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With camera like a tourist

Top 7 Best Scenic Tower Views in Copenhagen

By | With camera like a tourist | No Comments

Getting to the top viewpoint of a flat city is difficult. Fortunately we have plenty of towers that will provide a stellar view to the city. And you can get into them for free or a small fee. Some are easy to access others will give you absolutely free fitness on the plentiful stairs. But where is the very best views actually in Copenhagen? Views where you can enjoy the old skyline and the historical details on the old buildings?

The skyline of Copenhagen is very low due to former fire regulations. But in the recent 20 years we see loads of Minecraft building block (cubes) inspired architecture popping up all over. Slowly hiding the old towers and vibrancy of the core city.

So, get out there before the skyline will look a suburban shopping center!

However, when you are up in a beautiful tower, you wont see that one in your panoramic view. But I would suggest you go for at least a two tower trips. Which will give you the best views towards the core of the city. The towers are quite close to each other so you can walk from A to B to C.

I have mapped all of them into this google map for your convenience:

https://drive.google.com/open? Map of Towers in Copenhagen

Green Marker: Generous opening times during the day

Blue Marker: Restricted access to certain hours, days or seasons.

1) Church of our savior | Vor Frelsers Kirke

The Church of Our Saviour (Danish: Vor Frelsers Kirke) is a baroque church in Copenhagen, Denmark, most famous for its helix spire with an external winding staircase that can be climbed to the top. the helix is build counter clockwise. It is also noted for its carillon, which is the largest in northern Europe and plays melodies every hour from 8 am to midnight.

It is a very beautiful tower where you will experience loads of stairs an an adventurous ascent. Not for the fainthearted!

The view is very spectacular facing all the other towers and even a top view on Christiania and the all the new Minecraft inspired block buildings on Amager.

Address: Sankt Annæ Gade 29

Website check for fee and opening hours:

http://www.vorfrelserskirke.dk/taarnet

Getting up: Fairly easy first part. The last part is getting narrow before you enter the helix. If you have fear of heights this might not be the adventure for you. The rail is designed in 1752 where people were not that tall. It’s a thrill!

The view from Church of our Savior:

Windmills at sea and the industrial area. In Front a look into Christiania and the green area.

2) The Tower | Tårnet

-is basically the tower on the parliament building Christiansborg Castle. The palace is home to the three supreme powers: the executive power, the legislative power, and the judicial power. It is the only building in the world that houses all three of a country’s branches of government. The name Christiansborg is thus also frequently used as a metonym for the Danish political system. Or “Borgen” as in the TV-series. You do not get to the very top, but the view is really good. You’ll get the best view towards The church of our Saviour, The old Stock Exchange (Børsen) with the dragon tail tower. The tower has 4 super big openings where 2 of them covers the old core of the city. It is a very roomy viewpoint just as The Round Tower. But it can have a crowded que to get up there in high season.

Address: Slotsholmen

Website check for fee and opening hours (this one is FREE):

https://taarnet.dk/praktisk-info

Getting up: There is a security check where your bags gets scanned. There is basically no stairs. You have the chance to go full elevator up. First will get you to a restaurant. Second to a platform hosting another elevator or stairs for the last few meters. Thus meaning there is access for wheel chairs here! Also a very good opportunity for the not so mobile elderly to get a top view.

The view from Tårnet

3) The Round Tower | Rundetårn

The Round Tower was built by Christian IV between 1637 and 1642. It was the first part of the Trinitatis Complex, which combined church, library and observatory in a single building. Maybe that was the reason tor the trinity name. The spiral walk is 281 m long and winds itself 7,3 times round the hollow core of the tower. The Round Tower is Europe’s oldest functioning astronomy observatory. Used by amateur astronomers and others who wish to explore the skies. The view is literally in the middle of the city with a perfect look toward Vor Frue Kirke. The fence around the platform might be a bit spoiling but you will get fine info graphic telling which towers you see in the horizon.

Address: Købmagergade 52A

Website check for fee and opening hours:

http://www.rundetaarn.dk/en/the-tower/

Getting up: You walk upwards on a spiral ramp. The last final steps are on stairs to the view platform. There is a kiosk on the top trying to sell overpriced souvenirs and ice cream.

The view from Rundetårn

The ascent and descent is always a thrill for children!

4) The Marble Church | Marmorkirken – Frederiks Kirke

This is the 5th largest dome church in Europe. And it is a part of the line architecture around Amalienborg. The church was planned and started to become built in 1749. In 1770 the process stopped due to the next King did not want to spend money on it or he just lacked money. Later a rich guy named Tietgen, who obviously managed his wealth way better than the royal family, spent some of his wealth to finish the church and it opened 1894. The inside of the church is worth to explore. The view is mathematically perfect towards the Royal residence and the Opera.  This is the very best view towards Frederiksstaden (the city area containing Amalienborg – Royal Residence).

Address: Frederiksgade 4

Website check for fee and opening hours (only guided access @13 in summer):

http://marmorkirken.dk

Getting up: You walk upwards in a wide staircase to a exhibition platform circling the bottom of the dome. The you take a narrow spiral staircase before entering the dome hall. The rest of the way is on modern metal stairs with a fenced rail. From here you can explore the dome from inside. It is a small run so you will not be exhausted.

The view from The Marble Church

Amalienborg

5) Copenhagen City Hall | Københavns Rådhus

Construction began in 1892 and the hall was opened on September 12, 1905. The City Hall has been used for scenes in Danish hit tv series like “The Killing” and “Borgen”. The style of the building is national romantic with a lot of decor. Take your time to explore the main hall on exit. It’s worth it. The view is perfect towards Christiansborg. The platform is big and roomy with all 4 sections open.

Address: Rådhuspladsen 1

Website check for fee and opening hours (only guided access):

https://www.kk.dk/

Getting up: You walk upwards in a wide staircase to a exhibition platform.Then you get a spiral staircase followed by rather large wooden section to the top. Quite easy to access.

The view from Copenhagen City Hall

6) Church of Our Lady | Vor Frue Kirke

The Church is worth a sightseeing. Especially due to the work of famous Sculptor Bertil Thorvaldsen. And the clear building style. It has the best view towards Rundetårn. The riddle on the side of the tower is fully visible in a very nice perspective.

Address: Nørregade 8, 1165 København.

Website check for opening hours (extremely limited access to the tower):

In 2018 you may visit the tower from 12-14 on these dates only:

1+2/7 – 22+23/7 – 5+6/8 – 26+27/8

https://www.domkirken.dk

Getting up: Spacious stairs all the way. Really easy access. On the way up you pass the bells. The large bell made in 1828 is the largest church bell in Denmark.

The view from Church of Our Lady

7) Nikolaj Kunsthal

St. Nikolaj Church originated in the early 1200s and is Copenhagen’s third oldest church. As a consequence of the Great Fire of Copenhagen in 1795, the building’s history as a church came to an end in 1805. Since then it has had numerous different functions including, being a fire station, a naval museum and a public library. In 1981 the building became Copenhagen City Council’s official exhibition space.

The view is fine but expensive. The staircase is pretty average. You may only access with a storytelling guide and the story and drop off comments are the same as on the website. The artwork in the tower looks like left-overs from a workshop and is really do anything. The art hall is see itself as a prime source of contemporary art (to the trashy material side.  You will rarely see superior craftsmanship). However, the art exhibition is free on Wednesdays (the tower is never

Address: Nikolaj Plads 10, 1067 København K

www.nikolajkunsthal.dk/en/

Getting up: Wooden stairs most of the way. Only the last bit demands some narrow parts.

The view from Nikolaj Kunsthal

Hiking with camera in the Samaria Gorge

By | With camera like a tourist | No Comments

It seems like every body need to do the hike through the Samaria Gorge when on Crete. And it’s worth it. Definitely. You can either go there with a arranged bus tour or public transport. The public transport is cheap. But you need to figure out the timetable and connections yourself. Not hard though. It’s all kinda online. I decided to take the tour with arranged transport. Because I was hiking alone. Any accident happening I got a solid backdoor back.

What is cost and how to get there?

The public transport is €7.5 one way. The Ferry is €11. The entrance fee is €5. So I guess the backpacker on a budget would prefer this with a final cost at €31.

I decided to travel a bit more safe and bought a travel package to Samaria gorge at Diana’s travel in Chania. That ended op in €28 plus ferry plus entrance fee. All in all €44.

Getting there and getting back

Samaria-Gorge-route

You can click on the map to see a larger version. Use the back button in the browser afterwards.

Red: The busdrive to Omalos.

Fat grey: The Samaria Gorge Walk

Blue: Ferry line to Hora Sfakion

Yellow: Ferry to Sougia

Green: Busdrive back to Chania.

Purple: Busdrive back to Chania.

There is two ferry lines. So you either go Sougia or Hora Sfakion. The boat ride is really nice.

Guide or not?

The tour guide is passive. He is not walking and pacing you. He usually enters 1 hours later than the last. And encourages you to find your own pace and enjoying the Samaria Gorge big time. The guide I had, Marcos, offered his customer’s to borrow a walking stick for free, if they had any knee problems, or just not as fit as they thought they were. The guide is not making this to a group walk. I didn’t see him at all in the gorge. And I took my time.

What to bring?

It’s not a extreme hike. It’s classified as easy and that’s right. There is plenty of water to drink inside the gorge. So, bring your lunch and energy supplies.And maybe sun blocker, unless you like to get toasted. The end stretch is rather sunny.

I would recommend very good walking shoes. And socks. unless you are one of those running around like a happy do,g in those five finger shoes. It’s a tour going down for 14km in rocky and flat downhill terrain. And 4 more on road. If you need to do something the day after, you will be happy with a good choice of trekking shoes. People use 3-8 hours to hike through. I did it on 6-7 hours. And did a lot of time setting up tripod and finding scenic views (also a tad off the foot paved track).

Get to the Samaria gorge as early as possible

Samaria-Gorge-1I stayed in Chania so my pick up was 6 o’clock in the morning. Early. Very early. But why?

The Samaria Gorge is very popular. My mom did it some years ago. And everybody is talking about it, when speaking of Crete. There is a loads of people wanting to experience the hike. Families, kids, teenagers, fitness people, photographers, and grannies.

So, in reality you will meet a lot of people in the gorge. I did the hike on a Wednesday 14th October. I would estimate 8-900 hikers being there through the day.

Since the Samaria gorge is 16km there is plenty of space. But also a lot of bottlenecks. So if you like hiking on solitary, you need to be there before the rest of the bus’ arrive.

When I arrived we were the second bus to come. And we were there 10 min before they opened the gorge for hiking. They open at sunrise.

The route and planning stops

Samaria-Gorge-32Your entrance ticket is your friend. The back has a map where all the water refill stations are marked. Awesome!

There is a Cafe at the Omalos plateau. Great opportunity to empty kidneys and kickstart the hike with a banana and double espresso.

The advantage? the fitness hikers are all gone while you kill the espresso.

Then you easily pass the family hikers.

And get your own walking more solitude that the duck line walking.

My tactics proved right. Some of the way.

The first part is through many stairs. You walk from the top of a mountain to sea level. A descent of approx. 1200m.

After 200-300m you walk in mountain forest. I decided to speed up to pass all the family hikers here according to my plan of the day. I did refills of water and just looked out for photo opportunities.

While beginning the Samaria hike you have great views towards mountains. Then you end in forest terrain. Not many big views here. Then you end in the gorge bottom. With plenty of scenic views. So spend you time wise here!

Due to my purpose to find scenic spots, and just enjoy the spectacularly nature, my tactical walking plan failed. During the day I was passed by many other people. And the later it became, the more people cluttered up on the route.

Hey! It’s beautiful. If you like landscape photography this is just so gorgeous. So use the other hikers as scale models! Then the Samaria gorge just look way bigger and more impressive!

The Church

Yes, it can be entered. And it’s in use!

The Samaria Village Settlement

This is the halfway stop. Good place to eat lunch and enjoy the gardens. Rangers are having a station here where they grow different interesting herbs. The local superstar goat species Kri-Kri might best be spotted here.

The gates (highlight)

The spot where the gorge is around 4 meters wide and 300 meters high. Absolutely nice nature.

The end stretch

The gorge gets narrow and more stony and more scenic. Here I spent plenty of time to look at the nature and hiked rather slow. Also remember to look back. It all looks a tad different from the other side!

The last waterhole

You are supposed to show your ticket here. It’s a count so the rangers know if any people are forgotten in the gorge. You are not allowed to camp in there either. The last stop was under renovation. No water refill possible there. But the ticket officer recommended a newly build cafe just 100m outside the exit … maybe that free source of water refill will take some more time to fix …

The not so boring last 4km

Just after the cafe you will get offered a small buss ride down to Agia.

Don’t.

You will miss the last ruins and history scattered up to the gate.

The Agia Roumeli village

A small settlement with a few taverns. The beer tastes delicious after a hike. Did not try the food. Some people have brought beach gear with them. To pass time waiting for the ferry. So the faster you walk the more waiting time you get … Or beach time.

Tip. The first sea you see is the stone beach. Pass the ferries pier and you will get the sandy beach. This guy either hate sand or didn’t have the strength to walk 300 meters more …

The ferry back to civilization

The ferry is a carriers for people and vehicles. Quite open. So you will have great views of the southern Crete coastline. Do not pack away camera here!

Is Samaria Gorge worth it?

Yes. I’ve seen a lot of nature around the world. This is a good Gorge to spend a day in. I would prefer it to be less crowded, but hey! I just had free scale models in my pictures!

Anything on “secret places to see” or “lonely planet” or “rough guide” well you meet all the other ones who buy those travel bestsellers. The world is getting smaller and smaller. And we want to see highlights. Not explore random areas where our holiday days just disappear in not so scenic views.

Camera Recommendation

I did bring a heavy DSLR and one lens. A 24-105 on a full frame sensor.

You will need wide angle to get the scenic views. If you zoom to much in you loose the landscape.

I considered to bring a 70-300 lens to. But walking a rather narrow gorge might not have the need to take a photo of whats on the top in frog eye perspective.

So, I ended with only bringing the most flexible lens I have. The 24-105. It turned out to be a nice choice.

Then I brought a tripod. Not exactly wildly necessary.

But I had in mind to capture the water calm through the gorge with a ND filter. But there was not a lot of water there in October.

Remember to look back when you walk down.

Gear list:

  • Tripod.
  • Canon 5D.
  • 24-105 lens.
  • Lee ND filter.
  • Comfy strap from.
  • Camera backpack to contain the above and lunch (sandwich, apple and 2 banana’s).

And take your time. The ferry sail at half past five. Plenty of hiking time.

 

If you would like to see more photo’s and details from my hike to Samaria Gorge, you can explore them here on flickr.