As one of Northern Europe’s most popular cities, Copenhagen is a feast for the eyes and the soul. With everything from a fully independent hippie commune to some of the world’s most incredible artwork, there’s no lack of things to do in Denmark’s capital city. An afternoon walk through the city will bring you to intricate architecture, colorful street art, quiet residential neighborhoods, and cute coffee shops. It’s no surprise that Copenhagen is a city buzzing with energy and life.
If you’re planning on visiting, you’ll want to plan ahead to make sure you can fit everything into your trip’s itinerary. However, it’s also possible to wander around without planning too much at all. Read on to learn our recommendations for things to do in Copenhagen!
Things to Do in Copenhagen, Denmark
Take a Copenhagen City Tour
Arguably one of the best (and cheapest) ways to see the city are the free walking tours. Copenhagen Free Walking Tours are a fantastic option – with several different routes in English and Spanish, these are great ways to orient yourself to the city. All the guides request is a tip of your choosing at the end of the tour – it’s customary to tip 50-100+ DKK per person, depending on the tour length.
The Grand Tour hits most of the main sights in a three-hour whirlwind walk around the city, including:
- Copenhagen City Hall
- Christiansborg palace
- The old City Center
- Royal Opera
- Royal Palace of Amalienborg
Other fantastic options for getting to know the city of Copenhagen include walking tours of Christiania and Norrebro. Or, if you’re especially fond of the water, opt for a boat tour of the city’s canals instead.
Catch a Bird’s Eye View
As with many cities, the best views of the skyline are from above. There are a few places where you can catch a view of the city. In Christianshavn, visitors can climb over 400 steps to the top of the steeple at the Church of Our Savior (40 DKK). This is a fairly difficult ascent, and the whole tower shakes when the bells ring, but the views from above are out of this world.
Wander Around Tivoli
This one goes without saying, but when you’re near the oldest theme park in Europe, it’s definitely worth visiting it. That’s the legacy of Tivoli Gardens, a historic theme park that is still in operation today. For a more picturesque experience, visit at night, when the rides and buildings are all lit up in colored lights. Or, you can opt to purchase a skip-the-line pass with a city tour.
Entry fees to Tivoli Gardens are 120-160 DKK depending on what time of day you decide to go. You can purchase tickets at the box office.
Rent a Bike
There’s no better way to explore Copenhagen than by bike. Everyone in the city seems to be riding a bike, and there are dedicated bike lanes on every street for cyclists of all ages. Pick up a bike with your hotel or rent one for an hourly rate at a bike shop in the city. Prices range from 80 to 100 DKK per day.
Walk Through The Neighborhoods
Copenhagen is home to a lot of fascinating neighborhoods, from historic Christianshavn to up-and-coming Vesterbro, hip and bohemian Nørrebro to posh Fredericksburg. A free afternoon in the city is best spent exploring some of these more residential areas, where you can find gems like BRUS brewery in Nørrebro and the Carlsberg Brewery in Vesterbro.
Spot Some Colored Houses in Nyhavn
Nyhavn is one of the most famous areas of Copenhagen, with its brightly colored houses and canals. Though this place gets super crowded with tourists during the day, it’s pretty empty and calm in the early morning. Try coming here just before breakfast to catch some post-sunrise golden hour around Nyhavn’s charming row houses.
Explore the Hippie Commune in Christiania
World-famous for its autonomous status and place in hippie history, Christiania is an independent community within Copenhagen. The residents here believe in sharing everything, from food to showers, and spend their days creating artwork and hanging out. During the day, you can also take a guided tour of Christiania, after which you can grab a beer or a bite at one of the commune’s handful of delicious restaurants.
Grab Some Local Eats at a Food Hall
Any guide to Copenhagen would be amiss without mentioning its extensive food halls. The most famous among tourists is Torvehallerne, but I actually preferred Papirøen, which is located in Christianshavn. Here, visitors can try various local foods like smørrebrød, or sample international fare amidst shipping container food stalls.
If You Have More Time
Meander Through a Museum or Palace
Copenhagen is famous for its palaces and regal museums. If the weather is nice, head to one of the famous palaces (Fredericksburg has a good one) for beautiful gardens and stunning architecture. However, if it’s overcast or rainy, take refuge in one of the city’s fine museums. The botanical garden has a beautiful indoor area, and the Louisiana museum, despite being a bit of a hike, has a beautiful display of artwork.
Find the Forgotten Giants
One of Copenhagen’s quirkiest art installations is the Forgotten Giants. These are large, wooden statues that reside in wooded areas around the city, encouraging residents and visitors alike to search for them. All in all, there are six statues scattered around the city’s edges. If you have a car, it’s a fun day-long adventure to explore and try to find all of them.
Party It Up in Vesterbro
Vesterbro is home to the (in)famous Meatpacking District, which is one of Copenhagen’s premier nightlife hotspots. In addition to the wild nights of the nightclubs, Vesterbro is also home to some laid-back bars, such as Lidkoeb, as well. If you’ve got the time and energy, go for a night on the town in this hopping district.
The Little Mermaid
Ah, yes. The famous Mermaid statue of Copenhagen. You may be asking why this is not on the ‘highlights’ list. It’s because, well, there’s not a lot to see here. It’s a statue of a mermaid, which is nice, but it’s also often flooded with tourists and most locals wouldn’t dare to go near there on a weekend. So, go if you please, but also feel free to just Google a photograph.
Copenhagen Travel Basics
When to Go to Copenhagen
Like most other places in Northern Europe, Copenhagen is best to visit from the spring into the summer and fall. If you want to avoid large crowds, aim for earlier in the spring or later in the falls. Also beware of large, city-wide events that may make transit a lot more difficult to maneuver.
Where to Stay
For the best access to Copenhagen, stay in the city center near the main tourist stretches. There are several options around every corner here, but some hotels that come with a high recommendation are CPH Living (a hotel in a boat!) and Avenue Hotel. Also, Airbnb is common in the city and runs from 720+ DKK per night, depending on the neighborhood (you can save $40 off your first booking here!).
If you’re looking for a more budget option in a more residential area, try Urban House in Vesterbro, which has great access to nightlife in the Slaughterhouse District. I stayed here during my trip and, while the accommodations were very basic, it was affordable and clean.
Where (and What) to Eat
Copenhagen is home to some local delights. For a quick lunch or an afternoon snack, try a smørrebrød, or open-faced sandwich. If you get a chance to head to Døp, the most famous hot dog stand in Copenhagen, be sure to try a “ristet” hotdog, with all the condiments. To cater to your sweet tooth cravings, try some cake and coffee at a local bakery – La Glace has some delicious offerings.
If you’re looking for something a bit more upscale (with a price tag to match), try some farm-to-table picks at Noma, founded by famed chef Rene Redzepi. I spent a delicious evening sampling small plates at Noma’s sister restaurant 108 in Christianshavn. Copenhagen’s food scene is known for its sustainability and local ingredients, and it fares well in their delicious fresh food offerings.
Getting Around Copenhagen
Getting around Copenhagen is really manageable by bike (~90 DKK per day) or by foot. It’s really easy to end up walking several miles a day because of just how walkable it is!
However, the bus and train system in Copenhagen is also fantastic for getting to farther neighborhoods or destinations. You can purchase a 24-hour pass for unlimited rides on all public transit in the city (including to the airport) for just 80 DKK.
Copenhagen Safety Tips
Though Copenhagen is a very safe city for tourists, you’ll want to take the typical safety precautions as always. Be sure to purchase travel insurance before your trip and keep your valuables close at all times. I use WorldNomads for all of my international adventures around the world.
As there is a high volume of tourists that pass through here regularly, always be alert when walking in crowded places. Do not carry large amounts of cash with you, as most places take credit cards anyway.
Additional Copenhagen Resources
- The Costs of Traveling in Copenhagen
- Foods to Try in Copenhagen
- Or, post a question in our Jetfarer Facebook group!