Things to do in Copenhagen
Taking short breaks here and there can be exciting. However, in most cases, it may mean a limited amount of time to get around all the sights, especially if you’ve not been there before. Copenhagen, although quite compact, has a lot to see and do and there are some cool places just outside the city centre to visit too. So, here are 10 things to do in Copenhagen!
In the heart of Copenhagen is Nyhavn. In the 17th-century, the waterfront became home to ships that would dock at its port from around the world, offloading their cargo. Today, Nyhavn is one of the main hubs in Copenhagen for great views, food, entertainment, relaxing and socialising. Take a stroll along the canal which links to Christianhavn, a cluster of artificial islands not too far away, which are also known for boasting trendy vibes.
With brightly coloured buildings gracing both sides of its bustling waterfront – restaurants and bars at their base – Nyhavn is not only a great place to chill out and watch the world (and tour boats) go by, but it also makes for a great photo! It was without a doubt one of the main reasons I wanted to visit the city after seeing pictures of the colourful houses. I spent time trying to get a few good shots!
This is a must-see if you enjoy both architecture and history. Wanting to make sure I visited this beautifully built red/brown brick palace, I dedicated part of my second day to heading just outside Copenhagen’s city centre. Venturing to Hillerød, where this grand old castle is situated, I saw its beauty on an island in the middle of a Lake.
The trip to the castle is a blend of history, art and architecture. It’s also a place to relax as its vast, well-kept gardens, decorated with flowers, pristine statutes, and water fountains, create a great ambience. That alone will entice you to wander around the lush surroundings. Inside the palace is just as beautiful as the outside. Each vast room with its own story to tell.
If you’re short on time but want to visit, you can easily do it in half a day. Just take an early train. To be honest I could’ve stayed much longer as there’s a lot to see. Many people visit for most of the day or some even combine it with a visit to Kronborg Palace. I thought about doing that but felt it would be too rushed. The time I spent at Frederiksborg Palace was a lovely experience and I’d visit again.
The Round Tower
Situated in the very centre of Copenhagen is Rundertaarn – The Round Tower.
Dominating its surroundings, the tower is a beautiful building that was originally constructed as an astronomical observatory in the 17th century. Now, as an exhibition centre, visitors can climb to its observatory and viewing platform and see Copenhagen city below and beyond.
The inside of the tower is something in itself to see. With what seems like a never-ending brick sloping path, smooth white stone interior walls curving upwards to match, and sets of arched windows at each bend, you’ll want to spend a little time on the way up taking it all in.
Unlike many towers, The Round Tower has a pathway to get you to its peak instead of stairs – something I welcomed given my recent trips up to cupolas via narrow staircases. I mean, there are still stairs when you get closer to the top but very few.
Tip – Walk around the left-hand side when walking to the top of the tower and on the right-hand side when walking down the tower. It makes the walk smoother and fewer people tend to walk around the edge.
Amager Strandpark and beach
If you’ve got good weather like I had, spend a few hours at the beach and park at Amager Strandpark. Easily accessible via the metro, the beach is perfect on a warm day and is a nice change of scene. The start of the 4.6km stretch of beach is only a 5-minute walk away from the Øresund metro stop (M2).
You’ll come to a lagoon first and will need to walk over the bridge which will take you to the man-made island. You can also get off at the Amager Strandpark metro stop which takes you halfway along the beach or Femøren St which is nearer to the aquarium, Den Blånand, and the airport.
Even though the beach was busy because of the weather it was nice to feel the sea breeze and chill out. You can do Segway tours, water sports, roller skating or just walk along the pier or chill by the sea.
A fortress in the shape of a star. Kastellet or The Citadel is a beautifully well-kept construction in Copenhagen that dates back as far as the 16th century.
Surrounded by a lake and lush greenery, Kastellet was built by Christian IV as a defence for the city.
After you pass a row of red brick buildings, otherwise known as ‘The Rows’ (barracks for the soldiers) you come to a pristine yellow building – the Commanders House.
While in Kastellet, you’ll see a windmill and a church. If you want a better view, you can walk up the slopes around the edge. It’s open to the public daily.
Christiansborg Palace Tårnet (tower)
If you like a good view, then you should definitely visit Christiansborg Palace and go up to the Tårnet (tower).
Originally home to the royal family before they moved to Amalienborg Palace after a number of fires, the tower was constructed during 1907-1928, and designed by architect Thorvald Jørgensen. It’s now the highest tower in Copenhagen.
Its free to go up the tower, but since they only take 8 people in the lift at a time (yes, there are stairs but only a few) it means that the queue can be very long. They also only allow 40 people up to the top. If you can, its best to go early so you don’t have to queue for a long time. The views from the tower are amazing and you see so much of the city.
The Royal Library
You may not want to spend your holiday in the library but if you’re into modern architecture and design, you may want to do just that! Take some time to visit Copenhagen’s Royal Library. There are five sites to the library, but I’m referring to the extension to the Royal Danish Library’s old building on Slotsholmen, otherwise known as ‘Black Diamond’.
Why such a name? It’s all down to its striking angled structure which is encased in black and marble glass. It stands out on the waterfront, so you can’t miss it.
The building also boasts a concert hall in addition to the library. It has a cool view when you head up to the first floor via the escalator. You need to go up backwards (yes, that’s right, I said backwards) to see what I’m talking about. A nice view out to the waterfront.
The Little Mermaid
The Little Mermaid is just one of the most popular tourist attractions in Copenhagen. Mention you’re visiting the city and those that have already been are sure to tell you to go and see it. The Little Mermaid is a bronze statue by Edvard Eriksen, which depicts a mermaid.
The sculpture can be found at the Langelinie promenade on a rock and you’ll have a great backdrop especially as the sun starts to set.
Friday Night Skate (roller skating)
While leaving The Little Mermaid and heading back to the centre of town I came across Friday Night Skate. This may sound random but bear with me while I explain.
This is a bi-weekly roller skating event that you’ve guessed it, takes place on Friday’s. It’s free to join and anyone, no matter your level, can take part – as long as you can manage on wheels of course! You will join hundreds of other skaters.
Skating for fun for about 20 kilometres, the route is monitored and completely blocked off from traffic allowing skaters to roll freely. There were hundreds of people and it definitely looked like a lot of fun! It’s a great way to see the city, get some exercise and meet new people. You of course will have to take your own skates, or maybe see if you can rent some while in the city. If I knew about it in advance, I’d have got involved!
Øresund Bridge to Malmö
As a fan of The Bridge, the well-known Danish drama, I had to get a glimpse of it myself. It’s frequently crossed during the show as detectives solved murder cases in Copenhagen and Malmö. It takes under an hour by car, 45 mins by train or an hour and a half (roughly) by bus to cross.
Always seen in the distance, The Bridge has fast become an iconic feature now a part of both cities. I’d definitely suggest crossing by car or taking the bus as the views are amazing!
You’ll see the two pylons and cables supporting the middle of the bridges sturdy structure. This distinctive design is definitely one of its main features.
I caught a glimpse of The Bridge from the plane which was amazing and enjoyed views of it from The Round Tower and Christianborg Tårnet – another tower, but free to get in. Heading to Malmö, I also saw the bridge as I crossed it by bus and managed to take a snap.
You’ll need your passport just in case as there are still some random customs checks at the toll gates. You’ll have to pay a toll to cross too if going by car – train and bus tickets will include this.
There’s lots of other things to see and do apart from my favourite ones above such as:
- Fredericks Church
- Amalienborg Palace
- Rosenborg Palace
- A canal tour or cruise
- Tivoili Amusement Park and Gardens
- Gammel Strand
- Hans Christian Andersen statue
Did you visit any of these places? Let me know which you enjoyed the most!