Copenhagen for Kids - The Danish Capital is Built with Families in Mind

Copenhagen, Denmark – A Wonderland for Kids

Stay off the grass! No climbing! Don’t pick the flowers! We’ve all seen them, signs that scream “no, no, no” and “don’t, don’t, don’t.” These days, they’re the norm rather than the exception. So imagine my surprise when, in Copenhagen, I witnessed families reveling in behavior that would elsewhere be frowned upon.

In Copenhagen's King's Garden, it's perfectly OK for kids to climb the trees

In Copenhagen’s King’s Garden, it’s perfectly OK for kids to climb the trees

In King’s Garden, parents stood beneath trees, coaching their children on how to climb higher into the gnarled branches. Nearby, no one batted an eye when kids frolicked in the central fountain. On the other side of the park, boys and girls tackled obstacle courses or rode on the back of giant wooden lizards in the playground sandbox. There’s even an outdoor theater in the park that offers free puppet shows for kids all summer long.

Is Copenhagen for kids? If this playground in King's Garden is any indication, it's a great city for kids and families

Is Copenhagen for kids? If this playground in King’s Garden is any indication, it’s a great city for kids and families

Kids climb on a giant lizard in the playground at King's Garden in Copenhagen, Denmark

Kids climb on a giant lizard in the playground at King’s Garden in Copenhagen, Denmark

One afternoon I attended the changing of the guard ceremony at Amalienborg Palace. It didn’t take me long to notice that there were more children in the crowd than adults. Kids even reigned supreme in Copenhagen’s popular waterfront district of Nyhavn. They shimmied up the giant iron anchor at the head of the canal while their parents retired to the sidewalk cafes and bars.

Families with kids watch the changing of the guard ceremony at Amalienborg Palace

Families with kids watch the changing of the guard ceremony at Amalienborg Palace

The giant anchor at Copenhagen's famous Nyhaven waterfront is a favorite with kids as well

The giant anchor at Copenhagen’s famous Nyhaven waterfront is a favorite with kids as well

At City Hall, kids mounted the backs of giant winged dragons that perch on a balustrade. At the waterfront, they scrambled over boulders surrounding the Little Mermaid statue that commemorates Hans Christian Anderson, the famous Danish author of fairy tales. Though I’m tempted to believe that Copenhagen’s kid-friendly atmosphere trickled down from Tivoli Gardens (an amusement park opened in 1843 that is the second-oldest operating amusement park in the world), I have to believe that there is more going on here.

Since 1843, Tivoli Gardens, the second-oldest operating amusement park in the world, had been delighting kids in Copenhagen

Since 1843, Tivoli Gardens, the second-oldest operating amusement park in the world, had been delighting kids in Copenhagen

During his lifetime, Andersen wrote no less than 3,381 children’s fairy tales. His first story, The Ghost at Palnatoke’s Grave, was published in 1822, long before Tivoli Gardens were even imagined. Over the ensuing 53 years he wrote stories that have become embedded in the Western psyche, including such icons as The Emperor’s New Clothes, The Little Mermaid, The Nightingale, The Snow Queen, The Ugly Duckling, and Thumbelina.

Kids watch turtles from a bridge in the Botanical Garden in Copenhagen, Denmark

Kids watch turtles from a bridge in the Botanical Garden in Copenhagen, Denmark

Kids walk toward the entrance of Kastellet Fortress, one of the best preserved star fortresses in Northern Europe

Kids walk toward the entrance of Kastellet Fortress, one of the best preserved star fortresses in Northern Europe

I have always believed that every place has a particular energy. Copenhagen may have castles and fortifications, glitzy shopping boulevards, and hip cafes, but its motto could easily be “Copenhagen for Kids.” I suspect that Andersen tapped into that energy during his lifetime, and I’m convinced that kids who live in or visit the Danish capital feel it just as strongly today. Without a doubt, Copenhagen is the most family friendly holiday destination I have ever visited.

Check prices for accommodations in Copenhagen at Booking.com, Hotels.com, or HotelsCombined.com. Read reviews about hotels and guest houses in Copenhagen, Denmark at TripAdvisor.

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