Colours, cobbles and an undeniable coolness makes Copenhagen one of Europe’s most desirable cities to visit. Frequently classed as one of the happiest cities in the world to live, the chic yet laid-back city oozes a unique charm that makes it impossible to resist. Aside from its sleek Danish architecture, beautiful nearby beaches and lush green parks, there are plenty of things to do in Copenhagen. We take a look at some of our favourites.
The second oldest amusement park in the world was the original inspiration for Disneyland. Since its gates first opened in 1843, the Tivoli Gardens have seen a constant stream of holidaymakers. Today, tourists can ride a hundred-year-old renovated rollercoaster and enjoy the painstakingly restored amusement rides that have been delighting visitors for more than a century and a half, including the world’s tallest carousel. Thrill seekers won’t be disappointed either, there are plenty of modern, white-knuckle rides to choose from. On Friday nights, there are outdoor concerts from Danish bands and, occasionally, international names, while on Saturdays, the gardens are illuminated by a dazzling firework display.
Of all the things to do in Copenhagen, the Rosenborg Slot should be at the top of your list. Built between 1606 and 1633, the castle features a picture-book combination of turrets, moats and towers. Inside, the upper rooms display portraits and furnishings from Denmark’s monarchs while, in the basement, you will find the Treasury – a veritable Aladdin’s Cave of jewels, including Christian III’s jewel-encrusted sword and Christian IV’s crown.
Frederiksberg Slot and Gardens
The majestic Frederiksberg Slot and Gardens are well worth a visit. Despite the fact that the castle itself is only open on the last Saturday of the month, the stunning balance of imperial architecture is a wonder to behold, and the gardens are open every day, frequented by tourists and locals alike, who flock to the beautifully landscaped area to walk, jog, or spend a lazy afternoon.
The suburb of Vesterbro has its own unique vibe and is definitely worth a visit. Situated to the west of the city centre, the former red-light and meat-packing district has undergone a miraculous transformation, from pure sleaze to bohemian chic. Artists, immigrants and students have added colour and culture to the area which, although still a little seedy in some areas, is generally packed with quaint boutiques, fabulous galleries, trendy eateries and great music.
If you want to get to grips with Danish culture and history, a trip to the country’s National Museum should be on your list of things to do in Copenhagen. The museum gets first dibs on all antiquities discovered on Danish soil – the result is a treasure trove of artefacts, from Stone Age utensils, medieval jewellery and even a 3,500-year old sun chariot. Later historical exhibits include details of Norse life and replica living quarters throughout the centuries – a real whistle-stop tour of Denmark over the millennia.
Christiana is a living experiment in communal living. Originally a military camp, the site was reclaimed and a community of sorts was established by squatters in 1971. Police attempted to clear the district, but were unable to do so under the inimitable weight of the hippie revolution. Eventually, the government accepted the self-governing eco community, and agreed to leave it alone as a large-scale social experiment. Over the decades, the tolerant community has created its own laws which work within the community. A tour around the community is fascinating – new laws have outlawed hard drugs and there is a relaxed atmosphere, free from the constraints of modern life. During the summer, there are daily tours of Christiania, where you can unabashedly ogle this different way of life.
The Little Mermaid
She may be diminutive, but the Little Mermaid has a huge reputation and attracts millions of visitors every year. The central character to Hans Christian Anderson’s famous account of unrequited love and yearning, the statue was commissioned by Carl Jacobsen, a wealthy brewer who fell in love with the Little Mermaid after seeing the ballet at the Royal Danish Theatre. Over a hundred years later, the Mermaid still looks out wistfully from Langelinje Pier, serving as a reminder to all who visit her to be careful what they wish for….
The Carlsberg Brewery
If Carlsberg did beer…. Well, they do, of course, and this is where it all started. Here, you can tour one of the oldest brewing houses in Scandinavia and discover the story behind one of the most famous beer brands in the world. There are tours, exhibits and, of course, beer-tasting. What’s not to love?
Nyhavn Canal was initially built to connect Copenhagen’s harbour to Kongens Nytorv. It was initially inhabited by sailors and creatives, including Hans Christian Anderson, who lived in three different properties along the canal. Today, Nyhavn presents a postcard-perfect image of Copenhagen: colourfully gabled houses, vibrant boats and foaming jugs of beer. The perfect place to while away a sunny afternoon in Copenhagen.
If you are in love with Danish design, then a trip to the Denmark Design Museum is a must. With its collection of Danish arts and design, from porcelain and textiles, to silverware and modern art, you can feast your eyes on a dazzling array of arts through the ages. There is an impressive display of ancient Japanese and Chinese ceramics, too, as well as 18th and 19th century pieces.