The Your-Mom-is-Visiting Tour of Copenhagen

Your mom is visiting you in Copenhagen! Yayy!! But also, Oh No!!!

Abby Wambaugh is one of the trio who, each week, give us the Coping in Copenhagen podcast. Photo: Sif Bang Mikkelsen.

Here are some surefire ways to distract her from reminding you that your brother didn’t move to a different continent right after she finally paid off her third of his student loans.


Tired, hungry and jetlagged moms are dangerous conversationalists. Do not engage in discussions about your dad, the state of the Democratic Party, or the fire irons that you gave away to a friend in 10th grade as an ironic birthday present. 


Across cultures, all but the most robust Visiting Moms can tolerate exactly one physical activity a day that is not based around food. Do not over schedule.

Arrival Day

Pick her up at the airport at probably 7am because the people who plan these flights have no respect for school drop off. Do the flag thing, let her ride in the front seat of the Metro and pretend to drive it.

Upon arrival at your home, force her to nap immediately: napping is inevitabl. If she postpones napping until after noon she will be up all hours of the night listening to Ken Follett audiobooks and she will spend the whole visit sleep deprived, and worse, telling you about what is happening in her Ken Follett audiobooks.


Wake her to a lunch she will construct herself made from everything you had in your fridge, now placed upon your table. Call it Smørrebrød.

See if she can find a way to like rye bread. Have a baguette ready just in case.

Beware: some Visiting Moms are true freaks and end up loving curried herring and ask you to bring it to them every time you visit and will only believe you love them if you are willing to risk carrying a glass jar full of fish and yellow slime for twelve hours in a carryon with your favorite hoodie and your laptop.


Go to Nyhavn! Take the classic picture of her in front of the colorful buildings. Help her make it her Facebook cover photo.

One of the few real benefits of having a kid living abroad is bragging about it. Help her brag about it!

Do the Stromma boat tour. This is the best! You see so much of the city in one hour (crucially SITTING DOWN) that you barely have to do anything the whole rest of the week to call it a success!

Let her fall asleep on the boat and then tell her everything she missed from the tour guide like you already knew it.

When you get back to shore get your Visiting Mom an ice cream with a waffle and put guf and jam on it! Moms love that crazy Danish stuff!


Take her to bakeries constantly, but especially on a Tuesday, to get her a regular kanelsnegl.  She’ll love that it’s called a snail!!

Then take her to a bakery on a Wednesday to show her that Onsdagssnegl are the same but bigger. BLOW HER MIND with the intricacies of this new pastry culture.

Don’t forget to tell her that here, a “Danish” is called “Vienna bread.” (Wienerbrød) Moms love that!

Note: It is absolutely acceptable if the “bakery” you take her to on Tuesday and Wednesday is actually a 7-Eleven: wait til she claps her eyes on a Danish one of those! Vegan wraps?? Boxed salads?? Not a Slurpee in sight!

Free Glyptoteket

If the Wednesday she is in town happens to be the last one of the month, take her to Glyptoteket (for free!) to look at statues older than America.

The statues are nice and the building is beautiful, but the main reason you are here is to tell her that this museum used to be free every Tuesday and now it’s only free on the last Wednesday of the month, but you never miss it because your mother did not raise a fool.

La Glace

For your Visiting Mom, it is worth splurging on a trip to the fanciest bakery in town: there are 800 kinds of cakes served by people in embroidered green aprons and in the window there is a doll house replica of the whole joint.

This place is expensive for a piece of cake, but the window displays and 1920s Paris feel make it The Most European Thing you can show your mom.

And the coffee and hot chocolate pots come with a free refill so come thirsty and get your kroner’s worth. This place is a serious mom-wower. 

Changing of the Guards

Go to Amalienborg at noon for the changing of the guards. It takes forever and is largely very boring!

Act as though you are riveted. Convince her that she doesn’t understand how it’s fun to watch but you do because you are like a European now.

Afterwards, take her to Strøget. For some Visiting Moms, energy can temporarily regenerate on a pedestrian shopping street. Be ready with electrolytes afterward.

Cherry Blossoms and Cathedrals

Go to Bispebjerg Cemetery and walk your mom through Cherry Blossom Alley. It is very pretty and over quick. Also they have one of those tiny coffee trucks. Ideal!!

Then walk to Grundtvigs Kirke and tell her that in a country full of atheists, you finally found religion, and that religion is… Expressionist Architecture!

Mom loves flowering trees! Mom loves cathedrals! Mom loves high brow jokes that poke fun at the godlessness of this fancy country. SLAM DUNK!  

Prepare before your mom visits

Remind your kids that cursing like they do in front of Danish adults could give Gramma a heart attack and ask them if they really want to be responsible for her death on foreign soil.