Posted May 03, 2012
Known as the Venice of the North, Copenhagen is a quaint city with an elaborate canal system and numerous islands and islets. Boasting late-Renaissance and Rococo architecture, the idyllic city is a hub for history buffs and foodies of all ages. Those on a cruise to Europe can take a brief excursion through the streets of Copenhagen and its immediately surrounding sites. Famous for its oceanic vistas and Nordic castles dating back for half a millennium, the city has been immortalized in works by Hans Christian Andersen and Shakespeare.
Recite Hamlet at the Kronborg Castle
Situated near Oresund, a small strip of water separating Denmark and Sweden, Kronborg Castle serves as the literary setting for the timeless Shakespearean production, Hamlet. Originally used to control boat traffic passing through the strait, Kronborg is now considered one of the most important Renaissance castles in northern Europe. Hosting about a quarter of a million visitors every year, the castle has been a popular tourist destination since it was named a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 2000.
One of the castle's wings houses the largest knight's hall in Scandinavia and features some of the oldest tapestries in Europe. Locals believe that when Shakespeare first walked through this room, he was so inspired by the Medieval tapestries that he wrote them into his influential play. Some of the greatest Shakespearean actors have performed at Kronborg over the years, including Lawrence Olivier and Vivien Leigh, who fell in love at the castle when they first performed Hamlet in 1937.
Touring the Copenhagen canals
While on a cruise in Europe, passengers will have the opportunity to take a short ride through Copenhagen's busy waterways. Beginning at Gammel Strand, the glass-domed boat weaves its way through the Christianshavn and Slotsholmen canals. Along the way, passengers can take a look at the Amalienborg Palace, which is an illustrious complex comprised of four identical structures that still serve as the royal family's winter residence. Further along the guided cruise tour, the stunning Gefion Fountain seems to cascade endlessly into the ocean as it depicts the mythical Norse goddess riding a bull-drawn chariot.
After passing the golden spires of St. Savior's Church and the Old Stock Exchange building, cruisers will disembark at the Langelinie pier before heading back to their Princess ship.
Feel like a Disney movie character in Nyhavn
The former home of fable writer Hans Christian Andersen, Nyhavn looks as though it was taken straight from an animated movie. The brightly colored 17th-century buildings inspired Andersen to write one of his most famous works, "The Little Mermaid." Today, a famous statue depicts the love-struck mermaid as she sits wistfully, waiting for her sailor prince to return.
Today, Nyhavn is a great place for European cruise passengers to bask in the sunlight while sipping on a crisp Danish lager.
How to eat like a Scandinavian
Copenhagen's culinary scene has recently made it to the top of numerous food critics' lists, making the city one of the best foodie destinations in Europe. Travelers who want a quick bite to eat can visit the famed Den Okologiske Polsemand hot dog stand. A favorite among locals, this sausage vendor serves organic pulled pork and beef, as well as a variety of locally sourced produce. Opened by Claus Christensen in 2009, this small eatery stands a head above all other fast food restaurants in the city, proving to residents and visitors that even hotdogs can be healthy.