22 of the Best Things to Do in Copenhagen

May 29th, 2021
22 of the Best Things to Do in Copenhagen

Copenhagen, Denmark: the Danish capital is a vibrant and cosmopolitan city with a rich history which has attracted travellers for centuries. Here are some of the best things to do in Copenhagen to make your trip a memorable one.

Before we dive into the city's many fun things to do, our most important recommendation for you is to make sure you get a Copenhagen Card when you arrive. This card will get you free entry to a number of the top attractions in Denmark's capital, as well as free use of this beautiful city's excellent public transit system.

The Best Things to Do in Copenhagen

Aerial view of Copenhagen, Denmark

Aerial view of Copenhagen, Denmark

What is Copenhagen known for today?

One of the most interesting things from a traveller's perspective about Copenhagen, and Denmark more broadly, is that Copenhagen is known as one of the world's happiest cities, in one of the world's happiest countries.

The Danes know something about quality of life, and to us this one of the most interesting reasons to visit Copenhagen. There are secrets to living a contended life hidden around this beautiful city...you've just got to go exploring.

Copenhagen has a long history of royalty and the Danish Royal Family still lives in Copenhagen. The influence of the Royal family in the architecture and history can be found all over Copenhagen and is a defining feature of the city and its tourist attractions.

1) Pay a visit to Rosenborg Castle.

Rosenborg Palace in Copenhagen

Rosenborg Palace in Copenhagen

Copenhagen has a long history of royalty and the Danish Royal Family still lives in Copenhagen. The influence of the Royal family in the architecture and history can be found all over Copenhagen and is a defining feature of the city and its tourist attractions.

This beautiful castle was built in the 16th century and is now home to a number of Danish crown jewels; including Queen Margrethe II's coronation dress. It also houses many other treasures such as its tapestries, silver-ware, paintings and sculptures. The Rosenborg Castle is a popular tourist attraction due to its combination of history and beauty, with over 400 years worth of royal heritage on display.

If you're a garden buff, you may also want to check out the King's Garden - also called the Rosenborg Castle Gardens - which are Denmark's oldest Royal Gardens, and features some spectacular flower displays.

2) Pay a Visit to the Statue of Hans Christian Andersen

A statue of Hans Christian Andersen, famous Danish author

Should you visit the King's Gardens, you might also check out the statue of the famous Danish author who wrote many popular fairy tales including The Little Mermaid, Thumbelina, and The Snow Queen.

Many people come here so they can get inspiration for their own stories...perhaps you can inspire the author within yourself as well?

3) Check out the Royal Reception Rooms at Christiansborg Palace

Christiansborg Palace in Copenhagen

Christiansborg Palace in Copenhagen

The Royal Reception Rooms is an exhibit located in the Christiansborg Palace, home of Denmark's House of Parliament. These rooms have been used by Queen Margrethe II and her family to receive guests from all around the world since 1794 when they were first opened. The palace itself was built between 1624-1738 as a new royal residence for King Christian IV; it now houses both the Danish parliament and government ministries such as finance, foreign affairs and defence.

4) Explore Amalienborg Palace, home of the Danish Royal Family

Amalienborg Palace in Copenhagen

Amalienborg Palace in Copenhagen

Amalienborg Palace is a set of four royal residences just west of the city centre, and an important part of Danish history. The palace served as home to King Christian X and his wife Queen Alexandrine - who lived here from 1912 until 1947 when they were forced into exile by Nazi Germany.

The palace has been used continuously since then, with Frederik IX dying there on January 14th at the age of 77. It currently houses Crown Prince Frederik and Crown Princess Mary together with their two sons: Princes Nikolai and Felix (born 2015).

5) Visit North Zealand and Frederiksborg Castle in Hillerød

Frederiksborg Castle near Copenhagen

Frederiksborg Castle near Copenhagen

The North Zealand region consists of the eastern part of Sealand and Copenhagen, and is where you'll find the beautiful Frederiksborg Castle in Hillerød. It was built as a family home for King Frederick II, who ruled Denmark from 1559-1588 and Norway from 1537-1587.

Margrethe I then gave it to her son Christian IV when he took over as king in 1648 until his death in 1670; after that time, Queen Margrethe III used it as well but she did not live at the castle permanently or extensively renovated it like other Danish royals had done before her.

Once you've had your fill of the history of the Danish royalty, you may want to explore the creative side of Copenhagen. Copenhagen is home to a thriving art scene with over 150 galleries and museums, many of which are world-class.

6) Marvel at the The Hirschsprung Collection

The Hirschsprung Collection, Copenhagen's newest art museum is the perfect place to go if you're looking for some modern contemporary art , with a collection of more than 1900 paintings by Danish artists.

One can find both Danish classics such as Anna Zinkeisen, as well as international hits like Roy Lichtenstein's "I Can See The Whole Room! And There’s Nobody In It!"

The museum also features a new and popular outdoor sculpture garden, which is considered one of the most interesting in Northern Europe.

7) Check out the SMK National Gallery of Denmark

The SMK National Gallery of Denmark

The SMK National Gallery of Denmark

If you're a fan of Danish Golden Age paintings, The National Gallery is the place to go.

The museum has an extensive collection with about 1800 paintings and sculptures by artists like Christen Købke (seen in our picture), Peder Severin Krøyer or Thomas Eakins - many of which are on permanent exhibition.

It's also worth mentioning that the building itself was designed by Vilhelm Dahlerup – one of Denmark’s most famous architects.

8) Visit North Zealand - Louisiana Museum

The Louisiana Museum of Modern Art is a bit different from the other museums on this list. While it features some modern art exhibitions, its main focus lies more in architecture and design.

This museum has an extensive collection with about 1800 paintings and sculptures by artists like Christen Købke, Peder Severin Krøyer or Thomas Eakins - many of which are on permanent exhibition.

It's also worth mentioning that the building itself was designed by Vilhelm Dahlerup – one of Denmark’s most famous architects.

Of course, the best things to do in Copenhagen are not always geared for tourists, but rather are features of daily life in this remarkable city. Here's a number of activities where you can blend in like one of the locals.

8) Explore Assistens cemetery and Jægersborggade

Assistens cemetery in Copenhagen

Assistens cemetery in Copenhagen

The Assistens cemetery is the burial site for many famous Danes, including Hans Christian Andersen. The original church was built in 1860-1861 and features an octagonal tower that sticks out like a sore thumb - it's visible from all over Copenhagen.

The cemetery is also home to a number of other famous Danes - including the famous existentialist philosopher Søren Kierkegaard, artist Jens Christian Skovgaard and author Karen Blixen (more famously known by her pen name Isak Dinesen).

The Assistens Cemetery is also home to Karen Blixen Museum (also known as The House On The Hill), which tells her story through pictures, letters and personal items like teapots or photos. It's a green, quiet place for a nice stroll.

If you want to venture out further into Copenhagen's western suburbs, Jægersborggade offers plenty of small shops where locals go about their daily business – think vegetables at Østerbro Food Market, quirky clothes at Findel or Danish souvenirs from the Scandinavian Emporium.

Jægersborggade street has some of the coolest vintage and independent shops and cafés you'll find just outside downtown Copenhagen – also worth mentioning are David’s Bookshop with its amazing selection of books (2100 square meters) and Halvandet galleri which contains works by both Danish artists as well as international ones.

If you're feeling hungry after wandering around Jægersborggade, then try one of the restaurants or bars here - such as Café Norden for a quick lunch, or Torvehallerne Copenhagen which has everything from Danish meatballs to Argentinian empanadas.

9) Relax in the Tivoli Gardens or the Copenhagen Botanical Garden

The Botanic Garden in Copenhagen

The Botanic Garden in Copenhagen

The Tivoli Gardens are a Copenhagen institution, and it's not unusual to see locals spending their Saturday afternoon there. The gardens are home to a lot of attractions including rollercoasters, the Tivoli Concert Hall as well as Aunt Sally’s Bakeshop (famous for its doughnuts)

Once you've had a taste of the Tivoli Gardens, head on over to the Botanical Garden. It's one of Scandinavia's best kept secrets: an oasis with over 15,000 different species from all around the world

The garden is divided into four zones - tropical rainforest zone, Mediterranean zone, alpine area and Nordic Zone - each containing rare plant life that can't be found anywhere else in Denmark. They also offer guided tours where you can learn about the different plants and their uses.

10) Walk through the City Center

City Hall Square in Copenhagen

City Hall Square in Copenhagen

Copenhagen is a very walkable city and it is well-worth exploring on foot. One of the best ways to see Copenhagen is by strolling through their city center, which has a lot of beautiful architecture including The Royal Playhouse and Kongens Nytorv (King's Square).

The City Hall Square is famous for hosting large events such as concerts, so there may be something interesting happening during your visit..

If you want to get away from the touristy streets then head up to Nørrebro with its more local flair. You'll find many historic buildings and great restaurants here that are less crowded than those downtown. Alternatively, head south towards Amager Beach where locals go swimming, or hang out for a bite and a chat near one of the food trucks.

11) Sample some tasty treats at Reffen Street Food Market

Famous Danish n open-faced sandwiches

Famous Danish n open-faced sandwiches

The Reffen Street Food Market is Copenhagen's largest and most diverse. There are over 40 stalls here that offer a variety of good food to sample from all over the world, including Thai curries, danish pastries, Turkish kebabs, Indian samosas and much more!

There's plenty of outdoor seating, so you can enjoy food while people watching some of the

You also may opt to sample the New Nordic Cuisine, which is a popular food trend that Denmark is known for. New Nordic Cuisine is all about local, seasonal, and healthy ingredients, so you won't be disappointed. Danish cuisine in general is excellent, and for foodies this is one of the best things to do in Copenhagen.

12) Take a photo with the famous Little Mermaid statue

The Little Mermaid statue in Copenhagen

The Little Mermaid statue in Copenhagen

The Little Mermaid statue is a Copenhagen icon. She's one of the most famous statues in Denmark and one of the most popular tourist attractions in the city She can be found at Langelinie Pier on Amager Beach.

It may not seem like much when you first glance it - but this bronze statue is actually quite important to many people as its inspiration for Hans Christian Andersen's story The Little Mermaid. You'll find that there are several other sculptures here that represent some of his other works as well.

13) Stroll along the Copenhagen canals

The canals in Copenhagen at dusk

The canals in Copenhagen at dusk

This is a fantastic way to explore Copenhagen, as it gives you the opportunity to get away from the busy streets and really take in some of Denmark's beautiful architecture. The canals are located on three different sides of the city that connect together - Nyhavn (near Copenhagen City Hall), Christianshavn, and Holmen Canal.

14) Have a drink at the Carlsberg brewery

You might even consider hopping on a canal boat for a canal tour that will take you around the city and show off some of Copenhagen's most famous sights.

Carlsberg is the oldest brewery in Copenhagen, and has been producing beer for over 150 years. The Carlsberg Visitor Center here has games, exhibitions, films and even has an interactive tour where you can brew your own beer!

The Carlsberg Brewery is also home to the famous Statue of King Gambrinus - the Patron Saint of Beer. This statue represents their dedication to producing quality craft beers that are still made in Copenhagen today.

It's probably the most popular tourist attraction for those who like to drink, and is it probably the best beer in the world? We'll leave that up to you to decide.

15) Get some fresh air down by the city's harbour

If you want to see something other than the buildings and parks that Copenhagen has to offer, then this is a good place to go. Down by the harbour there are plenty of docks for people going fishing or just taking in some fresh air after walking around all day.

In the summer you may see some beautiful wooden ships coming in and out as you take in the sunset view over the harbour.

16) Explore Christianshavn and Christiania

One of the more alternative areas in Copenhagen, Christianshavn is made up of a group of old warehouses and factories that have since been turned into apartments.

Christiania was founded as an independent community by squatters in 1971 on what used to be an abandoned military zone – it's now home to artists, hippies and people who are just looking for something different than your average Danish suburb (or those living at one).

The whole area has been decorated with colourful graffiti art so you can find some interesting street art while taking a stroll through Christiana.

17) Snap some photos of deer in Dyrehaven

A red deer in Dyrehaven Forest

A red deer in Dyrehaven Forest

Dyrehaven is Copenhagen's largest forest, covering around eleven square kilometres, and is located north of Copenhagen. Here you can bask in the shade of some of the massive oak trees that have been here for centuries, and perhaps spot some of the red and fallow deer that call the forest home.

Such an amazing green space nearby is yet another aspect of what makes Copenhagen such a magical city.

##20) Go back in time with the North Zealand Open Air Museum

The North Zealand Open Air Museum is an open air museum with a collection of over 300 buildings, all built before 1850. Here you can do workshops for cooking and weaving, as well as explore the farmhouse, which features exhibitions from different time periods in Danish history such as traditional handicrafts (e.g., spinning) or home life on farms (including dairies).

The kitchen workshop has ovens that you can bake bread in while learning about ancient dishes like "styrmad" - porridge mixed with rye flour, butter, cream and sugar boiled together until it becomes thick.

The North Zealand Open Air Museum also includes three historic residential properties that were typical of the island's farming communities: Feddetorvet Farmstead from 1740, which features a kitchen with old-fashioned tools and utensils on display; Thorslunde Farmstead from 1845, where you can enjoy demonstrations of traditional handicrafts such as weaving and spinning; and Nystrup Churchyard, which dates all the way back to the 12th century.

21) Go for a long walk down one of the world's longest pedestrian streets

The Strøget in Copenhagen, the world's longest pedestrian street

The Strøget in Copenhagen, the world's longest pedestrian street

The longest pedestrian street in the world is Copenhagen's Strøget, which stretches for a little over five kilometers and has been home to some of Europe's most fashionable people. If you're a fan of high street fashion, this is where to find it in Copenhagen.

A walk down the whole Strøget is a great way to see the city and visit some of its best shops. With plenty of cafés along the street, you'll never find yourself without refreshment for long!

22) Go see what's around the Round Tower

The Round Tower in Copenhagen

The Round Tower in Copenhagen

The Rundetårn, or Round Tower, is one of Copenhagen's most iconic buildings. It is the oldest functioning observatory in Europe, and one of the oldest in the world. Originally built to be just an observatory, it is now also museum which displays exhibits on mathematics and astronomy.

The Round Tower was listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 2015.

When is the best time of year to visit Copenhagen?

Copenhagen has a pretty mild climate with temperatures usually between 12 to 22 degrees Celsius. The best time of year is between May and September, when days are long and the weather is usually warm. However, be warned that in July and August it can become quite hot during the day.

May or June is probably your sweet spot before the busiest tourist season, but when the weather is also really good.

So...where should you begin?

Wheel & Anchor will be exploring Copenhagen on the first leg of our Scandinavia & the Baltics '5x5' trip, beginning In June 2022. Get more information and the full trip itinerary here!

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