We’re back. Just four short yet intense days in the incredible capital of Denmark. We’ve explored the city, found some beautiful spots and ate amazing food. It’s so fantastic and we’re ready to share it all with you. And believe us when we say, you’re in for a huge treat! Here is our list of 11 things to do in Copenhagen.
1. SEE THE VIEW FROM TÅRNET
The Copenhagen skyline is spectacular. The palaces, the architecture, the canals… Make some time during your trip to see this gorgeous view from up high. It’s well worth it! Although probably the biggest recommendation you’ll find will be Rundetaarn (the Round Tower), we opted for a different one.
Tårnet, which simply translates as the Tower, is the tallest structure of this type in Copenhagen. Located quite centrally, in Christiansborg Palace, it gives you the whole panorama of the city. Apparently, on a clear day, you can see all the way to Sweden! What we loved was the fact that all of the views are described on the boards at each side of the tower. We knew exactly what we were looking at! And since it was the very first thing we did in Copenhagen, it gave us a sense of direction. Talk about making your days easier straight away 😉
When you’re done with the view and take a set of stairs down, you bump into a couple of sculptures and models. For years, the room has been storage space, guarded by the sculpture of a dog, Trofast. Also, a video of pigeons sitting on a ledge is displayed above with noises like a flutter of wings and cooing in the background. It’s all quite grotesque, actually 😉 There is a beautiful restaurant here as well, though it is a bit on the pricey side, even for Copenhagen.
Before we could enjoy the view, we had to go past a security checkpoint. Afterwards, we were in a queue for the lifts (yes, there are two separate rides to take you to the top). So do expect a bit of a wait, more so that they can only let 40 people in at a time. But guys, this is one of the things that is really great to do in Copenhagen so don’t skip it!
WHERE: Christiansborg Palace (Prins Jørgens Gård 1).
WHEN: Tuesday-Sunday 11am – 9pm, closed on Monday.
2. GET LOST IN NORDHAVN
One of our biggest surprises of the city was definitely Nordhavn. With its stunning modern architecture, you cannot stay indifferent to the sights. Even if you’re not a big fan of these things. The post-industrial yet effortless ambience of this district will get you inspired. Plus, you’ll get a view of the harbour which we’ll tell you about in a second.
The most notable building of this area is the Silo, a stunning apartment complex designed by COBE Architects. They did an amazing job of transforming an old, concrete grain silo into a steel facade of intricate detail and raw interior. Absolutely mesmerising. We spend a good hour walking around it, taking photos and just getting amazed over and over again.
But Nordhavn is not only the Silo. It’s full of other amazing structures that will satisfy the eye of every architecture lover. A multi-level parking lot with a rooftop park slash playground made of red concrete was a great discovery. If you follow the stairs up (or better yet take a challenge and see how fast you can get to the top with a huge timer), you’ll find a clear view of the surrounding architecture and the harbour. You’ll see the Portland Towers in all of their glory, yet another example of how old silos can transform. The residential buildings around are all so modern and beautifully designed.
There’s also a residential block covered in rust-like plates, a surprising recycling centre, a couple of concept stores and harbour promenade. Perfect for an afternoon walk in awe! Nordhavn is definitely one of the places you should visit in Copenhagen.
WHERE: Nordhavn is located in the north, just above the Kastellet and the Little Mermaid.
WHEN: Great for the afternoon.
3. VISIT THE PALACES AND CASTLES
When you’re asking what to do in Copenhagen, well, this one is a classic. If you’re fan of castles and palaces, you definitely won’t be disappointed in the capital of Denmark. Better yet, the city offers quite a choice! During our trip, we managed to see three of them: Christiansborg Palace, Amalienborg Palace and Rosenborg Castle.
Christiansborg Palace, which we mentioned at the beginning when talking about Tårnet, is the seat of the Danish Parliament. It is located on a tiny island, Slotsholmen, making the area feel like a canal district. The highlight of this place are the richly decorated Royal Reception Rooms which the Danish Queen still uses for some evening parties, galas, banquets and audiences. Moreover, there are also ruins of Copenhagen Castle underneath the Palace. Explore more about Christiansborg here.
Amalienborg Palace is the modern residence of the Queen of Denmark, Margrethe II. There are actually four mansions surrounding the courtyard. One of the palaces, Christian VIII’s Palace, is home to Amalienborg Museum. The royal guard which is known as Den Kongelige Livgarde watches over the place. Every day at noon, there is an official change of guard. The march starts at Rosenborg and goes through the city to reach Amalienborg. It is a bit more special when the Queen is present in the residence because the Royal Guards music band joins in.
Rosenborg Castle and The King’s Gardens
The 400-year-old Rosenborg Castle was loved by the monarchs in the past. It is surrounded by the oldest park in Copenhagen, the Castle Gardens also known as The King’s Gardens. There are many lovely avenues here as well as some beautiful statues. During the summer, the city holds various concerts and exhibitions in the park. Great place to enjoy a little stroll! Rosenborg Castle was probably the one that we liked most as it has a certain deference to it. Interestingly, there is the Treasury inside with the Danish Crown Jewels and the Crown Regalia which can all be admired when visiting the castle.
- Christiansborg Palace (Prins Jørgens Gård 1),
- Amalienborg Palace (Amalienborg Slotsplads 5),
- Rosenborg Castle (Øster Voldgade 4A).
- Christiansborg Palace – free admission for the Palace Chapel and the Parliament; 150DKK for a full ticket.
- Amalienborg Palace – the changing of the guard is free; a full ticket is 95DKK.
- Rosenborg Castle – free entry to the Royal Gardens; the castle ticket is 110DKK.
There is also a combined ticket for Rosenborg and Amalienborg which costs 145DKK.
4. ENJOY AMAZING DESIGN
It’s sort of a cliché to say that Copenhagen is the capital of design. Yup, get it. Still, it’s impossible not to mention it when for four days straight you see so many unbelievable things everywhere. And we mean EVERYWHERE. Of course, restaurants are perfectly decorated, people look exceptionally fashionable and concept stores pop up on every corner. That’s a given. But really, in here, it all inspires. You walk around doing groceries and so many products have a label as if it came from the art department.
We bumped into a couple of places that we really loved. Most notably, there was a design shop called African Touch with all sorts of beautiful objects. Our heads were spinning from all the colours of gorgeous ceramics, woven baskets, African animals figurines, stationery, you name it. Just around the corner from this place, we found Stilleben No. 22. What a gem! Here you have everything you need to make your home gorgeous. Linen textiles, cute little cups, stylish dressing gowns, posters, albums, stationery… Definitely worth a visit!
Take some time to really enjoy the design in Copenhagen. If you keep it in mind, you’ll notice so many brilliant things that you might have missed otherwise. Look at the posters plastered to the walls around Tivoli, pop in to one of the furniture stores, appreciate how well-designed the menus in the restaurants are. Really, the city will inspire you, especially if you’re a creative.
You cannot miss this and we certainly didn’t.
WHERE: Museum of Design (Bredgade 68), African Touch (Frederiksborggade 20) and Stilleben No. 22 (Frederiksborggade 22), concept stores in Nordhavn or on Paper Island… Really, everywhere you look there’s a gem.
WHEN: All day long!
COST: Free (unless you’re intending on buying something of course!)
5. EXPLORE THE TORVEHALLERNE MARKET
After walking around the city, all we could focus on was finding some great food. We found a mecca of immaculate flavours and gorgeous design here, at Torvehallerne. In quite a busy area, the market offers a huge variety of foods and goods that do not disappoint. What a great place to spend some time in Copenhagen!
As with all the chic food markets in Europe, abundance and quality is key. The market did remind us a bit of Mercado Lonja del Barranco in Sevilla. With the slightly sophisticated vibe and stylish, bright interior, it promised a great time and a myriad of flavours. But at Torvehallerne, in a truly Danish fashion, you will also find a ton of organic produce with pretty much everything.
We opted for some pastries (duh!) from Laura’s Bakery. Our favourite chokoladesnegle along with cremesnegle and hindbærsnitter made our day so much sweeter in every sense possible.
There were some impressive sights as well. The crabs, lobsters and langoustines were enormous! Some delicacies included pork legs, dry-curing in front of your eyes or beautifully packed caviar. Of course, it wouldn’t be a Danish food market without the famous smørrebrød in all versions imaginable. All looking very plump and stacked up to the brim with fresh toppings. There was Snaps, of course, and Aquavit, but also multi-flavoured liquors, organic cognac or mead. Danish craft beers were also a must!
WHERE: Frederiksborggade 21, very close to a busy Nørreport station.
WHEN: Monday-Thursday 10am–7pm, Friday and Saturday 10am–8pm, closed on Sunday.
COST: Free entry, pastries around 20DKK, chocolates 100DKK (300g), piece of cake around 40DKK, smørrebrød around 60DKK, teas around 50DKK (100g), liquors 189DKK (250ml), Snaps 330DKK (500ml), organic cosmetics from 60DKK, caviar from 300DKK (30g).
6. HAVE FUN AT TIVOLI GARDENS
We’ve seen a bit, ate a bit, but where to have fun in Copenhagen? We have just the place! Tivoli Gardens can be found in every tourist guide, city leaflet, blog post and probably friend recommendation as well.
Deemed the second oldest amusement park in the world, it holds over 30 rides of different kind. With the emphasis on history but a strong will for improvement, Tivoli is a perfect mixture of the old and the new. Here, right next to the classic car rides or carousels, you’ll find virtual reality and acceleration at five times the weight of gravity. All of the attractions are beautifully decorated. Some of the biggest ones tower over the city and the view is quite impressive. The lovely balloons from the Ferris Wheel, the absurdly tall Golden Tower or the elaborate Fatamorgana with stunning detail, all make the city scape that more interesting. You can check out all the full list of rides on this website.
The Tivoli Gardens host a Christmas Market every year. With a very wintery and Nordic style, it is a treat.
If you happen to be hungry, there is a food hall here with fantastic options. Be sure to check it out! There is a full list of stalls on this website.
There is no doubt Tivoli should be on the list of things to do in Copenhagen for everyone who is coming here. It’s truly a magical, fairy-tale place so escape the world for a bit and have some fun.
WHERE: Vesterbrogade 3.
WHEN: Monday-Thursday 11am-11pm, Friday-Saturday 11am-12am, Sunday 11am-5pm.
COST: Entrance 120DKK + the cost of rides (starting from 25DKK); Unlimited ride ticket (without VR) 230DKK or Plus (with VR) 290DKK. Check out the prices here.
7. DISCOVER FREDERIKS KIRKE
By far, the most beautiful place we have seen in Copenhagen! The monumental facade of Frederiks Kirke leaves you in wonder. Thanks to the Norwegian marble which is the main building material, it got a second name, Marmorkirke, the Marble Church. The way it reflects light at sunset, is quite amazing.
When we got inside, it uncovered the stunning interior. Dimly lit and somewhat stark, the nave comes alive with the painted medallions around and the frescoes of apostles above. 12 pillars carry the immense dome which is one of the largest in Europe. It has 31 metres in diameter, same as Hagia Sophia!
Unfortunately, we didn’t make it for the dome tour but if you fancy a view at the Amalienborg palace, definitely try it.
WHERE: Frederiksgade 4, just a moment away from Amalienborg.
WHEN: Monday-Thursday and Saturday 10am-5pm, Friday and Sunday 12am-5pm, impossible to visit during services or rehersals.
COST: Free entry; 35DKK for visiting the dome.
8. STUFF YOURSELF WITH PASTRIES
If you’re wondering what to eat in Copenhagen, here is something for you. One of the biggest national treasures of Denmark is their pastries. Really, after trying so many different foods around the world, we’re still in shock of how unbelievably and irresistibly good those little baked specialties are.
There is a great variety but the classic one is kanelsnegle, a cinnamon swirl. We tried chokoladesnegle (chocolate swirl) as well and it was divine! Our favourite thing from Copenhagen 😉 You can also try æblesnitter (sort of like an apple strudel) or spandauer (with jam or cream).
WHERE: Lagkagehuset is one of the best chain bakeries (all over the city, original one at Torvegade 45); Laura’s Bakery (at Torvehallerne).
WHEN: Great for a morning snack. But don’t limit yourself. You have a lot to try!
COST: around 20-25DKK for 1, but there are deals like mix and match where you get 3 for 50DKK.
9. TAKE A WALK IN NYHAVN
Nyhavn is yet another delightful iconic place in Copenhagen. This beautiful canal and waterfront area is in big demand. With colourful, narrow houses and lovely boats the whole place is simply enchanting. It’s a district of many great restaurants and bars. It was a home to Hans Christian Andersen as well! And as busy as it was in the past with the crazy maritime life, it’s just as bustling today. People from all over the world walk around here, creating energetic atmosphere.
If you’re wondering what to do in Copenhagen, take a stroll down the pier and take some photos here. You can also grab a beer from the nearby shop or bar and enjoy its refreshing taste near the water. Since you can drink in public in Denmark, there’s no worry of getting a ticket. Quite a few boat tours begin here so get ready for an adventure if that’s your thing.
WHERE: In the city centre, close to Kongens Nytorv and Amalienborg Palace.
WHEN: It’s probably best in the morning, when it’s a bit more quiet.
10. GET ON A BIKE
This point couldn’t be skipped in the list of things to do in Copenhagen. To say it’s a bike-friendly city would be an enormous understatement. It’s made for cycling! EVERYONE rides a bike here so explore the city like a local. And since the Danish make cycling quite social, feel free to chat to your travel buddy along the way.
What to see on a bike in Copenhagen apart from the standard options? Well, there are so many possibilities! One of them is Amager Beach Park and the promenade. Especially on a sunny day, you’ll see some people swimming and sunbathing at the beautiful sea. You can also opt for Kastellet, a star fortress, with a park around it. It’s quite close to the Little Mermaid, so you can see the famous beauty from Copenhagen.
The city has it’s own service, Bycyclen.dk, which allows you to enjoy the ride conveniently. It’s quite simple. You create an account, enter your payment card, go to a docking station, travel wherever you want and than safely return it to any station. Bycyclen is available all year round and all day long.
If you want a bit more freedom, you can use any of the bike rentals around the city. There are really tons of options, from basic bikes to very stylish ones. Apart from this, you can get a helmet and any other accessory imaginable for most of them.
Even though we barely ever saw a securely locked bike in Copenhagen, there still are some thefts in the city. Make sure you’re protected!
WHERE: Bike lanes are everywhere and there are a lot of bike rentals around the city.
WHEN: All day long, rent for 6, 12, 24, 48 hours…
COST: Around 90DKK for 24h, the prices vary based on the type of bike and the part of town. City bike service is 30DKK per hour.
11. CHILL IN HYGGE STYLE
There is something about Copenhagen that we could not quite explain. Of course, you always visit certain cities or countries with some preconceived notions about what it might be. And surely, we did realise the Danish treasure their hygge and know how to relax. To experience it first hand was a completely different thing though. It’s as if the whole city tells you to relax!
In the mornings, nothing rushed us out, nothing had to be done here and now. We took our time with breakfast and some tea, not even realising that we’re breaking our standard. There are many gorgeous parks around the city and it feels like the walks are a bit longer, a bit calmer than usual. We chilled at Papirøen, a great place with street food, and the time just seemed to slow down a bit. It’s funny but you don’t notice it that much, but the city relaxes you. No wonder Copenhagen is one of the happiest places on Earth!
And don’t get us wrong, it’s not like Copenhagen is quiet, slow or boring. Quite the opposite! It’s just a no muss, no fuss type of place. And it’s brilliant!
So here it is, if you’re wondering what to do in Copenhagen… well, just let go and let the city guide you.
WHERE: All around!
WHEN: All the time!
COST: Completely free!
BONUS: EAT ORGANIC
It’s so incredibly easy to eat organic in Copenhagen. It’s as natural and normal to the Danish as anything. And the uniqueness! We’ve never seen an organic whisky or organic cognac before 😉 The funny thing is, a lot of restaurants are exclusively organic and won’t even present it as a choice. You just get the good stuff!
WHERE: Torvehallerne Market, Tivoli Food Hall, various restaurants and cafes.
WHEN: All the time!
COST: around 20-60DKK for a small meal or a snack, around 100-120DKK for main dish.
On the whole, Copenhagen is a fantastic, inspiring and vibrant city so you’ll definitely have fun there! Our list of things to do is not exhaustive. In our four days, we managed to do quite a lot, but there’s still a lot to explore. We’ve already promised ourselves to come back to this beautiful capital in the spring or the summer.
Still wondering what to do in Copenhagen? We’ve got a couple of other articles coming up so be sure to subscribe to our mailing list and stay up to date! Just to give you a sneak peek, we’re planning a post on Copenhagen’s hidden gems. Also, if you’re wondering how to visit Copenhagen on a budget, we’ll have you covered very soon!
Just to let you know, the entry to many attractions is free with the Copenhagen Card which we’ll write about in our upcoming post about practical information for visiting Copenhagen.
Now, we’d love to hear from you. Have you been to Copenhagen? What did you like the most? Would you add anything to the list? Share it with us in the comments below.
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