Sitting on the east coast of Denmark, Copenhagen has been that country's capital for 600 years and is the largest city in Scandinavia with a population of 1.7 million people. It's home to the world's oldest monarchy (King Erik VII set up permanent residence in 1417) and its present queen, Margrethe II, currently lives at Amalienborg Palace.
In a country rich in Viking history, grand castles and lush green countryside, Copenhagen is a charming city of 17th- and 18th-century buildings, beautiful parks and gardens, pretty canal promenades, and ancient winding streets made for walking and biking. During the longer days and warmer weather of summer, outdoor cafe-sitting and outings to the magical Tivoli Gardens are highlights.
Copenhagen recently marked the 200th anniversary of the birth of Hans Christian Andersen, the legendary and magical writer of such fairy tales as "The Little Mermaid" and "The Princess and The Pea."
At any time, getting your bearings in old Copenhagen is easy; it's a warren of pedestrian streets, bounded by Norreport Station, Town Hall Square and the Central Train Station. Stroget, which is an amalgamation of five streets -- Frederiksberggade, Nygade, Vimmelskaftet, Amagertorv and Ostergade -- runs practically smack-dab through the center of the city between Radhuspladsen and Kongens Nytorv. Pistolstraede is chock-a-block with galleries, restaurants and boutiques; Fiolstraede is for antiques galore; and Nyhavn is where some of the most expensive restaurants are located.
It's an expensive city, and yet a visit here is worth the splurge. One way to save money is to pick up a cOPENhagen CARD, which offers unlimited free access by bus and rail throughout the metropolitan area for one or three days, as well as complimentary admission to more than 60 sites and museums. Up to two children under the age of 10 are allowed free with each adult card.
--written by Carolyn Spencer Brown