Under the world at Cistererne

I have lived here a long time and I have lost count of the times I have said that we must visit the Cisterns in Sondermarken. So this summer we finally did it.

The Cisterns (Cisternerne in Danish) are a former subterranean reservoir which once contained the sole supply of drinking water for Copenhagen and could hold as much as 16m litres of clean water. As the city expanded and other solutions were found for water supply it is no longer used in this way. For many years it has been a venue for art exhibitions and events.

It is an interesting space to visit and at the same time fascinatingly creepy. It takes a little time to adjust to the darkness when you first enter but there are sections of natural light in places, which are often utilised by the artists. You should remember to bring a warm layer as it is chilly in the caves.

When we visited the current exhibition was The Cisterns X Sambuichi, a Japanese artist (you can read more about the exhibition here) and this runs until February. In conjunction with the exhibition there are also associated events.

We walked around three times when we visited as the first time you need to get yourself adjusted to the darkness and also the pathways. We noticed different parts of the exhibition each time we went around. We will definitely be returning to see the next exhibition.

For more information visit their website here

Photo credit for photos 1 and 3: Jens Markus Lindhe

Experimentarium reopens in Hellerup

The Danish hand-on science museum known as Experimentarium reopened at its old site in Hellerup (close to the Waterfront Shopping) at the end of January. Since it opened we have been four times, it’s that good. We bought a season pass and now have visited enough times to make the remainder of the year free.img_7489-1

I wrote about the place with a lot of detail here on The Local.

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But I thought I’d share some of our highlights and advice from visiting. So highlights – the new ball run that allows you to choose different ways to send cargo and it great fun. A bit hard to describe but believe me its is great. The ship area with room where you can experience wind up to almost hurricane strength. The newly expanded water area is fun too. On the second floor there is the construction zone and bubble area, perfect for younger visitors. img_7500

If you are familiar with Experimentarium at this site from three years ago, many of the old favourites are here, some with expanded experiences. There are also new exhibitions which will keep everyone interested for hours.

Now for the advice. It gets very hot in the building so make sure your children can strip down to a t-shirt or even a vest. This is also valuable when playing in the water areas so their sleeves don’t get soaked.

The season pass is well worth considering as it is very good value and it means that you can pop in to the place for a short time without feeling you have to justify the ticket price.img_7496

There is a late night on a Thursday until 8pm and we enjoyed this as it was relatively empty and we could go from one thing to another without waiting. Weekends get very busy however with a season pass to can get in an hour early on weekend days.

The food is expensive and decidedly average plus on Saturday lunch time there was an hour wait for hot food. There is a section of the cafe that it dedicated to packed lunches so this is definitely worth considering. There are also a number of places to eat just next door in Waterfront Shopping and I believe you can get your hand stamped so you can come back in. Make sure you do this or at least check your ticket allows you to come back in afterwards.

I think this place is the perfect location for a great day out for children of all ages.

Visit their website for up to date information

End of the summer at the Frilands Museum

We spent the last day of the school holidays at the Frilands Museum, one of our favourite museums, and made sure we made the most of the newly introduced entry charge. We usually go in the autumn half term and this was the first time we had been in the summer and it was well worth the visit. I thought I’d share some picture from our visit to inspire you to visit despite the new charge. They are open until the 23rd October so there is plenty of time to plan a visit. I was fascinated to hear from one of my son’s classmates’ dads that his family’s house from Jutland has been reconstructed on the site, I must make sure we find out which one before next time we visit as this a lovely connection between the past and now.IMG_5506 IMG_5508 IMG_5513 IMG_5517 IMG_5520 IMG_5522 IMG_5532

Paying for culture at the SMK and National Museum

Since June 1st 2016 the National Museum of Denmark (including the Frilands Museum) and the Statens Museum for Kunst (SMK) have started charging an entrance fee. The museums have been free for the last ten years but this year they have both asked the Government for permission to start charging again. This is in part due to budget cuts they face coupled with the wish to still be able to offer the same level of high services to their visitors. Some politicians were against this move to charge as it undermines the rights of people to have free access to culture.

This is what the SMK say on their website about the changes:

The SMK has provided free admission to its permanent displays since 2006. We have been very happy with this arrangement, but the museum is now facing such dire financial straits that free admission is no longer feasible. In the years to come, the SMK’s state funding will be cut by eight per cent – corresponding to some 16 million kroner (2.1 million EUR).  The SMK wishes to maintain the high level of quality visitors expect from the National Gallery of Denmark, and this will not be possible in the long term without finding new sources of revenue. Hence, we reintroduced admission fees as of 1 June 2016.

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However the museums have introduced a pricing structure that does offer savings for people especially if you are visiting with children. They are all offering free entry for children but a discounted adult entry if you are visiting with a child, thus making it more affordable for families. The year passes are also priced at a level to make them worthwhile if you plan to come more than three times in a year (it is worth noting the year pass in the SMK runs for twelve months not a calendar year). There are also discounts for under 30 year olds but none for seniors. If you check out their website (SMK) there are a number of options depending on your personal circumstances.

Likewise the National Museum of Denmark including a number of its other museums including the Frilands Museum are also charging now for the same reason and have ticket combinations worth looking at, especially the year pass for all sites (the two mentioned above and Tøjhusmuseet, Kommandørgården, Musikmuseet, Brede Værk, Frøslevlejrens Museum and Hangar 46) . For more information here.

Whilst it is a shame that national cultural institutions need to start charging they have, at least, given a lot of thought as to how to keep their core and loyal visitors coming, whilst maintaining their services.

 

What to do with preschoolers in Copenhagen

I was asked a few weeks ago by a reader for some recommendations of some good places to visit and things to do with a four year old in Copenhagen. I thought that this might be information that would be interesting to many people so here they are. These recommendations are based on the things we have enjoyed doing since my son was three and we still love them. This is in no way a definitive guide and I am sure other people have other recommendations so please do leave a comment below if you do.

Museumssmk

First of all a big category for us is museums. Copenhagen is very well served with amazing museums that actively welcome children and families. The Workers’ Museum and the National Museum have dedicated children’s sections, which can offer hours of entertainment and repeated visits. The rest of these museums are also welcoming to children and presented in the right way, fascinating. They both offer a varied events calendar which is worth keeping an eye on. The plus point for the National Museum is that its free. The Workers’ Museum offers a Friends scheme, which after paying an annual fee, a named adult can get in for free (children are always free).

The Statens Museum for Kunst (SMK) is also very welcoming to families and also free to get in. They usually have an exhibition aimed at children and at the weekend and during school holidays they have a children’s workshop, where for 45kr per child, your child can built a creation from recycled materials, paint a picture on an easel or some other creation.

The Danish Architecture Centre also offers children’s activities in some of the school holidays so this is worth keeping an eye on.

Parks and playgroundsdad in parkI love the parks here in the city and there are many with great play areas such as Kongens Have and Ørsteds Parken, which are favourites of ours. Fælledparken raises the bar with the Traffic Playground, an enclosed area of small-sized roads with real traffic lights and street signs for children to practice safe cycling and also the Towers Playground, close to Rigshospital. Frederiksberg Have has the added bonus of spotting the elephants in the zoo from a public viewing spot.

A number of playgrounds are manned during the week by kommune employees and, at these times, offer more activities and things to play with, you can get the list here or from the personnel at one of the manned ones. In the summer months check out the playground Skydebanen in Vesterbro and the water playground in Fælledparken for large water play and paddling areas (known as soppesøer) very suitable for young children (there are others on the list linked above for playgrounds).

Swimming Pools

Again many of the pools here have facilities suitable for preschoolers, our favourite, although a little on the pricey side, is DGI Byen, where they have a great children’ pool for non swimmers with varying depths of areas and warm, clean changing rooms. For a full list of swimming pools check this out.

Botanical Gardens (Botanisk Have)CIMG7558

This place is the perfect place to explore and get lost in. My son loves running up and down the hills in the garden with twisty turny pathways and also exploring the hot houses. Some of the smaller glasshouses are open on holidays and special days in the week and are a great way to see some unusual and enormous plants. It is also a great place to observe the changes of seasons.

The Lego Store

I am sure that every parent has visited this place on Strøget many times but did you know that from 4pm – 6pm on the first Thursday of the month they offer a free mini build at the back of the store? You need to build it there but it is free to take home on completion.

Eating out

I find that despite the fact there are very few specifically family friendly restaurants in the city most are. However our favourites are Hache Burger for lunch as they do a great lunch special and offer two sliders for the kids at a very reasonable price; The Laundromat Cafe; Sticks and Sushi, who also offer great children’s meals; and also Copenhagen Street Food (next to the Experimentarium) as there is something for everyone.

Out of townCIMG7323

Finally heading out-of-town is a great way to have a day out with kids and explore something new. We regularly go to Louisiana and have since my son was three. The children’s wing is outstanding and the activities there are truly integrated with the current exhibitions. The buffet lunch price for children is affordable but the food is perhaps a little adult for some tastes. A good tip is to buy an integrated travel and entrance ticket from DSB (at the 7-11 at the stations but be prepared for the staff to not know about it straight away) it is 200Kr for an adult as children travel and get into Louisiana for free, saves you up to 50%. You can buy it on the day of travel.

The Frilands Museum  is another amazing free day out (once you get there) and takes a short train ride from the city centre to immerse yourself in the Denmark of old and wander around a beautiful countryside area.

Saving Money

As mentioned above in some of the points, it is definitely worth exploring season passes for places you think you are likely to visit more than three times in a year as you will be saving a significant amount compared to paying each time. Also buying blocks of swimming tickets saves money.

All the bigger libraries (and some smaller) offer great free indoor play areas for children and can eat up a morning of activity for young preschools.

Also why not jump on one of the yellow harbour buses and enjoy an amazing view of the harbour for the usual price of your travel ticket or pass? It takes about an hour to go from the stop at Toldboden to Sluseholmen.


 

So they are my recommendations of places we enjoy, I am sure I have forgotten many other places. I haven’t mentioned some of the more obvious choices such as Tivoli (which we love), the Zoo and beaches such as Svanemollen and Amager. Or places we haven’t been but I hear great things about such as Byoasen (a small city farm in Nørrebro) and also the Nature Centre at Vestamager. I also love spending time in the quieter parts of Christiania.

Do add your recommendations below too!

Other resources

Top ten kid friendly restaurants in Copenhagen (Visit Copenhagen)

Top ten attractions for kids in Copenhagen

Playgrounds in Copenhagen

Børn i byen (in Danish) for events etc

Mini CPH city guide

Meet a museum family (some repetition here but still interesting, I hope)

Six reasons why it’s great to be a mum/parent in Copenhagen

 

 

Three things to do for free in Copenhagen

Copenhagen is well known as being quite an expensive city but there is a lot out there to do for free. Of course the summer months offer more opportunities with all the wonderful parks, beaches and open spaces but there is still plenty around all year. Here are my five picks of things to do for free.

Number One Special glass houses at the Botanical Gardens

The glass houses at the Botanical Gardens are wonderful places to wander around but did you know that on selected days of the week they open some of the more specialist greenhouses home to cacti, succulents and orchids – and they are all free! For details visit here.

Number Two Magasin du Nord Museum

Last of my indoor ideas and it is a place I find quite intriguing. Now I will be honest and say at present I have not visited this museum but as a new addition to the museum scene here plus with free entry, it must be worth a visit. Magasin is one of the oldest department stores in the world and no other business of its kind has kept such a collection of archive materials. For more information click here (Danish).

Number Three Podwalks with Danish Architecture Centre

This one gets you out and about in the city. DAC have put together a series of pod walks you can download to your smart phones and help you explore areas of the city at your own speed and in your own time with a guide in your ear. A great way to discover more about Copenhagen. if its too cold for you, you can always listen on your sofa! For the pod walks click here.

{Originally posted May 19 2015} When I first wrote this there were five things on the list but sadly since the beginning of June the National Museum and SMK have started charging admission. They are still brilliant places to visit but can’t be included on this list anymore.

Pretty Dragør {from the archives}

Whilst my parents were visiting last week with their car, we decided to take the opportunity to show them something else other than the city. I haven’t been to Dragør, south of the airport, since I was pregnant so this pretty little fishing village seemed the perfect destination.  It is famous for its museum, pretty harbourside, lighthouse and wonderfully preserved old houses.IMG_1448 It was a windy and brisk day, perfect for a visit to the sea. Much of Dragør was as I remembered it, but over the last six years it seems that a little collection of cute, boutique style shops has sprung up on the way down towards the harbour. There is nothing cutting edge here but it makes for a nice poke around, especially as a number of places sell local beers from Amager Bryghus amongst others.IMG_1446 We stopped for lunch at the Strandhotel, which was reassuringly exactly the same as I remembered it and I doubt it will change. I loved my plate of prawns, despite the effort involved in peeling them.

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DSC01187We wandered around the harbour areas, looking at the fishing boats, sharing the excitement of children crabbing and paying a visit to Dragør Smokery for a treat later in the afternoon. The view of the bridge to Sweden is perfect from here too.

IMG_1466Afterwards a leisurely stroll through the Gamle By’s (old town) mazelike streets, passing the lovely old yellow thatched houses and bobbing hollyhocks, back to the car park.DSC01191 IMG_1469If you can get there by car or have the patience to wait for the bus from the airport, Dragør is a fantastic contrast to city life.

{Originally posted 30 July 2015}

Eye Attack at Louisiana

We spent the day on Sunday at Louisiana to experience the current exhibition, Eye Attack.  This is the first major presentation of Op Art and Kinetic Art in Scandinavia for more than 50 years (you can read more about it here). And we loved it. Experiencing such, quite honestly, trippy art is amazing and I enjoyed my son’s reaction to it. A lot made me feel slightly queasy as your brain tries to make sense of the optical illusions. It is very true that this kind of art, originating from the 1960’s in the main, remains timeless and as part of the exhibition there is a section that shows op-art in the modern world, both real and the art world.IMG_4238

I took a few photos but due to the nature of the art, at times it didn’t really translate into stills captured through a lens, so it is an exhibition that really needs to be experienced in the flesh.IMG_4247

The Children’s Wing also offers some great ways to engage children in the exhibition, with a table set with op-art stencils and a lightbox where you could create black and white kinetic art. We spent over an hour here.IMG_4270

As usually Louisiana offers something special and well worth the trip up the coast for it. Eye Attack runs until June 5th 2016 and more information can be found here. And don’t forget to take advantage of the money-saving DSB train and entry ticket combo.

A Girls’ Weekend in Copenhagen on a budget

Last weekend I had something of a staycation when two of my closest friends came to the city to celebrate my birthday with me. We had planned a trip to Paris as a belated celebration but with my accident earlier in the year, it seemed better to come here than risk not having the weekend at all.

As my apartment is not big enough to host them, and to also make it more of a girls’ weekend, we decided to rent an Airbnb in the city. The place we chose was perfect with views over Kongens Have from four balconies running the length of the apartment.

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Copenhagen is thought of as being an expensive city but our weekend proved you can do it on a budget and still enjoy what the city has to offer.

I wanted to show my city off to them but still enjoy plenty of gossiping and relaxation. On the Friday night, which was also Kulturnatten, we headed down to Nyhavn and enjoyed a delicious antipasti and pizza meal in Gorms. I wanted the weekend to be fairly budget friendly so this was a good choice. The restaurant was very cosy, which was particularly welcome as the temperatures had plunged. We left it a bit late to enjoy Kulturnatten but walked back across Kongens Have and oohed and ahed at the illuminated statues.IMG_2157On Saturday, after a leisurely breakfast of real Danish pastries and buck’s fizz, we spent a few happy hours in Royal Copenhagen and Illums Bolighus, where my friends joked about how much like tourists they looked with groaning arms full of Danish design pieces and spoils from the Christmas shop. I was delighted to see how much they loved Danish design.The rest of the day was eaten up, literally, by a lunch of smørrebrød (I make no apologies for taking them to Nyhavn for this), a trip to the top of the tower at Christiansborg,  a pop in to Søstrene Grene (which delighted them in comparison to similar shops in the UK), and a wander around Torvehallerne.IMG_2173The evening came around far to quickly. We had a table booked at Manfred’s in Nørrebro, a place I have been wanting to try for a while as I was curious about their seven course meal. Each dish is a mystery until it arrives. It was an enjoyable experience with some surprising dishes – my favourite being the roast onions and least the mackerel. The organic wines and ciders we tried were unusual, and whilst I am not sure I would choose them again, a great experience. I would sum the evening up as an experience and I would definitely recommend trying it out.

We ended the weekend with brunch here and a harbour cruise, which I had free tickets for. We didn’t pack masses into the weekend but there was more than enough to give them a snapshot of this beautiful city, without breaking the bank (if you ignore the shopping spree). All our meals came in under 400kr each including alcohol and most of the sightseeing was also free. The apartment was less than 1400kr each for the two nights.

 

My top three cultural experiences in Vejle

Many people head over to Jutland to visit Legoland, just as we did this summer but we were delighted to find a wealth of other amazing experiences in this area. We had booked to stay in Vejle for a week, with two days at Legoland, and we are unsure if there would be enough to occupy us for the rest of the week. However, we barely scratched the surface of the area and could easily have spent at least two weeks there and not been bored. If you are interested in Viking history or bog bodies (the latter in my case), then this is the area for you.  So here are our cultural recommendations of things to do after you have been to Legoland!

Number One – ØkolarietDSC01096DSC01090

There has been an enormous amount of investment from the local kommune in culture in Vejle and many of the museums and cultural attractions are free and excellent. We spent the whole afternoon at Økolariet (Ecolarium) in the centre of Vejle. They are keen to stress that this is not a museum but a knowledge centre and experimentarium. The basis of the centre is exhibitions and events geared to learning about nature, environment, energy, climate, food, health, sustainability and much more. It covers several floors and through the interactive displays you can learn all about the world around us. We loved walking on the bottom of a lake and underneath a forest but the big winner of the day was the workshop (there was a small charge for this) to build a rocket from recycled materials and then going out onto the roof garden to shoot it into space. They offer different exciting workshops through the year. The whole centre is well thought out to ensure that all visitors are engaged but also learn a lot about the environment without feeling preached to. The staff are enthusiastic and very ready to answer questions about the displays. The kommune will continue to support the Økolariet whilst there are still people enjoying it and visiting the centre so do go if you are in the area.

Address and website: ØkolarietDæmningen 11, 7100 Vejle  www.okolariet.dkDSC01094

Number Two –  Cultural Museum Spinderihallene

IMG_1240This is another cultural centre supported by the kommune and free to the public. The old cotton mill from 1896 when Vejle was the centre of the Danish textile industry has been restored and transformed into a home to some of Vejle’s new micro-industries and creative studios but is also home to a new heritage museum. The museum traces the history of the  town from Viking times through the time when it was known as the Manchester of Denmark to modern times. Although you would probably only spend an hour or so here it is well worth a visit. They currently have the famous bog body from Haraldskær on display and the interactive displays centred around her are fascinating even for non bog body geeks. DSC01069The highlight for us was the fantastic dance hall set up where you can get your disco moves on (and a variety of other dance styles) with an interactive screen and floor set up. My son and I had to be forcibly removed from this! There is a specific children’s section but I think the whole museum would be interesting for the whole family.IMG_0502

There were many other museums in the Vejle Museum family but sadly we didn’t have time to visit any others this time but here is information on them all.

Address: Spinderigade 11, 7100 Vejle  Website

Number Three – Kongernes JellingDSCN4293

The Kongernes Jelling experience centre and the UNESCO hertiage site is also well worth a visit, we tagged it onto our journey home after a day spent in Århus but I wish now we had allowed more time as there was so much more we wanted to see but ran out of time.

Again this is a free museum and a fabulous one at that. I have not seen the high level of interactivity in a visitors’ centre ever and I take my hat off to the team that worked on this place. Jelling is known as the birthplace of Denmark and famous for two massive rune stones, one of which is it said the word Denmark was first written. There are also two enormous burial mounds. No one can disagree that this is a massively significant place for Danish and Viking history but by opening such as amazing visitors’ centre on the site, the National Musuem of Denmark has made sure this is a location that fascinates and enthrals even the casual visitor.  Once again the policy to make the best use of the roof top when designing new buildings has come into play here. From the flat roof you can see over the burial mounds but the real innovation is the digital binoculars from which you can look in detail at the surrounding area not just as it is now but by using a dial you can change the view to times past to see how the area has changed and developed over the centuries. I may have mentioned before that we are fans of museums but this place made such an impression on my son, he is still talking about it. And to think that we nearly didn’t go, don’t make the same mistake!

Address: Gormsgade 23, 7300 Jelling  Website


Next time we are in Vejle, I would love to head over to Silkeborg Museum, further north to see Tollund Man, arguably the most famous bog body and also visit many more of the Viking and historic sights in the area. If you are looking for more inspiration check this website out.