Last Updated on January 19, 2023 by josephineremo
As always when visiting a new city, it can be hard to figure out the best things to do. Where to go, what to prioritize, what to eat, and so on, is hard to crack without a bit of help. Having lived in Copenhagen for so long I sometimes forget that even though the city is small, it can still be hard to navigate around.
Over the last few years, Copenhagen has become a massive travel destination due to its reputation as one of the best cities in the world and the best city in Northern Europe. Having lived here for 10 years on and off, I know every little street, and even so, I have to say; I still love it. The people are polite and friendly, the air is fresh, the streets are safe and clean, and the cool hangout spots are endless – what’s not to love?
Below I will share exactly what things you should do and prioritize while in Copenhagen city. Sharing my insides and best spots, so that you can experience the incredible things my hometown has to offer.
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What are the best things to do in Copenhagen?
Move Around Like a Local
Riding a bike around the city is a great and fun way to experience the city, and is also the most common means of transportation. Note that if you have never ridden a bike before then be careful and read up on some traffic rules. Not following traffic correctly is both unsafe and will also make locals quite angry since they are trying to get from A to B. Also, make sure you have good travel insurance that will cover any accidents.
BUT biking around is the absolute best (and most authentically correct way) to get around. On top, it will allow you to see attractions very easily and it’s almost completely free. Copenhagen is almost entirely flat so it does not require too much effort either.
You can rent bikes cheaply throughout the city. In terms of what things to do in Copenhagen, this is almost a must in itself. If this is not for you, then walk around or take the metro.
Visit the Nørrebro Area
This buzzing area is great during the day to just walk around or visit the “Assistens Kirkegården” – a cemetery in the center of the area that is both pretty and full of dead famous people like Hans Christian Andersen.
Nørrebro is even better during the afternoons and evenings.
Check out Elmegade, Blågårdsgade, Ravnsborggade, Ranzausgade, Jægersborggade, Griffenfeldsgade and Guldbergsgade. All cool streets in terms of shops, bars, cafes, and restaurants.
That should have you covered for this area. You. Are. Welcome.
Visit the Vesterbro Area
Probably the hippest area in town and my favorite because of the meatpacking district.
The meatpacking district, found just behind “Hovedbanegården” or the main station, used to be full of butchers but is now transformed into a great place in terms of food, bars, and clubbing. You can come here all hours of the day and you will have a great time. Need a coffee – go to Prolog coffee bar. Want lunch or dinner – just pick one of the places. Want to drink amazing beer and cocktails – the meatpacking district has you covered.
Besides the meatpacking district, the Vesterbro area is awesome in itself. Walk around and check out Vesterbrogade, Værnedamsvej, and Istedgade. Be careful at night at Istedgade though! At the end closest to the main station, it gets pretty dodgy at night and is full of brothels and socially vulnerable people.
The liberty state of Christiania is by far the most unique thing in Copenhagen and is something not to be missed. Still to this day it blows my mind how this place ever came to be and all the wonderful things it represents.
Walking into Christinia is like stepping into a teleporter and all of a sudden you are not in Copenhagen anymore. The vibe changes the instant you are inside and your heart rate drops as you are sucked into the hippie vibe of this place.
In terms of what things to do in Copenhagen, visiting Christiania should be a must as it will at the bare minimum pique your interest.
Christiania is full of small shops, galleries, bars, and cafes, all owned by the locals. Head to Nemoland – a square that is full of people smoking weed, drinking beer, and playing board games. During the warmer months, there is even live music.
No great thing comes with zero downsides and in Christiania, it is, as you maybe know or can imagine, the drugs. “Pusher Street” that you will inevitably walk down, is where it is all sold. Mostly it’s weed but basically, these guys sell everything and some of them can be a little hardcore and scary. In addition, this pulls an interesting crowd at times. A good tip is to keep an eye on your belongings in this area and use an anti-theft travel bag.
Just don’t take any pictures in pusher street and you will be completely fine.
Visit the Historical City Center
I will first say that this is not my favorite part of the city, but that being said, it is still pretty nice. You can’t really say that you went to Copenhagen and didn’t take an iconic photo of Nyhavn.
Have a walk around this part of the city and shop around Strøget/Købmagergade – the main shopping street of the city.
Refshaleøen is a pretty new and therefore underdeveloped part of Copenhagen and this is where your bike will come in real handy!
Ride down the end of Nyhavn, across the bridge taking you to the other side of the canal, keep left and then just cycle off into eternity.
Eat Amazing Food
When thinking of what things to do in Copenhagen the firstborn child of this question should be; what to eat in Copenhagen. The city is such a food mecca and is world-famous for it too. I would not really recommend traditional danish food as that is all potatoes, gravy, and pork, but there are a couple of traditional things that are worth a try while you are here:
Smørrebrød, or the open sandwich, is a traditional thing to have for lunch and should be paired with both beer and snaps. I highly recommend Aamans and Restaurant Palægade for this even though they are a bit pricy.
Danish pastries: our pastries and bread are the best and every bakery around the city will sell a variety of different ones. Best bakeries in town? Juno the Bakery, Andersen and Maillard, and Hart Bageri by far! Trust me, you have never had bread and pastries like this before.
If you desperately want to try something traditionally danish then head to Nyboder Køkken at Borgergade. Anything from their menu is very traditional and you can try out the national dish “Stegt flæsk med persillesovs”. Furthermore, the place is quite fun and right next to the sister bodega Brogerkroen.
Which are the best tourist attractions in Copenhagen?
The Little Mermaid
The Little Mermaid statue is probably the most famous attraction in Copenhagen, or maybe even Denmark, and is also the most unimpressive. However, while you are in Copenhagen you will probably want to tick this monument off your list.
The best thing about the statue of The Little Mermaid is the location out at Langelinie. Sitting on a small rock overlooking the ocean you have the statue illustrating the famous story by H.C Andersen. Have a walk along the oceanside and take your pictures.
In the Vesterbro area, you also have the beautiful and ancient amusement park “Tivoli Gardens“. I go here a couple of times a year and I’m not even a tourist (maybe just a large kid). Simply step inside and you are instantly in a fairytale world or even Narnia. The Tivoli Gardens are such a well-done and magical place that if it wasn’t for the city noise around you, you would completely forget where you were.
As mentioned above, Christiania is one of the best and most unique places to visit in Copenhagen. Go there for some hours and be amazed by the diversity of this area compared to the rest of the city.
Don’t take any pictures in pusher street and you will be completely fine.
This is the beautiful royal palace in the city center of Copenhagen. Overlooking the ocean and facing the Opera house on the other side, Amalienborg is a beautiful castle that is also the functioning home of the Royal Family. If you are very very lucky you might even get to see the queen walking her little sausage dogs.
In the center of Copenhagen, you find the Royal Gardens overlooked by Rosenborg Castle. This park is beautifully maintained and is a popular hang-out spot for locals or city walkers. Be aware that at the beginning of the school year (around August and September), students also use this park for day drinking and the music can be quite disturbing.
More commonly known as the Marble Church is a big white church perfectly in line with Amalienborg and the Opera House on the other side of the canal. This alignment is a sight in itself, and the church is very beautiful to visit both inside and outside.
The National Museum of Denmark
Copenhagen has a couple of great museums to visit and The National Museum of Denmark is the best place to go in terms of danish history. The museum sits in a beautiful old mansion overlooking the canal and the area is a great historical place to experience.
Some other museums worth visiting:
- SMK (National Gallery of Denmark)
- Ny Carlsberg Glyptotek (one of my favorites)
- Cisternerne (underground art and event location)
- The Design Museum of Denmark (a mecca for design lovers)
The Round Tower
The Round Tower is a famous construction in the city center. The tower was built between 1637 and 1642 and is the oldest observatory in Europe. Visit this monument and walk the rounded alleyway all the way to the top.
How To Get To Copenhagen
You will probably arrive by plane at Kastrup airport. Copenhagen is not very big and the airport is only about 30 minutes out of the city center by cab or 13 minutes exactly (I know this from working at the airport for 7 years) by metro. I’d therefore advise you to just get on the metro or the train, depending on where you are staying, to get to the city.
If you need to go to the Main Station or “Hovedbanegården” you take the train. Simply take the train from the side that DOES NOT GO TO SWEDEN or “Malmö” as it’s called, and you will be good to go. If you are going to either “Nørreport” or “Kongens Nytorv” take the metro. There is only one from the airport so that is easy.
For any other destinations, you can check out dinoffentligetransport and it will tell you how to get there by public transportation. Here you can also buy your ticket online.
How Long to Spend in Copenhagen?
A full weekend or 3 days should be a good amount of time, depending on your speed and what you want to do.
The Best Month to Visit Copenhagen
People always ask me this and maybe it is just to get 100 percent reassurance, but YES… Spring or summer or the month of May, June, July, and August is the best time to visit Copenhagen. Denmark is not a travel destination because of the weather in general, but if you are lucky (and of course you are) you can have some very warm and beautiful days during these months.
Copenhagen is even great for swimming so pack your best swimsuit! The water will be cold but you’ll probably be out late and that cures a hangover so…
The best part about coming in these months is also that you will experience the best thing about Scandinavia – the insanely beautiful days where the sun rises as early as 4:30 am and sets around 10 pm.
I always get the Lonely Planet Travel Guide books when I go visit a new place. They provide so much information and inspiration!
How Expensive Is Copenhagen?
I’m not going to lie to you and Copenhagen is expensive.
Note that prices range depending on where you go but these are some estimates:
Accommodation/hotel a night: from 500DKK ( 80 USD)
Accommodation/hostel a night: around 200DKK for a dorm – 500DKK private (32 – 80USD)
Coffee: 40DKK (7 USD)
Beer: 40 DKK (7 USD)
Breakfast or lunch at a cafe: around 150-200DKK (25-32 USD)
Dinner: 150DKK – Restaurant Noma with a wine pairing (25-800 USD)
Where To Stay in Copenhagen
Aim to stay in one of the following areas: Vesterbro, Nørrebro or København K. These areas will have you close to everything you need.
Check out booking.com for hotels or hostelworld.com for hostels (there are actually some very central and cool ones). Otherwise, I would get an Airbnb to feel a little more homie. Lastly, for the adventurous traveler looking for budget-friendly options, there are many great hotel alternatives.
If you made it all the way through this post then first of all THANK YOU for reading. I hope it gave you a ton of insides about what to do in Copenhagen and you enjoyed it.
BEST TRAVEL RESOURCES
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