An expert guide to Copenhagen
The epitome of Scandi cool, Copenhagen is an alluring Nordic metropolis, home to avant-garde architecture, Michelin-starred restaurants, waterfront bars, glorious parks, cosy cafes and some of the happiest people on earth.
Charming and contemporary, Denmark’s capital is a buzzing city break destination, and one that’s fiercely fashionable.
Planning to visit during the winter? Bundle up and strut your stuff along captivating Nyhavn, a 17th-century waterfront where colourful row houses dot the canal. In the summer, sink a cold beer on a hot day, get out on the water and make the most of up to 19 hours of glorious sunlight.
Often ranked as the happiest place in the world, there’s a relaxed pace of life in Copenhagen. Culture vultures rejoice at its quirky art design, history and royalty, but it’s also a place for self‑proclaimed foodies. Think innovative, experimental and sustainable cooking, from high-end New Nordic cuisine and fresh-out-of the-water seafood to craft beer and organic hot dog stands.
It’s a city that’s best explored on two wheels so, if you get the chance, jump in the saddle and ride across the Bicycle Snake and Bryggebroen bridges, marvelling at glittering harbours and hangout highways as you go.
Late spring is the best time to visit, with its sunny and breezy climate, along with fewer crowds and cheaper rates. Here’s everything you’ll want to tick off in the Danish capital…
A famous amusement park in perfectly manicured gardens in the centre of Copenhagen – what could be better? The world’s second-oldest amusement park, Tivoli Gardens has drawn visitors since the 19th century.
At night, twinkling lights and a bustling atmosphere give it a fairytale feel – it’s no surprise Walt Disney was a famous visitor. Don’t miss head-spinning virtual reality ride The Demon, plus the Orangery, offering an exotic and tranquil break from all the adrenaline.
Design Museum Danmark
This is a must for anyone looking to sink their teeth into the richness of Danish design. The building – a breathtaking example of Rococo architecture – is a work of art and the museum captures Copenhagen’s design legacy.
Get lost in its abundance of decorative glass, ceramics, furniture, fashion and textiles from the Middle Ages all the way to the present. You can book private 60-minute tours, but you’re better off joining the free ones on a Sunday afternoon.
History lovers, students and architecture aficionados, this one’s for you. Dating back to 1606, this castle was built by the most famous Scandinavian king, Christian IV. It offers a glimpse into the city’s regal history, like a time capsule filled with treasure.
The castle’s 24 upper rooms are arranged in date order, hosting the furnishings and portraits of each king and queen. Avoid queuing by booking tickets online.
Copenhagen’s botanical gardens are a green oasis at its centre. Say hello to the largest collection of Danish flora, including more than 13,000 plant species spread over 10 hectares.
Don’t miss the rhododendron garden or the shop near the entrance which sells plants, flowers and seeds. The best part: these gardens are completely free, allowing you to roam and relax among the rare trees, shrubs and herbs.
Find your ideal cruise
SNAP AND GO
Easily Copenhagen’s most iconic landmark, lined with wooden ships, modern boats and mouthwatering seafood restaurants, this storied quay is always bustling with locals and visitors.
Get your fix by snapping the multicoloured townhouses, before stopping for a coffee and pastry.
The Little Mermaid
For more than 100 years, a four-foot bronze statue gazing out to sea has been one of the city’s most famous features. She’s perched by Langelinie cruise harbour in Nyhavn. Although designed by Edvard Eriksen, the statue was inspired by Hans Christian Andersen’s 1837 fairy tale The Little Mermaid.
For something a little different, head to Copenhagen’s multi-use waste-to-energy plant turned architectural marvel, complete with a ski slope, climbing wall and cafe. Even if you have no interest in skiing down its 1,300-foot slope, swing by with a camera.
GRAB A BITE
Three Michelin-starred, but with a casual flair, noma helped Copenhagen become a culinary hotspot, and it’s still the hottest ticket in town, with a menu that changes three times a year – expect game in autumn, seafood in winter and vegetables in spring and summer. Book months ahead to avoid disappointment.
Danish for ‘porridge’, Grød has created an entire menu around oats. Don’t be put off though, each dish is a refined, modern twist on a family favourite. Treat your taste buds to Indian-spiced daal, where oats are infused with fresh coriander, cherry tomatoes and salted almonds. Not to mention pea risotto where, you guessed it, oats replace the usual brothy rice.
The Coffee Collective
Head to this beautifully decorated spot in Jaegersborggade, where you’ll find a super friendly coffee shop selling delicious sustainable coffee and moreish pastries. The Coffee Collective has three other locations too – Torvehallerne, Bernikowsgade and Gothåbsvej.
There’s no better place to treat yourself than the world’s longest shopping street, with brands including the Harrods of Danish design, Illums Bolighus. But for unique Scandinavian boutiques and vintage shops, don’t miss the side streets, especially Strædet, which runs perfectly parallel.
Kid-friendly, cosy and relaxed, Vaernedamsvej is often called “The French Street” due to its Parisian atmosphere. It’s packed with fashion shops, delis, wine bars and tasty eateries. Tucked between Frederiksberg and Vesterbro, it is one not to miss.
This number one marketplace is full of fresh food stalls, including an oyster bar, a specialist French cheese shop, smørrebrød stands and much more. Don’t miss the zingy tacos at Hija de Sanchez, or flaky, sweet pastries at Albatross og Venner. You’ll also find all your specialist dinner ingredients here.