The top things to do in Copenhagen - the most beautiful sights
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Top things to do in Copenhagen: 13 beautiful sights to see [+ map]

Let's explore the capital of Denmark. I'll take you to Copenhagen and show you the most beautiful attractions. One of them is the Little Mermaid. What else is to see in Copenhagen? I'll show you this here with 13 of the most impressive sights.

The Danish capital has much more to offer than a cozy get-together and access to the sea. You can also look forward to some culinary tips and the most beautiful accommodations in Copenhagen.

Updated on 25.08.2022
Biggi & Flo from the travel blog Phototravellers

The top 13 attractions at a glance

Here you can see a list of the 13 top things to do in Copenhagen. You should be able to explore the city in 2 to 3 days. In addition to a canal tour or a hop-on-hop-off ticket for buses and boats, a rental bike is definitely recommended for getting around faster. These are available either at many locations in Copenhagen itself or online. By the way, it’s also a lot of fun to ride the popular Danish Velorbis bikes around the city.

  1. Little Mermaid
  2. Kastellet
  3. Frederik’s Church
  4. The castles: Amalienborg, Rosenborg, Christiansborg
  5. Nyhavn
  6. Christiania Freetown
  7. Ny Carlsberg Glyptotek
  8. Tivoli
  9. City Hall at Rådhuspladsen
  10. Strøget
  11. Round Tower
  12. Botanisk Have
  13. Superkilen in Nørrebro

1. Little mermaid

As promised, we start with the most famous thing to do in Copenhagen. The Little Mermaid is a statue by the Danish sculptor Edvard Eriksen, who based it on the fairy tale of the same name by the Danish poet Hans Christian Andersen. It was commissioned by the brewer Carl Jacobsen – more about that later.

The Little Mermaid in Copenhagen
The Little Mermaid is the most popular photo motif and a must-do in Copenhagen

The bronze figure is just over a meter high, making it one of the smallest landmarks in the world. It has been located on the Langelinie waterfront since 1913 – but it is merely a copy. The original is kept by the family of the sculptor in an unknown place.

The Little Mermaid enjoys great popularity as the main tourist attraction. Therefore, especially in the summer, you must expect a very large crowd.

A crowd in front of the world's smallest landmark in Copenhagen
You will never meet the Little Mermaid alone – this spot is always crowded

⭐ On the way to the Little Mermaid, you have to pass the mighty St. Alban’s Church (Google Maps). Next to it is the Gefion Fountain with a majestic bronze figure- a really cool place to visit.

View of St. Albans Church in Copenhagen with a fountain in front of
The mighty St. Albans Church in Copenhagen
The impressive St. Albans Church in Copenhagen from the side
You have to stop at St. Albans church in Copenhagen, as you need to shoot this motif
View of the Gefion fountain with impressive statues on it
The Gefion Fountain in front of St. Albans Church

2. Kastellet

Above the waterfront run the old ramparts of the Kastellet. This is a 17th-century fort that was part of the old city fortifications. The well-preserved complex was designed in the shape of an almost perfect pentagon, with a bastion at each corner. This has resulted in the special star shape.

View of the church at Kastellet with water in front of it
The church at Kastellet – a beautiful thing to do in Copenhagen!
View of the huge moats at the Kastellet - this is a top sight of copenhagen
The huge moats at the Kastellet. Here you can spend a lot of time

Today at Kastellet you can visit among other things a commandant’s house, a church, and even a windmill. This sight is popular mainly for walking and thanks to its excellent view. The remains of the fortress are freely accessible and open daily from 6 am to sunset.

Military buildings on the Kastellet
A part of the Kastellet – on the grounds you can learn a lot about the history
A mill and cannons are also located on the grounds of the Kastellet
What to see in Kastellet? A mill and cannons are also located on the grounds of Kastellet- a very cool thing to do here!

⭐Directly at Kastellet is the delicatessen Løgismose Vin, Mad & Delikatesser (Google Maps). Here you can get not only delicacies but also excellent wine. On the other side of the fortress is the Nyborder neighborhood (Google Maps), which was once a naval barracks and is therefore distinguished by the orange row houses. By the way, scenes from the movie “The Danish Girl” were filmed here!

3. Frederik’s Church

A bit further south is the next top thing to do in Copenhagen. The Frederikskirche or Marble Church was consecrated in 1894 after a long break in construction. The construction had already begun in 1749.

Today, the Evangelical Lutheran Church in the style of the classicist late baroque with its massive dome characterizes the skyline of Copenhagen. Incidentally, it is modeled on the dome of the Pantheon in Rome. In addition, it is open to the public, with a few exceptions, at 1 p.m. and 3 p.m. – daily in the summer, and only on weekends in the winter. By the way, from here you have a fantastic view of the next sight!

⭐ Recommended travel guides for your city trip to Copenhagen

I recommend these travel guides as additional reading to prepare you for your stay in Copenhagen! Your really should take a look at the pocket guide of Lonely Planet Pocket Copenhagen (get it here*). What we can also recommend buying: 3 Days in Copenhagen: Copenhagen Travel Guide (get it here*).

4. The castles: Amalienborg, Rosenborg, Christiansborg

Since Copenhagen is not only the seat of government but also the residence of the Danish Queen Margrethe II, you will find several castles in Copenhagen. Three of them I would like to introduce to you here briefly because they belong to the absolute top things to do in Copenhagen.

Amalienborg Castle

Amalienborg Castle is the city residence of the Danish Queen and is located in the immediate vicinity of Frederik’s Church. An absolute highlight: when the royal family is on-site, the changing of the guards takes place in front of the castle every day at 12 noon. If no member of the family is present, a smaller palace guard takes place instead of the large royal guard.

The Amalienborg Castle with its huge square in front of it
The Amalienborg Castle with its huge square in front of it- a place you must see!

The complex consists of a palace square with an equestrian statue of Frederick V, four almost identical palaces, and small gardens in the French style. You can visit two of the palaces – a museum in Palais Levetzau and Palais Moltke when the royal family is not there.

View of the Café Mormors with small tables in front of the café
Café Mormors has already seen a lot of prominent guests

⭐ Café Mormors is located nearby (Google Maps). It is not only super nostalgically furnished, but has also had royal visitors.

The display at Café Mormors in Copenhagen
The display at Café Mormors in Copenhagen – a secret place to enjoy some coffee
A lot of pictures of famous members of the royal family in the Café Mormors
Café Mormors has already been visited by members of the royal family. It is a place of interest

Rosenborg Castle

Further to the west is the beautiful Dutch Renaissance-style Rosenborg Castle and the adjacent park Kongens Have, which translates as King’s Garden. In the past, this well-known landmark served as a pleasure garden and orchard.

The royal family lived at Rosenborg Castle until 1710. After that, it was transformed into today’s museum, which houses, among other things, the Danish crown jewels and the magnificent Knights’ Hall.

⭐ On the opposite side of the Royal Garden, you’ll find Davids Samling, also called the David Collection in German. The museum houses a large collection of Islamic art.

View of the Rosenborg Castle in Copenhagen
The castle Rosenborg – one of the best things to see in Copenhagen

Christiansborg Castle

South of Amalienborg and Rosenborg you will find Christiansborg Castle. It fulfills several functions and houses the Danish Parliament, the Supreme Court, and the Prime Minister’s office. It’s used by the royal family for official occasions and is the only representative building in the world that unites the highest representatives of the executive, legislative and judicial branches under one roof.

Worthwhile is a free climb up the prominent tower, from where you can enjoy a breathtaking panoramic view. Otherwise, you can visit the royal reception rooms, the stables, the kitchen, the chapel, and the ruins of the original palace, which was located on the same site.

⭐ Immediately next to Christiansborg Palace is the former Børsen stock exchange. Also built in the Dutch Renaissance style, this richly decorated building is one of the top sights in Copenhagen.

Copenhagen’s Church of Our Lady is also located near the castle. Copenhagen Cathedral was completed in 1829 and designed in the style of classicism. It was also here that Crown Prince Frederik and Mary Elizabeth Donaldson were married.

Der Dom zu Kopenhagen
The Copenhagen Cathedral has a special ceiling – you should take a look up
Inner view of the Church of your Lady with a single sculpture
The interior of the Church of Our Lady in Copenhagen is very simple

5. Nyhavn

Between the castles, Amalienborg and Christiansborg lies the New Harbour, which is called Nyhavn in Danish. More precisely, it is a canal that was completed in 1673 and was a central trading port of the capital until the 20th century. Incidentally, Hans Christian Andersen lived in different buildings here at different times – namely at houses numbers 20, 67, and 18.

A front door in the beautiful area Nyhavn
In the beautiful area Nyhavn you find special details – as this nice front door
View of Nyhavn with its boats and cafés
Nyhavn is absolutely worth seeing. Here we had no further to go. One photo motif chases the other

Nyhavn became one of the most popular sights because of the colorful gabled houses on both sides of the canal, most of which date from the 18th and 19th centuries. Even in the past, they were home to numerous taverns, and today the area is still a popular entertainment and nightlife district with many bars and restaurants.

The colorful houses of Nyhavn
The colorful houses of Nyhavn – an amazing thing to do in Copenhagen
A bridge with love locks in Nyhavn
Another nice motif of Nyhavn: love locks on a bridge
A boat in Nyhavn
Would you also like to live on a boat?

6. Freetown Christiania

The self-proclaimed Freetown Christiania, located on a kind of island created by the remains of the city’s fortifications, is an alternative housing development or government-tolerated autonomous community. On an area of about 34 hectares, a community often referred to as hippies has lived here since 1971. For example, cars and motorcycles are banned there.

The view from the Church of our Saviour and Christianshavn
The view from the Church of our Saviour and Christiania- a wonderful thing to do in Copenhagen!

However, the famous Pusher Street is also notorious for the local drug scene. There are numerous signs informing you that photography is prohibited. You should adhere to this at all costs. In the rest of the area, you are usually allowed to take pictures – of course with consideration for the people. In any case, pay attention to the signs and respect the rules of the settlement.

The view from the Church of our Savior 
The view from the Church of our Savior- one of the coolest places to go in Copenhagen!
The top of the Church of our Savior
The top of the Church of our Savior does not only look exciting, you can even climb up here- an unusual thing to do in Copenhage

⭐ You can get a great view of Christiania’s somewhat different sight from the corkscrew spire of Vor Frelsers Kirke, called Church of our Savior, located just outside the area (Google Maps).

7. Ny Carlsberg Glyptotek

This next sight should not be missing from any Copenhagen list. The Ny Carlsberg Glyptotek is located west of Christiania and thus in the south of the city center. It is an art museum for sculpture and painting, which shines not only with impressive exhibits, for example, by Edgar Degas, one of my favorite artists, or from antiquity, but also with the exciting architectural mix including a winter garden with a glass dome.

The entrance to the Glyptotek
The entrance to the Glyptotek – a beautiful place to see!
Stucco on the ceiling of the Glyptotek
You’ll find great details everywhere. The whole building is fascinating – a wonderful thing to do in Copenhagen!

The name comes from the Carlsberg brewery, as the family’s art collection forms the museum’s basic holdings. Even today, the museum is partly financed by a surcharge added to each bottle of the brand’s beer. And a glyptotheque, by the way, is a collection of sculptures – though you can also marvel at great paintings in the museum. You can learn more about the Carlsberg brewery after the sights!

The Glyptotek of Copenhagen is very impressive
The Glyptotek of Copenhagen is extremely impressive – it’s one of the best places to visit in Copenhagen!
Figures in the Glyptotek
What’s in the Glyptotek to do? You can admire a lot of these figures!

⭐ Nearby you’ll find another exciting museum: the Danish National Museum with the cultural history of Denmark (Google Maps).

8. Tivoli

Also, nearby is the Tivoli. This is one of the oldest amusement parks in the city – and the world – and probably the most popular activity for families with children. In fact, it was opened as early as 1843.

What to do there? Today, concerts are also held in the park, which of course has countless exciting rides – for example, a wooden roller coaster from 1914. Tivoli is open from mid-April to the end of September, as well as for a Christmas market and an almost month-long Halloween festival in October.

Tip: Book your entrance ticket here* and save yourself the queues at the cash registers.

Fast ride in Tivoli amusement park
Fast-paced ride at Tivoli Amusement Park- a really fun thing to do in Copenhagen!

The oldest amusement park in the world is also nearby. It is located quite far from the center on the northern outskirts of Copenhagen: Dyrehavsbakken or Bakken for short was opened in 1583 (Google Maps).

9. City Hall on Rådhuspladsen

Where to visit the next sight? Just a bit north of the Tivoli, you’ll find the Copenhagen City Hall. It was built in the National Romantic style with a brick facade and was completed in 1905. The famous city hall bell rang for the first time at the turn of the century and since then every quarter of an hour from 8 am to midnight. It also always rings in the New Year; which thousands of Danes watch with excitement on-site and on television.

View of the Copenhagen City Hall
The Copenhagen City Hall- an incredible thing to do in Copenhagen!

The building stands on the town hall square, i.e. Rådhuspladsen. This is considered a kind of “living room of Copenhagen” and is an extremely popular meeting place. A brand-new metro station, also called Rådhuspladsen, has been part of the new metro city ring since 2019 and provides better transport connections. It’s worth stopping by, there’s a lot to discover here!

The fountain in front of the city hall is very artfully designed
The fountain in front of the city hall is very artistically designed- a cool sight to see!

10. Strøget

From Rådhuspladsen branches off a very famous street and popular sight. The Strøget, which translated means dash, is in fact with more than one kilometer one of the longest pedestrian zones in Europe. It’s definitely an amazing thing to do in Copenhagen!

Here you will find magnificent buildings, renowned stores, and numerous other shopping opportunities. At the opposite end of Strøget, you’ll find our fifth attraction, Nyhavn.

View of the famous shopping street of Copenhagen: Stroget its always crowded here
The famous shopping street of Copenhagen: Stroget

We recommend a trip to the luxury department store Illums Bolighus – it is located at Amagertorv, the largest square in the city center (Google Maps) – and to the side streets of Strøget. Here you’ll often find smaller stores and hidden boutiques. Note that stores in Copenhagen are only open until about 6 pm during the week, and often only until 4pm on Saturdays!

11. Round Tower

The next sight is also a popular hotspot in Copenhagen and an absolute must-see. The Rundetårn, also Rundetaarn or Round Tower, is an observatory open to the public. But the round tower also impresses with its spectacular facade including picture puzzles. There are different interpretations – why don’t you try to solve it?

The round tower in Copenhagen
The round tower – a cool thing to do in Copenhagen
Inside the round tower, the way goes upwards
Inside the round tower, it goes upwards

The roof of the Round Tower is not only a special highlight for stargazing – you also have a fantastic panoramic view from here during the day. To get to the top, you have to follow the exciting climb inside. Only the last part of the way to the viewing platform consists of stairs. The rest is a 209-meter-long spiral walkway that carriages used to use to deliver instruments and books to the top of the observatory.

The view of the city from the round tower
The view of the city from the round tower – one of the best things to see in Copenhagen!
Inside the round tower directly under the roof
Inside the round tower directly under the roof – everything is covered with wood

12. Botanisk Have

We close the list with two green oases in Copenhagen. Botanisk Have is the city’s botanical garden and is part of the university. The first herb garden with medicinal and poisonous plants for the production of medicines was already established here around 1600. Towards the end of the 19th century, the present garden was finally designed.

View of the Palm House in the Copenhagen Botanical Garden - in front of it there is water
The Palm House in the Copenhagen Botanical Garden- a beautiful thing to do in Copenhagen!

Now there are native, alpine, and East Asian plants among others. More than 20 greenhouses are also part of the ensemble. One of the highlights is the striking Palm House, built in 1872-74. A beautiful cast-iron staircase leads you to the elevated walking path that takes you under the glass roof of this landmark.

The architecture of the Palm House in Copenhagen is modeled on the Crystal Palace in London. The Palm House and Botanical Garden are part of the Natural History Museum of Denmark.

The huge Palm House with stairway into the dome
The giant palm house with a staircase into the dome

13. Superkilen in Nørrebro

The last attraction on this list is not necessarily green at first glance. Rather, the park Superkilen in the northwest of the city is characterized by the Red Square, which got its name from the painting of the ground, walls, and house facades in various shades of red, which are unfortunately quite faded today. This is followed by Black Square, which with its barbecue areas and chess boards is the heart of the park and a popular meeting place.

However, this is followed by a naturally kept green area. Overall, this gives the three-hectare park its elongated shape and characteristic red-black-green color scheme. So, the Superkilen follows a very special concept, which you should definitely take a look at. And it probably goes without saying that this place is definitely Instagram-worthy! The Black Square hills are especially popular for this. It’s a top thing to do in Copenhagen!!

The park is located in the traditional working-class neighborhood of Nørrebro, whose residents are made up of more than 60 different nations. That’s why, for example, there are various sculptures in the park representing different countries, and the signage is often multilingual as well. The multicultural district is also super interesting and exciting to explore in itself!

Food & Drink

When you’re in Copenhagen, you absolutely have to try Smørrebrød. The Danish specialty consists of a slice of rye bread with salted butter and luscious toppings. That’s why Smørrebrød is also eaten with a knife and fork. You may also know the term from the Danish master chef of The Muppet Show, who is Swedish in the original English, by the way.

Smørrebrød on a plate - its a must try in Denmark
The Smörrebröd is a treat for the plate

An absolute cult restaurant that sells the bread is Ida Davidsen. The establishment (Google Maps) is over a hundred years old and has even been entered into the Guinness Book of Records with its 178 varieties of smørrebrød, presented on a 140-centimeter-long list.

One of the most popular places to go for great street food, is Copenhagen’s food markets. The two most popular are Torvehallerne in Nørrebro (Google Maps) and Reffen, closed in winter, on the site of an old shipyard on a peninsula in the harbor (Google Maps). An absolute must for foodies! The Tivoli Food Hall directly at the Tivoli amusement park (Google Maps) is also supposed to be great, by the way.

And the Danes are also good with drinks. First and foremost, the beer. Do you remember the art collection of the Ny Carlsberg Glyptotek and the client of the Little Mermaid? In both cases, the famous Danish brewery Carlsberg is behind it. Founded in 1847, it is the fourth largest brewery group in the world and is headquartered in Copenhagen. You can take part in a guided tour there, for example. I can also recommend a general beer tour* in the city! On this tour of Copenhagen, you’ll discover Danish beer culture and the trendy Vesterbro district.

What to do in Copenhagen when it rains?

The absolute super tip for families, but also adults who like to experiment is the Experimentarium in Hellerup (Google Maps). This is located a few kilometers (about 15 minutes) by car from Copenhagen. It is the largest science museum in Denmark and is definitely worth a visit. You can easily spend the whole day here.

No wonder, on 4000 square meters you can really escalate and let off steam. From experiments, to natural sciences, much about the human body, but also light and laser technology are only trumped by the topics of energy and water.

Children in particular will really go wild with the element of water. You can experiment, try things out and test a lot of things at the Experimentarium. The only museum that is similar and just as huge is the Deutsches Museum in Munich.

Where to stay in Copenhagen – the best tips

In Copenhagen, there really is something for everyone when it comes to accommodation. If you’re into luxury, for example, the 5-star Nimb Hotel (check prices here*) is the place to go. It looks almost like an oriental palace and is located right next to the Tivoli amusement park, for which free admission is available with an overnight stay at the hotel.

Nearby on City Hall Square is the 4-star citizen M Copenhagen Radhuspladsen (check rates here*), which is a bit less ornate and much more modern. Here you’ll find paintings by Danish artists inside and out, and the rooms have famous MoodPads that control lighting, temperature, and appliances like the TV.

In a quieter neighborhood, the cozy trendy Østerbro district, is the two-star Rye115 Hotel (check rates here*). Here, too, you’ll only need 10 minutes to get to the city center, and you’ll share a bathroom and a beautiful garden with the other guests. Also, in Østerbro is the stylish Copenhagen large Penthouse Apartment (check prices here*) for a maximum of four people.

And if you’re looking for a lot of hygge, check out The Little Guesthouse First Metrostop from Central Station and Tivoli (check prices here*). The old building is super inviting and cozy and is located in the trendy Vesterbro district near the Carlsberg brewery. Praise is also always given here for the great hosts.

View of the attractive houses and apartments in Christianshavn
The houses and apartments in Christianshavn are very attractive

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