Heatwave! Where to cool off in Copenhagen

Its been a bit of a scorcher here the last few weeks and it looks like it will be continuing well in to June. I shall resist the urge to talk about the climate but share some places to cool off!Usually when it gets hot in the city,  everyone heads down to the sea, whether it in the inner harbour, one of the urban beaches or out in a boat. I have always wanted to live by the sea and now that I do, I try to make the most of it. It only takes a quick walk along Amager Strandpark to remember why I love this city so much.

Here are some of the ways you can enjoy the sea right here in the city…

Public Buildings and bridges in the harbour – over the last decade or so city planners have been building a number of iconic modern public buildings such as the Opera, the Royal Playhouse, the Black Diamond and now Blox along the central part of the inner harbour, drawing people into this area and also complimenting the existing historic architecture. It is possible to walk along almost the complete length of the harbour from the Black Diamond to the Little Mermaid, with a few inland deviations.

The b promenade with a kayak slide and amazing views of the harbour opened a few years ago and has drawn people into what was previously a business area.

Halvandet and Reffen at Refshalevej, are great places to enjoy food and drinks with stunning city views.  You can reach this area by using the harbour boat bus and it a great place to chill out and watch the sunset.Free swimming in the harbour – just fifteen years ago it would have been unthinkable to be able to swim in the inner harbour. But now, not only do you see people simply diving from the edge of the harbour when the whim takes them,  but there are also a number of purpose build harbour swimming pools at Islands Brygge, Sluseholmen and Fisketorvet, which opened on June the first. There are pools for both adults and children and they are very popular.

Beaches close to the city – Again the city planners have come up trumps with the development of urban beaches within a fifteen minute public transport ride from the centre of the city. Amager Strand being the biggest, offering a long stretch of sandy beach, with a boardwalk and a swimming area as well as a lot of sport and leisure opportunities. It feels as if you are on holiday somewhere a lot further south than Copenhagen here. There is also a wooden swimming structure at the Kastrup end of the beach (close to the airport) called Kastrup Søbad, which is a great place to swim in the sea, without being in the open sea.

More recently, in 2010, Svanemøllen Beach was inaugurated. It provides 4,000 square metres of beach with family-friendly low waters as well as a 130 metre long pier providing direct access to deeper water. It is amazing to live in the urban area of Østerbro, hop on your bike and be swimming in the sea in less than fifteen minutes.

Just a short train ride away and you can find yourself at Bellevue Beach, where swimming is heavenly. My mum delighted in telling her French neighbours that she had swum in the Baltic sea on this very beach. The water here can reach around 22 degrees C on a hot day, as it can at Svanemølle Strand.

Boats – getting onto the water in the harbour and on the canals is an everyday thing for many people. Kayaking is very popular in Copenhagen and it is not uncommon to see people paddling at speed past all the main sights of the harbour. You can, of course, take a tourist boat tour but for the price of a normal public transport journey, why not hop on one of the harbour bus boats and see the harbour from one end to the other. For a leisurely pootle around with a picnic  Go Boats, solar powered boats, can be hired from Islands Brygge.

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If you want to see what the inner harbour is like on a sunny day check out my video on YouTube, where I take you up the harbour on the harbour bus.

A weekend walk in Østre Anlæg

I had another first at the weekend. Despite living in Østerbro and regularly visiting the SMK, I have never been to the park, Østre Anlæg, behind the museum until the weekend. We had been at an event at the SMK (more tomorrow) and as it was the start of the conker season, my son and I took a walk through Østre Anlæg towards Østerport Station and home. This was once part of the old city fortification and has three lakes, which were part of the former moat.img_6004

It was a lovely place to wander about as you keep coming upon little hidden oases. Much of the part has a casual and natural feel to it, which made it perfect for exploring but then you suddenly come upon structured areas with pergolas and laid out beds. It was a sunny afternoon but we practically had the park to ourselves. Defintiely adding this to our list of parks for autumn exploring as there is such a wide variety of trees here that the colours should be amazing. I will be back here to share that later in the season.img_6005

It is worth noting that there is a great children’s playground in the part closest to the SMK. You can see it from the back of the museum but it is a little hidden in the park.img_6006 img_6010 img_6011 img_6012

Amager Strand {from the archives}

I have always loved living by the sea and my university years spent in Swansea right on the sea cemented this love. It wasn’t until I moved to Copenhagen that I was able to live so close to the sea again.
The harbour in the city is a great way to enjoy the proximity to water but in just a short Metro ride you can be breathing in the real sea air at Amager Strand. This man made beach and lagoon can be reached by a short walk from three metro stations – Øresund, Amager Strand and Femøren.

The beach is almost five kilometers long and has a Blue Flag so if you are brave enough it is a super clean place to swim. A long boardwalk runs along the length of the beach and you can stroll, run, cycle or roller blade your cares away. There are a number of toilet and cafe blocks along the beach for that all important ice cream or bag of peas. There are lots of sporting activities on offer – their website has a list of events.

There is a fantastic view of Middelgrunden Wind Farm and Sweden in the distance.

{Originally posted May 15 2013}

Hidden Oasis in Østerbro

If you are walking along Classensgade and almost reach Strandboulevarden you would be forgiven for missing one of the loveliest hidden parks in Copenhagen. Classenshaven is reach thorough what, at first glance, looks like the entrance to the back yard of some neoclassical apartment blocks. Even on a hot Sunday afternoon it wasn’t that busy.DSC01774

This tranquil garden is the location of some former bomb shelters and was created in its current form in 1924 when the surrounding apartments were build. Previously it has been a deserted wilderness after the area, which had been part of a country estate, was razed to the ground during the 1807 British siege. It is now a peaceful spot with shady trees, beautiful flower beds, grass to laze on and a small children’s playground. DSC01763

It makes me want to be a child again, to explore all the hidden areas amongst the trees and imagine many wonderful adventures here.DSC01765 DSC01768 DSC01770 DSC01773

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More than a park to me

After a couple of days cooped up with my poorly son, on Friday I had a couple of hours before I had to get back to my desk to wander around my most favourite park in the city. This place holds so many memories for me and I love how the flowers and seasons change in this place.DSC01273

I have so many memories of this place. It was the first park we explored all those years ago when we moved to Bulowsvej. We would sit in the evening sunshine and enjoy a cold beer. I sat with friends and studied for our language school exams (read gossiped and sunbathed).  I sat under the trees the summer I was heavily pregnant reading trashy magazines and stroked my belly. I would walk my son around the paths as he slept in his pram as a tiny baby, thinking about how huge being a mum was. We used to take him here to try out his new talent of walking and the massive triumph of walking to the little viewing area over the duck pond. We would spot red squirrels, when they were still a novelty for me coming from the land of big bruiser greys. I wandered around the park with a friend from England looking for a famous tree (we never found it). It is place I always love to take my camera to, in every season. The rose garden holds some of the most fragrant roses in the city outside Tivoli. My son threw his water bottle in the pond when he was eighteen months old and discovered the first time his mummy couldn’t solve everything (although I came back later with a stick and fished it out). It was the place I went to four years ago almost to the day today and wept about leaving Copenhagen to move to Berlin…and one of the first places I came to when we returned two years later to reconnect with my city.

So many more memories. Definitely more than a park to me.DSC01277 DSC01280 DSC01281 DSC01282

Islands Brygge harbour swimming pool

The summer is finally here and we have had a run of a few sweltering days (something that still pleases me about living here) and it is the perfect time for swimming in the harbour. I had an exploration morning in Islands Brygge a few weeks ago (more discoveries to share soon) and popped into the harbour swimming baths to take a few photos. Generally photography here isn’t allowed to protect the privacy of scantily clad bathers, but as it was deserted bar the life guards they were happy for me to take some, so please excuse the grey skies. I see on their website that there are sometimes slots available for photography so if this interests you keep an eye on it.DSC00984Even on a cold summer day, they tell me it gets busy in the mornings and after work when keen swimmers come to train. It was my first time inside the compound and it looked like to would be very inviting on a hot day. DSC00987The children’s pool has a base but is fed from the harbour and the deeper pool has a net across the bottom so you can’t swim out into the main part of the harbour. Definitely add this to your summer holiday to do list but be prepared to share it with many others on a hot day or get braver and come when the temperatures drop.DSC00986All the harbour pools are open until the end of August. For more information on opening times (they vary through the season) of this and other harbour pools visit their website here.

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Five Copenhagen cemeteries to visit

Five Ways-14Cemeteries in Copenhagen are more than places of rest. They cover large, beautiful spaces in the city and many people use them, respectfully, as places to relax, sunbathe and picnic. It became very popular in the 1800s for city dwellers to come out with picnic baskets to the new, large cemeteries created after the Plague of 1711 to enjoy the peaceful fresh air.

The main large cemeteries in Copenhagen have very much been laid out and designed to be used as much by the living as the dead. Spring and summer time is the perfect time to visit them as the undisturbed nature of the ground makes for the perfect environment for nature to flourish naturally.

Many are the final resting place of famous Danes and you can usually find a guide to this on a board near the entrances.

Bispebjerg Kirkegård, Nordvest

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A visit to the Nordvest area of Copenhagen may not be on everyone’s list but it is worth making the journey to visit what is considered to be one of the most beautiful avenues of trees in the city in Bispebjerg Cemetery this spring. Poppelalle runs from Grundtvigts Church to Utterlev Mose and its cherry trees were one of the most Instagrammed areas of the city this year. But there is much more to this cemetery than the cherry blossoms.

The cemetery was first established in 1903 and has a section dedicated to soldiers and resistance fighters from the Second World War as well as the graves of notable Danes such as Poul Henningsen. In the summer you can join tours of the cemetery to learn more of its history.

Vester Kirkegård, ValbyIMG_0287photo credit

This is the largest cemetery in Denmark and contains many religious sections including a Muslim and Jewish section. It was created in 1870 and is a lush green maze of groves, open lawns, ponds, benches and special pavilion for contemplation known as the Crossroads Project. In Spring you can also see magnificent cherry blossom here and in the autumn wonderful leaf colours.

Famous people buried here include Knud Rasmussen, polar explorer and Thorvald Stauning, the first Social Democrat Prime Minister of Denmark.

Holmens Kirkegård, Østerbro

This is the oldest cemetery (established in 1666) still in use in Copenhagen and is somewhat tucked away close to the American Embassy. It was original for Danish Naval sailors and their families but is now not restricted.

Like all large cemeteries here, it us beautifully laid out with loads of lovely peaceful places to relax. The key things to see is the memorial for the Naval personnel killed in the Battle of Copenhagen in 1802.

Famous people laid here include Lotte Torp, Danish actress, Kjeld Petersen, film and stage actor, Nils Middelboe, footballer and Emma Gad, satirical writer and socialite.

Assistens Cemetery

Probably the most famous cemetery in Copenhagen. It was opened in 1760 to open more burial space for poor people after the Plague of 1711. It is, however, the finally resting place of probably the most famous Dane, HC Andersen as well as Søren Kirkrgård.

The poplar avenue running from Jagtvej makes an amazing sight and you can also visit the Herman Stilling Museum here.

Frederiksberg CemeteryIMG_9576This is another cemetery of note, established in 1734, and is the oldest in Frederiksberg. The very traditional Danish style church here is beautiful and the cemetery is lovely to explore with many internal walls creating an almost secret garden feel.

Cycling Kystvejen

A few weekends ago I decided to pop my bike on the S train from Svanemøllen up to Klampenborg and cycle back home from there, taking in the whole coast road. Previously I have only ever been in a car on this journey and I thought it would be good to be able to stop and admire the views. It was my first time on the train with a bike and I was amazed that I remembered to get a cycle ticket!CIMG7636

I started at Bellevue Beach and what a difference from July when we swam in the sea and sat crammed in with other sunbathers. It was just as lovely but in a different way. The grey skies and calm sea were the perfect way to blow away to cobwebs. It was entertaining to see the reaction of Japanese tourists to naked winter swimmers.CIMG7638 CIMG7644 CIMG7656 CIMG7657 CIMG7659

I then began my cycle home. It started off nicely. I admired majestic buildings like this one below and stopped to look at the Knud Rasmussen statue. I later found out more about this explorer here.CIMG7660 CIMG7665

The going then got a little tougher, the sun came out and I started to feel a little sweaty. I could see Svanemøllen Power Station a long way in the distance and it didn’t seem to get any closer. The lovely sea views became a little less lovely and finally I reached Charlottenlund Fort. With some relief I stopped and took some photos for this post. The thought of the final, relatively short, stretch of the journey seemed almost too far but I made it home with a camera full of lovely photos and the enjoyment of the sea in my mind and sweat on my brow- maybe next time I might hop on a train sooner (or get significantly fitter!)CIMG7675 CIMG7677 CIMG7684 CIMG7688 CIMG7691

Autumn in Assistens Cemetery

Assistens Cemetery, in Nørrebro, (location of HC Andersen’s grave as well as a number of other famous Danes) was the last on my list of places to visit this autumn. This year I have found that I have learnt a lot about what trees are best for autumn colours and I think I can safely say that the poplars on the main avenue in the cemetery are not that pretty in autumn. The leaves barely turned before the trees became skeletons. Nevertheless this avenue does have a certain something to it, I think you’ll agree.IMG_8555

There was plenty of other pretties to admire though and the confetti-like nature of these leaves is rather special. It seems just the other day I sharing blossom with you and now its autumn leaves. This year we have been able to enjoy the autumn foliage longer as last year there was a major storm that took them all down prematurely.

Winter weather has truly arrived here now but the autumn colours are clinging on – at least for now.IMG_8556 IMG_8557

Charlottenlund Fort

On my list for autumn visits was Charlottenlund Fort. This was a military fort built in 1886 to protect Copenhagen from the North and also from the sea and had some of the biggest canons in Denmark at the time. It was operational into the 20th Century but is now a beautiful place to walk around and look out to sea. There is also a lovely beach front area which, on the day I visited, was popular with winter swimmers and kayakers, no doubt it gets busy in the summer. I am delighted that such wonderful places are only a short cycle ride from my home.CIMG7692 CIMG7693 CIMG7712 charlottenlund views charlottenlund