10 Things You Must See in Copenhagen Denmark
Last month, I had the opportunity to visit Copenhagen in Denmark for nearly a week. Although I traveled for a work conference, I did have a bit of free time so I could experience the city. Denmark was not a place I ever envisioned I’d travel. I had no pans to ever go to Copenhagen, but I’m so glad this conference came about so I could experience a new place and a new culture. There are so many things you must see in Copenhagen Denmark
Prior to arriving, I did very little research to learn about Copenhagen. When I travel, I generally do have a pretty detailed plan of attack. However, with the internet these days, I actually find it’s much nicer to just go with the flow. There were many really neat things about the city, so I thought I would share the 10 things you must see in Copenhagen Denmark.
10 Things You Must See in Copenhagen Denmark
1. Nyhavn (And a Note About The Food)
My very favorite street/area of the city is Nyhavn. It is quintessential Copenhagen. It is a cute little street with a canal running down the middle, lined with colorful, angular buildings. This is also one of the main eating areas in the city. I loved the energy because there are so many people who just relax outside of the cafes enjoying food and drinks.
The best food I had in Denmark was when I got muscles and frites. The muscles were so fresh and delicious. I had fish a few times, and if you like fish, then I’d highly suggest it. Before I arrived, a few different people told me to try the smørrebrød – which are basically open-faced sandwiches. They are a fairly famous food in Denmark, so I figured I had to at least give it a try. Well, I have to tell you, I think they are horrible. Most of them include a whole bunch of mayo and many of them include fish. I personally do not like mayo, so the overly saucy fishy flavors just didn’t work for me, and the bread is oh-so-dry.
The other food you should definitely have in Copenhagen is a waffle or waffle cone. There were several ice cream shops along the Nyhavn and they all looked delicious. The one I did try was quite good too.
2. Rosenborg Castle & The King’s Garden
One of my favorite landmarks in Copenhagen was the Rosenborg Castle. It is surrounded by lush gardens and the architecture is amazing. We didn’t go inside of the castle. We had talked about going in to see the crowned jewels, but we just didn’t get around to it. I heard good things though, if you do have time to go inside.
3. Freetown Christiania
Probably the most interesting and unique place in Copenhagen is Freetown Christiania. I was going to try to describe it, but I know I couldn’t do it justice. If you’re interested, you should read about it. To put it simply, Freetown Christiania is a commune. Originally founded in 1971, it was a place for squatters and weed dealers. Weed trade is still a major part of the culture here. I personally loved walking around the area because there was so much street art. I’m a huge street art fan. If you’ve followed my blog at all, you know I seek out street art every place I travel. There was a lot of really neat street art in Freetown Christiania that I really enjoyed. I’ve also never been to a commune, so it was an interesting place to stroll around.
4. Canals (Go on a Canal Tour)
My absolute favorite part of the trip was going on a canal tour. There are several different boats for which you can buy tickets right down by Nyhavn. The tour was just over an hour and you really get to see so much of Copenhagen by boat. Our tour guide spoke a few languages, including English, so it was fun to hear more about the city from the canal view.
I can’t tell you how many times we strolled down the Strøget. It is a major retail street that runs through a large section of Copenhagen. I enjoyed the walk and I especially enjoyed stopping at some of the little shops. My favorite shop was the Royal Copenhagen. They sell gorgeous china that is famous and historical. They were founded back in 1775 and they have tons of gorgeous white china with blue patterns. I bought myself a little vase and a little trinket box. It feels so special since it’s something so historical and famous in Denmark.
The Strøget is a gathering place where people hang out and walk around. I also ran into a major parade while I was there, so I got to watch a bunch of bands playing and (mostly) women in carnival-style dress. It was a fun experience to witness.
6. City Hall Square
There are a lot of gorgeous old buildings in Copenhagen, and the City Hall is no exception. I especially liked the city hall square because it was a place for convening. We happened to be in town during their elections, so there was just a lot going on. There was one man who was painting all over the city square grounds. I couldn’t read it, but it almost seemed as though it was in protest, based on the way he was interacting with other people in the square.
7. Gefion Fountain
Completely unexpectedly, we found our way to the Gefion Fountain. After leaving Rosenberg Castle, we walked a ways and ran into it. This fountain is so gorgeous, and it is not too far from where the Little Mermaid Statue is. As I talk about in a bit, I actually preferred this fountain much more than the mermaid statue. The fountain sculpture was breathtaking and it also had a nice view.
8. Royal Library Garden
Another place you must see in Copenhagen Denmark is the Royal Library Garden. Like many things on this trip, I didn’t even mean to find this garden, but I’m so glad I did. It was absolutely stunning. I also got to see tiny baby ducks! The garden was truly lovely. I didn’t have a ton of free time, but I would have loved to just sit in the gardens and enjoy a tea or an afternoon break.
The Copenhagen stock exchange buildings are quite lovely. You will see them if you go on a canal tour of if you do a walking tour of the city. The architecture is quite stunning, so you’ll definitely want to walk by.
10. Tivoli Gardens
Prior to arriving in Copenhagen, Tivoli Gardens was one place everyone told me I had to visit. I thought it was gardens. I didn’t realize that it is actually an amusement park in the middle of the city. What I learned later is that Tivoli Gardens is what Walt Disney based Disneyland on. We just went to Disneyland two weeks prior to my trip, so I was pretty unimpressed with Tivoli Gardens. To me, it felt old and rundown. But then again, I just went to Disneyland – which is much bigger and newer. But despite my initial impression, we spent one free evening strolling around Tivoli. There are a lot of fun rides, a lot of interesting restaurants and also lovely gardens all around the property. What makes Tivoli so special is the fact that it’s in the middle of the city. I do think my kids would have liked Tivoli, so if you’re in Copenhagen with kids, you should definitely check it out.
Why Didn’t The Little Mermaid Statue Make My List?
I have no idea why this statue is on the things you must see in Copenhagen Denmark list. There is nothing about this statue that makes it so special, in my mind. It sits just slightly in the water on a rock. I suppose the location makes it somewhat interesting, but I did not find it overly pretty and definitely not very special. I thought the Gefion Fountain was far more beautiful, and I happened upon it during my walk to see the Little Mermaid statue.
Based on my own internet research, I guess this statue is famous for two reasons. First, it’s been there for over 100 years. Second, its based on a Hans Christian Andersen book by the same name. The part I found most interesting about this statue is that she’s been vandalized many times and has even been decapitated several times. If you’re in Copenhagen for several days, then it’s worth the walk because the statue is right by the water and it is a really pleasant walk. But if you’re super short on time, I would not go out of my way to see this statue. The pictures you see on the internet are more impressive than the statue in person.
Would I Go Back?
Overall, I absolutely loved my time in Copenhagen. The people were so very friendly, everyone speaks English (which makes it so easy to get around and communicate), its a very walkable city, it’s so clean, and it was just a very peaceful place to be. Copenhagen had such a good energy. I don’t think I’ve ever visited another fairly large city that felt as warm and laid-back as Copenhagen. Unlike other European vacations I’ve been on, I definitely felt refreshed when I got back. If you do get the chance to visit, you should. There are so many things you must see in Copenhagen Denmark. It’s definitely a city I enjoyed, and I think you would too.
P.S. if you’re looking for a great Copenhagen hotel, I stayed here and had such a lovely view.
P.P.S. Want more European travel stories? Click here for London, Paris, Rome, Lisbon, Leipzig, and Positano.