The streets of the European Capital of Culture are cool, cosmopolitan and just made for strolling, says Nigel Williamson

The tourists may stop when the Scandinavian summer ends, but Copenhagen's cultural supremacy continues for 11 more weeks. For an autumn break, the current European Capital of Culture is cool in every sense. The city may not have the romance of Paris, the sights of Rome or the elegance of Vienna, but it is intimate, cosmopolitan, full of fine buildings, and made for walking.

The city centre is 20 minutes by bus from the airport, a boon when arriving on a Friday night straight from the office. After that, the only transport necessary until departure is a pair of willing and sturdy legs, for Copenhagen invented both the pedestrian precinct and the cycle lane.

Every one of the traffic-free streets seems to have its own attractions. Setting out to explore the city on Saturday morning, we swiftly abandoned the street map to wander where the fancy took us. After a couple of cafe stops we came to Rundetarnet, a spectacular 17th-century round tower, ascended not by steps but by a winding passageway broad enough for the royal family to drive to its summit. The view from the top, of the spires and tiled roofs of the old city, is the best in Copenhagen.

Back at street level, on one side of the tower sits the rococo fantasy of Trinity Church, on the other the Museum of Erotica. The Danes are immensely proud of having led the world in abolishing pornography laws almost 30 years ago; the museum boasts: "Now it is legal to study the love life of Homo sapiens, an experience you will never forget." There is even an exhibit detailing the sex life of Hans Christian Andersen.

After that we needed a black coffee, or even something a little stronger. The sea air of Copenhagen generates a healthy appetite and we strolled to Nyhavn, the delightful old harbour which still retains the atmosphere of a fishing village. The Danes refer to the place as Hyggelig - "very friendly". On one side of the channel a dozen brightly painted, gabled houses have been transformed into restaurants. Here we lunched on the traditional koldebord of herrings, pickles and cold meats, washed down with generous quantities of Tuborg lager.

Nyhavn is also the starting point for sight-seeing boat tours. An hour- long canal trip passes the Danish parliament at Christiansborg on the island of Slotsholmen, the quaint old seamen's quarter of the inner harbour, and then, inevitably, you are taken out to the main harbour at Langelinie to view the most photographed sight of Copenhagen, the Little Mermaid. The bronze statue is, frankly, a disappointment. The figure is elegant enough but hardly strides the harbour like the Colossus at Rhodes, being no more than a few feet high; she is not even particularly historic, having sat on her lonely rock only since 1913.

Unexpectedly, we found another of Copenhagen's more obvious sights far more enjoyable: the changing of the guard outside the royal palace. So on Sunday morning we made for the broad, Parisian-style square of Amalienborg. Here we saw a spectacular pageant with a marching band, far more elaborate than the affair outside Buckingham Palace.

For our last afternoon we took an excursion to the hippy haven of Christiania, Europe's most famous experiment in alternative lifestyles. This astonishing community of street musicians, dope-smokers and artists was started 25 years ago when squatters took over the former military barracks. Today even the most staid Danes are rather fond of the place. As one observer put it, Christiania has become as much a Danish theme park as Legoland.

How to get there: Maersk Air (0171-333 0066) has a fare of pounds 132 including tax for travel from Gatwick to Copenhagen and back, but this applies only on the morning flight from Monday to Friday. The Brazilian airline, Varig (0171-287 3131), charges pounds 134 on its flights from Heathrow to Copenhagen. Flights on British Airways (0345 222111) cost pounds 171.

Where to stay: Nigel Williamson paid pounds 80 a night for a double room at the Komfort Hotel (00 45 33 12 65 70). Ask the Danish tourist office in London (0171-333 0248) or Copenhagen tourist office (00 45 33 11 13 25) about others.

Who to ask about events: Copenhagen 96 (00 45 33 77 96 33), or at on the Internet

The Independent travel offers: Discover a world of inspiring destinations

FootballGerman sparks three goals in four minutes at favourite No 10 role
Rumer was diagnosed with bipolarity, attention deficit hyperactivity disorder and post-traumatic stress disorder: 'I was convinced it was a misdiagnosis'
peopleHer debut album caused her post-traumatic stress - how will she cope as she releases her third record?
A long jumper competes in the 80-to-84-year-old age division at the 2007 World Masters Championships
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Radamel Falcao was forced to withdraw from the World Cup after undergoing surgery
premier leagueExclusive: Reds have agreement with Monaco
Arts and Entertainment
'New Tricks' star Dennis Waterman is departing from the show after he completes filming on two more episodes
tvHe is only remaining member of original cast
Life and Style
Walking tall: unlike some, Donatella Versace showed a strong and vibrant collection
fashionAlexander Fury on the staid Italian clothing industry
Arts and Entertainment
Gregory Porter learnt about his father’s voice at his funeral
ebookHow to enjoy the perfect short break in 20 great cities
Arts and Entertainment
tvHighs and lows of the cast's careers since 2004
Life and Style
Children at the Leytonstone branch of the Homeless Children's Aid and Adoption Society tuck into their harvest festival gifts, in October 1936
food + drinkThe harvest festival is back, but forget cans of tuna and packets of instant mash
Lewis Hamilton will start the Singapore Grand Prix from pole, with Nico Rosberg second and Daniel Ricciardo third
F1... for floodlit Singapore Grand Prix
New Articles
Life and Style
Couples have been having sex less in 2014, according to a new survey
Independent Travel Videos
Independent Travel Videos
Simon Calder in Amsterdam
Independent Travel Videos
Simon Calder in Giverny
Independent Travel Videos
Simon Calder in St John's
Independent Travel Videos
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

ES Rentals

    iJobs Job Widget
    iJobs Travel

    IT Administrator - Graduate

    £18000 Per Annum: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd: ***EXCELLENT OPPORTUNITY FO...

    USA/Florida Travel Consultants £30-50k OTE Essex

    Basic of £18,000 + commission, realistic OTE of £30-£50k : Ocean Holidays: Le...

    Marketing Executive / Member Services Exec

    £20 - 26k + Benefits: Guru Careers: A Marketing Executive / Member Services Ex...

    Sales Account Manager

    £15,000 - £25,000: Recruitment Genius: A fantastic opportunity has arisen for ...

    Day In a Page

    Scottish referendum: The Yes vote was the love that dared speak its name, but it was not to be

    Despite the result, this is the end of the status quo

    Boyd Tonkin on the fall-out from the Scottish referendum
    Manolo Blahnik: The high priest of heels talks flats, Englishness, and why he loves Mary Beard

    Manolo Blahnik: Flats, Englishness, and Mary Beard

    The shoe designer who has been dubbed 'the patron saint of the stiletto'
    The Beatles biographer reveals exclusive original manuscripts of some of the best pop songs ever written

    Scrambled eggs and LSD

    Behind The Beatles' lyrics - thanks to Hunter Davis's original manuscript copies
    'Normcore' fashion: Blending in is the new standing out in latest catwalk non-trend

    'Normcore': Blending in is the new standing out

    Just when fashion was in grave danger of running out of trends, it only went and invented the non-trend. Rebecca Gonsalves investigates
    Dance’s new leading ladies fight back: How female vocalists are now writing their own hits

    New leading ladies of dance fight back

    How female vocalists are now writing their own hits
    Mystery of the Ground Zero wedding photo

    A shot in the dark

    Mystery of the wedding photo from Ground Zero
    His life, the universe and everything

    His life, the universe and everything

    New biography sheds light on comic genius of Douglas Adams
    Save us from small screen superheroes

    Save us from small screen superheroes

    Shows like Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D are little more than marketing tools
    Reach for the skies

    Reach for the skies

    From pools to football pitches, rooftop living is looking up
    These are the 12 best hotel spas in the UK

    12 best hotel spas in the UK

    Some hotels go all out on facilities; others stand out for the sheer quality of treatments
    These Iranian-controlled Shia militias used to specialise in killing American soldiers. Now they are fighting Isis, backed up by US airstrikes

    Widespread fear of Isis is producing strange bedfellows

    Iranian-controlled Shia militias that used to kill American soldiers are now fighting Isis, helped by US airstrikes
    Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

    Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

    Shoppers don't come to Topshop for the unique
    How to make a Lego masterpiece

    How to make a Lego masterpiece

    Toy breaks out of the nursery and heads for the gallery
    Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

    Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

    Urbanites are cursed with an acronym pointing to Employed but No Disposable Income or Savings
    Paisley’s decision to make peace with IRA enemies might remind the Arabs of Sadat

    Ian Paisley’s decision to make peace with his IRA enemies

    His Save Ulster from Sodomy campaign would surely have been supported by many a Sunni imam