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).
- 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.
- 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).
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.
- 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.
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.
- 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.
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.
- 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.
- 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.
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.
- Royal Library – the national library of Denmark has five sites, the main one located at Slotsholmen.
- 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.
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.
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.
- 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.
- Amaliehaven (The Amalie Garden) – a small park between Amalienborg Palace and the banks of the harbour. It features marble sculptures and a central fountain.
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.
- 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.
- 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.
- Langelinie – a pier, park and promenade whose most famous resident is the Little Mermaid statue.
- 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.
- 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.
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.