20 top attractions in Copenhagen

Nyhaven the new harbor - 20 top attractions in Copenhagen

Nyhavn – the new harbor of Copenhagen

20 top attractions and cool hangout spots in Copenhagen

It’s late afternoon along the waterfront at Nyhavn, one of the busiest and actually tourist driven parts of Copenhagen’s port area. But surprisingly it feels very festive and genuine – even the locals are coming down to enjoy the sun and do some people watching along the boardwalk. But they are smarter, bringing their own beverages and sitting along the docks or open spaces at a fraction of what it would cost to sit and drink one beer at any of the bars and cafes lining Nyhvn’s waterfront.  I find out that those few perfect sunny days in Copenhagen are to really treasured times for locals,  everyone comes out to celebrate with friends and savor the moment, blue skies and great company.

Copenhagen is such an easy city to explore and walk through the main attractions around the center of town which are clustered around Slotsholmen, and just outside into the new sections of the city at Christian Town. Within the island of Slotsholmen are many historic treasures, palaces, museums and the Danish Parliament. And just across the canal are many landmarks that are easy to find along the main promenade: the Stroget, Nyhavn, Old town hall, Round tower, just to name a few. It’s easy to cover many of the monuments and attractions in one full day, but Copenhagen is a city to be savored slowly, and enjoy the busy and quiet places at a leisurely pace. 

Copenhagen at the Stroget - 20 top attractions and cool hangout spots in Copenhagen

Copenhagen at the Stroget

1. Strøget shopping street

Copenhagen’s largest outdoor shopping street in the central district is called Stroget,  a popular shopping venue with pedestrian only promenades filled with popular stores.  The main square around Stroget is called the Amagertorv with an ornate stork fountain done in Dutch renaissance style. Located in the center of the square, the fountain was built to celebrate the silver wedding anniversary of King Frederik VIII to Queen Louise – the fountain was given to them by the city council and commemorated in 1894.  Stroget has many of the world’s international fashion and product brands including: H&M, Prada, Gucci, Louis Vuitton and many well known designers. The promenade also features many local designs and specialty Danish stores including: Mads Nørgaard design, Birger Christensen, the Hay house,  Trollbeads and Sand which features Danish designs for men’s and women’s wear.

For a comprehensive list of Danish designs and other cool shops to check out at Stroget, visit Visit Copenhagen’s site here.

 

Copenhagen City Hall Square - Fantasy dragon at city hall square - A first impression of Copenhagen, Denmark

Copenhagen City Hall Square – Fantasy dragon at city hall square – A first impression of Copenhagen, Denmark

 

2. Town hall square, Rådhuspladsen

 

The main square of Copenhagen is simply called Copenhagen town hall square or Rådhuspladsen.  It is fashioned in an Italian Renaissance style with Danish influence that was popular during the timeframe of its build.  On the main tower of the town hall is a large ornate world clock created by Jens Olsen, one of the pre-eminent clock markers who created one of the most accurate, large scale devices in the world. The façade of the main town hall is ornate with beautiful detailed craftsmanship created by local designers and craftsmen

 

 

Façade of the old town hall at Raduspladsen, Copenhagen

Façade of the old town hall at Raduspladsen, Copenhagen

 

The Raduspladsen is a wonderful place to be in the moment, capture some photographs or just sit in a café on the square to enjoy the views and people watching. The square is a popular gathering spot for political, social and large entertainment events in the city.  In the middle is a wonderful fantasy dragon fountain made with three large dragons around a bronze basin in different poses, offering a wonderful and creative look at Danish artistry and design during the early 1920’s

 

 

 

Tivoli gardens in Copenhagen

Tivoli gardens in Copenhagen

3. Tivoli Gardens

One of Copenhagen’s most iconic attractions, Tivoli Gardens is a busy and popular amusement park open all day into late at night when many locals and visitors come for entertainment. The amusement park located next to Copenhagen’s main train station was started in 1843 and quickly became the city’s fun pleasure garden for crazy rides, shows and attractive food venues. The park has evolved with current tastes to include more off the wall amusement rides, beautiful gardens, light shows and events to make this a fun attraction during the day time or late at night when the entire park is magically illuminated.  The park draws in over 4 million visitors annually and is the most popular theme park in all of Scandinavia. For more information on events and activities in the park, you can visit the Tivoli website here.

 

Entry to the Tivoli Gardens at night

 

Tivoli Gardens in central Copenhagen

Tivoli Gardens in central Copenhagen

 

 

4. Carlsberg 

For beer lovers, a visit to the Carlsberg breweries is a must at the town of Valby, which is close to the city center. Valby is the location of the first Carlsberg brewery in Denmark. Outside of the main brewery, there are many warehouses and beautiful brick buildings that are being repurposed into mixed used places for locals and eventually tourists to visit. The old brewery is open to visitors to tour the historical facility and buildings, art collections and stable grounds. With the entry price, there are free guided tours with an overview of the history, brew making story and architecture at Carlsberg.

The brewery is famous for its beautiful brick buildings constructed in the early 19th and 20th centuries with gorgeous facades and ornamentation and details. The brewery also has two gardens, stables, villas and an art museum worth visiting. You can also sample some of their famous beers at Jacobsen Brewhouse & Bar. For more information about visiting the brewery and a calendar of events, you can check out the Carlsberg website here.

 

Here’s a quick video of the old brewery interiors and the Carlsberg stables below shared by gatorpics09  to give you a look around the area.

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Glyptotek in Copenhagen

The Glyptotek in Copenhagen

5. Ny Carlsberg Glyptotek

 Ny Carlsberg Glyptotek is Copenhagen’s signature art museum. Named for the iconic Carlsberg benefactor, the museum is mostly a personal collection of Carl Jacobson who created the museum and donated it to the city. Even for non museum goers, this is a must see place because of the stunning exterior and interior details, including the spectacular views from the rooftop deck. The Glyptotek museum exhibits rotating shows along with their permanent collections of mostly ancient antiquities of mostly Egypt, Rome and Greece. There is also a collection of modern art with French Impressionist and Post Impressionist masterpieces, works by Rodin and a collection of paintings of the Danish Golden age.

 

 

A replica of a roman villa with antiquities at the Carlsberg Glyptotek

A replica of a roman villa with antiquities at the Carlsberg Glyptotek

 

 Once you enter the museum, you approach this airy and magnificently ornate greenhouse with gorgeous statues and tropical plants. It feels like you are being transported into a different world filled with imagination and antiquities that draw you into another world and time. It’s almost worth seeing this space and admiring it on its own without even having to see the incredible artwork and collections of the Glyptotek. But don’t stop there, the many galleries are also well designed and easy to walk through and enjoy the beautiful presentation and artwork.

 

To plan your visit or check out the latest exhibits at the museum, you can check out the Glyptotek website here.

 

 

Christiansborg Palace tower views of Copenhagen

Christiansborg Palace tower views of Copenhagen

 

6. Christiansborg Palace tower

The tallest tower in Copenhagen which also happens to be a free attraction, is a must visit attraction to see magnificent views of the entire city and harbor area. The tower, owned by the Danish parliament was created by Parliament members for free public viewing to visitors and visitors to the city.  The views from the Christiansborg tower offers a stunning 360 degree view of the entire city and outlying areas.

Tip: best times to visit to avoid the crowds are early when tower opens or even late in the afternoon for the twilight hour and evening views of the city. Also, there is a restaurant in the tower called the Tarnet for more refined and modern Danish cuisine.  For more information about the tower visit and hours, you can check out their website here.

 

Christiansborg Palace at Slotsholmen, Copenhagen

Christiansborg Palace at Slotsholmen, Copenhagen

 

7. Christiansborg Palace

The main palace at Christiansborg is open for the public to view many of the public and administrative halls in the palace. The seat of imperial Denmark, the palace retains many of its splendid royal halls which the queen still uses for many state dinners and events. With the price of admission you can also visit the royal stables, the underground ruins of earlier medieval castles, the palace chapel and the court theater. Inside the palace are beautiful collections of porcelain, tapestries, artwork and statues, chandeliers and other richly decorated ornaments.

The palace is also a working government building housing all three branches of the Danish government including: the executive, legislative and judicial powers of the country. Since the early 15th century the palace has been the base of central administration and now the current day parliament of Denmark. It is the only government building in the world that houses all of its government branches within one impressive building.

 

For more information on tours and hours, you can visit the Christiansborg palace website here.

 

Slotsholmen in the old town of Copenhagen

Slotsholmen in the old town of Copenhagen

 

 

8. Slotsholmen

The central core island in Copenhagen’s main harbor was formed into the city’s ruling power and eventually expanded to Christian Town and other outlying areas which eventually formed the city center. Recognized as the center of Denmark’s government, Slotsholmen has been the active ruling seat since the middle ages and into modern times. The historic island is filled with historical monuments and important architectural buildings including: Christiansborg Slot, Denmark’s parliament (Folketing), the royal residence (Christiansborg Palace), the Supreme Court, national archives and the prime minister’s office all one confined area.

You can easily spend days just visiting the many museums on the island.  This includes magnificent buildings that house the following: the Danish Jewish Museum, the royal stables at Christianborg Palace, the Theater Museum, ruins at Christianborg Palace, the Royal Arsenal Museum, Thorvaldsen Museum. For more information and a comprehensive list of  museums, hours and what’s happening, you can check out Visit Copenhagen’s Museum link here.

 For fun activities and tours in this district check out these discounts and reviews here for the latest updates and prices.

Vesterbro and Meatpacking District in Copenhagen

Vesterbro and Meatpacking District in Copenhagen

 

9. Vesterbro and Meatpacking District

The meatpacking district of Copenhagen called Vesterbro is located next to the main train station. The area is now considered Copenhagen’s  ‘Red light district’ but with more yuppie appeal and bustling with hip cafes, clubs and the occasional strip show venue. The new hipster zone is a fun spot to visit the many design galleries and stores, interesting old architecture or just walking through and enjoying the street life. Of course, if your main interest is mostly the club scene and red light appeal, then night time at Vesterbro is definitely the best time to explore the area. For a list of interesting places to visit and cool attractions, you can check some of the activities around Vesterbro here

 

 

Multi - purpose complex at Vesterbro, Copenhagen

Multi – purpose complex at Vesterbro, Copenhagen

 

10. Christiania

Originally Copenhagen’s hippy hangout, Christiania was an abandoned military base founded by squatters and artists which developed into a social experiment known as a ‘free town’, or basically a hippy commune. The area has now evolved into a vibrant community with a gritty edge. There’s a lot of street art, galleries, cafes and night clubs to hang out and even buy weed or other soft drunks available for sale in many of these establishments.  There are also unusual museums, community centers and music venues to explore around the community. The alternate lifestyle and vibe of the area resonates with the younger, liberal and open attitudes of the community, so if you are looking for something different and more on Copenhagen’s cutting edge scene, you definitely need to check out Christiania.  For more information and safety guidelines  visiting the community, check out this website.

 

 

Also, I’m including a quick video tour of the area – video credit to Ultimate Copenhagen below

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Nyhaven or the new harbor of Copenhagen

Nyhavn or the new harbor of Copenhagen

11. Nyhavn

The new harbor of Copenhagen is the perfect place to end the day along the waterfront area which is filled with cafes, bars and the enjoying the beautiful canal. The colorful facades and canal make Nyhavn a postcard perfect venue all day to late at night. Taking a boat ride starting at  is a popular way of seeing the waterfront and canal areas of Copenhagen’s busy waterfront and popular hangout spots in the city including the canals around Christian town.

Main canal at Nyhaven, Copenhagen

Main canal at Nyhavn, Copenhagen

Nyhavn and Slotsholmen

 

Canal views of Nyhaven and Slotsholmen, central Copenhagen

Canal views of Nyhavn and Slotsholmen, central Copenhagen

 

 

 

 

 

Views across to Christianshavn or Christiana town in Copenhagen

Views across to Christianshavn or Christiana town in Copenhagen

12. Christianshavn or Christiantown

The waterfront community of canals and old warehouse district of Copenhagen which has transformed into a gentrified and expensive housing community. A canal cruise is the preferred way to visit the canals and restored warehouses that have been converted to living and working buildings and enjoy the views from a water vantage point. Or you can take a leisurely walk around the neighborhood to soak in the slower pace and details of daily life around this vibrant area.

For accommodations in this district check out these discounts and reviews here for the latest updates and prices.

 

 

 

Ørstedparken in central Copenhagen

Ørstedparken in central Copenhagen

 

13. Ørstedparken

One of the most popular public parks in Central Copenhagen is Orstedparken which is located along the old fortification ruins of the city. The moat is still left over with large ponds in the middle of the park with trails, flower gardens and grassy hills. Some of the hilly areas contain an old bastion and rampart with wonderful views to the surrounding areas and city center. During the summer time, the park  is filled with colorful flower gardens like the garden beds below. Its a perfect spot for locals and visitors alike to have a nice picnic or just take a long afternoon nap. It’s a perfect respite from the crowded urban crawl around the historic center of the city.

For accommodations in this district check out these discounts and reviews here for the latest updates and prices.

 

 Annual flower beds at Orstedparken

 

Lounging amid the flower beds at Ørstedparken in central Copenhagen

Lounging amid the flower beds at Ørstedparken in central Copenhagen

 

 

 

 

 

Little Copenhagen in central historic area

Little Copenhagen in central historic area

14. Little Copenhagen

A cool new hangout spot right next door to the Orstedparken, Little Copenhagen is on the cutting edge, made with shipping containers repurposed into street food, beer stations and public entertainment venues all in one setting.  The area has an edgy vibe with cool DJs spinning, live bands and performances, dances and the weekend outdoor craft fares happening all around the park like setting.

If you are looking for a trendy and fun area to hang out with the locals, then go to Little Copenhagen from Thursday to Sunday evenings and enjoy all the entertainment and delicious street food. To find out more about Little Copenhagen, check out their website here.

For accommodations in this district check out these discounts and reviews here for the latest updates and prices.

 

 

Arts and crafts displays at Little Copenhagen

Arts and crafts displays at Little Copenhagen

 

 

 

15. Rosenborg Castle 

Set in the King’s garden in central Copenhagen, Rosenborg castle was built in the Dutch Renaissance style which was a predominant Danish style popular during this timeframe.  The tall and ornate brickwork and sandstone with tall towers capped in copper details. The royal palace originally the summer residence until the 1710 is now mostly used as a royal museum which features the royal treasures and crowns of the monarchy along with a rich collection of artwork, paintings, parade regalia and other fine collections. The royal chambers, assembly halls and administrative offices are open for the public to visit along with the public gardens around the palace.

 

For opening hours, tours and ticket prices for the Rosenborg Castle, you can visit their website here. Below is a video tour of Rosenborg castle – video credit courtesy of Rick Steves Europe.

Torvehallerne specialty food market, Copenhagen

Torvehallerne specialty food market, Copenhagen

 

16. Torvehallerne  

Across the street from Little Copenhagen is Torvehallerne, an upscale food hall and specialty food court which caters to both local crowds and visitors. The market is housed in twin greenhouses with outdoor seating and shops sprinkled around the dining areas. It’s a very festive and color area with many food shops specializing in prepared foods, local meats, cheeses, breads and pastries, imported goods and everything delicious and foodie focused.  The best thing is to come hungry and just explore the stalls to see what appeals to you and you just may visit Torvehallerne a second or third time.

 

Torvehallerne in Copenhagen

Torvehallerne in Copenhagen

 

 

 

 

 

Iris and water views at Copenhagen Botanical garden

Iris and water views at Copenhagen Botanical garden

 

17. Copenhagen Botanical garden

The botanical gardens are full of beautiful garden rooms, water features and lakes with sweeping lawns and pastoral views.  The garden also have unusual round Victorian glasshouses housing tropical and Mediterranean to desert botanical plants and species. As part of the Natural history museum, the botanical garden houses the largest collection of living plants and botanical species in Denmark. For a nice quiet and relaxing visit away from the busy urban areas of Copenhagen, the botanical garden is is a nice respite with well maintained garden rooms, glasshouses and open space to enjoy and worth a visit.

The gardens are free and open to the public and for more information and history about the gardens, you can visit their website here.

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Flea market shopping at Nørrebro district, Copenhagen

Flea market shopping at Nørrebro district, Copenhagen

18. Nørrebro district

For those interested in Danish design, antiques and galleries, then the Norrebro district and the right place to explore the many shops that specialize in antiquities, imported and Danish works. The area off Ravnsborggade street has many quirky, cool shops and antique stores worth visiting and hopefully finding some treasures to take home.  The area also has a very cool vibe with trendy stores, cafes, retro shops and design studios and weekends include an antique market that’s fun to dig through for something interesting or a souvenir.

To check out some of the unique store, click on Visit Copenhagen’s website here.

For accommodations in this district check out these discounts and reviews here for the latest updates and prices.

 

A cool design shop at Nørrebro district, Copenhagen

A cool design shop at Nørrebro district, Copenhagen

19. National Museum of Denmark

The National Museum of Denmark is a free museum worth visiting in Copenhagen. It houses the entire range of important ancient Danish history, events, artifacts and artwork in the 3 floors of galleries and exhibit halls. Outside of Danish cultural exhibits and history, the National Museum of Denmark also contains exhibits and national interests in areas: of natural sciences, archaeology, ethnology, conservation, communication and religion.  It terms of historical value, the museum collections represent 14,000 years of Danish history ranging from the ice age and Viking time frame to the middle ages and on to modern Danish economy, contemporary lifestyle and culture.

 

To plan your visit and find out more about current exhibits, you can visit the National Museum website here

 

 

 

Peblinge Lake in central Copenhagen

Peblinge Lake in central Copenhagen

20. Peblinge Lake

Another popular green belt and lake area in central Copenhagen, Peblinge lake is a series of three rectangular lakes that formed originally from a stream and converted into dammed lakes as fortification for the historic central district in the early 1700s.  Now the lakes and green belts are used for recreational purposes and offer beautiful skyline views on the city center.

 

 Swans at Peblinge lake looking for handouts

 

Peblinge Lake and swans in central Copenhagen

Peblinge Lake and swans in central Copenhagen

 

 

Other cool attractions and activities

If you are looking for more fun things to do and other comprehensive tours around the city, check out these fun and unique tours or activities worth doing in the city.

City bus and boat Hop on Hop off for 48 hours – easy access to the city’s main attractions and an added feature to explore the city’s landmarks on the water.

Copenhagen city card – free entrance to over 73 museums and attractions and local transportation around the city. Also discounts to restaurants, stores and other tourist activities.

A Copenhagen food tour – a tour around the city’s historic center and stops at some of the traditional food venues and newer establishments to taste some of the best foods of the city.

Copenhagen bike tour – Explore the city like a local and through their favorite means of transportation – by bicycle and touring popular attractions all around the city.

Check out all these other fun excursions and tours around Copenhagen here offering unique experiences around the city.

 

Where to stay in Copenhagen

Since this is a walking city it is so easy to be based anywhere close to the historic center. Here are some unique and beautiful properties to consider for your stay in Copenhagen.

Radisson Blue Royal Hotel Copenhagen – a signature Radisson property in a central location, modern and comfortable rooms with excellent breakfast service

Skt. Petri – Centrally located this modern style hotel has comfortable and clean rooms recently renovated and close to the metro system. Good breakfast service and efficient front desk service.

First Hotel Mayfair – only a three minute walk to the main train station, this classic and elegant hotel with inviting bedroom décor and comfortable rooms. Excellent buffet breakfast and customer service.

Avenue Hotel Copenhagen – Good location and value, classic hotel with modern interiors and comfortable rooms with soft beds. Extensive breakfast buffet and a wide range of services and tours offered by the front desk.

For more reviews and hotel prices check these hotels from Trip Advisor here for more details.

 

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20 attractions and cool in Copenhagen

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19 Responses to 20 top attractions in Copenhagen

  1. hiren June 7, 2017 at 3:55 am #

    hi very good article.

  2. Meagan Brown November 5, 2016 at 11:43 pm #

    Really amazing blog about top attraction in Copenhagen! I did not know much about Copenhagen. You have shared your info a great. I really enjoyed to read. Thanks for all good resources.

  3. Lasse August 16, 2016 at 4:59 pm #

    There are many layers to this city and a lot to see. I would really recommend to take a guided tour while there. The tours have different focuses, some are more historical than others.

  4. Laura August 3, 2015 at 5:19 am #

    We were just in Copenhagen for the first time last month and loved it, but you’ve reminded me that we only had time to see a small part of the city. It’s so big and packed with great things to do.

  5. I would love to visit Copenhagen. It looks like an amazing city. I love the WW2 history of this city. I marked this for use when I go.

  6. Sophie August 2, 2015 at 6:41 pm #

    Great photos! I’ve heard great things about Copenhagen as proved by your blog. The meatpacking district sounds interesting.

  7. Christa August 2, 2015 at 11:47 am #

    Looks like there’s A LOT to do in Copenhagen! We’re planning to live in Germany for a next starting next summer so I’ll have to put Copenhagen on my “weekend destination” list. But with all that stuff to do I might have to go twice or extend my visit to a week

  8. Mia August 2, 2015 at 11:31 am #

    Lovely photography! Copenhagen is such a vibrant city and I can’t imagine a bad photo ever being taken but you have a wonderful eye. This city is on my travel list and probably crept up a bit more once I let the hubby watch Pitch Perfect 2, lol! Great insight to all the wonderful things to do and see. I’ll be saving this one for later.

  9. Orana August 2, 2015 at 6:44 am #

    wow, so much great stuff to do in copenhagen! I had no idea and hope to get there someday to visit! I had heard of that hippy enclave though, sounds interesting!

  10. Jackie August 2, 2015 at 3:46 am #

    What great photos and such a detailed post! I love how you mixed in some videos, too! The waterfront vibe of Nyhavn looks relaxing and so fun! Exploring the underground ruins at Christiansborg Palace sounds very interesting as well. I’ve been so curious about Copenhagen and now I’m thinking about when I can get there! Thanks!

  11. Meg Jerrard August 2, 2015 at 2:26 am #

    Fabulous list – my favorite spot in Copenhagen is Nyhavn Habor – so many amazing resturants and the scene just feels alive every single time. I would also add the Little Mermaid to your list of attractions – I know she’s super touristy and it only takes 10 minutes, but she is Denmark’s most leading lady after all 😀

  12. Rhonda Albom August 2, 2015 at 1:55 am #

    Fantastic photos. Copenhagen through yours eyes is just stunning.

  13. Lesley August 1, 2015 at 11:26 am #

    Wow! Stunning photos. I love the one of Tivoli Gardens the most. Great colors. Denmark has been on my list for more than a decade. I think I’ll need to put it on my 2016 list to make sure it is a reality.

  14. Anda August 1, 2015 at 10:18 am #

    Your first picture of Copenhagen took my breath away, Noel. I never visited this beautiful town, but your post convinced me. I’ll bookmark this page for future use. I am less crazy about museums when I travel, but castles, botanical gardens or simply walking the streets are a great attraction for me.

  15. Tam Warner Minton July 30, 2015 at 6:47 am #

    As always, Noel, incredible photos!

    • Noel July 30, 2015 at 7:41 am #

      Thanks so much Tam

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