Want to see where the happiest people on Earth live? Plan a trip to Copenhagen! This one underrated city in Denmark now ranks #1 as the world’s most livable city. With attractions like the world’s oldest amusement park and restaurants that thrive on anarchy, there’s just so much to see and do in Copenhagen! Read on to see what’s on my dream itinerary!
Copenhagen Travel Guide: What to See, When to Go, How to Get Around
*Huge thanks to Rough Guides for sending me the Pocket Rough Guide to Copenhagen to help me plan this post! This post also contains affiliate links. If you make a purchase through these links, I earn a small commission at no extra charge to you.
Getting around in Copenhagen
Before we jump into the fun part of our Copenhagen travel guide, let’s look at a few practical things you need to know, like how to get to the attractions from your hotel! The good news: it’s pretty easy! A lot of Copenhagen’s major attractions are within walking distance of each other. You can also rent and ride bikes to many of the sights. For those who can’t really walk or ride a bike for long, Denmark has a great public transportation system that includes buses and trains. The Pocket Rough Guide to Copenhagen has an excellent public transportation map that you can pull out and keep in your backpack.
Best Times to Go to Copenhagen for Good Hotel Deals
Hotels in Copenhagen are not cheap if you go during peak times. A quick Expedia search tells us that you can expect to spend at least $200-ish a night throughout the summer (with Expedia’s discounts), and they book up pretty quickly.
If you’re willing to go a little later, say October, the prices are significantly lower.
Fall isn’t really a bad time to go, really. The average daytime temps in Copenhagen during October stay in the 50s Fahrenheit. Even November doesn’t seem to bad. Push it off to December, though, and you’re looking at just above freezing temperatures and about one solid hour of bright sunshine in a total of 7 hours of daylight.
Early spring is also a pretty good time to catch decent hotel deals, and the weather isn’t too frigid (to me, anyway). By March, temperatures average about 41F. Not exactly balmy, but to a girl from the Poconos, that’s acceptable sight-seeing weather.
20 Must-See Tourist Attractions in Copenhagen
1. Tivoli Gardens
Denmark is home to the two oldest theme parks in the world. While the Dyrehavsbakken (in another part of the country) is the #1 oldest, Tivoli Gardens is a close second! It first opened back in 1843! Their Rutschebanen (Roller Coaster) is one of the oldest coasters in the world that’s still working. Don’t worry, I’m sure they’ve inspected it and made safety updates over the last 114 years!
The park has 4 roller coasters total, plus a bunch of other rides, including about 18 specifically for younger kids. Other neat attractions include The Pantomime Theater with its free shows, the Tivoli Guard Boys who perform music in the park, and the Tivoli Jackpot with cash prizes (you’ll need to pay extra for that one, though). All of that in an absolutely gorgeous setting make this a must-see attraction in Copenhagen!
2. The Little Mermaid Statue
The Little Mermaid Statue is the most photographed statue in all of Denmark, and more than 1 million people visit it each year! Completed in 1913 by sculptor Edvard Eriksen, it was a gift to Copenhagen from Carl Jacobsen of Carlsberg. Apparently, she’s had her head stolen a few times and she’s been knocked off her rock with explosives once!
Want to see where Hans Christian Andersen spent his days and penned some of his most famous fairy tales? Visit Nyhavn! The charming little section of Copenhagen is the perfect launching point for a canal tour, or an ideal place to grab a bite to eat. The 17th century waterfront has plenty of events throughout the year, so you’ll always find something fun to do! I am in love with the colorful buildings!
Want to see where they Danish royals reside? Visit Amelienborg! If you time it just right, you can even check out the changing of the guards (called the Den Kongelige Livgarde), which happens every day at noon. Want to get a closer look at the royal life? Take a tour and get a sneak peek at the chambers of former kings and queens.
5. Christiansborg Palace
The site of the current Christiansborg Palace has such a rich and incredible history. It all began waaaay back in 1167, when the Bishop Absalon built the first castle on the spot. That castle was destroyed by enemies in 1369 and the Copenhagen Castle was built in its place. King Eric VII took it over in 1417, and it became a Royal Palace. In the 1730s, the first Christianborg Palace was built. It burned in 1794 and the Royals moved into Amelienborg. The current palace is a government building (kind of like Parliament or the Capitol building).
6. Rosenborg Castle
We’re not quite done with the castles yet! The Rosenborg Castle was one used as a summer house. Now it’s a museum filled with Danish treasures, including the Crown Jewels. It’s located in one of the most stunning parks in Copenhagen, The King’s Garden, so once you’re done gawking at the throne room, take a stroll around the outside.
7. The Rundetaarn
The Rundetaarn, aka the Round Tower Lookout Tower, is one of the most well-known structures in Denmark. It’s also a great place to take “aerial view” photos of the city, since you can see pretty much every landmark and famous building from the platform outside of the Observatory. Just a head’s up, there’s no elevator so be prepared to climb a lot of steps! Also, don’t be surprised if kids pop out and yell “boo” at you.
The National Museum of Denmark (Nationalmuseet) is a must-see attraction for history lovers! Inside the largest culture-historical museum in the country, you’ll find everything from Danish treasures like the Golden Horns to ancient Egyptian mummies and African masks. There’s also a hands-on children’s museum where kids can try out neat things that show what life was like centuries ago throughout the world. The museum will be celebrating 100 years in 2019, so I imagine that would be an extraordinary time to visit!
9. Den Bla Planet
Need a break from all the historical sites? Head to the aquarium! Den Bla Planet (which means “the blue planet”) may not be nearly as old as the other attractions (it’s actually only a couple of years old), but it’s definitely a must-see for nature-lovers! Covering over 130,000 square feet, it is THE largest aquarium in Northern Europe.
Once inside, you’ll move from the warm ocean to the cold, from the Rainforest to the African Great Lakes! Make sure you give yourself plenty of time to explore. I’ve spent hours in much smaller aquariums!
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Torvehallerne gives new meaning to the term “super market.” This massive food marketplace has everything from the most incredible chocolate to exotic spices, from fresh fish to incredible coffee! Grab breakfast, lunch, dinner, or just a quick snack at one of their many “street food” vendors. This is definitely a must-see attraction for foodies!
Now that you have a pretty good idea of what to do during your Copenhagen visit, let’s learn a bit more about the city itself.
Where is Copenhagen, Denmark?
For those like me who never managed to memorize the entire world map, you might be wondering exactly where is Copenhagen? For that matter, where is Denmark?
Here’s where Denmark is located:
Okay, so even if geography is not your strong point, you probably have a pretty good idea of where the Nordic countries of Finland, Sweden, and Norway lie, right? You also probably have a generally good idea of where Germany sits. Well, Denmark is pretty much in between the top of Germany and the lower tip of Sweden.
While a good chunk of Denmark is connected to the main continent, it also owns like a billion islands floating in-between the North Sea and the Baltic Sea. Okay, more like around 10,000 islands, but still, that’s a lot! Only about 70 of them are inhabited, though.
Here’s where you’ll find Copenhagen:
Zoom in a little closer on the Bing map and you’ll see that Copenhagen is on one of the larger islands. It’s part of the Øresund Region, and I had to copy and paste that because I don’t know how to make that nifty runic-looking O on my keyboard. It’s on the eastern shore of the island Zealand (just Zealand, not New Zealand, which is down by Australia).
FYI, the island is also home to Castle Kronborg, which you know as the castle from Shakespeare’s Hamlet. It’s kind of a hike to Kronborg from Copenhagen, which is why I didn’t include it on the list above. It’s a little over 400 miles away.
Have you ever been to Copenhagen? I’d love to hear some of your favorite sights to see!