Top Things to Do and See in Copenhagen, Denmark

Looking forward to visiting Copenhagen in the future? Here is our list of top things to do and see in Copenhagen, Denmark.

It is not every day that you’ll find a dirt cheap airfare within Europe. I refer to a one way Ryanair flight from London to Copenhagen, Denmark costing only £9.99 per passenger which I stumbled upon whilst scouring the web. Ryanair is one of Europe’s budget airlines. The flights were in August (of this year), still summertime and a high peak month for air travels. Definitely, the fare was a steal.

Scandinavia is made up of Denmark, Norway and Sweden and Copenhagen, Denmark’s capital was the first stop of our family’s Scandinavian tour.

The sky was murky and overcast when we arrived at Kastrup Airport in Copenhagen. Not a good way of receiving visitors to the world’s happiest country. However, this did not dampen our spirits as we took the train on the way to the city centre. Train fares cost the same as bus fares [DKK108 (Danish Krone) or £13 for the three of us]. Obviously, a train journey is quicker and takes only 15 minutes to get to Kongens Nytorv station in the heart of Copenhagen.

Highlights of our recent  two-day sightseeing experience in this Scandinavian city are as follows:

1. Buy a Copenhagen Card

The holder is entitled to free admission to 73 museums and free use of public transport. Also, discounts on restaurants, attractions and entertainment. The Copenhagen Card is available as a 24-hour card, a 48-hour card, a 72-hour card and a 120-hour card.

2. The Latin Quarter

The Latin Quarter is an area consisting of 17th century buildings including the University of Copenhagen where Latin used to be widely spoken. Other interesting sights include:

  • Strøget – at 1.1 km is one of the longest pedestrianised, car free shopping streets in Europe. It stretches from Kongens Nytorv (King’s New Square) to Rådhuspladsen (The City Hall Square).
Stork Fountain at Amager Square along Strøget

Stork Fountain at Amager Square along Strøget

  • Church of Our Lady – a Roman Catholic Church constructed in 1187 in Romanesque style. Royal weddings and coronations have occurred here. A monument in memory of the Reformation of Denmark proudly stands across the road.
  • Statue of Absalon – Absalon was a Danish archbishop, statesman and founder of Copenhagen.

Statue of Absalon

  • Round Tower – an observation tower, astronomical observatory and a historical monument. A Library Hall halfway up the tower houses art exhibitions and cultural events. The tower is 35 metres high and the only way up to the viewing platform is through a 210 metres long spiral ramp. Admission to the tower costs DKK 25 for adults and DKK 5 for children (around £2.85 and £0.60, respectively).
One of the many views from atop from Round Tower, Øresund Bridge linking Denmark and Sweden can be seen at a distance.

One of the many views from atop Round Tower, Øresund Bridge linking Denmark and Sweden can be seen at a distance.

3. Kongens Have and Rosenborg Slot

  • Kongens Have (The King’s Garden) – a 12-hectare park which used to be the private gardens of Rosenborg Castle. It has a pavilion, a fountain, statues, a garden maze, tree-lined avenues, noteworthy buildings and other features.
Hans Christian Andersen statue at Kongens Have

A statue of Hans Christian Andersen, Danish writer popular for his fairy tales, at Kongens Have

  • Rosenborg Slot (Rosenborg Castle) – former royal residence but now is a museum open to the public. Its top exhibits include the Royal Collections, Crown Jewels and the Danish Crown Regalia.

Rosenborg Castle

4. Museums

Copenhagen has its fair share of museums most of which can be accessed with a Copenhagen Card. Top museums worth visiting include:

  • Natural History Museum – came into being as a result of merger of Copenhagen’s Zoological, Geological and Botanical museums. Its current botanical gardens contain more than 13,000 species.
  • Statens Museum for Kunst (National Gallery of Denmark) – collections include Danish and foreign paintings, sculptures, prints and drawings from the 14th century to the present.

Statens Museum for Kunst

  • Davids Samling (The David Collection) – houses the private collection of a Danish barrister and art lover. The museum is particularly noted for its fine range of Islamic arts and artifacts from the 8th to the 19th century. It also holds a collection of European decorative arts from the 18th and 19th centuries. Admission is free.
Davids Samling - Items on exhibit bedecked in precious jewels.

Sampling of items on exhibit bedecked in precious jewels.

5. Rådhuspladsen and Tivoli

Rådhuspladsen (The City Hall Square) is a public square in the centre of Copenhagen where the City Hall is located. Other areas of interest around or near the square include the following:

  • Industriens Hus – a modern building which is the headquarters of the Confederation of Danish Industries which was built in the 1870’s but has gone several transformations.
  • Dragon Fountain – a seven-metre fountain which features a dragon and a bull in battle.

Dragon Fountain

  • Hans Christian Andersen Place – a museum where you have the choice of reading in one of several languages or listening to one of three languages about H. C. Andersen’s stories.
Hans Christian Andersen Place

Hans Christian Andersen Place

  • Tivoli – an amusement park and a pleasure garden which features various rides, pantomime shows, musical performances and concerts. It has an on-site hotel and several restaurants. A late-night illuminations show features fireworks, laser lights and waterjets.

6. Slotsholmen

Slotsholmen or The Castle Islet is an island in Copenhagen’s harbour connected to the city by nine bridges. Among the different structures in the island include:

  • Christianborg Palace – the only building in the world which houses the executive, legislative and judicial branches of government in one roof. The 106 metre high tower is the tallest in the city and access to the viewing platform is free.
Christiansborg Palace fronted with the equestrian statue of Christian IX.

Christiansborg Palace fronted with the equestrian statue of Christian IX.

  • Royal Library – the national library of Denmark has five sites, the main one located at Slotsholmen.

Royal Library

  • Christianborg Palace Chapel – used for religious ceremonies for members of the Danish Royal Family. It is also used by the Danish Parliament for the church service during parliament’s opening.
  • Thorvaldsens Museum – includes most of Neo-Classical sculptor Bertel Thorvaldsen’s works.

Thorvaldsens Museum

7. Kongens Nytorv and Nyhavn

  • Kongens Nytorv (King’s New Square) – is the largest public square of the city at the top of Nyhavn. Important buildings around the square include a theatre, former palaces, hotel and a department store.
  • Nyhavn – a canal flanked by colourful 18th century merchants’ houses. Hans Christian Andersen lived here. Nowadays, it is a popular waterside attraction with boats docked and lined with numerous cafes, restaurants and bars.

Nyhavn

8. Frederiksstaden and the Golden Axis

Frederiksstaden is a district in Copenhagen where the royal family has lived ever since. Frederik’s Church and Amalienborg Palace lie on an axis known as the Golden Axis which extends up to the Opera House.

  • Frederik’s Church or The Marble Church (Marmorkirken) – an Evangelical Lutheran church whose 31 metres-diameter dome is the largest in Scandinavia. It was modelled after St. Peter’s Basilica in Rome.

Frederik's Church, popularly known as The Marble Church (Marmorkirken).

  • Amalienborg Palace – consists of four almost identical palaces around a courtyard. An equestrian statue of King Frederick V, Amalienborg’s founder stands in the square. Every day, guards from Rosenborg Castle swap places with Amalienborg Palace’s guards at noon.

Amalienborg Palace with the equestrian statue of Amalienborg's founder, King Frederick V.

  • Amaliehaven (The Amalie Garden) – a small park between Amalienborg Palace and the banks of the harbour. It features marble sculptures and a central fountain.

Amaliehaven

9. Harbour Sights

  • Opera House (Operaen) – is the national opera house of Denmark. Completed in 2004, it is one of the most modern and most expensive opera houses in the world. It can seat 1,700 people.

Opera House

  • Gefion Fountain – a fountain used as a wishing well and the largest monument in Copenhagen. It features the goddess Gefjon and inspired by a Scandinavian myth about the creation of Zealand upon which Copenhagen is located.
Gefion Fountain and St. Alban's Church

Gefion Fountain and St. Alban’s Church

  • St. Alban’s Church – an Anglican church named after the first martyr of Great Britain. It was built in the 1880’s as a result of the growing English congregation in Copenhagen.
  • The Little Mermaid – a bronze statue of a mermaid based on a fairy tale by Hans Christian Andersen. It is a major tourist attraction and Copenhagen’s most popular icon.

The Little Mermaid statue

  • Kastellet – a fortress around a moat built in the shape of a star. A number of buildings including a church, barracks, prison, powder house as well as a windmill can be found in the grounds. Today, it serves as a park and a cultural-historical site.

10. Things to do in Copenhagen

  • Ride a Bike – Copenhagen is one of the most cycle-friendly cities in the world. It has wide lanes for cyclists in most major roads. Bikes are available for hire for a day or two. However, more than 2,000 bikes are available for free use during summer.
  • Walking Tours – there are several tours on foot around Copenhagen taking in its most famous sights and landmarks. These tours are led by local expert guides with interesting stories and anecdotes to share about their city. Tours last from 1 ½ hour to three hours and most are free, tips-based.
  • Canal Tours – another way of seeing Copenhagen from a different angle is through a cruise of the city’s canals and harbours by boat.

Canal Tours

I wish we could stay a bit longer in Copenhagen. A two-day trip is not enough to see and enjoy all the city has to offer. We have to move on as we have to take an overnight bus to another destination. Whether we’ll have decent sleep or not, we’ll be in another Scandinavian country in the morning.

38 thoughts on “Top Things to Do and See in Copenhagen, Denmark

    1. Ash Post author

      I would recommend the Kongens Nytorv area, strategically located and in the heart of the city. Most of Copenhagen’s top attractions are within a two-mile radius.

  1. Revati

    We’re currently contemplating a trip to Copenhagen (We’ll be in Gothenberg) and it makes so much sense, but there’s so much to do and see, I really don’t know if we’ll do it any justice in a couple of days!

    1. Ash Post author

      A couple of days will leave you wanting more of Copenhagen. We’ve done mostly sightseeing in a hurried manner and still we missed some attractions in the process. If you could add more days, then it would be great.

  2. Joe

    Thanks for this very comprehensive list. The Round tower and, of course, the Litte Mermaid statue are the first things that I associate with the city, so it’s great to hear that there are plenty more things on offer too 🙂

    1. Ash Post author

      You’re welcome! We’re surprised to know that Copenhagen has a lot to offer. We missed Christianshavn – a community known for its bohemian reputation years ago but today is a mixed neighbourhood of students, business people, hippies and artists.

  3. Joanna

    I visited Copenhagen as well due to a £5 flight from London but I was there for only 24 hours so I didn’t have enough time to visit all the things you did. I did however enjoy some unique experiences, like an Ethiopian Jazz concert in Christiania.

    1. Ash Post author

      I am amazed how cheap it is to get to Copenhagen from London – it’s even more expensive to travel within the UK. We missed Christiania, a cool and hip part of Cph.

    1. Ash Post author

      It totally depends on your interests and activities that you want to do. If you’re just into sightseeing in a slow and relaxed manner, I would say 3-4 days. However, if checking out and spending hours on museums, palaces and other historical sites are on top of your list, you definitely need more days.

  4. neha

    So many things to do and places to see in copenhagen. My favorite is Rosenborg Castle. Don’t want to miss it. How many days do you think will be sufficient to cover all of these leisurely (without making the days too hectic)

    1. Ash Post author

      Unfortunately, we’re not able to go inside Rosenborg as it was already closed when we arrived. Maybe you can do all in this guide unhurriedly in 4 or 5 days.

  5. Sandy N Vyjay

    The Architecture, buildings, castles give out an aura of mystery and pride. It just shows how treasured they are. The canal is so beautiful, I can imagine myself on a boat ride during sunset. Pure bliss.

  6. Emily

    My sister lives in Sweden so whenever I go to see her I take the plane to Copenhagen then go over the bridge on the train. But I haven’t yet managed to see Copenhagen itself! The Copenhagen card sounds like a necessity. I didn’t realise how much there is to do there – saving your post for future reference!

    1. Ash Post author

      The Copenhagen Card entitles one to free admission to museums, free use of public transport and discounts on restaurants, attractions and entertainment. I hope you can visit and enjoy Copenhagen soon.

    1. Ash Post author

      Walking and cycling are some of the fun and great activities to do in Copenhagen especially during summer. Hope you make it there soon!

  7. Rashmi and Chalukya

    We had heard only about the Mermaid statue in Denmark but there are definitely so many more amazing attractions to see. The colorful merchant houses along the canal are strikingly beautiful. Copenhagen seems to have a good number of museums, the Rosenborg Castle looks marvellous we would love to check out the royal collection there.

    1. Ash Post author

      I hope you can make it to Copenhagen soon and feast on the different attractions that the city offers.

  8. Indrani

    City cards are helpful and Copenhagen card promises to be one too. The prospect of being able to see so many museums is exciting. And I plan well to have a good walking tour around the city.

    1. Ash Post author

      A walking tour led by local expert guides with interesting stories and anecdotes to share is a good way of appreciating the city’s history. Museums too of which Copenhagen has a lot.

    1. Ash Post author

      Thanks! Copenhagen is also one of my favourite European cities. I knew little of the city until I got there and was amazed to know that it has a lot to offer.

  9. Swati

    There is so much to see and do, we were planning a weekend trip to Denmark but I think we have to wait for a long weekend to cover as many places that you have mentioned. Love the architecture and cobbled streets pathways.

    1. Ash Post author

      A couple of days is not enough so you need one or two more to cover a lot of ground. Copenhagen is certainly an architectural fan’s delight with its good mix of historical and modern structures.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *