I railed into Copenhagen on a Saturday morning from Berlin, and the maitre d’hotel at Saga Hotel asked me what kinds of music I liked. “All kinds,” I told her. “Anything live,” I added, “and especially under the sun,” since this was a blue-skied August day. She smiled a mouthful of white teeth below her blond hair, so fine it might have been silk (I was to meet a lot of blond Danes in the next three days), and replied, “You must go see the Jazz concert at fourteen-hundred hours. I cannot go because of work.” Here she pouted. This was cute, and I thought of asking her for a date, but she was just the first woman I met in Copenhagen, and a Jazz concert would yield an entire field of Danish women. I opened my map on the counter and asked, “Where is the concert?”
For the next few minutes, Brit the Blond Bombshell drew circles on my map wherever an outdoor concert was scheduled over the weekend, and told me how to get to each. I chucked my plans for that day’s visit to Orsteds Park (great park for recreation or to chill) and the Botanical Garden. I raced up to my room for a quick shower and change to “festival clothes”—whatever shorts and shirt were clean. When I closed the door on my way out, I had a feeling I would not be back till the wee hours of the next morning.
Perhaps I’ve said this before, but it’s worth mentioning again: pick up a visitors guide when you first get into a European city, and open it to that week’s events. Every season will yield myriad choices of music festivals, museum exhibits, and the newest and HOTTest nightclubs. Europeans absolutely thrive on summer events, especially in the north, where winter can be—no—IS long, dark, and cold. Therefore, from late June through August its people are out, the country folk roll into the big cities, Tivoli Gardens has a massive, nightly, fireworks show, and the parties and festivals seem never to end. Copenhagen is a beacon for Danish festival season. I had come to town at just the right time.
After my recovery from four concerts in 15 hours, hopping onto street trams and into underground trains to make the next “date”—in the process I was asked to join a Danish bundle of 11 male and female music-hunters (each of them blue-eyed platinum blonds; I thought I had gone mad)—I walked through the labyrinthine streets of Copenhagen’s shopping, cafe and cellar bar district. I wanted to get a feel for the tourism atmosphere at the height of Summer Season Sales. Here’s my assessment: if you’re looking for a winter sweater, come to Copenhagen in August. In ten minutes I counted seven sweater shops—and boots (reindeer?), gloves, mittens, hats, and scarves.
Okay, so I didn’t score with Brit. The Jazz sounded superb, the Opera mellowed me into the Ska, and Electronica at 2 a.m. let me know I’m still alive. For a look at some of my Copenhagen favorites and other tips, scroll on down.
Copenhagen Museums and Sites
There are more than 100 museums and interesting sites in Copenhagen. Pick up a visitors guide for that week’s events at the places you’ve researched and want to hit. Also, check out Copenhagen’s official tourist site. Some of my favorite sites in Copenhagen run from the artistic to the odd (perhaps):
I like to walk through cemeteries where famous people are buried. Call it paying homage to the thinkers and doers that I’ve admired. I’ve lain notes on Kafka’s grave in Prague, and had a drink over Jim Morrison’s grave in Paris. Anyway…the Assistens Kirkegard is a beautiful cemetery holding the remains of Danes, including Hans Christian Andersen and Soren Kierkegaard. Perhaps as you stand over K-gard’s grave you can reflect on the irony of his beliefs with perhaps all those who rest near him. Needless to say, it’s free to walk around. Open daily 8am-10pm. Kapelvej 4; S-train/Metro: Nooreport.
The Tycho Brahe Planetarium is great for kids and astronomy enthusiasts. It’s an interactive learning environment and has a big screen show of the cosmos. Open daily 9am-9pm, Sat & Sun 10:30am-9pm. DKK 25; kids DKK 15 (discount with Copenhagen Card). Gl. Kongevej 10; S-train, Vesterport & Central Station; Metro: Forum.
(read more about Copenhagen’s highlights here)