As an academic I’m fortunate to get to travel occassionally for work. I’ve always been reluctant to go to a conference without also tagging on a short stay in the city. So in September, with my daughter aged 9 months I went back to work (believe me, I was more than ready!). I was fortunate to secure a new temporary contract working as a researcher on a Danish funded research project. In order to get things off the ground I needed to head out to Copenhagen to meet with colleagues (its a tough life!). They were happy for me to take my daughter and my husband (daddy day care) along for the ride.
So first task (as usual) was to search for suitable accommodation. This feels like the main challenge when taking children along – why is it so difficult? This time I hit the AirB and B website . I figured I needed to find an apartment – it would allow us to cook what we needed and would also provide a base for my husband and daughter when I was out at work. Perhaps most importantly it would allow us to put our daughter to bed and enjoy a nice meal and a glass or two of vino! I was keen to avoid taking a travel cot etc (budget airlines aren’t known for their generous baggage allowance!) and we’d need toys (I wonder how many noisy vetch toys you could fit in your hand luggage?!?). After much searching and adjusting of the filters I stumbled across a perfect apartment just down the road from the University. So it was a tick for location but better still it had a cot and loads of toys! I was excited and relieved in equal measure. The only thing the apartment lacked was a bath. Once again, we found the Stokke folding bath invaluable (see post on Amsterdam). We did also take our Stokke travel high chair (HandySitt) – so we had a high chair in the apartment (unlike in Amsterdam).
We flew from Manchester this time, and again chose to stay over at the airport the night before the flight. We also learnt from our previous trips and booked an on-site carpark – far far easier at 6am!
In the days running up to our departure it dawned on me that we would need to get ourselves from the airport into the city (you really do need to plan every aspect of a family holiday). The thought of taking public transport (whilst clearly the most environmentally friendly option) was not overly appealing, not with a baby and all the gear. We settled on taking a taxi – but what about our daughter? Could we take her in a taxi without a car seat?!? Cue frantic googling. The answer is yes you can take children in taxis without car seats etc. Here’s the link to the EU rules.
Now I realise that this is not ideal in terms of safety but at least it means that for short distances (in cities) you can travel in a taxi. This really makes city breaks feasible with young children. That said, our short trip from the airport to the apartment wasn’t without drama – our daughter, sitting on my lap, managed to lean over at traffic lights and open the door of the car! I don’t know who was more shocked, me or her! On the return trip I put her in the baby bjorn so she was a bit more trapped. Whilst we’re talking about the return trip – I’ve always felt its easy to get a taxi from an airport, you simply find the taxi rank. However, its always slightly more tricky when you’re looking to get back to the airport, especially if you’re not staying in a hotel. With young children in tow this is even more complicated – it’s no easy task walking to the nearest rank with all the stuff and the child in a pram. If you’re travelling with a smart phone or a laptop I would recommend finding a taxi app for the city you’re staying in and you can request a taxi to your apartment at a certain time (all without having to brave the telephone!).
Copenhagen, for those of you that haven’t been there, is a wonderful city that is totally child friendly. Most of the metro stations we used had lifts down to the platforms so that made using the pram a whole lot easier. Pavements were wide, allowing for prams and restaurants and bars were well equipped for children (with high chairs in most and baby changing facilities in some).
We ate well throughout our short stay (I told you we were obsessed with food!). We were delighted to find that Copenhagen is full of wonderful bakeries selling the most delicious cakes and pastries (not so good for my waist line!). We visited Helsinki when I was pregnant with my daughter (another work trip) and I became slightly addicted to Cinnamon buns. We found plenty of these in Copenhagen as well! As we didn’t plan to eat out in the evening (not so easy with a young child who is used to going to bed at 7pm) – we decided to treat ourselves to delicious food from Magasin du Nord (which has a Harrods equivalent food hall in the basement!). Yummy!
When my work commitments allowed we found time to explore the city. We spent a wonderful morning at Copenhagen Zoo. It’s very reasonably priced (cheaper than London Zoo and far far better!). The elephant enclosure was impressive. If you’re on a real budget you can see the elephants from the neighbouring park (where you’ll also find a dummy tree – which may come in handy if you’re looking to persuade a child to get rid of them!). There are plenty of picnic spots in the zoo (some sheltered) and lots that overlook various animals etc. Towards the end of our morning our daughter dropped off and we enjoyed an ice cream in the warm September sun before a lovely stroll in the park. Other than this, we found time to soak up the atmosphere of a wonderfully cosmopolitan city, enjoying plenty of early evening drinks (post work drinks in my case) on the Nyhavn. Again, I was delighted to feel that we could take our daughter out for a drink without judgemental glances from fellow guests. A very liberating feeling!
Changing of the guard, with the music, the drums and the soldiers was enjoyed by all and we combined this with a leisurely walk down to the mermaid. The weather was warm throughout our stay (definitely t-shirt weather). We spent many an hour enjoying the beautiful parks of Copenhagen (normally with an ice cream in hand!) and in the King’s Garden our daughter crawled for the first time! Holidays really are about making memories!
My husband and daughter loved having some quality time together whilst I was out at work. There was a great little park in the square near the apartment. Our daughter loved spending time there. They also took lots of walks around lakes and canals – spotting boats and people watching. Daddy coped very well flying solo in a foreign city!
On our last day we had to be out of the apartment by 10am. We didn’t fly until later in the afternoon. We decided to take our bags to the airport and use one of the luggage lockers. We would then be free to explore a bit more before heading back for our afternoon flight. We took the train from the airport and visited Amager Beach. It was chilly so we didn’t don our swimming costumes but we did enjoy a breezy walk collecting shells and other bits of treasure! We then continued back into the city and enjoyed yet another lunch in the incredible Torvehallerne market. This is an ideal space to bring children for lunch. There are over 60 stands selling delicious food and you can take a seat at any number of the communal tables. We were able to pick up bits and pieces for us all (to suit our different tastes) and then head back to the airport.
Another successful city break in Europe.
Top Tip: Live like a local, book an apartment through, this link for £30 travel credit with Airbnb and we get a little something off our next booking too, enjoy!