City Visit: Helsingborg, Sweden
It was only a 4-hour sail from Gilleleje to Helsingborg, even with weak winds that accompanied a strong high pressure system. It was suddenly hot — 32°C — which for Sweden is sweltering. The sun shone out of a clear blue sky, surprising, given the dark thunderstorms we observed on the Sweden coast from across the Oresund.
A view of the recently-built marina in the city of Helsingborg
The recently built north harbour is the guest marina for pleasure boats. It’s in a new area of town consisting of beautifully architected condominiums and parks. The ground floor of each building houses either restaurants, cafés, shops or offices, so there’s quite a lot of “life” here. It’s not an area where the apartments empty out in the morning leaving a “dead zone” during the day.
Some examples of the wonderful architecture at the marina i Helsingborg
Mooring in the guest harbour is either alongside (announced for boats 12 meters or more) or between booms for 12 meters and less. We arrived early enough find a reasonably good spot.
View of the southern end of the marina
The first thing we did after securely mooring the boat was to turn on the air conditioning. We needed to do some shopping so Senna needed to stay in the boat. We are so happy we ordered air conditioning — for our dog’s sake. A hot boat can be as bad as a hot car. We were happy we could just dial in 22°C in our cabin and leave Senna there. Using only the rear cabin air conditioning uses just 8 amps so the 16 amps we had as shore power was more than adequate.
Freja moored at the marina in Helsingborg.
Helsingborg is a really pleasant small city just across the sound from Helsingør Denmark. This is where most of the Denmark-Sweden ferry traffic is, as it’s such a short distance. The ferries take about a half-hour to make the jump. They could make the trip quicker but that would mean the passengers would not have enough time to do their tax-free shopping. The ferries are more like floating shopping malls than anything else — that’s how they really make their money.
Another view of the “inhabitant-friendly” architecture at the marina
Shopping and eating in Helsingborg
But we were off to do some shopping in Helsingborg, not the ride the ferry. First stop — groceries. We found a small ICA shop near the marina that had most of what we needed. A good thing to know about Sweden is that most grocery shops function as post offices, so you can buy stamps and send/receive letters and packages.
There’s also a small fish shop off Kullagatan, the pedestrian street, called Älgrändens Fish och Delikatess. We bought some lax (marinated salmon), Skagen Röra, smoked mackerel and salmon pâté. I don’t think we’ve eaten meat for the past two weeks!
We then continued on to the best bakery – pastry shop – café in town, Fahlmans. Fahlmans has just the best artisanal thin knäckebröd (Swedish crisp bread)! We bought 8 packets so that we could have some for the next couple of weeks. We also bought some artisanal rye and sourdough bread. Fahlmans is also a great place to have a cup of coffee and watch the world go by. They have a large outdoor terrace during the summer months.
Next stop, the Peter Beier chocolate boutique on Södra Storgatan, where we almost cleaned out the shop. Just kidding, but we did buy a lot of chocolate, especially the 88% cocoa medallions. Danish Peter Beijer makes possibly the best artisan chocolate in Europe (and we’ve tasted plenty of chocolate as we live in Switzerland). They have their own plantation in the Dominican Republic and all of their chocolate comes from beans grown there.
The Peter Beier chocolate shop in Helsingborg
Jacques also managed to find a salon for a haircut. There are salons everywhere, including hipster-style barbershops, but it was difficult to find one that that had a drop-in slot. He finally got one at Solid Hair on Kullagatan, and the hairdresser did a great job.
Lastly – a great restaurant tip. Frida’s restaurant is also on Kullagatan, just 5 minutes away from the marina. It’s creative, high-level cuisine with mostly local ingredients, presented in a lovely minimalist fashion. Delicious for the eyes and the palate. We highly recommend it!
Toast with chanterelles sautéed in butter, löjrom (a type of caviar), ciboulettes and sour cream at Frida’s Restaurant
Frida’s version of a hamburger and french fries
What Helsingborg used to look like back in 1589
The “boardwalk” along the marina in Helsingborg. It leads to a long beach area towards the north.
City Visit: Copenhagen
Many cruisers who visit Copenhagen only stay for a couple of days. We understand, they perhaps have only a month or two in their cruising schedule — perhaps much less. But Copenhagen deserves your time. We certainly had lots of time for Copenhagen.
It’s truly one of the most amazing cities in Europe (in our opinion, in the top 3). It’s charming without being cute. Friendly without the fake smiles. Stylish without the pretension. Historic, yet cutting-edge modern. Beautiful, yet humble. Sophisticated, yet down-to-earth.
Perhaps the best word to describe the vibe in delightful Copenhagen is cosy or confortable. You get the feeling that there is no stress going on here — not even during rush hour. We stayed in Copenhagen for a week and could have stayed for a month!
Our marina is a few metro stops from the center of town, but a 5-minute ride to the Amager Strand metro station. Copenhagen has a big bicycle culture, so we didn’t hesitate to unpack our folding bicycles and take them on the metro with us. Bicycles are allowed on the metro outside of rush hours (7.00-9.00 and 15.30-17.30). You need to purchase a ticket for your bicycle (DKK 13 in 2016). The walk to the metro station would have taken us around 15-20 minutes.
We explored the Christianshavn area on our bikes on the first day. It’s the part of Copenhagen that most resembles Amsterdam with it’s criss-crossing canal system. Some of the canals have guest harbours, but your boat needs to be less than about 45 feet to get a space. The cobblestone streets, cafés, canals and beautiful architecture made for an interesting morning of exploration.
A common site in Christianshavn, Copenhagen
Live-aboard boat in Christianshavn, Copenhagen
Seagull protecting its territory in Christianshavn, Copenhagen
One of the marinas in Christianshavn
Yet another marina in Christianshavn
Afterwards, we had lunch on the sunny terrace at Almanak, part of the restaurant group housed in “The Standard” building. The lunchtime smørrebrød is fantastic and we can recommend the superb dinner menu as well. We had dinner there last summer.
“The Standard” houses the restaurants “Almanak”, “Studio” and “Verandah”
Lunch at Almanak in Copenhagen
The next day, we did the shopping thing and hit the Strøget area. The Strøget is Copenhagen’s pedestrian shopping street and includes most of the major Danish brands and Design houses. Ilum, Illums Bolighus, Georg Jenssen and Royal Copenhagen are all here. We had lunch at Café Europa which turned out to be a nice surprise. We weren’t expecting the food to be so good as it’s located just at the Amagertorv square. Usually, restaurants that are well-located don’t have to try hard to get people in the door, so the food quality and the service suffers. Not in this case. We had a delicious 3-plate smørrebrød menu and the service was quick and friendly. Then it was back to the metro before the 15.30 “bicycle curfew” and back to the marina and our dog, Senna.
Luckily, she’s used to us leaving during the day (for work) so she usually sleeps while we’re away. We’ve been leaving her on the boat for about 4 hours with no problem at all, as long she gets a long walk before we leave. And of course a long walk when we get back to the boat. It hasn’t been very warm in Copenhagen, around 18 degrees, so if we leave all of the smaller windows open, it’s not hot in the boat. We leave a couple of fans running for Senna as well.
Day four was a rainy one, so we decided to walk to the National Aquarium, “Den Blå Planet” (the Blue Planet). It’s a large aquarium that’s a breath-taking architectural masterpiece in itself. Five different wings show five different water environments, such as the deep oceans, the amazon jungle, coral reefs, or the baltic sea. It’s well worth a visit on a rainy day.
We bicycled to Slottsholmen on day 5. The tiny island of Slottsholmen is home to the former royal residence of the kings and queens of Denmark, Christianborg palace. It’s quite a huge place to visit, so you can buy tickets for the entire palace, including the stables, or for just some of it. We opted for the royal kitchens and the ruins underneath the palace, this time around. The ruins are fascinating because the tour tells the history of the palace, from it’s humble beginnings in the 11th century, through to the 20th century. The palace was torn down and built up as a bigger and better version several times. It was also victim of fires three times in its more recent history and had to be built up again from its rubble.
We spent our last day just strolling through the streets of the city center and bicycling through Nyhavn, basking in it’s ambience, its cosiness. We had lunch at the fish restaurant on the top floor of the Illum department store — not bad but not the same standard as Almanak or Café Europa.
Charming little outdoor restaurant next to one of the canals
View of the architectural masterpiece the “Black Diamond” library and national photo museum.
It’s easy to see why Nyhavn is one of the most popular social spots of Copenhagen.
Former lighthouse boat, now moored in Nyhavn
Nyhavn on a bright and beautiful afternoon
One of the many renovated former harbour depots in Christianshavn
A beautiful morning in cosy Copenhagen
Panorama of Copenhagen’s inner city from the Christianshavn district
Tomorrow morning, we will set off for Møns Klint, one of the most famous Danish landmarks, and the marina Klintholm
Even though Copenhagen has a number of marinas, even a few in the center of town, we chose the one in Kastrup because it was the most dog-friendly.
Located near the National Aquarium and just a 12-minute metro ride into the center of Copenhagen, it provided us with the best of both worlds — the space for dog walking and playing and nearness to the city. In addition, it’s located next to Copenhagen’s most popular beach, Amager Strand.
It uses the system of green and red places — your can used any place marked green (meaning the owner will not be back for at least three days). When in doubt, you can ask at the marina office. We arrived early enough to get a place for our boat, which is no mean feat. There is only one place in the marina for a boat that’s 55 feet (17 meters) long. This is the biggest disadvantage of having a long boat. You can’t just fit in anywhere like a 36 or even 40 footer.
Here’s some basic information about Kastrup marina:
- Showers and toilets
- Laundry facilities
- Marine supplies/clothing shop
- Fuel station
- Environmental station for disposal of hazardous waste (used batteries, oil, etc.)
- Playground, beach and parks
- Free WiFi
- Telephone number for the marina office: 3250 2127
- Email for the harbour office: firstname.lastname@example.org