10 Top Things to do in Copenhagen, Denmark:
1. Visit the iconic Nyhavn
When most people picture Copenhagen this is the image they will have in their head. The colourful façades of Nyhavn were previously privately owned townhouses but have now been converted into cosy bars, cafes and restaurants spanning the waterfront and canal.
Nyhavn is a great place to end a day of exploring and grab dinner and a couple of drinks. Even on a cold Danish evening, it is possible to sit outside and enjoy the beautiful view as almost all establishments offer blankets at their outside tables to keep you warm.
2. Walk to the Little Mermaid Statue
The Little Mermaid statue was commissioned in the early 1900s by Carl Jacobsen and sculpted by Edvard Eriksen. It is based on the fairy tale by the same name by Danish author Hans Christian Andersen. The Little Mermaid is now an iconic statue which symbolises the city.
Visiting Copenhagen without seeing the Little Mermaid just wouldn’t be right, however, if I’m honest, the statue itself was a bit of an anticlimax. Smaller than I imagined and surrounded by tourists queuing to stand on the rocks and get a picture next to the statue.
However, if like me you needed a picture of the statue as proof you visited the city at all, the walk from the city centre to the waterfront where she is located is well worth your time.
You can either choose to walk up the waterfront from Nyhavn where you will pass through Amaliehaven, a small green oasis with a large fountain in the centre, benches and sculptures, or walk through the Frederiksstaden neighbourhood which is full of beautiful and historic buildings such as Amalienborg Palace and Frederik’s Church.
Amalienborg Palace is the home of the Danish royal family. It has 4 identical buildings surrounding a central courtyard. Similar to Buckingham Palace the building is guarded by royal guards, called Den Kongelige Livgarde. There is a changing of the guards every day at 12 noon.
Frederik’s Church is also known as the Marble Church and is the focal point of the Frederiksstaden district.
3. Stop for a drink with the locals in Freetown Christiania
Freetown Christiania is a self-proclaimed autonomous neighbourhood in the Christianshavn district of Copenhagen. Christiania is referred to by many as either a ‘hippie commune’ or ‘social experiment’. The Freetown is famous for its idea of a self-governing society, it’s historic buildings and colourful murals, and most significantly it’s open cannabis trade.
Christiania may sound a little scary but as long as you don’t do anything stupid it’s a pretty safe and interesting place to visit. Explore the market stalls selling all types of goods from homemade jewellery to cannabis pipes, then pop down to Nemoland for a drink.
Nemoland is a cafe and bar in the centre of Christiania selling cheap drinks, with plenty of outdoor seating, live music, a football table and a pool table. We ended up spending a whole afternoon here and even taking on some locals at a game of pool. As long as you can tolerate the smell of weed, this bar is a fun place to stop and relax!
Check out this BuzzFeed article for some more information and awesome pictures of Christiania!
4. Try a Danish open sandwich at Mad & Kaffe
Mad & Kaffe is a cute local cafe in the West of the city, close to Copenhagen Central Station, known for their tasty Smørrebrød – Danish open sandwiches. Smørrebrød translates as ‘butter bread’ and is a piece of dense, dark rye bread topped with local ingredients.
To the left is the open sandwich with potato, onion compote, smoked cheese mayo, bacon and chives, and to the right is with smashed avocado, cottage cheese, poppy seeds, red onion and pea shoots. I would definitely recommend trying either (or both – why not!?).
The cafe itself embraces the Danish idea of ‘hygge’, with a cosy and laid back atmosphere. However, being relatively small and extremely popular, you may have to queue to get in. In my opinion, the wait is worth it!
5. Jump on an Electric Bike
Bycyklen bikes are Copenhagen’s equivalent to London’s Borris Bikes, except WAY cooler! Not only are the bikes equipped with tablets for you to create an account, sign in and out, access a satnav and direct you to the nearest docking station, but they also have an electric motor which speeds you up when you start cycling. A lot of fun and a fast way to see more of the city.
Docking stations can get very busy in the city centre, however, another great feature is that you can park the bikes up near a station if all of the docks are full. This is definitely something to keep in mind rather than becoming frustrated trying to find a free station like we did first.
6. Pig out on Street Food on PapirØen
Copenhagen Street Food is a large street food marketplace located on PapirØen, or Paper Island, in-between Christianshavn and Nyhavn. There are plenty of stalls and trucks selling delicious street food from all over the globe but made from local sustainable ingredients. The food can either be enjoyed in the main hall or outside on a table or deckchair overlooking the waterfront.
Copenhagen Street Food is also a hub for the city’s creative scene, with regular events where local musicians, artists and designers can showcase their work.
7. Check the opening dates of Tivoli Gardens
My main advice here is if you want to visit Tivoli Gardens make sure you check that it’s open in advance. The amusement park (which is the second oldest in the world) is open throughout the summer, and for certain periods such as Halloween and Christmas. Unfortunately, I visited the city in late September when the park was shut. It did look very cool from the outside and I will definitely time my next trip for when the park is open.
8. Shop on Strøget
Strøget is the largest and oldest pedestrian street system in the world with a large variety of both Danish and international brands on offer. Here you can pick up some gorgeous clothes, plenty of souvenirs and all types of food, You can even grab some Lego from Danish-brand’s flagship store.
On one end of Strøget, you will also find Rådhuspladsen, or City Hall Square, the beautiful central square which is a public space often used for events, celebrations or demonstrations in the city.
9. Go Clubbing with the Students
What many tourists forget is that the city is home to The University of Copenhagen and it’s 40,000 students, which means one of the best things to do in Copenhagen is head on a great night out until the early hours.
A new nightclub in the city centre which describes itself as:
‘A celebratory intersection of different spaces, music genres and ambiances where humans cross each other and come together in the search for joyful late-night adventures in an exploration of human communalities and variances’
This describes the way the club is split into numerous different areas. First is the front courtyard with an outdoor bar, light installations and artwork. The ground floor is built in the tradition of the rustic Danish bodega where people sit at tables enjoying a beer and a dice game.
On the first floor is a 19th-century Paris-themed cocktail lounge with a more sophisticated feel. The second floor is a large industrial space which is home to rougher, more edgy music played by world-class DJ’s and live bands. Finally, the top floor has two Tokyo themed private karaoke rooms.
As well as these main rooms there are also several balconies and smaller seating areas. The club is like one big maze full of new amazing things to discover!
This one was recommended by a friend who is a student himself in Copenhagen. KB3 is located in the Meat Packing District, a popular area for young people full of restaurants, bars and clubs. This club is a little more laid back than Chateau Motel. KB3 is one large room surrounded by private seating areas, with a DJ blasting all the latest chart hits as well as classics which just make you want to dance.
10. Admire the Graffiti
What more can I say on this one? Just make sure you keep an eye out for the City’s creative, mind-provoking and downright strange graffiti. A free and fun way to explore the city.
And if you’re looking for advice on the top things to in Copenhagen, Denmark on a budget check out this post for even more great ideas!
How to get from London to Copenhagen:
The cheapest way to fly from London to Copenhagen is from London Stansted, with the 1hr45m flight costing as little as £18 return.