The Highlights of Copenhagen
Copenhagen is an incredible city full of delicious food, fun activities, and beautiful views—all rich with Danish history. In fact, from the moment you land and hop on the metro toward the city, you’ll be engulfed in the gorgeous scenery. Once you finally arrive, you’ll see why it’s rumored to be the happiest city on the planet.
Of course, with so much to do and see and so many smiles to flash in return to whole-hearted strangers, it can be a challenge to narrow down your itinerary to fit into your schedule.
To help make those decisions a bit easier for you, we’ve compiled a list of the city’s must-experience highlights.
Here’s what you don’t want to miss out on:
The Rosenborg Castle
There are actually dozens of medieval castles and fairytale-like palaces to explore in Denmark, some arguably more worthy of your time than others.
However, if you’ve only got time for one, we suggest making it the Rosenborg Castle.
This castle dates back to 1606 and was initially built as a royal summer house by Christian IV—one of Scandinavia’s most famous kings. Here you can catch an eyeful of the city’s regal history, filled with works of art and treasures against the backdrop of Italian-inspired architecture.
There’s also the Knights’ Hall with all of its coronation thrones on display as well as the king’s private living areas, bathroom, writing room, and the remarkable Venetian glass collection.
The Designmuseum Danmark
You don’t have to have a distinguished palate for architecture and international design to marvel at the Rococo architecture that is the Designmuseum Danmark.
Not only is the building a work of art, but it’s filled with decorative art of all kinds, including everything from art to industrial design from the Middle Ages to modern-day works. That would include fashion, textiles, ceramics, and much more.
The building was originally a hospital and remodeled into a world-class museum in 1920. Today it’s also home to the world’s largest collection of Danish designs.
You can walk to the works alone or book a guided tour, as well as take a hands-on workshop or enjoy the lush gardens outside.
The Warmth of CopenHot
Give your body a break from all the tiresome wandering you’ll be doing and stop in for a nice steam at CopenHot.
CopenHot is a hip spa (minus the massages) located right on the water in the neighborhood of Nordhavn. Here you’ll encounter a whole bunch of barrel-wooden hot tubs and saunas overlooking that water. The hot tubs are filled with mineral-rich saltwater and are heated from below by fire (they have a designated firewood chopper on site—you can’t miss him!)
You can rent one of the tubs or saunas for private use or stop in on one of their “open” days. They also have sailing spas that fit up to five people and they float along the canals offering a whole new tubbing experience.
The National Museum of Denmark
The National Museum of Denmark is the city’s largest museum and on display is both Danish and foreign cultural history.
The museum itself is located in the 18th-century old Prince’s Palace, with exhibits that will take you all the way back to the Stone Age and Viking Age and then towards modern Danish history.
If you can, go early and on a weekday—people from all over the world come to visit this museum which creates some pretty dense crowds.
The island of Refshaleøen is home to some of the city’s best restaurants as well as CopenHill, where you can try out skiing or climbing right over the CopenHill waste-to-energy power plant (it’s a weird attraction but also an architectural wonder, trust us).
If there’s one restaurant you have to try here it’s The Alchemist. This well-known dining destination offers 47 intricate courses. Of course, if you can’t swing the bill, there are other lesser-known spots like Lille Bakery and La Banchina that’ll make your stomach just as happy.
A Ride on a Canal Boat
Denmark may be known as a bicycle city, but the canal boats are another fun way to get around.
Hey Captain offers a fun and intimate view of Danish life, especially during the summer months when you can relax on the deck and dive into the fresh harbor water.
Each boat assigns one knowledgeable and entertaining guide to 12 passengers, and you’ll enjoy every minute on the water.
The Tivoli Gardens
The Tivoli Gardens is a very famous amusement park that has been offering up lush gardens and fun roller coasters since the 19th century—which makes it the world’s second-oldest amusement park in action.
The best time to visit Tivoli Gardens is at night when the thousands of twinkling lights are turned on making it feel like a fairytale world. This was, of course, inspired by Hans Christian Andersen and Walt Disney, both of whom visited and adored the park.
Be sure to have lunch or dinner at Gemyse, the mostly plant-based restaurant where the food is served up inside a greenhouse or lofty dining room.
The Assistens Cemetery
You may be wondering why a cemetery should be included in your itinerary, but hear us out—
Located in the middle of the Nørrebro district is the famous Assistens Cemetery which also doubles as a public park. Several pathways allow you to wander through meadows, woods, and gardens, and plenty of people come here to sunbathe and picnic.
Here you’ll also encounter the tombstones of famous Danes, so you can come here to take a gander at historic headstones or enjoy the lush beauty and sculptures for lunch.
A Stroll Down Jaegersborggade
Jaegersborggade is a short, cobbled street with plenty of colorful buildings, great restaurants, shops, and bars at its flanks.
It’s one of those places where you take a quick stroll if you’re pressed for time or spend the entire afternoon browsing the shops, pastry-tasting, and people-watching. Some of the most notable places to grab a bite or a beer here include Manfreds, Meyers Bageri, Coffee Collective, Mikkeller & Friends, and Relae.
Regardless of where you end up in Copenhagen, you won’t be disappointed. This city is home to the iconic mermaid statue (Den Lille Havfrue) and is known as the city of fairytales. It’s characterized by its canals lined with wooden boats, cycling culture, and spirited locals.
You won’t be able to leave without a smile on your face—if you can tear yourself away from the city at all.