Denmark: Quirky Copenhagen

There are some things you just have to do when you go to Copenhagen, but not all of them you’ll find on the tourist bureau brochure rack. Changing of the guard, canal cruises, palaces and art galleries are all there for the picking. But how about beneath surface? Every city has their little secrets and off-radar attractions. We go in search of the quirky, unusual and plain nutty.

Sensible tips: cOPENhagen CARD for free admission to 65 museums and attractions plus all-you-can-ride public transport. DKK 249/24hrs (A$47). Time your museum visits as many are only open from 12-4pm and closed Mondays.

1 Aussie funk pumps the Plads

How do you extend your leading edge in a city renown for avant garde design and innovation? The Adina Apartment Hotel in Amerika Plads not only combines cool design and gala interiors, but does it with an Australian flair. SJB Interiors’, Andrew Parr oversaw the 2006 fit-out of this innovative property that turned heads in this hard-to-impress town. Australia’s isolation creates unique solutions reckons Parr, whose company is decking out Adinas in Berlin, Frankfurt and Budapest.

2 Big Drinks,  Big Ticket, Short Shrift

Okay, you can argue the political correctness all night long, but the Simons don’t care. Their nightclub pushes the boundaries in lots of ways. From their fanatical, social media driven guest list, raunchy DJs to the dwarf bartenders, Simons continues to attract and retain the Copenhagen elite. Transient visitors are unlikely to get past the door without an A-list FB profile, but it might be fun to walk past the old art gallery in Store Strandstræd after midnight to see who’s trying.

3 On Yer Bike or Ride it Like You Stole it

The inherent honesty in the Scandinavian society makes the Copenhagen City Bike Project a viable concern. In one of the world’s most bike-friendly cities, getting around the CBD is as easy as grabbing the nearest bike and pedalling your heart out. Launched in 1995 with 1000 fun, if somewhat dowdy bicycles, the project has nonetheless continued from strength to strength. Drop a 20 DKK in the lock, cycle to your heart’s content within the city limits and get your deposit back on return.

4 Hello sailor – Naval gazing

Of all the great seafaring nations, Denmark barely rates a blip on most radar screens, but don’t tell that to the nautical Danes. Today’s Royal Danish Navy is just a dozen or so minor vessels, but at the 1677 Battle of Køge Bay, their mighty fleet routed the superior Swedes in a heroic action. All this and more is celebrated at the Orlogsmuseet (naval museum) with dioramas, ship models, weaponry and regalia displays. Double your bang with a visit to the Artillery Museum too.

5 Canal Vision – DIY Skipper

While the package tourists and coach herds pack into the canal barges, you can make your way through the scenic waterways of København at your own pace. Skipper a 6hp tinny with up three friends for DKK 300 (A$55) per hour with all the gear included, just be over 18 and careful. Located near the fish markets (Fisketorvet), just show photo ID and be back by 8pm. Bigger boats for up to eight are available too.

6 Hash Tag- No churches in Christiana

Forty years ago in September, a bunch of disenchanted hippies kicked down the gates on a disused naval base and formed one of Europe’s most controversial alternative communities, calling it Christiana. Biblical references aside, 1000 people call it home today and there always seems to be some dispute looming over occupied land. Artists, drifters and thinkers make up this quasi-autonomous enclave but sympathetic visitors are welcome. Take a guided tour for DKK40 (A$8) but be careful taking photos.

7 Reuse and Recycle – From leading to lagging edge

So what happens to all the cool stuff when the Danish designerati are bored with it? Lots of it ends up in Copenhagen’s famous network of second-hand and vintage stores. Names like Time’s Up, Melange de Luxe and the Fisk Charity Café offer up lashings of pre-loved, lagging-edge fashion and dag-a-brac for those with a retro view. The latter sends proceeds to worthy causes and only offers recycled, fair trade and organic items.

8 Going Mad for Danish

While some in the know would say Copenhagen’s noma is the world’s best restaurant, there seems to be as many votes for one of the most unusual. Madeleines Madteater (food theatre) is as much performance concept as it is gourmet cuisine where food is the centre of attention. Cavorting, choreographed waitstaff might appear to having a lend of you with hand-fed dishes and servings without cutlery, but the experience is seriously memorable however you chew it.

9 Dig deep – underground Copenhagen

The story of Christianborg Palace goes back 800 years covering virtually the entire history of Copenhagen. The royal Danes loved big flashy castles, but they were mighty careless and the first two palaces burned down. When they were building the third, the foundations of the very first, dating back to Archbishop Absalon in 1167 were unearthed. Today you can venture into the subterranean chamber under the palace and see the remains of this historic building.

Getting there:

THAI flies 40 times a week from Australia to Bangkok with daily non-stop connections to 13 major cities in Europe, including Copenhagen. Contact travel agents for the latest special offers and promotions or visit

The writer travelled with THAI Airways and stayed as a guest at Adina Apartments

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