Many people who have been to Copenhagen, Denmark’s capital of cool, say it’s one of the most underrated cities in Europe! With a population of only 700,000 people, Copenhagen has all the amenities of a modern city but hasn’t lost that quaint European village charm.
From modern architectural feats to design hotels housed in 18th Century heritage buildings, medieval castles and arguably the BEST food scene in the world – Copenhagen has the perfect mix of everything you could want in a European city!
In this ultimate city guide, I share all the reasons why Copenhagen is one of my favourite cities in Europe, including the best things to do, when to visit, where to stay and where you should eat and drink in Europe’s gastronomic capital.
When To Visit Copenhagen
The most popular time to visit Copenhagen is during the Summer (June through August). This is the warmest time of year, and just like any European city in summer, the heat brings in the crowds and a number of events and festivals.
Hotel prices and occupancy are also at their highest in summer. If you’re looking for lower hotel rates and fewer crowds but still with the mild climate, consider visiting in Spring (March through May).
I actually visited Copenhagen in winter (December through February), and was surprised by how much I enjoyed it. The city usually goes into hibernation during autumn/winter, but I loved the fact that there were fewer tourists and got a great deal on hotel prices.
Most of the attractions in this guide were still open, although many have reduced opening hours in winter. Sure, the weather was brisk, with the occasional snowfall, but this actually added to the charm of this spectacular winter wonderland.
It also gave us an excuse to go in search of the one thing that makes Copenhagen the most famous – great food and Danish beer!
How To Get Around In Copenhagen
There are a few ways to get around Copenhagen, depending on your budget:
Copenhagen is serviced by the Metro, buses, and S-trains. There are three metro lines connecting the city circle and surrounding suburbs. These operate every few minutes, 24/7.
There are also regular A-buses regularly servicing the Copenhagen City Centre. S-trains service Copenhagen’s urban area and you quite likely won’t need to use these unless you’re planning to visit the city’s outer suburbs. The train from the airport to the city centre takes approximately 12 minutes.
Taxis are a very convenient way to get around Copenhagen. They can be easily flagged in the street and most accept credit cards.
If you prefer to use rideshare services, download the GoMore app.
Foot, Bike or Scooter
This is the best and most convenient way to get around Copenhagen. The city is relatively small and is well set up for biking and walking, with dedicated biking lanes all over the city centre.
There are many bike rentals all over the city and most hotels also have bikes available to hire. Copenhagen has recently introduced e-scooters – download the Lime app to use them.
Top Things To Do In Copenhagen
1) See The Little Mermaid
Possibly one of the most famous attractions in Copenhagen, the Little Mermaid statue was inspired by the fairytale “The Little Mermaid” by Danish writer Hans Christian Andersen. Originally written in 1836, the romantic animated film adaptation by Disney, which we’ve all probably seen at least once in our lifetime, was later released in the late 20th Century.
The statue that sits alone on a rock on the Copenhagen waterfront, depicts the character, Ariel, waiting for her prince and the kiss that will turn her into a human and make all her dreams come true!
2) Find Your Inner Child At Tivoli Gardens
Tivoli Gardens is one of the oldest and most famous amusement parks in Europe and has featured in many films. Walt Disney is said to have visited many times and found inspiration at Tivoli Gardens for his own theme parks.
The park features over 80 attractions, from traditional family-friendly rides to a few modern ones for the thrill-seekers. All of this is set within beautiful parklands, featuring lakes, fountains, fairy lights, and picnic areas.
The Tivoli Gardens is located next door to the Nimb Hotel, one of Copenhagen’s most sophisticated hotels, and the highly coveted Tivoli Food Hall.
3) Tour Christiansborg Palace
It’s easy to get confused over all the castles and palaces in this relatively small city. Christiansborg Palace is often mistaken as the home of the Danish royalty, but it’s actually the home of the Danish Parliament! Parts of the palace are also used by the royal family for official functions and events.
In my opinion, Christiansborg Palace is far more impressive than the Danish Royal Palace (Amalienborg Palace) and it’s well worth taking a tour through the lavishly decorated Royal Reception Rooms.
4) Take Photos Along Nyhavn
If you’ve seen any photos of Copenhagen on Instagram, it was most likely taken from this spot.
Whilst, there are many beautiful buildings all around the city, Nyhavn Harbour is one of the most Instagrammable places in Copenhagen. With well-kept boats moored in front of beautifully colours buildings, it’s not hard to see why this is a popular spot to visit.
During the summertime, Nyhavn is abuzz with tourists and locals flocking to the cafes and bars to soak up the vibe of this beautiful waterfront location. The best photo location is across the other side of the harbour, looking back towards the cafes and restaurants, although there are lovely colourful buildings on both sides!
5) Climb The Round Tower
Originally built in the 17th Century, the Round Tower of Copenhagen is, as the name suggests, a round building located in the heart of the city.
To get to the top of the tower, you walk up a paved ramp that spirals around the inside of the tower for 209 metres. At the top, you squeeze through a narrow opening to reach a platform with a 360-degree view of Copenhagen city.
To this day, the Round Tower continues to function as an observatory, which is open to the public every Tuesday and Wednesday evening from 6-9 pm.
6) Wander Around The Danish Royal Palace
The Danish Royal Palace, called Amalienborg Palace, serves as the residence for the Danish royal family.
Consisting of four palaces set around a central palace square, which is open to the public to freely wander around. The changing of the guard occurs daily in the palace square at midday and is a sight not to miss.
Two of the four palaces serve as guest residences and museums and are open to the public to tour inside and gain insight into Danish royal life. One of the other two palaces is the current home of Queen Margrethe, and the other is home to Crown Prince Frederik and Crown Princess Mary. These palaces are not open to the public.
7) See The Danish Crown Jewels At Rosenborg Castle
Rosenborg Castle was built in the early 17th Century as the royal residence for Danish King Christian IV, one of Denmark’s most famous royals. Today, the castle stands as a museum, showcasing well-preserved interiors, along with a collection of portraits, tapestries, statues and weaponry, that depicts how the royals lived back in the 17th Century.
The castle in itself is quite remarkable, but the most impressive attraction is the collection of Denmark’s Crown Jewels, housed under heavy guard in the castle’s basement. Here you’ll found the crowns of past Danish kings and queens, along with a collection of stunning jewels, still used by the Danish royals to this day.
8) Explore The Palm House At Copenhagen Botanical Gardens
The Copenhagen Botanical Gardens has to be one of the most beautiful, whimsical places I’ve ever visited. There are 27 indoor glasshouses, with the most impressive being the old Palm House.
Stepping inside, the humidity hits you instantly, and your glasses fog up in seconds. You might be mistaken for thinking you just stepped into a tropical rainforest.
With towering palm trees, you can walk up the spiral staircase and wander around the treetop canopy. A must-visit place in Copenhagen!
9) Take A Bike Ride Around The City
One of the most popular activities, and the best way to see Copenhagen city is on a bicycle. Copenhagen is a relatively small city and is very bike-friendly. The central city area, known as Indre By can be easily covered by bicycle in one day.
Start your day at Copenhagen Central Station, near the Tivoli Gardens. Head along the waterfront towards the Royal Library and Christiansborg Palace.
Then, cross the river and loop your way around Christianshavn, past Christiania and the Opera House and back across the Inderhavnbroen Bridge. Stop off along Nyhavn Harbour for a photo op and a spot of lunch.
In the afternoon, take a ride around Amalienborg Palace Square and continue all the way along the waterfront up to the Little Mermaid. Head back through Kastallet (Military Barracks) towards Rosenborg Castle and Copenhagen Botanical Gardens.
Finally, ride past the five lakes, which will take you back to end the day at the Tivoli Gardens.
Other Things To See And Do In Copenhagen
Most of the things listed above can be seen in a day or two, depending on how long you spend at each attraction. If you have more time in Copenhagen, consider checking out these other wonderful things to do:
- Visit the Denmark Design Museum
- Take a Canal Boat Tour
- Wander through Freetown Christiania
- Have cocktails at Nimb Hotel
- Take a run or walk through the Copenhagen Military Barracks
- Visit the National Museum of Denmark
- Go shopping at the Christmas Markets in December
- Try to get a booking at NOMA 2.0
- Go shopping at Strøget
- Have a smooch on the Kissing Steps at the Pier
Where To Stay In Copenhagen
There are many design hotels around Copenhagen that embody the romantic Scandinavian hygge concept. Here is our pick of the best hotels within close proximity to the city centre:
Where To Eat In Copenhagen
The city of Copenhagen is synonymous with good food. In fact, Denmark has a very high number of Michelin Stars for such a small country.
With restaurants like NOMA 2.0, who for years have been literally re-writing the gastronomy rulebook, it’s no wonder that many people come to Copenhagen for the food alone.
If it’s a gastronomic fine-dining experience that you’re looking for, you can’t go past Relæ, Geranium or Jordnær – all of which hold Michelin Stars (at the time of writing). Or be prepared to book well in advance for a coveted seat at the 4-time Best Restaurant in the World winner NOMA.
At the forefront of the organic movement, Restaurant Gemyse located at Nimb Hotel is an urban garden restaurant which features “all things green” with a combination of Nordic, Middle Eastern and Asian flavours. Minimer is a popular budget choice that embraces sustainability.
For a traditional Danish meal of Smørrebrød (open-face sandwich), you can’t go past old-fashioned Restaurant Schønnemann, or historic, yet modern Lumskebugten (with vegetarian and vegan options), or try the Michelin-recommended version at Aamanns Etablissement. But if you’re just after some good food with that romantic Danish hygge vibe – check out Enomania or PONY.
Bars & Hangouts In Copenhagen
There are some seriously good little hole-in-the-wall wine bars around Copenhagen!
Some favourites include Mother Wine, which is actually a bottle shop, but patrons stand around on the street, chatting over a glass of wine. Or go for a canal-side tasting at Ved Stranden 10.
Where To Go From Copenhagen
Denmark is a relatively small country, and you can reach anywhere in the country within a few hours from Copenhagen city. It’s a great jumping-off point to explore not only the rest of this beautiful country but also parts of neighbouring Sweden and the extended Danish territories – the Faroe Islands, Greenland or Iceland.
Here is a selection of the best day trips from Copenhagen:
- Kronborg Castle – The UNESCO World Heritage Site, the Kronborg Castle, is located just a 45-minute train ride from Copenhagen and is known as the setting for Shakespeare’s Hamlet.
- Malmö, Sweden – Cross the impressive Øresund Bridge that connects Denmark to Sweden and spend the day exploring the beautiful Scandinavian town of Malmö.
- Frederiksborg Castle – If you haven’t already had enough of castles, take a day trip to North Zealand to see the impressive castle and gardens that was once home to the flamboyant King Christian IV.
- Møns Klint – Get out into nature and explore the beautiful cliffs and beaches of the island on Møn, about 2-hours south of Copenhagen. You can also camp overnight on the cliffs or on the beach.
What To Know For Visiting Copenhagen
Denmark is part of the European Union, which means that citizens of many countries including the USA, UK, Australia, and Canada do not require a tourist visa to visit. Be sure to check the official Denmark immigration website for the latest information.
The main form of currency accepted in Copenhagen is the Danish Krone. At the time of writing, the exchange rate is approximately 1 USD = 6.9 DKK. You can check the latest exchange rate on Google. Most places around Copenhagen accept credit card.
Tipping is not expected in Denmark. Restaurant servers, cab drivers, porters and bartenders are paid fair wages and do not commonly receive tips. However, if you experienced exceptional service, you may leave a small tip (usually up to 10%) at your discretion.
The native language in Denmark is Danish, but nearly all Danish locals also speak very good English.
We hope this article has inspired you to visit Copenhagen in the near future and helped you to plan your visit. Copenhagen really is one of the most underrated cities in Europe – it’s safe, clean, has a great laid-back vibe (especially in summer), good food and wine, and a charming mix of traditional and modern architecture. Copenhagen truly does have something for everyone!
We hope that this article has helped inspire you to visit Copenhagen, Denmark. If you have any questions or have your own travel tips to share please leave these in the comments below.
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