weekend away - Copenhagen
Written by Brian Johnston
In April, Copenhagen shakes off its winter blues. Street markets and outdoor cafés emerge, tulips nod from flowerbeds, and the sun returns just in time for a delightful spring getaway.
Those who’ve read Hans Christian Andersen’s stories might imagine Copenhagen is a dinky town of gingerbread houses and paddling swans. This cutesy reputation is only one aspect of Copenhagen’s personality. The Danish capital is also hip and experimental, with eclectic museums, trendy restaurants pushing culinary boundaries, and quite a reputation for jazz music.
With big-city assets and small-town charm, Copenhagen makes for a perfect weekend away in April, when windowsills sprout jaunty daffodils in celebration of Easter (April 20). Start a visit in Nyhavn, where outdoor eateries emerge from hibernation against a backdrop of half-timbered houses. Old wooden boats bob in the water, and the quayside is lined with places to eat, where patrons can enjoy the spring sunshine.
As the harbour widens towards the sea, you’ll find the Little Mermaid, the iconic landmark that celebrates Hans Christian Andersen’s most famous story. Get close to a real fairy tale only a stroll away at Amalienborg, the palace of Queen Margrethe II. The guard changes at midday, when bands play and Royal Danish Life Guards march; April 16 is particularly special, as crowds gather for the queen’s birthday.
Avid shoppers should take in a tradition on April 17–18: the Easter flea markets at Forum, which features more than 500 stalls of antiques. Meanwhile, Strøget is Copenhagen’s famous pedestrian-only shopping street that runs for kilometres through the old town and is lined by galleries and elegant design shops. Strøget means ‘stroll’ in Danish, so take your time: spring is in the air, and the city feels happy.
All the fun of the fair
Don’t miss Tivoli, which reopens after winter on April 10. The famed pleasure gardens date from 1843 and offer old-fashioned amusements but modern thrills such as shriek-worthy rollercoasters. Locals also come to admire newly budding gardens, listen to live music, and dine in restaurants strung with fairy lights.