I love planning trips as birthday celebrations, and Tristan’s first birthday was no exception. The first birthday is extra special in many cultures, so I know I’m not alone in feeling like parents deserve a real treat after surviving a steep learning curve, 365 sleepless nights and messes that shall remain nameless! I’m partially kidding… I know that’s not the real reason the first year is a milestone… but I’m totally serious about celebrating myself as much as my child.
After monitoring flights on Skyscanner for a few weeks, I decided on Copenhagen and booked a long weekend in April. In spite of the fact that Copenhagen is very expensive – much more so than London – the airfare between the two cities is super affordable. At least that helps to offset the pricey weekend overall! The kids and I flew to Copenhagen from London, and Matt flew in from a business trip.
Where to Stay?
- We stayed at an Airbnb in K∅dbyen, part of the Vesterbro Meatpacking District, which has come into its own with an incredible array of restaurants and galleries. Even if you don’t stay in this part of town, you’re sure to end up at a restaurant here! It’s got a cool vibe and is more affordable than the Nyhavn waterfront area.
Where to Go?
- The Nyhavn colours and boats are what most people associate with Copenhagen, but we had so much fun wandering around and photographing the unique neighbourhoods. From the strange wall murals in Vesterbro to the old cobbled roads near Nyhavn, our kids were as engaged as we were.
- Aside from wandering around the beautiful city and enjoying what is often called the world’s “best city for quality of life”, you really must not miss the Louisiana Museum. I really can’t emphasise this enough! We were blown away by the sheer beauty of the grounds, from which you can see Sweden on a clear day. The art collection is beautifully curated and displayed; the kids museum is an astounding four floors of crafts and activities (all included in your entry), and you can bring a picnic or eat at the excellent cafe. Had we known, we would have planned to spend all day there. Matt and I agree that it’s a cornerstone of any 36 Hours in Copenhagen itinerary, and we’ll never skip it!
- We went rogue and visited the Louisiana Museum instead of Tivoli Gardens. Matt promised to take me to Tivoli the next time we visit Copenhagen, when the kids are old enough to go on rides! It’s the theme park that inspired Walt Disney and I’ve never heard of anyone else skipping it.
Where to Eat?
The food in Copenhagen is delicious, fresh and interesting. And seriously focused on the carbohydrate end of the spectrum. Just embrace it! ALL the carbs: dense, dark, nutty rye bread and buttery pastries and craft beer around every corner…
- I highly recommend both Mikkeller locations we visited, each with a drool-worthy and extensive list of craft beers on tap. Warpigs also serves up legit excellent barbecue (I grew up in Texas, so yes, I was surprised!), and has high chairs and a changing table. Øl & Br∅d by Mikkeller offers elevated, classic Danish food. You will need a reservation for Øl & Br∅d, and they happily accommodate children.
- We indulged in an innovative and pricey dinner at H∅st, which was definitely not kid-friendly — no high chairs, and on the phone they tried to discourage me. They don’t actually have a no-children policy, and they were friendly when we arrived for our (kid-friendly) reservation time of 5:30pm with 2 kids under 2 years old, but I wouldn’t do it again.
- We loved morning coffee and pastries at a bakery called Br∅d in Vesterbro. You cannot go wrong at Lagkagehuset, although it’s much pricier and also available in London (Ole & Steen).
- People-watching with ice cream at the Nyhavn harbour is hard to beat!
- I wanted a family photo session to capture this precious time in our lives, with 2 little jetsetters under 2 years old! It was a follow-up to our South Africa babymoon photo shoot, when I was 32 weeks pregnant with Tristan. I found Kelley Hudson and had the most wonderful experience! She is a baby whisperer and a lovely woman. Tristan was actually sick with a flu, and we woke him up from a nap for this hour-long photo session. I could not believe he held it together the whole hour, and even managed a couple of wry smirks. Plus, I am all about supporting the international adventures of my fellow American expats. The photos speak for themselves, but I strongly encourage you to book a photo session in Copenhagen. It’s so picturesque! More pictures from Kelley below…
- Arrive at Copenhagen airport, take the train to the city, and settle into your lodgings
- Locate your nearest grocery store, bakery, pharmacy and park
- Grab a coffee and load up on snacks at the bakery and/or grocery store
- Take the kids to the playground to work off that post-travel restlessness
- Have lunch and beer at a Mikkeller location
- Spend the afternoon/evening at Tivoli Gardens
- Breakfast at a bakery, or if you prefer a sit-down meal, try Mad & Kaffe
- Visit the Louisiana Museum. Plan ahead for lunch: to economise, you should bring a picnic. The cafe has excellent food, but is pricey. With so much art, a massive children’s centre, gorgeous land to run around and child-friendly facilities, you can (and should) spend most of the day here
- Return to Copenhagen to visit Nyhavn and have dinner (and more beer)
- Weather permitting, you can take a boat through the canals. Otherwise, walk through the old city and Nyhavn areas, visit hippie Christiania if that’s your thing, and gorge yourself on more pastries
- If you/ your kids are interested, you can visit the Lego Flagship Store
- Gather your belongings and travel snacks, and take the train back to the airport!