Paulo Coelho, one of my favourite authors had said: “One day, you will wake up and there won’t be any more time to do the things you’ve always wanted. Do it now.” So, I ended up creating a bucketlist – and when life gave me a chance to strike “solo holiday” off that list, how could I resist it?
The best reward of such escapades are the memories – exhilarating episodes that are just yours. It is a well-deserved, guilt-free “me-time”; a chance to see things from one’s own perspective and do a bit of soul-searching. I suggest everyone should experience this sheer joy at least once in their life time – the liberation of being anonymous in an unknown city is bliss!
I embarked on my first solo holiday last year and chose the European capital of cool – a city known for its stylish Scandi “hygge” lifestyle and laid-back café culture. Yes, I did have a long list of must-visit tourist spots, but the curious in me also dared to travel the less trodden path and have some fun while I was at it.
One that topped the list was visiting “Det Lille Apotek” on the first night. Situated in a corner of an alley, it is the oldest restaurant in Copenhagen inside an ancient pharmacy of 1720. The cosy low-ceilinged dining rooms lit by kerosene lamps, the hand-painted window panes with motifs of forest gods and spring nymphs and the pictures on the walls – all seem to give the impression that it is trapped in history, a place frequented by some of Denmark’s greatest like HC Andersen, Leo Mathisen and Peter Faber.
In fact, Andersen visited this ‘Little Pharmacy’ every day in 1854 to write the famous ‘The Ugly Duckling’ and it was here that Peter Faber lived and wrote Denmark’s most beloved Christmas song “Højt fra træets grønne top”.
A big part of Danish gastronomy are the varieties of ‘Wienerbrød’. Apparently, Danes eat about 10 kilos of pastries and cakes a year. I strongly believe that to understand a culture well, you have got to eat like the locals too. So, every morning I would start my day with a traditional Scandinavian breakfast of freshly baked rye bread and sample few Danish pastries, before heading out to explore the city.
Next on my list was Blomst, a hidden gem tucked away from the hustle and bustle of Strøget, a secret oasis. The ambience and the cosy courtyard were the much needed ‘fika’ break I needed after a long day of walking.
My lunch on most days would be the local delicacy Smørrebrød and I highly recommend the one with salmon and fresh lumpfish caviar, which I tried out at Tivoli.
As the Danish coffee scene is quite huge, next on my list was to check out “Paludan Bogcafe” – Denmark’s oldest book café in the old historic Jewish quarter. The stylish and cosy ambience is accentuated by old bookshelves, from which you can borrow a book while enjoying a lovely cup of coffee or hot chocolate. A perfect hangout for book & coffee lovers like me.
Copenhagen with its avant garde and effervescent personality – from the Danish food to the stunning architecture – ensured the wanderlust had great stories to tell about her solo holiday!
Top Tourist Attractions
- Christiansborg Palace
- Amalienborg Palace
- Frederiks Kirke
- Rosenborg Castle
- The Little Mermaid
- Church of the Holy Ghost – one of the oldest churches in Copenhagen, built in the late 15th century which withstood Nelson’s bombardment.
- Tourists are so taken in by the postcard pretty district of Nyhavn that most are unaware of house no. 20 down the harbour where HC Andersen lived between 1834-1838 and wrote the fairy-tales ‘The Tinderbox’, ‘Little Claus and Big Claus’, and ‘The Princess and the Pea’. He also lived 20 years in no. 67 and ended his life in no. 18 which is now a HC Andersen themed souvenir shop.
- Don’t miss one of the oldest rollercoasters in the world at Tivoli, dating back to 1914, which is still in operation today. And then how about enjoying a late night Danish coffee and cake on the pirate ship?
- Jens Olsen’s World Clock at the City Hall – the most precise mechanical clock in the world, gilded with four kilos of gold, that will calculate dates, time and planetary positions for thousands of years to come.
- The oldest patisserie in Denmark – Conditori La Glace.
Peter Beier – best handmade chocolates made from their own cocoa plantation in the Caribbean.