Copenhagen is the capital of Denmark, a Nordic country made up of approximately 400 islands and a kingdom that rules over Greenland and the Faroe Islands. Constantly ranked one of the happiest countries in the world, having loved my previous trips to Scandinavia, I’ve always wanted to visit and gain an insight into the Danish way of life. The Danish have a word called “Hygge” which means a relaxed/cozy feeling which is something you’ll experience on your trip to Denmark. I was lucky to spend 4 nights in Copenhagen and explore the city and the surrounding region. Here is my guide to Copenhagen and my top 12 things to do on a city break.
Getting to Copenhagen
From the airport it’s easy to get to the city centre, it’s approximately 15 minutes by train to the central station or 17 minutes by metro (line M2) to Kongens Nytorv which is located near Nyhavn. Both stations are conveniently located in terminal 3.
I bought the Copenhagen Card which covers attractions, museums and transportation around the city and the region. You can get a 24, 48 or 72 hour card from the Tourist Information Office.
Top 12 things to do in Copenhagen and the Sealand region.
1# Visit The Colourful Harbour of Nyhavn
Nyhavn is one of my favourite places in Copenhagen. It’s a colourful harbour front with lots of cafes, restaurants and shops. A perfect place for getting a bite to eat and watching the world go by!
The name Nyhavn is a little misleading as it roughly translates as new harbour but in fact the harbour dates back to the 17th century! It’s a charming place and it looks exactly like the photos.
2# Go On A Canal Cruise
The best way to get an overview of the city is to take a canal cruise. During your hour on the water, you’ll not only get to see the main sights but learn some facts about Copenhagen/Denmark. It’s a relaxing way to get orientated and plan what you want to see during your trip. Several companies run tours throughout the day and enjoyed my trip with Canal Tours Copenhagen.
3# See The Little Mermaid
You can’t visit Copenhagen without visiting The Little Mermaid statue. It’s one of the most photographed statues in the world and a symbol of Copenhagen. It’s based on the fairytale by the Danish writer Hans Christian Andersen who lived in Nyhavn. Be warned though, it’s a lot smaller then you might expect…! It’s about a 20 minute walk from Nyhavn and you’ll pass the Royal Danish Playhouse, Amalienborg, The Royal Opera House and Kastellet (the star shaped military fortress) along the way.
4# Climb The Round Tower
For an ariel view of the city, climb the 36m high spiral staircase of The Round Tower. You’ll get a stunning panoramic view of Copenhagen and the unique experience of climbing a tower without the stairs. You can alternatively climb the tower of the Church of Our Saviour in Christianshavn which has been voted the best view of Copenhagen. (The last 150 steps are outside and unfortunately it was closed due to the wind/rain when I visited)
5# Shop on Strøget
Strøget is the main Shopping street in Copenhagen and is one of the longest pedestrian streets in he world. There are a wide variety of shops and restaurant along the mile including a lego store! (Did you know lego comes from Denmark?)
6# Explore The Different Neighbourhoods
The best way to explore the city is on foot or bicycle. Copenhagen is very walkable and different areas of the city feel quite different. I liked walking by the marina in Christianshavn and though the modern Islands Brygge district. I didn’t like hip Vesterbro that much.
7# See Coral Reefs At The Aquarium
The National Aquarium of Denmark has a great exhibit on coral reef. It is pretty cool to see all the different types of reef and marine life! You can also hold a starfish, see an octopus and walk through a rainforest. The closest metro is Kastrup which is a 10 minute walk.
8# Take A Walk On The Beach At Amager Strandpark
Yes, Copenhagen has a beach park! (In fact there are several beaches close to the city) Enjoy walking on the beach, trails and piers and taking in the ocean views. There is something relaxing about being by the ocean and it’s nice to get away from the hustle and bustle of the city. I love the outdoors so this was a perfect find only a 15 minutes by metro from the city centre!
9# Try The Local Cuisine
Trying local food is one of my favourite things about travelling! Smørrebrød (open sandwich on rye bread), danish pastries and liquorice are things to sample during your trip! All the food I had in Denmark was really good and restaurants/cafes have a relaxed and cozy vibe.
10# Visit Frederiksborg Castle
This is a really impressive 17th century castle surrounded by a lake and forests in the Northern Sealand town of Hillerød. It has pretty gardens to stroll through and there is an easy trail around the lake so you can take in the view of the castle from all angles! In the summer you can also take a boat ride on the lake.This was my favourite castle of the trip and is worth a visit. From Copenhagen, its takes approximately 50 mins by S Train from the central station to Hillerød. To visit Frederiksborg Castle, it’s a 20 minute walk from the train station through the town.
#11 Visit Kronborg Castle
In the colourful coastal town of Helsingør lies Kronborg Castle. It’s the castle that Shakespeare based Hamlet on and is surrounded by the sea. You can walk through the grounds, in the castle and around the castle. Helsingør is a really picturesque town with colourful buildings, murals, a marina and quaint restaurants/shops. From Copenhagen, its takes approximately 40 mins by regional train from the central station to Helsingør. To visit Kronborg Castle, it’s a 15 minute walk from the train station through the town. I’d recommended doing a day trip to Hillerød and Helsingør which are connected by L train that goes through the Danish countryside.
#12 See Original Viking Ships In Roskilde
Viking ships are a symbol of Scandinavia and it’s pretty cool to see the wooden ships up close. It’s incredible to think that the vikings sailed across the rough seas in these wooden boats!!There are 5 ships at the Roskilde museum and in the summer you can even take ride on the fjord. It’s a 20 minute train ride from Copenhagen and it is a chance to explore the 2nd biggest city in Sealand. From the train station it’s takes 20 minutes to walk to the Viking museum. You’ll get to pass the town centre, Cathedral and the market on Wednesday/Saturdays.
That’s my top 12 things to do when visiting Copenhagen. There are so many other things to do in Copenhagen and there is something for everyone. I really wanted to visit Tivoli Gardens but it was closed and if you have more time the Swedish towns of Malmö and Lund are not far.
Visiting Copenhagen is a great city break and an introduction to Denmark!
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Until next time – where will your next adventure take you?