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Teen boys in Denmark

My husband and I are traveling with our 16 and 14 year old boys for two weeks in Scandinavia during the first two weeks in June. They are great travelers so long as there is plenty of food, frivolity and engaging activity (think smart, fun loving soccer players and snow boarders). We land in Copenhagen on a Tuesday and will be there til either Friday or Saturday when we head for Stockholm.

Given their age and bright and active nature, I could use your advice on these activities that I'm considering:

  1. Roskild Viking Museum
  2. Bike tour
  3. Canal cruise
  4. Christiania
  5. Aero
  6. Best museum to visit?
  7. Best castle?

Thanks and I'm open to all other suggestions and ordering of activities!

Posted by
1068 posts

Great ideas! I will give my two cents' worth in order:

Roskild Viking Museum: holy cats this is a great museum! They will love it. The ships are really amazing - and you can just picture yourself out on the icy cold North Sea, braving storms and lashing rain while enduring voyages that might last for weeks! And now hold onto your hat, because I am going to suggest a cathedral to accompany it. Yes! Rosklide Cathedral is close by, is where pretty much every Danish monarch is buried, and features Goth-style death's heads and skulls all over the place. Teen-bait.

Bike tour: I've not taken a bike tour, but I did love biking around Copenhagen. Fun - actually quite safe - really convenient - faster than walking. You could take a bike tour on Aero - that seems like fun.

Canal cruise: perhaps too many old people, too slow...

Christiania: yes! Perfect. Awesome place to stroll, people watch, maybe even join in a pick-up soccer game.

Aero: gorgeous! There are lots of opportunities to do active stuff - hiking and biking and kayaking spring to mind. There's an old "tall ship" that does tours around the island, which looked very cool, but was too pricey for me when I was there. Soby has cool shipyards which might be fun for your boys to see.

Best museum to visit? The Little Mill in Christianshavn is cool. Not sure how cool 14 and 16 year old boys would find it. The Danish Resistance museum is probably still closed, alas, and is the one I would recommend most highly for boys that age. The National Museum of Denmark is having a a special Viking exhibition that's going to last through 2015. I personally am dying to check it out - and Vikings are reliably interesting to 14 and 16 year olds. :-)

Best castle? I am a Rosenborg gal. It's very fancy and luxurious - eye candy of the best kind.

I know your boys are not of age to drink, but the Carlsberg Brewery tour is fun. And you would get beers with lunch!

Posted by
7 posts

Kira! Thank you for your fast and thorough response! You are so helpful and I love your additional ideas. I hadn't considered the cathedral but I am now especially since it's on route to the Viking Museum.

And, we are into your brewery idea--maybe another nonthreatening way to talk about responsible consumption of alcohol!

Thank you!

Posted by
7996 posts

What about Tivoli Gardens Amusement Park? It's fantastic. Loved it at their age.

Posted by
7 posts

Hi Susan,
Thanks for bringing up Tivoli Park. I meant to ask about it. We are big amusement park fans--my boys are fearless big coaster riders and we hit Cedar Point in Sandusky, OH each summer. I guess this is why I'm hesitant to include it in our limited time in Copenhagen. Is it just another amusement park or is it something unique and special?

Posted by
591 posts

Best castle: Frederiksborg Castle in Hillerød. Favorite castle in Copenhagen is Christiansborg.
Amusement parks: Denmark has the world's 2 oldest amusement parks and they are both worth a visit. Tivoli is the most fun at night when all the thousands of lights are ablaze.My kids had more fun at Bakken Park which is just north of Copenhagen in Klampenborg. Teens seem to favor this park.
The canal tours are popular with tour groups but I think would be a bit boring to teens.
The Danish Resistance Museum had a fire last year and won't be reopened for a couple years.
I did see the Viking exhibit in the National Museum in Copenhagen last year and its definitely worth a visit.
Saw lots of people riding bikes in Copenhagen, but it might be more fun to go biking in a smaller town with less traffic. We rented bikes at the Klampenborg train station and rode over to Lyngby to visit the open-air museum.
A stroll down the Nyhavn Canal will give you some great photo opportunities (don't recommend going there at night.... lots of drunks about).
Have a great trip!

Posted by
1068 posts

Yes - Tivoli! Can't believe I didn't add it. I adore Tivoli! It isn't just another amusement park. It is practically the oldest amusement park in the world, and it is MAGIC.

It does have some newer rides that are pretty spectacular, but I frankly like the older rides. There are bumper cars from the 1920s. There's an OLD roller coaster that doesn't get up much speed, but is incredibly cool. And I love the old Ferris wheel with the hot air balloon shaped gondolas.

IMHO, though, the real Tivoli charm comes from the very Danish olde-timey things on offer. like strolling around munching on a drippy hot dog, or eating a leisurely meal in one of the restaurants, taking in the lovely gardens, feeding the ducks and watching the fountains, catching acts on the band stands, and people watching.

At your sons' age, it might be more fun if you let them just ramble and stayed a few yards back. There are groups of teenagers everywhere, and it would be a great place for them to meet some locals.

Posted by
7 posts

Thanks Tim! I wondered how nerve racking it would be to bike around Copenhagen. I think I'll take your advice and save that for Aero. And you are right that they will balk at the canal tour -- I'll have to decide if it is worth it to make them suffer through it! We'll make sure to include your castle and museum pick too!

And thanks again Kira, for your detailed input on Tivoli. I guess we'll decide on amusement parks when we get there!

Posted by
11798 posts

I hate to try to pick what kids will like. When we took our boys to Europe, I asked them what they wanted to see. They replied, "Castles." I asked whether they wanted to see restored castles or ruins. "Ruins." (maybe your teens speak in more than one word sentences).

I don't know of any castle ruins in Zealand. The closest may be the casemates in Kronborg Castle, a short train ride north from Copenhagen in Helsingor. I think they would also enjoy the cannons and relatively brief tour of the main castle.

Fredericksborg may be the best castle, but the gardens are a big reason for that - not sure your boys would particularly enjoy those.

Rosenborg is in town, walking distance from downtown - easier from Nyhavn. Rosenborg is small and is surrounded by a city park with lots of locals enjoying the area. The castle itself is small and the crown jewels are in the basement. If nothing else it's close and small, so even if the boys don't particularly like it, you haven't invested much in the trip.

There are some ruins from an earlier castle under Amelienborg Palace, but nothing really inspiring. The palace itself probably wouldn't be particularly interesting to teen boys other than possibly the changing of the guard (that begins with a march from Rosenborg).

The boys would probably like the Viking Ship museum. They can even try on chain mail, ax and shield. It's mostly an open air ship building museum. If they like watching people carve wood and build things, they would especially like it. You can also man an oar and go out on the fjord (looks more like a small lake) on one of the boats.

The Cathedral in Roskilde has a lot of tombs. Have them find the bones of Harald Bluetooth - a Viking king from the 900's. They may think that's kind of neat.

Aero seems to be a Rick Steves created destination. Most people can't figure out what the appeal is.

Christiana is essentially a community of hippy squatters. The crafts and sights are exactly what you would expect from a commune or Grateful Dead concert. Other than that there's nothing wrong with it.

A canal cruise is pleasant if not thrilling. If it's good weather, I'd plan to take one. The boys might like the guide narrating the tour in multiple languages. Ours did English, Danish, German and French.

There is a church steeple with the stairs on the outside. I think they offer tours that might be thrilling.

Best museum? If they're interested in Vikings, the National Museum has tons of bronze age artifacts - then goes into the Middle Ages with lots of swords and armor.

Posted by
11270 posts

I haven't been to Copenhagen in many years. But I loved both the castle in Hillerod and the town itself. And while the canal cruise is not "exciting," it may be just the thing for jetlag (it's outdoors and you get sunlight, without having to exert yourselves).

Also look into Copenhagen Cards. Depending on what you want to see, they can save a fortune. When I went, they were good not only for the city but also a huge surrounding area (including Roskilde and Hillerod), and for transportation in the region as well as many, if not all, admissions (it even covered Tivoli).

Posted by
1425 posts

I did a bike tour in Copenhagen and recommend it with great enthusiasm. Copenhagen really is a bike-friendly city. So I'll offer a different opinion from Tim's and say go for it.

I did the BikeMike City Tour, and it was so great that I wanted to come back the next day and do the Evening Zen Tour, but unfortunately the weather didn't cooperate.

I think your boys would enjoy it a lot. It's a great way to see the city, but also Mike is someone who I think you and they will enjoy getting to know.

Posted by
452 posts

Maybe a soccer match ( with FCK? At 16 and 14 let them roam Copenhagen for a day. Its the first city we felt comfortable letting our then very young teenagers, take off for a little while to see the city themselves. At that point they had been away from the states for three years and made a beeline for 7-11 to get a Slurpee. In any event its a great city to hang out in.