Are you dreaming of a visit to Copenhagen? With the easing of travel restrictions in Denmark, a trip here can finally become a reality which I am sure many of us are happy about. To get you started on your adventure in this amazing city, here are the best things to do in Copenhagen for a first time visitor.
Before we get into what to do while in Copenhagen, the most important thing to plan for your visit is where to stay. You can find a great selection of hotels in Copenhagen to make things as easy for you as possible. These hotels all have strict hygiene and safety regulations in place, making sure your stay is comfortable and safe so you can simply focus on enjoying Copenhagen to the fullest.
10 best things to do in Copenhagen:
1 | Explore the city like a true local on two wheels
When it comes to getting around town, a great thing about Copenhagen is that it is such a bike friendly place. Because of the city’s infrastructure, you can easily get around on a bike making travel feel more safe for those who want to avoid crowds and public transport in these Covid times. If you want to experience Copenhagen like a true local, you can rent a bike at numerous points and explore the city on two wheels while taking in all the beautiful sights and scenery around you. If you are new to Copenhagen, I recommend joining one of the many bike tours in town, like for instance Green Bike Tours – a non-profit company that offers bike tours in English with a focus on the green and sustainable city. Their tours focus on giving you the ultimate bike experience with routes planned so you get to see different parts of the city while biking on the best lanes and bike friendly streets and bridges. The tours take from 2.5 – 3 hours and you will get to experience places you might not have found on your own; amazing hidden gems, urban gardens, wonderful green areas, cozy squares and recreative areas.
2 | Have fun at the Tivoli
Founded in 1843, Tivoli is located right in the heart of city centre and has become a unique and nostalgic must-see for all visitors in Copenhagen. At this historic amusement park there is something for all ages to enjoy. Feel the rush in the roller coaster – one of Tivoli’s most popular rides, enjoy the romantic view from the classic ferris wheel or simply have a stroll and take in that magical atmosphere. I recommend checking out the weekly fireworks show every Saturday where you can look forward to beautiful colours, lovely music and lots of surprices in the light summer sky. Another fun activity is the broad range of concerts held here; whether you prefer jazz, rock or classical music you can find the program of upcoming gigs here.
3 | Feel calm at the Botanical Garden
The stunning Botanical Garden is a part of the Natural History Museum at the University of Copenhagen and covers an area of 10 hectares. Known for its extensive complex of historical glasshouses dating from 1874, the garden holds the largest collections of living plants in Denmark and the Herbarium houses the largest collection of preserved plants in Denmark. The Botanical Garden attracts both visitors interested in botany and gardening but also those who are looking for an idyllic escape from the hustle and bustle of the city – the perfect place to find calm and breathe. All year round the Botanical Garden is home to a variety of exhibitions and activities, and this summer I recommend checking out ‘A Midsummer Night’s Dream’ when After Hours Theater Company transforms the old garden’s lake, paths and hiding places into the stage for William Shakespeare’s enchanting comedy.
4 | Meet animals at Copenhagen Zoo
In Copenhagen ZOO, you can meet more than 4,000 fascinating animals from different continents. From close encounters with polar bears to seeing the world from a giraffe’s perspective, there is a whole world to explore for kids and adults. Located in the municipality Frederiksberg (between Nørrebro and Vesterbro) and open every day 365 days a year, the ZOO is a great place to learn about wild animal facts and enjoy delicious food. If you are particularly interested in Scandinavian animals I recommend visiting the ‘Nordics’ area where you will see species such as harbour seals, snowy owls, reindeer, musk oxen, brown bears, arctic foxes and grey wolves. In. addition, the ‘Arctic Ring’ area, which opened in 2013, has an exhibit of polar bears including a tunnel allowing underwater views of these amazing animals and an aviary for North Atlantic seabirds.
5 | Step into the fantastic world of Hans Christian Andersen
Arguably seen as the most famous Dane in the world, while in Copenhagen take advantage of stepping into the fantastic world of writer Hans Christian Andersen and walk the streets he used to walk. H.C. Andersen spent most of his life here and several of the places that were the centre of his life can still be visited today such as the Royal Theatre which played a huge role in his life as well as Nyhavn where he lived and wrote some of his first fairy tales. On H.C. Andersens Boulevard you can see one of the two statues of the writer, the other one is located in the King’s Garden. But the most famous statue in Denmark linked to H.C. Andersen is: the Little Mermaid, which today has become a significant symbol of Copenhagen. And if you want to step inside his most-loved fairy tales, stroll the streets of nineteenth-century Denmark and learn more about H.C. Andersen’s life story – the immersive and interactive Hans Christian Andersen Experience is the place to visit.
6 | Taste a Nordic menu at Vækst
If you want to enjoy a Nordic menu served in Copenhagen’s most beautiful greenhouse – then Vækst is the restaurant to book on your next trip. It is located in Sankt Peders Stræde in the middle of Copenhagen’s old Latin quarter and offers food based on fresh Nordic vegetables and herbs accompanied with a great steak, seafood, and fresh fish. The menu is not the only thing that is green, as the decor is centred around a beautiful greenhouse, stretching up through the restaurant’s two floors. The rooms are filled with hanging plants drawing nature in all the way to the table, while the many lovely lights create an atmosphere mimicking a Danish summer evening which never ends. Perfect setting for a cozy and delicious meal while in Copenhagen.
7 | Walk the iconic Round Tower
The Round Tower, built 1642 by King Christian IV of Denmark, is today one of the most iconic buildings in Denmark and a landmark of Copenhagen. Originally erected to accommodate the University observatory, today the Round Tower houses a rich programme of events for all ages, comprising exhibitions of contemporary art, modern craft and design and history as well as talks and concerts. The tower is in fact the oldest functioning observatory in Europe. To get there you need to walk up the spiral walk which is 291 meters long at the outer wall and 93,5 meters long close to the core of the building while taking 7.3 turns. As a new attraction you can now also see the tower’s core by standing on a glass floor, hovering 25 metres above the ground.
8 | Discover art at Glyptoteket
Glyptotek, found right in the heart of Copenhagen, displays ancient and modern art in truly unique surroundings. Founded back in 1888 by founded by the renowned brewing magnate Carl Jacobsen (who made Carlsberg beer known world wide), the art museum contains two main departments combining art in impressive architectural surroundings worth experiencing for yourself. Glyptotek houses over 10,000 works of art, from the Mediterranean cradle of Western culture to Danish and French art. In the ‘Department of Antiquities’ you will find excellent collections of Egyptian, Greek, Etruscan and Roman art while the ‘Modern Department’ focuses on Danish paintings and sculptures from the 19th and 20th centuries, as well as French art of the same period. The stunning buildings are filled with atmosphere and every corner offers a new experience. The heart of the museum is the classic 1906 sub-tropical winter garden with tall palm trees, a fountain and a fish pool – a lovely place to relax while enjoying a coffee in peaceful surroundings.
9 | Go urban at Superkilen park
Superkilen is a unique and quirky an urban open space in the Nørrebro district of Copenhagen. The public park was designed to bring refugees and locals together, promoting tolerance and unity in one of Denmark’s most ethnically-diverse and socially-challenged communities. The park is divided into three main areas: the Red Square, the Black Market and the Green Park, all with a distinctive look and design. The Red Square covers a wide public walkway in angular neon pink, orange, and red shapes, the Black Market consisting of black asphalt which is given texture by lots of white lines that curve and zag across the space, and the Green Park is more of a traditional series of lawns formed into round shapes of nature. Seen as a world exhibition filled with interesting things from around the world, this is a vibrant place worth exploring while in Copenhagen.
10 | Unwind on the waterfront in Nyhavn
When visiting Copenhagen it is a must to have a stroll along Nyhavn and get a photo of this colourful and charming place. Stretching from Kongens Nytorv to the harbour front just south of the Royal Playhouse, the picturesque waterfront and entertainment district is lined with brightly coloured 17th and early 18th century townhouses, bars, cafes and restaurants. With a relaxed atmosphere, this is the perfect place to end a long day whether with a cold drink on the dock like the locals, or grab a bite at one of the many restaurants.
Lastly I just wanted to give you a little reminder that it is important to keep updated on the changing rules while also taking precautions when traveling in 2021. (You can read more about the latest traveling restrictions and also information about staying safe while in Denmark here in my latest post.)
Please note: Copenhagen attractions are complying with the health authority requirement for visitors aged 15 and over to produce proof that they have tested negative for COVID-19. The test must be no more than 72 hours old when you arrive and it is often advised to book or purchase your ticket in advance online, so please check before visiting.
*This post is in collaboration with Hotels.com, but all views are my own.