The Little Mermaid is located at the northwest tip of Kastellet, a former military fort that is now a public park. In true Danish style, the park is lovely and well-maintained. Start from the south and work your way left around the perimeter; the park is shaped like a five-point star. You can check out the buildings, including barracks, a church and a windmill, or simply enjoy beautiful scenery. Signs (in Danish) will point you toward the Mermaid, but if you start to lose your way simply look out for the buses that drop tourists off roughly every fifteen minutes and follow them.
Once you’ve gotten your Facebook photo, continue southward along the path and you’ll soon see the gorgeous Gefion fountain. The fountain depicts the Norse goddess Gefjun, an Artemis-type virgin warrior who is believed to have carved the Swedish lake Malaren and used the land to make the Danish island of Zealand. Take all that info in and then head next door to St. Albans Kirke, named after the first British saint. As long as it’s not Sunday, you can poke your head in and take a look around.
Ahead of you is the Frihedsmuseet, aka the Resistance Museum. This museum with free entry chronicles the history of the Danish people who resisted the Nazi occupation during World War II and, in some cases, paid with their lives. One of the most touching stories is of how almost the entire Jewish community of Denmark was smuggled via boats to neutral Sweden, which is how more than 99 percent of Denmark’s Jewish population survived the war. [Note: the young adult book Number the Stars is great supplementary reading on this topic, even if you’re a grownup.]
Assuming you're up for still more museum-ing, go west on Gronningen and then south on Norre Volgade. Soon, you’ll come across the Statens Museum for Kunst, or the State Museum for Art. Other than a few special exhibits, admission is free. The museum focuses on Danish and Scandinavian art and also has a cool indoor sculpture garden. The spare but relaxing café is also worth a visit if you need to sit, regroup, and check over your map.
Congratulations! You’ve just spent a beautiful afternoon exploring northern Copenhagen, and you didn’t have to pay a cent.
One image of the Dutch Resistance
Tomorrow: A jaunt to Malmo!