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WHEN IN COPENHAGEN SEE THE SIGHTS BY BUS

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Usually when travelers arrive in a foreign city, one of the first orders of business is to sign up for the nearest sightseeing tour.

But commercial bus tours have many disadvantages. Not only are they often very expensive, but on a scheduled sightseeing tour, there is no flexibility. Instead, you're on a strict timetable.One might want to stay to gaze a bit longer at a world-famous painting, or remain in a botanical garden for a few extra minutes amid the blossoms. Maybe it's just not possible to "do" a museum in half an hour.

Generally it's "On the bus, off the bus. Snap some pictures and away we go. Fifteen minutes. Don't be late. We have a lot more to see."

And much of the so-called sightseeing is through a bus window at 30 mph. "On the right you see beautiful old houses ... on your left is a statue of King ... in a minute we will come to the Olympic stadium where the games were played in. ... "

There's an alternative here that doesn't have all of those drawbacks.

Tourists to this Danish capital can sightsee, but at their own pace. And it's much, much cheaper, leaving money over to buy statues of the Little Mermaid or a set of Royal Copenhagen vases.

The city of Copenhagen operates buses - the same kind used by residents - for sightseers. Starting at the city hall (stop No. 1) the buses make continuous loops of the city.

There are nine additional stops at which tourists can jump off and hop back on the buses.

Drivers are very courteous and especially aware that their passengers are unfamiliar with their surroundings.

The stop-off points are at the city's most interesting and popular attractions.

Jump off at the world-famous Tivoli Gardens (stop No. 2), with its amusement rides and restaurants. A visit there might take a few hours.

Check your watch. Another bus always will come by in exactly 30 minutes. Other stops include the Amalienborg Palace (stop No. 5), where the royal family has resided since 1794 and the beautiful Amalievhaven Gardens.

Another attraction at this stop, just a short walk away, is Den Lille Havfrue, the famed Statue of the Little Mermaid. Copenhagan has a statue on every block. The Little Mermaid is Denmark's most well-known one.

Other stops include the Danish Resistance Museum illustrating Denmark's fight for freedom between 1940 and 1945 (stop No. 7).

The Rosenborg Castle (stop No. 9), one of Copenhagen's most beautiful castles and located in King's Gardens, contains the Crown Jewels and the Royal Family's most precious objects collected for more than 500 years.

At the same stop is the Royal Museum of Fine Arts, Demmark's National Gallery, with Danish and international art from the 13th Century to the present.

Buses also stop near the Botanical Gardens (stop No. 10), The Royale Theatre (stop No. 5) and The national Museum (Stop No. 3). The buses run every half hour between 10:30 a.m. and 4:30 p.m. seven days a week between mid-June and the beginning of September. Explanatory guides are available on the buses in Danish, English and German.

Tickets are good for 24 hour periods and cost 20 Danish kroner, or about $3.50 U.S. for adults and half-price for children.