14 Top Rated Tourist Attractions in Copenhagen
Copenhagen is the capital of the Kingdom of Denmark and enjoys a perfect location: the west coast of Denmark in Scandinavia with the fjords of the North Sea on one side and the Baltic Sea on the other. The Danish capital is one of Europe's most beautiful cities, with lots of old cobbled streets and quaint squares, and a unique blend of Viking and Scandinavian architecture in the city center.
The town's art-lovers shouldn't miss the museums, particularly the one devoted to the famous Danish sculptor, Bertel Thorvaldsen, who has made many portraits of European leaders and Danish emperors and kings.
To get a first-hand perspective on the country, Denmark's capital also has lots of international universities that welcome foreign students. The Danish people are also famous for their cultural and religious tolerance. Copenhagen is probably one of the safest cities in Europe, particularly at night.
As a very active European city, Copenhagen is just a three-hour plane flight from major cities in North America, and it is also within easy reach of European cities like Amsterdam, Paris, and Berlin. Use our handy Copenhagen travel planner to make sure you get the most out of your trip, and discover our top things to do, the best of the city's hotels, and best restaurants.
Rosenborg Castle, Denmark's national symbol and oldest of its royal palaces, was built in the Middle Ages in the style of a fortified, medieval castle. Its imposing, ramparts surround the imposing limestone bulk of the castle and rise from a long, narrow island, over which the castle is crowned. The views from its western ramparts are unsurpassed. Inside, the Royal Museum, with its old weaponry and exhibits of furnishings and antiques, is a pleasure to explore. The collections of miniatures, porcelain, and clocks add to the rich variety of displays. The castle is protected from the sea and weather by a massive steel and concrete seawall that surrounds the castle to a height of 28 meters. It took almost 15 years to complete this 20 kilometer-long structure, the largest and most ambitious in Europe. It was built in 1972 at a cost of 17 million dollars. Visitors can take a tour of the battery and the finished tunnel, but the panoramic views of the sea from the ramparts are even better. The views of the harbor, castle and city are breathtaking.
Tivoli Gardens was opened in 1780 and is one of the oldest theme parks in the world. It's known as the country's first'revue' in that it features a great number of acts (billed as traveling shows, because they performed at all kinds of locations on their way from village to village) with a great deal of vulgarity, such as music, acrobatics, circus acts, etc. Highlights of a visit include the modern take on a well-known fairy tale, the Glitter Room, a large variety of shows, a water park, a rose garden, and the Kulturhus, a restaurant in the form of a half-timbered manor house dating back to the mid-18th century.
The National Gallery (Danish: Jens Jensens Kunstmuseum) in Copenhagen is one of the oldest and most respected art museums in the world, founded in 1786 and with over 25,000 works of art spanning more than 5000 years of art history. One of the highlights is the collection of Japanese art, the largest of its kind outside of Japan. In addition to its permanent collection of works, the National Gallery has a number of temporary exhibitions. Highlights of its current exhibition include: “Circa 1900. Art in Britain,” an interesting look at the development of modern art, as well as a “Religion and the World of Myth,” focusing on ancient religious art. Located on Zealand's Utzon Campus, the building, which was designed by the famous architect Arne Jacobsen, is a showpiece of post-modern architecture and is also one of Denmark's best-known buildings.
The Little Mermaid
Built in 1756, The Little Mermaid has stood sentinel on Copenhagen's harbor for over 250 years. It was first established as a custom house, which it remains today. Over the years, it has also been a police station and even a grain silo. The current incarnation of the structure was built in the 1930s, when Denmark's economy was booming. By providing work for thousands of unemployed residents, it was supposed to symbolize the nation's potential for advancement. A visit here will feature exhibits on Danish history and architecture, with particular emphasis on how a maritime nation developed and industrialized. During summers, live performances and artist lectures are scheduled, as well as daily boat rides to view the "Mermaid," which has a small cabin on board.
Born in Denmark in 1899, Thorvaldsens Museum, situated in the heart of Copenhagen's cool Latin Quarter, is devoted to Thorvaldsen, a famous Danish artist born in Copenhagen in 1770. The museum features a magnificent collection of his work, including sculptures, watercolors, portraits and sketches. The museum is housed in the extremely impressive house where Thorvaldsen lived, worked and entertained visitors and clients, many of whom were among the city's most famous intellectuals. The paintings, sculptures and tapestries in the museum will leave you awestruck by the workmanship of this great painter.
Some of the best bars and clubs in Copenhagen can be found in the area around the Nørre Vestergade, a main shopping street in the heart of Vesterbro. Many of the bars and restaurants in this area are owned by one of the city's many well-known immigrants. There are the well-known Restaurant Copenhagen, the Bar Rosita, Rosita's Chop Bar, and a number of other bars and restaurants of note. And there are not only bars and restaurants, but also shops and cafes. Shopping enthusiasts may want to check out the Røde Sander and Røde Ramel shops in the Vesterbro area for Scandinavian-style furnishings and design items. In the summer, there are free concerts, jazz, and open air theatre performances in Vesterbro, as well as a very popular beer festival.
City Hall (Rådhus) was built in 1662 in Danish Renaissance style, and has been the seat of government in the capital since then. The interior of the building is rich in wood-carved design and is a good example of the early Baroque style of the time. Among the most interesting of its objects are the hall of armorial bearings and a painting of the Civil War of 1848. The main entrance is guarded by sculptures by the renowned Danish sculptor Bertel Thorvaldsen. Also on the grounds is the wonderful statue of Løvengårdet, a Danish lion. City Hall is open to visitors but on occasion at particular times, it may be closed to the public. Call the Tourist Information Centre, which is also open from 8am to 9pm on weekdays, to check the current closing times.
Nyhavn is the lively waterfront area and heart of Copenhagen. It consists of a quayside lined with an arcade of boutique shops and restaurants, and numerous popular bars, cafés and restaurants. Nyhavn has a few sightseeing attractions of its own, the well-preserved Nyhavn, a 17th-century fort, which has a clock tower; Nyhavn Slot, a well-preserved grain warehouse built in 1727; and Nyhavn Torv, the lively square located between the fort and the cathedral. The architecturally interesting Nyhavn is a vibrant part of the city and a great place to have fun, shop, eat, drink and watch the world go by. Come to Copenhagen to experience Nyhavn!
Copenhagen Opera House
Built in 2003 to replace the beloved and ancient Teatret Kiel, one of Denmark's first opera houses, this spectacular building houses the Royal Danish Ballet and the Royal Danish Orchestra. It was designed by the French-Danish firm of BIG and Danish architect Kim Utzon. On a first visit, the most interesting sight is the building itself, as it glows blue and gold on the central stage. When the sun hits it just right at midday, the room is bathed in dazzling white light. Once inside, visitors can walk the three levels of seating and admire the enormous cantilever floor. A visit to the opera house is also a convenient day trip from Copenhagen, the capital, as the 50-minute trip can easily be done on the city's train system.
The palace was originally built by Christian IV for an Italian princess who proved difficult to bribe. The Renaissance fortress-palace dates to 1603, when Christian and his queen, Maria, moved into it from the nearby town, Slotsholmen. They were instrumental in bringing the Dutch architectural style to Denmark, and the palace displays their collection of paintings and other art objects. A visit to the palace, with its classic Greek columns and gardens, gives you the best picture of what the old palace must have been like before renovations were undertaken in the 18th century. Outside, in its peaceful park, you'll find some very beautiful old trees and pathways.
The Botanisk Have in Copenhagen is Denmark's oldest and largest botanical garden. Dating back to 1788, when the world's first purpose-built botanical garden was established in what is now France, the Botanisk Have, also known as just 'the Garden', sits on the eastern tip of Zealand (Jutland) in the city of København (Copenhagen). Today, it has more than 600,000 plants, including rare plants and plants from all over the world. There are also guided tours that offer interesting information about the historical significance of the area, among other things.
Opened in 1911, the stunning medieval Royal Library has the world's finest collection of manuscripts, books and other rare materials related to Nordic history and culture. Inside, visitors can see the prestigious 15th-century Beatus manuscript, Leonardo da Vinci's Codex Atlanticus, an English illuminated Bible from around 1400, a beautifully illuminated Icelandic manuscript, hundreds of unique books and manuscripts, and royal heirlooms from the archives of the Danish royal families. The library also hosts art exhibitions, musical performances and book signings, as well as a wide variety of lectures, film screenings and conferences. In late summer and autumn it offers a free open-air theater production staged in an area between the historic buildings. During the winter months, there is a free ski shuttle service to the library.
Ny Carlsberg Glyptotek
The beautifully reconstructed and top-of-the-world Glyptotek Museum in Copenhagen, originally built in 1883, was purpose-built as the art museum to hold the world's great collections of Greek and Roman sculptures. Among the latter are the famed Elgin Marbles, which form the centerpiece of the museum, and the many other pieces from the Museum of Archaeology and two excavations at Herculaneum in Italy.
The seventeenth-century royal residence in Copenhagen's Slotsholmen is a large open space that has played a significant role in Danish history. Completed in 1756, it is now a museum with a number of royal chambers, as well as the original throne, throne room, and hall of audience, among other things. The grounds are filled with magnificent classical statuary and fountains, an open lawn where concerts and other events are held, and the modern Ferienkirken (country palace church) in the middle of the gardens.