Your Copenhagen Bucket List: 26 Spaces and Places You Can’t Miss

Copenhagen is a city of contrasts. On one side you have this stoic, righteous, Nordic attitude; and yet on the other, you have this incredibly quirky and alternative vibe that unbalances everything you thought the Danish capital would be.

This is precisely what makes Copenhagen so riveting and captivating. Out of all the must-see landmarks and pop-up restaurants and edgy boutiques, not one is like the others.

First-timer to Copenhagen? Here are the 26 places you’ve got to see and things you’ve got to eat. Velkommen til Danmark!

Things To Do In Copenhagen: Sightseeing

Nyhavn

things to do in copenhagen

The ultimate Copenhagen postcard! Dating back from the 17th century, Nyhavn was constructed on orders of King Christian V from in 1673 by Swedish prisoners from the Dano-Swedish War of 1658–1660. Much like Amsterdam and other trade ports in the Early modern period, Nyhavn definitely wasn’t the chicest place to be; in fact, it was considered to be Copenhagen’d Red Light District, where drunk fishermen happily “mingled” with prostitutes. I swear it’s nothing like that today! ;-)

Amalienborg

things to do in Copenhagen

Dating back from the 1700s, this Rococo gem is the winter residence of the Danish royal family and is actually made up of four identical palaces forming a square upon which the statue of King Frederik V keeps a watchful eye. Amalienborg is where the daily changing of the guard ceremony occurs between 11:30 and 12:00.

The CopenhagenCard grants visitors access to Amalienborg and about 30 other landmarks in and around the city.

Church of Our Saviour

This otherwise unexciting church is noticeable from all over Copenhagen thanks to its 90-metres high golden helix spire. If heights weren’t one of the things I’m most scared of, I wouldn’t have hesitated to climb the 400-step outdoor staircase to enjoy yet another beautiful viewpoint of Copenhagen.

Christiansborg Palace

things to do in Copenhagen

Copenhagen’s second most visited palace – which technically houses the Danish parliament, the prime minister’s office, and the Danish Supreme Court – does not disappoint. The palace itself is, naturally, absolutely splendid, but what really keeps drawing the crowds is the free-of-charge view from atop the 106-metres high central tower and the Queen’s exceptional collection of 11 French tapestries.

Canal cruise

things to do in Copenhagen

Although its canals are nowhere near as famous as that of Venice or Amsterdam, Copenhagen does have plenty of scenic waterfronts to be explored. Boat tours are a nice excuse to simply sit back and let yourself be entertained by the guide’s often witty commentaries with the beautiful city of Copenhagen as a backdrop.

Christiania

Call it a commune, call it a hippie paradise, call it whatever you like; the truth is that Christiania is unlike anything you’ve seen before. Characterised by its counter-culture that advocates for looser drug regulations and a freer, more democratic market, this neighbourhood is also home to inexpensive eateries, alternative art galleries, and collaborative workshops.

This guided tour focuses on alternative Copenhagen and includes time in Christiana, should you wish to visit with the commentary of a knowledgeable guide.

Whatever you do, though, do NOT take your camera out; locals do not take kindly to being photographed (hence the lack of picture for this entry).

Rundetaarn

things to do in Copenhagen
things to do in Copenhagen
 

Built as a scientific observatory back in the 1700s, the Round Tower is, to this day, the oldest functioning observatory in Europe. After a mind-boggling hike up the step-free spiral walk, visitors are rewarded with splendid 360° views of Copenhagen’s old town.

Botanical Gardens

things to do in Copenhagen

Housing over 13,000 species and 27 historic glasshouses over an area of 10 hectares, the Copenhagen Botanical Gardens are a must, especially considering they are free of charge. Tip: the wrought-iron staircase and mezzanine of the main building are a favourite spot among local Instagrammers.

Louisiana Museum of Modern Art

Although not in Copenhagen per se, this wonderfully contemporary and confounding museum is well worth the short train ride up north. It is often referred to as the epicentre of modern art and consistently welcomes bold yet captivating exhibits visited by art lovers from around the world.

Carlsberg Brewery

things to do in copenhagen

Located just a few subway stops west of Copenhagen’s centre, the 250-year-old Carlsberg Brewery hosts the world’s largest collection of beer bottles as well as interactive and modern exhibits about the general history of beer, and that of Carlsberg’s more specifically. Like any brewery tour worthy of its name, the visit concludes with a generously-sized sampling.

Tivoli Gardens

things to do in Copenhagen

I only visited the gardens in October when it was in full Halloween mode, but I reckon it must be equally entertaining at any other time. The amusement park features a mix of modern and vintage rides, including one of the few remaining wooden roller coasters that still require a brakeman on board every train.

Kastellet

A great attraction to visit if you’re planning to see the Little Siren, the Copenhagen Citadel is equal parts bucolic and historic; despite the abundance of joggers and young families on play dates, Kastellet is one of the finest examples of star-shaped fortresses in Northern Europe.

Rosenberg Castle & Gardens

things to do in Copenhagen

Although not as lavish as Amalienborg and not as popular as Christiansborg, the Rosenborg Castle nonetheless deserves a visit, if only for a glimpse of the Danish crown jewels. Its vast collection of thrones, portraits, tapestries, and other memorabilia that commemorate battles between Denmark and Sweden at the time of the famed King Christian IV.

Magstræde

things to do in Copenhagen

Despite it not being featured in guidebooks, this quaint street has gained worldwide popularity thanks to its photogenic curb appeal and the colourful houses that flank either side of it. To be fair, though, it is one of the two oldest streets in the Old Town of Copenhagen and still features its original cobbling.

Little Siren

As you can tell by the lack of photographic evidence for this entry, I’m not the biggest fan of the Little Siren statue. I am not sentimental in that way and, anyway, my allegiance lies with the Lion King as far as children’s movies are concerned. But I guess it represents an important aspect of Copenhagen’s history: indeed, the statue was commissioned by none other than Carl Jacobsen of Carlsberg himself as a gift to the city in 1913.

Things To Do In Copenhagen: The Best Tours and Day Trips

Things To Do In Copenhagen: Eating & Drinking

Porridge at Grød

things to do in Copenhagen

If the name wasn’t a good enough indication (grød means porridge in Danish), it’s all about oatmeal at this small take-away counter inside Torvehallerne… and not the boring kind. My two top picks were the ultra sweet Oat (homemade dulce de leche, fresh apples & roasted almonds) and the savoury Asian-inspired Congee (chicken, ginger, coriander & soy). The menu changes seasonally.

Gorm’s

I usually try to steer clear from restaurant chains but Gorm’s is a blunt exception to that rule – it’s actually one of the few palatable options in Nyhavn. This Nordic-Italian pizzeria hybrid imports most of its key ingredients straight from Italy. A delightful and fairly priced option in central Copenhagen? No one can say no to that.

The Coffee Collective Torvehallerne

things to do in Copenhagen

On the other end of the wonderful foodie gem that Torvehallerne market is The Coffee Collective. I’ve abundantly documented by love for independent coffee shops and soy lattes and this one was no exception. They have a great outdoor patio area where the coffee is as enjoyable as the peoplewatching.

Sømods Bolcher

Ever since I visited Sømods Bolcher I’ve been obsessed with hard candy. Opened in 1891, the time-capsule confiserie still uses the same ancestral candy-making process and if you time your visit right you may even be able to see them in action – it truly is a spectacle! My favourite flavours were apricot and pear.

Nørrebro Bryghus

things to do in Copenhagen
things to do in Copenhagen
 

Even if you’re not a beer aficionado, this microbrewery is a must. If only for the interior design! If you’re here for dinner, make sure to ask for the sampling menu, where each dish is expertly paired with one of their 10 homemade brews.

Café Auto

Don’t be fooled by with gritty neighbourhood; Nørrebro is one of the coolest places in the city and Café Auto is one of the highlights. This moody Nordic eatery serves delicious and modern Danish fare with noteworthy breakfast & lunch options.

Mirabelle

things to do in Copenhagen
things to do in Copenhagen
 

I discovered this place on Instagram (somehow it was the floors that really enticed me to visit this Nørrebro local gem) and I’m really glad I did. This organic bakery/café was opened by the restaurant next door and offer a unique Italian twist on the famous Danish smørrebrød, with focaccia bread and scrumptious cured meats.

Street food at Pølsevogn Papirøen

The city’s first and only genuine street food market is located inside an old warehouse on a small island across the Royal Danish Playhouse. It houses stalls from all over the planet and offers some of the most budget-friendly, genuine options in the city with a glorious waterfront terrace to boot.

Aamanns smørrebrødsdeli

things to do in Copenhagen

You can’t go to Copenhagen and not have a smørrebrød – there’s probably a law against that somewhere! The cult of the open-faced sandwich started right here in the Danish capital and although it can be found almost everywhere, I have a preference of Aamanns Deli.

Food tour

If you’re in town long enough to sample all these eateries yourself or if you’re on a budget and long for smaller sizes, this food tour takes you to a few of the places listed above (Aamanns, Nørrebro Bryghus, Sømods Bolcher, and Torvehallerne) and many more, with the insightful tips of a local foodie specialised in Nordic cuisine.

Things To Do In Copenhagen: Sleeping

Generator Hostel
Scandic Front
 

things to do in Copenhagen
things to do in Copenhagen
 

As one of the few budget-friendly options in the city, the Generator doesn’t disappoint. This luxury hostel chain is centrally located and features spacious, bright common areas. It offers a mix of mixed/same-sex dorms as well as private rooms.
I stayed at the Scandic Front during my last visit in Copenhagen and I’m so glad I did. The rooms were fairly large and were beautifully decorated in typical Danish fashion, while the lobby was colourful and welcoming.
 

34 Comments on Your Copenhagen Bucket List: 26 Spaces and Places You Can’t Miss

  1. Brianna
    February 12, 2016 at 1:05 pm (2 years ago)

    I always knew I wanted to visit Copenhagen, but I never really knew what I wanted to see and do there. This definitely helps and is inspiring a little trip planning!

    Reply
    • Marie-Eve
      February 13, 2016 at 4:48 pm (2 years ago)

      Happy to help Brianna!

      Reply
    • Marie-Eve
      February 15, 2016 at 12:02 pm (2 years ago)

      Thanks Tanja!

      Reply
  2. Mary @ Green Global Travel
    February 17, 2016 at 9:01 pm (2 years ago)

    Awesome suggestions! The Round Tower looks so special and has such a history unique to Denmark.

    Reply
    • Marie-Eve
      February 29, 2016 at 8:43 am (2 years ago)

      Yes it’s a wonderful place for many reasons!

      Reply
  3. Quyen Le Gjone
    February 22, 2016 at 8:53 am (2 years ago)

    I’ll go there tomorrow, only 6 hours tho, but hope that I can make the most of this list!

    Reply
    • Marie-Eve
      February 29, 2016 at 8:38 am (2 years ago)

      6 hours in CPH!?! That’s quick!

      Reply
  4. Marie Louise
    March 2, 2016 at 1:12 pm (2 years ago)

    Bonjour, tout les livres de voyage sur Copenhague nous mentionne qu’il est très cher d’y rester et d’y manger, est ce votre cas? Avez vous un itinéraire à me suggérer? J’aimerais visiter en juillet Copenhague et un peu la Suède. Peut on le faire sans voiture? Merci de votre précieuse aide!

    Reply
    • Marie-Eve
      March 5, 2016 at 3:23 pm (2 years ago)

      Oui, la Scandinavie est dispendieuse. Si vous restez dans les villes principales, vous n’aurez pas besoin de voiture. Mais si vous souhaitez aller en nature, ce sera nécessaire. La plupart des restaurants suggérés dans l’article plus haut sont abordables. Sinon, considérez la location d’un appartement avec cuisine, où vous pourrez préparer vos propres repas. Ce sera toujours moins cher de cuisiner vous-même que d’aller au restaurant 3x par jour.

      Reply
      • Marie louise
        March 8, 2016 at 10:44 am (2 years ago)

        Merci de votre réponse! Très généreux de votre part! Plusieurs chroniqueurs ne répondent pas aussi rapidement!

      • Marie-Eve
        March 11, 2016 at 11:11 am (2 years ago)

        Tout le plaisir est pour moi! N’hésitez pas si vous avez d’autres questions.

      • Marie louise
        March 14, 2016 at 9:21 pm (2 years ago)

        Bonjour,
        Savez vous s’il y a des quartiers à éviter? Nous sommes 4 personnes qui désirent se rendre en juillet prochain à Copenhague Danemark et un saut en Suède. Nous regardons pour un Air BNB a Copenhague et la plupart ( moins chers) sont situés près du central station, en dehors du centre, est ce convenable selon vous?

        De plus, voici un itinéraire pour 15 jours, est ce trop de ville? Copenhague 3 jours complets, AArhus, Skagen, Göteborg, Stockholm et Malmö retour Copenhague. Devons nous ignorer Stockholm qui se trouve plus à l’est de notre itinéraire? Nous voulons utiliser l’auto a l’occasion et le train. Vos commentaires sont très appréciés! Marie Louis

      • Marie-Eve
        March 15, 2016 at 5:25 pm (2 years ago)

        Le centre de Copenhague vous plaira et vous n’avez pas besoin de vous rendre à l’extérieur pour apprécier la ville. Les gares, comme partout en Europe, sont le côté le moins beau de la ville. À votre place, je paierais plus pour avoir un endroit sécuritaire et joli (ce qui ne sera pas le cas à la gare). Je visiterais Stockholm au lieu Goteborg, c’est beaucoup plus beau et accueillant – ne l’ignorez surtout pas! Ce sera sans doute la meilleure partie de votre voyage. Ces villes sont toutes reliées en train, je vous conseille de vous y tenir à moins que vous ne vouliez voir autre chose que les villes.

  5. Marie Louise
    March 16, 2016 at 1:08 pm (2 years ago)

    Bonjour Marie Eve merci pour l’information c’est grandement apprécié! Est ce que vous suggérez de ne pas visiter AArhus et Skagen? De plus, vous privilégiez seulement le train comme moyen de transport? Je sais qu’il fonctionne très bien dans ces 2 pays. Merci encore!

    Reply
    • Marie-Eve
      March 17, 2016 at 11:49 am (2 years ago)

      Je ne suis pas allée à Aarhus et Skagen, mais je crois que ce serait intéressant de vous y rendre afin de voir le côté plus rustique et naturel de la Scandinavie. On y trouve de très jolies plages (bien que fraîches!). Une voiture pourrait être intéressante pour ces trajets, pour un max de quelque jours. Entre les grandes villes, privilégiez les trains.

      Reply
  6. idropulitrice
    November 21, 2016 at 11:59 am (10 months ago)

    Pretty! This has been an extremely wonderful post. Thank you for supplying these
    details.

    Reply
    • Marie-Eve
      November 21, 2016 at 4:29 pm (10 months ago)

      Thank you!

      Reply
  7. Jessica
    December 28, 2016 at 11:14 pm (9 months ago)

    This is an excellent list of things to do! I am definitely using it as a guide for my trip to Copenhagen this next year :) Thanks!

    Reply
    • Marie-Eve
      December 30, 2016 at 9:15 pm (9 months ago)

      Happy to help, Jessica!

      Reply
  8. Bilyana | OwlOverTheWorld
    March 24, 2017 at 5:23 am (6 months ago)

    Your pictures are very beautiful. The post is very detailed and covering a lot of tips and information. By the way, I’ve stayed at Generator hostel in Berlin and Hamburg and I think they are great.

    Reply
    • Marie-Eve
      March 24, 2017 at 5:45 pm (6 months ago)

      Thank you so much! Glad you liked the Generator.

      Reply
  9. Erik Griswold
    March 25, 2017 at 6:36 pm (6 months ago)

    By the “Little Siren” do you mean the “Little Mermaid”?

    As for why it is in Copenhagen, that’s due to a shoemaker’s son from Odense who came to the capital to act, but stayed and wrote stories, which I gather are popular in some parts. I think his name was Andersen?

    Reply
    • Lasse
      March 27, 2017 at 5:57 am (6 months ago)

      Hans Christian Andersen, author of The Little Mermaid, The Ugly Duckling, The Tinderbox, The Little Girl with the Matches etc.
      Great post! All though, the spir of the Church of our Savior is not 90 meters tall, more like 90 feet

      Reply
      • Marie-Eve
        March 27, 2017 at 12:13 pm (6 months ago)

        Damn hybrid system we have in Canada! Confusing to go from imperial to metric all the time!

    • Marie-Eve
      March 27, 2017 at 12:13 pm (6 months ago)

      Yes! My apologies, we call it the Little Siren in French.

      Reply
  10. Val
    April 2, 2017 at 12:06 pm (6 months ago)

    “But I guess it represents an important aspect of Copenhagen’s history: indeed, the statue was commissioned by none other than Carl Jacobsen of Carlsberg himself as a gift to the city in 1913.”

    I can’t believe I’m reading something like this in a post about Copenhagen. The Little Mermaid/Siren is one of the most famous stories by the great Danish author Hans Christian Andersen, of course the statue is not about the Disney movie or some beer company that gave it to the city

    Reply
    • Marie-Eve
      April 26, 2017 at 5:42 pm (5 months ago)

      I’m well aware of that. But the statue itself was commissioned by Carl Jacobsen — that doesn’t mean he wrote the book. History says that Jacobsen had been fascinated by a ballet about the Little Mermaid in Copenhagen’s Royal Theatre and asked the ballerina, Ellen Price, to model for the statue.

      Reply
  11. Martina Bugs
    April 22, 2017 at 11:42 am (5 months ago)

    I am so glad to see this article. I am planing a round trip to Scandinavia next year with friends and Copenhagen will be our first destination. Love it. Thanks for posting.

    Reply
    • Marie-Eve
      April 26, 2017 at 4:36 pm (5 months ago)

      Glad I could help! Copenhagen is wonderful.

      Reply
  12. Erin Gustafson
    May 3, 2017 at 3:06 pm (5 months ago)

    I completely agree with Aamann’s – my favorite smørrebrød in the city / paired with house cured snaps – YUM!

    Reply
  13. Michelle Francisca Lee
    May 3, 2017 at 6:48 pm (5 months ago)

    I went to Copenhagen 2 months ago and I couldn’t be more agree with your list here! You should add Glyptoteket (Ny Carlsberg Glyptotek Museum), I visited that museum and their Winter Garden is to die for!(I have some pics of it in my website :)).
    Cheers,
    Michelle

    Reply
    • Marie-Eve
      May 15, 2017 at 10:32 am (4 months ago)

      Will look into it, thanks Michelle!

      Reply

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