What to Do in Copenhagen: A Quick Guide

Here are some local tips to ensure you get the most out of Copenhagen.

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Cyclist on Copenhagen Canal with colourful buildings and red boat

Denmark rarely gets the recognition it deserves as a holiday destination. Nevertheless, the land of “Hygge” and the home of the smørrebrød and other ridiculously unpronounceable words might be the ideal place to spend some time away from it all. Its capital, Copenhagen, is a magical place where colours, tastes and emotions are in some poetic way akin to the city itself; absolutely flat. But that is not necessarily dispiriting. Here you can sojourn in serenity and rediscover your peace of mind while exploring a few lesser-known attractions. So, in lieu of yet another “best of the best”, here’s an honest list of what to do in Copenhagen.

Meet Copenhagen’s Little Mermaid

If there’s one attraction in Copenhagen you’ve already heard about, that’s probably the statue of the Little Mermaid at the Langelinie. Surprisingly enough, the innocent-looking bronze statue has sparked quite a bit of controversy among Danes. On one hand, there are those that risk an embarrassing dip in the brackish waters for a photo opportunity with the famous mermaid. On the other, Edvard Eriksen’s creation has thus far survived two decapitations, an amputation and an explosion among other imaginative acts of vandalism. An iconic landmark or a perennial martyr? Whatever the case may be, you might want to see this one while it’s still intact.

Experience Nordic cuisine

If you get past all the frikadeller and kanelsnegl - basically glorified meatballs and cinnamon rolls respectively - locals will most certainly urge you to try, you’ll find that Copenhagen offers countless culinary treats. Start by trying out one of the world’s best burgers at the gas station-turned-burger joint Gasoline Grill on Borgergade street. If high-end gastronomy is more of your thing, pay a visit to Noma, Copenhagen’s world-famous, multi-awarded restaurant led by chef René Redzepi. Bear in mind, however, that you’ll have to make your reservation months in advance. Makes you wish you’d come across this list of what to do in Copenhagen a tad earlier, doesn’t it?

Enjoy the view from the Round Tower (Rundetårn)

The name is not misleading. It really is a tower and it’s round and perhaps there’s not much left we could add to that. Still, you’ll most probably come by it when walking through the city centre, so why not climb up and enjoy the view? It’s actually one of the few spots in Copenhagen that are open to the public and high enough to offer a birdseye panorama of the cityscape.

Inside Copenhagen's Round Tower or Rundetårn

Discover Nyhavn

Nyhavn is the name of the quaint 17th-century harbour in the heart of Copenhagen. Originally built in 1681 by Swedish prisoners of war, Nyhavn has traditionally been a place of abutting contradictions. Following its construction, the northern side became the “shady” one, a hub for sailors, artists and writers (including Hans Christian Andersen), while the southern one was home to the Charlottenborg Palace. Nowadays, due to almost half a century of marketing overkill, Nyhavn has turned into what locals call “the longest bar in Scandinavia”, complete with restaurants, pubs, souvenir shops, wooden ships and colourful buildings lined along the quays. Still, it’s definitely worth a visit during your trip.

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Louisiana Museum of Modern Art

Louisiana MoMA is a must for art aficionados. Located on the coast at the outskirts of Copenhagen, the museum opened its doors in 1958 to present a blend of natural beauty,lauded art and extraordinary architecture. Apart from a collection of more than 3500 artworks of all genres, Louisiana houses numerous curated exhibitions every year. If When the hordes of tourists fighting over selfie opportunities become unbearable, you can head outside. There you can relax and take in the views of Sweden across the Sound, or stroll through the museum’s outdoor sculpture park.

Take a day trip to Malmö, Sweden

We’re certain that Malmö isn’t exactly at the top of your bucket list and -to be completely candid- it’s not on ours either. Nevertheless, visiting another country in less than an hour is always tempting. To get there you’ll cross the famous Øresund Bridge which is an attraction in its own right. While in Malmö, make sure to visit Malmöhus, an imposing Renaissance castle that houses the city’s Natural History Museum and Museum of Art as well as a state-of-the-art aquarium. In the off-chance it doesn’t rain, stroll through Kungsparken, a charming green complex that encompasses two lakes and several gardens dotted with sculptures and statues.

The öresund bridge leading to Malmö in Sweden Ocean

Explore the canals with a boat cruise

You might not embark on an adventurous expedition in the uncharted waters of the North Sea, but Copenhagen has just enough waterways to make a boat cruise more intriguing than the tourist trap it normally is. It goes without saying that your enjoyment will depend entirely on the canal tour you choose. You might gain some interesting insight on some of the city’s unique attractions like Trekroner Fortress or cross paths with swarms of tourists on their way to the Little Mermaid. In the latter event, expect to be waved at frantically. There is no escape. Most tours depart from Nyhavn and there are plenty of options; smaller or larger boats, themed tours, sightseeing tours and party cruises. Τhe last one being, of course, the most insufferable. Tread wisely.

Hint: If you see teenagers holding six-packs of Carlsberg waiting on the pier, then make sure to cancel or reschedule as fast as possible.

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