Trip Tips: Tour the dark side of Copenhagen's fairy tale

Thu Aug 28, 2014 7:08pm EDT
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By Annabella Nielsen

COPENHAGEN (Reuters) - The Danish capital that fostered Hans Christian Andersen, the godfather of fairy tales, and hosts one of Europe's oldest royal lineages is also the setting for grisly murders and political intrigue in television dramas popular across the world.

Copenhagen has always been far more complex than Denmark's "happy nation" reputation. The gorgeous old town with splendid historic buildings stands near areas that have only recently seen a renaissance after years of gang violence, prostitution and ethnic tensions.

This contrast makes for an ideal city break, which should start with a one-hour boat tour that introduces Copenhagen's best sights. These include Venice-like canals, royal palaces and the stark modern architecture Denmark is known for.

After the canal tour, hire a bicycle for the rest of the day. Half of all residents commute to work by bike and the wide cycle lanes make it safe even for beginners.


For your fill of fairyland, see the 170-year-old Tivoli amusement park at the heart of the city. Despite its age, it offers hair-raising rides such as the Star Flyer, as well as tulip-marked paths winding around lakes, bars and restaurants. In the evening, there are fireworks and live music.

Denmark's parliament is housed in Christiansborg Palace, where the royal family previously resided for 400 years. The palace has guided tours through gilded corridors and among remnants of older castles in the basement.   Continued...

Boats are seen anchored at the 17th century Nyhavn district, home to many shops and restaurants in Copenhagen December 5, 2009. REUTERS/Bob Strong