The Scandinavian city of Copenhagen has become a sought-over tourist destination. Its modern culture rooted in Danish traditions attracts travelers from all over. There are countless sights to see and activities to do in Copenhagen, and you could easily spend more than a few days there without getting bored. This list is by no means exhaustive, but here are some of the top sights to check out on your trip to Copenhagen!
Little Mermaid Statue
The iconic symbol of Denmark and one of the most famous statues in Europe is definitely worth a visit. It’s about 15 minutes walking from the city center, so set aside the necessary time to get there. There’ll likely be many other tourists taking selfies and photos with the statue. It’s situated on the sea, so you’ll also have some nice views for the background of your Little Mermaid photos!
Not far from the Little Mermaid is Kastellat, a historic fort open to visitors. The fort is in the shape of a star, situated on a tiny island surrounded by a lovely park. It’s a nice place to have a leisurely walk, or stop and take a quick break from all your sightseeing.
Nyhavn is the famous street in the Copenhagen city center, that you will recognize from photos. Lined with restaurants, bars, and tourist shops, Nyhavn is a can’t-miss stop for travelers to Copenhagen. Sailboats are docked in the canals that run through the middle, which serve as a starting point for tourist boat rides and cruises.
There are three major castles to see in Copenhagen, all within or near to the city center. You can visit all three, or just one, depending on your budget and preferences. If you have to pick one, then Christiansborg is the best value. Based on their history, architecture, and current functions, they’ve each been dubbed with an unofficial moniker.Rosenborg is the “historical” one, being the largest and oldest of the three castles. Amalienborg is the “modern” one being home to the Danish royal family. Amalienborg is where you’ll find the changing of the guard. Christiansborg is the “political” castle since it serves as the current seat of the Danish government. Rosenborg and Amalienborg have a flat fee to enter, but Christiansborg has different levels of access at different price points. For this reason, Christiansborg seems to be of the best value. Additionally, part of the King’s Gardens at Rosenborg can be viewed for free.
If you need a break from sightseeing and guided tours, then head to the amusement park Tivoli Gardens! Be careful about opening times, though. Tivoli operates on a seasonal schedule, so it’s possible your trip will fall within one of the closed periods.
Copenhagen is home to many museums, so choosing one will just depend on what you want to see. For a decent collection of European and Danish classical art, check out the National Gallery of Denmark (the Dutch is name is Statens Museum for Kunst, hence SMK). The museum also has a contemporary art wing, if you grow tired of the classical stuff. Situated behind the SMK is another one of Copenhagen’s parks, Østre Anlæg. It’s perfect for an outdoor stroll after spending a few hours inside looking at art.
A trip to Copenhagen wouldn’t be complete without trying some authentic Danish cuisine. The notion of “authentic” can be tricky when it comes to dining out in Copenhagen. It’s not uncommon for traditional Danish dishes, like the Smørrebrød, or open-faced sandwich, to be reinvented in new and surprising ways. Another example is grød or porridge. Porridge has long been embedded in Danish culture, but it’s recently gotten a revamp as hip restaurants and cafés have put a new twist on it. Eating authentically in Copenhagen, then, is often finding the perfect balance between tradition and innovation. There are certain dishes you’ll see everywhere you go. Try both Smørrebrød and grød, which are easy to find in many restaurants and cafés. Its harbor location makes Copenhagen’s seafood selection plentiful as well. Don’t forget about the pastries. Copenhagen’s pastry tradition is really an import from Vienna (the Danish word for pastry is wienerbrød, or “Vienna bread”), but Copenhagen bakeries have fully embraced it, creating a veritable Danish pastry scene.
Copenhagen is the perfect example of modernizing traditional culture with fresh perspectives. The city has a thriving sense of newness, while at the same time remaining rooted in Danish cultural legacy.