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31 Best things to see & do in Copenhagen

  • Copenhagen, Capital Region of Denmark, Denmark

Last updated: 20 August, 2023
Expert travel writer: Sarah Marshall
  • Copenhagen, Capital Region of Denmark, Denmark

The historic centre of Copenhagen, including both the mainland side and the island of Amager, is diced and diced with some rather picturesque canals. The canals link many of the major city sights, including Nyhavn, The Little Mermaid, Amalienborg Castle, Holmen, The Opera, The Royal Library (The Black Diamond), Christiansborg, The Stock Exchange, Langelinie, and Christianshavn Canal.

That makes a kanalrundfart (canal tour) a must in Copenhagen – it’s an enjoyable, lazy way to tick off the key sights, get orientated, and gain an understanding of the city’s rich history – there are fascinating facts and insightful commentary along the way. It’s the perfect way to start a first-time visit.

Adult price: £10

Good for age: 4+

Duration: 1+ hours

  • Copenhagen, Capital Region of Denmark, Denmark

Merry go round at Tivoli Gardens in Copenhagen

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Tivoli Gardens

A veritable national treasure, this fairytale theme park opened in 1843 and features beautifully landscaped gardens, fairground stalls, bandstands, theatres and plenty of amusement park rides. Perfect for kids (and big kids), it’s especially magical on a summer’s evening when illuminations twinkle and fireworks explode overhead.

It’s also interesting historically, thanks to the many well-maintained period buildings, such as the Chinese-style open-air Pantomime Theatre dating from 1874. Every visitor should take a ride on the iconic Rutschebanen (rollercoaster), the oldest wooden rollercoaster still in operation and one of only seven attractions in the world that is operated by a brake man on each train.

Tivoli is a must-visit attraction that captures Copenhagen’s soul.

Adult price: £15

Good for age: 4+

  • Hillerod, Capital Region of Denmark, Denmark

Exterior of Frederiksborg Castle

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Frederiksborg Castle

Frederiksborg is one of Europe’s most magnificent Renaissance castle-palaces, its iconic russet and mint-green frontage rising up above immaculate formal gardens.

It was built in the 17th century by King Christian IV, to show off and enhance Christian’s reputation as a powerful European monarch.

Rich in art and unusual decorative touches, the building now houses the Museum of National History, which traces the nation’s history through portraits, paintings, furniture and decorative arts, with a section aimed at children.

Outside the expansive gardens surround a vast boating lake, with regular concerts held in the baroque castle church.

Adult price: £10

Good for age: 18+

  • Copenhagen, Capital Region of Denmark, Denmark

Entry sign to Carlsberg brewery visitor centre

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Carlsberg Brewery tours

** Temporarily closed for renovations ***

With whiffs of the old Carlsberg brewery pervading the air, tours of this beer mecca cover the history of brewing and beer consumption in Denmark.

Exhibits range from the first known Danish beer to a comprehensive overview of the history of the company, with models of old workers’ quarters and antique brewing machinery.

At the end of the tour, treat yourself to a few rounds at the bar (two beers are included in the ticket). One compelling display features Egtved Girl, the preserved body of a child from prehistoric times found in a Danish bog. A small pot at her feet contained traces of beer.

Founded in Copenhagen in 1947 by J C Jacobsen, and named after his son, Carlsberg has become pretty much a trademark of Denmark, so a visit here is a history lesson in cultural iconography.

Adult price: £25

Good for age: 18+

  • Copenhagen, Capital Region of Denmark, Denmark

giant fish tank within the National Aquarium Denmark

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National Aquarium Denmark

Every city these days has an aquarium, but in Copenhagen’s case, it’s a bit special. This national aquarium (also known as ‘The Blue Planet’) reopened in 2013 to become the largest aquarium in northern Europe.

Inside there are more than 50 separate aquaria housing almost 17.000 animals and 700 species, including 4m hammerhead shark, sea otters and moray eels.

The building is also notable for its innovative architecture: clad in scale-like aluminium panels, the aquarium resembles a giant whirlpool from above, while from the ground it appears to float in a circular reflection pool.

Adult price: £18

Good for age: 4+

  • Roskilde, Capital Region of Denmark, Denmark

Viking Ship Museum

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Viking Ship Museum

Roskilde, a city 30km west of Copenhagen, has been settled since prehistoric times, when the Vikings sailed their longboats up and down the Roskilde Fjord.

A picturesque, medieval town, it’s worth a visit in its own right, but it also boasts the world’s best Viking ship museum, holding five remarkably well-preserved Viking vessels – a deep-sea trader, merchant ship, man-of-war and longship – that were scuttled in the 11th century and discovered at the bottom of the fjord in 1962.

Once you’ve seen the original 1,000-year-old Viking ships in the hall, board and explore exact replicas on the museum harbour. You can also meet the boatbuilder and see his tools, dress like a Viking, and write your name in Runic letters.

During summer, the museum puts on boat-building and sail-making demonstrations and runs excursions on the fjord in a reconstructed Viking longship for an additional cost (but get ready to row).

Adult price: £10

Good for age: 4+

  • Copenhagen, Capital Region of Denmark, Denmark

Scandinavian open sandwiches with salmon, mackerel and herrings

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Copenhagen’s best food & drink

Locally caught fish and seafood is one of Danish cuisine’s strongest suits: herring, in particular, is a local favourite and has been caught, salted, dried and smoked here for centuries.

Along the famous Danish pastries, try hot dogs and open rye bread sandwiches called smorrebrod, which often features herring.

For drinks, beer is king but look beyond Carlsberg: craft breweries like Mikkeller and Friends and Norrebro Bryghus are picking up deserved accolades. Or wash things down with a shot of ice-cold caraway snaps, or in the colder months try glog, Scandinavian mulled wine.

Good for age: 18+

Duration: -

  • Copenhagen, Capital Region of Denmark, Denmark

Design Museum Denmark

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Design Museum Denmark

The Danes made a big mark in the world of design and architecture over the course of the 20th century, with ‘Danish Design’ now recognised as a school of functionalist and industrial design and architecture.

Iconic examples include the egg chair by Arne Jacobsen, the artichoke light by Poul Henningsen, jewellery and tableware by Georg Jensen, furniture by Charles Eames, and the Sydney Opera House by Jorn Utzon.

That’s why any visit to Denmark, and especially Copenhagen, must include this design museum on its itinerary. Housed in a striking, 17th-century hospital near the royal Amalienborg Palace, it provides a great overview of Danish industrial design, alongside a large collection of applied art from medieval times onwards.

Adult price: £15

Good for age: 13+

  • Copenhagen, Capital Region of Denmark, Denmark

National Museum of Denmark

Bucket List Experience

National Museum of Denmark

This world-class museum, home to Denmark’s finest collection of ethnographic artefacts, is a must-visit for any culture, history or anthropology aficionado. Exhibits range from peat bog excavations to the gorgeous Trundholm Sun Chariot model from 1400 BC.

The extensive Viking collection features everyday tools and artefacts, clothes and weapons, as well as silver jewellery and coins from private stashes. buried by the wealthy during times of unrest.

Adult price: £13

Good for age: 18+

  • Copenhagen, Capital Region of Denmark, Denmark

Rosenborg Castle

Bucket List Experience

Rosenborg Castle

Denmark’s crown jewels have been carefully guarded for 400 years behind the gates of this splendid Renaissance castle in the centre of the city. Find the collection of precious gems – including some of the world’s finest emeralds – in the basement alongside glass cabinets filled with weapons, scientific instruments, a set of toy soldiers and other royal treasures.

Upstairs, in the Knight’s Hall, three life-size silver lions guard coronation thrones made from narwhal tusks, while tapestries and fine furnishings fill the King’s private quarters.

Even if the intricacies of Danish history don’t interest you, the amount of bling on display is impressive. The surrounding gardens are also worth exploring.

Adult price: £15

Good for age: 18+