Copenhagen is an amazing city to visit. Initially, it was just a stop off point for us to get to Stockholm and Oslo, and we seriously underestimated how much fun we’d have there.
Originally a Viking fishing village, Copenhagen became Denmark’s capital in the early 15th century and is now home to nearly 800,000 people. What I love most about it is how small it is – while using a foreign city’s public transport is always an interesting experience, I actually love cities that are small enough to walk everywhere (and if you’re not a fan of walking, Copenhagen is one of the most bicycle-friendly cities in the world).
It’s a colourful, vibrant, welcoming city and was named Lonely Planet’s number 1 city to visit in 2019. We instantly fell in love with the place and I will definitely be going back!
Whether you’re there for 24 hours (like us) or are staying for a few days, here are 6 things you need to try out:
1. Tivoli Gardens
Top of my list is Tivoli Gardens! If I’d known how much fun this would be, I would have definitely bought tickets earlier.
As one of Copenhagen’s best loved attractions, Tivoli Gardens is an amusement park and pleasure garden and wins the hearts of old and young alike with so much to offer. Roller coasters, arcades, carnival games, live music, live performances, restaurants, cafes, you name it. Tivoli Gardens has it all and is the place to be in Copenhagen.
In fact, it’s so popular that it’s the fifth-most visited theme park in Europe – considering it’s competing with the likes of Disneyland, I’d say that’s pretty good going! It opened in 1843 and is the second-oldest operating amusement park in the world (the oldest is also in Denmark).
Entrance starts at 135 DKK (circa £16) but you have to pay extra for the rides once inside. We also paid for entry into their tropical aquarium which was well worth the few £.
2. Carlsberg Factory
It’s a little out of the way, but if you’re up for it, I would highly recommend a tour of the Carlsberg factory. Now I’m no beer lover – I can’t stand the stuff – but it’s a great experience, and something a little different.
We bought our ticket from the visitor information centre near the town square which included a free shuttle bus. Entry also includes two free drinks and a self-guide tour around the facility. At intervals throughout the day, you can also hitch a ride with a cart and horses who’ll take you around the whole new facility where they currently make the beer. And this is when you’ll see the iconic elephant gate. Remember this advert? You want to be about 43 seconds when you’ll get a glimpse of them.
*bonus point if you recognise the guy from Hannibal
Strøget is the place to shop in Copenhagen. 1.1km long, it’s one of the longest pedestrianised roads in Europe and is home to a whole host of designer brands including Tommy Hilfiger, Pandora, Burberry and a host of Denmark’s own national chains, including Lego.
We loved walking up and down the pedestrianised street; there’s no shortage of places to shop, eat and drink. And each side street offers some pretty unique views of iconic landmarks too.
If you’re lucky, you may even be treated to the entertainment of street performers, especially on Amagertov (a plaza) which acts as a central space where you can see the Stork Fountain.
4. The Royal Library
Now no trip would be complete without something literary.
We actually discovered the Royal Library (also by mistake; it was a talking point on our boat tour and so we decided to pay a visit afterwards.
Overlooking the river, the Royal Library is an impressive piece of architecture. The building, called The Black Diamond, is an extension of the Royal Library and has a shiny black exterior that mirrors the sea and sky of the harbour. From a distance, it almost looks like a giant black diamond 😉
If you’re looking for somewhere to relax and take some time out, this is the ideal spot. The water front is dotted with deckchairs where you can sit and read in peace.
5. The Little Mermaid
It wouldn’t be a trip to Copenhagen without at least catching a glimpse of the Little Mermaid. This iconic landmark was unveiled in 1913 and since the mid-1960s has suffered numerous vandalism attacks – including two instances where statue was decapitated.
You can visit the statue on land, or see it by boat – which is what we did, definitely a unique way to view it – at the Langelinie promenade where sits upon a rock.
6. New Harbour
The Old Harbour is perhaps one of the most recognisable streets in Copenhagen with its amazingly colourful buildings. It’s also a great place to catch a boat tour around the city.
For me, I wish we’d spent more time enjoying the little cafes, bars and restaurants down by the water and watching the world go by.
It’s also a great spot for admiring some beautiful historical wooden ships. If culture is your thing, New Harbour is a must-visit tourist spot.