Wonderful – Wonderful – Copenhagen – the famous song rings true! Copenhagen is one of Europe’s oldest cities which means you can explore everything from Viking culture to over 1000 years of Royal history. There’s a pretty canal network, a squeaky clean harbour, a dreamy amusement park and fairy tale heritage to soak up. With Danish design shopping streets and modern Nordic food to try – here’s what to see in wonderful Copenhagen.
How to see Copenhagen in just a day
Let’s start in Nyhavn Harbour, the iconic and photogenic harbour. Nyhavn is a 17th century waterfront, canal and entertainment district, lined with brightly coloured townhouses, bars, cafes and restaurants and home to many historical wooden ships. Take some memorable photos and enjoy a waterside cafe.
Next, head North to Amalienborg Palace, home of the Danish Royal family. It consists of four identical classical palace façades with rococo interiors around an octagonal courtyard; in the centre of the square is a monumental equestrian statue of Amalienborg’s founder, King Frederick V. The Amalienborg Museum is also an option if you’d like to explore where the Royal family live and hold special events. There is Christian X’s study, the Fabergé Chamber and the Gala Hall. The Marble Church, a stone’s throw away, is worth a quick look at with its mesmerising ceiling.
Arrive at noon and you can catch the changing of the Royal Guard as they march from their barracks. Don’t worry where you stand as they circle most of the courtyard.
Now we can walk North through The Citadel (Kastellnet) – a well preserved 17th Century citadel that is still in use by the Danish Military. It’s a hidden gem and is a lovely place to stroll through, past the Commander’s house and barracks.
We can’t miss the Little Mermaid!
Once through Kastellnet turn right and follow the corner around to the famous – Little Mermaid. This has to be one of Copenhagen’s most iconic tourist attractions (although it might be a little smaller than you expect!). The sculpture of The Little Mermaid was inspired by Hans Christian Andersen’s famous fairy tale about a mermaid who gives up everything to be united with a young, handsome prince on land. It was unveiled on 23 August 1913. The statue is made of bronze and granite and was a gift from Danish brewer Carl Jacobsen to the City of Copenhagen and was sculpted by Edvard Eriksen.
Walk back past St Alban’s Chuch and the beautiful Gefion Fountain, the largest monument in Copenhagen and a beautiful depiction of the legendary Norse goddess. You’ll continue South along Bredgade until reaching the Kongens Nytorv square and gardens with its elegant buildings and statues. There’s some wonderful shopping to enjoy along Ostergade. Stop in to enjoy some Danish classics – Illums Bolighus, Royal Copenhagen (China), Georg Jensen, Lego and Hay House to name a few.
Ending the day at Tivoli Gardens amusement park is a delight. Built in 1843, Tivoli is the third oldest amusement park in the world. It was said to the be inspiration for Walt Disney’s theme parks. Head into the park at dusk and enjoy a romantic night filled with twinkling lights, traditional and modern rides all with an authentic vintage feel. There are lots of places to eat – from fine dining to traditional theme park fare.
There are so many other highlights in Copenhagen – so mix and match as you like! Here are some of the other top Copenhagen locations on offer!
The Botanical Garden is Denmark’s largest collection of living plants, a few steps from Nørreport Station. It’s a free public green space to roam and relax in and is filled with rare trees, shrubs and herbs. There’s also a flower shop, cafe, butterfly house, and a beautifully renovated Palm house.
Church of Our Saviour
The Church of Our Saviour is one of Denmark’s most famous churches. Ever since the serpentine spire was inaugurated in 1752, it has been a popular pastime to climb the 400 steps to the top. From 90m above street level, the view over the city is impressive. The last 150 steps are outside the spire – this is not an ascent for the vertiginously challenged! Open from 9 – 8 daily but not in all Winter months so check before you go.
The Round Tower
This is the oldest functioning observatory in Europe – and as you’d expect has a fantastic view from the top. Finished in 1642, the slightly eccentric architecture involves a long internal brick spiral ramp. You can also enjoy the small library hall that is a museum today.
Rosenborg Castle and Gardens
Rosenborg Castle was built by one of the most famous Danish kings, Christian IV, in the 17th century. The beautiful castle features 400 years of royal treasures, and the Crown Jewels and Royal Regalia. The gardens are as delightful as the castle and include rose gardens and even talking statues.
Copenhagen food delights!
Make the most of traditional foods, fine dining and fresh food market produce
Reffen – Open daily, Reffen is an urban playground for co-creation, innovation, food and creativity – and last but not least – the largest street food venue in the Nordics. You can get there by bike, bus or boat. More than 50 chefs and artisans share their food passion and knowledge.
Torvehallerne Food Market – With over 115,000 locals visiting every week, Torvehallerne is a popular spot to find local produce and farm-to-table dining. There’s a mix of Danish specialities and global cuisine. The undercover market housed in two buildings is located near the central pedestrian zone by Nørreport station.
Fine Dining – In 2022 there were 15 Michelin star restaurants to choose from in Copenhagen – try Geranium, Alchemist or Kokkeriet. Seaside Toldboden might not have the stars, however it has fantastic food and a wonderful harbour view!
Broens Gadekøkken – At the Inner Harbour bridge between Christianshavn and Nyhavn you find Broens Gadekøkken, with harbour views and amazing street food. The food stalls offer delicious street food from established and well-known chefs and restaurants in Copenhagen and it’s a real melting pot of flavours.