You’d be forgiven for thinking that a weekend city break with a toddler is just not a good fit. It’s hard work. But sometimes hard work can also be fun. Or you just forget how "hard" hard work can be so you keep putting yourself through it. We decided spontaneously to book flights to Copenhagen a few weeks ago when we saw a deal on RyanAir for the 3 of us to fly return for only €130! Neither of us had been before and both of us love to travel – so we figured it would be a brilliant family getaway. We'd be been putting so much effort into all the house hunting that both of us needed a break. When we saw the deal, we jumped at the chance.
Now, don’t get me wrong – I'm so glad we went. I always wanted to go and we had a fabulous time and saw lots of incredible things. But we also struggled a little (lot) and were both flat out exhausted by the end of it. A city break is designed to be jam packed with sightseeing, walking around, crowded places and not enough time to fit everything in. Adding an 18 month old with the tail end of a bad cold into the mix? Yeah, that can make it pretty hard work. To the point where we actually changed our flights so we could fly home early so we'd arrive home into our own beds by midnight and enjoy a day at home recovering from the madness before heading back into work!
Still, I’m so glad we went – we learned a lot (like maybe not to do a short city break with a mobile baby) and we did have a lovely time. Well, we got some great photos out of it anyway! You know I love a good family photo. I’m just glad to be back home, drinking a hot cup of tea at my kitchen table looking back over the beautiful photos now instead of still traipsing around with a broken stroller.
If you’re planning a getaway to Denmark, I’d highly recommend it. If you’ve got a toddler with you – read on for my tips for surviving 3 days in Copenhagen on a city break.
- Hello, money! Copenhagen is very, very expensive. Luckily it’s a beautiful city so there’s plenty to see and do for free – just by walking around – but a burger and chips could easily set you back about €30. Each. So even though we only had 3 days in Copenhagen, we spent a small fortune.
- There doesn’t seem to be much etiquette for letting people on and off trains/buses. Even with a buggy and two suitcases in your hands, people will still stampede on ahead of you/through you to get a seat first. Be prepared to stand your ground!
- Most places don’t open before 10am which can be frustrating when you’ve got a little rooster who likes to wake up by 6am. You may need to find ways of feeding and entertaining little ones for a few hours while the rest of the city wakes up.
- Opening times at various museums are not at all in sync. One museum may be open on a Monday while another is closed. While this may not seem like such a bad thing, it does mean if you only have 3 days in Copenhagen and haven’t planned ahead you may miss out on some attractions! (Like when we turned up at the Design Museum on Monday afternoon only to find it was closed…sad face.)
- The airport is extremely easy to navigate! You walk out of the arrival gates and straight to the top of the metro station.
- The city is incredibly family friendly. There are lifts everywhere. Trains and buses have designated buggy parking. There are parks at almost every corner – and most of these have some sort of playground included (for free).
- It is a small and compact city so it’s easy to get around – you can pretty much walk anywhere.
- Their public transport system is amazing. Buses and trains connect every tourist spot you’d want to go to and they run every 5-10 mins too. We bought a 3 day travel pass for €50 so we just hopped on and off as we needed to.
- It’s incredibly beautiful. There is something to look at on every street.
- Everyone speaks English. While it can be a little ignorant to just presume you can speak English anywhere in the world and people will understand you – it’s also incredibly helpful when you literally have 2 Dutch words between you. I went up to one lady hoping for directions and asked “Do you speak English?” and the woman replied “Of course.” Love it.
- There are baby changing stations in almost every toilet – even in the men’s rooms (major bonus points there!)
- There are plenty of open spaces with birds in it! This may not be a pro for many of you – but since Baby G is going through a bird obsession right now, this made her very happy.
My Tips When Travelling for 3 days in Copenhagen With Kids
- Bring snacks! While the city seems to be set up for kids – you’d be surprised how difficult it is to find snacks to keep them going. I barely saw any fruit on sale. If you wanted to buy a banana you had to find a supermarket and buy a whole bunch (which is fine because – we were there for 3 days after all). The kids menus weren’t great either – so we ended up feeding her off of our plates instead.
- Stay with AirBnB. Let’s face it, evenings out in the city are non existent when you’ve got toddlers on the trip so you’re going to want to be able to hang out, relax, feed yourself and maybe watch some TV – all without waking the baby. So unless you’re rolling in the monies and can afford a hotel suite with multiple rooms, I suggest renting an apartment instead. We were able to put Baby G down to bed, close the door and put our feet up without much fear of waking her.
- If you are going to use AirBnB then I suggest paying attention to the photos first – does it look baby friendly? We chose a minimalist style apartment (not hard to find in Copenhagen though, let’s be real) and we confirmed with the host BEFORE booking that the building was family friendly. I’m not just talking about noise levels either – but think about having to walk up multiple flights of stairs etc. Cover all your bases first and you’ll be well set up for your stay!
- Plan ahead. This seems pretty obvious – but we found ourselves caught out once or twice when she wanted to eat or nap because we didn’t factor in travel time between destinations. It’s hard to know before you go somewhere how long these things take – but knowing you’ll be near a restaurant when the hanger hits the kiddo is always a good idea. 3 days in Copenhagen may not seem like enough time to do everything you want – but if you plan it out first, you’d be surprised how easy it is to get around! Just take the time to look at the maps properly first 😉
- Bring warm clothes. Even if it looks pretty mild out, the air there is really cold (though we were there in October!). Everyone seems to bundle their kids up in ski costumes – so we had Baby G wrapped up in multiple layers of clothes at all times.
My Tips When Travelling for 3 days in Copenhagen Without Kids
You’re reading the wrong blog if you’re looking for those kinda tips, my friend. Sorry!
What Impressed Me Most
The Tivoli Gardens. All I can say is wow. You have to pay to enter (kids under 8 are free, adults are approx. €14) but once you’re in it’s like a wonderland inside. There are rides, restaurants, shopping stalls, lakes and just so many things to entertain the kids! They’re directly opposite Copenhagen Central Station so it’s really easy to get to – and to find. In fact there would be something wrong with you if you couldn’t spot it or hear the screams from the kids on the rollercoasters. We were so lucky that it had been transformed into a Halloween festival while we were visiting – so there were plenty of pumpkins and fun things for Baby G to look at that were much more baby friendly! We also saw it once at night (on our way back to the airport) and it looked gorgeous with all the lights. I’d love if Dublin had something like this – it would be a great place for keeping kids entertained on the weekends.
- The National Gallery of Denmark was incredibly family friendly. They had a selection of these fancy Stokke buggies that you could use for free. Their cloakroom lockers were free. The public art gallery was free so you didn’t have to pay to walk around and look at those collections. They provided colouring pencils in the cafe to keep the kids entertained while you had a cup of coffee and a snack. I would highly recommend making this a stop on your itinerary if you’re interested in art!
- The Aquarium “Den Bla Planet”. (Children under 3 are free, adults are about €22). We took a bus out to the aquarium on our first full day and it was just incredible. Not only was the building itself a spectacle, but inside was really beautiful. Plenty of sections and aquariums for kids to run around and look at and I have to say it kept the adults entertained too.
So there you have it! Have any of you ever been to Copenhagen? I’d love to hear about your experiences of city breaks with young kids by your side – please tell me I’m not the only one who finds it exhausting? I think next time we go away, we’ll find somewhere with a quiet beach where she can run wild while I sit down and watch!