Copenhagen: The Essentials

Hej! Hope you’re well and welcome to the the next instalment of my Essentials series – Copenhagen! This gorgeous city is only a short flight away from the UK, and I would definitely recommend it if you’re after a small break – or even a week, as it certainly packs a punch.

I have listed the essentials for your trip, from how to get there, to what to do and eat when you’re there, enjoy!

The Currency

Danish krone, which holds a pretty big exchange difference to the British pound. Reading menus priced 251 DK for a meal certainly causes a shock, but that sits at around £30. Before the trip I was advised by several people to consider Copenhagen to be an expensive city, but after going myself I would liken it to London pricing. So if you’re a Londoner you might not be too shocked…!

As always, my recommendation for bank cards abroad would be Monzo as I think it has a really great exchange rate and is accepted mostly everywhere. But don’t forget to check before you travel!

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Getting There

By plane is the best way to get there from the UK, as it’s only an hour and a half flight. Copenhagen airport is also the nicest airport terminal I think I’ve ever been in. It was like an airport terminal that had been dropped into a nice shopping mall, with plenty of places to stop for something to eat, drink and shop.

Once you’re at the airport you can easily get into the city centre via the metro which runs straight from the station. We paid around £12 for a 24 hour tourist travel pass which we could use on the metro and the bus system that came in handy to get us to our apartment.

Uber isn’t available in Copenhagen – the city is very bike friendly after all – so if you want to get a taxi into the city centre it might set you back a bit.

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Travelling Around

Bike! The Danish are famous for their cycling and in Copenhagen it’s certainly a bike friendly city. You can rent bikes from shops dotted all over the city, but we used an app called Donkey Republic and it was such a great experience. It’s very similar to Ofo or like our Lime experience, where you use an app to unlock bikes dotted all over the city. You can rent them from 2 hours to 12 days, and we chose to book them 24 hours at a time which worked out really well for our 50 hour trip!

You can use the app to find bikes, unlock and lock them up and also to ‘dock’ them when you’re finished at ‘hubs’ across the city. The cost of hiring them every day came to around £12 each, which I think is a pretty good deal for a 24 hour rental. There are also bike hire shops dotted all around the city if technology isn’t your thing, but the ease of locking the bikes up and ending our rental.

If cycling isn’t your thing then the city’s public transport system is pretty great. Buses, tubes and also water buses are included in travel passes you can buy for varying durations if you need.

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Dishes you needed to Eat:

Danish Pastries

I mean, if you’re going to Denmark, you have to have the danish pastries right? When I woke up on our first morning there I googled danish bakeries near us and walked along in the sun to pick up a coffee and two ‘morning buns’. Safe to say they were absolutely incredible, so much so that we went back again Monday to pick up some more…

Danish bakeries are dotted all around Copenhagen, and if only I had more mornings I would’ve tried to experience some more…

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Smørrebrød

Another Danish staple we had to tick off the list was Smørrebrød, which you can find in most danish restaurants. Pickled herring is a common and traditionally danish topping to have on your rye bread, but there are plenty of toppings that can be found in carious restaurants, varying from the wonderful to the weird.

They’re a great option for a budget lunch as cheaper lunches aren’t that easy to come by in Copenhagen. Plus they’re handy if you can’t decide how much you want to eat – you can mix and match to your hearts desire…

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Bits to see:

The Little Mermaid

The infamous aquatic heroine from Hans Christian Andersen’s story sits on a rock at the edge of the sea. This famous statue is placed by the waterside, and is definitely worth a walk along the coast – or even a bike ride – to go and visit. She is a lot smaller than you’d expect, but I would say a definite sight to see if you visit Copenhagen.

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The Round Tower – Rundetaarn

There are a few viewpoints you can visit in Copenhagen to see across the city, but one of the top on my list was The Round Tower, which is an astronomical observatory. I’d seen pictures online and can confirm from what I’ve seen that it really has gorgeous interiors, and it’s not too hard to walk up!

The inside of the tower circles up, so it doesn’t feel like you’re climbing up too much as it might do with steps. And if you have children, or fancy the challenge yourself, there’s an interactive ‘map’ with numbers that go up the tower. Tickets are only 25 DKK (around £3) so it’s not too expensive either.

Once you get to the top you can see across the city (on a good day of course), and you can also visit the large telescope at the top of the building.

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Nyhavn

The infamous and picturesque area of Copenhagen is very popular with tourists, and is lined with cafes and restaurants that cater to that crowd. We did stop there for dinner and it wasn’t too expensive if you consider the majority of Copenhagen restaurants are quite expensive anyway.

If it’s a lovely day like we had it’s really nice to sit outside and people watch with an Aperol Spritz in hand. If you want to take a canal tour (more on that later) then that’s where the tourist boats pick you up and drop you off.

If you just want to explore it’s fun to walk along the row of colourful houses and take in the gorgeous view of the river and the boats lining the harbor edge.

Tivoli Gardens

To our shame we didn’t actually visit the infamous gardens, but they hold one of the oldest theme parks in Europe. It costs to get into the gardens and then extra to go on the rides, but they are open for the summer and then decorated especially and re-opened for Halloween and Christmas. So if you’re there around those times maybe pop by to take a look!

If you have the time:

Canal Tour

There are plenty of canal tours on offer around Copenhagen, from the more touristy options to off-the-beaten-track options. We opted for Hello Sailor, which we actually found on Airbnb. For £25 an hour, and on a much smaller boat than the larger tourist options, we were sailed around the canals with complimentary wine and beer.

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Trip to Malmo

Whereas this wasn’t something we had the time to do, it came highly recommended to us as but something to do if you have more time in your trip. A train to Malmo in Sweden is only 35 minutes and runs every 20 minutes, so it’s super easy to hop over to a different country – just don’t forget to bring your passport!

This fun expedition can just be to explore a new little town, but it’s also right by the ocean so you can take a dip in the sea or pay a visit to Ribersborgs Kallbadhus, which is the outdoor bathing pools. But don’t bring your trunks as they won’t be needed – only skinny dipping here!

Cycle Further out of the City

If I haven’t gone on about it enough already, it’s safe to say cycling really is one of the best things to do in Copenhagen to see the sights and also just to enjoy a few hours exploring.

If you have more time than just a few days in the city definitely get on a bike and look up a cycle route. When we were there we looked up the best route to cycle out to see The Little mermaid and it took us along some cycle paths with great views along the way.

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Anywho, I hope you enjoyed the latest addition to my Essentials series, if you’re planning on visiting Copenhagen soon let me know in the comments! More posts in this Essentials series will be coming soon, but in the meantime check out my Instagram @GrundyTravels for the latest updates!

Thanks for reading x

Why I’ll Always Return to Greece

When I was younger I used to bemoan my parents taking us on the same camping holiday every year to the same place (and yes I’m aware how spoilt-young-child that sounds). But, as a young kid I couldn’t get my head around why you’d return to the same place again and again, year on year. Well, now I’m older and going on my own self-funded holidays, I’ve realised why – if it’s not broke, don’t fix it after all.

If you find a perfect holiday formula that combines the things you love, why would you want anything else? Bear with me here, but it’s what my parents did – their formula involved camping, 6 hour car journeys each way and their delightful children, but it worked for them, and now we all have lovely memories of those holidays together. For me – and my fiance – Greece is the place (or.. as I should say, the group of islands) that we can’t stop returning to, and I’m not sure we’ll ever be able to break the habit.

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I’m well aware we’ve barely covered any ground when it comes to Greece, as we’ve only visited Corfu, Santorini, Mykonos and Zakynthos, which is the tip of the iceberg. Greece has 6,000 Islands – of which only 227 are inhabited, so we’ve only dipped our toe in the beautiful Greek waters to come. There are so many islands I want to visit, and even then I’ve not mentioned the mainland Greek destinations of Athens and Thessaloniki.

I’m certainly no expert when it comes to Greece, so please be aware before I launch into my love letter of all the things that bring me back, I know there is plenty more to this Country and I can’t wait to find it all. It’s not all picturesque white buildings! The thing that always draws us back is our favourite formula for a holiday, perfect weather, incredible food and friendly and generous locals. Yes, it’s the thing at the moment to head off to Santorini for the postcard picture view, but I’d make an argument for Zakynthos as being equally as gorgeous – and 100x less busy.

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It’s a perfect place for a budget holiday – you can find cheap flights, and little B&Bs and reasonable dinners at tiny little tavernas. The fish is often freshly caught and prepared, so you get the best food available, and you can taste it. I’m an absolute sucker for calamari (like the pun?) and Greece is the only place I’ve been where I’ll order it off the menu and be met with a mound of little squids enough to feed a village. Greek Salad, Moussaka, Gyros, anything you like – I’ve genuinely never had a terrible Greek meal, and don’t get me started on the wine.

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Every time we’ve stayed on a Greek island, the hospitality and warmth we’ve been shown has been second to none. We’ve actually never stayed a chain hotel on our trips to Greece, sticking mainly to little B&Bs which are family run, and we’ve always had great experiences with staff willing to help, pick us up from the airport and help us book excursions. I’d definitely recommend the hotels (links included) we’ve been to in Santorini, Mykonos and Zakynthos as they were budget-friendly places with incredibly helpful staff.

And then there’s the view. There really is nothing like looking out over the crystal blue sea, whilst lounging on gorgeous sandy beaches – in some instances sand black from local volcanoes, which makes it more picturesque. Instagram is awash with photos of the usual – more famous – tourist views, but there’s gorgeous areas to see off the beaten track as well.

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I think this love letter has become pretty rambly so I’m going to wrap it up before I go on too much… But I think you can tell from this that my love for Greece is very strong. We’re intending on visiting again next year, and need to pick the next Island. I’m thinking Rhodes.. or maybe Thassos??

If you have any Greek recommendations please send them my way, I can’t wait to go back. In the meantime you can find my snaps – the majority of them of our Greek travels – on my Instagram here

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

How To Plan A Surprise Trip

After what feels like 10,000 days of holding in a pretty big secret, I can finally reveal that I am off to Copenhagen this weekend!

Initially I wasn’t going to write a post about planning a surprise trip because I honestly didn’t think there would be too much to it. But how wrong I was. Throughout the past 4 months I’ve been secret squirreling on my own to plan a surprise trip to Copenhagen for my boyfriend as a gift for his birthday. Throughout the way I have learnt a lot and I wanted to share in case it inspires your or helps you if you intent to do the same.

Little White Lies

If there’s one thing that’s really been handy, it’s that my boyfriend was already expecting a trip somewhere. That somewhere wasn’t where we’re going – I initially told him we were doing a staycation to compensate for the money we need to save in anticipation for Australia next year.

Therefore I managed to avoid completely going ninja, and contact his work about secret annual leave or trying to co-ordinate his weekend plans so he had absolutely nothing organised on the weekend I want to take him away.

If you have nerves of steel and luck on your side then you can try and do it without your surprise knowing anything, but I would definitely recommend laying down some sort of expectation that they’re going somewhere, even if the exact location is still under wraps.

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You will almost slip up quite a lot

The amount of times I have almost slipped up that we’re off to Copenhagen is ridiculous, and not in the ways I would expect. For example, my in-laws were talking about their upcoming trip and the amount of times I almost let slip that I had heard of what they were talking about, or I knew anything more about Copenhagen than you would if you hadn’t been researching it every day for the past few months was ridiculous.

ALSO, thanks to this internet world of cookies it also meant every time I would research Copenhagen it would follow through to my social media adverts. Making sure my other half didn’t spot anything caused quite a few hair-raising moments, but hopefully he didn’t notice a thing.

Unsubscribe From all your emails

Mainly because I had booked this trip so far in advance, it meant I was then completely swarmed by contact check up emails from the airlines and Airbnb – ‘Are you ready for Copenhagen, Fiona?’ and ‘Do you need to rent a car in Copenhagen, Fiona?’ were daily occurrences in my email inbox, and whereas I’m lucky my boyfriend would never care to login and read my emails, the amount of times I opened my emails to have those subjects blaring in bold at me were too many.

Unsubscribe, from them all. even if you’re not planning a surprise trip, unsubscribe. There’s too many to handle.

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Don’t over-plan

My final point is essentially – plan the essentials – your travel, your accommodation and some basic outlines of what to do. But don’t overdo it. Whereas planning a surprise trip for someone is a lovely thing to do it might be a bit overwhelming to receive a completely planned to-the-t trip when you were just expecting a mini spa break in the Cotswolds.

For this trip I have made my boyfriend I have made a ‘Guide to Copenhagen’ which lists the basics of our trip, and then options for while we’re there. Even though the flights and accommodation were really cheap for this trip I’m aware I have booked him a holiday to one of the most expensive European cities, so I’ve left plenty of leeway for us to not go overboard on spending whilst we’re there.

Nothing ruins a lovely surprise holiday by then expecting the person to fork out hundreds of pounds to enjoy themselves when they’re there, so I’ve listed a few options we can do when we’re in Copenhagen – Free walking tours, options for dinner and even excursions we can do if he wants.

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Anyway, as this post goes live I’ve just given my boyfriend his gift and I’m glad to report it went down very well! Finally sharing the secret has made me so excited!

I hope you’ve enjoyed this post about how to plan a surprise trip, I hope it helps any of you planning something similar. Posts on Copenhagen will be coming soon, but in the meantime, you can find my other Insta snaps on my Instagram @GrundyTravels

Thanks for reading x

Best Alternative Ways to See Your Holiday

I’m not sure it’s just me who thinks this every time I go away, but there’s always a part of me that wants to know the best way to see where I’m going. After years of thinking this and wanted to find the right or best way to look around it occurred to me that there isn’t a best way, different approaches work for different folks after all, but I have had my fair share of alternative experiences.

If you’re ever off on a holiday and you don’t fancy following the herd there are plenty of alternative ways to see the sites that may even save you some pennies and your queuing time. I’ve tried all of the below in recent holidays and can confirm they’re definitely a great alternative way to see a new location in ways I hadn’t thought.

So if you’d like to be inspired, please read on….

Hire Your Own Boat

Yes I may have harked on about this enough over the past year, but one of my hands-down favourite experiences has to be hiring our own boat on our holiday to Zakynthos. It doesn’t require a lot of expertise to do so (although it does require a EU driving license and a bucket load of patience) and it’s 100% worth the effort.

Whereas it may seem quite pricey to hire out your own little boat it often doesn’t differ that much to the price of boat trip tickets and the advantage is you can experience the ocean and whichever pit stops you want all on your own schedule. Of course, the more of you there are in your group then the cheaper your boat will be, but it’s a great way to go on a private boat trip with just your friends, and not the rest of the tourists at your chosen location.

Personally for me this was a great way to experience the Greek waters surrounding Zakynthos, and I preferred it in comparison to the group boat trip we took earlier that week. Spending some time on the ocean just us two, on our own schedule and being able to pitch up and stop wherever we liked was a wonderful and unique experience that we both count as the highlight of our holiday.

Free walking Tours

One of the best discoveries from my interrail trip many years ago was to sign up to every free walking tour in each city we stopped at, and it’s something I’ve made an effort to do everywhere we’ve gone ever since. Granted they’re not really free as you really should tip at the end – but they do stress it should be to whatever means you can so it can suit whatever budget you’re on.

So far I’ve experience free walking tours in Berlin, Edinburgh, Prague, Krakow, Amsterdam, Budapest and Zagreb and each time it’s been a great asset to our visit. The amount you learn and experience along the way is always so interesting and fun, and I’ve never met a tour guide I haven’t liked!

They’re often full of extra tips, performances. It’s a great way to see the city, experience stories and history that you might not have been able to feel from a guide book. If you’re a solo traveller it’s also a great way to meet other tourists and – especially when we were interrailing – the majority of the guides would finish off at the pub so we could all mingle and have a drink together.

Cycling Tours

Hear me out here – cycling tours are the best. I’m not a frequent or even a confident cyclist but my boyfriend signed us up for this tour in Lisbon and it was one of the best parts of our trip. It was a great way to experience the city and to cover a lot more ground than you can in a walking tour in the same amount of time. Even though I wasn’t the most confident cyclist, it wasn’t hard to pick up the rules and to follow the herd along the way.

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Or Hire Your Own

If following the herd isn’t your cup of tea then why not hire your own bikes or even electric scooters and take your own tour around your new territory? I recently tried out Lime in Paris, but the concept of hiring bikes with just your phone is popping up all over Europe, and is a cost effective and easy to use route.

Granted you don’t get the tour guide to show you around or explain your surroundings, but if you like to fly solo then this may work best for you. If you’re on your own why not download a tour to your phone like PocketGuide and listen along as you explore on your own?

Rooftop Bars

Sorry if you’re a regular reader of Grundy Travels as I do harp on about this quite a lot. I am an absolute sucker for a rooftop bar! Personally a trip to a rooftop bar always works out better than paying for a ticket to the top of your nearest tourist trap. Why have a great view when you can have that and a drink in your hand? Exactly.

You’re far less likely to have to queue for a rooftop bar – although to be fair you might have to shuffle your way to the front for good views, but if you stay long enough (and why wouldn’t you) then the views are definitely worth it.

I hope you enjoyed this post and that it has provided some inspirations for any trips you may be going on. Any of the above have always worked brilliantly for me, and are always on the top of the list of things to look for when I’m visiting a new city!

Anyway, more travel updates and pictures are updated daily on my Instagram @GrundyTravels. Thanks for reading!