Toddlers are impossible to holiday with, most two year olds simply refuse to sit by a pool and read a bonkbuster even if you skip over the rude bits.
‘Which one of you nice ladies is my Mother?’
On holiday all toddlers want is to do is roll around on the floor screaming with no clothes on, basically the ideal holiday destination for a toddler would be Magaluf or Faliraki. But Mummy & Daddy are in charge so we went to Denmark. Because Borgen.
We took a 2 and 3 year old to Copenhagen and Aarhus in Jutland for two weeks, renting beautiful homes filled with lovely, lovely stuff. Nice things like Hans Wegner chairs and coffee machines for Mummy and Daddy and lots and lots of toys for the kidlets.
All the guide books said Denmark was ‘child friendly’ and we really like Vikings so we reckoned it was bound to be a winner.
We were right *smugfaces* and here just some of the reasons why.
1. It’s very child friendly
Child friendly in the UK usually means either ‘We have a high chair!’ or ‘Staffed by teenagers who couldn’t give a shit.’
In Denmark child friendly means ‘Hey bring your kids into our museum and let them run around in fancy dress, here have a sword (wooden) to play with and a helmet (no horns). Oh and we have loads of nice shiny push chairs you can borrow, just because.’
ARE YOU SHITTING ME?
Denmark takes the UK version of child friendly and pisses all over it like an angry Viking with a full bladder.
2. It’s full of surprises
You know that people writing travel guides have absolutely no fucking clue about entertaining small children when they completely omit the best bit of an attraction.
At Aqua they have a huge water play area filled with different ways of engineering water and a treetop run with pump action water pistols. From a central pool you can use boards and sluice gates to dam water and create massive floods you can stand in.
We watched as our daughter worked together with other children learning how to engineer the water to create the biggest floods.
Literally a middle class parents wet dream.
We also went to the Orlogsmuseet, Royal Danish Naval Museum, Copenhagen mainly because it had a silly name and, er it was there.
It was brilliant even though I have literally no interest whatsoever in the naval history of Denmark, soz but that’s the truth.
My son still talks about that time he slept on a submarine, he’s exaggerating, but only slightly. There were hammocks to fall out of, clothes to dress up in, submarines and gun ships you could clamber all over we managed to just stop my daughter doing an actual poo in the submarine toilet. Once we’d spent ages wandering round the museum we found the children’s section – a whole room of boats and sheds to play in.
We sat on the canal and drank great coffee and absolutely did not laugh when we walked over Knippelsbro. It was a brilliant way to pass time with the kids – they had fun and no one cried which is living the dream as far as young children on holiday go.
3. All the Viking shit
Who doesn’t love a bit of Viking shit? My personal favourite was Roskilde viking ship museum – absolutely stunning and again plenty of space for children to run around dressed as Vikings.
The café served up new Nordic cuisine and the kids had a go at learning to plait ‘Mummy this is like Viking loom bands!’
The Nationalmuseet in Copenhagen was a total winner with lots of Viking business and it also has an enormous children’s area which was basically a whole museum in itself: Viking boats, a medieval wall building section, colouring in, medieval kitchen complete with giant plastic banquet food, a shop to play in, a massive plastic horse and dressing up stuff everywhere you looked.
All museums should have a massive plastic horse.
After our visit both children had a really long afternoon nap leaving us to have a whole conversation without interruptions. Skol!
4. The playgrounds kick ass
Very few travel guides will even mention playgrounds but very few travel guide writers take a 2 and 3 year old with them everywhere they go.
Playgrounds in Denmark rock, they rock hard. Seriously those Vikings know a thing or two about playing, they did invent Lego after all.
We bounced, climbed, swung and spun til we were nearly sick. Occasionally the kids had a turn too.
And the best news is they’re full of hot dads, sorry, I mean they’re free but there are also hot dads because of their shared parental leave laws.
I’m starting to think Denmark is just showing off.
5. There’s lots of free shit to do
The first rule of days out with small children is the more money you spend the worse time you will have. Toddlers have an amazing talent for realising when the pressure is on to have a good time and doing exactly the opposite. So free stuff to do is always a winner.
My son particularly enjoyed shouting ‘Bike!’ every time he saw a bike. This does get a bit tiresome when you are in one of the most bike friendly cities in the world.
We also went to the beach – for 30 minutes until my son rubbed sand in his eyes.
Eating out and drinking can be expensive in Denmark but if you go with small children you’re not going to be doing that so essentially you’re saving money by taking them.
Instead of sipping cocktails at the coolest bars in town we sat on our back doorstep watching our children join in a massive water fight with the rest of the kids on the block while drinking ice cold cans of beer from the supermarket (us not the kids).
6. Islands Brygge Havnebadet, Copenhagen
Basically Havnebadet is part of the canal that has been turned into an open air swimming pool. Anywhere else in the world this would be a terrifying prospect, filled with abandoned shopping trolleys and rats but in Copenhagen it’s cool, laid back and stylish. And it’s totally free.
Even better news across the road is an amazing Smorrebrod place (sandwiches with no bread on top). No idea what was on them – one of them may have been offal and there was definitely some kind of fish. If we’d known what it was I suspect we wouldn’t have chosen it but it tasted lovely.
7. The food
Most people combine small children with a renewed interest in food. Did you ever even think about throwing a dinner party before you had kids? No you went out to eat because that’s what normal people do. Once you have toddlers eating out becomes such a massive ball ache you’d rather cook for people AND clean up after them.
The food in Denmark is good, everywhere you go, which means not having to stuff the children full of crap to keep them quiet and then dealing with the fallout of too much sugar. Bakeries in Denmark have piles of freshly baked raisin buns stacked up in the windows and even fast food places will offer organic hot dogs served in brown buns – with salad for children to ignore. The Torvehallerne market in Copenhagen is a great place for eating out or buying supplies.
Oh they are really into liquorice – you should definitely try the salted liquorice but only if you like the taste of jizz in your sweets.
8. The coffee
Being at home with small children my entire daily schedule is built around where and when I can drink good coffee. I like mine hot and black and served with wifi.
The Danish take their coffee seriously but not in an annoying beardy, wanky way and yes they have wifi.
The only problem is they do like to serve you blistering hot coffee in glasses with no handles – what the fuck is that all about?
You can tell how much Denmark kicks family ass by the fact this is so far down my list. Anywhere else this would be the star attraction but in Denmark it’s just another day out. It was our first ever trip as a family to a theme park and in have to say everything was awesome.
There are plenty of rides for small children and even though we went in the height of summer the queues were not over long. My favourite ride was the fire engine race where we had to compete against other teams to pump a fire engine down a track and hose out a pretend fire with real water. With half our team under four we knew the odds were stacked against us but we managed to not finish last.
The children also loved the pirate ship ride where everyone was given a pump action water gun and you got to shoot the other boats. I think we probably did finish last that time.
10. ARoS Aarhus Kunstmuseum, Aarhus
OK I should confess I bloody love an art gallery – apart from David Shrigley and David Hockney I think my kids have cried and moaned about being bored in front of most of arts greatest works.
There was no moaning here. Olafur Eliasson’s Your rainbow panaroma is a circular glass skywalk made up of every colour in the rainbow on the roof of the museum it was actually a tiny bit scary .
Then we lost both children and ended up walking into a wall in his mist filled room which was also terrifying.
Both my children absolutely loved the lift and the stairs. ‘But is it art?’ Er no it’s stairs and a lift but whatever makes them happy is all good by me.
There are loads of other things about Denmark that we loved – returning the recycling to the machine in the supermarket for ACTUAL money, the flea market/ car boot sales with funky Danish pottery and that time my son had a total shit fit and no one looked at us as though we were the worst parents ever.
Basically I’d recommend Denmark with toddlers but only if you already have toddlers – don’t go borrowing them just to visit Denmark that would be stupid.