If you have Copenhagen on your itinerary, which you should, I have to recommend a half-hour detour up the coast to Bakken, the world’s oldest amusement park.
Originally established in 1583, Bakken preceeds the second-oldest amusement park (in Vienna) by nearly 200 years. Despite having roots in antiquity, this is a modern park, fully functional and full of fun! The best thing about the park: it’s free!
Well, to clarify, entrance into the park is free. You still have to pay for the rides and the food. But if you only want to enter, have a look around, smell the smells and laugh at the sights, you don’t have to spend a dime. If you do want to go on any of the rides, you can either pay at the ride itself, or at the entrance of the park you can buy a coupon book or a wristband. The wrist band is 249 Danish Krona (currently about $37), while a book of 44 coupons costs 199 Krona. Rides are anywhere from 2-9 coupons. There is also the mini-wristband for 179 Krona for those under 75 cm tall.
The oldest ride in the park is a wooden roller coaster built in 1933. Don’t worry, it’s quite safe, and lot a more fun than I had expected of something nearly a century old. It’s been refurbished over the years to ensure it’s not going to fall apart. While it’s not as old as the oldest roller coaster in the world, which happens to be located in the center of Copenhagen at Tivoli, it’s still worth the ride!
Not everything in the park is that old. The Tornado ride is one of the newest attractions. It spins you in every possible direction, and even I got a little dizzy on that ride.
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If you don’t mind getting a little wet, or if it already happens to be raining (as it was when I was there), you can go on the log ride. It advertises that you won’t get too wet, but that must be in relation to jumping into a swimming pool. You’ll definitely get wet. Just leave your backpack under the stairs before you get on the ride.
Altogether, there are 33 rides and 78 attractions throughout the park, catering to every age and taste. Speaking of taste, there’s also plenty of restaurants, buffets and everything else you would usually find in an amusement park. One of the oldest stands at Bakken is the Bøf Burger. My host remembered it fondly from his childhood, and insisted I try one of their burgers. It’s a hamburger but with a twist. I could identify the caramelized onions, but beyond that there were flavors I couldn’t even fathom. The closest I could relate it to is the “wet burger” served on Taksim Square in Istanbul, or perhaps a sloppy joe in the US. They also happen to be quite cheap.
No trip to an amusement park would be complete without some comfort food. My personal favorite was the ice cream parlor. It’s not just about the dozens of flavors, but also all the candy and toppings they use. Each cone is a true work of art. Oh, and this isn’t your Baskin-Robbins mass-produced ice cream. Their ice cream is homemade, and much more tasty. As one of my favorite foods, I know my ice cream!
The park is located at Dyrehavevej 62 – 2930 Klampenborg (click for map). It’s nestled in the bottom of the Jægersborg Deer Park, a 2500 acre wildlife preserve 10 km north of Copenhagen’s city center. To get to Bakken, you can drive there, but you’ll have to pay 60 Krona for parking. Or you can take the C metro (24 Krona/ride), which will let you out at the west end of the deer park, just a couple minutes’ walk from Bakken’s entrance.
Bakken is open March 17th to September 4th. Opening hours vary between 12:00 to 24:00 and 14:00 and 22:00. Speaking of which, while I didn’t get to experience the park myself at night, I’m told that that’s the best time to go, when everything is lit up. After all, the park is free to explore. And don’t forget you get some pretty late sunsets in the Danish summer. Whenever you plan to go, I hope you have as much fun as I did!