See also: Where to Stay in Copenhagen
Copenhagen is the capital city of Denmark and it is no surprise that it also the most well-established and stylish city of the country. The city follows the precedents of a minimalist Nordic design but rebels in other aspects such as its vibrant buildings and unusual murals. You may think you know the city at first glance but it is full of surprises which will leave you fascinated and amused. Gorgeous views of the sea coupled with a rich history, Copenhagen is unforgettable. Here are 30 things you can do while you’re in Copenhagen.
Live Your Fairytale at Rosenborg Castle
The Rosenborg castle is one of the most visited tourist attractions of Copenhagen and was built by the Scandinavian King Christian IV in the 17th century. The renaissance building houses the magnificent crown jewels and contains the Knights hall where you can admire the tapestries and coronation thrones. If you want to marvel at an exquisite collection of Venetian glass windows then, you must pay a visit to the tower chambers and you can also survey the beautiful royal portraits and other regalia. Other rooms such as the bathroom and the king’s writing cabinet are open to the public.
Meet Your Host, the Little Mermaid
The bronze statue of the little mermaid was built in the year 1913 and sits on a rock by the shore in eternal melancholy. The statue is obviously inspired by the classic folktale and has quickly become the city’s official mascot as well as a way to welcome tourists to Copenhagen. Though, the sadness of the mermaid’s face can be justified when you look at its history. In 1964, political protestor took off the head as a way of protest and was replaced by a new head but in the 1980s, the mermaid’s arm was stolen. Since then, the statue has become a site of contestation and resistance to authority.
Stroll Around the Tivoli Gardens
The Tivoli Gardens is an amusement park started in the year 1843 and has since become the purveyor of joy and mirth to both, the locals and tourists. The Gardens can be considered a predecessor to Disney land as Walt Disney is known to have visited it and been inspired by the joy it brings to people. Thrilling and nerve wracking rides such as the Vertigo which will flip you upside down and the Tivoli’s oldest wooden roller coaster as well as the demon which provides a virtual reality experience on a roller coaster and takes you into a Chinese universe.
Travel Back to the Renaissance at Kronborg Castle
The Kronborg castle has breathtaking architecture and renaissance sensibilities intermingled with Victorian era beauty. Built in the 15th century, the castle is best known for being the exact place where Shakespeare set one of his most prolific plays ‘Hamlet’ in. The UNESCO world heritage site is the annual host of the Shakespeare festival which takes place in the summer months and where performers enact the famous plays of the pioneering author. Here, you can also admire the statue of Holger the Dane who is a legendary Danish figure.
Support Local Farmers at Torvehallerne
The Torvehallerne is an enormous market in the centre of Copenhagen and is best known for selling fresh produce such as vegetables, fruits and cuts of meat. The market contains over 60 stalls of different choices of food and some of them are Ma Poule that serves delicious sandwiches that use the best quality baguette and if you’re looking for an open face Danish sandwich you should visit Hallernes Smorrebrod. Pizza is undeniably everyone’s favorite and you can eat a scrumptious one at Gorms. To eat the best Danish baked goods with a ton of rum inside you can dine at granny’s house.
Feel the Joy at Nyhavn
The famous fairytale writer Hans Christian Anderson lived at this commercial port for twenty years of his life and today, it looks like a town from one of his stories. Nyhavn is the perfect place to spend a few quite hours in the day strolling around the pathways and admiring the vibrant and colorful buildings that are used for residential purpose or have been converted into restaurants, bars and cafes. Once known for being a red-light district, Nyhavn’s port is lined with wooden sailing ships that increase the overall surrealism and ethereality of the place.
Admire Art at Glyptoket
Glyptoket is an art museum founded by the prosperous brewer Carl Jacobsen in the year 1888. The museum is divided into two sections and the first one which is known as the department of antiquities contains a rich collection of Roman, Etruscan, Egyptian and Greek art. While, the department of modern art attempt to highlight the golden years of Danish art and houses sculptures and paintings from the 19th and 20th centuries as well as a vast collection of work done by Paul Gauguin. At the end of a fulfilling visit, you can eat a piece of cake at Café picnic and burn off the calories in the winter Garden.
Live Like a Royal at Amalienborg Palace
The Amalienborg Palace is the official residence of the Danish royal family and occupies a vast space with its stunning architecture and various sculptures. The reason the palace has become one of the most visited attractions of Copenhagen is because of the changing of guards that takes place here every day and is also known as Den Kongelige Livgarde. The statue of Frederik V belongs to the year 1771 and is a significant site as well as the Moltke’s palace and Schack’s palace. The museum takes you through the journey of the royalty dating back a hundred years.
Visit the Louisiana Museum of Modern Art
The Louisiana museum of modern art successfully captures the essence of the contemporary art world and does so through a permanent exhibition of 3,000 works of art and multiple special exhibits throughout the year. The art covers a vast timeline starting from the Second World War and contains art work by Andy Warhol, Pablo Picasso, David Hockney, Yves Klein and Asger Jorn. There is also a sculpture Garden that includes works by Max Ernst, Henry Moore and Joan Miro.
Walk in Circles at the Rundetaarn
The late emperor of Denmark Christian IV built the round tower in the 17th century and today, it stands as the oldest functioning observatory of Europe. The scientists who worked here during its glory years made some extraordinary astronomical achievements and today, the rundetaarn is lined with tourists from all over the world. The real beauty of the tower lies in the indoor spiral walkway which leads into the legendary library hall. This is a sanctuary of history, art and knowledge.
Be a Danish Bureaucrat at Christiansborg Palace
The Christiansborg Palace is the most important bureaucratic and administrative building in the city of Copenhagen and this is because it houses the Supreme Court, the Danish parliament and the ministry of State under its roof. Once you purchase the ticket to the royal reception rooms you will be able to visit the oval throne room and the tower room as well as the great hall which is the grandest area of the palace and contains the Queen’s tapestries that showcase the 1,000 year old history of Denmark.
Shop Till You Drop at the Stroget Street
The Stroget Street is a well-known shopping district of Copenhagen and is one of Europe’s longest pedestrian shopping streets. It was established in the year of 1962 and ever since has been bustling with overzealous locals and tourists from all over the world. Some of the unavoidable shops that you should visit include Gucci, Chanel, Boss and the Royal Copenhagen Porcelain factory. You can also marvel at the historic monuments such as the stork fountain, the City hall tower and the Royal Danish theatre.
Get a Beer a Belly at Carlsberg Brewery
You might have a beer belly once you are over with your tour of the Carlsberg brewery but trust me, it will be absolutely worth it. Once you enter the brewery museum you will be shocked by seeing the largest collection of bottled beer in the world that contains over 20,000 bottles. You can either enjoy a sample beer for free at the tasting room or visit the Jacobsen brewhouse and bar to buy yourself a pint or two. Remember to check out their merchandise store in order to take back a souvenir.
Become a Diva at the Design Museum Danmark
The vibrant design museum of Denmark was once the former public hospital of the city but today, it houses a premier collection of decorative crafts, art and textile designs. The museum covers a vast timeline starting from the late middle ages up to the contemporary times. Some of the temporary exhibitions include works by Kaare Klint and Arne Jacobsen. You can also survey the marvelous collection of ceramic arts, glass and fabrics. In the end, you should visit their in-house café at the Gronnegard courtyard.
Breathe in Fresh Air at the Botanical Garden
The botanical garden of Copenhagen is a breathtaking and refreshing site that is spread across an area of 10 hectares and is best known for its vast variety of plant species. In total, there are 13,000 plant species that include perennial, annual and Danish plants as well as a butterfly house which is open to the public during the summer months. The main attraction of the Garden is the 19th century glasshouses that encompass the Danish history and complexity.
Read a Book at the Royal Library of Denmark
The royal library of Denmark was founded by King Frederik III in the 17th century and is a national establishment as well as the official library of the University of Copenhagen. The spell binding contemporary and modernist architecture of the library is also referred to as the black diamond building. Here, you can choose from among six million books and journals as well as more than seven million pamphlets and twenty million prints and photographs. In total, the library houses more than 30 million copies of original works, books, pamphlets, photographs, journals and corporate publications. Here, you can find the rare copies of the Hamburg Bible and the Gutenberg Bible.
An Underground Museum, the Cisternerne
The cisternerne is one of the most unusual yet unique museums in Europe and that is because it is a cave within a city which once acted as a reservoir located within the Sondermarken Park. Many decades ago, this cistern was filled with almost 16 liters of water but today, the inside resembles a quaint cathedral and a damp catacomb. The museum hosts art exhibitions such as the one by Jeppe Hei that takes the visitor on a spiritual journey from darkness into light. Other architectures, designers and artists host special exhibitions in the cistern.
Have a Picnic at Frederkisberg Gardens
If you’re visiting Copenhagen with your significant other then, you must visit the Frederiksberg Gardens built in the 17th century by King Frederick VI. The Garden was built in connection with the regal Frederiksberg Palace and by the 19th century had acquired an English style. The Chinese summerhouse built on an artificial island is accessible by a bridge and the Apis temples as well as the Swiss cottage are built in the romantic style. The Gardens are spread across a vast space and contain a beautiful waterfall.
Visit The Roskilde Cathedral
The Roskilde Cathedral is a spell binding building and its red brick architecture is considered as one of the most important edifice of Europe in addition to being a UNESCO world heritage site. The cathedral dates back to the 12th century when it was constructed by Bishop Absalon and since the time of the reformation, every king of Denmark has been buried here making it the official burial space for the royalty. Here, you can either simply admire the beauty of the tall spires and intricate wall carvings or you can pray for the ones you love.
Become a Rock Star at Ragnarock
The architecture of RAGNAROCK is going to leave you gasping for air because of its cubism inspired structure and colorful panels spread across its surface have redefined contemporary architecture. The museum is known for its kaleidoscopic exhibits about the intermingling of youth and culture across a vast array of time. The museum displays how the youth resisted authority and set an agenda about music which talks of issues and transcends time and borders. This is a museum that is highly recommended and must be visited by people of all ages.
Where Cultures Meet, the North Atlantic House
The North Atlantic house is situated in a former maritime war building from the 18th century and is a cultural center located on the harbor front that aims to bring together cultures belonging to the North Atlantic region. The rustic building carries a unique sophistication to it and one must appreciate the historical significance of countries such as Greenland, Iceland, Denmark and Faroe Islands coming together to create this center. Here, the Icelandic embassy and the Faroe Islands embassy are housed. You can attend live concerts, dance performances, art exhibitions, political debates and other cultural events that take place within its vicinity.
Haven for Hippies at Freetown Christiania
Freetown Christiania is a self-governed commune located in the center of Copenhagen and was started by a group of squatters in 1971. Today, the commune has a total of 850 members and their area is open to the public to stroll around and appreciate. This is considered to be a hippie haven where you can marvel at the 60’s inspired psychedelic murals found at almost every wall of Pusher Street. The area has numerous restaurants, cafés, workshops and art galleries as well as residential homes. Though, outside visitors must be respectful and should be aware of the restrictions on running around and taking excessive photos.
Visit the Military Barrack at the Kastellet
The Kastellet originally a citadel was built in the 17th century by King Christian IV and currently, it is used as a military barrack and administrative building. It is among the most well-preserved fortresses of Northern Europe and the rampart is open to the public to stroll around and admire the striking architecture. The opulent bastions are seen right at the beginning along with the two gates called King’s gates and Norway gate. One of the buildings is known as Commander’s house and is built in the baroque style and serves as the headquarters of the Danish Chief of Defense. Other building includes the rows which were military barracks, the church, the powder room and the prison, all belonging to the 18th century.
Dive Deep at the National Aquarium
The national aquarium offers an experience suitable and enjoyable for both, children and adults. This aquarium is built in such a way that water can be seen on all sides when you enter it and hence, attempts to give the illusion of being underwater. This is also the largest aquarium of Northern Europe and contains various zones such as the coral reef which shows the vibrant varieties of fish and other aquatic animals as well as actual coral reef. The Amazonas provides a whole new experience as you will find multiple types of birds and butterflies hovering around you. Hammerhead Sharks can be found in the Ocean Tank. Visit the souvenir shop and aquarium café afterwards.
Visit the National Gallery of Denmark
In 1827, the National gallery of Denmark was established and many decades later it was renovated and almost rebuilt in the 1960s and the 1990s. The romantic design of the old-Baroque building gives it the appearance of a castle. The rich permanent collection of the museum includes Danish Nordic art from the 18th to the 20th century, European art including works by Rembrandt and Peter Paul Rubens as well as French art including artists such as Pablo Picasso and Henri Matisse. Other artists work found here include Asger Jorn and Mar Ray.
Marvel at Islamic Art at the David Collection
The David collection may seem like an unassuming museum at first site but its unpretentiousness is what adds to its awe inspiring beauty. The museum houses the personal collection of a man named Christian Ludvig David who helped preserve the largest collection of Islamic art in the Scandinavian region. The collection covers the timeline from the 8th to the 19th century and covers every possible place such as Spain, India and the Middle East. The David collection also contains European fine art from the 18th century and a guided tour of the place will help you enrich your knowledge.
Be a Hipster at Jaegersborggade
A hipster approved Hangout Street in Copenhagen, Jaegersborggade may sound like a complex name but in reality it is the most stylish spot in the city. The coffee collective is a café serving a variety of coffee beans and snacks as well as Antidote Vinbar where you can enjoy a glass or two of the best quality wines. Some of the most fashionable boutiques include ladyfingers and vanishing point, both specializing in jewelry. If you’re interested in eating organic porridge then, you must visit Grod and if you’re willing to have a heartier meal then, you should dine at Relae.
Gorge on Street Food at Reffen
Reffen feels like a whiff of fresh air because it is Copenhagen’s premier destination for street food where people of 17 nationalities work at more than 50 food stalls. The area also hosts flea markets, concerts, workshops and live performances. Some of the well-known food stalls here include Thrilla in Manilla, Holy Pita, Grillfisken and Dhaba Street food. Reffen feels like home away from home as you’re surrounded by people and food from so many different countries. The steaming hot food, casual hipster vibe and the feeling of being part of a community is what makes Reffen unique.
Visit Little Paris at Vaernedamsvej
If you’re tired of asking locals for the location of ‘Vaernedamsvej’ you can instead ask for the location of ‘little Paris.’ This is a lovely shopping street of Copenhagen that was established in the late 19th century but did not acquire its chic nature till the 1970s. The most famous restaurant here is the Les Trois Cochons which serves authentic cuisine from Southern France. Other cafes include granola and café viggo, both serve great quality wines. The street is lined with cozy and adorable restaurants and cafes matching the sensibilities found in the most stunning streets of Paris but you may occasionally encounter a minimalist Nordic influence on their design.
Eat a hearty baguette sandwich and rent a bike to get to all the places mentioned on the list, this is the only way you can have an authentic Copenhagen experience. You will be stunned by the vast lush green gardens, the old Baroque and renaissance buildings as well as the geometric precision of the designs. Copenhagen has a place for everyone, an art enthusiast or a foodie and even a fashion enthusiast.