Denmark’s capital city, Copenhagen, is a fantastic place for a long weekend break. There are many things to do and see and the heart of the city is easy to explore by foot. Tour buses are a great way to hit the highlights if you are short on time, or you could also hop on a bicycle and peddle around the streets as many locals do. Well-connected by road, rail, and air to other major cities around Europe and the rest of the world, Copenhagen is home to a good selection of accommodation options as well as an array of places to eat and drink. Here are some top things to do in Copenhagen:
1. Gaze upon the iconic Little Mermaid
Although perhaps a lot smaller than you may expect, the bronze Little Mermaid sculpture is one of Copenhagen’s most famous attractions. Sitting on her rock and looking rather pensive and wistful, the statue has been attracting visitors since 1913. Whether you’re a fan of Hans Christian Andersen’s fairy tale or simply want to soak up as many Copenhagen sights as possible, the Little Mermaid should almost certainly be on your itinerary.
2. Stroll along the colourful canal side at Nyhavn
Nyhavn is a beautiful and historic part of the city. A former bustling port and a place that had a somewhat seedy reputation in the past (think leery sailors and ladies of the night!), many of the charming multi-level old houses have been renovated and spruced up with a lick of vibrant paint.
You’ll find a number of fantastic restaurants and bars along the waterside. Restaurant Cap Horn is particularly recommended, with its tasty food and whimsical nautical theme. If it’s chilly, don’t worry! You can still sit outside enjoying the views and ambience – just do as the locals do and wrap yourself up in a cosy and warm blanket as provided. Boat trips along the canal are available too.
3. Watch the Changing of the Guard at Amalienborg
Arranged around a central sweeping courtyard, the four elegant buildings of Amalienborg are the winter home of the Danish Royal Family. A flag will be flying if they are currently in residence. Each building has an identical outer appearance, and a large statue of King Frederik V mounted on horseback occupies pride of place at the heart of the courtyard. Whilst an attractive place to admire at any time, the daily Changing of the Guard Ceremony is a highlight.
Taking place at around noon each day, a group of soldiers smartly march through the streets of Copenhagen to Amalienborg from Rosenborg Castle to relieve the previous guards. They leave Rosenborg Castle at 11.30am. Seeing the uniform-clad soldiers appearing, complete with their bearskin hats and bayonets, in regimented formation is impressive!
A handover ceremony then takes place before the previous guards make their way to Rosenborg Castle, leaving the new guards to watch over the palace buildings. If the King is in the palace, the marching guards are accompanied by a band, giving even more formality to the proceedings.
4. Explore Rosenborg Castle and see sparkling jewels
Dating back to the early 1600s, the striking red brick Renaissance-style Rosenborg Castle with its green roof, is a great place for explorations. Visitors can roam around the well-manicured gardens, soaking up the views, before going inside to admire the interiors.
The castle is home to a museum that showcases the brilliant Crown Jewels and sparkling Royal Regalia. Opulent and glittering, you are sure to be dazzled by the wealth and beauty of the remarkable items on display.
5. Have fun at the Tivoli Gardens
One of the world’s oldest amusement parks, Tivoli Gardens is a terrific place to cut loose and have a day of pure fun and giggles when in Copenhagen. Closed for most of the winter months, you can enjoy the beautiful lush gardens and thrilling rides of Tivoli Gardens between April and September.
Famous for its historic wooden roller coaster, there are rides and attractions to suit all ages. The park is also open for a brief spell over Halloween, when visitors can enjoy spooky and scary additional features. From mid November to early January, there are enticing Christmas markets, winter comfort food, winter rides, joyful decorations, and plenty of seasonal cheer to enjoy.
The theatre is open throughout the year, with entertaining and thought-provoking performances. A selection of restaurants are also open outside of the main opening season.
6. See the unusual Round Tower
Known locally as the Rundetaarn, Copenhagen’s Round Tower is one of the city’s most distinctive landmarks. Surrounded by bustling shopping streets, the looming circular tower is an excellent place for sweeping views over the city.
Climb the spiral staircase to gaze down upon the surrounding shops, houses, churches, and tiny people going about their daily activities. Look into the distance and you will see many evocative spires and fairytale-like buildings dotting the landscape and, on a clear day, you can even see as far as Sweden! Note that no lift is available … visitors must circle the tower seven and a half times to reach the top.
Admission to the Round Tower is just 25 DKK (approximately 3.70 USD). There are various exhibitions and displays inside, as well as a library, an observatory, and a concert hall (additional fees to attend performances and shows).
7. Visit elegant, grand, impressive, and quaint churches
Copenhagen has a large number of glorious churches to discover as you explore the city. Many are free to go inside although, of course, donations are welcome. All are free to admire from outside.
The Church of our Lady has large statues of the apostles lining the sweeping nave, leading up to an even bigger statue of Jesus Christ standing with his arms outstretched at the main altar. It is the city’s cathedral and a wonderful testament to faith.
Avert your eyes upwards within the Marble Church to see some stunning paintings and ornate details inside the dome. Other favourites include the Church of Our Saviour with its soaring spire and golden decorative touches, the distinctive Grundtvig’s Church with its unusual façade, and the cute St Alban’s Anglican Church with its pretty fountain.
Even MORE great things to experience in Copenhagen!
Copenhagen boasts a large number of museums and art galleries that cater to different interests and tastes, and you can enjoy a spot of shopping along Stroget, one of the longest pedestrianised shopping streets in all of Europe!
Eat a traditional smorrebrod open sandwich, see how Carlsberg beer is made, take it easy at the zoo, go on a day trip to even more fabulous castles and palaces in the nearby area, shriek and squeal at the world’s oldest amusement park at Dyrehavsbakken, wander around the free town of Christiana and experience an alternate way of life, and more!
Copenhagen really does have so much to see and do, so make sure you don’t miss this enticing capital city when on a European adventure.
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