Copenhagen, Denmark is a charming seaside city with strong Viking roots! The Danish capital city is a great mix of old and new, old-school and innovative. While not the cheapest destination in Europe, it is one of those places you just have to visit if you get the chance.
With many things to do in Copenhagen, the city is well-known for its beautifully designed buildings, of which there are palatial and elegant ones, as well as futuristic and modern. The city’s culinary scene is also something to behold, so you’ll be sure to tuck into some amazing food just about everywhere you go!
If you’re wondering what to do in Copenhagen, then wonder no more as we’ve put together a list of the 27 best things to do in Copenhagen. Some of the Copenhagen points of interest may surprise you, but trust us… they are all worth a visit!
Table of Contents
- Top Things to Do in Copenhagen
- Unusual Things to Do in Copenhagen
- Safety in Copenhagen
- Things to Do in Copenhagen at Night
- Where to Stay in Copenhagen
- Romantic Things to Do in Copenhagen
- Best Free Things to Do in Copenhagen
- Copenhagen Packing List
- Things to Do in Copenhagen with Kids
- Other Things to Do in Copenhagen
- Day Trips From Copenhagen
- 3 Day Itinerary in Copenhagen
Top Things to Do in Copenhagen
Here are a few of our picks for the best things to do in Copenhagen!
The vibrant waters’ edge of Nyhavn is one of the most popular of all Copenhagen sites!
Translated into English, Nyhavn means new harbor, and its where you’ll find a bustling waterfront area dating back to the 17th century. Old wooden ships are moored in the canal, which is lined with colorful rows of 17th and early 18th century townhouses, bars, cafes and restaurants.
This area just begs to be photographed, which will please anyone wanting to make their friends jealous on their social media feed. If you have time, pick up a couple drinks and some snacks and enjoy a picnic on the waters’ edge.
Tivoli Gardens is the second oldest amusement park in the world, and the fifth most-visited theme park in Europe! Loads of people flock to Denmark’s capital city just to visit Tivoli Gardens, making it one of the best places to visit in Copenhagen.
The fairytale-like theme park is located right in the city center, just a short walk away from City Hall Square. The amusement park provides fun for all ages, with roller coaster rides, beautifully manicured gardens, and regular music and theater performances on offer.
Rosenborg Castle is a Dutch Renaissance-style palace built in 1606 by Christian IV, a Danish monarch with the longest rein in all of Scandinavia. The interiors of this lavish palace have hardly changed in centuries, and feature historic tapestries charting the conflicts between Denmark and Sweden.
In the castle museum, you’ll find displays featuring the Royal Collections of the palace. The most important are the Crown Jewels, the coronation chair, and the Danish Crown Regalia. There are also collections of 17th-century Venetian glass and Flora Danica dinnerware on display in the tower chambers!
- Explore the country’s rich history at the National Museum of Denmark
- Tease your taste buds at Marv & Ben, an inventive restaurant
- Choose from craft beers from around the world at Taphouse
For more Places to Stay, check out our full Copenhagen Neighborhood Guide!
Christiansborg Palace is both a palace and a government building, as it is home to both the Danish Government and Royal Reception Rooms used by the Danish monarchy. What makes it remarkable is that it is the only building in the world that houses all three branches of a country’s government: the executive power, the legislative power, and the judicial power.
There is a fee to enter, but this includes a 60-minute tour of the building. If you’d rather save some money, entrance to the tower is free, from which you’ll get sweeping views of the city!
For the best view of Copenhagen, as voted for by locals, head to The Church of Our Saviour in Christianshavn. The 17th-century Baroque-style church is most famous for its helix spire that contains an external winding staircase.
The spire is noticeable from a distance. The 400-step climb to the top is not for the faint-hearted, as the last 150 steps are outside the building! From atop the viewing platform you may even be able to see ships entering the harbor.
Copenhagen’s National Museum contains a remarkable wealth of artifacts from all eras of Denmark’s past. It’s an attraction in which you could lose yourself for hours without realizing it!
If you have an interest in Norse mythology, are curious about the ways of the Vikings, or just love discovering forgotten treasures then the National Museum could turn out to be one of your favorite places to visit in Copenhagen!
A few items of particular interest are the Trundholm Sun Chariot, The Golden Horns of Gallehus and the 3,000-year-old Egtved girl.
7. Check out the stars at The Rundetaarn
The Rundetaarn (or round tower) is a 17th-century public astronomical observatory that has been a feature of Copenhagen’s skyline since 1642. It’s the oldest functioning observatory in Europe and definitely one of the most unique things to see in Copenhagen!
The round tower is part of the Trinitatis Complex, which combines a church, library and observatory into a single building. The tower doesn’t have an elevator, so to get to the top you’ll need to ascend the winding, white-washed spiral walk.
Langelinie is a long promenade in central Copenhagen offering amazing views of the harbor and seaside! The promenade’s most famous feature is the unmistakable Little Mermaid Statue.
The bronze sculpture is an icon of the city, and is not to be missed when backpacking Copenhagen! The Little Mermaid was made in 1913 by sculptor Edvard Eriksen as a tribute to author Hans Christian Andersen. The statue is smaller than most people expect, but that doesn’t take away from its beauty and significance to the city.
Along Langelinie there is also a pavilion, a small park and a docking area for small seaplanes.
9. Admire Islamic art at The David Collection
The David Collection (Davids Samling) is a museum of fine and applied art, built around the private collections of lawyer, businessman and art collector C. L. David. He donated both the building and collection of artworks, including one of the largest collections of Islamic art in Scandinavia!
Exquisite pieces of Islamic art were gathered from Spain to India and date as far back as the 9th century! The museum also includes exhibits of Danish modern art, paintings from the 19th-century Danish Golden Age and European art in the 18th-century.
10. Explore the ancient art of the Mediterranean at Ny Carlsberg Glyptotek
Now don’t let the name fool you guys, this museum has nothing to do with Carlsberg beer! Rather, it is a museum of fine art! It is filled with antique sculptures from the ancient cultures surrounding the Mediterranean Sea, namely Egypt, Rome and Greece.
There are also more modern sculptures, including a collection of August Rodin’s works. The paintings on display at the museum are just as noteworthy, with French impressionist works by Monet and Renoir being showcased, and post-impressionist works from van Gogh and Bonnard.
Unusual Things to Do in Copenhagen
Here are some of our favorite things to do in Copenhagen, that you possibly wouldn’t do anywhere else!
On the island of Christianshavn, you’ll find a whacky and wonderful community that does things a little differently. Back in 1971, the Free Town of Christiania was established when a housing shortage in Copenhagen prompted people to take up illegal residence in abandoned military barracks.
The commune has a distinct counter-culture atmosphere and continues to thrive as an alternative society. There are loads of street art and funky dwellings to see in the area.
The area is well-known for its Green Light Culture and free-spirited locals, so if this is your vibe you’ll definitely enjoy a visit to Christiania!
As the official residence of Queen Margrethe II and the Danish Royal Family, Amalienborg Palace is a Copenhagen must-see! The unique thing about the palace is that it is made up of four former mansions facing a central square.
The best time to visit Amalienborg is at 12:00 pm to witness the changing of the guard. Every day, members of the Royal Life Guard march through the city from their barracks to the palace to take over the watch. This is a fascinating spectacle, made extra special the Queen is in residence as they are then accompanied by a marching band!
13. Up your street cred with some street food
If you’re looking for a great taste of Copenhagen and are up for a small adventure, then head over to Reffen. The latest edition to Copenhagen’s food scene, Reffen is a hip and happening food market on the former industrial island of Refshaløen.
Not just a place for delicious eats, Reffen is also home to artists’ workshops and hosts events such as concerts. Despite its somewhat isolated location, getting there is half the fun! Reffen is open daily in the high season, and on weekends for most of the rest of the year.
Safety in Copenhagen
Copenhagen is generally regarded as a safe city to visit, and has a low crime rate relative to other European capital cities. However, it is advisable to always exercise caution when traveling alone, or walking around unfamiliar cities at night.
The biggest threat you’ll have to watch out for is pickpocketing. While it isn’t as rife as other European cities, incidents can occur in crowded or busy areas such as Copenhagen Central Station.
If you do some cycling around the city, look out for cars and for when drivers open their car doors. If you visit Christiania, be respectful of the locals as some don’t take kindly to intrusive tourists.
Things to Do in Copenhagen at Night
Copenhagen is one of those cities that takes on a different aura at night. Experience the elegance and ambiance of the city with these activities after dark.
A great way to experience any city is to amble around (the safe areas) with no particular itinerary, and see what fascinating and unique things you come across! This way you’ll be free to make split-second decisions like entering a buzzing local hangout or soaking up the local atmosphere of a quiet street.
Luckily, Copenhagen is a particularly safe city to walk around at night so you can literally get lost and not worry about it too much! Chances are you’ll stumble upon some hidden gem that may turn out to be the highlight of your Copenhagen adventures. If you prefer instead to get shown around then there are also some good evening tours to choose from.
15. Enjoy an old-school film experience at Vester Vov Vov
If you’re a fan of old cinemas and nouveau films then you’ll definitely want to add a trip to Vester Vov Vov to your top 10 Copenhagen must-dos!
The cinema often shows independent movies with limited releases that you would generally not find in mainstream movie houses. The experience wouldn’t be complete without enjoying some refreshments in the foyer before the show.
Copenhagen is known for its cozy pubs, great beer and nighttime party atmosphere! There are plenty of options to suit your style and taste, allowing you to let your hair down and party to your heart’s content.
A good starting point for a night out in Copenhagen is the area around Strøget, where you’ll find locals enjoying a few drinks at reasonable prices. To step it up a notch, head over to Nørrebro where the clubs stay open almost all night!
Where to Stay in Copenhagen
Looking for a specific place to stay? These are our highest recommendations for places to stay in Copenhagen.
Best Hostel in Copenhagen: A&O Copenhagen Nørrebro
A&O Copenhagen is a stylish and modern hostel – and our choice for the best hostel in Copenhagen. Located in the Nørrebro district, this bright and airy property has a great bar, guest kitchen and a spacious seating area.
The rooms are comfortable and have private bathrooms and modern amenities.
Best Airbnb in Copenhagen: Bright Private Room
This home is perfect for couples that want to get a cozy, relaxing experience in Copenhagen. The apartment is just as inviting as the host and gives off an organic brightness from the interior to the gateway to the balcony. It’s quiet and near the beautiful canals to go for a dip in. In the room, you can enjoy cooking yourself a simple meal with the kitchenette. Although this is a room in an apartment it is set up very private, nice and spaced out, so you don’t feel like you are in anyone’s space -which is a BIG plus.View on Airbnb
Best Hotel in Copenhagen: Steel House Copenhagen
Steel House Copenhagen is a stylish and rustic property at the heart of the city. And, it is our top pick for best hotel in Copenhagen. It is close to Tivoli Gardens, City Hall Square, and Copenhagen’s top attractions.
There’s a swimming pool, on-site restaurant and they even offer bike rentals to guests.
Romantic Things to Do in Copenhagen
If you’re heading over to Copenhagen to celebrate an anniversary or want to impress your other half, here are some activities that are sure to do the trick!
17. Enjoy a picnic at King’s Garden
Copenhagen is full of leafy public spaces, but the King’s Gardens are especially pleasant. The gardens are on the grounds of Rosenborg Castle, and are stacked with colorful flowers, tree-lined alleys, and garden sculptures.
King’s Gardens are a popular spot to enjoy a picnic in the warmer months, and the perfect setting to connect with your partner. Bring a blanket, some snacks and a drink or two and enjoy the time together without the distractions that life throws at you.
We’ve all seen the commercials, you know… the ones with the perfect-looking couple setting sail into the sunset. Those images evoke emotions of wanderlust, adventure and romance.
We’ve all dreamed of going on a cruise, lounging around the pool and dining on delicious meals in the galley. Well, if you never have the chance to take a cruise, at the very least you can enjoy those fantasies by having lunch aboard a giant cruise-liner!
Do You Need Travel Insurance
Don’t forget to sort your travel insurance! We’ve put together a roundup of the best travel insurance for backpackers, or if you’re low on time, get a quote from World Nomads now, our favorite travel insurance provider.
Getting an estimate from World Nomads is simple – just click the button or image below, fill out the necessary info, and you’re on your way!
Best Free Things to Do in Copenhagen
To save a few bucks, here are a few things to do in Copenhagen that are absolutely free!
19. Stroll over to Strøget
Located in the heart of the old town, Strøget is one of the largest pedestrian malls in the world! The area is very popular with locals and tourists, containing all sorts of shops from souvenir stores to high-end fashion labels.
The street is a shopper’s paradise with stores lining the street on each side! Of course, there are loads of coffee houses and eateries to whet your appetite too. You’ll find everything from fast-food joints to cozy cafes to elegant restaurants.
20. Check out The Royal Library
The Royal Library, located on the island of Slotsholmen, is a fascinating place and definitely worth a visit! There are two sections to the building, the original section finished in 1648 and a modern section known as the Black Diamond – thanks to its shiny black marble exterior.
Incredibly, the library holds almost every book ever printed in the Danish language, since 1482! The interior is an impressive piece of architecture, of which the central hall is accessible to the public.
If you’ve had a tiresome day of exploring and feel like a break, there’s a lovely hidden garden between the old part of the library and the entrance to the Danish Parliament.
21. Taste some local treats at Torvehallerne Market
Torvehallerne is by far Copenhagen’s most popular food market! While it is called a supermarket, it’s actually a super market, a wonderland of food, where all kinds of produce, products and meals can be found under one roof.
Inside the two glass halls, you’ll find over 60 food stands selling tasty treats from all over the world! It’s a place that you could wander around for hours, and one that always seems to be packed with patrons.
The market oozes diversity, is a local gathering hub, and an experience just in itself. Do yourself a favor, and mark this down as a must-do in Copenhagen!
Copenhagen Packing List
1. Travel Water Bottle: Always travel with a water bottle – it’ll save you money and reduce your plastic footprint on our planet. AR bottle are tough, lightweight and maintain the temperature of your beverage – so you can enjoy a cold red bull, or a hot coffee, no matter where you are. For every AR bottle sold, we donate 10% to PlasticOceans.org – an initiative to reduce plastic in our oceans!
2. Microfibre Towel: It’s always worth packing a proper towel. Hostel towels are scummy and take forever to dry. Microfibre towels dry quickly, are compact, lightweight and can be used as a blanket or yoga mat if need be.
3. Security Belt with Hidden Pocket: I never hit the road without my security belt. This is a regular looking belt with a concealed pocket on the inside – you can hide up to twenty notes inside and wear it through airport scanners without it setting them off. This is hands down the best way to hide your cash.
4. Camera or Cell Phone Camera Accessories: One thing’s for sure – Copenhagen is one of the most photography-worthy destinations out there. If you’re relying on your mobile phone camera exclusively (which is totally common in digital-savvy Copenhagen), enhance your lens with accessories to make those photos really pop!
5. International Adapter: Copenhagen outlets accommodate typical US two-pronged plugs (220-volt AC, 50Hz ) like most Europen cities, but for electronics that have three prongs or if your plugs are of a different variety, you’ll need an adapter. Save yourself the hassle of trying to track down an adapter at your destination and paying twice as much than planning ahead by buying one online.
Books to Read in Copenhagen
The Backpacker Bible – Get it for free! Learn how to ditch your desk and travel the world on just $10 a day whilst building a life of long-term travel with an online income. To inspire and help the next generation of Broke Backpackers, you can now grab ‘How to Travel the World on $10 a Day’ for free! Get your copy here.
The Year of Living Danishly: Uncovering the Secrets of the World’s Happiest Country: All the reasons why Denmark is awesome basically.
Things to Do in Copenhagen with Kids
For those of you traveling to Copenhagen with kids, here are a couple of great things to do together and have a good time as a family!
For a fun day out for the whole family, or anyone who loves sea life, the National Aquarium Denmark (Den Blå Planet) is a must! The five-sided layout of the building resembles a whirlpool, and its futuristic design gives you the feeling of being underwater.
Den Blå Planet is the largest aquarium in Northern Europe, and has a huge range of aquatic animals, including Amazonian arapaima, sea otters and hammerhead sharks! The aquarium is a great place to learn about the earth’s natural ecosystems, and not just in the sea but also in rainforests and freshwater rivers too!
What better way to keep the whole family entertained than a trip to the zoo? And as zoos go, the Copenhagen Zoo is pretty impressive! It has more than 2,500 animals and some pretty epic enclosures.
The elephant enclosure is state-of-the-art and was designed by English architect Sir Norman Foster, while the Arctic Ring enclosure allows for spectacularly close encounters as visitors get to walk through the polar-bear pool!
Entrance to the zoo is free with a Copenhagen City Card.
Other Things to Do in Copenhagen
Here are a few more things to add to your Copenhagen itinerary!
24. Hop on a roller-coaster ride at Bakken
Located in Jægersborg Dyrehave, around 10km north of Copenhagen is Dyrehavsbakken (Bakken for short), the oldest operating amusement park in the world! The park opened way way back in 1583, and is still one of the most popular sites in Denmark!
Bakken has a very earthy and old-time feel to it, which may be due to it being situated in a beech woodland, but also because of the wooden scaffolding. The most famous ride is Rutschebanen, a wooden roller coaster that dates back to 1932!
25. Carlsberg Brewery – because beer
The Carlsberg Brewery is one of the most architecturally impressive breweries in the world! At the entrance, you’re greeted by four life-size elephants ‘holding’ the gate bearing Carl Jacobsen’s Latin motto Laboremus pro Patria, meaning “We work for our country”.
The Danish brewing company was founded by Jacob Christian Jacobsen in 1847. The site has the world’s largest beer bottle collection, a sculpture garden and even award-winning stables. But let’s not kid ourselves, you’ll be visiting for the beer, but it’s good to know there are other things on offer for other people.
26. Immerse yourself in the flora at Botanisk Have (Botanical Garden)
Botanisk Have makes for a pleasant stop to take a break from all the touristing around, which can sometimes feel like a full-time job! Located right in the heart of Copenhagen, the botanical garden spreads out over 24 acres.
In total there are more than 13,000 plant species on display at the gardens, with some plants being over 200 years old. The gardens constitute the National Museum of Natural History’s plant collection, the biggest plant collection in Denmark!
In the gardens are a few glasshouses that date from the 1870s, including an impressive conservatory complex, and the Arctic House containing Arctic plants.
27. Have a beach day at Amager Strandpark
Amager Beach Park is a long, sandy shoreline is ideal for enjoying the sun and water. One side is shallow and popular for families with small children, and the other with adults that prefer sandy beaches.
The lagoon is a popular area for relaxing on the beach or for watersports. The southern part of the lagoon has a long promenade, perfect for runners, skaters and cyclists. On one side of the beach, there is a big windmill park, and on the other you have a spectacular view on the Øresund Bridge.
Day Trips From Copenhagen
Outside Copenhagen, you’ll find an amazing countryside filled with history and beauty. To the north are the royal palaces of a bygone era, and just over the pond to the east…Sweden.
You may not have been aware before, but Copenhagen is tantalizingly close to Sweden, and since the creation of the Øresund Bridge, the city of Malmö is just a short drive away. Sweden’s third-largest city has a slight Parisian feel to it, with plenty of historic buildings and vintage phone boxes.
Just a short drive away from Malmö is the historic city of Lund, which dates back to the Viking age. You’ll discover streets paved with cobblestones and a cathedral that was completed in 1145! This tour is for anyone wanting to get a taste of Sweden and experience some more of Scandinavia.
Take a trip up to North Sealand and you’ll learn about the rich royal history of Denmark. The Danish countryside is filled with beautiful scenery, historic cities and imposing castles.
Stop at the old port city of Helsingør and discover Kronborg, Hamlet’s Castle, built by King Frederik II in 1585! The city also has a popular maritime museum and historic city center worth visiting.
No trip to the north is complete without a visit to other famous palaces in the region, Fredensborg Slot and Frederiksborg Palace. Both are exquisite in their own way, and give a glimpse into Denmark’s Royal Heritage.
3 Day Itinerary in Copenhagen
Now that you have a fair idea of what to do in Copenhagen, it’s time to make an itinerary!
For the first day of your Copenhagen adventure, it’s best to head to the city center and check out some important Copenhagen attractions. You’ll find plenty of points of interest within a small range, all within a short walk from each other.
Start at the Torvehallerne Market and pick up some snacks before heading to Rundetaarn. When you’re done, walk over to Rosenborg Castle and the accompanying King’s Gardens. From there, make your way towards Amalienborg Palace, stopping at The David Collection on the way. Lastly, end off the day at Nyhavn, where the setting sun makes for the most amazing pictures!
Start off your second day in Copenhagen with a visit to the Free Town of Christiania. To get there, make your way to Copenhagen Central Station and catch bus 9A towards Refshaleøen and get off at Bodenhoffs Plads. From there it’s a short 10 minute walk.
When you’re done hop back on the 9A bus and carry on to the end of the line to visit Reffen. After spending a couple hours at the market and walking around a bit, catch a harbor boat back across the water. A great way to spend the afternoon is with a stroll down Langelinie to glimpse the famous Little Mermaid statue.
Today is all about getting the last few important Copenhagen points of interest ticked off. Luckily some of them are grouped together, close to, or on the small island of Slotsholmen. We suggest you begin exploring Christiansborg Palace and the surrounding historic buildings.
For the next few hours, you’ll have a choice of visiting City Hall, National Museum of Denmark, Ny Carlsberg Glypotek, or all three. All three are a short walk away, but it’s best to take your time and enjoy the experience without rushing. End the day with a magical experience at Tivoli Gardens!
More Great Resources
Denmark’s capital is such a great city and has so much to offer! From boat cruises on the water to old palaces and museums, there is plenty to see and do on your trip to Copenhagen. However, there are also a lot of possibilities to spend your money. Plan ahead wisely and set up a good Copenhagen Travel Budget.
Whether you’re on your own or taking the family, there is something for everyone in this gem of a Nordic city. Make sure you plan ahead and list your ideal itinerary to get the best of Copenhagen and make the most of your stay.
A fantastic mix of history, culture, beautiful scenery and Scandinavian hospitality await you on your Copenhagen getaway! So what are you waiting for? Book your next adventure today!
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Chris Lininger is a writer, photographer, and guide from California. He is an advocate for off-beat responsible travel and the preservation of the world’s wild places and spaces. Chris is also a founding member of Epic Backpacker Tours and leads expeditions to Pakistan throughout the year. He is currently riding out the pandemic in Bali. Follow his adventures on Instagram.