An inviting blend of traditional and modern, Copenhagen is a fun city that has something for everyone. The capital of Denmark and largest city in the country, Copenhagen is large yet still wonderfully small. It frequently tops the ranks of most livable cities in the world and for visitors it provides plenty of culture including world-class museums. There are colorful traditional buildings all over, while its palaces and castles add grandeur and striking architecture. Read on to find out our recommendations for the top 10 things to do in Copenhagen.
This is the first of three palaces to appear on our list of top things to do in Copenhagen. Amalienborg is the home of the Danish royal family, and it is open to the public. Consisting of four buildings, all facing in to a large octagonal courtyard, this is not the first palace to stand here. This one was constructed between 1750 and 1760 in the Rococo style, and, as a visitor you can see a museum of royal life in one of the buildings while outside the changing of the guard ceremony is always great to watch.
If you enjoy seeing a city from above, you should definitely add Rundetaarn to your list of what to do in Copenhagen! Meaning Round Tower, this 17-century tower is right in the heart o some of the city’s best storybook architecture, providing wonderful views of rooftops, towers, and spires in every direction. It was built as an astronomical observatory between 1635 and 1642, on the instruction of King Christian IV. If you don’t mind the climb up the tower, it’s well worth the effort.
8. Ny Carlsberg Glyptotek
While Copenhagen is home to the National Art Museum, it’s this art museum that usually gets the better reviews. The name might remind you of a certain beer – the collection in this art museum was actually built around the personal collection of Carl Jacobsen, the son of the founder of Carlsberg Breweries! The main focus here is on sculptures, particularly ancient ones from Egypt, Rome and Greece, plus it is renowned for its French Collection of art that includes works by Monet, Pissarro, Renoir, Degas and Cezanne.
7. Church of our Saviour
Probably the best thing about the Church of the Saviour is the amazing church spire, and yes, you can climb to the top of this tower for amazing views of the city! Completed in 1695 in the Dutch baroque style, this attractive church was added to in 1752 when the helix spire was built atop the tower. If you do climb the 400 or so steps to the top of the tower, you will pass by the belfry. The carillon, which is the largest in northern Europe, plays wonderful tunes every hour from 8am to midnight.
6. Frederiksberg Gardens
Frederiksberg Have, as it’s called in Danish, is one of the largest park areas in Copenhagen, and is a great place to walk when you want a break from strolling the city streets. Work on Frederiksberg began in 1699, and the gardens were designed in the English style as romantic landscape gardens. Today this huge park is perfect for walks or picnics on a summer’s day, plus there is far more to see here than you might expect: canals and lakes with islands, plenty of birdlife, two follies, grottos, waterfalls, a Chinese summerhouse, and more!
5. National Museum of Denmark
The Nationalmuseet is a deceptively large museum that could keep you occupied for days if you explored every corner of it. Suffice it to say that the country’s largest museum of cultural history provides all visitors with a comprehensive look at Danish history and culture, and features many antiquities from across the centuries, representing 14,000 years, from the Ice Age up to the present day. Visit this Copenhagen attraction when you want to discover more about what shaped the people of Denmark.
4. Christiansborg Palace
Christiansborg Palace has the scale and grandeur that you would expect from a palace, and should definitely be on your list of what to do in Copenhagen. Not only is this the seat of the Danish Parliament, it is used by the Danish Monarch. Not as old as some of the city’s other attractions, the palace was built between 1907 and 1928, in a style that combines Baroque, Neoclassicism, and Neo-Baroque. Buy a ticket that gets you access to numerous areas of the palace, including the Kitchen, Stables, and Royal Rooms.
3. Rosenborg Castle
Rosenborg Castle, or Slot as it’s called in Danish, is one of several castles in the city. Sitting within the King’s Garden in central Copenhagen, the castle was built between 1606 and 1624 for King Christian IV as his summer home. The Dutch Renaissance architecture is beautiful on the outside, while inside there are great halls and chambers, and the Danish Crown Jewels and Crown Regalia are on display. On a nice day, also be sure to spend time wandering around the attractive gardens, and stay for the changing of the guards.
2. Tivoli Gardens
Despite the name, Tivoli is not just a bunch of gardens, it’s one of the top things to do in Copenhagen! Part amusement park, part gardens, this historic attraction has been open since 1843 and is today the fifth most-visited theme park in Europe. There is plenty here for the kids but also enough to keep the adults entertained as well, including roller coasters and thrill rides, music and performances, and of course it is all set amidst beautiful gardens. Tivoli is best known for its wooden roller coaster, built in 1914, making this one of the oldest still in operation.
If you’ve ever seen photos of Copenhagen, the chances are you will have seen Nyhavn! This beautiful and characterful neighborhood of the city is defined by the canal that runs through it, and is best known for its brightly colored 17th century townhouses that line the waterfront. Constructed between 1670 and 1673 by King Christian V, the canal links the sea to the old inner city and was notorious for its seedy goings-on! Today it is the top Copenhagen attraction and a great place to come and spend time walking around, or enjoying a beer or a meal, listening to live music, or just admiring the architecture and the historic boats.
Leaving Copenhagen? Check out our guides: Copenhagen to Amsterdam and Copenhagen to Stockholm.