Beautiful colorful houses in Copenhagen

The 20+ Best Things to Do in Copenhagen – Hand Picked Local Experiences

by Kristina Dodier - updated February 24, 2020

Copenhagen is an authentic travel destination that is sure to charm any visitor. Most people don’t know that Copenhagen is made up of 9 islands. This means that water is never far away, thus adding to its beauty and enjoyment. 

Rich in history, culture and a thriving art scene, Copenhagen has something for everyone. 

The Little Mermaid, Tivoli, and the famous Strøget walking street (and the longest walking street in the world) are just scratching the surface on the wonder and magnificence of this Scandinavian jewel. 

1. See the Little Mermaid

Visit Little Mermaid statue
See the famous Little Mermaid statue come to life on the water.

The iconic Little Mermaid lives here in Copenhagen.

Most people have heard of this famous fairytale from their childhood.

See it come to life in the sculpture on the water.

Although this will be a relatively quick visit, as you are simply seeing a statue, the surrounding neighborhood of Østerbro is on the sea and worth your time.

You can see the famous Opera House from afar. 

Østerbro is also adjacent to the large lakes of Copenhagen.

These lakes reach each neighborhood, adding even more gorgeous pictures to your trip.

Take a walk along the lakes and discover the cafes, restaurants and bars overlooking the water. 

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2. Explore Tivoli

Explore Tivoli
Experience the fairytale feeling at Tivoli is dreamy and whimsical

Tivoli is a stunning amusement park covered in sprawling gardens located right in the city center.

Did you know that Walt Disney felt inspired by Tivoli and modeled his own theme parks with similar architecture?

The fairytale feeling at Tivoli is dreamy and whimsical; it is no surprise this timeless park is frequented by locals and tourists. 

If you aren’t up for actually entering the park, it is worth walking around and observing it.

Not far from Central Station or the hip and trendy Vesterbrø neighborhood, you can see Tivoli and then head into other parts of the city. 

Keep in mind it is not open year round, but there is a wonderful Christmas market that opens up from November 16- January 5. It is a pure delight.

The sounds, the smells, the glögg (warm spiced red wine), the mesmerizing décor are all a part of the magic here. 

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3. Visit Louisiana Museum of Modern Art

Louisiana Discover Museum of Modern Art
Explore the Danish modernist architecture and stunning exhibitions in Louisiana Museum of Modern Art

Combining natural beauty, the sea as a backdrop, Danish modernist architecture and stunning exhibitions, it feels like so much more than a museum.

Simply walking around the property is its own unique experience.

Boasting panoramic views of Sweden in the distance, this museum attracts visitors from all over the world.

This museum is about a 35-minute train ride from Copenhagen Central Station. Stop at the Humlebæk station and walk ten minutes to Louisiana. 

After your eyes dance at the site of the fabulous exhibitions, be sure to treat yourself to the mouth watering food at their café.

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4. Eat at Torvehallerne Market

Eat at Torvehallerne Market
Visit the market that sell everything you can think of from all over the globe.

In typical Danish innovative and creative fashion, this once bare space in the city is now a sprawling, gorgeous market.

Found right near Nørreport Station, torvehallerne is a stunning structure boasting authentic and tasty food. 

There is literally something for every palate.

Trying to avoid carbs? No problem, check out the delicious paleo restaurant.

Craving fish? Delight in sushi made by professional Japanese sushi chefs.

How about a juicy duck sandwich with mustard? Visit the French establishment and wash it down with a French beer. 

I am only scratching the surface.

There are markets that sell everything you can think of from all over the globe.

This is a popular destination for tourists and locals alike.

Featured in a New York Times article, this market has caught international attention for good reason.

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5. Explore street art

Explore street art in Copenhagen
Get ready for your street art adventure

Street art in Copenhagen is cleverly used throughout the city.

For example, there is an unattractive construction area in Kongens Nytorv that has become brighter and more colorful with lovely street art. 

Although the street art scene isn’t as prominent as it is in other cities, Copenhagen is certainly up and coming.

The best street for the most street art is Rentemestervej.

There are at least 7 beautiful murals for you to enjoy.

As the street art scene is ever changing, it is likely there are more murals here for your enjoyment. 

The other neighborhoods to view street art are the hip and trendy Vesterbro neighborhood and the culturally rich neighborhood of Nørrebro.

These areas of the city offer wonderful cafes, restaurants and plenty of watering holes to stop along your street art adventure. 

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6. Feel the nature at The Deer Park (Dyrehaven)

Horse Riders in The Deer Park close to Copenhagen
Keep your eyes peeled for these mystical creatures frolicking around the Park

While this destination is unlikely to be mentioned in Copenhagen travel guides, it is an oasis of nature, wildlife and green beauty. 

For those of you in search of nature close to the city, this is your place for tranquility.

This park encompasses open spaces, paths, forests and a scenic route along the Øresund sound.

If you choose to visit the deer park, be sure to check out Bakken as well. It is within walking distance.

Bakken is the oldest amusement park in the world.

The deer park is free to enter and you can reach it via the S-Train from downtown Copenhagen.

Simply look for the station named Klampenborg Station. The train ride will take around 15-20 minutes. 

You could also grab a city bike and cycle your way here as well. This takes 40 minutes.

Dating back to 1669, the park was designed for deer to roam freely and that they do!

Keep your eyes peeled for these mystical creatures frolicking around the property.

The Deer Park was named a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 2015.

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7. Discover Christianshavn and Freetown Christiania

Enjoy the The Grand Canal Tour
Discover the history behind Christianshavn lies with Christian IV in his goal of fortifying Copenhagen

Christianshavn is an area of the city with houseboats, canals, cobblestones, a spiral church and the hippy commune called Christiania.

Whether you want to enter Christiania is up to you, however Christianshavn is scenic, boasting cafes and one of the best vegetarian restaurants in town. 

Easily connected by metro, on foot, bus or bike, Christianshavn is an artificial island and is a trendy spot for visiting. 

The history behind Christianshavn lies with Christian IV in his goal of fortifying Copenhagen.

Designed with Dutch cities as the inspiration, there are charming canals that remind one of Amsterdam.

The iconic “You are Now Leaving the EU” sign is outside of Christiania.

With over forty years of history, this “Free Zone” was established by squatters inside an old military base.

It was founded in 1971 and covers 84-acres. This is possibly the longest lasting and largest commune in history. 

There are around 900 residents living here.

Behind the bars and the weed/hashish stands is a beautiful lake, lovely greenery and so much more.

Free music is offered both in the outdoor and indoor venues, there are plenty of food trucks, a sauna, a happening bar called Nemoland, a wonderful vegetarian restaurant, art and various shops. 

I would check out the blacksmith shop.

This creative business features all female blacksmiths. Their pieces are beautiful and authentic.

Christiania has its own flag, its own money and its own residents.

They believe property should be free.

If you decide to visit, remember this is also where people call home and respect their space accordingly.

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8. Cycle your way around

Cycle your way around
Bike around the intersection of Copenhagen

Copenhagen is the number 1 biking city in the world. It is flat, has luxuriously large bike lanes and traffic lights for cyclists.

Traffic lights are actually followed here, therefore biking in Copenhagen is extremely safe. 

You can rent bikes easily and conveniently here in Copenhagen.

Some great ideas for your bike adventure are heading towards Hellerup, which has a beautiful beach and coastline, riding along the beautiful lakes, or cruising through Frederiksberg, which has beautiful scenery.

One of the exciting perks of travel is entering the unknown.

Copenhagen is a safe city, therefore you can also just wing it and get cycling.

See where the day takes you. Fortunately every neighborhood has cafes, bars and restaurants for you to refuel and take a break. 

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9. Watch the changing of the guard

Watch the changing of the guard
Watch the historical changing of the guard at Amalienborg Palace Square

Denmark has the oldest flag and monarchy in the world.

Everyday there is a changing of the guard at Amalienborg Palace Square.

Whether you are interested in Monarchies or not, this is a unique cultural experience and it’s free.

Arrive at 11:30 for the full experience. 

This particular area of Copenhagen is also beautiful and historical.

It is a lovely area to get lost and wander the small streets.

Nearby is the postcard perfect Nyhavn.

Set on a canal with colorful buildings, Nyhavn is stunning.

I would not eat here, as it is very expensive and touristy. 

Act like a local instead: buy some beers and a hot dog from the inexpensive hot dog cart and sit at the canal.

In summer, one sees the tourists at the outdoor cafes and restaurants and the Danes with their legs dangling over the canal sipping their cans of beer. 

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10. Eat Smørrebrød

Eat Smørrebrød
Try out the classic Danish sandwich bread Smørrebrød.

Denmark is known for its open-faced sandwiches, or called in Danish: smørrebrød.

The fresh ingredients, unique sauces and creative combinations are not to be missed.

There are many places for you to sink your teeth into delectable Danish sandwich delights.

If you keep your eyes peeled, you will see various sandwich shops, restaurants and cafes offering up their own version. 

T.S. Smørrebrød in Islands Brygge is a recommendation.

They opened their doors in 1994 and they offer classic open faced sandwiches.

Islands Brygge is also a hot spot in Copenhagen.

It is lovely, offers views of the canal and is the perfect place to soak up the sun in summer. 

The watering hole in Islands Brygge is something to be seen.

There are ladders coming out of the canal for swimmers.

Yes, you are swimming in a canal in the middle of the city. The water is clean and refreshing. Many winter bathers also frequent this canal.

If you aren’t up for a swim, grab some sandwiches and sit at the canal as you watch the calm waters, boats and people pass by.

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11. Have a beer taste at Lord Nelson Bar

Drink some tasteful cider at Lord Nelson Bar
Have a taste of the cider produced from the fresh apples.

Although many flock to the famous Mikkeler bars, what is unique about Lord Nelson is its offering of Danish ciders and beers from various breweries.

Visitors will taste beer from a selection of frothy options. 

This is a small bar visited by locals and tourists and it has a lovely atmosphere.

They offer dice, chess, backgammon and jenga, if you are interested in playing some games while enjoying their drinks.

In addition, there is an extensive comic book and literature collection.

The literature focuses on microbrewery beers.

This is the perfect spot for those traveling solo, as there is plenty to read. 

The bartenders are friendly and knowledgeable.

Located in Copenhagen K, the center of the city is at your disposal.

This lovely neighborhood has endless tiny streets, cobblestones and a great vibe for wandering. 

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12. Explore The Round Tower

Explore The Round Tower
Climb to the tower with stunning views encompasses a spiral and flat walk.

Also found in Copenhagen K is the famous 17th-century Round Tower.

This is the oldest functioning observatory in Europe. 

The Round Tower was built by King Christian IV, with the essence of Tycho Brahe and the achievements made by Denmark in astronomy.

Today, it is still used by amateur astronomers.

The journey to the stunning views encompasses a spiral and flat walk. 

Although this requires a physical climb, the 360 degrees city view is well worth the hike. 

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13. Enjoy access in Free Museums

Enjoy Free Access in Ny Carlsberg Glyptotek, Copenhagen
Admire collections of Roman, Egyptian and Greek art as well as Danish art from Denmark’s Golden Age.

On Tuesdays only, check out the Ny Carlsberg Glypoteket. Founded by Carl Jacobsen, this museum is both architecturally beautiful and home to stunning antiques and art.

You can both admire collections of Roman, Egyptian and Greek art as well as Danish art from Denmark’s Golden Age. 

The David Collection is located across from the Rosenborg Castle Gardens. 

Housed in the building once lived in by the museum’s founder (Ludvig David).

The museum features permanent collections.

Here you can enjoy collections of Islamic Art, Danish Early Modern Art and European Art.

The museum is free to enter and absolutely worth a visit.

Møstings Hus is always free to enter.

It is a lovely old country house nestled between old trees and a sparkling pond.

This venue hosts book launches and small concerts as well as 6 annual art exhibitions.

It is found in the Frederiksberg neighborhood, which is often overlooked by tourists as it is quite residential.

 It is a plush and lovely part of Denmark, offering many cafes, restaurants and bars. 

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14. Chill and Relax at Copenhagen Park Life

Enjoy Copenhagen park life
Have a peaceful and romantic moment by the river at the Orstedsparken Park

Copenhagen has lovely parks, gardens and serene areas for relaxation, picnicking, bbqing and wall climbing. 

Bananna Park: As mentioned earlier in this article, Copenhagen has a gift for turning unattractive and unused space into fabulous urban hangouts. This park was created out of a toxic old waste ground. It is now green, colorful and exciting. One area feels like a tropical rainforest and another has ample space for biking and rollerblading.

There are climbing spaces for you adventurous folks, areas for children and a section to bbq and picnic. The park is a colorful oasis, filled with art and an eclectic mix of people in the melting pot of Nørrebro. 

Ørstedsparken: Found in the bustling city center, this park is gorgeously laid out with water, sleepy trees and plenty of green space. Danes are often found here sunning themselves or enjoying beers with friends. 

There is plenty of space for everyone. It is legal to drink alcohol in public in Denmark. It is also okay to bbq and cook food here. If you want to live like the locals, grab some food and snacks and spend an afternoon here. The summer months have sunlight until late; you will lose track of time and enjoy the many hours of sunlight. 

Fælledparken: As the city’s biggest park, Fælledparken has it all. Water, hidden nooks and crannies, open green spaces and various events happening are all found here. This is the perfect place to wander around for a lovely walk, read a book under the many trees, play yard games with friends or simply relax. 

Superkilen: Receiving international acclaim, this urban park celebrates diversity and connectedness. Futuristic, colorful, mesmerizing, Superkilen is hard to describe in words and better if you just go and experience it for yourself. 

The space is put together by different zones, each with their own colors and designs.

 The sections of this marvelous park are scattered with pieces from over 50 countries.

These include benches from Brazil, neon signs from around the world, a fountain from Morocco and trash cans from England, to name a few. 

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15. Discover the unbelievable Grundtvig’s Church

Visit Grundtvig Church
Discover the unbelievable Grundtvig’s Church

I lived in Copenhagen for many years before I saw this unbelievable church.

 I couldn’t believe this structure existed.

It can be seen from afar as you approach its dreamy exterior; it is ever so magical from any angle.

This Gothic-style church is unlike anything you will see, even if you are an avid traveler or one who is particularly interested in Gothic style.

Stare at the façade. What does it look like to you?

It is meant to resemble the shape of a church organ.

Millions of yellow bricks have created this church to create this masterpiece.

You don’t have to spend a kroner to marvel at this stunning church.

Across the street is a mystical park within Bispebjerg Cemetery.

I highly recommend you go and get lost for a while.

The trees found here seem out of the ordinary in comparison to other Danish parks.

In the Spring (March and April), enjoy the wonderful cherry blossoms. 

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16. Visit the largest bottled beer collection in the world

Visit the largest bottled beer collection in the world
See the eclectic and fascinating journey through beer culture, time and bottle design at the Carlsberg Brewery

Holding over 22,000 beer bottles, this collection will take you through history, as the collector, Leif Sonne, has been gathering unopened bottles of beer since 1968. 

The beer bottles are from all over the globe and include every brand and style one could imagine.

His collection began as a hobby, but the bursting number of bottles he had collected over time soon outgrew his home. 

In 1993, his collection was moved to the Carlsberg Brewery.

This is an eclectic and fascinating journey through beer culture, time and bottle design.

The brewery itself is also worth a visit, so why not combine the two? 

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17. Experience Street Life and New Dance Music during Distortion festival in June

Copenhagen Street Life and New Dance Music
Experience Street Life and New Dance Music during Distortion festival in June

Distortion is the ultimate street party lasting for 5 days in June every year.

Hosted in each neighborhood on different days, it features dj’s, food trucks, drinks and tons of dancing! 

Each neighborhood has its own hot spots and events, therefore you could participate everyday and experience something new.

This is FREE.

Simply walk to whatever neighborhood is hosting that day and there you are.

Grab some beers, some friends and dance in the street. 

This festival is not for profit.

Their foundation supports culture, the arts as well as social projects within public spaces.

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18. Try Traditional Danish lunch

Try Traditional Danish lunch
Try out the local foods to gain a more thorough cultural experience.

While smoked or pickled herring may not be the reason you came to Copenhagen, it is worth trying out local foods to gain a more thorough cultural experience.

The typical Danish lunch has these fish offerings on slices of bread with various sauces. 

Herring is definitely an acquired taste, but who knows?

Maybe you will enjoy it.

The fish course is eaten first and on its own.

Next comes the meat and following this heavy portion of pork and roast beef with remoulade and crisp onions, is a delectable serving of cheese. 

Depending on where you eat, this menu could vary.

Here is an example of an old fashioned style restaurant with a set menu:

Now, the snaps.

This is a digestive shot that is chilled and enjoyed throughout the meal.

It is very potent and has a taste you won’t forget. In Danish, one would say “Ta en lille en” which translates as “take a little one.”

This little one refers to a shot of snaps.

During Christmas time and Easter, these lunches are common for families and friends alike.

Enjoy the food and the snaps! Skoal! (cheers in Danish).

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19. Discover the Underwater sculpture of Agnete and the Merman

Underwater sculpture in Copenhagen
Discover the hidden Underwater sculpture of Agnete and the Merman

A hidden gem unknown by many, this small sculpture is found in Copenhagen underneath the Højbro bridge.

Although the most famous mermaid that likely comes to mind is from the Little Mermaid, this sculpture depicts a family from the Danish ballad “Agnete og Havmanden.”

Havmanden means merman.

Agneta left her family to start a life with a merman; she married this merman and had seven mer-children.

They had a beautiful family together.

Agnete decided to visit her former life on land.

This was meant to be temporary, however once reacquainted with this part of her past, she never returned to the sea again. 

This sad tale depicted in the sculpture, created by a Danish artist named Suste Bonnén, is found in the water under this bridge.

Gazing out into the water may not guarantee you spot this small bronze sculpture.

It is found on the Frederiksholm canal.

Agnete’s abandoned family reaches out from the sea in this eerie sculpture.

They are reaching for their long lost mother/wife. 

This sculpture tells a tale passed on throughout Danish history, showcases the Danish creative arts and shows authenticity in its location.

What better way to tell this story than via the water?

The emotion behind the story comes alive in this moving sculpture.

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20. Chill-out during Stella Polaris Festival

Chill-out during Stella Polaris Festival
Get ready in the world’s biggest free chill-out electronic downtempo festival

If you happen to be in Denmark over summer, this is worth checking out.

No need to buy tickets in advance because it is a free festival.

The festival is held each year in late July/early August in four different picturesque cities throughout Denmark. 

Some claim it is the world’s biggest free chill-out electronic downtempo festival.

It has a laid back vibe, food trucks, a kid’s area and plenty of great music.

This is an open air festival; bring your blankets, drinks and snacks and enjoy the music and the atmosphere! 

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What are your thoughts about Copenhagen? Do you have any questions or anything cool still to add on? We love to discuss travel so go ahead and fire away, there are no wrong comments!

Further reading: Check out the perfect itinerary for 3 days in Copenhagen.

Also, please let us know how your trip went and what was the most exciting part about it.

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13 thoughts on “The 20+ Best Things to Do in Copenhagen – Hand Picked Local Experiences

  1. I had no idea that Copenhagen is made up of 9 islands. I was excited to see all of the cheaper or free options! I try to travel on a budget, which is great for including more travel or when we’re traveling a lot. You included street art in here, and this is one of the things that catches my eye most! I’ll probably rent one of the bikes like you mentioned and cycle around to see the street art.

    1. That sounds like a great plan! There are also self-guided audio tours of the city out there, some are cheaper than the actual thing and would go perfectly with renting a bike.

  2. I love reading your post and saving it for reference when we plan for Denmark trip. Thanks for putting it together with all the sensible details.

  3. I was a couple of times in Copenhagen and I did not get to do so much. I see that I missed quite a few things. I really like the underwater mermaid and the Tivoli park. I will put the in my to do list if I visit for a second time. Great post with so much detailed information. Thanks for sharing.

    1. That is the beauty of travel. If you like a place you can keep going back and you will always find cool new things that you missed before.

  4. We enjoyed almost a week in Copenhagen. But we were jet lagged and it rained almost every day so we saw far less than we wanted. But saw some of the things covered in your thorough post. You certainly got a good perspective and colour for your visit to see the Little Mermaid. We would love to go back and visit the Christmas markets at Tivoli. And we are definitely sorry we missed the street art. I have put these spots on my offline maps!

    1. So sad to hear that you experienced bad weather and jet lag during your visit. But I really hope you still had a decently good time in the city.

  5. Wow! I never knew there was so much to see and do in Copenhagen. I especially would love to see the Tivoli Gardens and visit Christiania. This is the first time I am hearing about the place, and I am really intrigued.

    1. Oh my god, yes! They are totally worth the time. If you are ever in the city and check these out let us know how it went.

  6. The Little mermaid and the canal tour are two of the things I still remember from my parents pictures when they went there in the early 80s. Seems like both are still in a must-do list until today. I would also like to visit Grundtvig’s Church and eat traditional Danish lunch if I get a chance to visit Copenhagen.

  7. I was supposed to visit Copenhagen last year but for some reason I could not. Denmark has always been on my list and I would love to visit that country soon. I loved that mermaid sculpture, so beautiful and I would also love to explore that round tower.

  8. Great tips and plan. I want to go to Copenhagen for the weekend in October. So, now I have a detailed list of what to see in the city. I want to photograph Little Mermaid at night. Louisiana Museum of Modern Art is also on my list. Torvehallerne Market is a place for me for sure. I love tasting food. And Grundtvig’s Church is also on my bucket list for a long time. The architecture is fabulous.

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