Why Copenhagen with kids? I love to travel. I love that every place feels different when you step off the airplane. I love that the buildings, smells, colors, and people are striking and unique. I love that a simple cup of coffee is a different experience in two countries. I’ve had a “kaapi” or filtered coffee in India outside a crowded bazaar and a flat white on the banks of the Sydney harbor, staring at the Sydney opera house. And now that we are seemingly past some of the darkest days of COVID and the world has opened again, and my babies are no longer babies but kids ready to see the world, I am thrilled that we have booked our first family trip abroad.
Why Copenhagen, Denmark with Kids:
This part, choosing our destination, was surprisingly easy. Why? Because Rome wasn’t built in a single day, I have no desire to take on more than I think we can handle. I want our first trip abroad to be manageable and fabulous, so we all feel ready and excited to do it again and perhaps stretch ourselves more. I am a list person. A spreadsheet person and a list person. So I made a list of my top priorities. Are you ready for this? Here we go:
1. Direct Flights, Under 10 Hours:
After traveling across the country almost annually since my babies were born and dabbling in all kinds of flight patterns and stops, I fly direct. I’ve found that for the few hundred dollars I saved by stopping, I ended up paying for it. We were exhausted and cranky after a 12+ hour travel day, and the number of goodies we needed to purchase to keep us all going was half the cost of what we’d saved anyway. So when possible, I get us to our destination as quickly as possible and save our energy for the good stuff. Copenhagen checked this box. Scandinavian Airlines flies directly from Washington, DC Dulles Airport (IAD) to Kastrup Copenhagen Airport (CPH) in 8 hours.
2. Kid-Friendly Food
My kids are good eaters most days. But they are kids and eat best when given kid-friendly meals: Denmark = Danish pancakes. I didn’t want to make any broad assumptions, though, so I did a fair amount of research on this too. We’re going to be based in Copenhagen but taking day trips in and out of the city, some to smaller towns and villages. What can I find that my kids will eat on those days? VisitDenmark.com’s article 8 Traditional Danish Foods seemed like a reliable source, and I was thrilled to read that Danish pastries are a staple, as are pan-fried meatballs or frikadeller. Hot Dogs aren’t only common but a “cultural institution,” and street vendors line the sidewalks of many main streets. I’m confident that not only will we find kid-friendly meals while we are there, but the Danish specialties are foods my kids will love!
3. Kid-Friendly Activities
The third and final priority on my decision-making list was the activities. I knew I wanted to go somewhere I’d never been before, and I love Europe. We’ve gone on several beach trips and have access to beautiful beaches along the east coast, so I didn’t want a beach to be a part of our vacation. I wanted a walkable European city with day trips to exciting places for our family. Copenhagen is precisely that.
Activities In and Around Copenhagen with Kids
As mentioned, family-friendly activities are a must for any travel. These three places are on our must-do list.
1. Home of the Brick: LEGO House and LEGOLAND Billund Resort
With a bit of research, and unbeknownst to me, LEGOs are Danish. The building bricks my kids love started when a Danish carpenter’s financial troubles led him to start making wooden building blocks. He named his company LEGO, a combination of the Danish words “at lege,” “to play,” and “godt,” “good.” Billund is home to the start of LEGO, LEGOLAND, and LEGO House. LEGO House is what you won’t find anywhere else. It’s home to 25 million LEGO bricks, all kinds of LEGO experiences, and MiniChef – the onsite restaurant where you “build” your meal and order with LEGOs.
Billund is nearly a 3-hour train ride from Copenhagen. But riding a regional train in Europe is a tremendous experience and one we’re looking forward to with the kids. We’ll be staying two nights at the LEGOLAND resort in Billund, and I know it will be worth every minute. For more inspiration, watch this documentary on LEGO House and the history behind LEGO.
2. Tivoli Gardens
People of all ages have enjoyed Tivoli Gardens, the world’s second-oldest theme park, since 1843. Located in Copenhagen’s heart, the amusement park inspired Walt Disney to build Disneyland. It offers much more than roller coaster rides, including stunning outdoor performances and fireworks. I was sold that this wonderland is just a 10-minute walk from our home base. It’s not the Louvre. But my husband and I are 100% kids at heart. We will experience the Louvre one day, perhaps with our adult children. But for now, while they are the precious ages of 4 and 6, having something magical right next to us is perfect and a great way to break up our mini-adventures in the city.
3. Viking Museum
Located in Roskilde, only a 50-minute train ride from Copenhagen is the Viking Ship Museum. The main attraction of the museum is its five original Viking ships. Responsible for the founding of the Scandinavian countries, the ships are over 1,000 years old. Guests can also witness live reconstruction of other Viking ships. This is for sure on our agenda. It’s educational and a great glimpse into Denmark’s foundation.
It’s important to me that we spend time as a family learning about where we are. The kids are sponges right now. They are curious and want to learn. We’re so lucky that we have the means to travel abroad. We have a tremendous opportunity to expose the kids to history and culture different from ours. It might be ambitious, but I hope our international trips expand their perspective and influence who they choose to be as they grow.
So that’s it! I’ll be posting more articles on how I plan to pack (hello, packing cubes) and our actual day-by-day itinerary soon! In the meantime, we can’t wait to visit Copenhagen with kids!