9 SITES TO SEE IN COPENHAGEN
To be completely honest, Copenhagen isn’t really about the landmarks and the tourist moments. For me, it was all about immersing myself into the Danish lifestyle and (at least attempting to) blend in like a local. Think eating amazing food, cycling from A to B, wandering the city streets and generally chilling out. But until you get the hang of this city, these top-notch spots are a great place to start.
Let me sum this up in five words, as-picturesque-as-a-postcard. The multicoloured 17th Century homes that line the canal provide the perfect backdrop for what is arguably the Eiffel Tower/London Bridge/Colosseum of Copenhagen. Grab a bite to eat (or a drink), take a seat watching the boats manoeuvre through the canal and people watch as the world passes by.
Find it here; Nyhavn 1-71, 1051 København
2. Carlsberg Brewery
I have ranked this so highly up on the list, purely because we had such a great day here (and I don’t even drink beer!). With a good serving of company heritage and beer related Danish history, the factory tour was really fascinating. With everything from ‘the world’s largest beer collection’ to the beautiful Jutland horses that have traditionally worked on site to the free drinks with entry and Copenhagen style hot dogs (aka delicious hot dogs) all make for a good time.
Find it here; Gamle Carlsberg Vej 11, 1799 København
3. Visit The Royals and The Marble Church
The Danish Monarchy dates back to over a thousand years ago and it operates unlike most other Royal families today. My inner history buff couldn’t resist looking a little further and discovering that the current kingdom of Denmark was founded by two Viking kinds in the 10th Century, making this monarchy the oldest in Europe (cool, right?). Today, the monarchy is really popular due to their modernisation and openness to the people of Denmark. Step into their world through these key locations;
The Rosenberg Castle is right in the heart of the city and is the home of the Danish Crown Jewels and the Throne of Denmark. That aside, the architecture and grounds surrounding the castle are absolutely beautiful. The King’s Garden is the oldest park in the city and is the perfect escape from the hustle and bustle for some greenery, sunshine and relaxation. Don’t miss the Rosenhaven (Rose Garden) which is also within the grounds.
Find it here; Øster Voldgade 4A, 1350 København
Amalienborg Palace is the official residence of the Danish Monarch. For us it was such an unusual setup, having no major gates or barricades around the palace. Wander through the square, watch the changing of the guard and visit the museum to learn about the history of the monarch, royal life and the design of the interiors (two of the four palaces are open to the public, the museum is inside the Christian VIII palace).
Find it here; Amalienborg Slotsplads 5, 1257 København
Just down the road from Amalienborg is the fourth largest dome in Europe, but the biggest and most significant church in Copenhagen. Although it isn’t marble, the church is really impressive none the less with its eye-catching copper green dome. Inside you will find intricately detailed rococo architecture and during the Summer months you can climb to the viewing platform of the dome and take in the breath-taking vista, including the Amalienborg Palace and The Opera, which it sits perfectly in line with.
Find it here; Frederiksgade 4, 1265 København
4. The Botanical Garden
Located in the centre of the city, the garden covers over 10 hectares but most importantly houses one big and beautiful greenhouse called the Palm House which dates back to 1874. Complete with cast iron spiral staircases that lead to its very humid top deck and multiple climate-controlled zones to replicate the vast array of plants from around the globe (some of which were very exotic and very impressive). Inside its walls, it truly feels like an exotic escape.
Find it here; Gothersgade 128, 1353 København
5. Tivoli Gardens
Founded in 1843, the amusement park has become a magical place for locals and tourists alike. Visited by the likes of Walt Disney and fairy-tale writer Hans Christian Andersen (think The Little Mermaid, The Princess and The Pea and many more) and was considered to be a great inspiration to them both. Fast forward to today and the gardens are as magical as ever, with a little something for everyone. Beautiful architecture, green gardens, picnics to fine dining, live music and of course the historic and nostalgic rollercoasters (as well as some super modern ones to). The oldest and most popular ride is the Wooden Rollercoaster from 1914 which is one of only seven in the world to have a brakeman onboard with you.
Find it here; Vesterbrogade 3, 1630 København
6. Christianshavn and Freetown Christiania
Christianshavn is a stunning old neighbourhood with quaint and colourful 19th century houses that line the canals. Here you will also find the Opera House and the infamous Noma restaurant. Enter Freetown Christiania through the gate known as the Prærieporten (the Prairie Gate). This community within a community acts independently of Copenhagen and follows its own rules and regulations. Unique and colourful architecture reign free and you will feel just as though you have been transported back to a 1960’s hippy commune. Take note of the Dos and Don’ts at the entryway and follow them to keep yourself out of trouble.
7. The Little Mermaid and Kastellet
So it seems finding the Little Mermaid is a bit of a rite of passage for visitors coming to Copenhagen. A gift from Danish brewer Carl Jacobsen to the City of Copenhagen in 1913, after seeing The Little Mermaid performed at the ballet. We enjoyed a cycle over to the harbour where she is position on a rock, just as she would have been in the story (that is, when she wasn’t in the water). This statue holds a special place in Copenhagen’s history being the original home of The Little Mermaid and the link to its iconic Carlsberg beer. She has had a tumultuous life, unfortunately falling victim to many vandalism attacks which have left her without many of her original parts.
Find it here; Langelinie, 2100 København
From here it is an easy 2 minute cycle to Kastellet. On the map this beautiful star-shaped fortress. Whilst the fortress houses some military activities it is mainly used as a public park and landmark, making for a great area to explore and have a wander through. Keep an eye out for the powder yellow Commanders House, the fire engine red Rows (two story terraces used as barracks) and the windmill.
Find it here; Gl. Hovedvagt, Kastellet 1, 2100 København
8. Eat at Torvehallerne and Copenhagen Street Food
Eating is pretty high up the agenda in this city, and whilst there are 101 up-and-coming and Michelin star restaurants you should try, you need to visit Torvehallerne Market to get the best street food. This market hall contains over eighty stands selling fresh produce (fish, meat, vegetables) to gourmet sweets, spices and small spots to grab a bite to eat. My recommendation is to find yourself a Danish speciality – number one on the list is smørrebørd (aka open-faced sandwiches). Traditionally these have toppings of pickled herring with onions and dill or roast beef with pickles and horseradish, but there are many variations available, so you can definitely find one to suit your taste.
Find it here; Frederiksborggade 21, 1360 København
Copenhagen Street Food (formally on Paper Island/Papirøen) which has now moved to Reffen/Refshaleøen is a must stop for quintessential Danish street food. Food trucks galore, you will find every cuisine from around the world, including quite possibly the best burger I have ever had.
Find it here; Refshalevej 167A, 1432 København
9. Explore the CBD
As with most major cities, the CBD will generally host some great shopping and eating spots and this city is no different. Everything is within 10 minutes walking distance and you will discover a great variety of Scandi inspired interior design and clothing stores. Use The Round Tower as a guide (which is also worth checking out – it is the oldest working observatory in Europe) and let yourself get lost in the surrounding streets, following the trail of stores that catch your eye. Move your way around to Strøget, which is one of Europe’s longest pedestrian shopping streets. This strip runs for 1.1km from City Hall Square to Kongens Nytorv. Along here you will find your favourites from Zara and H&M to Danish brands like LEGO (the children’s toy) all the way through to luxury labels like Prada and Hermes. Side note, this is all also very close to Atelier September which was hands down my favourite café in Copenhagen (big call, I know).
Find The Round Tower here; Købmagergade 52A, 1150 København
Find Strøget here; Strøget, København
Find Atelier September here; Gothersgade 30, 1123 København
You don’t have to spend much time around the city to realise that hot-dogs are a major thing in this city and they are far from basic. I had the best hot dog of my life right near The Round Tower from a portable hot-dog van called DØP. They are gourmet and layered with garnishes like fried onions, pickles and delicious sauces. Keep an eye out for these around the city.