The Best Copenhagen Parks and Gardens
Perused every gallery and design stores under the sun? It's time to go outside and explore the best of Copenhagen's outdoor spaces
Denmark raised the bar when it came to staying inside. It brought us hygge – essentially drinking wine and lighting candles at home with people you like – great interior design and world-class New Nordic cuisine. By all means, spend a weekend in Copenhagen indoors in galleries and design stores gazing at Scandi furniture, memorising names like Hay and NORR11 to casually drop when you get back home. Absolutely work your way through the city’s best Michelin-starred restaurants and bakeries (we defy you not to eat all the sourdough croissants). But we have to let you into a little secret: Danes go outside, like the rest of us. So how about a walk around the park? Copenhagen parks have it all: royal connections, beautiful botanicals, Renaissance flower displays and live jazz performances. And this city’s green spaces run the gamut from wild to manicured. So put the baked goods down, resist the hygge and forget any preconceived notions of Danish cosiness – even if it’s drizzling. It’s time to leave your Plum Guide Copenhagen apartment and go outside.
Here’s the truth: hanging upside-down on the Vertigo rollercoaster or encountering fire-spitting VR dragons on The Demon isn’t our idea of fun either. But the amusement park that inspired Walt to create Disneyland in 1955 needn’t be stressful. Tivoli Gardens, the most famous garden in Copenhagen, is also home to precision-preened roses, globally inspired architecture, a low-key spin-off of Michelin-star restaurant Kiin Kiin, a ballet theatre and outdoor jazz, classical and contemporary music performances, illuminated by soothing fairytale lights. Now that’s something we can get on board with.
The Danes love their monarchy, and we have 19th century Danish King Frederik VI to thank for this park. King Frederik used to take boat rides up and down the park’s canals to wave at his subjects (sounds like a show off, if you ask us), and to this day his statue stands proud to greet visitors at the park entrance. These gardens are a local favourite for picnics, and beyond the Chinese Pavilion – a royal teahouse dating back to 1799 – there’s the curious suttetræet, AKA the “sucky tree”. This is where Copenhagen’s parents bring their kids to ceremoniously hang up their dummies when they turn three – watch out for low-hanging fruit.
Superkilen plays fast and loose with the idea of a ‘park’: but that’s what you get if you ask architects and artists to do the landscaping. BIG architects, Topotek1 and art collective Superflex created a half-mile long urban park in Nørrebro, with fuchsia and coral-hued rubber in place of grass, pink cycle lanes and undulating pinstripe tarmac. Yes, it might make you feel woozy, but it’s worth it for a taste of urban Copenhagen creativity at its finest. The park also reflects Nørrebro’s cultural diversity – with Islamic-inspired sculpture, neon signs from Russia, Spanish ping-pong tables and a Thai boxing ring.
This is one of three Copenhagen parks in the green Parkmuseerne district – a leafy utopia, if you’re into museums (and we are). The Botanical Garden is part of the Natural History Museum of Denmark, which also happens to be home to a piece of the moon, brought back by Apollo 13. The gardens themselves contain more Earthly wonders: Denmark’s largest collection of plants, a rhododendron garden and greenery-packed historical glasshouses and a temperature-controlled space for arctic plants (this is Scandinavia, after all).
The King’s Garden
Also part of the Parkmuseerne district, The King’s Garden is the grounds of the Rosenborg castle – King Christian IV’s palace. The oldest park in Copenhagen, created in the 1600s, is a Renaissance treat, with rose gardens and plenty of pleasingly ordered flowerbeds that would impress even the most neurotic gardener. Its sculptures include a bronze statue of the Danish author Hans Christian Andersen and bands play here during the Copenhagen Jazz Festival. As Copenhagen parks go, this is the classiest – with extra showing-off points for history and culture.
The city’s southern island, Amager, is known for its beaches, watersports and green spaces. And Kalvebod Faelled takes up the western quarter of the island. About as far away from ‘city park’ as you can get in a city, Kalvebod Faelled is one of the largest natural parks so close to an urban centre, located on a vast area of reclaimed seabed that serves as a key habitat for birdlife, frogs and even salamanders. Go for the hiking trails, swimming spots and stay for the Amager Ark art installation – a contemporary reconstruction of a Viking ship – and the sheer sense of space you just don’t get in the city. If this sounds up your street, you'll want to browse our collection of homes in Amagerbro.
Is this one of the most-photographed Copenhagen gardens? Not quite, but its tall-tree-lined walkways make good frozen winter shots and the cherry blossoms receive a lot of love on Instagram in the spring. It’s also where many famous Danes are buried – including Hans Christian Andersen (yes, him again) and Søren Kierkegaard, the father of existentialist philosophy, known for his intense and at times hilarious cynicism. We wonder what he’d make of our holiday snaps.