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15 things to do in Copenhagen



Getting to explore a new city is always a joy and København quickly found a way to my heart. The capital is very lively and modern with lots of interesting historic sites, colorful buildings, lovely food and of course an endless amount of Danish design shops. We spent a good four days there and managed to squeeze in quite a lot of our to do list. To give you an idea of everything there is to discover in Copenhagen, I made an overview of all the places we visited along with some other tips and ended up with these 15 must do's!

Visit the Church of our Saviour

For the most beautiful view over Copenhagen the Church of Our Saviour is where you need to be. There are 400 steps to be climbed and because of it’s old structure trust me, it’s no picnic. But once you get to the top of the golden spiral staircase, the view is absolutely stunning. From Christiansborg to Amager and the entrance to Copenhagen’s harbor.

Take a walk through Kastellet

Kastellet is Copenhagen’s old citadel. It’s a star-shaped fortress with rows and rows of red barack buildings which used to house a garrison of about 1800 men. Though it remains an active military area as the head quarters of the Danish Defence Intelligence, the public is free to walk around and enjoy the bastion’s 17th century vibes and the beautiful green ramparts surrounding it. Also worth a visit is the St. Alban’s Church right next to the citadel.

See the (alternative) mermaid

There’s not much to see about the statue of The Little Mermaid and yet every first-time Copenhagen visitor makes the effort to go and take a picture of the famous landmark. If you’re one of them, here’s a fun fact: walk a bit further along the coast and you’ll discover the mermaid’s lesser-known younger sister. An alternative version known as the Genetically Modified Mermaid was sculpted by Bjørn Nørgaard in 2000.

Take a boat tour

A canal tour may sound like the obvious thing to do in a port city like Copenhagen, but honestly this was one of the highlights of our trip! We hopped on a boat near Nyhavn and were taken on a journey around the harbor by the most enthusiastic guide I’ve ever met. I loved being able to experience the city and its most famous parts like The Black Diamond, Amalienborg and Christianshavn from a different perspective.

Visit Rosenborg

I remember Rosenborg Castle to be the most charming building we visited in Copenhagen. It was built as a summer palace by Christian IV, Denmark’s longest-reigning monarch. As a visitor you’re free to explore the entire ground, first and second floor, where each room is more interesting than the last. Take a tour around Christian’s bedroom, magnificent marble room and pretend you’re attending a royal ball in the Knight’s Hall. In the basement treasury you can admire the Danish Crown Jewels.

The Botanical Gardens

Right across the street from Rosenborg, you can visit Copenhagen’s Botanical Gardens. I loved taking a stroll through the gardens and discovering all the different plant species. There are also some greenhouses which you can enter. The largest one is called The Palm House and has a passageway at the top to enjoy the view from above.

Grab a bite at Torvehallerne

Torvehallerne is a food market consisting of two large halls with over 60 stands. There’s a large variety of products from fresh fish to cheese, pizza, sweet pastries and the occasional flower shop. It’s the ideal spot to try Danish specialties like smørrebrød or a fresh cinnamon roll.

Hop on a ride in Tivoli

Founded in 1843, Tivoli Gardens is one of the oldest amusement parks in the world. There’s a wonderful sense of nostalgia to the place and the rides are all beautifully designed and detailed. The only downside is you have to pay for each ride individually and it can get quite expensive. Just taking a walk through the park is still a magical experience on its own though, especially when you visit at night and all the lights are twinkling.

Nyhavn

I couldn’t leave this one out, could I? Nyhavn, or ‘New Harbor’, is probably the most photographed place in Copenhagen and for good reason. I was a bit afraid that it would be one of those overrated tourist traps but honestly it was even more beautiful than I’d imagined. I suspect during high season the place must be crowded with people but when we visited in May, there was an enjoyable fuss hanging in the air which I could really appreciate.

Eat a Danish hot dog

A hot dog is the obvious choice if you’re looking for a quick bite to eat in Copenhagen. Hot dog stands are scattered all around the city serving typical Danish sausages in a bun with mustard, ketchup, fried onions and other toppings of your choosing. If you’re looking for a vegan alternative, visit Den Økologiske Pølsemand next to The Round Tower.

Visit Christiansborg

Where to start? There’s a whole lot to learn and do at Christiansborg Palace. Its history is very interesting, as it’s actually a castle built on top of a row of other castles which either burnt down or were destroyed. Currently Christiansborg serves as the seat of the Danish Parliament as well as a location for the Queen of Denmark to host parties and gala banquets. The Royal Reception Rooms, Royal Stables and - my favorite - the Royal Kitchen are all open to visitors.

Visit Hans Christian Andersen’s grave

Thumbelina, the Princess and the Pea, the Ugly Duckling. Hans Christian Andersen wrote so many of my favorite fairytales so it seemed evident to pay a visit to his grave. He is buried at Assistens Kirkegård, which besides a cemetery is also a beautiful public park where locals love to gather for a picnic and relax under the trees.

Discover the shops in Jægersborggade

Start your exploration of the hip Nørrebro neighbourhood in Jægersborggade. The street is full of charming independent shops, art galleries and cafes. Immerse yourself in the plant heaven that is Plant København or shop a pair of sneakers while sipping coffee at - you guessed it - Sneakers & Coffee.

Snaregade & Magstræde

As I mentioned in my previous post, Snaregade and Magstræde are two charming cobbled streets and two of the oldest in Copenhagen. They’re not exactly the most beautiful, but there’s just something about them. It’s also fun to know that Einar and Gerda take a stroll through Snaregade in a scene from The Danish Girl.

Climb the Round Tower

One of Copenhagen’s most famous lookout points is the Round Tower or Rundetårn, the oldest functioning observatory in Europe. A spiral ramp instead of stairs makes the way up a bit more pleasant and once on top you can enjoy a view over the old part of Copenhagen.

More nice-to-knows

(Don’t) Visit Carlsberg

The biggest disappoint of our trip was without a doubt the Visit Carlsberg museum. We were pretty excited to take a tour around the old brewery but there really wasn’t much to see. The museum is really small and there’s barely any information anywhere, let alone any interactive media. The only positive thing to mention is the free beer at the end of the tour, but then there are more than enough places in Copenhagen to enjoy a Carlsberg in a cozier setting.

The Royal Library

There are two sides to Denmark’s Royal Library. Literally. The old building from 1906 has a garden which is very charming and a lovely spot to hang out during summer. Its waterfront extension, The Black Diamond, I found less interesting. It’s a striking piece of architecture from the outside, but when you enter there’s not much to see as most rooms are only accessible to readers and students. Guided tours are optional but mostly for large groups and they’re also quite expensive.

The Copenhagen Card

If you’re planning a vacation from 3-5 days, be sure to check out the advantages of getting a Copenhagen Card. With the card you can enter a lot of attractions for free and all public transport in the city is free as well. We found Copenhagen to be really expensive in general so we’re glad we got to save at least some money thanks to The Copenhagen Card. You either buy it online or get one at the information desk at the airport.
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