Situated along the eastern coast of Denmark stands Scandinavia's largest city and one of its richest cultural hubs.
Planning a trip to Copenhagen can be difficult.
Not because it's hard to find things to do, but because there are so many to choose from!
In this post we'll cover over 30 things to do when traveling to Copenhagen. And along the way I'll also cover a number of useful tips I learned while exploring Denmark's capital city.
That may sound like a lot of ideas, but keep in mind that the Copenhagen Card (which we'll discuss shortly) gives you access to over 80 different activities!
If you're interested I also have a Copenhagen Travel Guide video on YouTube you should check out here.
You'll notice some links and advertisements from partner or affiliate sites throughout this post. I typically earn a small commission on any purchases made through those links at no additional cost to you. If you check those out, great. If not, I'm still happy you're here!
1. Purchase the Copenhagen Card
Before getting into the meat of things to do once you actually reach Copenhagen, I'd be doing you a disservice to not discuss the Copenhagen Card.
The Copenhagen Card is probably the single most useful tourism tool I've used in my travels.
First download the CPH Card app to your mobile device. Once installed you can purchase a pass that provides unlimited access to virtually all of the cultural sites located throughout Copenhagen.
Not only that, but the pass includes access to all public transportation in the city.
If you're planning to hop around town and do a lot of sightseeing, the Copenhagen pass is a great way to save money. The more you visit, the more you save!
Once you've determined how many days of the pass you require, purchase it in the app.
If you purchase the pass before arriving in Copenhagen, do NOT activate the card until you're ready to start using it. After activation the expiration clock will start ticking!
The app also includes useful information on activities to do within the city along with maps to help you plan your travels.
Why haven't more cities thought of this?!
2. Explore Rosenborg Castle
Built in the 17th Century the Rosenborg Castle is one of Copenhagen's most recognizable and easily accessible castles.
If you're short on time and can only tour one cultural site in Copenhagen, this should be it.
The castle exterior boasts stunning curb appeal while the interior showcases many of the royal treasures accumulated by Christian IV and his descendants.
Spend a couple hours touring the interior, learning about the historical significance of those who once lived here and don't forget to visit the treasury below where you can see some of Denmark's Crown Jewels up close!
3. Kings Garden
Located adjacent to Rosenborg Castle you'll find one of Copenhagen's most beautiful green spaces, the aptly named Kings Garden.
Copenhagen is known for its rainy climate. But on sunny days you're sure to encounter throngs of locals hanging out and sunbathing across the sprawling garden grounds.
Entrance to the garden grounds is free even for those who do not possess a Copenhagen Card.
Be sure to pass through the Kings Garden before or after touring Rosenborg Castle. The garden's close proximity makes it the perfect activity to pair with a trip to the castle.
4. Tivoli Gardens
Tivoli Gardens probably won't be the largest amusement park you ever visit, but it will almost certainly be one of the oldest!
Tivoli Gardens first opened in 1843 and sits in the center of Copenhagen, near the central train station.
Channel your inner kid and explore what Tivoli has to offer! From high flying swings to roller coasters and a haunted house, there's something for everybody.
Between rides be sure to check out one of the arcades, restaurants or carnival style games.
I'll point out that while the Copenhagen Card covers your park entry fee, you'll still need to fork up for a ride pass or pay for individual ride tickets.
This theme park is full of energy so it's worth checking out even if you only stop by for a cold beer!
While Nyhavn translates to "New Harbor" there's really nothing new about this area. This 17th century waterfront district is one of the most picturesque spots in all of Copenhagen.
The Nyhavn area at one time held a reputation for being Copenhagen's version of the Red Light District.
Nowadays visitors flock to the waterfront shops and restaurants while enjoying stunning views of the colorful buildings that line the harbor.
This isn't going to be the cheapest area to find a meal or drink, but it's well worth visiting.
Be sure to check out the nearby Inderhavnsbroen pedestrian bridge which connects this area to the Christianshavn side of the water. It makes for a great spot to stroll during a Copenhagen summer night!
6. Explore Copenhagen by Boat
Like many cities across Scandinavia and Northern Europe, Copenhagen boasts a number of beautiful waterways throughout the city.
One of the best ways to see Copenhagen is by boat! Not only is this a fun way to explore the city but there are a number of options available for no additional cost if you've done your homework and purchased a Copenhagen Card!
7. Botanical Garden
There's no shortage of beautiful parks and outdoor activities to partake in when roaming about Copenhagen and the Botanical Garden is a further example of this.
Built in the late 1800s the Copenhagen Botanical Garden is known for its extensive outdoor gardens, variety of vegetation within the iconic glass houses and its world class butterfly exhibit.
Be sure to budget a few hours if you plan to hit everything this area has to offer.
When exploring the large glass house shown here, be sure to keep an eye out for the stairwell that leads to the top of the building.
From up above you'll enjoy incredible views of the vegetation housed in the exhibit below as well as views looking out into the garden area.
Just be mindful that it can be extremely hot and humid in there, it is a greenhouse after all!
8. SMK Art Gallery
Are you even visiting a European city if you don't visit at least one art museum during your travels?
That's where the National Gallery of Denmark comes into play.
SMK stands for Statens Museum for Kunst and the museum is home to Denmark's largest collection of art, some of which dating back to the 13th Century.
One reality of visiting Copenhagen is that it tends to rain quite often. This is a great activity to keep in your back pocket in case you (inevitably) encounter a rainy day!
9. Frederik's Church
Just like museums, you're sure to find at least one jaw dropping church built centuries ago in many of Europes cultural hubs.
Frederik's church was initially started in 1749, but was left incomplete for many years before being completed in the form we see today during 1894.
Visiting this stone behemoth couldn't be easier as a metro station is located behind the building.
The curb appeal is stunning, but be sure to pop inside to view the massive dome's decorative interior.
The church is generally open to the public but be sure to check for current visiting hours online before visiting.
10. Amalienborg Palace
Located within a stones throw from Frederik's church you'll find the home of Denmark's Royal Family at the Amalienborg Palace.
Along the square you'll be able to observe royal guards patrolling the area, a large equestrian statue and the Amalienborg Museum which visitors can explore.
If the timing works out be sure to stop by the Palace Square at noon to observe the changing of the guard ceremony!
11. Visit Kastellet
If you've spent any time looking at a map of Copenhagen planning out your travels then perhaps you already stumbled upon this star shaped military camp located on the northern side of town.
The Kastellet area is still used today by Denmark's Ministry of Defence. Chances are you'll even encounter armed guards when entering the fort.
Despite the military function, locals and visitors alike enjoy this area as if it were a city park and green space.
Soak up the historical significance of this pentagon shaped military facility and be sure to walk to the western point which boasts a windmill and small cannons.
12. Climb the Round Tower
Denmark has a long history when it comes to astronomy.
The round tower was built in the early 17th Century with the goal of furthering the country's astrological prowess.
The majority of the tower's interior houses a large spiral ramp that leads visitors from the street to the viewing area up top.
During your ascent up the spiral you'll have the opportunity to explore a number of nooks and crannies throughout the tower interior.
Keep an eye out for a small opening on the interior of the ramp as you ascend.
Here you can pop into a small dark room that allows you to stand on a small plate of glass inside the tower's hallow center. If you're claustrophobic I'd suggest skipping on this part of the experience!
Once you reach the top you'll be able to enjoy some of the best panoramic views in all of Copenhagen.
13. Check out the Local Art Scene
Looking to purchase some art from a local while visiting Copenhagen?
Situated near the base of The Round Tower you'll find local artist Nasko.
You'll find him here most days creating high quality works of original art. Be sure to stop by, say hello and browse his current offerings.
His works are reasonably priced and he has quite the international following! Check him out on Instagram here.
14. Go Shopping Along Stroget Street
If you're looking for Copenhagen's high end shopping area look no further than Stroget Street.
Located between the two landmarks of Christiansborg and The Round Tower, this is by far the busiest and most crowded area of the city.
You'll find a sea of tourists, street performers and high end shopping boutiques as far as the eye can see!
Even if you aren't in the market for a new high end hand bag, it's a fun area worth checking out. Just be forewarned that the streets can become quite crowded, especially on nicer weekends.
15. Explore The Free Town of Christiana
If you want to experience one of the more interesting counter cultures in the world, spend some time exploring the area known as Christiana.
Located to the southeast of Christianshavn this area operates somewhat independently of Copenhagen and Denmark.
If hippy culture, marijuana, street art and living freely are things you're interested in then this is the perfect stop for you!
One thing to know before visiting is that photography is generally not welcome here, despite the area operating as free spirited in many other ways.
If you're looking to learn more on what to expect here check out this helpful post.
16. Ascend The Church of Our Savior
If you aren't afraid of heights and don't mind ascending the 400 very steep steps to the top, consider this next activity located in the Christianshavn area of Copenhagen.
The church itself dates back to 1695 while the decorative tower that graces its top was completed in 1752.
The pathways leading up to the spire within the church are narrow and fairly steep. Also be mindful that the bell will ring every hour and can be quite loud if you happen to be passing nearby during your ascent.
For your troubles you'll be rewarded with spectacular views of the city.
Once you reach the observation area outside of the spire you can continue all the way to the globe that adorns the pinnacle of the spire!
17. Visit the Broens Gadekokken Outdoor Food Court
There's no shortage of great food in Copenhagen. One of my favorite places to visit is the Broens Gadekokken outdoor food court.
Broens Gadekokken can be easily reached from the Nyhavn area by crossing the Inderhavnsbroen bridge on either bike or by foot. The outdoor seating area faces the water which means the views are spectacular especially around sunset.
Here you'll find a swath of food stalls and cocktail shops ready to satisfy the thirst and hunger you've built up after a full day of exploring Copenhagen!
This is a popular area among locals so don't be surprised if there are long lines around lunch or dinner especially on nicer days.
18. Have a meal at Torvehallrne
Speaking of food courts, be sure to check out the Torvehallrne market during your trip to Copenhagen as well.
Torvehallrne is located in close proximity to the Botanical Garden and Rosenborg Castle so it pairs well as a meal option with either one of those activities.
On the interior you'll find a number of restaurants, coffee shops and pastry specialists.
Not only are there ample food options but you'll also find a variety of other vendors (think oils, liquor, etc).
If you have the luxury of a kitchen wher you're staying be sure to check out the fresh produce market situated here as well!
19. Visit Godt Ol Microbrewery
Next up on our list is the perfect place to enjoy a flight of craft beer in central Copenhagen.
Godt Ol features a wide selection of craft beers on top and in cans. The interior is best described as cozy and the staff is extremely friendly.
If you're looking to warm up on a colder rainy day then be sure to pop inside!
Nice day? There are seats lining the sidewalks outside so you can enjoy your delicious glass of fermented fun juice while taking in the sun and fresh air.
20. Rent a bike
While the public transportation in Copenhagen is excellent and easy to navigate as a tourist, you should also consider renting a bike during your stay.
Copenhagen locals love to bike. You'll see proper bike lanes throughout much of the city and ample places to park your ride.
Just be sure to brush up on the local cycling rules in Copenhagen before you visit. Not only will you frustrate other bikers by not knowing what you're doing, it could put you in dangerous situations.
Here's a post I found that covers all of the biking rules you should know when visiting Copenhagen.
21. Visit Carlsberg Brewery
It's not often that I include activities on this blog for things I didn't actually sample during my travels.
But unfortunately, Carlsberg Brewery was closed for renovations during my visit and it was something I was really looking forward to seeing.
We did the Heineken Brewery Tour in Amsterdam a week earlier and had a blast. So while I can't speak to this one specifically, I think the odds are in your favor of having a great time.
Be sure to check the Carlsberg official website for operating status, hours and availability before visiting.
You can find a link to their website here.
22. City Hall Tower
Built in the early 1900s the City Hall building of Copenhagen is another iconic item along the city's skyline.
If you're looking for a fun way to get your steps in - consider climbing the City Hall Tower!
There are 300 steps that lead you up over 100 meters for some of the best views available in Copenhagen.
Be sure to include this viewpoint on your Copenhagen to do list.
Besides, it's included in the Copenhagen pass (like most everything in town) which means you won't have to shell out any extra cash.
23. Christiansborg Castle
If you haven't caught on by now there are a lot of castles, palaces and other kinds of cultural gold mines scattered throughout Copenhagen.
Christiansborg Castle is another one of these gems.
Christiansborg sits on its own small island surrounded by a canal within the heart of Copenhagen.
When visiting Christiansborg it's important to know that exploring the grounds consists of several different sub-activities.
Visitors will need separate tickets to explore The Royal Stables, Royal Reception Rooms, Ruins underneath the castle, Royal Kitchen and for the Tower viewing experience. The Tower viewpoint is the area most likely to see lines.
If you hold the Copenhagen Card then fear not, for it includes access to all areas of the Christiansborg Castle grounds!
24. Check out the night life
Copenhagen has a reputation for excellent nightlife.
From college bars to exclusive night clubs and everything in between, you're sure to find your vibe no matter which evening experience prefer.
Be mindful that the bars can have long lines, the night clubs at times can be 'exclusive' and the cocktail bars sometimes require reservations.
While many clubs stay open into the early morning hours, be sure to check before showing up where ever you plan to go. Some places don't even open until after 11pm!
25. Hang out in a cemetery - visit Assistens Churchyard
Now here's a Copenhagen activity that's certainly off the beaten path.
The Assistens Churchyard is a cemetery in Copenhagen where locals don't just come to mourn the loss of their loved ones.
Quite the contrary actually.
Here the belief is that the beautiful green park space that encompasses the cemetery is also meant to be experienced and enjoyed.
Taking a walk through the beautiful grounds of Assistens Churchyard Cemetery is must for anyone visiting Copenhagen.
There's even a map near the entrances that highlight some of the most famous people buried here.
Don't be surprised to see throngs of people walking their dogs, riding bikes or even sunbathing on warmer days throughout the cemetery!
26. Try local food called Smorrebrod
Who doesn't love a good sandwich?
Smorrebrod is a widely eaten dish traditional to the Scandinavia area.
Start with a slice of buttered bread and start adding toppings.
While you'll often find these with more traditional open faced sandwich ingredients layered on top, there's really no limit to what different shops will turn them into!
If you're interested in trying some Smorrebrod during your visit to Copenhagen there's a stall located in the Torvehallrne Market.
27. Check out a Scandinavian beach
Did you know that Copenhagen has several public beaches?
If you're visiting during the summer (June, July, August) then consider making your way to one of the city's many swimming areas.
Check out this useful guide from visitcopenhagen.com that will help you decide on which beach area is right for you.
28. See the Little Mermaid Statue (but only if you must)
First off, let's be clear that the Little Mermaid Statue is quite.. underwhelming.
But it's still something to see in Copenhagen and I opted to include it on this list primarily to warn visitors that it is spectacularly un-exciting to see.
When doing my own research planning a trip to Copenhagen, I found references to this statue on almost every blog or guide I read.
A famous Carlsberg brewer had the statue made and gifted to the city after being fascinated by the Little Mermaid story.
Yep, that's it.
The silver lining is this statue is located very close to Kastellet, which is actually worth seeing.
If you decide to check out the statue, I'd suggest pairing it with a trip to Kastellet to make the trip out more worth your while!
29. Tour Copenhagen with a local
Whenever I look back on my travels some of my favorite memories end up being related to the people we meet in the places we're exploring.
It might not seem like if if you've never booked a tour, guide or cooking experience. But these interactions almost always end up feeling very personal and organic, as opposed to some 'commercialized' tour.
You'll also get way more out of your travels by actually learning about the sites you're seeing!
Another option, if you're good at striking up conversation with strangers - local vendors, bartenders, artists, servers, etc are generally willing to offer up their favorite recommendations on what to do in their home cities.
All you have to do is ask.
30. Day trip to a castle
There's a ton to see and do within Copenhagen proper.
Enough to keep most travelers busy for the better part of 3-4 days. And if you're someone hell bent on seeing every last museum and historical building, perhaps longer.
But there's also a number of really cool places to see just outside of Copenhagen as well.
Frederiksborg Castle is a great option if you're looking to venture a little further out.
The castle is easily accessible by train and if you have the Copenhagen Card you won't need to pay an entrance fee or for your transit.
If you're more interested in a guided experience there are a number of tour operators offering day trips to see Frederiksborg and other cultural sites. Check out some of the GetYourGuide links here or within the CPH Card app.
Undecided on which activities to plan? Check out my video Copenhagen Travel Guide on YouTube to learn more.
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