The cruise ship MSC Armonia calls at Copenhagen. Duration of stay: five hours. This is far too little time to enjoy this beautiful city. MSC Cruises offers organized bus tours, which on closer inspection all turn out to be unsuitable city tours or panoramic trips. We prefer to explore some of Copenhagen's many attractions on a walking tour.
Our way leads us to the city center
MSC Armonia is docked at Langeliniekaj, one of Copenhagen's three cruise terminals. The berth, which is close to the center, is a good starting point for a tour of the center of the Danish metropolis.
Copenhagen - Langeliniekaj
First we go to the Kastellet, a pentagonal fort surrounded by water. The fort is one of the finest and best preserved structures of its kind in Northern Europe. It is still used for military purposes today. Coming from the ship, you enter the area via a bridge on the Langelinie and leave it after about 500 meters via a second bridge at Esplanaden. Barracks, ammunition bunkers and a small church are on the way. The area is very well maintained. It offers raked pitches and lots of greenery.
The Kastellet is followed by Kongens Have, the spacious park in front of Rosenborg Castle. The royal family once resided in the beautiful castle. It has been a museum since 1838, of which the royal treasury is an indispensable part.Rosenborg Castle
We head west and head towards Landemærket. We follow this to Købmagergade. We reach the next point of our tour, Rundetårn. The 34,80 meter high building was originally built as an observatory for the University of Copenhagen. We recommend climbing the tower. There are no stairs to overcome. Instead, the tower can be easily climbed over a more than 200 meter long spiral inclined plane. From the top we enjoy the wonderful view over Copenhagen's sea of houses. Even our cruise ship is clearly visible. Climbing the tower is chargeable. Money well spent: The small entrance fee offers great value.
From an architectural point of view, it is advisable to take a look into the nave of the Evangelical Lutheran Trinity Church, which adjoins Rundetårn. To this day, the church serves as a university church.
Trinitatis Kirke - nave
From Rundetårn we walk through the lively university district to the town hall. In front of the town hall is the martial dragon fountain. It shows a bull fighting a dragon. The town hall is in the style of the Italian Renaissance. Its 106 meter high tower can be climbed for a fee. We don't have time for the 300 or so steps. We take another look at the statue of Absalon of Lund attached to the town hall. As Archbishop of Roskilde, he founded a monastery on the site of today's Copenhagen. Over time Copenhagen developed from the convention.The dragon fountain in front of Copenhagen's City Hall
There is no time to pay a visit to Tivoli, it is opposite the town hall. Instead we walk through the courtyard of the town hall towards Nybrogade and Gammel Strand.
At the end of Gammel Strand is Højbro Plads with the equestrian statue of Bishop Absalon. The monument depicts the helmeted church leader in a heroic pose with an ax in his right hand on a shying horse. We learn from the depiction that in the 12th century it was not enough for a bishop to be a pious man. Rather, bishops also had to be good riders in order to control a shying horse at any time. Or is there more of a connection between the hatchet and the helmet?
Bishop Absalon on horseback
Our next stop: Christiansborg Palace
From the equestrian statue of Bishop Absolon, the path leads us along Frederiksholm Canal to Christiansborg Palace. The building, which was built at the beginning of the 20th century, is home to the Danish Parliament, the Prime Minister and Denmark's Supreme Court. The castle tower may be climbed. It also offers excellent views of Copenhagen.
The Børsen follows the castle. The 17th-century Commodity Exchange is one of Copenhagen's attractions thanks to its Renaissance facade and twisting tower.The Børsen
A good quarter of an hour later we are at Kongens Nytorv, the Royal New Market. The layout of the largest, representative square in the center of Copenhagen seems irregular to us. Important palaces and public buildings cluster around the square. One is the Royal Theater, the main building of which was completed in 1874. You can't tell from the building that it offers space for up to 1.600 spectators for opera and ballet performances. Kongens Nytorv
The Nyhavn Canal joins the Kongens Nytorv. There are some traditional ships in the canal. On both sides of the canal are old buildings that have housed cafes, bars and restaurants. The Nyhavn region is the trendy district of Copenhagen.Hustle and bustle on the Nyhavn Canal
Two cultural focuses and Amalienborg Palace
We follow the Nyhavn Canal to the end of the road. In front of us lies the theater, which only opened in 2008. The huge stage tower and the glazed facade impress us very much. Opposite the theater, on the other side of the harbor basin, is the new Royal Danish Opera, which opened in 2005. It also impresses with its size and impressive architecture. The opera is considered to be one of the most modern stages in the world.
It has been a long time since leaving MSC Armonia. We start the way back. Amalienborg Palace, home of the royal family, is on the way. Soldiers of the Royal Guard stand guard in front of the castle.Amalienborg Palace
From the castle, the path continues to Frederik's Church. The construction of the church took 145 years. Tight budgets and disputes delayed completion. The dome resting on 12 columns is worth seeing. Its wingspan is 31 meters. Originally, the church was to be built almost entirely of marble. However, the poor financial situation of the royal family at the time meant that limestone was used instead of marble. In the memory of the original project, the marble church is still spoken of.
The Gefion Fountain and the Little Mermaid
There is still so much to see; but we are running out of time. We take a look at the Russian Nevsky Church before walking over to the Gefion Fountain. According to legend, the Nordic goddess Gefjun (Gefion) separated the island of Zealand from Sweden with a plow in one night. For this purpose she turned her four sons into oxen, which she harnessed to the plow. An ox tour in the truest sense of the word. The fountain is big and nice to look at.The monumental Gefion fountain
The sculpture of the Little Mermaid also looks appealing. She sits on a boulder near the well and looks over her shoulder at the water. So far we assumed the sculpture was larger. Your 1,25 meters impress not too much. Still, we like what we see. Soon after, we see the “alternative mermaid” on Langeliniekaj. In contrast to the Little Mermaid, this beauty made of stone looks like an attractive curvy model. Meanwhile, the alternate mermaid has been robbed of its location.
We spent about five hours in Copenhagen. Although the time was far too short, we saw a lot of beautiful things. We recommend not taking the bus tours offered by the cruise companies and instead taking a tour of Copenhagen on your own. Our opinion: Copenhagen is best revealed to the visitor on such a tour.
Updated Aug 2023