Copenhagen is one of our favorite cities to visit in Europe. There are a ton of fun things to see and do in this beautiful and “green” city filled with friendly people! One thing you will notice straight away is the massive amount of bicycles; at least half of the population cycles to work. It's not hard to see why they say the Danes are continuously ranked some of the happiest people in the world (the Happiness Research Institute is actually located in Denmark). Michael was able to travel to Copenhagen a few times for work over the course of the year, but we decided to take a fun one-day trip to see all the city’s highlights together. It's crazy you can do a "daycation" like this from London!
Top Things to do in Copenhagen
Nyhavn is a bustling port and canal waterfront full of restaurants and bars, dating back to the 17th century. The area is famous for the colorful buildings and the historical fishing boats that line the canal. It is a popular area for tourists and locals alike to enjoy a drink or some food at one of the many restaurants.
Tips: For best photo-ops, try to visit earlier in the day before the area gets really busy.
The Church of Our Lady (Copenhagen Cathedral)
This church was constructed in a neoclassical style with sculptures of the twelve apostles lining either side of the nave. It is simple in design, yet has a very classic feel and a beautiful domed white ceiling.
Sankt Petri Church
Located in Copenhagen’s old Latin quarter, this beautiful church is the oldest building in central Copenhagen, with origins dating back to the 15th century. The simplistic and clean white walls and ceiling exaggerate the intricate and gold trimmed altar, chandeliers, and other decorative accents. The church also contains a complex of several sepulchral chapels that represent distinguished German families back in the mid-15th century. Today, the church still has a large German-speaking congregation.
Trinitatis Church & Rundetaarn
Located in central Copenhagen, the Trinitatis Church and Rundetaarn make up the Trinitatis Complex. You can walk up the tower, built as an astronomical observatory, via its sloping and helical ramp (plus a few stairs at the very top). The views of Copenhagen are really nice, and worth the walk to the observation deck!
Tips: Close to the top of the ramp you will see a small door that leads to a glass platform over the hollow core of the tower. If you’re up for it, you can stand on the glass platform and take a peak down! Crazy story -- a choir boy fell down the pit in 1880 and actually survived.
Visit Copenhagen’s large market, called Torvehallerne, with over 60 stalls for fresh fish/meat, wine, chocolate, produce, spices, and more. You can also have a seat at a few of the stalls for a quick bite to eat and a drink.
Strøget is a long pedestrian street, one of Europe’s longest, and full of shops. It has everything from high-end luxury boutiques to budget-friendly stores. The street runs through the heart of Copenhagen and is a great place to walk around and experience Danish culture, attractions, and street performers.
Rosenborg Castle & The King’s Garden
The Rosenberg Castle is a renaissance castle built in 1606 as a summerhouse for Christian IV. By 1710, this Dutch Renaissance style castle was no longer regularly used as a royal residence. Today, the castle is open for visitors to take a tour and the surrounding Kongens Have (The King’s Garden) and is a great place to take a walk or relax surrounded by the nicely manicured landscape.
Also known as The Marble Church, Frederik’s Church is an Evangelical Lutheran church built in 1749 in a Late-Baroque style. It is characterized by its large copper green (31m wide) dome that rests on 12 columns, making it Scandinavia’s largest church dome. The interior is not to be missed, with its open layout and ornate design.
Tips: When we visited, tours of the dome were only taking place at 1:00pm.
Amalienborg is the home of the Danish royal family. The palace consists of an octagonal courtyard surrounded by four identical palace buildings. The Royal Life Guards guard the palace grounds day and night, dressed in their full uniforms.
Tips: Visit the palace to witness the changing of the guard, typically at noon daily.
Known as one of the best preserved star-shaped fortresses in northern Europe. It dates back to the 17th century, making Kastellet a historic park not to be missed on your visit to Copenhagen. It is a nice place to enjoy an afternoon stroll, and there is a nicely preserved windmill still on the public park grounds.
The Little Mermaid
This iconic landmark consists of bronze mermaid sculpture, created by Edvard Eriksen, to depict The Little Mermaid fairytale written by Hans Christian Andersen. The statue sits on a waterside rock, along the Langelinie promenade.
Tips: Visit early on in the day for the least amount of tourists.
Christiania is a district of Copenhagen that is self-proclaimed autonomous anarchy, first created in 1971. Visiting is an uncanny experience; it is full of overtaken old military barracks along with self-constructed shacks and other facilities the people of Christiania have built. Be careful before you enter; photography is strictly forbidden, and if you take out your phone for a picture don't be surprised if a local yells at you or tries to take your phone. Be sure to peek into the local trade shop, and don't mind the community drug market in the central street and square. The relationship between the semi-autonomous city neighborhood and the local government yields quite an interesting dynamic; you really have to see it to experience what it is all about!
Tips: Visit in the daytime hours and just do a quick walk-through.
This neighborhood is located on multiple islands and consists of a large canal network. You will find colorful houseboats, hip local cafes, the Copenhagen Street Food market and the Copenhagen Opera House.
Rent one of these solar-powered picnic boats in the canals of Copenhagen, along the Harbor Bath Islands Brygge. Boats can hold up to 8 people and are BYO food and drink, making it a fun way to enjoy some snacks and drinks as you explore Copenhagen by water.
Tips: Be sure to book in advance, especially during warmer times of the year on the weekends. Also note, the boat driver needs to remain sober!
Food and Drink in Copenhagen
Copenhagen Street Food
This street food market is a closed top market, opposite the water from Nyhavn. Here you can find all kinds of food: Polish sausages, sushi, freshly made pasta, you name it. There are plenty of areas to sit inside and outside as well as a few bars to get libations. A great place for lunch or an afternoon snack! Note: the food market is potentially relocating in 2018.
The Donut Shop
Located in central Copenhagen, The Donut Shop does not disappoint with delicious and elaborately decorated donuts. Stop in for a morning or mid-afternoon treat, but know that the best selection will be earlier in the day! We recommend “Daim” or “Donutella”.
When in Copenhagen, you must try one of the local favorites called Smørrebrød. These open-faced sandwiches can be found at many cafes around the city. They are usually lathered with butter and topped with meat, fish, or cheese.
Where to Stay in Copenhagen
Copenhagen Admiral Hotel
Located 5 minutes from Nyhavn, the Copenhagen Admiral Hotel is situated on the waterfront in an 18th century warehouse. The rooms are cozy and there is a terrace and spa on site. A great location for exploring Copenhagen!
71 Nyhavn Hotel
Also set in a converted warehouse from the early 19th century, 71 Nyhavn Hotel is located in the Nyhavn canal. Most of the rooms have harbor views and feature exposed wood beams. Another great home base location in Copenhagen.