Footprint Handbooks

Copenhagen (Footprint - Pocket Guides)

Sale price Price $22.01 Regular price

ISBN: 9781903471586
Publisher: Footprint Handbooks
Publication Date: 2003-03-01
Number of pages: 256
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Most cities come pre-packed these days and the adjectives that form the lightweight wrapping make unavoidable mental baggage for the independently-minded traveller. Barcelona is sexy and postmodern, Dublin is green and hip, Paris is Paris, and Copenhagen is hmm...? What do we say about the capital of Denmark, the land that gave us Lego, Lurpak and the snorkel? Saying it is understated chic hardly raises the blood pressure. We know it’s Scandinavian and that hints at the sensual and the liberated. An existentialist philosopher called Kierkegaard hailed from the city, and isn’t there some statue of a mermaid that keeps getting decapitated? All this is true but it hardly opens a window on the city’s soul. Copenhagen, in fact, is a serious contender for Europe’s best-kept secret. Surprise is the bonus that comes with a city that is not presented in tourist cellophane.

Low-key glamour

Tour buses disgorging swarms of camera-toting visitors are relatively uncommon. The tourist office brashly naming itself Wonderful Copenhagen is one of the few reminders that your visitor status is being marketed. It is because you rarely feel like a rubberneck that the city opens itself up in surprising ways. Sightseeing becomes a more personal odyssey than in most European capitals and Copenhagen’s world-class museums and art galleries, the city’s ever-so-literate awareness of architecture and design, and the everyday style and pace of life all become something to be discovered and experienced as new.

Tradition by design

The city’s physical face is essential to its style. It is small and so easy to get around. Everyone cycles, pedestrianized areas are common-place, and the legacy of 17th-century planning characterizes much of what is best about the shape and feel of the city. Canals and lakes, parks and palaces, the sombre and muted colours of buildings combine to evoke a sense of historical time that Copenhagen has no intention of relinquishing in the name of progress. Yet alongside this respect for the past and contempt for symbols of modernity, like skyscrapers, there is an eager anticipation for modern design. Architects and designers are household names, and it is not difficult to find hotels and restaurants that are proud - and not in the name-dropping sense - of their designer shower fittings, sofas or lamps.

On the road

Contraries coexist in and around Copenhagen. The medieval quarter of the city is a short bus ride away from the experimental ‘free city’ of Christiania; the traditional architecture of Malmö in Sweden is reached via Europe’s most ultra-modern bridge in little over half an hour; and speedy trains zip up to the New Zealand coast accessing the ancient castle of Shakespeare’s Hamlet; not forgetting one of the world’s finest galleries, by the sea, Louisiana.

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