The New York Times recently featured Copenhagen in its list of 53 places to go in 2020, confirming this magical city’s ability to attract tourists from a variety of social and geographical backgrounds. Adored by many, and bursting with history and culture, Copenhagen has a kind, regal spirit, innate elegance and a number of surprising, unusual attractions. Here are all the best places to visit in Copenhagen.
- Nørrebro District
- Superkilen Urban Park
- Jægersborg Shopping Street
- Assistens Cemetery
- Christianshavn District
- Christiansborg Palace
- Rosenborg Castle
- Rosenborg Castle Gardens
- Gefion Fountain
- Amalienborg Palace
- Little Mermaid Statue
- Churchill Park
- Amalia Garden
- Church of Holmen
- Tivoli Gardens
- Island of Power
- National Museum
- Seaside Town of Dragør
- Indre By District
- Royal Library
- Designmuseum Denmark
- Carlsberg Brewery
What better place to kick off your trip than this exciting neighbourhood? Here, in the bridge district, you’ll find a whole host of things to do while you soak in the neighbourhood’s alternative, multicultural spirit. Nørrebro is a great place to explore both during the day and at night. It’s also great for a spot of shopping, as the prices in this district tend to be more affordable.
The two best streets to wander down are definitely Ravnsborggade and Sankt Hans Gade, which are lined with clothes shops selling elegant vintage and second-hand garments. Depending on your personal style, you can find just about everything here, from casual clothes to elegant suits, albeit at fairly high prices. It’s worth mentioning that Copenhagen’s open-air markets sell more affordable goods. And when the evening takes hold, it’s a great place to go for a drink or even a night out. We recommend visiting Bryghus and Escobar for their enviable beer offerings.
Superkilen Urban Park
This is an entirely unique attraction that you won’t find in any other city in the world. The park is located in the heart of Copenhagen’s alternative, multicultural Nørrebro district. You’ll have never seen a park quite like this before. In fact, the complex was created in 2012 by several designers belonging to the Superflex art group. The park aims to champion diversity.
A strip of land that had previously fallen into disrepair, the area has since been transformed into a park buzzing with colour, imagination and unexpected curiosities. Superkilen is a meeting place for people from all walks of life and is home to objects originating from more than sixty different countries, including Californian gym benches, Jordanian road signs and a few Dutch road markings to boot.
Equipped with numerous cycle paths, the first park zone is dominated by the colour red, while the black zone is adorned with Eastern-inspired floor patterns, and the green area (Green Park) is immersed in nature and features many winding paths.
Jægersborg Shopping Street
This is a small residential street and a jewel in Copenhagen’s crown thanks to the recent opening of nearly forty art galleries, several organic food shops, vintage designer clothing stores, ceramic and jewellery shops, and a whole host of wine bars, cafés and restaurants. You’ll find some really special, high-quality places on this street. In fact, it’s also where you’ll find the prize-winning Relæ restaurant, as well as The Coffee Collective, which sells high-quality coffee produced by industry leader Klaus Thomsen using a special micro-roasting technique.
Another great place for food is Karamelleriet, which specialises in delicious sweet treats, as well as Meyers Bakery, Ro Chokolade Manfreds restaurant and the Terroiristen underground wine shop.
Among the many intriguing features of Copenhagen’s multicultural, northern district of Nørrebro is the rather special Assistens Cemetery. This particular place has a rather gloomy past. It was built to cater for victim of the plague, which experienced a resurgence in the eighteenth century. Today, however, this intriguing cemetery is open to the public and is dominated by a sense of serenity and verdant greenery. It’s a great place for cyclists to explore and for children to run about.
Among the trees and trails, of course, are the graves of various Danish citizens who have inevitably left their mark on history, including the existentialist philosopher Søren Kierkegaard. A quick fact for you: Søren’s surname literally translates as ‘graveyard.’ You’ll also find a headstone belonging to the nuclear physicist Niels Bohr here (one of the fathers of quantum mechanics) and the poet and writer of fairy tales, Hans Christian Andersen.
Over the years, Assistens Cemetery has become a very popular place to meet with friends for a picnic, and we definitely recommend stopping by during your trip. It’s also home to lots of interesting surprises, such as a grave dedicated to Andreas Morgenrødt, with an inscription that reads ‘time traveller, born in 1996, died in... 2064.’
Narrow, old streets and colourful houses, the district of Christianshavn is certainly one of the most good-looking, trendy areas of town, and it’s home to a whole host of unusual features, such as an ‘autonomous’ area inhabited by 850 people belonging to a community like no other in the world.
Marked by a wooden sign, the entrance to Christiania will transport you into a parallel universe. Back in 1971, hippies from all over Europe came together to form a community in Copenhagen. Soft drugs circulated freely here, and the main thoroughfare – known as Pusher Street – was once lined with stalls selling hashish. The stalls no longer exist after falling prey to drug dealers and organised crime, but Christania is still worth a visit thanks to its reputation as a care-free neighbourhood littered with colourful murals.
Outside Christiania and towards the sea, you’ll find Christianshavn Bådudlejning & Café, where you can also rent a boat. Just a stone’s throw away from here is the Danish Naval Museum, which houses a collection of very old ships,
Now the seat of the Danish Parliament and the Prime Minister’s Office, Christiansborg was once a royal palace. Located on the islet of Slotsholmen (‘The island of power’) in the old town, this three-story, Rococo building features an austere granite façade and is home to the tallest tower in the city (106 metres). It’s also surrounded by bridges and canals.
You’ll find a few architectural relics housed in the basement, including ruins from previous buildings dating back to the twelfth century. The palace was used as a royal residence for 350 years, until a fire forced the Royal Family to move to Amalienborg in 1795. It’s still used to host official events.
We recommend visiting the beautiful Riddersalen (Knights’ Hall), which features tapestries that tell the history of Denmark, and Tronsalen (Throne Room). To the right of the façade is Slotskirken, a neoclassical court chapel which is now used as a concert hall. Marble Bridge leads to a square surrounded by eighteenth century royal stables and the Coach Museum.
Immersed in the greenest area of the city, this castle looks like something out of a fairy tale. It features a red-brick façade, copper roofs and classic green spires that reach up into the blue sky. This building will win you over with its charm the moment you set eyes on it. Construction on the castle began in 1606 at the behest of King Christian IV and was originally intended as a summer home. However, it soon ended up becoming his full-time residence, as well as that of his successors. The historical building was elegant and comfortable and its bathrooms even had running water!
Roseborg Slot, as it’s known, has been open to the public since 1833, along with the King’s Gardens. Over the years, the building has been transformed into a huge museum filled with precious, historical artefacts. Of course, it’s also home to the crown jewels and royal artefacts dating back over four hundred years, from 1500 until 1900. The park is also very popular for walks and picnics during the summer.
Its beauty is truly never-ending. Inside, you’ll find several art collections open to the public, including a Venetian glass exhibit and chinaware collection. The castle’s interiors are bound to catch your eye with their frescoed ceilings and beautiful period pieces. Inside, you’ll find a French-style mirror room and ornately decorated Knights’ Hall, which is the perfect setting for parties and banquets. It’s also where you’ll find the coronation chair.
Rosenborg Castle Gardens
Surrounding the castle are the King’s Gardens (Kongens Have), which are the oldest in Denmark and are visited by 2.5 million tourists every year. The main attraction here is definitely the Baroque Garden, which is home to a series of floral paths that form a maze leading to an octagonal summer house.
The garden is also home to Hercules Pavillion, which was unsurprisingly inspired by the mythological Greek hero and his statue sits between two Tuscan-style columns alongside marble statues of Orpheus and Euridice. The three sculptures were created by Giovanni Baratta and purchased by Frederick IV on a trip to Italy, which included a visit to Florence to see the artist’s workshop in 1709.
Symbolic of Copenhagen, this is more of a city monument than a fountain. Located near St Alban’s Church (the only Anglican church in the city), it’s a popular tourist attraction. The fountain was inspired by the legend of Gefjun, goddess of vegetation and fertility, who tricked the King of Sweden into giving her part of his kingdom. She was granted Zealand, which became the largest island in Denmark, while the hole left behind supposedly created Lake Mälaren.
Danish sculptor Anders Bundgaard created the bronze statue in 1908, after it was commissioned to celebrate the fiftieth anniversary of Carlsberg – Denmark’s national beer. In winter, the fountain is turned off to prevent freezing water from causing damage. If you intend to visit the Little Mermaid statue, you’ll probably spot this monument, too, which casts an intriguing light on Kastellet at different hours of the day.
The royal family and Queen Margrethe II of Denmark live in this residence, which comprises four Rococo buildings overlooking an octagonal piazza housing an equestrian statue of King Frederick V. You’ll feel the special atmosphere of this historical place right away, with all its royalty, class and composure.
In the piazza you’ll find a statue of Frederick V, which was created in 1749 to go in a large garden overlooking the residential neighbourhood of Frederiksstaden. The four buildings were allocated to four different aristocratic families, but after Christiansborg Palace went up in flames, Christian VI bought them all and moved the royal residence there.
The four buildings are as follows: Christian VII Palace, which hosts official visits, Christian VIII Palace, which was home to Prince Frederick of Denmark until 2004, Frederick VIII Palace, where Ingrid of Sweden lived until 2000 and finally, Christian IX Palace, which has been home to the sovereign Frederick IX since 1967. The Royal Guard has kept watched over the palace since 1658, and with a little luck you might catch the Vagtparade, i.e. the changing of the guard.
Little Mermaid Statue
Inspired by one of Hans Christian Andersen’s popular fairy tales, this statue is a reference to a story about the sea king’s daughter, who falls in love with a handsome earthly prince. It has since become symbolic of Denmark. It was commissioned by J. Carl Jacobs, the generous owner of the Carlsberg brewery, and was subsequently carved by Edvard Erksen in 1913.
You’ll find it at the entrance to Langelinie pier near the Kastellet. It’s fairly small in size (just 125 centimetres) – much smaller than you might expect – but the Little Mermaid Statue embodies a poetic message that perfectly instils the Danes’ gentle disposition, which is probably why it’s an important Danish symbol.
Just a stone’s throw away from the Little Mermaid is another unmissable attraction. The ancient fortress of Kastellett is home to beautiful trees, fortified walls, bridges and old mills. During the Second World War, it was captured by the Germans, and is now home to the Danish Ministry of Defence.
Kastellet is a classic, military citadel surrounded by a star-shaped moat, numerous willow trees and typical small houses with red roofs. During the summer months, the fortress hosts military band concerts. You’ll also find several churches nearby, along with a windmill and five bastions offering a great view of the city, port area and sea.
While visiting Kastellett, we recommend stopping by the Commander’s House, Southern and Northern Storehouses, Gefjon Fountain, Powder House, Freedom Museum and prison, where the English pirate John Norcross was jailed for over thirty years.
Church of Holmen
The Copenhagen parish of Holmen has a very unique past, primarily because it was used as an anchor forge in 1563, before being turned into a naval church by King Christian IV. Since then, its prestige has grown year after year and it’s now a place of great symbolic value for the Danes.
This is precisely where Queen Margrethe of Denmark and Prince Henrik got married, and is also where you’ll find the grave of composer Niels Wilhelm Gade. It’s also home to numerous works of art, including those by Bertel Thorvaldsen and Karel van Mander.
Island of Power
If you’re looking to find out more about Denmark’s 14,000-year history, the National Museum in the Prince’s Mansion is the place to visit. Inside, you’ll find thousands of catalogued pieces spanning four floors and offering a complete overview of Denmark’s history.
Among the most important artefacts housed in the museum are the Golden Horns of Gallehus, the first of which was found in 1600 by a peasant woman, and the second of which was found a century later. In the 1800s, the horns were stolen. A goldsmith confessed to the crime and was imprisoned for 37 years. Since then, copies have been made and subsequently stolen. Scholars have traced the horns back to the Jutland people. Another valuable object housed in the museum is the Gundestrup Cauldron, which is inscribed with references to cultures from all over the world.
Seaside Town of Dragør
Dragør is a little fishing town dotted with yellow houses on the island of Amager and during the summer months, it’s filled with blossoming flowers, making it a very romantic place to visit. In addition to its port, it’s also home to two small museums: one dedicated to maritime traditions, and the other to peasant life.
You can also explore the remains of an ancient forest here, along with a bridge connecting Denmark to Sweden and wind turbines dotted along the coastline. This is a quiet town, making it an great place for a quick break before returning to Copenhagen.
Indre By District
Another of Copenhagen’s picturesque neighbourhoods, Indre By is definitely the city’s beating heart. Here, you’ll find no shortage of bars and restaurants, and will most likely get lost in its maze of streets, alleyways, canals and parks.
We recommend beginning your trip in the Botanical Garden, which is home to the largest collection of plants in Denmark. After a wander about, head to the Danish Design Centre, which boasts exhibitions spanning five floors, after which we recommend a visit to Strøget, the longest pedestrian street in the world.
This dark, cubic structure – which changes colour during the day – is a modern extension to a building constructed in 1906 to house almost five million books and six million manuscripts. The library has been an indispensable point of reference since King Frederick III appointed the first librarian back in 1653 (362 years ago).
This new building extension is called the Black Diamond and is connected by three corridors. You can visit every section of the museum, and among the preserved manuscripts contained inside, you can admire an evangelical, Christian book dating back to 1060.
Visit Copenhagen with Costa Cruises
The Little Mermaid is just one of the many attractions to admire in this irresistibly charming city. Copenhagen is a discreet city, brimming with natural beauty and princely history, as well as a sense of serenity that pervades the air. It’s definitely worth a visit!