It’s impossible to visit Copenhagen without visiting Nyhavn, a 17th century waterfront, canal and entertainment district in the heart of Copenhagen (some say it is the heart!). Stretching from Kongens Nytorv to the harbour front just south of the Royal Playhouse, Nyhavn is lined with eye-popping 17th and early 18th century townhouses, the oldest dating from 1661, and is full to the brim with restaurants, bars, cafes and historical ships.
Adding to the historical allure of this place is the rather juicy fact that Hans Christian Anderson lived here, and Kierkegaard also lived nearby.
Prepare yourself for crowds though, as this area tends to be extremely busy during the summer months, especially on the bridge and towards the top as this provides the prettiest photographic opportunity.
2. Tivoli Gardens
Tivoli Gardens is a famous amusement park and garden situated in the very heart of Copenhagen’s city centre. Needless to say it’s one of the top attractions in Copenhagen.
Opened in 1843, it’s the second oldest amusement park in the world, and impressively, the second most popular seasonal theme park in the world, attracting over 4 million visitors a year!
The entire park is beautifully maintained and feels as if you stepped back in time. Alex and I visited Tivoli once during the day and rode the ‘Daemon’ rollercoaster and played on many of the vintage arcade games.
We visited again in the evening which felt particularly magical. We were greeted by a fabulous brass band on the stage, watched as lovers and friends paraded arm in arm together, people sat drinking wine by the lakeside, and the smell of fresh Danish pastries filled in the air. Then, at 11:45pm every Saturday evening, a beautiful firework display takes place, and we watched as they exploded in faultless unison with the sounds of the orchestra in the background.
3. Climbing the spiral staircase of the Church of Our Saviour
The Church of Our Saviour is a baroque church in the centre of Copenhagen, only minutes’ walk away from the entrance of Christiania. It’s most famous for its beautiful spiral staircase that winds anti-clockwise around the outside of the church’s steeple (legend has it the architect who built the church, upon realising that the spiral was anti-clockwise instead of clockwise, threw himself from the top of the spire to his grizzly death below – this however, has been refuted!).
Visiting the Church of Our Saviour really is an absolute ‘must do’ whilst visiting Copenhagen. The views from the top are undoubtedly some of the best in Copenhagen, allowing a fantastic 360 degree panorama of the city. Warning – many of the steps are extremely steep, and it can, for some, be a hard task reaching the top, so make sure you’ve got good footwear!
For something different, visit Christiania, also known as ‘Freetown Christiania’ a self-proclaimed autonomous neighbourhood of about 850 residents, covering 84 acres in the borough of Christianshavn. As Christiania is a Freetown, many outside laws do not apply, such as smoking in public places, and the infamous cannabis trade that thrives on Pusher Street.
Christiania has its own currency, Løn, however Danish kroner is still accepted. Cafes, bars and stalls are scattered throughout the whole of Christiania, and many of the residents focus on recycling and nature. You’ll find lots of planted trees and flowers all interspersed amongst the habitual Hemp plants – peace and love…
Walking around the lake in Christiania, you can see many idiosyncratic constructions exemplifying modern ‘architecture without architects’ where residents either live or use as shops, as well as a variety of street art that adorns many of the buildings there.
5. The Danish Museum of Art & Design
If you love Scandinavian design then this place is one of the best attractions in Copenhagen for you to visit.
The Danish Museum of Art & Design is a museum in Copenhagen for Danish and international design and crafts. Housed in an old 17th century hospital, the museum features a large permanent collection of applied arts and crafts ranging from European and Asian textiles to Chinese ceramics, colonial furniture and 20th century design. The museum features original drawings and models of many of the furniture, as well as a lovely garden, café and shop. Some of the rooms looked like they have been taken from the set of a Stanley Kubrick film , like this one below!
6. The Meat Packing district
In the heart of Copenhagen, between Copenhagen Central Station and Sønder Boulevard, you’ll find Kødbyen (pronounced “cool-boo-en’’) which literally translates to ‘the meat-town’!
The Meatpacking District, located in Vesterbro, has previously been an area which housed businesses relating to the meat industry for several decades. However, since the early 2000s the area has been changed into a new creative cluster with a trendy nightlife, new galleries and lots of high quality restaurants. Today the area is one of Copenhagen’s most popular places to go out, and it doesn’t take long to realise this is where all the cool kids hang out!
There’s a place called Kødbyen’s Deli that served great food – its Brazilian steak with mashed potatoes and mustard seed, thyme, red onions and carrot puree needs a special mention.
7. Black Diamond Library
How can something be so functional yet so beautiful?! This library is my Garden of Eden! My Shangri La! It was designed by Danish architects Schmidt Hammer Lassen and was completed in 1999. It was given the name Black Diamond due to how the black marble and glass exterior glistens as it reflects the sun and waterfront. As well as housing an extensive collection of books it also hosts concerts, performances and exhibitions.
8. Rosenborg Castle
If you’re into castles and palaces then you’ll be in your element at Rosenborg, located north of the city and also home to the Danish Crown Jewels. The interior of this Renaissance castle is more lavish than its exterior but if you want to see inside then you do have to pay (approx £10), what’s more, if you want to take photos then you have to pay another fee (approx. £5!). To show that you’ve paid they give you a little sticker with a camera symbol to wear. If you do this then remember to give your sticker to another visitor when you’re leaving because charging visitors seems unnecessary.
9. Ny Carlsberg Glyptotek
This art museum is a gem no matter how far your stretch into the art scene goes. Its collection is vast and the spacious style of curation makes it a really pleasurable museum to explore. You only need to step inside the entrance of the Winter Garden to realise how special this museum is. Interestingly, it was founded in 1888 by Carl Jacobsen, the son and founder of Carlsberg Breweries – now have to pint to that!
10. Canal Tour
Walking is my favoured way to explore a city but I make an exception for a canal cruise along the pretty and colourful canals of Copenhagen. Gazing up from water level offers a very different perspective of the city, one you just can’t get from walking, unless you’re moses of course.
Departing from Nyhavn, the boat slowly winds its way around the city whilst the tour guide highlights attractions in Copenhagen and brings them to life through little anecdotes or slices of information pertaining to their history. The tour lasts for 60 minutes and gives you a decent and memorable overview of the city.