There’s a magic to Copenhagen that’s hard to immediately place. It’s deeper than being the city of the prolific Hans Christian Andersen, more prominent than the Royal Throne (supposedly) being made of unicorn horn. It’s deeper still than the multiple statues of mermaids above and below the water; the myriad of castles and churches aren’t even the most likely culprit. No, the magic runs deeper than these givens—the salt-water-taffy-colored houses lining the canal of Nyhavn showcase a spark here, the stream of city traffic atop bicycles a glimmer there. Getting to the root of this allure requires some digging—it turns out that Denmark as a whole has always been enchanting. For three of the most historic sites of fairytale Danish life, look no further than below.
At the tip of Helsingør, the nearest you can get to Sweden without getting wet, sits the 16th-century castle of Kronborg. While its estate contains all the traditional trappings you can expect to enjoy at a castle of its era—a moat, castle walls, armaments, regal tapestries and a number of historic artworks—the key to its renowned nature is that it’s the home of Hamlet. Rather, Kronborg Castle is the castle Shakespeare used as the basis for the setting in Hamlet, a fact that is not lost on the Danish population. Whenever you visit Denmark, chances are high you’ll find a live play scheduled within the castle, making for a magical theatre experience unmatched anywhere else in the world.
The second-oldest amusement park in the world, Tivoli Gardens is a unique mix of old-school carnival whimsy and modern-day amusement park offerings, all filtered through the unique cultural lens of Denmark. Founded in 1843, the park sits in the present-day middle of the city, right next to Copenhagen Central Station. A visit here is a distillation of Copenhagen’s magic to a concentrated amount. Modern thrill rides with nostalgic aesthetics, musical and theatre performances to capture imaginations of all ages, restaurants offering a diverse range of delights and delicacies as well as the perfect grounds for a picnic.
The final site of enchantment is actually the oldest amusement park in the world—Drehavsbakken (or “Bakken” for short). Established in 1583, it sits a short and pleasant commute outside of the city limits but feels worlds away from the modern metropolis. While the grounds boast a carnival atmosphere year-round thanks to offerings like the wooden roller coasters and merry-go-rounds, the biggest draw might be the least flashy—the 1000 acres of forest lying just beyond Bakken’s gates. Originally hunting grounds for royalty hundreds of years ago, the Dryehaven today is predominately inhabited by thousands of deer—spotting herds of them amongst the majestic oak trees is just one component of what makes an afternoon spent strolling through the park grounds a real-life fairytale.
Can’t wait to discover Copenhagen’s whimsical magic for yourself? Why not pair it with some of Europe’s other enchanting port cities? For a getaway straight from the pages of a fairytale, talk with one of our travel specialists. Their immense knowledge and expertise coupled with close relationships to all the leading cruise lines—like Norwegian Cruise Lines—makes travel everything you could dream of. You’ll have to pinch yourself to double-check that you’re awake.