It was a big day of sightseeing in Copenhagen starting with a wander through Frederiksberg Have, a trip to Copenhagen zoo and then no less than 400 steps up the external staircase of a church with a couple of kids strapped to us. More than a glass of Glögg was earned after this day!
We had big plans for Tuesday the 15th of December, with more than a few tourist attractions to knock over on our second last day in Copenhagen. The day started out quite foggy and not very warm but we were down at the train station before 9am to head off to Frederiksberg for a wander around Frederiksberg Have, a 64 hectare garden on the Western edge of inner Copenhagen.
The gardens are huge and lovely to walk around. Despite it being a grey and foggy morning we enjoyed a walk along the meandering paths. We came across some giant geese by the sides of paths, which the kids were pretty excited by. There were also plenty of ducks swimming around and bridges to wander over. Even in the middle of Winter there was plenty to look at, but we all mentioned it would probably be a lovely place to spend some time in the warmer months. It was a tad squishy underfoot at the moment and those without waterproof boots on ended up with damp feet at the start of a long day.
The ‘furry trees’ as we have come to call them look quite impressive in their rows all over the gardens. It would be interesting to see what they look like in the warmer months with leaves on them.
The gardens are enormous so we didn’t wander all of them. We made our way up towards the zoo and past Frederiksberg Slot, which is a Baroque residence adjacent to the zoo but with views over the gardens. Tours of the palace only operate on the last Saturday of every month so we didn’t get to see inside but the kids were much more interested in heading to the zoo rather than looking through another palace!
Once we had made it as far as the zoo it was just before 10am and zoo opening time. Perfect timing really! In Summer a bike ride around the rest of the gardens would have been lovely but on a chilly Winter morning it was us and a few other tourists along with joggers and people walking dogs. The Have seemed to contain some of the only real hills in Copenhagen and we spied a few people doing hill repeats around the Slot. Not a bad view for your morning jog! Entry to the Frederiksberg Have is free, so definitely worth a visit if in Copenhagen. It’s a short walk from Frederiksberg station and easily accessible from all of central Copenhagen.
Entry to the Copenhagen Zoo was included on our Copenhagen cards and the kids love animals so we figured it was worth a visit if we had the time and the weather cooperated. While it wasn’t a balmy day, there was no rain and we were warm enough all rugged up so a zoo visit was in order. The zoo was founded in 1859 and is one of the oldest zoos in Europe. It is obviously popular with school and daycare groups as there were lots of large groups of young kids. They all had their winter overalls on, and many were wearing Santa hats and being pushed around in large buggies. Our kids had spent much of the morning being carried in the ergos while we were doing a lot of walking so we set them free in the zoo for a good run around and had a brief break for our backs and shoulders (which was probably for the best given what we ended up doing in the afternoon).
The zoo has 264 species and over 3,000 animals. We didn’t have time to pay them all a visit (much to the kids annoyance!) so decided to prioritise with the animals we hadn’t seen regularly on other zoo visits. This meant the arctic animals were high on the agenda. We had a wander past the flamingos, pelicans and some monkeys on our way to the polar bears. Seeing brightly coloured flamingos on a cold and grey day was certainly different!
As we were heading towards the arctic enclosure we all got a shock to see a very large polar bear out frolicking in his enclosure. He was enormous! The photos really don’t show how large and powerful he really was. We all spent quite awhile watching the bear play and eat his food. At first he was on land and was putting on a good show and we were all impressed at both how large and how playful he was. Then we wandered to some of the inside exhibits and he had moved into the water and was swimming and attacking a barrel that was obviously provided as a toy. Watching his thick fur move around in the water was amazing and seeing the power of his large paws that were bigger than an adult’s head, was magnificent. The kids were suitably impressed and we could have stayed there all day. Outside we compared everyone to a polar bear, and yes they are big!
We then wandered through the rest of the arctic exhibit and Astrid was particularly impressed with the reindeer and owls. We found a sleeping wolf, who looked just like a cute puppy. The kids also found their perennial favourites, the penguins.
We then wandered through various exhibits – including lots of primates. The baby baboons having rides on their mum’s backs were particularly fascinating for Soren. We all enjoyed the warmth of the tropical exhibits with lots of reptiles and tropical birds. The temperature differential from outside meant we both sweltered with our coats on and there are no photos of large sections of the zoo as my camera was fogged!
Despite trying to see mostly animals we don’t see at home, the kids wanted to go and visit the kangaroos and wallabies. They get heated enclosures in Copenhagen and lots of them were taking advantage of their heaters!
As we had been wandering for close to 2 hours we asked Astrid to pick which 1 or 2 animals she really wanted to see before we had to make our way out of the zoo. She picked the giraffes, which was of course in the section of the zoo on the other side of the main road, and miles from where we were. We went over there though and she saw her giraffes (and a tiger to boot).
We then decided it was time for the kids to have lunch and a break from the cold. Conveniently there was the Kammelid cafe right near the camels so we headed in for some warmth, a sit down and to watch the camels. We had again packed the kids a sandwich but the adults were in need of hot chocolate. The cafe did a decent (for Denmark prices anyway) deal on cake and hot chocolates so we shared some cakes. The kids managed to con some out of us too. At the time it wasn’t really intended to be our lunch but the day got away from us and it turned out to be the only sustenance for a long day of walking.
We probably made it around half to 2/3 of the zoo in our two-ish hours of walking. It was a nicely laid out zoo and worth a visit if you have kids or like animals. Hands down seeing the polar bear in action was worth the visit alone! It was covered on the Copenhagen card, and one of the kids favourite activities so far, so I’m glad we went.
Once we left the zoo we walked back through Frederiksberg Have towards Frederiksberg station. As we exited the gardens there was an ice-skating rink set-up with lots of kids skating around. We’ve promised ice skating at some point during the trip, but we didn’t stop and skate today. We had a fair bit of walking and stair climbing planned for our afternoon.
On the walk back to the train station Soren fell asleep in the ergo on me. A much needed rest as he was very over tired. As we’ve had very full days with limited daylight he has had to nap on the go. Most days this has only been 20 or 30 minutes, and clearly not enough. Well today was the day he manage to do a full 1.5 hours asleep on me right at the wrong time!
Church of Our Saviour
Next on our agenda was a visit to the Church of our Saviour, which is a baroque church that is famous for it’s helix spire with an external winding staircase that can be climbed to the top. The Church is only open for climbing on certain days and times during Winter. The 15th was the last day of the year it was open, so we were trying to squeeze it into our afternoon agenda. A train and a walk from the zoo and we were at the church. We’d been past it several times on earlier days during our wanderings by bike, boat and foot. It certainly looks interesting. Of course up close we did wonder about the wiseness of climbing all the way to the top!
Yep climbing up that with a couple of kids strapped to you sounds like a great idea!! With Soren still asleep on me in the ergo I was the lucky one to get to carry him up. Astrid was riding on my Dad’s back and wouldn’t have made it up all 400 steps so he volunteered to carry her.
There was a bit of a long line at the ticket entry point. There is a fee to climb the Church (yes people pay to do this!) but it is also covered on the Copenhagen card. Once inside the church the first 4 stories are regular wooden staircases and not too hard to navigate. Once you get past that it becomes dark and narrow wooden stairs and some are steep and ladder like. There is very little light so probably not great if you are claustrophobic.
There are also quite a lot of low beams you have to duck under. Difficult with kids strapped to you, but we only donked Astrid’s head once! There are a few landings to stop and let other people pass that are coming in the other direction. The stairs are 2 narrow for more than one person at a time. After what felt like a million internal and dark stairs, we hit the outside for the external spiral staircase. From the ground this looked a little scary but was actually less scary than the dark ladder like ones inside. There was a railing and the stairs were slightly wider than inside. Looking down is not recommended though.
The views from the top were amazing and worth the climb. You could see the Oresund bridge and all the way to Sweden!
Soren slept through the whole thing! At the top our legs were burning but we had to turn around and go back down. I ended up climbing down some of the steep bits backwards like a ladder as I had a weight out in front but down was easier than up!
We figured after that effort we were going to earn our Glogg that night!
Next it was a walk over to Christiansborg Palace. The sun was getting even lower in the sky and we didn’t have too much daylight left (it must have been all of 2pm!). It did give us some nice views though……
We’d seen the outside of the Palace on our bike tour but wanted to go back and see some of the internal bits. The Palace is the seat of Danish Parliament but also has areas you can visit. You can climb the tower (which apparently has great views). We were definitely over climbing for this day. We did have to visit the giant horse statues which Soren loves!
The Palace keeps a horses for ceremonial purposes and to provide transport for the Danish Royal Family during state events and festive occasions. You can visit the Stables during certain times to see the museum and the horses. The museum has lots of saddles and carriages and shows how the horses have been used over the past several hundred years. You can also visit the horses in their stables and see the carriages that are used for special occasions.
The horses are all varying colours of white and are quite large! The carriages are very ornate and fun to look at. The kids quite enjoyed seeing the horses and carriages and it was worth going to see. It is included on the Copenhagen card or you can buy entry to the stables or as part of a combined ticket to other exhibits in Christiansborg.
Under Christiansborg Palace are the ruins of Bishop Abasolon’s Castle and the later Copenhagen Castle and Christiansborg Palaces that were destroyed by fire. The ruins are quite interesting to walk around and there is lots of detail about the different areas and their uses. There are also some interesting movies that show how fires destroyed the Castles and Palaces that were previously on the same site. There were also scale models of all the different palaces and castles that had stood on the site.
Astrid quite enjoyed this exhibit but Soren was well and truly over museums for the day! We spent awhile walking through the ruins and watching the movies but decided to move on as the kids were getting over-tired. Towards the end of the exhibit there is an area for kids to dress up in knights clothes. Astrid loved this, and Soren was quite keen too!
Again the ruins are included on the Copenhagen card or tickets can be purchased separately. Christiansborg also has reception rooms that are open for viewing but we called it a day before seeing them.
It was now approaching 3.30pm and all tired we walked back to central station to pick up some dinner supplies and head back to the accommodation. We walked past Tivoli as the sun was setting and Soren put in one last ditch effort to get us to take him back for another visit. We were way too tired for that though!
We got back to the accommodation just after sunset, all a little weary after a big day. We then realised that the kids had lunch but the rest of us hadn’t eaten more than a small piece of cake and a hot chocolate since breakfast. At this point quite a large amount of brie and crackers disappeared along with some warming glögg. We figured it was well deserved after a long and tiring day.
Stats for the 15 the of December: Temperature minus 2 to 4 degrees with a mean of 3 degrees. Distance walked was 16km including over 800 very steep steps carrying kids! The afternoon food and spiced wine consumption may have made up for the days effort!
The next day was our final in Copenhagen so we had to rest up before knocking off the last of our must do activities!