Best Things To Do in Copenhagen
Beyond the traditional tourist must-sees – Tivoli Gardens, The Little Mermaid and Strøget – Copenhagen has a lot to offer. The city is speckled with palaces (especially the marvelous Rosenborg Castle and Christiansborg Palace), top-notch museums and parks that draw visitors from around the world. You should also take some time exploring the cobblestone streets and antique stores of historical Indre By. And if you have time, take the train to Helsingør to see Kronborg Castle, the setting for Shakespeare's "Hamlet."
Updated July 29, 2020
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Situated in the central Indre By neighborhood, this bustling area once served as Copenhagen's commercial port. Today, the region features a variety of eateries inside its restored homes, some of which were built in the late 1600s. In fact, a few famous artists and writers formerly lived in Nyhavn, including Heinrich Gustav Ferdinand Holm (a painter and engraver best known for his Copenhagen depictions) and Hans Christian Andersen (who penned fairy tales like "The Little Mermaid" and "The Ugly Duckling."
Previous visitors loved grabbing a drink or bite to eat in Nyhavn, although some cautioned that prices here are high. Additionally, several raved about the Copenhagen Jazz Festival, which takes place in Nyhavn every July. Many past travelers also recommended signing up for one of the area's canal tours with Stromma Denmark or Netto-Badene. Both operators' tours are available in English, last about an hour and depart daily from Nyhavn. Stromma Danmark's tours cost 80 Danish kroner (roughly $13) for adults and 40 kroner (approximately $6.50) for kids ages 6 to 15, while Netto-Badene's tours will set you back 8 euros (about $10) per adult and 3 euros (less than $4) for each child.
- #2View all PhotosfreeWalking Tours#2 in Copenhagen0.6 miles to city centerFree, ToursTYPE2 hours to Half DayTIME TO SPEND0.6 miles to city centerFree, ToursTYPE2 hours to Half DayTIME TO SPEND
Copenhagen's relatively small size and concentration of noteworthy sights in the central Indre By district make it easy to explore on foot. Available walking tours range from food-focused experiences with tastings to music-centric options with stops at jazz venues to traditional walks that delve into the city's history.
Standard walking tours (which provide historical background about attractions like Tivoli Gardens and Christiansborg Palace) are generally free to join and last two-and-a-half to three hours. Tour start times vary by operator. For friendly, knowledgeable guides, travelers suggest signing up for a complimentary walking tour with SANDEMANs NEW Europe - Copenhagen or Copenhagen Free Walking Tours.
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Though you'll have to trek 32 miles north of Copenhagen to reach Kronborg Castle, this UNESCO World Heritage-listed structure in Helsingør can't be missed. Built in 1574, this Renaissance-style castle played a strategic role in Danish politics and commerce thanks to its location by the Sound Dues. The property also famously served as the setting for Shakespeare's "Hamlet." Unique features you'll find here include a 197-foot-long ballroom, a collection of 16th-century tapestries and the casemates, underground passages once used to protect soldiers and horses during wars.
History buffs, Shakespeare enthusiasts and architecture lovers will enjoy touring this castle. Previous visitors were especially impressed with the property's picturesque harbor views and informative displays (which are in English and Danish). However, a few former travelers cautioned that furnishings here are a bit sparse compared to other Danish castles.
- #4View all Photos#4 in Copenhagen0.8 miles to city centerCastles/Palaces, SightseeingTYPE2 hours to Half DayTIME TO SPEND0.8 miles to city centerCastles/Palaces, SightseeingTYPE2 hours to Half DayTIME TO SPEND
Located on Castle Island in Copenhagen's Indre By neighborhood, Christiansborg Palace houses offices for Denmark's queen, Parliament and prime minister. Rebuilt in 1928 after the two former palaces burned down, the current structure sits atop ruins from the original palace. Rooms inside the present-day palace include the Royal Stables, a 19th-century chapel, the Throne Room and a dining hall.
Visitors praise this palace's interesting exhibits and stunning architecture, adding that the property's tower offers breathtaking city vistas. To make the most of your visit, travelers recommend arriving on a Saturday when 50-minute guided tours (in English) of the palace's Royal Kitchen, ruins and stables are available.
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Located west of Frederiksstaden, Rosenborg Castle was constructed during the Dutch Renaissance and completed in 1633 by King Christian IV. Today, visitors can see how the royal lived during that time, including the speaking tubes (the medieval version of intercom systems), the dining halls and the chamber where the king died in 1648.
A favorite of past visitors was the castle's collection of Danish crown jewels. Many also raved about the property's superb architecture, though some wished there was more information displayed in each exhibit. Others suggested saving time for relaxing in the on-site garden.
- #6View all Photos#6 in Copenhagen0.6 miles to city centerMuseumsTYPE2 hours to Half DayTIME TO SPEND0.6 miles to city centerMuseumsTYPE2 hours to Half DayTIME TO SPEND
The National Museum of Denmark is considered one of Europe's best museums. It presents the broad spectrum of the country's history – from the days of the Vikings to the Danish Renaissance to the welfare state of the late 20th century. The museum's immense collection also includes artifacts from Danish pre-history, Egyptian mummies and coin exhibits from ancient Greece and Rome. It also features a separate children's museum that offers interactive exhibits for little ones, plus other sights throughout Denmark, including the Danish Music Museum and a former prison camp.
Past travelers described this museum as well-organized and informative, although a few felt that some of the collections were out of place here. Some also bemoaned the lack of audio guides but appreciated the English translations on signage.
- #7View all Photos#7 in Copenhagen1.2 miles to city centerFree, Churches/Religious SitesTYPE1 to 2 hoursTIME TO SPEND1.2 miles to city centerFree, Churches/Religious SitesTYPE1 to 2 hoursTIME TO SPEND
One of Denmark's most iconic religious sites is the Church of Our Saviour in Christianshavn. Built in the 1680s and opened in 1696, this Palladian-style church was designed by Danish architect Lambert van Haven. Inside, you'll find a carillon with 48 bells, an organ built in 1698 and an altar that depicts a scene from the New Testament. But the church's standout detail is its oak spire. Created by Danish architect Lauritz de Thurah, the impressive spire features an outdoor spiral staircase, gilded iron rails and a gilded statue of Christ on a globe.
Travelers rave about the Church of Our Saviour's architecture, though many said that the property's biggest draw is the view from its spire. If you want to climb the spire's staircase, time your visit on a calm, sunny day between late February and mid-December, since the spire closes every winter and on windy, snowy and rainy days. Visitors also suggest arriving early to enjoy more elbow room during your climb.
- #8View all Photos#8 in Copenhagen2.2 miles to city centerFree, Monuments and Memorials, SightseeingTYPELess than 1 hourTIME TO SPEND2.2 miles to city centerFree, Monuments and Memorials, SightseeingTYPELess than 1 hourTIME TO SPEND
One of Copenhagen's most iconic attractions is its Little Mermaid statue. Located in Østerbro just south of Langelinie, the neighborhood's pier, the statue is based on the fairy tale by Danish poet and author Hans Christian Andersen. It is made of bronze and granite, and has been a fixture on Copenhagen's waterfront since 1913.
Although some visitors say this statue is a bit underwhelming to see, others recommend making the trek to it, citing its harbor view as its best feature. Tourists regularly flock here, so if you're hoping for a photo op, consider arriving early or late in the day.
- #9View all Photos#9 in Copenhagen1 mile to city centerSightseeingTYPELess than 1 hourTIME TO SPEND1 mile to city centerSightseeingTYPELess than 1 hourTIME TO SPEND
Located a few blocks north of Strøget in downtown Copenhagen, the Round Tower, completed in 1642, is one of the city's many landmarks built during King Christian IV's reign in the 17th century. Designed as an astronomy observatory, the tower still serves that function in some capacity but is best known for its spectacular city views. The building also features the Library Hall, an exhibition space and a music venue.
Visitors say this tower is an architectural marvel, adding that its sunset panoramas are especially breathtaking. But if you're out of shape, some caution that the climb to the top might be a little strenuous.
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If you're a fan of art and archaeology, then you'll love perusing Ny Carlsberg Glyptotek's exhibits. Founded in 1888, this museum and research institute houses more than 10,000 pieces, including portrait heads from ancient Greece and 19th-century French sculptures. Famous artists represented here range from post-impressionist painter Paul Gauguin to sculptor Auguste Rodin.
According to past visitors, Ny Carlsberg Glyptotek offers an impressive collection that you can easily spend hours viewing. Previous museumgoers also enjoyed grabbing a coffee or bite to eat at the on-site cafe, citing its charming location by the property's Winter Garden as one of the main reasons to return.
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Located just inside Indre By's southwestern boundary – a short walk from Strøget – is Tivoli Gardens. First opened in 1843, this property is now one of Europe's most visited theme parks, featuring an assortment of restaurants, theaters and dance halls. Younger children will enjoy the rides, games and shows in Rasmus Klumps World, but there are plenty more attractions for kids of all ages, including a restored roller coaster that was originally built in 1914. When you're not getting your thrills on the rides, stroll through a Chinese-inspired bamboo forest or the Nimb water fountains, admire the marine animals in the aquarium and more. The property also hosts ballets, concerts and other live performances.
Recent visitors said that the rides and light installations (which are available every winter) are not to be missed, but some were disappointed with the high prices (rides require extra fees). Others lamented the lack of ride options during the winter months; none are open from January through mid-March.
- #12View all PhotosfreeStrøget#12 in Copenhagen0.9 miles to city centerFree, Cafes, Neighborhood/Area, ShoppingTYPE1 to 2 hoursTIME TO SPEND0.9 miles to city centerFree, Cafes, Neighborhood/Area, ShoppingTYPE1 to 2 hoursTIME TO SPEND
Situated in Indre By between H. C. Andersens Boulevard and King's New Square, Strøget is one of the longest pedestrian streets in Europe and Copenhagen's largest shopping area. It contains a series of interconnected streets that are lined with numerous boutiques and cafes. You'll find upscale brands like Burberry, Gucci and Louis Vuitton here, so make sure to bring your credit card.
If you're not looking to splurge, you can always window-shop along the way. You'll also run into many entertaining street performers along Strøget, but be wary of hustlers selling counterfeit goods and doing the old "guess which cup the ball is under" trick.
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