By Naz Iskandar, 2nd Year Politics and International Relations
The Croft Magazine//Allow Naz Iskandar to convince you to travel across Northern Europe as he remembers his summer trip and offers you guys his top tips.
Day 1: Lübeck, Germany
Just a 40-minute train ride from Hamburg Central Station.
Chock full of history and culture, Lübeck is the former capital of the Hanseatic League. It’s a small yet gorgeous city; there is tranquillity on every single street. The city is on an egg-shaped island, so you can just walk around the island to explore! Highlights include Hüxstraße, a lovely shopping street, and the many churches and cathedrals in the Old City. Or, head in a random direction, for there are many gems tucked away in the back streets and of the city. If you have a sweet tooth, Niederegger near the City Hall sells some delicious marzipan.
Tip: Carry cash, as card is not widely accepted in Germany.
Days 2-3: Copenhagen, Denmark
Hop on a 5.5-hour long coach from Lubeck to Copenhagen, which includes a 45-minute ferry.
Copenhagen, the Danish capital, is a mix of the anachronistic and the prosaic. A fun fact is that Copenhagen has been attacked twice by the Royal Navy!
Whilst it is certainly a bustling metropolis, Copenhagen also cosy and welcoming in a way that Berlin or London just aren't. I’m told the Danish term for this is hygge roughly translating to cosiness or contentment. Copenhagen is a joy to get around as, unlike Bristol, it is very flat and the public transport very simple.
Sights to see include the Little Mermaid near the well preserve Kastallet Fort. The royal palaces also deserve a visit, especially Rosenberg Castle and the nearby King’s Gardens. If you’re feeling peckish, there are hip cafes and bars everywhere. If you want to shop, Strøget is a long pedestrianised shopping street which has it all. Or, you could simply wander around the city and just soak it all in.
Dinner al fresco at Nyhavn, a bustling waterfront district near the famous King’s Square, is a wonderful experience. At sunset, the technicolour townhouses and canal boats have a lovely golden glow.
Tip: The Black Diamond, part of the Royal Library, is worth a visit if you’re into architecture.
Day 3: Detour to Sweden!
Take a 35-minute train ride from Copenhagen.
If you are feeling a day trip to Sweden, visit Malmö - its third biggest city.You will be taken across the Øresund Strait by way of tunnel and bridge; keep an eye out for the Twisting Torso (Scandinavia’s tallest skyscraper), which is visible from the bridge.
Malmö is a much smaller and more relaxed Copenhagen.
One thing to do is to sample some fika (coffee) and cake, as Sweden has a thriving coffee culture. If you like shopping, Trianglen shopping centre has about 150 stores, and is one stop on the Oresund metro line away from Malmo Central. The rest of the city is gorgeous, so have a walk around and get some pictures and look for the art installations around the city. The museum at Malmö Castle is very affordable, at SEK20 (£1.50-2) with a student discount. Prepare to spend a good 2-3 hours or so here exploring the place!
Tip: Again, bring your passport, as document checks operate at the Swedish border.
Days 4-5: Berlin, Germany
You will notice that I skipped Day 6, which I spent in Lubeck again with a friend as a well-deserved rest day.
Compared to the other cities on this itinerary, Berlin felt very different. It may be grittier than Scandinavia, but its vitality more than makes up for it. If you could only go to one city on this list, let it be Berlin! The German capital has something for everyone. If you like history, Museum Island has some fantastic museums, like the German Historical Museum. And who can forget about the likes of the Bundestag and the East Side Gallery? Buy an AB zone day ticket for the trains and buses and explore! Unfortunately, I skipped the Berlin nightlife on this trip. Although I did watch a concert at the Berlin Philharmoniker, where the acoustics there are world-class.
My favourite part of the trip was on an electric scooter at night along the 17th of June Avenue, which runs through Tiergarten and passes the Brandenburg Gate, Victory Column, and Soviet War Memorial. The landmarks are awe-inspiring, and much more peaceful at nightfall.
Tip: Carry Euro coins, as train ticket machines in Berlin often refuse to take banknotes or card.
Day 7: Half a day in Hamburg
Under a two hour train ride away from Berlin
Hamburg is one of the most affluent cities in Germany, with a long mercantile background. The opulent Hamburg City Hall, or Rathaus, is a great starting point for a walking tour of Hamburg. From here, it’s a quick walk to the breezy Jungfernstieg promenade, with a scenic view of many of the most beautiful bits of the city. There is also lots of shopping in the area, centred on the beautiful Venetian Alsterarkaden. You can walk if you want, but Hamburg has a comprehensive and easy to use transit system. Around the rest of the city, prominent landmarks include the many churches the old warehouse district, Speicherstadt. And finally, the fish market in St Pauli is a sight to behold, selling everything and anything you could possibly wish for!
Featured Image credit: Naz Iskandar / Epigram
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