8 Best Things to Do in Copenhagen, Denmark

Copenhagen is Europe’s un-official “fairy tale capital.” As visitors stroll around this surprisingly intimate city, they can’t help but feel children’s author Hans Christian Andersen’s legacy. Besides monuments to Copenhagen’s greatest resident, you’ll also find impressive castles, art galleries, churches, gardens, restaurants, and theatres…and we’re just getting started.

Thanks to its smaller size and safer reputation, Copenhagen is one of the best capital cities for first-time travelers to Europe. If you’re planning a trip to this great city, check out our list of the eight best things to do in Copenhagen below.

1. Book a Canal Ride on the Nyhavn

Canal Ride on the Nyhavn

Nyhavan, which is Danish for “New Harbor,” is a canal area in the center of Copenhagen with some of the best photo ops. This part of the city once served as a port for sailors and many of the vibrant buildings here date back to the 17th and 18th centuries.

The best thing any tourist could do first off is to take a guided boat tour down this impressive canal. Not only will you get a better understanding of Danish history on this boat tour, you’ll also get a great orientation of Copenhagen. Just a few major tourist draws you’ll pass by include the Copenhagen Opera House, the Black Diamond Library, and Amalienborg Palace.

After your tour is over, take a few selfies and check out Nyhavn’s many shops, restaurants, and cafés. By the way, the Nyhavan is number one on TripAdvisor’s list of the “best things to do in Copenhagen.”

2. Learn about Denmark at the National Museum

Viking attire and jewellery

Viking artefacts at the National Museum of Denmark

There are so many museums in this city that you probably won’t have the time to visit them all. If you only have time for one museum, then you’d better make it The National Museum (Danish: Nationalmuseet). Not only is a visit to the National Museum one of the best things to do in Copenhagen, it’s also listed as one of the finest museums in Europe.

This monumental museum presents the entire history of the Danish people going back to prehistory. Most travelers come here just to learn more about the legendary Vikings and see their great ships and artifacts. Another great feature of this museum is that it’s extremely kid friendly. There’s actually a children’s area inside this museum and all kids under 18 can enter free of charge.

The National Museum is open from 10:00AM to 5PM Tuesdays through Sundays and is located at Frederiksholms Kanal 12.

3. Play in Tivoli Gardens

Tivoli Gardens, Copenhagen

Founded in 1843, Tivoli Gardens is so much more than an amusement park. Especially if you visit this enchanting park at night when all the lights are on, you’ll feel as if you’ve been transported into a dreamland. A few of Tivoli’s great amusement rides include 63-meter tall free-fall tower, a 600m roller coaster, and the world’s tallest carousel (Danish: Himmelskibet).

Besides the rides, there are also many theatres here that host pantomime performers, plays, and live music concerts. Tivoli’s main season lasts between April and September, but the park opens for Christmastime between November and December. Whether you’re traveling with kids or with your loved one, a visit to the Tivoli Gardens is one of the best things to do in Copenhagen.

4. Taste Authentic Danish Cuisine on a Food Tour

Smørrebrød fish dish

Believe it or not, Copenhagen has over 15 Michelin starred restaurants. Although the Danish capital might not have the reputation of Paris or London, it’s certainly one of Europe’s greatest gastronomic capitals. One of the best things to do in Copenhagen for dedicated foodies is to book a professional food tour.

If you just want to splurge on fine dining, however, here are a few names you need to know: Restaurant Krebsegaarden, Geranium, and Frederiks Have. For a sweet treat at the end your day, why not pick up a Danish danish at one of these fine cafés: Conditori La Glace, Lagkagenhuset, and MORMORS Café. Trust us, nobody who travels to Copenhagen complains about the food.

5. Visit the Rosenborg Castle

Rosenborg Castle, Copenhagen

Just like the museums, there are so many castles to visit in Copenhagen it could make your head spin. Tourists who want to head straight to the top-reviewed royal residence should plan a visit to the Rosenborg Castle. This Renaissance-style castle now welcomes visitors to a museum area where the Danish Crown Regalia and Crown Jewels are on display. Guests can learn all they’ve ever wanted to know about the Danish monarchy as they tour these stately museum wings.

After walking around the castle, schedule some time to admire the well-maintained King’s Garden. Rosenborg is number one on TripAdvisor’s list of the best things to do in Copenhagen.

6. Marvel at the Marble Church

Marble Church, Copenhagen

The Marble Church’s green copper dome is one of the most distinctive features of Copenhagen’s skyline. Located near the Danish Opera House, the Marble Church gets its name from the Norwegian marble used in the church’s construction. It took the Danes well over 100 years to complete this church, but it was certainly worth all the effort. Be sure to look up at the painted ceilings and admire the huge organ behind you as you’re touring this famous church.

7. Bring Art Enthusiasts to the Danish National Gallery

Lookinag at art at the Danish National Gallery, one of the best things to do in Copenhagen

Art lovers will find no shortage of museums to explore in the Danish capital. The most significant art museum is definitely the National Gallery of Denmark (Danish: Statens Museum for Kunst). There are over 20,000 works of art here dating back as far as the 14th century. Of course, this museum has the largest collection of Danish art anywhere in the world.

Many impressive paintings from Denmark’s “Golden Age” in the early 19th century are stored here. Besides Danish art, you’ll find plenty of great works from masters like Henri Matisse, Titian, Peter Paul Rubens, and Rembrandt. You can find this museum in central Copenhagen at Sølvgade 48.

8. Shop around the Strøget Pedestrian Area

Strøget shopping street

Shop-a-holics rejoice! Copenhagen has one of the largest car-free shopping areas in all of Europe. This district, known as Strøget, measures a little over one kilometer long and has many brand name shops like Zara, H&M, and Disney. There are also a few high-end retailers on this street including Gucci, Prada, and Louis Vuitton.

The premier shopping area in the city is the Magasin du Nord, which was a luxury hotel some 100 years ago. You’ll find plenty of cheap eats, fast-food joints, and mid-range restaurants all throughout Strøget to satisfy your hunger. Don’t be surprised if you see a few street musicians and acrobats as you’re walking around this popular tourist destination!

Summing Up

Denmark’s marvelous capital is quickly becoming one of the hottest tourist destinations in Europe. With its fairy tale architecture, award-winning museums, and delicious cuisine, is it really a surprise that Copenhagen is so beloved by tourists? This list of the best things to do in Copenhagen hasn’t even scratched the surface of things to do here. The only way you’ll really experience Copenhagen is, of course, to come here for yourself!

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