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The most bike-friendly city in the world? Welcome to Copenhagen
Photograph: Nick N A /

The 20 best things to do in Copenhagen

The best things to do in Copenhagen showcase the highlights of a rather magnificent place, from open sandwiches to intricate architecture

Written by
Miriam Gradel
Anya Nøddebo Jensen
James Clasper

Ready to get hygge? This is the place. Copenhagen is one of those cities you could spend weeks in, but even two or three days is enough to take in the mood of this fairytale capital. While many of its best cafes, restaurants and attractions are within walking distance of each other, you’re best off hiring a bike and cycling around the city, to truly immerse yourself in the culture.

Maybe you’re here for its galleries and museums, ever-expanding nightlife spots, or to explore the urban design that landed Copenhagen the title of UNESCO World Capital of Architecture for 2023. It’s the perfect place for mindful travellers too – we crowned Copenhagen the greenest city in Europe for its environmental innovation, from urban farms to sustainable fashion. Whatever the reason you’re here, the Danish capital is undoubtedly one of Europe’s best city breaks

Put together by our Copenhagen-dwelling experts, this is our ultimate guide to the best things to do in Copenhagen. 

🍸 The best bars in Copenhagen
🍽️ The best restaurants in Copenhagen
🏛️ The best museums in Copenhagen
💃 The best nightlife spots in Copenhagen
🛌 The best Airbnbs in Copenhagen

Great things to do in Copenhagen

What is it? A world-renowned art and sculpture museum in central Copenhagen housing Carl Jacobsen’s private collection of art and artefacts through 6000 years.

Why go? Ny Carlsberg Glyptotek is one of Copenhagen’s most treasured museums, found right at the heart of the city. It’s been open to the public since 1897 and is renowned for its extensive collections of Mediterranean antiques and 19th-century art (among the biggest collections in the world). Exhibitions range from Ancient Egypt to the works of Manet and van Gogh, as well as sculptures from Greece, Denmark and France. Come for the art, and stay for the ambience – outside is a glass-domed Winter Garden, adorned with palm trees, statues and a trickling fountain and a cosy cafe from which to take it all in. Entry is free on the last Wednesday of each month.

Photograph: Wikimedia Commons / Fred Romero

2. Jægersborggade

What is it? Cobbled streets lined with trendy bars, boutiques and cafés. Perfect for wandering (and photographing). 

Why go? When you fancy a slow day wandering around and sampling delicious coffee, cakes and independent shops, this is the place – and it won’t look bad on your Instagram either. Favourites include Inge Vincent’s ceramics workshop, craft store Vanishing Point and jewellery designers Ladyfingers. When you get hungry, stop at foodies’ paradise The Sixteen Twelve for brunch or grab a coffee and croissant at the Coffee Collective. Assistens Kirkegård, a leafy cemetery at the street’s southern end, is exceptionally picturesque and where famous Danes such as Hans Christian Andersen and Søren Kierkegaard are buried.


What is it? Denmark’s national art museum, SMK, is home to an immense collection of Danish and European works dating from the 1300s to the present day.

Why go? Copenhagen’s most sizeable cultural attraction is an excellent way to acquaint yourself with some of Denmark’s best-known works of art, including the masterpieces of the Danish Golden Age and Vilhelm Hammershøi’s highly influential interiors of 19th-century Copenhagen. The 20th and 21st-century collection, housed in a striking modern extension, is excellent too. With its simple but scrumptious menu, SMK’s beautiful café provides the perfect pit stop.

What is it? With its pastel-hued, 17th-century merchants’ houses, this is Copenhagen at its picture-postcard finest.

Why go? Yes, it’s a tourist trap — but it’s a gorgeous one and well worth visiting if only to get the obligatory shot of its brightly coloured houses (three of which were once home to fairytale writer Hans Christian Andersen). Nyhavn is also a great place to join a canal tour or set off on a stroll. Hungry? There’s a bustling food market home to POPL, where you can try a Noma burger. To escape the crowds, pop into Kunsthal Charlottenborg, a baroque building on Nyhavn’s south side, home to a contemporary art gallery and a beautiful café, Apollo.


What is it? Located in the city centre since 1870 and home to more than 13,000 plant species, this is the greenest place in town.

Why go? It’s ideal for a leisurely stroll when you want to escape the crowds. Highlights include a rhododendron garden, rock gardens featuring plants native to Europe’s mountainous regions, and the Palm House. The historic victorian green house features a terrace from which there is a grand view of the entire garden. During summer, visitors can also explore the garden’s butterfly house, and there’s a small shop selling plants and seeds, allowing you to take home some botanical magic as a souvenir.

What is it? A fairytale castle in one of Copenhagen’s oldest royal parks.

Why go? Built as a summer residence for Christian IV, the spectacular Renaissance castle Rosenborg Slot is home to the Danish crown jewels, several lavish rooms and a priceless wine collection. The castle’s leafy surrounds are also delightful: the King’s Gardens (Kongens Have) is a much-loved green oasis where you’ll find a decent café, two pétanque pistes, a charming puppet theatre, and plenty of space for picnicking. 


What is it? An impeccably designed, impeccably located museum with a world-beating modern art collection.

Why go? First, for the art: Louisiana’s permanent collection comprises more than 4,000 works produced since 1945, including pieces by Picasso and Giacometti, while its Sculpture Park houses work by Alexander Calder and Henry Moore. The building itself is considered a significant work of Danish modernist architecture. There’s also Louisiana’s idyllic location by the coast, overlooking Øresund and with views of Sweden. Finally, there’s its gift shop, packed with classic and contemporary Danish designs, plus a wide selection of books and exhibition posters.

Photograph: Oliver Foerstner /

8. Superkilen

What is it? A 33,000-square-foot urban park designed with the help of the surrounding community.

Why go? The award-winning Superkilen celebrates the multicultural melting pot that is Norrebrø and exemplifies the power of inclusive design. Constructed in 2012, it stretches for close to a kilometre through one of Denmark’s most ethnically and economically diverse neighbourhoods and contains more than 60 objects that reflect the area’s diversity. Look out for swing benches from Iraq, a boxing ring from Thailand, a slide from Chernobyl and rubbish bins from Blackpool.


What is it? A charming amusement park and pleasure garden that draws families year-round.

Why go? There’s fun for all the family at Copenhagen’s world-famous amusement park, which has stood on this site for more than 175 years and even inspired a certain Walt Disney. Adrenaline junkies will love the rides — including one of the world’s oldest wooden rollercoasters, constructed in 1914 — while others will find thrills in Tivoli’s seasonal decorations, floral displays, fountains, carousels, lanterns and old-fashioned carnival games.

Smørrebrød restaurants
Photograph: Ekaterina SU /

10. Smørrebrød restaurants

What is it? Difficult to pronounce (try ‘smurr-brull’), Denmark’s classic open-faced sandwiches are a traditional lunchtime dish every visitor should try.

Why go? Practically synonymous with Danish cuisine, smørrebrød comprises thin slices of rye bread topped with ingredients like pickled herring, battered plaice and chicken salad. Though you’ll find dozens of smørrebrød joints across the capital, it’s worth splurging and picking a place that uses fresh seasonal ingredients. Our favourites include old-school specialist Kronborg, vegan-friendly Schønnemann and Aamanns 1921, set in a historic building in the centre and happy to pair your dish with a glass of homemade snaps.


What is it? One of the most enjoyable ways to see Copenhagen is by spending a couple of hours skippering a solar-powered boat, or joining a social sail with Hey Captain around the harbour.

Why go? No experience is required to operate a GoBoat or a FriendShip, but you can opt for joining a social tour with Hey Captain if you prefer leaning back and making new friends instead of controlling the wheel. All boats putter around at a leisurely pace, giving you plenty of time to take in the sights, including Christiansborg (aka the Danish parliament); the striking modern architecture of BLOXHUB, home of the Danish Architecture Center; and the Royal Danish Opera House (not to forget the canals and multi-coloured houses of Christianshavn). Remember to bring a picnic if you choose FriendShip or GoBoat; both seat up to eight around a small table.

What is it? Copenhagen’s most visited harbour bath, offering open-air swimming all year round.

Why go?  Denmark is full of harbour baths, and Islands Brygge has become one of the city’s most iconic spots for a swim. During the summer months, the harbour side gets packed with beachboys, regular swimmers and families alike. Swimmers can take in city skyline views and follow up with a picnic on the nearby grassy area. There are five pools, with the shallowest being 30cm deep. If you’re lucky, there’ll be an open salsa or bachata class at the nearby community centre – just follow the music. 

Photograph: Courtesy CC/Flickr/Stig Nygaard

13. Refshaleøen

What is it? Copenhagen’s buzziest neighbourhood. On the northern outskirts of the harbour, post-industrial Refshaleøen is a creative quarter with a growing food scene.

Why go? Culture vultures shouldn’t miss the large-scale installations at the Copenhagen Contemporary art gallery, while design devotees will enjoy rummaging amid the mid-century furniture at the B&W flea market. Bouldering enthusiasts and novices alike can challenge themselves at Blocks & Walls, Scandinavia’s largest indoor climbing centre. Bring an appetite, though. Foodies are spoilt for choice here. Thronging street food market Reffen (from March to September) offers budget-friendly options, while La Banchina is Copenhagen’s trendiest spot for sundowners (tip: bring a swimsuit for the sauna).

Photograph: Julie Mayfeng /

14. Torvehallerne

What is it? A gourmet food market that is a must-stop on the Copenhagen culinary trail.

Why go? Torvehallerne is a foodie’s paradise, its twin glass halls housing a cornucopia of seasonal fruit and veg, baked goods, fresh meat and seafood. There are also plenty of tempting food stalls where you can pick up a scrumptious dish or two to enjoy on the go or at one of the tables outside. Our favourites include gourmet porridge at Grødconfit duck sandwiches at Ma Poule and craft cocktails at Pavillon De Verre.

Photograph: Courtesy CC/Flickr/Roman Holder

15. Værnedamsvej

What is it? Connecting upmarket Frederiksberg with trendy Vesterbro, this shopping street oozes charm and has even been dubbed Copenhagen’s ‘Little Paris’.

Why go? From independent bookshops to exotic florists, you’ll find lots of lovely shops in this instantly likeable neighbourhood thoroughfare. Værnedamsvej gets its charming Parisian vibe from the presence of the city’s only French lycée and the array of bars, cafés and delicatessens that wouldn’t be out of place on the Left Bank. We recommend Café Viggo, which serves a mean galette, and Falernum, one of the city’s fanciest wine bars.

What is it? An urban sports area and ski slope on top of the city’s newest waste management centre.

Why go? Possibly Copenhagen’s quirkiest attraction is this ski slope atop a tall waste-recycling plant. Designed by starchitect Bjarke Ingels, the artificial ski slope plus inner-city hiking area is the ultimate offbeat way to experience the city. If you don’t fancy adventure sports, you can walk up and stop for views of the Øresund strait as you go. Certified climbers can also have a go at the world’s highest climbing wall, measuring 85 metres from top to bottom.


What is it? To feel like a local, jump on a bicycle. Thanks to Copenhagen’s world-class cycling infrastructure, including miles of segregated bike lanes, peddling around the Danish capital is easy-peasy — and almost always the fastest way from A to B. The Harbour Ring (Havneringen) is a 13km marked route that takes in an array of big-hitting sights.

Why go? You’ll discover how well-connected Copenhagen is. Whizz past eye-catching waterfront architecture such as the Black Diamond library extension, cross the city’s much-loved harbour bridges — such as artist Olafur Eliasson’s spectacular Circle Bridge and the elevated Cycle Snake — and catch some fresh air at the Amager Fælled nature reserve. Just remember to stick to the city’s cycling rules.

What is it? A museum for Danish design and architecture located in a former Royal Hospital and one of the country’s finest rococo buildings. The open museum garden, Grønnegården, is one fo the city’s best green spaces. 

Why go? From furniture and ceramics to industrial design and textiles, the very best in Danish design is showcased at this renovated museum. The rococo building used to house Denmark’s first modern public hospital before it was transformed into a museum in 1926. Pass through the museum halls and out on the other side to enter the open public garden that provides a mindful space in the centre of the city. The onsite public library is the largest library dedicated to design and crafts in the Nordics, and the café provides scrumptious Danish classics made with local products.

Photograph: Shutterstock

19. Sydhavnen

What is it? A former fishing area filled with new architecture and plenty of green space. 

Why go? Authentic harbourside living gives this neighbourhood its local feel and charm. Enjoy swimming and watersports at Sluseholmen Harbour Bath (open May to March) or join a fermentation workshop at the urban community space BaneGaarden. Set in nine restored wooden barns from 1909, everything within this food, innovation and activities space is repurposed to promote sustainable living and development. Finally, take a break from the city with a walk alongside alpacas at the public nature area Sydhavnstippen.

The Six Forgotten Giants and Other Trolls
Photograph: Barbora Lodeova /

20. The Six Forgotten Giants and Other Trolls

What is it? Giant wooden sculptures of Scandinavian fairytale characters hidden around the city.

Why Go? While you’re exploring Copenhagen, you have to check out the Troll Map and hunt out the endearing wooden giants that hide throughout the city. The fairytale creatures were created by Copenhagen-based recycle-art activist, Thomas Dambo, who builds the sculptures from waste materials. Take a selfie alongside Kaptajn Nalle in Nordhavn, or grab a seat in the lap of Green George in Freetown Christiania. For a nature exploration, seek out The Six Forgotten Giants; the 19-mile-long bike route will take you through lush forest and past calm waters on your journey to discover the quirky wooden sculptures.

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