On our optional pre-trip extension of three days in and around Copenhagen, Denmark, we toured by boat, train and bus, as well as many thousands of steps on foot. Highlights included the Rosenborg Castle, Royal Palaces, Tivoli Gardens, the Viking Ship Museum in nearby Roskilde, and Freetown Christiana.
A short orientation walk on our first evening in Copenhagen took us to City Hall Square, featuring a statue of Hans Christian Andersen. Andersen’s name would come up several times during our time in the city. We started our first full day with a boat tour through the canals and harbor, in occasional drenching rain! We saw and learned about the Royal Library, the Copenhagen Opera House, the Royal Yacht and Palaces, and the many unique spires that adorn historic buildings around the city.
From the boat dock we walked to the Royal Palace in time for the elaborate Changing of the Guard ceremony. Next we walked through torrential rain to the Rosenborg Castle, built in 1607 by King Christian IV. It is home to the treasures and furnishings of the Danish royalty. That evening we toured and had dinner in the Tivoli Gardens, and old-world amusement park set in beautiful botanical gardens.
The next day we boarded a commuter train for 45-minute ride to Roskilde, home of the Roskilde Cathedral and the Viking Ship Museum. The cathedral houses the tombs of many Danish royals. The museum has the remains of five 1200-year-old Viking ships recovered from the Roskilde Fjord sixty years ago. The many replica Viking ships moored around the property were built by the active on-site boatyard using ship-building methods of the era.
The next day our bus tour took us to several of the sights that we had only seen from a distance on our earlier boat tour, including the Opera House and the statue of Hans Christian Andersen’s Little Mermaid. We learned that Andersen’s original Little Mermaid story was much darker than the Disney version that most of us are familiar with! The final stop on the tour was at the Freetown Christiana commune, a self-governing community of around 1,000 people who took over an abandoned 19-acre military base in 1971.
From Christiana we proceeded to the docks for our overnight ferry ride to Oslo, Norway.