I have been living in Copenhagen for the last 12 months and since the day I moved over I was in love! I really think that it is true what they say – Danes are the happiest people in the world. I arrived at the start of the summer and it was lovely to get to know the city with warm sunny weather but fear not, there many things to do and see and most of all are just as equal during the winter.
If you are planning a visit prepare yourself to fall in love. The city is so easy to travel around and there are many offers when it comes to transports. The best way to explore the city is by bicycle – you can rent one of the Bycyklen bikes that are available all over the city, they even have sort of a GPS! Of course you can go around by foot as the city is small and quite easy to walk around.
What to See and Do
The Little Mermaid
The sculpture of The Little Mermaid presented to the city in 1913 is probably the most iconic stop point when you visit Copenhagen. It was a gift from Danish brewer Carl Jacobsen to the city and was inspired by Hans Christian Andersen fairy tale The Little Mermaid.
Carl Jacobsen fell in love with the character little mermaid after watching a ballet performance based on the fairy tale at Royal Danish Theatre. The sculpture was inspired by ballerina Ellen Price who was doing that role at the time.
Constructed in the form of a pentagram with bastions at the corners it is one of the best preserved star fortresses in Northern Europe. It was set to build by King Christian IV in 1926 as a defence for war and nowadays serves various military activities of Danish Defence Ministry. The highlights to see are the Church, the Windmill and the King’s gate. There is also a changing of guard at the Central Guard House every day at 12.00pm.
The fountain decorated with animal figures driven by God Gefjon recreates the mythical creation of Zealand where Copenhagen is located. It is used as a wishing well. Located just outside the Kastellet was designed by Danish artist Anders Bundgaard to be donated to the city by the Carlsberg Foundation.
Royal Danish Playhouse
You will easily identify this as it lies beautifully in the canal. Even if you don’t have a ticket for a play it is still worth to go around for the sights and maybe have food and drink with a view.
A small garden just as you walk to Amalienborg palace is a must, especially in the summer. It was a gift to the city by Mærsk Mc-Kinney Møller in 1983.
Wandering around the four identical buildings that make Amalienborg is one the best things to see and do in Copenhagen. The royal family still lives inside the palace and it is funny to think that maybe they are watching us! The square outside the Palace is also famous for the Royal Guard, the Den Kongelige Livgarde.
Don’t miss the changing of the guard every day at 12pm, as they march through the streets from Rosenborg Castle to Amalienborg. Take the time for pictures with King Frederik V as the statue lies in the middle of the square.
A visit to Amalienborg Museum may be something that you consider as it will give a better understanding of Denmark’s royal history and traditions. • Entrance DKK 95.
This church, also known as The Marble Church is just on the corner from Amalienborg and is one of the most impressive churches in the city to me. I love the green dome and I am hoping to visit soon from above to see the beautiful views of the city. • Entrance to Dome DKK 35.
Danish Museum of Art & Design
It was once the first public hospital in Denmark. Nowadays features several exhibitions from ceramics, glass, you name it! • Entrance DKK 100.
This is my favourite cafe in Copenhagen. I take all my visitors there because is just on the way to Nyhavn with accessible prices and has a unique décor. Various members of the royal family and actors have stopped there once.
A former commercial port where once sailors gathered from all over the world is now probably the most visited part of Copenhagen. Why? Because is lovely to see all the colours of the houses perfected pictured with the large ships docked in the canal. Each season is different and with different attractions.
Look for number 9 as it is the oldest house there, since 1681 and for number 20 where Hans Christian Andersen used to live.
A simple walk around the canal can be relaxing as the atmosphere is great, normally with music playing in the background. Dinner is expensive but once in a while why not! You can try some of the most typical Danish dishes over there.
The National Gallery of Denmark – SMK
Denmark’s largest museum has a diverse collection of modern and contemporary art. Sometimes they feature special exhibitions of the royal collections. It’s a beautiful building a with a very nice garden where you can relax on your visit there. • Entrance DKK 110.
Built by King Christian IV, this 400 years castle is one of the most inspiring fairy-tale things to see in Copenhagen. The gardens are the country’s oldest royal gardens and were influenced by the Renaissance era. During the summer the gardens fill up with people and many do picnics. It’s a great place to spend a day. The museum inside the palace is famous for featuring the Crown Jewels and the coronation thrones. I personally have not been inside but time will come. • Entrance to museum DKK 110.
The unique botanical garden in Copenhagen has over 13000 species all well identified, but what makes it special are the glasshouses going back to 1874. There is a nice coffee shop as well that I love, particularly to enjoy an ice cream in the summer.
It is the Natural History Museum of Denmark with a large collection on Darwin’s evolution but also featuring mammoths and Ice Age rhinos. • Entrance DKK 95.
The Round Tower – Rundetårn
The oldest functioning observatory in Europe was built in the 17th century thanks to astronomer Tycho Brache. It is a must because of the unique spiral architecture and the amazing views over Copenhagen. Prepare yourself to walk 209 meters to get to the top and to be amazed by the floating glass floor at 25 meters above the ground. • Entrance DKK 25.
The Copenhagen Lakes
It’s one of the most beautiful and relaxed areas of Copenhagen. It’s easy to walk around it or cycle. The area is known to have excellent coffee shops and restaurants serving very typical Danish dishes. During the summer you can also take a ride in one of the swan’s boats – it’s on my list for this upcoming summer.
Popular for street performers this an area mainly for shopping but covers some points of interest on the way, such as the Church of Our Lady, where Prince Frederik and Princess Mary got married, The Court House in Nytorv Square, the Stork Fountain and the Amagertorv Square.
There are several parts of the palace that are worth to see and some are still used by the Royal Family. You can visit the Royal Reception Rooms where The Oval Throne Room is and watch out from the balcony from where the Danish monarchs are proclaimed, I find this very cool! The Ruins from Bishop Absalon’s Castle from the 11th century and The Royal Stables are also available to visit. • Entrance to all parts DKK 150.
National Museum of Denmark
There is a vast collection from different times. The ones I found more fascinating are the Huldremose Woman, a body discovered in 1879 and dated back to 160BC to 340BC and the Vikings exhibition. • Entrance DKK 75.
Ny Carlsberg Glyptotek
The art museum founded by Carl Jacobsen in 1888 has some interesting collections from Egypt art to the Roman statues. There is also the possibility to sit in the Café and relax in the beautiful garden. • Entrance DKK 110 / Free on Tuesdays.
Tivoli /Tivoli Gardens
This amazing park was founded in 1843 and it is by far one of the most inspiring places in Copenhagen! I have now lost count of how many times I visited but every time is special. During the day the bright colours and watching the rides up and down fill your eyes and by night time is the ‘WOW’ time – thousands of lights illuminate several paths across the park making it look like a fairy-tale. All of this with delicious food, what more can you ask for? I personally love the ice creams in the summer and the crepes in the winter.
Depending on the time of the year, special decorations come to live. In the summer everyone getters around in the middle of the green grass were music is normally played. Last October, by Halloween I was amazed with all the witches, pumpkins and skeletons. This Christmas I enjoyed the magical feeling with all the lights and carols every day. Unfortunately the park is closed from January until April. • Entrance DKK 110. • Entrance with all rides DKK 220.
Hans Christian Andersen Fairy-Tale Museum
Hans Christian Andersen is the Danish author of a wide collection of fairy-tales most of all inspired from living in Copenhagen, as the Little Mermaid. In the museum you can get to know this author better and some of the inspiration for his tales. • Entrance DKK 60.
Meat Packing District Market – Køedbyen
The area is one of the trendiest places to go out in Copenhagen, either to eat or just have a drink in one of the many bars. It used to be Copenhagen’s meat industry area so don’t be shocked by the look of the buildings. The most famous restaurants over there are WarPigs and BOB Bistro. On Saturdays in the summer a market comes to live with a lot of food stalls around the area with very good prices.
Copenhagen Opera House
Across the canal from Amalienborg you will easily spot the Opera House. This is one of the most modern and expensive operas houses in the world. I have not been inside but can’t wait to try as the outside is very inspiring.
Copenhagen Street Food Market – Papirøen
This food market is one of my favourites of all in Copenhagen; I drag everyone that visits me there as I just can’t get enough of the amazing food served there. In the summer everyone jut getters around outside looking at the canal. If you are coming on a weekend I would avoid particularly the meal times and would try to go outside those hours as it can get packed. But apart from that there is a lovely décor and all types of food you can think of to try it on.
This restaurant is considered the best restaurant in the world. Right here in Copenhagen, with two Michelin star, takes months for a reservation. I am currently on the waiting list for June 2017!
The Free Town as it is known was established in 1971 by a group of hippies who occupied an abandoned site and developed their own set of society rules, independent from the Danish government. Nowadays this still applies – the society within the society – were buying/smoking weed is allowed. In 2012 the Foundation Freetown Christiania was created to avoid the constant conflicts between people living there and the Danish authorities.
I have visited many times and although the first time was strange I came to realize that is actually an interesting place to wonder around. In Christiania you will find homemade art, organic food, and nice views of the city. It also a special place, as for most areas, photos or filming is not allowed.
Chruch of Our Saviour
The high and beautiful bell tower in a spiral shape is the highlight of the church and can be seen from most of the city. Open in 1752 it is very popular amongst the tourists and be ready for the 400 steps to get to the top.
The gardens from Frederiksberg Palace is one of the most romantic places in Copenhagen but also a fun place to sit around with a picnic basket when the sun is out. On the entrance you can see Frederik VI a loved king in Denmark and don’t miss the Chinese Pavilion as it is so beautiful!
Copenhagen Zoo may be something that you are interested, with over 3000 animals it will be for sure a nice day. I spend an afternoon in the Zoo and I enjoyed it, although I did think the Polar Bear located in the Arctic Ring which is supposed to be the highlight of the Zoo looked unhappy and was doing repetitive movements over and over again. • Entrance DKK 170.
It is a must of the city where the world-famous Carlsberg Beer was made in the pass. You get to know the ingredients and even have a taste on some different beers. • Entrance DKK 100.
National Aquarium Denmark – Den Blå Planet
It is a fun place to spend an afternoon. A compilation of all kinds of aquatic animals can be seen here. My favourite part was definitely the Amazonas part where butterflies fly all around you. • Entrance DKK 170.
Hope you like my travel guide, I will keep on update this with my experiences in Copenhagen.
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Last updated: 26/03/17