Copenhagen Day 1: Canal Boats, Tivoli Gardens & The Friendliest Place On Earth

Posted by on May 2, 2016 in Denmark | 4 Comments


“Every town, like every man, has its own countenance; they have a common likeness and yet are different; one keeps in his mind all their peculiar touches.”

~Hans Christian Andersen

We had just stepped onto the streets of Town Hall Square and started to unfold our map when it first happened.

“Can I help you find something?” the man asked. His sincerity and friendliness caught us off guard. We weren’t lost and didn’t even have a question, and yet this very nice stranger had stopped to offer help. We smiled and thanked him and said we were just getting our bearings before heading into Old Town.

But it turned out that kindness from strangers is not a random happenstance in the Danish capital. It’s a way of life that we encountered more often in our two days there than anywhere else we have traveled. The people we met seemed happy. They rode bicycles to work – women in dresses, men in suits – and looked effortlessly stylish. The city was spotlessly clean and endlessly charming. By the end of our stay, I was convinced that if I had to live in another country, Denmark would be the place!

Town Hall Square

Town Hall Square, where the oldest part of the city begins.

Copenhagen was the embarkation port for our cruise on the Baltic Sea. My husband and I had arrived a couple of days ahead of time to see this city that was new to both of us. We purchased Copenhagen Cards at the Tourist Information Office, which gave us access to the main attractions for our two-day stay.

It was lovely sunny morning as we walked through Old Town to Gammel Strand to catch one of the Canal Tours. We found seats by the open windows and were ready for our one-hour excursion. Our friendly – there’s that word again – guide provided a triple-language narration in English, Danish and Spanish.

Canal Boat Sign

The canal boat boarding stop at Gammel Strand.

Canal Boat Us

Selfie on the Canal Boat!

Canal Boat1

View as we headed out on the canal.

Canal Boat2

The green dome in the distance is Frederik’s Church, just behind Amalienborg Palace.

Canal Boat Mermaid

The famous Little Mermaid Statue at Langelinie Pier. Hans Christian Andersen’s presence is everywhere in Copenhagen. Even our Canal Boat was named the HC Andersen.

Canal Boat Opera

The modern Opera House.

Canal Boat Nyhavn

The vibrantly colored houses and buildings announced that we were in the Nyhavn district.

Canal Boat Nyhavn2

There’s simply no other word but charming.

Canal Boat Library

The Black Diamond, Denmark’s National Library.

Canal Boat Bridge

We passed under beautiful bridges, sometimes wondering how our canal boat would make it through the narrow archways.

Canal Boat Bridge2

I loved the name of this bridge, which I later learned means “Storm the Bridge!” It was named after an attack by the Swedish navy in 1659.

Canal Boat Church

The Church of Our Savior, with its exterior spiral staircase.

After the canal tour, we set out to find a café I had read about called Grams Laekkerier. The little soup and sandwich shop is run by a delightfully friendly owner and has several outside tables. The sandwiches were so large that we decided to share one, and the bread was unbelievably delicious!


Our next stop was Tivoli Gardens, Copenhagen’s legendary amusement park that opened in 1843. Along the way, we took a shortcut through the Copenhagen Central Train Station and discovered these interesting lights and vaulted ceilings.

Train Station2

We entered Tivoli through the side entrance near a mountain that could have been Disneyland’s Matterhorn. Walt Disney visited Tivoli in 1951 and was so inspired by what he experienced – from the rides and food to the cleanliness and twinkle lights – that he incorporated much of the Tivoli aesthetic into the 1955 design of Disneyland. It was easy to see the similarities at every turn.

Tivoli Matterhorn

The Tivoli Matterhorn.

Tivoli Sign

A friendly warning at the side entrance to Tivoli.

Tivoli Me

Fantasy Land-like flower petal fountains…

Tivoli Lights

…and colorful, layered lanterns.

Tivoli Star Flyer

The Star Flyer is 80 meters tall – that’s 262 feet!

Tivoli Grand Prix

The Grand Prix features characters on bicycles carrying boxes of chocolate in their baskets…

Tivoli Grand Prix2

…If the bicycle stops at your station, you win the candy!

View 2

View of Tivoli’s main entrance from our room at the Radisson Blu Hotel.

We left the park through the charming front entrance and returned to our hotel before heading to the ship.  As our taxi made its way to Langelinie Pier, we passed windmills along the harbor. Copenhagen had made quite a first impression. And I was happy that we would be invited back for another visit the next morning.


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  1. Judy Jacobson
    July 12, 2016

    You did an exceptional job! I enjoyed reading every word and enjoyed seeing the familiar sights since I was just there!
    Please include me in on your blogs as they are very informative!


    • Mary
      July 14, 2016

      Thanks so much, Judy! I will get you the link for receiving new blog posts as soon as they’re published.

  2. Diane Jenkins
    January 7, 2017


    I am planning a trip to Copenhagen in the near future. Your blog will be very helpful! Thank you.


  3. Mary
    January 7, 2017

    I’m so happy to hear you found the blog helpful, Diane! I hope you have a wonderful time in Copenhagen 🙂