Cheerful, charming, and champions of contentment and quality of life, Denmark is one of northern Europe’s most appealing countries. Old-fashioned charm and modern design seamlessly intermingle in the capital city of Copenhagen, which is contemporary, chic, and oh-so-cool.
Located on the coastal islands of Amager and Zealand, the avant-garde city boasts the perfect blend of culture and history with beautiful castles and palaces, forward-thinking architecture, world-class museums, art galleries, and the world’s oldest amusement park.
History meets progression in this sustainable Scandinavian city and there is a perfect blend of beautiful historic buildings lining cobblestone streets and sleek modern architecture. It is home to colorful and charismatic neighborhoods, each with its own character and vibe, and the city is one of the most bike-friendly cities in the world so getting around is easy.
Linked to Sweden via the Öresund Bridge, an incredible feat of engineering that connects the two countries by rail and road, Copenhagen is not only one of Europe’s design capitals but has a burgeoning foodie scene with a profusion of Michelin-starred restaurants.
Hygge, meaning “cozy and comfortable” is in the hearts of the Danes, who love camaraderie and getting together to share stories and delicious local Danish cuisine. Hailed as being one of the most liveable and happiest nations on Earth, Denmark will take you into her ‘hyggeligt’ embrace and make you feel right at home.
Here are some of the best things to do in the city of Copenhagen.
1. Ride the World’s Oldest Wooden Roller Coaster at Tivoli Gardens
Based in the heart of Copenhagen, this famous amusement has been attracting visitors since the 19th century and still delights visitors today. The theme park features beautifully manicured gardens and grounds filled with rollercoasters, carousels, old-fashioned carnival games, and fun rides.
Inspired by the famous Danish author Hans Christian Anderson and Walt Disney, the park has a fairytale-like feel, particularly at night when it is lit up with thousands of twinkling lights. The park is seasonally decorated and there plenty of charming little souvenir shops, cafés, and restaurants dotted among the rides. Don’t miss a go on the world’s oldest wooden roller coaster, which dates back to 1914!
The Little Mermaid is a long-standing and much-loved symbol of the city and Denmark. Sculpted by Edvard Eriksen in 1913, the bronze statue was inspired by Danish author Hans Christian Andersen’s eponymous fairytale. The mermaid sits elegantly on a rock next to the water at the Langelinie promenade and is just four feet high.
Strøget is a pedestrianized shopping area in the heart of the city that stretches for almost a mile from City Hall Square (Rådhuspladsen) to Kongens Nytorv. It is one of the longest pedestrian shopping streets in Europe and is home to a wonderful mix of retail stores from trendy brand stores and high-end boutiques to budget-friendly chains and souvenir shops.
As you stroll down the street, look up and down the side streets to catch glimpses of some of Copenhagen’s most beautiful sights and attractions, such as Helligåndskirken, the courthouse at Nytorv Square, the Church of Our Lady, and the Stork Fountain at Amagertorv Square.
Strøget is also a popular hangout for street performers and you can often see performances by acrobats, magicians, and musicians, especially at Amagertorv Square.
Address: City Hall Square (Rådhuspladsen) to Kongens Nytorv
Nyhavn is the most iconic landmark in Copenhagen and one of the city’s gems. The historic waterfront area has a charming 17th-century harbor with traditional wooden ships and modern boats. The quay is lined with pretty pastel-hued, 18th-century merchants’ houses, three of which were once home to fairytale writer Hans Christian Andersen.
The picturesque quay is also lined with numerous bars, cafés, and restaurants, some of which serve the best seafood in the city. It is perpetually bustling with locals and visitors but is a must-visit when exploring the city.
Rosenborg Castle is a fairytale castle set in one of Copenhagen’s oldest royal parks. Built by King Christian IV in 1606 as his summer residence, the spectacular Renaissance castle features lavish interiors filled with tapestries, artworks, and treasures, including an impressive Venetian glass collection and the Danish crown jewels.
The King’s Gardens (Kongens Have) surrounding the castle are a popular spot for walking and picnicking with locals. There are plenty of leafy spots for relaxing, a charming café, a traditional puppet theater, and two pétanque pistes.
The National Museum of Denmark in Copenhagen is Denmark’s largest museum and boasts a spectacular display of Scandinavian cultural history. Located in the 18th-century Prince’s Palace, the museum features exhibitions from the Stone Age through the Viking Age to modern Danish history.
Be sure to check out the incredible Trundholm Sun Chariot, a Bronze Age artifact dating back to 1,400 BC of a bronze statue of a horse pulling a gold disc representing the sun. Be prepared for crowds in the high season.
Address: Prince’s Mansion, Ny Vestergade 10, 1471 Copenhagen K, Denmark
Copenhagen is one of the most bike-friendly cities in the world and there is no better way to explore than by bike. There are countless companies offering rentals in Copenhagen, but the long-standing hi-tech City Bike scheme has been running the longest. Some bikes even come with a touch-screen tablet with built-in GPS!
The Copenhagen Botanical Gardens are a 10-acre green oasis in the center of the city and worth a visit to see the magnificent gardens and the majestic 1870s iron and glass structures that house them. The arboretum is home to more than 13,000 plant species of living flora, housed in a complex of historic 19th-century greenhouses.
Highlights include the Arctic house, in which hi-tech air-conditioning recreates a polar environment for the gardens’ Arctic species, the rhododendron garden, and a glasshouse with cast-iron spiral staircases leading to walkways above the trees. There is also a butterfly house to explore in the summer.
Freetown Christiania, or simply Christiania, is a commune on the site of old military land in Christianshavn. The autonomous anarchist district was established back in 1971 during the counterculture movement in the city and features artists’ studios, organic shops, cafés, and music venues owned by people who seek autonomy from the government.
There are good vegetarian restaurants like Morgenstedet and at Grønsagen and several live music venues. Christiania is also home to ALIS Wonderland, one of Copenhagen’s most famous skateparks. The commune is renowned for its drug activity, so be aware of the “do’s and don’ts” before entering.
Set on the small islet of Slotsholmen in the heart of Copenhagen, Christiansborg Palace was once a royal palace and is now the seat of the Danish Parliament and home to the Danish Prime Minister’s Office, and the Supreme Court of Denmark.
The palace has some exquisite rooms, some of which are used by the Royal Family for various functions and events, such as the Tower Room and the Oval Throne Room where the Danish monarchs are proclaimed. The Great Hall is where all the Queen’s tapestries hang, depicting 1,000 years of Danish history.
Guided tours of the palace include visiting the Riding School and the little court theatre which was built in 1767.
Copenhagen’s Church of Our Savior offers one of the most beautiful views of the city. The beautiful baroque church has a towering helix spire with a corkscrew-shaped staircase that can be climbed to overlook the gorgeous Danish city. Not recommended if you suffer from vertigo!
The church was built by King Christian IV in 1695 as part of an effort to expand Copenhagen. The spire was designed by Lauritz de Thurah, who drew inspiration from Rome’s Sant’Ivo alla Sapienza.
Address: Sankt Annæ Gade 29, 1416 Copenhagen, Denmark
Danish design lovers will delight in the Design Museum Danmark. Housed in a beautiful Rococo building that was Denmark’s first public hospital and is an artwork itself, the world-class museum features one of the world’s largest collections of Danish design.
Exhibits include a wealth of decorative art, ceramics, glass, fashion, textile, and poster art, as well as industrial design from Denmark. You’ll find works by Danish designers like Arne Jacobsen, Kaare Klint, Finn Juhl, Poul Kjærholm, Hans Wegner, and Verner Panton and can enjoy interactive workshops and in-depth guided tours.
Address: Bredgade 68, 1260 Copenhagen, Denmark
Opening Times: Tuesday to Sunday from 10:00 to 18:00 (Sunday: free 30-minute guided tour in English at 14:00)
Designed by Danish architect Bjarke Ingels, CopenHill (Amagar Bakke) is a multi-use waste-to-energy plant and the city’s epicenter for urban mountain sport. The architectural marvel has a 1,300-foot skiing and snowboarding slope on top of the center, as well as the world’s tallest climbing wall and a “Garmin Tracket” – a track up the side of the building resembling a mountain trail.
If you aren’t into mountain sports, walk to the top for some fabulous views of the Øresund strait and enjoy a cold beer at the café.
Address: Vindmøllevej 6, 2300 Copenhagen, Denmark
Opening Hours: 11 am – 8 pm, daily (Check website for various opening times for each section)
Get another perspective of the city from the water. Join a hop-on/hop-off boat tour that allows you to board the boat at seven unique spots at any time for 48 hours and see the city in a new light. Glide past famous sights like Amaliehaven, the Little Mermaid statue, and Christiansborg Palace.
You can also skipper a solar-powered GoBoat around the city’s harbor under your own steam. These comfy boats putter along at a leisurely pace and you can take in famous sights like the multicolored houses of Christianshavn, the Royal Danish Opera House, and the striking Black Diamond library.
Boasting beautiful views of the Copenhagen harbor and the Royal Danish Opera House, elegant Amalienborg Castle is the home of the Danish Royal Family. Originally built for four noble families, the palace burnt down in 1794 and after being rebuilt was sold to the Royal Family.
The palace features four identical classical palace façades around an octagonal courtyard which has a monumental equestrian statue of Amalienborg’s founder, King Frederick V in the center. Watch the changing of the guards every day at 10 am and noon.
Jaegersborggade is a charming, cobbled street in Copenhagen’s Nørrebro neighborhood lined with brightly colored buildings and a slew of organic produce shops, ceramics and jewelry designers, art galleries, and buzzing bars.
You’ll find the best coffee in town at a specialty micro-roastery and coffee consulting company, The Coffee Collective, and the Michelin-starred restaurant Relæ for an out-of-this-world fine dining experience. The only caramel cookery in Copenhagen is on this street and should not be missed for a sweet treat.
The street’s southern end is home to Assistens Kirkegård, a leafy and exceptionally picturesque cemetery where famous Danes such as Hans Christian Andersen and Søren Kierkegaard are buried.
The Torvehallerne Food Market is a gourmet food market and a foodie’s wonderland. Twin glass halls house a cornucopia of fresh produce, meats, seafood, and baked goods, as well as gourmet items from around the world.
There are plenty of stalls selling freshly prepared dishes to enjoy at the market or to take home – try popular favorites like the bánh mì from LêLê street kitchen, gourmet porridge at Grød, and confit duck sandwiches at Ma Poule.
The National Gallery of Denmark (Statens Museum for Kunst) is Denmark’s largest art museum and is famous for its breathtaking collection of Danish Golden Age art, Danish contemporary art, and one of the world’s best Matisse collections.
Located in Østre Anlæg Park, the gallery houses outstanding collections of Danish and international art dating back seven centuries, as well as special exhibitions, royal collections, guided tours, and workshops.
Make a stop at the Kafereria after your visit to admire the exquisite Danh Vo-designed interiors that feature classic Danish furniture combined with cool designs from Italy and Japan.
The Marble Church, officially known as Frederik’s Church (Frederiks Kirke – Marmorkirken), is an exquisite Rococo church that was built in 1749 by King Frederik V. Standing sentry over the Frederiksstaden district of Copenhagen, the Evangelical Lutheran Church is said to be one of the most fantastic places of worship in the city.
Escape the hustle and bustle of the city for a moment of peace in the church with its characteristic copper green dome and striking artworks. The church room is open to the public every day and it is one of the most popular places in the city to get married.
The Kastellet (Citadel) is a 17th-century fortress in the heart of Copenhagen and one of the most beautiful landmarks in the city. Set on the border of inner Copenhagen and the area of Østerbro, the Citadel was founded by Danish King Christian 4 in 1626 and is used as an HQ for military operations today.
Constructed in the form of a pentagon with sturdy bastions at each corner, Kastellet is one of the best-preserved fortresses in Northern Europe. It is open for the public to enjoy and has several walking and jogging tracks that wind around the Citadel.
Address: Hovedvagt, Kastellet 1, 2100 Copenhagen
21. Take in Panoramic City Views from the Round Tower
The Round Tower (Rundetårn), formerly known as Stellaburgis Hafniens, is a 17th-century tower located in central Copenhagen and the oldest functioning observatory in Europe. The tower was built as an astronomical observatory as one of the many architectural projects of Christian IV of Denmark.
Today, the observatory is still used by amateur astronomers and can be visited by the public. It is encircled by an outdoor platform that can be reached by a 700-foot spiral walk and provides magnificent views of the old part of Copenhagen. There is also a library hall at this level which once housed the entire book collection of the university and was often frequented by famous Danish writer H.C. Andersen.
Take a break from sightseeing and have a soak against a backdrop of beautiful views. CopenHot is a contemporary and ultra-cool fresco spa in the industrial-hip Nordhavn neighborhood that is perched right on the water with unbeatable views.
This only-in-the-know attraction features a cluster of wooden hot tubs and saunas filled with mineral-rich saltwater and heated from a crackling fire below. This is the perfect spot to unwind and enjoy a romantic sundowner.
Jump on Copenhagen’s City Train and see the city from a different perspective as you sit back and relax and enjoy the ride. The beautifully restored train begins the journey at Round Tower and chugs along at a leisurely pace, passing all the top attractions until it reaches the Copenhagen Cathedral. The full tour takes approximately 45 minutes.
The Cisterns (Cisternerne) is a multimedia installation space located below the grounds of Søndermarken park and forms part of Frederiksberg Museums as a venue for art exhibitions and other events. The main attraction of the Cistern is the space itself, which was once a vast subterranean reservoir filled with drinking water for the city.
The reservoir also served as a reflection pool for the nearby Frederiksborg Castle and was the only dripstone cave in Denmark. Today, the damp and gloomy labyrinth which is filled with stalactites and stalagmites makes for an interesting, albeit a rather noir exhibition space.
Address: Cisternerne i Søndermarken, Frederiksberg, Denmark
Opening Hours: Tuesday – Sunday, 11 am – 6 pm / Friday 11 am – 8 pm
Escape the city and head into the great outdoors at the beautiful wildlife sanctuary of Jægersborg Dyrehave, also known as Deer Park. Located on the northern side of Copenhagen, the seven square mile forest park is home to huge, ancient oak trees, rolling grasslands, and over 2,000 red and fallow deer.
You can enjoy a range of activities in the park from hiking and mountain biking to horseback riding, fishing in Stampedam, kite-flying, and picnicking.
Reffen Street Food is the largest street food market in Scandinavia, and you’ll find food from all over the world here and a fantastic social vibe. Gastronomy, craft, culture, and community come together in this urban playground set on the quay in Refshaleøen where over 40 vendors sell a variety of organic produce, delicious ready-to-eat meals, and other gourmet delights.
Grab a bite and a drink and hit one of the sun chairs on the quay where you can sit and watch the life at the Copenhagen harbor.
Address: Refshalevej 167 Unit A, 1432 Copenhagen, Denmark
Located just north of the city center in one of Copenhagen’s most ethnically diverse neighborhoods, Superkilen park is an ultra-modern diversity park that celebrates diversity through design. The park is divided into three different zones: The Red Square, The Green Park, and The Black Market, each of which features globally-inspired design elements with futuristic high art touches.
From a neon pink, orange, and red public walkway to a glistening black octopus that forms a children’s playground and lawns formed into round shapes and blobs of nature, this psychedelic urban area garnered international acclaim and is a must-visit if you are a design-lover.
Home to more than 22,000 bottles of beer, this collection is simply breathtaking to see. Leif Sonne, an engineer from the small town of Svendborg, has been collecting bottles of beer in every style and brand, and from countries around the world since 1968.
When the collection grew too large for his home, it was moved to Carlsberg Breweries where visitors can take a look at the incredible collection. Leif Sonne now holds the Guinness Book of Records for owning the largest collection of beer bottles in the world.
Address: 100 Ny Carlsberg Vej, Copenhagen, 1760, Denmark
This monumental Gothic-style church is a rare example of an expressionist church and simply breathtaking to look at. Located in the Bispebjerg district of Copenhagen, the sublime architectural marvel is one of the most distinctive buildings in the city with its soaring facade that evokes the shape of a church organ.
The church was designed and constructed by master builder and architect Peder Vilhelm Jensen Klint in honor of N.F.S. Grundtvig, a 19th-century Danish philosopher, poet, historian, and reformer. It features more than six million yellow bricks and a serene, peaceful ambiance.
Address: På Bjerget 14B, 2400 Copenhagen NV, Denmark
Almost hidden by the waters of the Frederiksholm canal beneath the Højbro Bridge, is one of Copenhagen’s hidden gems. It is an underwater sculpture by the Danish artist Suste Bonnén inspired by the Danish ballad “Agnete og Havmanden” (Agnete and the Merman).
The bronze sculpture depicts the haunting scene of Agnete’s merman husband and her abandoned mer-children longing for their long-lost mother as they reach up towards the surface. It’s easy to miss so keep a keen eye out as you pass by on the boat.