Copenhagen Is Great For Photo Adventures

An incredibly colorful scene as a boat of tourists sail along the canal at Nyhavn.

My last trip to Europe was a significant adventure with a wide range of fantastic photography opportunities. I put Copenhagen at the very beginning of my itinerary with the idea of having a very gentle start to my trip. In fact there’s so much to see and to do in Denmark's capital city that I regret that my itinerary didn't allow me to stay longer. I'm definitely going to return.

It's A Long Way To Europe from Australia

The fact is that Melbourne is, with the exception of New Zealand, a long way from anywhere. Getting to and from Europe really is quite an endeavour.

As Iceland and the Faroe Islands were the most important destinations on this trip I needed to arrive in a European city that offered flights to Vagar, in the Faroe Islands, and then a return flight back from the Icelandic capital Reykjavik. Copenhagen looked like a good choice and, as I hadn’t been there previously, I thought it would be fun to visit.

A design based image relying on color, contrast and repetition in the tourist area of Nyhavn, Copenhagen.

So Often The Adventure Begins In The Air

But first I had to get there. I decided to try the Reindeer Route offered by Finnair which would take me from Melbourne to Helsinki via Singapore and, from Helsinki, I’d fly onto Copenhagen.

The Melbourne to Singapore flight was fine, though nothing special. It’s a code share arrangement and Qantas provided the plane and on-board service. The best part about it was that there was quite a bit of space on the plane and I was able to find a row of 3 vacant seats to lie down on. I also managed to get a few hours sleep during the 9 hour flight.

The stopover time in Singapore was supposed to be 2 hours but, as our fight was a bit late taking off from Melbourne, I had to hustle to make it to the gate on time. No problem, the exercise in the middle of these two flights was most welcome.

Unfortunately the Finnair flight wasn’t all that great. It was almost jam packed and although I’d paid more for a seat with more legroom it was barely enough. With no opportunity to stretch out, and being stuck in the middle of the isle row, it was a difficult 12 hour evening flight during which time I only managed to get around an hour's sleep.

I was very happy to disembark at Helsinki and be greeted by friendly Fins. Only one problem: prior to the short final leg onto Copenhagen I’d have a 6 hour stop over at Helsinki airport.

Sleep - Get It When You Can

My good friend Finnish photographer Vesa Loikas had given me a great tip, which made all the difference. There are sleeping pods at Helsinki International Airport where you can lie flat on a quite comfortable leather mattress, slide the lid of the pod closed and take a nap.

A pillow and blanket are provided and the mattress is in three sections, the middle one you can lift out allowing you to place your carry on luggage underneath you. I did what other folks did which was to leave my shoes outside the pod.

I believe you rent a pod for a period of time. However, with no staff member on duty and a sign saying that use of the pods was free until 10am, I made the most of it and got myself a solid 3 hours sleep. This made all the difference later in the day.

While a little smaller I found the Finnair plane that took me on the final leg from Helsinki to Copenhagen to be slightly roomier than the one I’d taken during the 12 hour flight from Singapore to Helsinki.


A crucifix on the facade of the Alexander Nevsky Church in Copenhagen, Denmark


Exhaustion Is Best Overcome By Resting

As usual I had a great chat with my taxi driver on the way to my hotel in Copenhagen, where I arrived mid afternoon. All up the total flying time was around 23 hours. However, from the time I left my place in Melbourne (a huge thanks to my friend Tony Pepper for the lift to the airport) to the time I arrived at my hotel in Copenhagen it was a very long and quite grueling 37 hours.

These were neither the toughest nor most difficult flights I’ve undertaken, but after a very hectic last few months I was looking forward to a rest upon arrival in Copenhagen. At least that was the plan.

Even The Best Plans Need To Be Adapted

I had planned to spend the rest of my first day in Copenhagen sleeping. But the weather was beautiful, sunny and 23 degrees Celcius, so I decided to grab my camera and take a walk to soak in a few rays and help acclimatize to the new time zone. Not knowing what photography opportunities awaited me I decided to take my entire kit with me. That’s a camera backpack loaded with the following:

  • Sony A7Rii camera
  • Sony/Zeiss 16-35mm f4 lens
  • Sony/Zeiss 24-70mm f4 lens
  • Sony/Zeiss 70-200mm f4 lens
  • Formatt-HiTech Neutral Density Filters
  • B+W UV and Polarizing filters
  • Really Right Stuff TQC-14 (travel) tripod
  • Really Right Stuff BH-40 tripod head

Hercules Statue at the Hercules Pavilion in the Kings Gardens in Copenhagen, Denmark.

Walking And Making Photos On A Beautiful Day

I had a lot of fun. It’s always great exploring a new city and Copenhagen is an easy going, moderately sized city that’s full of splendid architecture. It’s also a very flat city which is great for cycling and walking. Unless of course, like me, you haven’t properly broken in your new pair of shoes. I left my abode (i.e., Phoenix Hotel) in Copenhagen, at 5pm and, except for a short dinner break by the canal, walked until 11pm in the evening.

It was a great adventure but, walking with all that weight is a little taxing, on your feet as much as it is on your back. I took advantage of the hotel’s bath for a nice soak to loosen up my back and leg muscles, but each of my big toes (i.e., one per foot) and the sole of my feet had developed big old blisters which I had to manage for the next two months.

The following day included a long sleep in and some online work prior to meeting up with my friend, Swedish photographer Jens Hauser, for an evening meal in the city. We enjoyed a great meal, outdoors, on a lovely summer’s evening.

Parallel running streets of orange painted housing in Copenhagen, Denmark.

I spent quite a bit of time the next day on online matters prior to spending the later part of the afternoon and evening exploring and photographing some of the city’s parks. My final day in Copenhagen was dedicated to photographing churches and statues. The next part of my adventure took me to the remote Faroe Islands for landscape photography.

It was amazing and the Faroe Islands are now one of my favorite photography destinations in the whole wide world. How will I reach the Faroe Islands, next time around. There's a very good chance I'II fly there, once again, from Copenhagen. That will give me another opportunity to explore Denmark's capital, a cosmopolitan city that's rich in history and full of really wonderful people.

Glenn Guy, Travel Photography Guru