Copenhagen is about as cool as Europe gets. The Danish Capital has a lot going on and it boasts of having that X factor that seems to be missing in many European cities. It has always ranked at the very top of the culinary scene. It is not only home to the best voted restaurant in the world, it also boasts of 15 Michelin-starred culinary venues. The food, music and nightlife are obvious draws, but take nothing away from its rich history, breathtaking natural beauty and beautiful culture either.
Certainly spend your time exploring its various restaurants, bars and cafes, but make sure that you don’t miss out on those world-class museums, old world cobblestone streets, fairy-tale landscapes and fascinating bike lanes. Here comes the top 12 best things to do in Copenhagen.
Activity 1) Tivoli Gardens
The beautiful Tivoli Gardens date back to the year 1843, and are famous for offering travelers some of the most beautiful sights and attractions in Copenhagen. The garden is home to an array of amusement rides, open-air stage shows, carnival games and beautiful pavilions, and is known to come alive during the summer months. Enjoy the fairy-tale atmosphere, ride the century-old roller-coaster, get access to free rock concerts or soak in the natural beauty. The ideal time to visit is after dusk, when the lights are switched on and the garden is at its romantic best.
Insider Tip – Try visiting the gardens on a Friday or Saturday evening during the summer months. The open air Plaenen stage comes alive with Danish rock concerts every Friday, while spectacular fireworks displays are held on Saturdays.
Activity 2) The Little Mermaid
The Little Mermaid is one of the top attractions that the city of Copenhagen has in store for its visitors. The Little Mermaid structure dates back all the way to the year 1913 and it was actually a gift from Carl Jacobsen to the city. The entire sculpture has been made using granite and bronze and the character has been inspired by the mermaid in Hans Christian Andersen’s fairy tale. Jacobsen fell in love with the character after watching a ballet performance at the Royal Danish Theater and commissioned Edvard Eriksen to create the sculpture. Over time, the mermaid has also been subjected to vandalism. She lost her arm once, and had her head sawn off twice. There were numerous instances of paint being poured over her as well. However, each time she has been perfectly restored to her former glory.
Interesting Fact – Ellen Price was the ballerina who inspired the sculpture. However, as she refused to model in nude for sculptor Edvard Eriksen, Eline Eriksen (Edvard’s wife) posed for the Little Mermaid sculpture.
Activity 3) Frederiksborg Palace
The Frederiksborg Palace is located in Hillerod, towards the north of Copenhagen. This breathtaking palace was built by King Christian IV in the 1600s and is known to be famous for its fascinating Dutch Renaissance style architecture. One of the most popular features of the Frederiksborg Palace is the Portrait Collection, a collection of historical paintings and portraits, which is located in the Museum of National History. The museum also consists of paintings made by artists such as Niels Strobaek, Karel van Mander and PS Kroyer. Other exciting features of the Frederiksborg Palace are the palace chapel, which survived the 1859 fire, and the palace garden, a beautifully laid out garden that is home to King Frederik II’s Bath House Palace and a baroque styled garden that was recreated according to the original JC Krieger drawings.
Activity 4) Canal Boat Tour
For all those searching for a relaxing day in the city, a canal boat tour could just prove to be the ideal thing to do. Apart from helping you in enjoying a peaceful and quiet day, canal boat tours also bring you closer to many of the interesting sights and attractions in Copenhagen. Some of the top attractions that you come across on a canal boat tour include the Opera House, the head quarter of A.P. Moller Maersk A/S (the largest company in Denmark – revenue-wise), and The Little Mermaid. One of the main advantages of choosing a canal boat tour is that there are frequent departures, which means that you should always be able to find a tour which suits your timing.
Activity 5) Nyhavn
Nyhavn was once famous as the place for sailors – naughty and nice – visiting Copenhagen. Today, its picturesque harbor, colorful houses and old world sailing ships attract tourists from all over the world and offers them easy access to great food, excellent jazz music and a relaxed atmosphere by the canal. Sipping a drink at its outdoor bars or having dinner in one of the many cozy restaurants are among the top things to do here. Nyhavn also offers visitors a peek into the local history in the form of House No. 9, the oldest house in the area. What makes this house so unique is that its designs haven’t been altered since the year 1681. Hans Christian Andersen, the popular writer behind some of the most loved fairy tales in the world, also lived in the area.
Insider tip – Start with a wonderful lunch at Nyhavn and take the Canal Boat Tour afterwards which is just adjacent to Nyhavn.
Activity 6) Kattegatcentret
Kattegatcentret, or The Shark Center, brings you closer to some of the most dangerous sea creatures. If you really dream of getting up close and personal to a shark without having to swim for your life, this glass tunnel tour should be just perfect for you. Other popular Kattegatcentret features include a child-friendly touch pool and a seal pool. Be aware though that the centre is located in Grenå, Jutland, a 3 hour drive from Copenhagen.
Insider Tip – Visit the center after 12 PM, so that you can watch the shark-feeding session at 1 PM.
Activity 7) Restaurant Noma
Noma, voted as the best restaurant in the world in the year 2010, 2011, 2012, and 2014, may be a culinary destination, but it boasts of a level of popularity that would put many attractions to shame. A trip to the restaurant always promises an unforgettable experience and the setting is known to be absolutely magical. The service is among the best you will ever experience and the attention to detail simply blows your mind. And the food – their quality of food is just what culinary legends are made of.
Insider Tip – Please do reserve much in advance as otherwise you won’t get a seat.
Activity 8) Louisiana Museum of Modern Art
The Louisiana Museum of Modern Art is located at a distance of 40kms to the north of Copenhagen. It is a beautiful museum that has become famous for its contemporary artworks, a massive permanent collection that features more than 3000 exhibits, modernist classics as well as innovative art. Apart from the permanent collection, the museum also hosts numerous special exhibitions each year.
Insider Tip – Apart from the museum itself, Louisiana is also famous for its beautiful architecture and exotic gardens that host a beautiful Henry Moore sculpture.
Activity 9) Christiania
Freetown Christiania was established by squatters in the year 1971 and has been attracting non-conformists from all over the world through its concepts of communal living, workshops and collective business. The Pusher Street and its marijuana and hash dealers may be grabbing most of the limelight, but once you venture beyond them, you come across a plethora of music venues, beer gardens, craft shops, DIY homes and cozy gardens. Comes with our best recommendations in terms of ‘another’ but yet interesting part of Copenhagen.
Activity 10) National Museum
The National Museum of Denmark is one of the best places to get a crash course on Danish and Scandinavian history. It is full of all sorts of ancient antiquities that were uncovered in the country such as tools from the Stone Age, rune stones, Viking weapons and medieval era jewelry. One of the biggest highlights of the museum is the Stories of Denmark exhibition which covers the area’s history between the years 1660 to 2000. Other highlights include a 3500-year old Sun Chariot, fully functioning bronze horns dating back to 3000 years, recreated residences from 18th century Copenhagen apartments and a vast collection of doll houses.
Insider Tip – If you’re searching for free things to do in Copenhagen, it truly doesn’t get better than the National Museum. Make sure that you reserve at least half a day to give its treasures the attention that they deserve.
Activity 11) Copenhagen Hop-On Hop-Off Tour
A Copenhagen Hop-On Hop-Off Tour is an exciting way of exploring the various sights and attractions that the city has on offer. It gives you a bird’s eye view of the various attractions and lets you explore some of the top tourist destinations at your own pace. Choose from a 24-hour or 48-hour ticket, and make sure that you click a lot of photographs along the way.
Activity 12) Christiansborg Palace
The Christiansborg Palace is located on the island of Slotsholmen, and is home to the Ministry of State, the Danish Parliament and the Supreme Court. Many parts of the palace are still used by the royal family for various events and functions. The palace is huge and it is easy to get lost in its labyrinth of corridors without a guide. Some of the top attractions and adventures that the palace offers to its visitors include tours to the ruins located under the palace, climbing the clock tower, sculpture museum, arsenal museum, the royal stables, the Theatre museum and the royal apartments.
Insider Tip – The Great Hall is the most striking room in the palace, and this is where you can see the Queen’s tapestries, something that the palace is particularly famous for. These tapestries depict close to 1000 years of Danish history and are a must-see for any tourist visiting the palace.
Most of the attractions of Copenhagen are located very close to each other and can easily be explored on foot from any of the downtown hotels. If you’re really pressed for time while in the city, try to go for a combined bus and canal tour that lets you see most of the major highlights within a couple of hours. You’ve now been through the top 12 best things to do in Copenhagen – Book your tickets and tours now.