I have been traveling regularly for the past 10 years, and while my first international travel experiences happened before that mark but it’s within the past 10 years that I’ve travelled internationally at least once annually. This was well before the invention of Instagram and the hashtag FOMO. However, despite my travels I don’t think of myself as well travelled and I definitely don’t count the number of countries that I’ve visited. I choose to not allow myself to be identified by the number of countries that I’ve visited. With the advent of social media apps like Facebook and Instagram way too many people are getting caught up in their country count and I wonder if they even enjoy the trip they take. I’ve seen itineraries so jam packed I would personally need another vacation just to recover.
Part of the reason I enjoy traveling is to connect with locals in any small way and to be able to experience their culture in an authentic way. Whether it’s sitting outside on a terrace café in Paris during happy hour or renting bikes in Amsterdam and navigating the streets as a local, it’s these types of experiences that make my trips unforgettable. So, if an itinerary has me spending a day or just a few hours in a city it’s much harder, if not impossible, to have those types of experiences or to connect with locals. One ends up too busy trying to visit the “must-do” items on your list with the limited time you have and snapping a photo in front of that important landmark. Granted there are always exceptions and reasons why a limited time in a location may be necessary however, trying to cram in London, Paris, Rome, Barcelona, Amsterdam, Lisbon, and Dublin into a 7-day trip to Europe just strikes me as crazy. With itineraries like that it seems like the intent is to “check the box” and to rack up as many countries as one can in a single trip without really taking the time to experience any one of those beautiful cities. By doing so you’re doing yourself a disservice.
By no means am I saying multi-city itineraries are inherently bad but what I am saying is that if you do have a multi-city itinerary planned make sure it allows you enough time because travel is complicated. I know first-hand how complicated travel can be as a result of my recent trip to Copenhagen which was full of mishaps, delayed flights and missed connections. Given these types of complications why would you want to add to it and increase the risk of something going wrong without any buffer to be able to correct it? Also, do you really want to wake up at the crack of dawn during your vacation? Do you really want to have to pack and unpack every day? That’s not vacation that’s work.
The bottom line is, just because you can do something doesn't mean you should. Next time you’re considering a 7 day trip that includes stops in 12 cities consult a professional before you make that purchase because random travelers on the internet may not have your best interests in mind.
Copenhagen is a beautiful city and offers several great opportunities for spectacular panoramic views. If you're looking to explore the city from new heights, I’ve compiled a list of places that offer the best aerial views.
Church of Our Saviour
Price: 35.00 DKK - 45.00 DKK / Free with Copenhagen Card
This is an impressive landmark in the heart of Christianshavn and the church is easily identifiable by its helix spire and winding external staircase.
There are 400 steps to reach the top and the last 150 steps are on the outside of the spire so the climb isn’t for the faint of heart. If you do make it to the top you will be rewarded with amazing panoramic views of the city.
Price: 5.00 DKK - 110.00 DKK / Free with Copenhagen Card
This museum was founded by brewer Carl Jacobsen and contains pieces from his personal collection along with ancient sculptures and works from Danish painters from the 19th and 20th century. However, one of the real hidden gems is their roof terrace where you can sit back and relax while taking in the views.
City Hall Tower
Price: 30.00 DKK / Free with Copenhagen Card
As this is an active building, City Hall to be exact, access to the tower is limited to twice a day at 11AM and 2PM. It’s not a guided tour but you need an employee to escort you through the first portion of the of the ascent. After than you’re on your own to climb to the top (yes there are actual winding staircases here).
Round Tower (Rundetaarn)
Price: 25.00 DKK / Free with Copenhagen CardThis is a 17th century observatory but what makes this site unique is the equestrian staircase (which isn't a staircase at all) that makes the ascent to the top fairly easy. Coupled with the amazing lighting in the staircase which will make you want to stop and take pictures you will barely realize when you make it to the top. The views are slightly obstructed by protective fencing but it’s worth the climb in my book.
Illum is a beautiful department store in the Strøget area of Copenhagen. After you’ve shopped until you’re ready to drop head to the top floor to grab some food, snack or even an adult beverage to recharge. If the weather is nice you can enjoy seating on their roof terrace and take in some of the city’s sights. After a long day of sightseeing the great thing about this terrace is that there are no stairs to climb.
Hay (honorable mention)
Hay is a design shop which features modern Scandinavian designs and is located Strøget the pedestrian shopping area. If you go to the 2nd floor and look out the windows, which may be open if the weather is nice, you can get a bird's eye view of the action on the street below. .
Back in February I found a reasonably priced ticket to Copenhagen for the end of May and I jumped on it. I had friends travel to the city over the past couple of years and they all had nothing but rave reviews of the city and the photos to prove it. Originally, I planned to travel solo but once I told a friend about my plans she jumped on the idea as well. So the Thursday before Memorial Day we boarded a flight to Copenhagen and we were off.
One of the things that makes Copenhagen a great city to visit for a less seasoned traveler is that everyone speaks perfect English so there are no language barriers to deal with. It’s also quite a compact city with an excellent public transportation system so it's quite easy to navigate on your own and meander down the pleasant pedestrian streets. Pro-tip: the buses are equipped with wifi service and so are the metro stations. Credit cards are readily accepted for almost all purchases big and small and I found myself relying on Apple Pay once I realized it worked there. As a result I didn't have to withdraw or convert any cash during my visit which was a first for me. If you decide to take this approach make sure you have a credit card that doesn't charge foreign transaction fees.
When planning a trip to Copenhagen I suggest giving yourself ample time to explore what the city has to offer. People often try to squeeze too many cities into a single trip and everything ends up being a big blur. We were there for a week which was a good amount of time, but I would have liked couple of extra days to revisit some of my favorite spots and explore other neighborhoods. My sightseeing highlights were the following; Nyhavn, Botanical Garden, Tivoli, Glyptoteket museum (for the roof deck and winter garden) and the Louisiana museum.
In addition to all of the amazing sights, Copenhagen is a must visit city for anyone that calls themself a foodie. Noma may be temporarily closed, but scouting a new location proved there are quite a few other restaurants that offer delicious food for fairly reasonable prices. For example at Gemyse, which bills itself as a urban garden restaurant in the heart of Tivoli, we enjoyed a six course vegetarian tasting menu for 250 DKK (approximately $37). We were fortunate enough to dine outside in the greenhouse surrounded by lush herbs and plants. In the US it's rare to find a tasting menu so reasonably priced and even rarer to find one that a vegetarian like myself can eat. However, in Copenhagen it's not so rare at all as we followed up our meal at Gemyse with another tasting menu at Väkst. There they offer a vegetarian tasting menu with wine pairing for 520 DKK (approximately $78) or a version that included meat or fish for slightly more. The food and wine pairing was scrumptious but be aware that this place charges almost $5 for small carafe of tap water. Had we known about this charge we may have opted for bottled or sparkling water instead. If you have other dietary restrictions, such a gluten-free or vegan, you’re in luck as I noticed many places that offered options that cater to this crowd. One breakfast highlight was at Social where they make a gluten-free zucchini bread using chickpea flower and top it avocado, micro greens, and hummus. The last thing I will say about the food is that you will be hard pressed to find a bad cup of coffee in Copenhagen. My personal favorite was the coffee at The Coffee Collective which has several locations throughout the city and their cups make for the perfect Instagram snap. One thing to note about this place is that they only serve their coffee drinks with milk and alternatives such as almond milk and soy milk are not available.
If you travel during the summer months the weather is generally rather pleasant without getting too hot or humid but the city can be breezy so a light jacket is recommended. Also due to the city's northern latitude the sun practically doesn't set during the summer months. While we were there sunrise was at 4:30am but the sky started to get light much earlier so make sure you close your blinds if you want to ensure you get enough sleep. Sunset was around 9:45pm with the sky not getting dark until around close to midnight so you have ample day time hours to explore all the city has to offer.
Travel can be a fun and enriching experience but it can also be a stressor on one's body. To combat some minor ailments that may plague a traveler here are my top 5 natural remedies for travelers.
1. Probiotics Whenever I plan a trip to travel internationally, especially to developing countries, I make sure to up my probiotics game. This generally entails me taking the probiotics at least two weeks prior to, for the duration of the trip, and for two weeks upon my return. Following this routine builds up the good microbes in my intestinal track and can ward off traveler’s diarrhea and other forms of upset stomach. It can also help to keep you regular when dealing with the stress of travel such as the time zone changes, changes in eating habits and schedules, and generally being out of a routine.
2. Propolis - This is a mixture that honey bees make which is used to seal unwanted open spaces in the hive. For humans this potent mixture is thought to have antibacterial, antiviral, antifungal, and anti-inflammatory properties. Whenever I start to feel a tickle in my throat, which for me is thesign of a cold coming on, I pump two sprays of this stuff on the back of my throat a few times a day. I can usually prevent my cold from getting worse and I am feeling like myself again within 2 days. The key is to take it early an often.
3. Herbal tea - Drinking a warm cup of tea is a great way to relax on a flight, calm oneself down before bed, or settle an upset stomach. Peppermint, chamomile, green, Echinacea, and smooth move are the ones that I suggest traveling with.
4. Activated charcoal - This is a good go-to remedy for food poisoning and stomach bugs as it absorbs most organic toxins and chemicals before they can enter the body. Which is exactly what you want to do if you accidentally ate some bad food. As a bonus, you can also use it to brush your teeth as it is a natural teeth whitener.
5. Ginger chews - Ginger is known as a great anti-bacterial and anti-inflammatory herb. It is also great for treating nausea, helping with digestion and easing congestions. These candies taste good and are perfectly packaged for travel.
6. Oregano oil - Like many of the other items listed, oil of oregano is known for it’s anti-bacterial properties. You can use this not so great tasting oil to treat gastrointestinal or respiratory issues. If the taste is too strong to handle you can always dilute in a carrier oil such as coconut oil. If you mix a few drops with water and put into a spray bottle you have a natural insect repellent.