Denmark’s capital, Copenhagen, is by far the largest city in the country. Here, you’ll find a multitude of tourist attractions to please even the pickiest of travelers.
Walking from Town Hall Square and crossing H.C. Andersens Boulevard brings you to the inspiration behind the Disney theme parks: the famous Tivoli amusement park and pleasure gardens dating from 1843.
It’s impossible to miss the grand entrance at Vesterbrogade. Here, visitors are welcomed through a dramatic archway flanked by columns. No matter what time of year you visit, Tivoli feels festive.
Inside the gardens, you’ll wind your way through a village complete with cute shops and a lake adorned by well-lit trees that are mirrored serenely in the water. That’s likely the only serenity you’ll find in this miniature theme park, which brings out the kid in every visitor.
Here, you’ll also find more than 20 attractions, including a roller coaster; roundabouts; halls of mirrors; pantomime, puppet, and open-air theaters; a wealth of restaurants and cafés; flower gardens; and a Moorish-styled concert hall, which is particularly pleasing when lit up at night.
The park is famous worldwide and appears in many movies. Indeed, some might say it’s the most famous attraction in Copenhagen. At Christmas, Tivoli becomes an extravagantly decorated wonderland.
Address: Vesterbrogade 3, Copenhagen
On the tiny island of Slotsholmen is the Danish seat of government and an attraction that should top any visitor’s agenda. Christiansborg boasts more than 800 years of history and today, the palace is home to the Parliament, the Prime Minister’s Office, and the Supreme Court.
In addition, several parts are still used by the Royal House, although thankfully, much is open to the public. Occupying the site where Bishop Absalon built the earliest fortifications of the city in 1167, the ruins of the bishop’s castle and the medieval fortress were discovered when the present palace was under construction. They can now be seen by visitors.
Address: Christiansborg Slotsplads, Copenhagen
National Museum of Denmark
An easy 10-minute walk from Tivoli along Vestergade brings you to the National Museum (Nationalmuseet), a must-see attraction for anyone with an interest in Danish history and culture.
Some impressive runic stones are on display here, and the Danish history collection includes a sun chariot (cult object in the form of a cart) that is more than 2,000 years old, Romanesque and Gothic church fittings, Danish porcelain and silver, and collections of antiquities and coins.
The ethnographical collection, including items from Greenland, gives an excellent impression of life among the Eskimos. Inside, you’ll also find collections from other interesting areas including, Asia, Africa and Oceania, as well as the culture of the Indians.
That’s not all! Here, you’ll also find the Prince’s Palace (1744), a Rococo building influenced by the French style of the period. Around five-minutes’ stroll from the National Museum, Thorvaldsen’s Museum is also worth a visit to view spectacular works from this famous Danish sculptor.
Address: Ny Vestergade 10, Copenhagen
To the rear of Amalienborg lies Nyhavn (New Harbor), which is flanked by a street of the same name. This enchanting area is a hub of activity, especially during summer. Brightly painted gabled buildings line the canal, adding a splash of color to dreary days and enticing visitors to stop in for a peek at the wares for sale in the shops and a tasty bite in the restaurants and cafés that call this place home.
At the end of the harbor, an anchor serves as a memorial to Danish sailors who lost their lives in World War II. Nyhavn was once a disreputable quarter of the city, but now, with its majestic feel, it is a particularly charming part of Copenhagen that features in countless images of the city.
Den Bla Planet
Although you won’t likely notice this from the ground, Den Bla Planet (a.k.a. the National Aquarium Denmark) was built to resemble a whirlpool. Think that’s cool? Head inside where the aquarium’s wow factor is even more impressive!
The largest aquarium in Northern Europe, Den Bla Planet is one of the best attractions in Copenhagen. The building’s aluminum-covered walls evoke rolling ocean waves while the aquarium’s inner pathways flow like tributaries from the central core through eight sections.
These paths are lined by close to 50 aquariums and installations that house everything from eagle rays to turtles to hammerhead sharks to seahorses to moray eels to alligators. There is no shortage of creatures to see here.
Whether you’re hoping to spot ocean animals up close or are interested in the marine life that call tropical rivers and lakes home, you’re sure to find something inspiring in this venue. Watch the otters play, touch a creature in the tropical touch pool, or visit the café for a treat.
Address: 2770 Kastrup, Copenhagen
The Round Tower (Rundetårn)
On Købmagergade is the Round Tower (Rundetårn), a 36-meter-high structure built as an observatory in 1642. It now also houses a small collection connected with the famous Danish astronomer Tycho Brahe.
A particular treat is the platform, reached by a wide spiral ramp. From the top are magnificent panoramic views over the city. A new attraction is the glass floor hovering 25 meters above the ground where you can peer down into the castle’s core.
Fans of Hans Christian Andersen will be interested to know that the tower features in his well-known story The Tinderbox – “eyes as big as the Round Tower.”
After taking in the views and getting your breath back, why not continue on with a short walk around the Old Town? Wander by way of Skindergade and Kejsergade to Gråbrødretorv, one of Copenhagen’s most charming squares with its brightly colored old houses.
Address: Købmagergade 52A, Copenhagen
Less than one and a half kilometers from Rosenborg in the Frederiksstaden quarter, you’ll find Rosenborg’s sister palace, Amalienborg, along with its serene waterfront gardens.
The four palaces facing onto the square were originally built as homes for the nobility, but were taken over by the Royal Family after a fire at Christiansborg in 1794. The palace takes its name from Queen Sophie Amalie who had a sumptuous summer retreat on the site, which also burned down in 1689.
The area was designed to be a model society with the King as focal point and the aristocracy (the four palaces) surrounding him. Today, Queen Margrethe II and her family occupy the upper story of Christian IX Palace, and the Moltke Palace is used for official purposes. The soldiers of the Royal Guard with their bearskins and blue (on festive occasions red, white, and blue) uniforms are a unique symbol of the city.
Address: Amalienborg Slotsplads, Copenhagen
Strøget Shopping Mile
A stroll of around five minutes from Christiansborg takes you to the bustling shopping area of Strøget where you’ll find a wealth of boutiques, cafés, and restaurants.
Strøget, a nickname from the 1800s, consists of several roads crisscrossing one another, beginning at Town Hall Square (Rådhuspladsen) and ending at Kongens Nytorv. Some adjoining streets on the north have also been pedestrianized.
International brand-name stores such as Max Mara, Prada, Louis Vuitton, and Hermès tend to be at the end of the street facing the direction of Kongens Nytorv. Follow Strøget towards City Hall Square for more affordable shopping at H&M, Weekday, and Zara.
Less than 10-minutes’ walk from the Round Tower and now home to some of Denmark’s greatest cultural treasures, this castle was originally built by Christian IV as a pleasure palace.
Inhabited by the royal family until 1720 and after that used as a summer retreat, the castle and contents became a museum in 1838. In the basement are the Danish crown jewels and royal regalia.
Of particular interest are the Marble Room, a Baroque reception room, and the Knights’ Hall with the Coronation Throne (used between 1871 to 1940), as well as the famous Rosenborg Tapestries, which have adorned the walls since 1693. Exquisite porcelain is also on exhibit, including the famous Flora Danica service.
Address: Øster Voldgade 4A, Copenhagen
Town Hall Square
Busy Town Hall Square (Rådhuspladsen) is dominated by Copenhagen Town Hall (built between 1892 and 1905), which is based on a mix of Italian Renaissance and medieval Danish architecture.
For marvelous views, you can climb the tower; at 106 meters high, it is the tallest in the city. The building itself is richly adorned with sculptures and paintings.
Above the main entrance is a figure of Bishop Absalon in gilded copper, and in the Great Hall are busts of Danish notables such as Martin Nyrop (1849-1921), the architect who designed the building, the sculptor Bertel Thorvaldsen (1770-1840), Hans Christian Andersen (1805-76), and the physicist Niels Bohr (1885-1962).
The World Clock at the main entrance was designed and constructed by Jens Olsen in 1955 and shows not only the time and date, but also various astronomical constellations.
Address: Rådhuspladsen 1, Copenhagen