Copenhagen

Tivoli Gardens

Tivoli Gardens Entrance
Tivoli Gardens Entrance

I promised in my first post on places in Copenhagen, which was on The Little Mermaid, that I would write a post on Tivoli Gardens because people expect to see something about Tivoli in a series of posts about Copenhagen places. OK. Here it is.

One thing you need to know is that, despite the name, Tivoli Gardens is mostly not gardens. There are a few gardens, some tree-lined pathways and some fields used to hold audiences for shows (see below), but gardens definitely don’t dominate the place.

Tivoli Gardens Lake
Tivoli Gardens Lake

What Tivoli Gardens is is an amusement park. When I say amusement park, don’t think theme park. If you do you’ll perceive something that is 180 degrees and a few acres worth of space from what Tivoli is.

First, Tivoli is quaint. There is nothing flashy or glitzy about it.

Second, compared to most theme parks, such as, for example, Disney World, it is small. Very small. I’d estimate that it would occupy about four blocks square in most cities.

What’s Inside

A Tivoli Gardens Scene
A Tivoli Gardens Scene

Inside the park are some stores, some rides, some carney games, some restaurants, a small lake with a “pirate ship” that serves as a restaurant, a small stage with space for a small audience in front, and a larger stage with a larger field (I’d estimate equivalent to roughly one square block) in front of it to accommodate a larger audience.

The rides include an old-fashioned wooden roller coaster that goes through two small, fake mountain peaks; a metal, looping roller coaster that turns riders upside down a couple of times; a high drop ride; and a few other traditional amusement park rides.

Tivoli Gardens With a Soccer Match on a Big Screen on the Big Stage.
Tivoli Gardens With a Soccer Match on a Big Screen on the Big Stage.

One evening when I was there, there was a dance performance on the small stage and a soccer (sorry, I’m in Europe now; a football) match on a giant screen on the big stage. The field in front of the big stage was jam-packed. Well, actually, it was people-packed. Packing it with jam would have been messy, silly and pointless, but you get the point.

Another time I was there at night and there was a pop concert on the big stage. Again, the field in front of the stage was tightly packed with people.

I went to Tivoli that night because the person at the front desk of my hotel said that it is pretty with all of the lights. She was right. It’s pretty with all of the lights. Unfortunately, the only camera I had with me is the one in my iPhone 4S and I couldn’t get a picture with it that did the lights justice (said the lousy photographer who always blames his tool, or, if you believe my close friends, is a tool.)

A Tivoli Gardens Walkway at Dusk
A Tivoli Gardens Walkway at Dusk

If it sounds as if I went to Tivoli Gardens a few times, or if you guessed that from the varying weather and times of day in the accompanying photographs, you’re right. I was there a few times.

The Copenhagen Card

It’s not that I thought that Tivoli was fabulous. It was quaint, enjoyable and on a scale that I can handle. Plus, it was only a few blocks from my hotel. This made it a nice place to stroll to and around.

There is an admission fee for Tivoli Gardens. In my opinion, it is not worth going back a few times if you have to pay that price. So why did I visit a few times? Because I didn’t have to pay the fee, that’s why. Explaining how I was able to avoid the fee allows me to provide some advice for anyone planning to visit Copenhagen.

A Tivoli Gardens Scene at Night
A Tivoli Gardens Scene at Night

Consider buying something called the Copenhagen Card.

The Copenhagen Card includes admission into several Copenhagen attractions for which there is otherwise a fee. It also allows you to travel on buses, subways and trains in the greater Copenhagen region for free. It also gives you some discounts on other places. If you plan to visit a lot of places while in Copenhagen you’ll probably find that it saves you considerable money.

The Copenhagen Card covers the entry fee to Tivoli Gardens (and all of the other attractions that accept it) for as many times as you want to go in while the card is valid, but if you want to go on the rides at Tivoli (I didn’t), those are extra.

A Tivoli Gardens Scene at Night
A Tivoli Gardens Scene at Night

You can buy Copenhagen Cards that are valid for one, two, three or five days. The time starts not when you buy the card, but when you first use it (actually on the hour after you first use it). You, not the vendor or the attractions staff, write the start date and time on the card. If you’re thinking of cheating by erasing the start time and writing a new one, don’t.

There’s a chip in the card. At most of the attractions the ticket person inserts the card into a reader and looks at a screen. I assume it records the first time you use it and displays that, although I never read what flashed up on the screen so I’m not sure. The chip isn’t used everywhere the card is accepted—I used the card on local trains a couple of times and the conductor just looked at the card—but it is read in most places.

Besides, cheating is unethical. It costs money to run and maintain these places. They deserve to be paid for your use of them.

Because the time on the card doesn’t start until you first want to use it, you can buy the card in advance. You can even buy it online before you go. I bought a five-day Copenhagen Card at a booth in terminal 3 (the one I landed at) of the Copenhagen airport when I arrived.

If you’re going to buy the Copenhagen Card and you travel with an iPhone or Android phone you should download the free Copenhagen Card app. It has a guide to all of the attractions that accept the card and there’s an offline map that will direct you to each attraction. With the app on your phone, you won’t have to carry around the bulky, but still pocket-sized paper-based guide they give you you when you buy the card.

Been there? Done that? Do tell.