December isn’t usually a great time to travel to Scandinavian countries as it’s winter: the days are short and the weather is freezing. However, as I had decided to take some time out, I felt it was imperative to make the most of it and do a short trip to a Scandinavian country, which we’ve not been to, before Christmas. My husband and I settled on Copenhagen, Denmark. The draws were the cheap flights and ample toddler-friendly INDOOR activities.
We paid approximately £235 for our flights (bear in mind V2 only turns 2 in January) with Ryanair out of Luton airport. Yes, we flew Ryanair with 2 toddlers! We were a little nervous about using public transportation to get to Luton because the last time we took a car to the airport, the girls threw up. They were possibly feeling ill due to the terrible driving (not mine, the hired driver’s) but whatever the reason, catching your daughter’s vomit in your hands is not a pleasant experience. So this time around, we travelled light (only 1 check-in luggage, 1 backpack and 1 nappy bag), took the tube to West Hampstead and then hopped on the train to Luton Airport Parkway. Two troublesome points about this journey: lack of step free access at West Hampstead tube station, which meant some lifting and shifting, and catching the shuttle bus from Luton Airport Parkway to Luton Airport. Convincing V2 to stay in the Ergo and V1 in the single buggy during that one hour and a bit journey took a lot of cajoling!
The flight duration was short, slightly less than 2 hours. The girls were entertained by the views of clouds and some books. It was a piece of cake compared to our long flight to Canada, a few months before!
Once we arrived at Copenhagen Airport, it was a breeze getting to our AirBnb. There were signs in English, the airport was clean and spacious enough. There were little trolleys which allowed toddlers to sit on the front. We collected our bag and buggy and stopped for a quick hot dog right next to the baggage area because…the girls are always hungry.
We took the underground metro to Kongens Nytorv and after that, a bus to our AirBnb. The bus station was jam packed with people but we managed to get on. People were extremely friendly, helpful and courteous! I felt they were especially accommodating to us as we were a family. I’m 100% certain that in the same situation in London, I would have been extremely stressed.
We stayed at this AirBnb at a reasonable rate of £397 for 4 nights. Upon arriving in the area, we struggled a little to find the place as it was already dark (short days during winter!) and it was quite a large compound of little houses. Fortunately, a friendly neighbour pointed us in the right direction. When we arrived, we were a little creeped out by the man who lives across the hall as he came out and started quizzing us about whether we were Japenese and if we bought some cheap ciggies for him (???). Later on, we found out from our AirBnb host that he drinks quite a bit! It also took us some time to find the light switches (each room had random light switches for random lamps etc). Did I mention that we were also house sitting Ibrahim, the cat? V1 was completely distracted by the cat whilst V2 was terrified. All in all it’s a cosy and clean little apartment, at a great location and my only complaint would be the lack of proper lighting in the kitchen and living areas. It really perplexed me that the owner could actually cook with so little light!
Stuff We Did:
Copenhagen did not disappoint as a toddler-friendly city! I can only imagine how much more fun it would be during spring and summer months when spending time outdoors would not cause your fingers to fall off. Here were some activities that were a hit!
1. (University of Copenhagen) Zoological Museum
This is one of the most awesome museums I personally have ever been to. It’s the right size, not too small and not too large. It’s got everything you need from nappy changing facilities, large couches for breastfeeding mums (extra awesome!), a lovely cafe, to wide, wide aisles for buggies and kids running amok. And the piece de resistance: the interesting and engaging exhibits: I was particularly impressed with the orang utan exhibit as there were durians in the tree. Durians! Mmmm….. There was even an arts and crafts session for the kids. If I lived here, I would probably visit this place all the time with the kids.
2. Christianborg Palace
Keep in mind that most touristy places tend to close earlier during winter. We arrived at the palace with only 40 minutes left on the clock but there was actually ample time to look into some of the main rooms. I’m glad we stayed as the kids were delighted to run around. This palace is no comparison to Buckingham Palace or Versailles but still a decent stop.
3. Tivoli Gardens
The highlight of our visit! We queued up to see Father Christmas (a suitably old and plump, hohoho one), we went on rides together as a family for the very 1st time and there was a most awesome playground for toddlers which convinced me that we have to make another trip here during summer. At first I thought V1 and V2 would be bored but there were quite a number of suitable fun rides (rides were quite expensive as it was a pay-per-ride system). There were also loads of eating places with decent amenities. It did get increasingly more crowded as the day wore on and by evening, it was packed. So that was our cue to leave!
4. National Aquarium of Denmark
V1 loved looking at the fishes and different marine life (gosh she did ask loads of questions). The graceful otters were a big hit with V1 as well. I enjoyed staring at the piranhas and wondering what would happen if one of us fell into the water…I’m not sure V2 enjoyed the visit as much as the rest of us, she probably enjoyed the food at the restaurant more! The aquarium was a little bit further to get to as it was closer to the airport than to the city centre but well worth the visit. Once again, you’ve got everything you need under one roof. We spent half a day there after our boat tour (more about that below) and would have stayed longer if time permitted.
Other Stuff We Did:
We ventured into the Rosenborg Castle to have a look at the crown jewels but it had just shut when we arrived! It was not a wasted visit though as the gardens and surroudings were picturesque and the girls had a good time running on the grass. We witnessed the changing of the guards and V2 very nearly ran into the entire procession before I managed to catch her.
There were loads of lovely parks and play grounds ( we walked inside a park to get to our next destination) and I can imagine how wonderful these would be during warmer months. One benefit of visiting during December was the pop up of Christmas Markets which I found delightful.
We climbed up the Rundetaarn or Round Tower to get a good view of the city. Unfortunately it was rather cloudy! V1 was napping so we pushed the buggy almost all the way up until the last section (which had a series of stairs).
An activity I wished we had saved for a warmer temperature was the boat tour. Besides the freezing cold, the weather was cloudy, the kids were bored (and whiny) and the views were just not worth it (with exception of the views of Nyhaven, which were quaint). The ‘Little Mermaid’ statue was a complete disappointment: it was small and I didn’t get what the hype was about.
Stuff We Ate:
Eating out in Copenhagen was as we expected, pricey. Our first night in Copenhagen was the only night we ate dinner at a restaurant. After we arrived and checked into our AirBnb, we went out for burgers at Halifax Frederiksborggade which was walking distance from the AirBnb. The burgers were delicious!
Food @ the Museum & Aquarium Cafe/Restaurants
French dogs are extremely popular in Copenhagen as we could find it almost anywhere. Our favourite was the cheap and cheerful ones we had at the cafe in the Zoological Museum. The hot dogs we had in the airport came a close second.
Lunch was mostly pretty tasty and of good quality everywhere we went.
We served up breakfast and dinner in the AirBnb. The girls had cereal with rice milk, baked beans and sardines and V0 and I usually had eggs. Dinners were simple: salmon and asparagus or pasta bolognese. We found this was a great way to keep costs down and ensure the girls slept roughly at their normal bedtime. There were a couple of small grocery stores nearby our AirBnb which made it extremely easy to stock up on essentials.
All in all, it was a wonderful family trip and we definitely want to revisit in the warmer months and focus on more activities outdoors the next time around! My top 3 favourite moments of this trip were: