking tour leaflet with lots of historical and other information about Copenhagen.