Top 10 Things To Do In Copenhagen, Denmark

Travel guide for planning a trip to Copenhagen, including top tourist attractions and things to do.

Copenhagen, the capital city of Denmark, is a small cosmopolitan city with a population of just under 500,000 inhabitants. Located on the eastern edge of the country across the bay from Sweden, this 800 year old city with its narrow cobblestone streets is sometimes called "The Paris of the North." Here are 10 things you can do to experience the charm and hygge, or spirit, that Copenhagen and the Danish people have to offer.

1. Mingle with the Royals at Amalienborg Palace

Amalienborg Palace has been the home of the Royal family since the late 18th Century. The palace, built in the Rococo style, is actually composed of four houses that open up onto a square. Parts of the Royal residence are open to the public, and guided tours are offered of several period rooms furnished with decorative arts and paintings from the mid- 19th Century to the mid-20th Century. Also open to the public is the official Royal costume gallery. Visitors can also witness the changing of the guard at noon every day.

2. Shop the Stroget

The Stroget is the longest shopping street in Copenhagen. Cars were banned from it in 1962 when it was converted to a pedestrian-only street. To this day it remains a success. The Stroget begins in the Nyhavn district and ends at City Hall Square.

There are a number of important historic buildings and monuments along the Stroget including Illums, Copenhagen's oldest department store, a 17th Century house that belonged to a Danish Court painter, the Church of the Holy Spirit (circa 1728), and the Stork Fountain, a fine example of Art Nouveau design. Many of the side streets of the Stroget are filled with cafes and small restaurants.

3. Stroll along the Nyhavn Canal

The historic Nyhavn Canal was built in the late 17th Century to connect the city of Copenhagen with the sea. Nyhavn, or New Harbor, is a misleading name because it actually dates from the late 17th Century when the canal was built. Bars, cafes, restaurants, and rowhouses painted in bright colors line the canal, where old wooden sailboats are anchored. Built in the early to mid-18th Century, the rowhouses were once owned by wealthy merchants. Cobblestone streets complete the picturesque look of the area.

4. Marvel at Danish Modern Furniture at the Dansk Design Center

The Dansk Design Center, whose goal is to make itself the design center of Europe, is located near City Hall Square in the center of Copenhagen. Through the use of interactive displays and exhibits, visitors can view 100 years of Danish modern design as it applies to furniture and the decorative arts. There is also a cafe and museum shop.

5. Visit the Little Mermaid, National Symbol of Denmark

Sitting on a rock on Copenhagen's waterfront near the Langelinie Wharf is the most well-known statue in Denmark""The Little Mermaid. It is rumored that the principal ballerina from the production of The Little Mermaid modeled for the statue, which was sculpted in 1913 by Edvard Eriksen as a tribute to the Danish Ballet.

6. Relax in the Latin Quarter

Copenhagen's jazz music community can be found in the Latin Quarter, a neighborhood that is more than 500 years old. Built around the University of Copenhagen, which has since moved to the outskirts of the city, the Latin Quarter is named for the Latin language that was used by scholars in the Middle Ages. Its tiny streets are filled with second-hand bookstores, trendy boutiques, eclectic music stores, jazz clubs, and a candy factory that offers tours of its facility.

7. Enjoy the View from the Round Tower

Built by King Christian IV in 1642, the Round Tower has always been open to the public. At 115 feet high it offers a wonderful view of the old city of Copenhagen. The three-part building, a student church, library, and astronomical observatory, is connected by a 685-foot long cobblestone spiral ramp that leads to the top of the tower. The observatory is the oldest one in Europe that is still in use.

8. Explore Culinary Copenhagen

Enjoy some hyggelig, or Danish hospitality, at a local restaurant. Sip an aperitif of Aquavit flavored with anise, fennel, or cumin. Unique to Scandinavian countries, this alcoholic drink is served chilled in a cordial glass. To accompany it, try an open-faced sandwich, or smørrebrød, of rye bread topped with butter, sliced meats and cheese, or smoked fish, hard boiled eggs, radishes, and chives. Or, enjoy a glass of glogg, a traditional Christmas punch made of spiced mulled wine that is popular in the winter months. For breakfast try a Danish pastry and for dessert, bite into a sweet almond cake similar to marzipan.

9. Explore the Botanical Gardens and Museum

The Botanical Gardens are located on the outskirts of Copenhagen and are part of the modern day University of Copenhagen. Within the 12-acre gardens, which were constructed in the late 18th Century, is the Palm House containing tropical plants from around the world and greenhouses filled with orchids and bromeliads. There are also rock gardens featuring arctic and alpine plants native to Scandinavia, which are located on the fortifications of an old fort that once stood there, circa 1600. The gardens are accessible by bus or train from Copenhagen.

10. Hang Out With the Locals at Bakken

Less than ten miles north of the city, is Bakken Amusement Park. This is where Danish citizens go to have fun. Bakken is nearly 400 years old and sits in the middle of a deer reserve. No cars are allowed within the perimeter of the park--only horse drawn carriages and bicycles. Money from the admission tickets goes toward the upkeep of the reserve. It is accessible by train from Copenhagen.

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