how to feel like a danish princess
One of Copenhagen's unique features is the plethora of castles that are all within minutes of one another. All of the sites are maintained meticulously due to the fact that they are still used by the sitting royal family. Side note-- the Danish royals are highly underrated and I'd highly recommend a Google search or two, especially because Her Majesty the Queen Margarethe and I clearly should be BFFs. It was so easy to get lost in the Disney-esque architecture and stories of the monarchs and I would recommend spending the entire weekend exclusively in castles when in Denmark. If I could have, I would have. I made it to three of them and was not disappointed.
Amalienborg is a huge castle complex precisely in the tourist center. The square in the center of the complex is a highly photogenic part of the city so GO EARLY for the best shots. I was there early in the day, before the castle was open for tours and there was almost nobody there.
The outside alone is stunning, but the inside gives an inside perspective to the lives of 17th-19th century monarchs, their triumphs, interests and even a few royal scandals. Some of the rooms are pristine, others are cluttered, paying homage to the varying personalities of the different monarchs and their families. I gained a new appreciation for this royal family as people, not just rulers.
This castle had such a happy surprise on the top floor, with a complete display of theatre, ballet and opera costumes designed by Her Majesty the Queen. This added a whole new level of enchantment to the experience, since you're literally surrounded by princesses, kings, evil witches and dancing animals. It also makes Her Majesty more accessible, which I'm all about. When your queen designs literal princess dresses, how could you not be some of the happiest people on earth?
Rosenborg is Amalienborg's evil twin. The rooms have this enchantingly dark quality and are immaculately maintained to their original condition. This is where the realms of reality and magic collide to create their own world that the Danish monarchs enjoyed for hundreds of years. There are also some lovely gardens surrounding the castle and I saw many people running on the gravel paths or leisurely reading a book on a park bench, so budget part of your day if that sounds nice to you.
The interior of the caste makes me think of Beauty and the Beast before the curse was broken. It's dark and quiet and I expected magic at every turn. There are three floors of the castle, accessed by spiral staircase and the great hall, at the top floor has a throne that is claimed to be made of unicorn horns (I've encountered more unicorns in the last few months and I'm not even mad about it). The sheer size of this hall is spectacular and has several adjoining rooms that lend their own magic to the palace, like a hall of mirrors.
A few quick notes about this castle that are important: this is where the crown jewels are kept, so expect to see plenty of sparkle. That being said, it was especially crowded because people want to see them, so understand that you'll be there with a few hundred other people, which makes it less than ideal. Honestly, I found this one significantly more difficult to enjoy simply because of the people. It's an important landmark, but manage your expectations of how magical it will be with crowds.
This castle was easily my favorite. The reception rooms were spectacular and made me think of every princess movie ever. I have honestly never been in a castle that was so well maintained and preserved. Fun fact: these reception rooms are still utilized by the Danish Royal Family so they're kept in peak condition for state visits and dinners. This is also where I felt the most like a princess. The library is everything I've ever wanted and will now strive to have such an elaborate place for my books. All the other rooms were great, but this took the cake.
There are many different areas to explore in this castle and are all easily accessible if you purchase a Copenhagen Card. I was also able to see the kitchens and there is the opportunity to see the ruins of the previous royal residences below the castle, but I simply ran out of time. I've only heard good things! I also feel like this is an all-encompassing view of royal life in Copenhagen and would be ideal for traveling families due to the plethora of activities in a central location.
The good news about this castle is that, on a Saturday afternoon, I never felt rushed, overwhelmed or squeezed by throngs of people. Maybe I got lucky. Maybe this is how it is. But being able to stand in one of the most beautiful libraries I've ever seen all alone was pretty cool.
Copenhagen felt like a fairytale for all the castles, but it was a good reminder to keep a little whimsy in my everyday life, because there's always a little fairytale in everything. The world felt more magical walking out of these castles and I need to hang onto that. We all do. So go find your magic, friends and live those princess dreams!