An overview of Copenhagen
Copenhagen, Denmark’s capital city, has long been known for its canals, cycling culture and for being the happiest city in the world. There are so many things to do in Copenhagen for all ages and tastes. If you’re young then it’s definitely an amazing city to visit and explore. Based on my recent trip to the city I have put together a list of the top 10 things to do in Copenhagen.
Copenhagen is fairly easy to access and public transport operates 24 hours a day. If you’re looking to use transport to explore the city then I recommend picking up a Copenhagen card. For one price the card will give you access to all public transport for free and also allow you to access almost all attractions within the city. It’s especially good if you’re only here for a couple of days and want to see a lot of the city as it will allow you to get around easily and skip queues to attractions!
Arriving at Copenhagen airport
The airport is huge (It’s almost like a shopping mall inside with the number of shops and restaurants). There are numerous flights from the UK every single day. It takes under 2 hours to get to Copenhagen and the city is easily accessible from the airport which makes it perfect for a short or weekend break.
There are a few options to get from the airport to the city but the best and quickest is by train. If you have a Copenhagen card then be sure to use this as it gives you free public transport, if not follow the signs for the train station and you’ll stumble across the ticketing machines. The touch screen machines are easy to use and have multiple languages.
A single fare to the city costs about £5 and takes less than 15 minutes. Take some time to walk around Copenhagen central station if you have it, it’s quite remarkable and reminds me of something out of Harry Potter!
In the city
Once you’re in the city you’ll never be short of something to do. There’s plenty of exploring to be done… check out some old churches, buildings, and museums to get a taste of Denmark’s history. And if you want something a little more exciting you can visit the very theme park that inspired Walt Disney or even ski down the city’s powerplant!
Based on my recent trip, here are my top 10 things to do in Copenhagen:
1. Climb some of Copenhagen’s Buildings / Churches
Copenhagen has a number of historic churches and towers that you can climb. They all offer amazing perspectives of the city and a great workout if you’re looking to keep fit on your travels. Make sure you check out which ones are best for you before you visit as some are more challenging than others. The most popular ones to climb are:
The Round Tower
The round tower is the oldest functioning observatory in Europe. The tower was built in the 17th century and has acted as a major landmark in Copenhagen ever since. The climb is fairly easy as you’ll ascend using a spiral walkway. The tower is only 36 meters tall but you’ll walk a lot further due to the nature of the climb.
As you climb the tower you’ll have the chance to view the old library hall. This hall once housed the entire book collection of the Copenhagen university. Hans Christian Anderson used to visit the library hall regularly and I’m sure he found inspiration for some of his work here. Today the hall showcases modern art and history exhibitions.
If you dare there’s also a floating glass floor in the core of the tower which you can stand on. You’ll get a view of the floor 25 meters below you!
The Church of our savior
This Church is a more challenging climb. It’s one of the most popular churches in Copenhagen and has some different characteristics to normal churches. The ‘serpentine’ spire at the top of the church has been popular with visitors ever since it was inaugurated in 1752.
Climbing to the spire isn’t straight forward. There are a lot of steep wooden ladders and small gaps you’ll have to squeeze through. You’ll also pass the church bells as you climb up the spire.
This climb isn’t for the faint-hearted as the final steps to the summit are outside the spire! Check the church is open to climb before you visit as it is often closed during winter.
Some other buildings in Copenhagen that you may want to climb are:
- Christiansbourg Palace
- Christians Church
- The Old Stock Exchange
- The Church of the Holy Ghost
- City Hall
2. The Little Mermaid
Probably one of the most visited attractions in Copenhagen. The small bronze statue was created in 1913 as a tribute to Hans Christian Andersen and his world-famous fairytale ‘The Litte Mermaid’. It depicts a mermaid becoming human to be on land with her love.
The statue is smaller than you’d first imagine, standing at 1.25m tall, but it’s worth the visit. And just in case you’re not completely convinced… it’s FREE.
The statue is located at the waterfront in the heart of the city. Make sure you head down early in the day if you’re looking to get a photo. The Mermaid statue gets very busy with tourists, especially in the summer!
3. Visit Freetown Christiana
This one is a little different. You won’t find anywhere else in the world quite like it. Freetown Christiana is an area of Copenhagen which has seen a lot of controversy over the years. In the early ’70s, squatters and hippies formed their own community here when Danish army barracks were abandoned.
Until 2010 the small town operated within its own laws. It is now back under Danish law and control but a lot of illegal activity continues in the area. Today there are around 800 people that reside in the Christiana area.
The main street, ‘pusher street’ is lined with stalls selling marijuana. Visitors are not permitted to take photos of this area and it’s highly recommended that you keep your wits about you as it can be a little sketchy if you’re not taking care.
The village is full of funky street art, small stalls and a few cafes, grab a coffee and take a long stroll around this strange yet exciting place.
4. Visit one of Copenhagen’s Palaces
Copenhagen has many links to the Danish Royal Family. The major links are the impressive Palaces that are dotted around Copenhagen. There are 3 in the city and they all have their own individual history dating back centuries.
The one that I recommend you visit are;
Christiansbourg is home to the Danish supreme court and the Danish parliament. The Queen of Denmark carries out her duties in the palace and you’re able to visit and look around.
You’ll be able to see the kitchen and stables to name a few! The viewing tower in the palace was made accessible to the public in 2014 and is the tallest in Copenhagen.
This palace is the home to the Crown Jewels of Denmark. You’ll also have the chance to see one of the world’s best collections of Venetian glass.
If you’re planning a visit then you can purchase tickets in advance or pick up a Copenhagen card.
The palace is surrounded by beautiful gardens which are lined with colorful plants, large trees, and also some small statues. The gardens, which are free to visit, are lovely for a slow stroll and get busy during the summer months. If you want some time out from the busy city streets then this is the perfect place for you. Bring a sandwich and find a bench!
5. Tivoli Gardens
Tivoli Gardens has been a popular attraction in Copenhagen since it first opened. The gardens are the second oldest theme park in the world (the oldest Bakken is also in Copenhagen). If you’re traveling with younger children they’ll have the time of their lives.
Visiting the theme park you’ll soon understand why Walt Disney was so inspired to create what we know today as Disneyland.
The park has rides (the oldest wooden roller-coaster in the world), a giant aquarium and also different events and theme-based activities dependant on the season. Make sure you check that Tivoli is open before you visit as it often closes between seasons to prepare for the next magical event.
6. Copenhagen Botanical Gardens
For a very small entrance fee, you can visit Copenhagen’s Botanical Gardens. The glass greenhouses were built in the 1870s and are very impressive. The gardens are in the center of the city and hold species of plants that are up to 200 years old.
The gardens showcase plants from countries and climates all around the world. In total there are over 13,000 species of plants within the gardens from all corners of the earth. Make sure you bring suitable clothing as it can get very hot… or very cold depending on the section of the gardens you are in.
7. Shopping at City Hall square
You can’t head to the capital of Denmark without a spot of shopping! The City hall is one of the most iconic buildings in all of Copenhagen. It’s also one of the tallest in the. The large square that it overlooks is where the city hosts celebrations and screens important sporting events.
All around this area of Copenhagen you’ll find streets lined with shops, cafes, and restaurants. Check out the lego store if you’re looking for something a little bit exciting!
8. Enjoy a Danish beer in the Nyhavn district
The Nyhaven district is possibly one of the most photographed areas in Copenhagen. Nyhavn, when translated to English, means ‘New Harbour’. During the evening this is one of the busiest places in Copenhagen and it’s easy to see why.
The canal is lined with beautifully painted houses from the 1600s and 1700s which are now mainly restaurants and cafes. You’ll also find old wooden boats moored here and lots of tourists lining the streets for their photos with the picturesque backdrop.
There’s probably no better place in Copenhagen to enjoy a cold local beer and watch the world pass you by. You’ll pay a little more than elsewhere in the City but it’s worth it just for the experience, especially in summer!
9. Try some traditional Danish Food
Denmark has some amazing gastronomy. One of the best things I tried on my visit there was a smorrebrod (an open sandwich). The sandwich comes in rye-bread which is supposedly much better for your digestive system than normal bread (maybe that’s why the Danes are so happy)!
You can pick pretty much anything to go in your sandwich but traditional smorrebrod fillings are usually ham, bacon, beef, fish… the possibilities are endless! The sandwich will be topped with various traditional garnishes salad. You’ll be full all day!!
There are plenty of places to grab your sandwich but we grabbed ours from a small shop called Smagsloeget if you want to play it safe!
Some other great dishes to try are;
- Grod (Porridge) usually topped with fresh fruits and nuts/seeds.
- Flaeskesteg (Roast Pork) The national dish in Denmark!
- Polse (Hot dogs) Look out for the hot dog stands dotted around the city, these are usually the cheaper option!
10. Ski, Climb or Hike at CopenHill
Copenhill is something very different. Being the world’s cleanest ‘waste to energy’ facility, it provides energy to Copenhagen and its surrounding areas. As well as this it offers something a little bit extra…
The huge power plant has a ski slope, climbing walls and some great FREE hiking trails for both visitors and locals to enjoy. If you’re after a real adrenaline rush head over to their website and book your ski slot before you visit. If you want something a little more relaxed then don’t be afraid to get your hiking gear out and challenge yourself to a walk-up this amazing building!
It’s situated a little out of the city center but you’ll have no problem getting there using public transport or by bike.
What would be on your list of the best things to do in Copenhagen?!
I hope you found this guide to Copenhagen useful. As ever if you think I missed anything then let me know down in the comments below.
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