If you’re a parent of young children, you know the struggle is real when looking for a great holiday destination. It has to be easy to get to; it has to be child-friendly; most importantly, it has to have a good selection of halal food. While Denmark might not be the most obvious destination for Muslim families, I’m here to tell you that you’ll be surprised, but Copenhagen ticks all the boxes when it comes to a great child-friendly city break.
Here are 5 reasons why you need to make Copenhagen your next destination for a fantastic, family trip that both adults and children will love, and will create magical memories that last a lifetime.
1. You don’t have to worry about entertaining the kids.
As a family with two young children, entertaining the kids is the number one priority when looking for a holiday. After all, happy kids = happy parents. Copenhagen has a huge amount of sights that will keep both kids and parents happy. Here’s a list of places we managed to visit in our short (six day) break:
Tivoli Gardens. Copenhagen is home to the second oldest amusement park in the world, the world-famous Tivoli Gardens. Rides, entertainment, gardens, lights; Tivoli has it all and more.
The Experimentarium. This is a world-class science centre with four floors of hands-on science experiments for kids. This was honestly one of the most fun museums I’ve ever been to, and you could easily spend five to six hours just here alone.
Den Blå Planet. Denmark’s national aquarium, and one of the largest in Europe with interactive exhibits and touch pools, which kids will love.
The Children’s Museum at the National Museum. I loved this and so did the kids, as the museum had a whole room dedicated to Pakistani heritage and culture. Nothing is off bounds at the Children’s Museum; there are no “Do Not Touch Signs”, and lots for little ones and older children to explore and play with.
Copenhagen Zoo. This was one of the best zoos I’ve been to, with all the “fun” animals (and let’s be honest – none of the boring ones – haha).
Tycho Brahe Planetarium. With lots of interactive exhibits exploring our fascination with the stars, there’s lots to learn here for young and older children.
If we had more time, we could have also gone a little further out of Copenhagen and visited the Viking Ship Museum as my eldest is currently fascinated by the Vikings. In any case, there’s lots to see and do, and plenty of indoor activities too in case of the occasional rain shower.
2. It’s only a 2 hour flight from London.
The short flight time is definitely a plus point when you have young children in tow, although notably, on short-haul European flights, you won’t get in-flight entertainment. But it is hard to believe there is so much on our doorstep, only a couple of hours away from London. Can someone remind me why we’re doing that Brexit thing again??
3. There is halal food everywhere (and not just kebab shops).
Once we started doing a little research, we found that there is good-quality halal food to be found in every street corner in Copenhagen. Even in the Tivoli Gardens, we ate delicious shawarma, and as you walk around the city, you easily spot halal restaurants. More than that, you’re simply spoilt for choice. Here are some of the (halal) restaurants we ate at:
- Burgerklubben (Fredriksberg) – this is 100% halal, no alcohol served gourmet burger restaurant, with a choice of different buns and sauces, so you can eat your burger customised to your taste-buds. Separate kids menu, and colouring pencils provided. And, there’s even a Muslim shower in the toilets… I mean if you know, you know!
- Original Shawarma (Tivoli Gardens) – I was surprised to find halal food even available in touristy spots such as the Tivoli Gardens. Tivoli has at least four halal restaurants as well as other street food such as pastries, churros and ice-cream, so plenty of choice.
- Stefanos Pizza (Nørrebro) – a good gourmet pizza place is definitely something London is missing, and this was simply one of the best pizzas I’ve ever had. We had the pollo pizza, which is loaded with pulled chicken, and the bresaola, or salted beef pizza. Again, 100% halal, no alcohol served. The line was out of the door, and it’s not hard to see why.
- Restaurant Zafran (Nørrebro) – delicious Persian food. This was a spontaneous visit as we were walking along the road, and it definitely wasn’t the only halal restaurant on our way. Again easy food for the kids, friendly staff and pens provided to draw on paper table cloths.
- Shawarma Grill House (Strøget) – super fast service, delicious shawarmas, (scores of people waiting outside) and you know it’s got to be good if Dubai-based paper, The National calls it “The World’s Best Shawarma“.
- Cafe le Perr (Kastrup) – a good tip at every restaurant is to ask if the food is halal or not. Although I didn’t expect food at this cafe to be halal, it turns out it was, even though it wasn’t advertised as such. My other half had an amazing club sandwich with juicy chicken and steak and homemade chips, while I had a classic Danish smørrebrød or open sandwich, one with salmon / avo, and one with egg / avo.
Apart from all the delicious halal food, let’s not forget Denmark is the home of some of the world’s best bakeries and pastries. Delicious rye bread, warm chocolate cinnamon rolls and freshly-baked cakes and desserts are just some of the sweet treats waiting for you in this foodies’ dream city.
4. Copenhagen houses an amazing collection of Islamic art and history.
The David Collection is a museum of fine and applied art. The Islamic art collection is one of the most awe-inspiring I’ve ever had the pleasure to visit. It explores Islamic history from its inception, starting with the life of the Prophet Muhammad (SAW) and then looks at how Islam expanded across the world.
From Moorish Spain, to India and China, as well as the history of the Mamluks, this is one of the most fascinating in-depth explorations of Islam in Europe and definitely not to be missed. Even if you have to resort to a bit of Netflix to keep your children entertained while you explore the collection (as we did!), it’s definitely worth it.
5. The culture is completely child-friendly.
The Danes love children. Not only are the locals super-friendly, it’s easy to get around because the culture is really centred around family values.
Every Metro station has a lift (or elevator), so taking a pushchair will not be a problem; you can also easily get around on buses. One good tip is to avoid taxis; not only are they hard to find, but they are also very expensive (around £30 or 250 DKK for a 15 minute journey).
Most of the restaurants also had a separate children’s menu, but in general, with good quality pizzas, burgers and sandwiches on offer, food will not be a problem for families with young children. Beware of the tunas sandwiches if your kids don’t like chilli though; it seems the Danes enjoy tuna with tabasco, which means your kids might be in for a spicy surprise at lunchtime.
I also have to mention the weather: it’s all well and good in theory visiting a tropical location, until your children are hot and bothered, and complaining about the intense heat. Give me the Scandi climate any day; sunny, warm with a strong Nordic breeze. You might have to battle the occasional rain shower, but there are plenty of fun, indoor activities you can do on the days that the skies decide to open up.
6. It has one of Europe’s most beautiful mosques.
Okay, so I said five reasons, but I couldn’t leave this post without mentioning that we visited one of the most beautiful mosques, in one of the most unexpected locations.
The Imam Ali Mosque in the Nordvest district is designed with neo-Iranian architecture, and was opened to the public in 2015.
As we approached, we were greeted by the sight of beautiful turquoise-blue minarets towering over the city, and a gorgeous dome. It truly has to be seen to be believed.
What else do you need to know?
In general, Copenhagen is an expensive city, but then again, as it’s close to London, the flights and hotel may not be as expensive as other locations. We stayed at the Tivoli Hotel (close to Central Copenhagen station). As the hotel is themed around Tivoli Gardens, it’s really fun and quirky for children. Did I also mention the chicken and turkey is halal? Be sure to check, as we did.
If you’re planning to visit a number of locations, it is absolutely essential to buy a Copenhagen Card, which is a no-brainer. This is a city pass that includes entry to most of the key sites (bear in mind, entry to each attraction means once only) and free travel on all buses, trains and Metro.
We got a card for 120 hours, which covered the five days we were in Copenhagen, and it’s well worth it as it means you can travel around without thinking too much.
If you want to see more of my holiday snaps, check out my Copenhagen highlights on Instagram.
Disclaimer: the opinions expressed in this article are solely those of the original author and do not necessarily reflect the views of the website.