The thing about going on holiday with a toddler, is that no matter where you go or what you do, it’ll still be hard work. Holidays are no longer about rest, they’re about change. They’re about doing your usual billion parenting tasks somewhere else. They’re about picking up your family, going somewhere new, and making lovely memories together – and ideally paying somebody else to cook at least one of your meals each day, and not having to think about the washing up.
We went to Copenhagen from 1 – 6 July 2019 and had an ace time. We were keen to go somewhere that wasn’t swelteringly hot at this time of year, as that can be tricky to manage with a small person in tow. And we also wanted there to be lots of fun stuff to do, so this got a double tick.
I found blogs written by other parents who have been to Denmark with children really helpful, so I thought I’d share what we enjoyed too, in case you fancy taking a trip. I recommend it.
Yes, there’s a beach. I was surprised too! We stayed in Amager, which though not in central Copenhagen, is still very handy for getting to and from the airport and around the city. And a particularly cool element of the area is that it has a beach.
We went on our first day, which was a bit on the windy side, and we were all a bit tired and hungry, but that says nothing about the beach and everything about our ability to plan.
We still had a nice wander around and a look out to sea, and I’m sure that on a calmer day and with full stomachs it would make for a really great trip out. My toddler had a good time jumping about in the sand, because that’s fun whatever the weather.
We did the next four activities in one day, starting with a visit to Copenhagen’s LEGO store, because, well, when in Rome.
I’d seen a visit to the store recommended on another blog and I’m so glad we went because our daughter loved it. Of course she did – it’s brightly coloured, there are giant (to her, anyway) LEGO figures to point at, and she could touch and play and run around, which is pretty much all she wants from life.
I thought it was brilliant too. Long time readers will know that I’m not exactly a Star Wars enthusiast (my first ever Star Wars film viewing was embarrassingly recent), but I still thought the LEGO stormtrooper, R2-D2 and C-3PO (yes I had to google the names of the last two) were pretty cool. And I liked Nyhavn Harbour just as much in miniature as I did in real life.
All in all it made for a very fun 20 minute stop.
About a five minute walk from the LEGO store is this slightly creepy, but actually very sweet and fun little fairytale house. Again, it felt only right to engage with something so very Danish whilst in Denmark, so in we went.
Right next to Ripley’s Believe It or Not!, this is a small interactive museum that takes you through the life and stories of Hans Christian Andersen. We went with a speedy 19 month old, so anything that didn’t light up or play music failed to get her attention. That meant we passed through the first few historical-focused bits pretty quickly as they were too dark to catch her eye.
But when we got to the sections devoted to each story, she was much more engaged. There were buttons to press and figures that moved (the ballerina she’s pointing at above was a favourite) and she seemed to find it all very entertaining.
The adults were all childishly amused by the proud-looking naked emperor in the Emperor’s New Clothes exhibit whose reflection somehow magically became clothed in the mirror, so that was 180 DKK well spent (it’s 60 DKK each to get in).
They warn you on the door that it doesn’t take long to get around the house, as it’s only a small place, but we still thought it was worth it. You don’t do anything for very long with a small person anyway, do you, so another 20 minutes or so of fun was enough for us before lunch.
I absolutely bloody love a food market on holiday. Can’t get enough of them. We walked over here post LEGO/fairytale excitement and after feeling a bit overwhelmed by the amazing choice of food on offer, we settled on a couple of salmon and broccoli quiches and ate them outside.
It definitely would have been better for us if we’d been able to find a highchair, as our daughter became understandably keen to escape our laps and tear around, but it was still fun to be there and to eat tasty food in the sunshine.
I have this thing for purchasing nectarines whilst on holiday – are they juicier abroad, somehow? – so I bagged us six from the market before we left and then shared one a day with our toddler in the afternoon whilst we recovered from a day out with an episode of Peppa Pig. It became a lovely, if sticky, little ritual.
After lunch at the market and with a sleeping toddler in the pram, we headed into Tivoli. Not your average theme park, Tivoli doesn’t just have rides and roller coasters, it’s also home to beautiful gardens, which are ideal for a sit or a toddle around.
My husband took the opportunity to go on ‘The Demon’ roller coaster with our friend whilst our daughter slept and I pretended to be sorry not to go on it too (the constant highs and lows of parenting are enough of an adrenaline rush for me nowadays).
When our toddler woke up, it was great to take her for a walk around Tivoli so she could take it all in. There are rides that are suitable for little ones, but we didn’t feel confident she was ready for that kind of thing, so we just stuck to strolling for now, which was lovely. It was an ideal way to spend a couple of hours in the afternoon before we headed home for tea.
Aquariums are ace for small children and I thought this one was particularly great. It’s the biggest in Northern Europe and set in a beautifully designed, modern building overlooking the sea.
There’s so much to see, from hammerhead sharks, stingrays and turtles, to tropical fish, piranhas and – my personal favourite – sea otters. I love the tanks that come low enough for toddlers to see everything without having to be picked up by an adult, so they can be free to point and wave and move around as much as they like.
The tunnel through ‘The Ocean’ is a particular highlight for everybody, and our daughter also loved playing in the toy submarine and sitting in a giant neon (fake) sea anemone – because who wouldn’t?
As a Brit who’s used to pretty crappy food options at large-scale child-focused attractions, I assumed there would be nothing worth eating on offer at the aquarium, but I was wrong. The restaurant is great – we sat outside overlooking the sea and ate fishcakes and chips. All round, an excellent day out.
This is the coolest art gallery I’ve ever been to. Not many come with their own sculpture park and a sea view, but now that I’ve been here, I wish they all did. If you have time for a day outside of the city, this is definitely worth a trip. (Take a train to Humlebæk. It took us about an hour.)
From a toddler perspective, the grounds are definitely the best bit. There’s lots of space to run around, huge trees, and interesting sculptures to look at and hide behind. I only wish it hadn’t rained when we were there so we could have spent more time outside.
There’s a great café which, again, sells nice food for everyone, including delicious coconut macarons I can’t stop thinking about.
Taking a toddler around the gallery is fun too as there’s lots to see and long corridors to wander through, but I must admit it was easier when she went into her pram for a nap and we could have a proper look around without worrying she’d somehow accidentally get us thrown out.
So I recommend going when nap time is on the horizon so you can have a nice dose of grown up culture time too. There’s an exhibition by Pipilotti Rist on at the moment and we absolutely loved it.
We had such a fun time at the zoo. We’d never taken our daughter to a big zoo before, so it was very special for all of us. And not only does this one have every creature you’d normally hope to see, it also has polar bears. I honestly don’t know which of us was more excited. There’s a great enclosure where they swim right in front of you and over your heads and it’s amazing.
Other highlights included the wonderful elephant house (until one of them trumpeted so loud that it scared the living daylights out of all of us and proved that the noise I’ve led my daughter to believe they make is way too cute), the lions, the chimpanzees and the Savanna, which is home to giraffes, zebras and rhinos.
And once again the food was lovely. Honestly, UK attractions really need to up their game. We ate at FOLK and shared fishcakes and meatballs. Seeing as we obviously couldn’t go out in the evenings and engage in the more grown up culinary delights Copenhagen had to offer, it was a genuine joy to find such nice food to eat during days out.
So in summary, Copenhagen is great. We did a lot, so we were exhausted by the time we got back to London, but it was worth it.
If you go, I hope you have a wonderful time too. And if you have any comments or questions, please feel free to get in touch!