Day 7: The Kastellet and Harbor

by | Feb 19, 2024 | Denmark

Table of Contents

Walk to the Kastellet

The last full day of my trip to Copenhagen; this is a beautiful city that I hope to return to in the next couple of years or sooner (wink wink).  This was the furthest North I have ever been on the ground; polar flights don’t count, and the first trip to a large European city where I didn’t do much research. I want to visit more churches here on future trips, and the museums look interesting.  I would also like to venture into more of the countryside outside of Copenhagen; I could even be talked into a return trip to Malmö.

When it comes to experiencing the highs and lows of a city, the number of highs typically outweighs the lows. However, it is not uncommon to encounter unsavory characters around train and metro stations, and Copenhagen is no exception in this regard. Unfortunately, it is also true that many countries around the world struggle with issues related to drug use. If someone assures you that a particular country does not have a problem with hard drugs, it would be wise to exercise caution and seek out additional information to confirm or refute their claim.

Not sure why I kept the camera in the bag for so long and relied on the iPhone

The goal for today was to spend some time wandering around the North end of central Copenhagen or Frederiksstaden and the Kastellet.


I made my way north through Vesterboro. Vesterbro is a trendy neighborhood in Copenhagen known for its vibrant nightlife, stylish restaurants, and eclectic shops. The area was once a working-class district, but it has undergone significant transformation in recent years to become one of the more desirable neighborhoods in the city. Vesterbro has several notable landmarks, including the famous Tivoli Gardens, the Copenhagen Central Station, and the Meatpacking District. Visitors can explore the many cafes and bars that line the streets or simply wander through the charming parks and squares that are scattered throughout the neighborhood. Whether you are looking for a lively night out or a casual stroll through a picturesque neighborhood, Vesterbro is definitely worth a visit.

Bikes Bikes and more Bikes

On an average day in Denmark, each person rides a bike roughly 1 mile, or in total, bikes are ridden nearly 6 million miles daily in Denmark. Seventy percent of Danes own bikes; that number is greater than ninety percent in Copenhagen. The great thing is that it all works together; there are sidewalks for pedestrians, bike lanes for bikes Duh, and a roadway for cars and trucks. The great thing is that everyone stays in their lane, unlike in Poland, where people on bikes will run you over! Not sure how it all works in the suburbs and rural areas, but I hope to find that out if/when I return.

Bike dealer
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Bike store

Palace Theater
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Palace Theater, the largest movie theater in Denmark

Copenhagen Street
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Copenhagen street scene

Bird Houses
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Colorful bird houses 

Joe and the juice
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My well-balanced lunch at Joe And The Juice, at Trinitas church


Along the Eastern fence of The Kings Garden, or Kronprinsessegade, are about 10 little artisan shops. 

Saint Paul’s Church

Saint Paul’s is a beautiful church with a bit of a troubled past. In the 18th and early 19th century, many people were migrating to Copenhagen from rural areas of Denmark, I think because of the promise of the Industrial Revolution jobs, which turned the area into a slum.  Several influential citizens petitioned the city for funds to build a new church to take the pressure off of Trinitas church, and after about 10 years of fighting red tape, the foundation of St Paul’s was laid in 1872, and in early 1877, the church was dedicated. The church has struggled through the years, to the point of the threat of closure in 2012, which was fought off by the parish council. In 2014, St Paul’s received a new priest, Kathrine Lilleør, who, at this writing (Feb 2024), appears to be growing the congregation to an average of 200 in attendance each Sunday. 

For more information, their website is here (Danish)

The Christmas Tree Battle

In front of St Paul’s is a little plads or square, where there is a Juletræ (Christmas Tree) seller, with a wide range of trees from about a foot tall to what looked to be about 15 feet tall, really nice guys that insisted in moving their truck so I could get some pictures of the church. 

So I am just taking some pictures of this beautiful church when I hear these two small boys yelling, “Nej far nej far!” no dad, no dad! “Mor vil have et højt træ” Mom wants a tall tree, 

I look over, and one of the Christmas tree guys is holding up this < 2-foot tall Charlie Brown-looking tree, with a big grin on his face; Dad is smiling and nodding his head yes; the boys are pulling Dad away to the taller trees, saving him from the wrath of mom. The tree guy calls over to Dad and raises up another 2-footer; Dad replies Ja Ja, the kids yell Nej in unison; this goes back and forth a few times. The boys pulled Dad to the other side of the trees when the tree guys pulled out an 8-foot tree that the other tree guy was putting a base on during this epic battle, Dad said Ja and nodded yes, and the boys automatically yelled, nej nej,  then look over and see the 8-foot tree and running over with huge smiles yelling Ja Ja! The boys supervised the loading of the tree onto a cargo bike for delivery. 

That event makes me smile every time the pictures pop up.

Kastellet Neighborhood

These long houses intrigue me. First of all, they are literally a block long, they appear to be identical, and they are all painted the same weird color: orange. They do appear to be different from street to street, but the entire block looks to be the same.  The original outer defenses of the Kastellet are now a park with playgrounds and various statues. They are so generic and identical that I wonder if there were once Barracks to the Kastellet.


The Kastellet in Copenhagen is this cool star-shaped fortress that’s not just a military site but also a public park. Built way back in the 17th century, it’s one of the best-preserved fortresses in Europe, which is pretty impressive. Walking along its ramparts, where you get wrapped up in the relaxing park-like atmosphere, and you can see across the city and the harbor. It’s a great mix of history, with those old buildings and cannons, and nature, thanks to the lush greenery. Locals love jogging here, and tourists find it a neat spot to chill and soak in some Danish history.

No longer an actual fort, it is now primarily home to various agencies of the Danish Defense Department, and I am sure there are other activities, throughout the year.  Up on the ramparts, there are some great views, some cannons, and an old-school windmill that I believe was used not only to provide drinking water for the fort but also to keep the moats full in times of siege.

Kastellete on a cold December day.

Returning Via the Harbor

I considered splitting this into 2 articles since it was starting to get long, and I decided just to continue on with a single article.  

It was getting late, and the weather was getting ugly; a light mist was falling, not bad, but just enough to help the cold get into your bones. 

Leaving the Kastellet and heading south, I know that on a cold winter day, the Copenhagen harbor takes on a different atmosphere yet remains equally enchanting. The haze and fading sunlight cast a somewhat eerie pall over buildings in the distance. Walking south from the Little Mermaid statue, the air is crisp and refreshing, with a faint scent of salt from the nearby sea. 

The Opera House

Passing by the “Royal Pavilions,” the distinct roof of the opera house is visible and draws your focus. The waterfront is quieter than usual, with fewer people braving the cold, misty weather, but the charm of the harbor still captivates. The water glistens with a silvery sheen, reflecting the soft, fading winter sunlight that filters through the clouds. Seagulls wheel overhead, their cries echoing across the harbor while you pass by the now idle tools of the once bustling dock, making you think about what it must have been like in its heyday.

Along the promenade, the buildings stand resolute against the chill, their colorful facades providing a welcome splash of warmth against the wintry backdrop. You pull your coat tighter around you as you pass under the bridges, their arches framing the tranquil waters below, which are occasionally broken by the passage of a lone kayak or a ferry making its way to the opposite shore.

You see the sloping concrete structure known as Ofelia Beach as you approach Amaliehaven, which I believe is a royal garden of some sort; the garden was under renovation during my visit. Ofelia Beach resembles a seaplane ramp but is the roof of the parking garage for the adjoining Playhouse Theatre; the beach is a very popular spot in the summer months.


Nyhavn was originally a busy commercial port where ships from all over the world would dock to offload their cargo. The area was bustling with sailors, pubs, alehouses, and…. Nyhavn is now known for its row of brightly colored 17th and early 18th-century townhouses lining the canal along with bars, cafes, and restaurants. The houses have been well-preserved or lovingly restored, offering a charming glimpse into historical Danish architecture. The famous Danish fairy-tale writer Hans Christian Andersen lived in Nyhavn for some years. Several of his former homes in the area have now been marked with memorial plaques.

Inderhavnsbroen (Inner Harbour Bridge) AKA The Kissing Bridge

The bridge spans across the Copenhagen Inner Harbour, linking Nyhavn with Christianshavn. This location is particularly significant as it connects two historically and culturally important areas of the city. It was officially opened in July 2016, after several delays in construction. The bridge quickly became an integral part of the city’s infrastructure, significantly reducing the distance between the central city and Christianshavn. 

It is called the Kissing Bridge because of how it opens and closes; instead of lifting or swinging as most draw bridges do, this bridge retracts, and when it closes, the two sections come together and “kiss” in the middle. This has become an engineering nightmare as thermal differences between the top and bottom of the bridge on a sunny day, will stop the bridge from closing due to misalignment.

The Customs House

The customs house was built in the 1930s for goods going to and coming from other Scandinavian countries, and in later years, it became a ferry terminal for the Øresund Ferries, primarily bound for Malmö, Sweden. The Øresund bridge, killed the ferry service when it opened in the early 2000s. The building was remodeled and has housed various restaurants in recent years.

Havnepromenade (Harbor Promenade)

The Havnepromenade is a unique walkway that runs alongside the harbor. It is a wide walkway that features some interesting and random sculptures and structures. One of these is a brick structure that pays homage to the history of the lowly brick. Picture this: a group of monolithic benches, all set up as if they’re waiting for their moment in the spotlight. But alas, no stage is present! Looks like these benches will have to stick to their day job of being seating arrangements. Maybe they’re just waiting for the next big thing to happen…or maybe they just like the attention. Who knows! You notice the trampolines set into the ground? It’s kind of wild to think that Danish tort law might be different from US tort law. I wonder how many people have bounced their way into a lawsuit over there!. When you take a look at the basketball court, one of the first things you’ll notice is the cage that surrounds it. The cage has a low roof that really limits the possibility of long shots, making it a bit challenging to make those buzzer beaters. Additionally, you’ll see benches near the court, which can be useful for players resting between games. However, it appears that the benches are facing in the wrong direction, which may not be ideal for those who want to watch the game while taking a break. I just thought I’d give you a heads-up!

I crossed over the Slotsholmens Kanal that connects the inner harbor of Copenhagen with the larger harbor area and provides access to boats and ships navigating through the city. It’s lined with historic buildings, including government offices, museums, and other cultural institutions. 

No more pictures

At this point, the second battery of the day was dead, and I did not want to open my camera since it was flipping from mist to rain, and there were not any dry options around me.

Det Kongelige Bibliotek

Passing under the Knippelsbro Bridge is The Royal Library. The Royal Library has a long history dating back to its establishment in 1648 by King Frederik III. It was originally housed in Christiansborg Palace but was moved to its current location on Slotsholmen Island in central Copenhagen in the late 19th century. Pro Tip: the Black Diamond cafè in the Library is a great place to take a break and enjoy a coffee, a pastry, or maybe even a Danish 🙃.

Danish Architecture Center

As you approach the Danish Architecture Center (DAC), you’ll be drawn to its modern design. The sleek lines of the building seem to cut through the cold air with a sense of purpose and elegance. Once inside, you can escape the chill and explore the center’s exhibitions, immersing yourself in the world of Danish architecture and design. You can also enjoy a hot cup of coffee or tea in the center’s café while watching the harbor through the expansive windows.

Exiting the DAC, you take one last look at the harbor, its beauty undiminished by the winter weather. Though the air may be cold, your heart is warmed by the tranquility and serenity of this magical place, knowing that Copenhagen harbor holds its own unique allure in every season. With a contented sigh, you continue your journey, grateful for the opportunity to experience the harbor’s quiet beauty on this cold winter day.

At this point, I have to make a right away from the harbor and into the city, to get back to my hotel, and head to dinner for one last Flæsksteg sandwich before my departure


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