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Favorite Places and Spaces: An 8 Hour Layover in Copenhagen

I recently had an unexpected 8 hour layover in Copenhagen.  It shouldn’t have been unexpected – my flight left Spain at 11am and didn’t get to Iceland until midnight, 2am Spain time, so it obviously should have been a long layover.  But I hadn’t realized just how long it would be until I landed and noticed that I had eight hours with which to play (as a side note, I hate the term “killing time.”  Of all the things I don’t want to kill in life, time is a major one).  So I found the information desk at the airport to find out how I could get into the city centre, and if I could stash my carry on luggage, and I went off exploring.

So, first things first.  If you’re in the position of having a layover like me, you can stash your luggage.  Parking Lot 4 has lockers.  You can pay an hourly rate and store your carry on for the afternoon.  Next, you need a metro ticket.  I paid 80 danish kroner for a 24 hour pass, which was the cheapest option.  All of the trains from the airport are the M2, the yellow line, and the airport is the last stop, so you don’t have to worry about getting on the wrong train.  Going back you’ll have to be careful, but at least while you’re leaving, you can turn your brain to a more “off” like position.


Me and the Round Tower in the background

Now, where to go and what to do?

If you only have a few hours, I’d recommend getting off at Norreport, the main Metro stop for the city center.  From here you have a variety of options.  You can go one way towards the Round Tower, the mid-17th century astronomy observatory, like I did.  You can walk up to the top, and you will have an amazing view.  There is a lovely square where you can get some non-airport food and people-watch.  I bought a coloring book and some markers at a bookstore nearby, and enjoyed coloring in the flowers and birds.  There are some great shopping streets, and sweet alleys down which you can walk on the cobblestones and pretend that you are living in the 17th century.  The food in the square I found was reasonably priced, and tasty, and I had a great time relaxing and wandering.

You could also continue on, not stopping for food or rest, and see Christiansborg Palace where you can see the crown jewels, and trace Danish history back hundreds of years.  They have a lovely garden cafe as well.  There’s also Tivoli Gardens, a 19th century amusement park that still has rides, gardens, pretty scenery, etc.
Eventually it will be time to go back to the airport.  Remember to take the yellow train, the M2, back to the airport and make sure you’re going in the right direction!   Check the signs and the front of the train.  It’s not difficult, but you just need to ensure that your brain is in the on position for a few minutes as you board the train.  Make sure you leave plenty of time to go back to P4 and grab your luggage if you stashed it, and get back through security.  The Copenhagen airport has unlimited free wifi (not just half an hour like some airports) and lots of great stores; it’s practically a mall, but with people dragging luggage around with them.  So even if you get back with lots of extra time, you will be able to amuse yourself easily enough.

I’m glad I went out and explored in Copenhagen a bit.  I didn’t get a coveted passport stamp (since I was on a flight from the EU), but I did get lots of great pictures, a coloring book in Danish, and good memories.