The true friendliness and sincerity of the Danes, the top three happiest people of the world, really stand out in the streets of Copenhagen.
Copenhagen is a perfect destination for a weekend break. All key attractions are within walking distance – world class art museums, Michelin starred restaurants and legendary castles. The Danish culture is simple, timeless and frank, whether regarding to design, style or food. It’s really hard not to love Copenhagen!
Things to do in Copenhagen
Copenhagen is a lively city offering plenty of activities all year round. Below, we’ve listed our top picks for activities in Copenhagen.
Canal cruise on a GoBoat
The canals in the center of Copenhagen offer plenty of attractions to discover by boat. A great idea to spend a sunny summer day is to rent a sustainable GoBoat that doesn’t require any licenses to maneuver or any prior experience. The boats are powered by solar energy, taking you slowly and silently through the canals of the city at a speed of three knots. The boats are equipped with a small table, suitable for having a lovely picnic on the boat. You can even order a picnic basket along with the boat. You’ll be able to see many lovely sites, such as Amalienborg Castle, The Church of Our Savior, Opera building and liberal neighborhood of Christiania. This is definitely one of the coolest ways to explore the city!
How to get: The metro stop Christianshavn is 1 kilometer away.
There are many companies offering canal cruises, ranging from bigger public boats with an audio guide, to private boats with your own private captain navigating through the canals.
The second oldest amusement park of Europe, Tivoli Gardens, is a must-see place at the heart of Copenhagen, right next to the central station. The scenery for an amusement park is exceptionally beautiful and unique with its spectacular architecture and well-cared green gardens. At night, thousands of colored lights create a fairy tale atmosphere. That’s why a dinner in Tivoli is a unique experience, and there’s a variety of restaurants to choose from. Many rides in the theme park have more of a nostalgic vibe, but there are newer modern rides available, too. Among many choices, the ride called Vertigo, that was voted as the Best Ride in Europe in 2014, will turn you upside down at 100 km/h.
Bike around the city
Along with Amsterdam, Copenhagen is one of the best cities to bike around. Biking also the preferred way for locals to move around the city. There is an endless count of bike rental companies for hiring bikes.
The Blue Planet - National Aquarium Denmark
Den Blå Planet, the largest aquarium in Northern Europe, is situated south of the city close to the Kastrup airport. The aquarium offers interesting pastime for the whole family. Among other things, it’s a perfect fit for spending time before a late flight. Denblåplanet.dk.
The Freetown Christiania is a unique neighborhood right in the center of Copenhagen. The green, car-free neighborhood founded by hippies in the 1970s, respects its own set of societal rules completely independent of the Danish Government. It’s a safe place to visit as long as you respect the rules. Organic eateries, artisan shops, home-made houses are typical to Christiania. It’s everything you’d imagine a hippie village to be.
Things to see in Copenhagen
The royal family of Denmark resides inside the Amalienborg Palace, located in the city center of Copenhagen. There are guided daily tours inside the palace. At 12 o’clock noon, you can watch the Danish Beefeaters, the Royal Guard, to change guards. The museum presents the private interiors of the most recent kings and queens and an exhibit on the monarchy today with its many traditions.
How to get: Metro: Kongens Nytorv.
The castle was built in the early 17th century by Christian IV. One of the main attractions is the Knights’ Hall with the coronation thrones, three life-size silver lions standing guard and the crown jewels.
How to get: Rosenborg Castle is located in the King’s Gardens 200 meters from Nørreport Station.- The Castle has an entrance at Øster Voldgade 4a and via the bridge, over the moat from King’s Garden.
Christiansborg Palace is located on the island of Slotholmen at the very center of the city. The palace is yet another incredible attraction in this country of countless castles. The castle, which was built in the 1720s, houses several national bodies, such as the Supreme Court of Denmark or Prime Minister’s Office, but first and foremost the building is known as the seat of the Danish Parliament.
The Little Mermaid & Kastellet
Another Copenhagen landmark, along with the Tivoli and the Nyhavn, is the Little Mermaid Statue at Langelinje Pier. Unveiled on 23 August 1913, The Little Mermaid was a gift from Danish brewer Carl Jacobsen to the City of Copenhagen. The sculpture, made of bronze and granite, was inspired by Hans Christian Andersen’s fairy tale about a mermaid who gives up everything to be united with a young, handsome prince on land.
Kastellet, translated as Citadel, is situated close to Little Mermaid statue. It was founded in 1626 by the king Christian IV. Today, the buildings inside Kastellet are used as military barracks and offices. However, the area is open to the public, and it’s a favorite place for locals to go jogging or for a brisk walk on the ramparts.
How to get: Bus number 1A goes to Esplanaden, a 15-minute walk away from the statue. Alternatively, you can take a train to Østerport Station from the central station, also a 15-minute walk away from the statue.
Museums and galleries
National Museum of Denmark
You can easily spend an entire day at National Museum of Denmark, if your feet are up for it. On display, the museum has the country’s most extensive collection of historic artifacts, art and basically anything concerning the history of Denmark.
More information: National Museum of Denmark
ARKEN Museum of Modern Art
ARKEN is the most recognized museum of modern art in Copenhagen. ARKEN is located on the island of Ishøj some 20 kilometers away from the very center of the city. The building itself is a true masterpiece, let alone the interior that holds one of the largest collections of modern art in Northern Europe. What’s more, you could easily turn your ARKEN trip into a day-long bike exhibition with leisurely breaks at Ishøj and Brøndby beaches.
More information: Arken
Make sure you have your Wellington boots on in Cisterne in Fredriksberg, since you’re about to head for an art trip - underground! The exhibition venue of Cisterne, which is situated in a shut-down waterworks, is truly an exceptional experience. The changing exhibitions contain art pieces in surreal surroundings in water dripping underground catacombs. The experience is hard to put into words.
More information: Cisterne
Ny Carlsberg Glyptotek
Glyptoteket next to the Tivoli amusement park is an art museum founded by Carl Jacobsen, a brewer, exhibiting antique art from Egypt, Middle-East, Greece and Italy. Its modern part has paintings and sculptures from 19th and 20th centuries on display.
More information: Glyptoteket
Copenhagen Card gives unlimited access to public transportation in the entire Capital Region of Denmark, including to/from Copenhagen Airport. In addition, it gives free entrance to more than 70 attractions and museums as well as discounts on several restaurants, sights, rentals and more.
You can pre-order the Copenhagen card online and collect it from the service information at terminal 3 of Copenhagen Airport. The card is ready to be used right away, e.g. on the metro to the city center.
If you’re coming for a short visit and intend to see many sites, this card might come in handy.
With a City Pass, you can enjoy unlimited travel on buses, trains and the metro in Copenhagen from the moment you arrive via the airport.
You can buy the pass upon arrival in the airport or in advance, so you can travel easily from and to the airport without having to think about where to purchase tickets, the types of tickets available or travel zones. With the City Pass, two children under 12 years of age can travel with you free of charge.
Food and restaurants - Copenhagen
The Danish cuisine is a forerunner in the development of the New Nordic cuisine, which is a branch of Nordic food culture. The restaurant, René Redzepi Noma, has been nominated as the World’s best restaurant four times in the beginning of the 2010s. Noma has set the bar high for other restaurants in Copenhagen, which certainly has contributed to the high number of Michelin starred restaurants in the city.
On the other hand, the locals love easy and casual food, such as Smørrebrød and hot dogs. Try asking the Danes as to where the best hot dogs come from - the answer is of course Denmark. There are plenty of pølsevogns, local snack bars, all around the center.
Smørrebrød is the icon of the Danish food culture. It’s definitely worth to taste and should be included in your itinerary. At times, they’re closer to a proper restaurant dish rather than a sandwich. Smørrebrøds are eaten with a knife and a fork and washed down the hatch with snaps and beer. According to etiquette, the proper order of eating is this: first the herrings, then some other seafood, next the meat, and finally the cheese. And a toast in between: Skål!
There’s a wide selection of restaurants serving Smørrebrød, but you should choose the restaurant carefully to avoid disappointments.
Well-proven Smørrebrød restaurants include:
Told & Snaps
Lunch or Dinner in Nyhavn
The colorful houses of Nyhavn are a signature landmark for Copenhagen. Today, this former commercial port is like a living room for the locals - a cozy neighborhood to gather for lunch, dinner or a cold one on the many terraces of the area.
In December, Nyhavn is the venue for the Christmas Market. The Christmas lights light up the area beautifully.
Drinks and nightlife in Copenhagen
Denmark is the home of world-famous beer brands, such as Carlsberg, Tuborg and Faxe. No wonder Denmark is always associated with beer. Denmark was among the first locations in Europe where the micro-brewery boom began to flourish. Mikkeller, founded in 2006, is hardly a micro-brewery any more. As a testimony to the drastic increase of its popularity, Mikkeller has restaurants in places like Barcelona, Paris and Berlin.
Micro-breweries are going strong in Copenhagen. The areas of Nørrebro and Kødbyen are a bar hopper’s paradise, perfect for hopping from one micro-brewery to another. Nørrebro has turned into a Copenhagen equivalent of Soho, with a nice selection of cocktail bars among the swarm of micro-breweries. The best-known nightclubs are located in the very center of the city.
One of the most famous beer brands in the world comes from Copenhagen. The first brew was finished in 1847 by its founder J.C. Jacobsen in central Copenhagen. The new brewery of Carlsberg is of course a modern facility. The guides will take you around the Carlsberg Brewery and introduce you to its fascinating history.
How to get: From Easter to Christmas, there’s a free shuttle bus to Carlsberg from the city center (Vesterbrogade 6) every hour from 11:00-17:00. It returns to city center every hour from 11:25-17:25. You can also take the train to Carlsberg Station (use the footpath and cycle lane leading directly to Visit Carlsberg).
Prices in Copenhagen
Prices of restaurant and hotel services in Copenhagen are among the highest in the European Union.
Below, there are some examples of restaurant and hotel prices in Copenhagen. Costs of hotel rooms are median prices at Booking.com.
Pizza in restaurant
33 cl beer in restaurant
Hotel room, 3-4* (April)
Hotel room, 3-4* (July)
From airport to city center
There are several convenient ways to get into the city center from the Kastrup International Airport. The airport is located 8 kilometers away from the center. The metro and the train depart from terminal 3. You can take a free shuttle bus from terminal 1 to terminal 3, which will take 5 minutes.
Metro: The M2 line goes from the airport via the city center to Vanløse station. The ticket costs 36 DKK (approx. 4,80 euros), and children under 12 years travel for free with a paying adult. Journey time from the airport to Kongens Nytorv station in the city center takes 17 minutes. For Copenhagen public transport timetables and route advices, you can use their journey planner rejseplanen.dk.
Train: The trains run between the airport Terminal 3 and the central train station København H every 10 minutes. The journey time is 13 minutes and the tickets cost the same as the metro ticket, 36 DKK.
Bus: The bus line 5C will take you directly to Copenhagen Central Station, City Hall Square, Nørreport and other stations. By bus it takes about 30-35 minutes from the airport to the Central Station. The bus stop is situated between terminals 2 and 3.
Taxi: A taxi into the city center takes around 20 minutes. There are taxis waiting outside the terminals 1 and 3. A taxi ride into the city center costs 250-300 DKK.
Weather in Copenhagen
Winter: The winter in Copenhagen is mild thanks to the Gulf Stream. Temperatures are on both sides of 0°C from December to February. On the coldest days, temperatures may drop to -10°C, so a proper winter clothing, such as hat, winter shoes, gloves and scarf, is necessary.
Spring: The city turns green and temperatures are pleasant, 8°C - 15 °C. May can be a very warm month with temperatures exceeding 20°C occasionally. Evenings aren’t that warm, so it’s still good to have a coat, a jumper, and trousers with you.
Summer: June, July and August are the warmest months of the year with 30°C temperatures on the hottest days. However, these months are also the rainiest in Copenhagen. The temperatures are typically over 20°C, so you’ll be fine with shorts and t-shirts most of the day.
Autumn: Temperatures drop to 8°C - 15 °C during the Autumn months. In November, temperatures can reach 0°C. Similar clothing than in spring is advisable. September and October are the rainiest months, along with the summer months.
Text: Ville Ryynänen
Photos: Jussi Ryynänen & Adobe Stock
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