A colourful patchwork of vibrant houses, pretty bustling harbours and majestic ancient castles, Copenhagen is overflowing with landmarks and attractions. Whether you prefer exploring Copenhagen’s history, or simply people watching with an Aperol Spritz, there is plenty to do in this city, after all, it is ranked the 2nd happiest place in the world. So check out our hits and misses for cherry-picking your things to do whilst in the capital of Denmark.
Boat Tours in Nyhavn
An iconic attraction in Copenhagen, Nyhavn is a beautiful harbour lined with colourful restaurants and majestic docked boats. Hosting lively street musicians, performers and people selling handmade crafts, Nyhavn is a perfect destination to bathe in the sun, dangling your legs from the waterside whilst people-watching. And whilst Nyhavn is obviously on your to-do list, one of my favourite activities whilst visiting the city was actually a boat tour which leaves from this harbour. The tour provides an hour long journey around the majority of Copenhagen, with our tour guide highlighting important landmarks and the history of the city. Whilst the weather was glorious during our visit we loved cruising the narrow canals and daringly low bridges, as well as helping us to orientate ourselves for the rest of our trip.
I would definitely recommend the company we went with, they are the main dock at the centre of Nyhavn and have boats leaving every 10-15 minutes, so there was hardly a wait. 95DKK for one adult.
Read more here
Hiring Electric Bikes
Another favourite activity of mine, so much so that we spent 2/3 of the days we had in Copenhagen touring the city on electric-power-assisted bikes. At 15DKK per 30 minutes this was amongst the cheaper automatic bike hire, and were incredibly modern, with tablets fitted to the bikes providing electronic locking, navigation and social media. Whilst we have another blog on these bikes, I would highly recommend hiring these and taking an alternative tour of the city, as the roads are completely bike safe and it helps you navigate Copenhagen much quicker than on foot!
King’s Garden and Rosenberg Slot
A beautiful, well maintained park, the King’s Garden is a peaceful fenced oasis which is free for you to wander. Bring a picnic and enjoy lunch here or simply people watch all the dog walkers and runners passing through.
The garden also contains Rosenberg Slot, originally built in 1606 as a summer house for the royals. A beautiful example of Dutch Renaissance architecture although you can pay to enter you can enjoy a coffee and admire the building from the cafe in the gardens nearby.
A huge food market with stalls selling every food under the sun, from burgers to brie, tacos to tapas, Torvehallerne is a popular attraction in Copenhagen. With over 60 stalls, Torvehallerne serves food for every meal of the day, but is very pricey, with incredibly small portions costing an arm and a leg. There is no pressure to buy anything here, so feel free to wander along the halls, admiring the fresh food and delicately assembled traditional Smørrebrøds. Most vendors accept card as well as cash here, we tried food from Kopan, a Korean food van located outside of the foot hall which was amazingly flavourful and good value and Hallernes Smorrebrod, which boasted a huge queue (it was obviously very popular) and served traditional open Danish sandwiches. To check out more of the sellers visit the market's website here.
Copenhagen's botanical gardens is a majestic glass palace nested in a huge park home to the Natural History Museum. A great place to wander through, enjoy a picnic or simply enjoy the plant specimens outside, the gardens are a beautiful attraction in the city. Although you do have to pay to enter the palm house, the gardens are free so if you are looking for the perfect picnic spot or place to enjoy a beer (it is legal to drink alcohol in public places) then bring a blanket and find a spot.
Strøget is the main high-street in Copenhagen, with shops ranging from designer stores such as Chanel and Valentino to unique souvenir vendors and vintage second hand shops. This area is completely pedestrian-ised and lined with cobbled and tiled roads, making it a carefree area to wander through and window-shop. Restaurants in this area are surprisingly reasonable given it is such a tourist popular destination, so find a table outside (preferably with a blanket!) to eat, drink and people watch!
Amalienborg Palace and Frederik’s Church
We were first made aware of these attractions on our Nyhavn boat tour, as they were clearly visible from the water and our driver slowed down to let us admire. I would definitely recommend wandering around to these impressive architectural feats, (or even better visit them whilst on your electric bike!) and would recommend planning to visit Amalienborg for lunch time (12ish), to watch the changing of the guards! The Marble Church is directly behind the palace and is free to visit, you can also journey up in the dome for 35DKK and enjoy panoramic views over the city.
The Little Mermaid
Home to the legendary Christian Hans Anderson, Copenhagen is full of tributes to his fairytales and life. Most famous is of course the little mermaid statue, seated precariously on her shore-side rock. On photographs it is easy to be tricked into thinking that this major attraction is in the centre of the city and surrounded by plenty of other sights, but that is not true. The statue is quite far from the central Nyhavn and is actually rather solitary on the shore. There is nothing around this attraction and it is a little underwhelming. If you have bikes it is quick to get to (depending on how fast you pedal) but if you were short on time or walking I personally wouldn’t bother.
Although I may be being unfair by making the meatpacking district a miss, as we visited on a weekend when there was a ticket-only beer festival meaning none of the usual food or flea markets were open, this was still a let down for me. I was under the impression that this area was a cool, younger place to visit with plenty of markets and urban cafes/bars, instead we found ourselves walking around a deserted meatpacking factory (not a surprise given the name), surrounded by some of the priciest restaurants in Copenhagen. I personally wouldn't bother if you were thinking of squeezing this into your itinerary.
We actually weren’t aware this was an attraction whilst cycling through the fortress, passing briefly through its cobbled street and open drawbridges. There really isn’t anything to see here and it seems as though people only walk through it as it is a shortcut of sorts to the little mermaid. What is maybe more spectacular is the Gefion Fountain and St Alban’s Church located nearby.