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Copenhagen, Two Perfect Days: Day One

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Throw back the sheets, slide into your bathrobe and slippers, and pull back the curtains. From your suite, you see that the sun is shining on Kongens Nytorv and colorful Nyhavn. You can’t wait to get outside.

Now go back to bed: It’s 4 a.m.

What were you thinking? How could you have known? During the summer, it gets bright early here in Copenhagen, which is situated at the same latitude as Anchorage, Alaska.

At 7 a.m., you give up the struggle to sleep. Outside, summer is full on. Head downstairs for a hearty breakfast at D’Angelterre’s Restaurant. Be sure to ask for a table by the window, so that you can admire bustling Kongens Nytorv across the street.

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Looking out the large windows from D’Angleterre, you’re surprised to see so many people on bicycles. Copenhagen is like Amsterdam in that regard. You’ll see people pedaling to work, not in Spandex, but in their everyday attire.

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Each day, one third of the locals commute by bike on the city’s more than 200 miles of dedicated bike lanes and roads. There are even miniature traffic lights for the bicycles. If you’re able to bike, you won’t find a better way to see the Danish capital, but for now, you’re going to rely on your peds.

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After breakfast, exit D’Angleterre and head to your right, at, oh, about 2 o’clock, where your first stop is the historic Royal Theatre. Just take a quick gander, or if you have time and the inclination, book a tour or tickets for an evening ballet or show.

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After visiting the Royal Theatre, get your bearings by facing the Magasin department store (one block left of D’Angleterre) and head toward it. Right in front, you’ll see the stairs leading down to the Metro, which will take you between the city center and the airport for DK30 (about US$5) in less than 15 minutes. Make note of that for your return to Kastrup, as the airport is known.

Head into Magasin, and downstairs to the grocery store. You need not spend long here, but take a few minutes to browse some of the Danish foods. Rather than pay mini-bar prices by at D’Angleterre, consider stocking up here.

From Magasin, head back in the direction of D’Angleterre to Strøget. Stretching about one mile from Kongens Nytorv square to Town Hall Square, the route you’re taking on Strøget offers lots to see along the way. Strøget, in fact, is Europe’s longest pedestrian street and Scandinavia’s largest shopping district.

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Kids enjoy the Guinness Book of World Records, which you’ll see on your right shortly after putting your peds in motion, but if you’re with kids, they’ve got a much bigger treat coming. Dangle the carrot of Tivoli in front of them to keep them moving and you’ll get to stroll all of Strøget at a good pace.

Feel free to wander the side streets. One popular detour is to slip down the small alley, Pistolstraede, past small boutiques, interesting architecture and good restaurants, then along Ny Østergade and to the pastry shop, Kransekagehuset Summerbird, and Cafe Victor, both worthy of a few minutes inside.

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Kransekagehuset serves up some of Denmark’s most popular pastries and chocolates, including the traditional Danish kransekage, the “almond ring cake,” a tradition during weddings and other celebrations.

Kransekagehuset also specializes in an exclusive selection of home-made chocolates.

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Cafe Victor, on the other hand, is one of Copenhagen’s trendy cafes, originally opened in 1981 and still going strong with both locals and tourists alike.

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You’re making your way to the heart of Strøget and Amagertorv (“torv” means “square”), where you’ll find the Crane Fountain. Facing the square from the direction you came, head left if you want to see the ornate facade of Christiansborg Palace, the seat of the Danish government.

Along the way, when passing Højbro Plads, take a gander at the monument to Bishop Absalon, Copenhagen’s founder, riding high on his horse.

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Behind the palace is the National Museum. Admission is free to this museum covering 10,000 years of history. Spend an hour learning about the early Danes and the well-preserved “bog people,” which lay buried since the Bronze and Iron ages in Danish bogs. Finish off by visiting a fully furnished Victorian-era Copenhagen apartment.

If you’d rather spend your time shopping, stick around Amagertorv. Here, you’ve reached the heart of Danish design, a row of shops including Illums Bolighus design department store, Royal Copenhagen china, and Georg Jensen silverware.

Step into the Royal Café, but resist the urge to try Smushi – a combination of the traditional Smorgas (open-faced sandwich) and Sushi. You’re saving room for the hot dog, remember?

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Farther along Strøget, you’ll visit Konditorie La Glace, which has been tempting patrons with its sensational cakes since 1870.

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Continue your stroll on Strøget to City Hall Square (where Strøget ends), then cross the square to Tivoli. Facing Tivoli’s main entrance, do a complete turnaround and look up at the building on your left, at about 10 o’clock. That’s the Radisson SAS Royal, an Arne Jacobsen design hotel.

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Walk across the street and step inside to admire the egg chairs and the hotel’s interior. This is another excellent choice for accommodations during your stay in Copenhagen, particularly if you book a corner room, overlooking Tivoli (room 1011 show below, for example).

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Also, if you can coax the desk clerk, ask to see room 606, which remains the true to Jacobsen’s original design.

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You may want to consider returning here for a romantic dinner on the 20th floor at the gourmet restaurant Alberto K, with beautiful views over Copenhagen.

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Head out of lobby and return to entrance of Tivoli. Purchase a ticket and head inside (or, if you’ve purchased a Copenhagen Card from the Visitor’s Center across the street, you’ll get free admittance to Tivoli and many other attractions as well as free transportation in the city).

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Enjoy the amusements and the entertainment (Dee Dee Bridgewater was at Tivoli during my visit yesterday).


And now the big moment. Turn on your heels and head over to the Asia section of Tivoli. Look for the hot dog signs like the ones in the photo below and order the Stor (which means large) Fransk Hotdog for DK35. Take it with mustard, mayonnaise or ketchup, and, of course, a Carlsberg beer if you want to have an authentic Danish experience.

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When the dog is done, head out the nearby gate and into Glyptotek. The Beaux-Arts-style museum was stocked with ancient and classical treasures by the 19th-century industrialist Carl Jacobsen, who funded the collection with proceeds from his Carlsberg beer empire. Aren’t you glad you had that beer with your hot dog?

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Exit Glyptotek and head back to City Call for a city sightseeing tour, which departs from directly in front of the Scandic Palace Hotel. Among the attractions you’ll see: Christiansborg Palace; Thorvaldsen’s Museum; The National Museum; The Royal Theatre; The Royal Winter residence, Amalienborg; and The Little Mermaid.


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End the day at the Icebar at Hotel TwentySeven, just around the corner from the Scandic Palace. After donning a cape and mittens for a drink in the below-freezing ice bar, find your way back to Strøget (ask Hotel TwentySeven for directions) and D’Angleterre.

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Just a few minutes walk from D’Angleterre, have dinner at Madklubben (reservations recommended), then take a leisurely a stroll along Nyhavn, before ending the night with a performance at the Royal Theatre.

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