Copenhagen (København) usually makes the top 10 list of liveable cities in the world. And any city that’s good enough for its citizens is good enough for tourists. Copenhagen is no exception, and I consider it one of the nicest capital cities in Europe. Here’s a list of the tops sights that you should consider visiting should you find yourself with 3 days in Copenhagen to spare.
STRØGET: This is a pedestrianised section of Copenhagen city centre and is considered the heart of the city. Many people refer to Strøget as a street but it actually consists of several streets between Kongens Nytorv square and Radhus Pladsen (City Hall Square). Copenhagen is an expensive city to begin with but the shops along Strøget take luxury prices to a new level. Nevertheless, the atmosphere and vibe are to be savoured.
NYHAVN: Want to get that iconic harbour picture of Copenhagen? That’s Nyhavn, the canal area that leads out to the main harbour. A lively area with bars, cafes and restaurants, canal and harbour tours leave from Nyhavn. Copenhagen’s Christmas market is also located along Nyhavn.
TIVOLI GARDENS: Channel your inner child at the world’s second oldest amusements park. Opened in 1843, Walt Disney drew much inspiration from Tivoli. The park may lack the thrill of Disney’s parks but Tivoli more than makes up for in atmosphere. Read about my experience of the park in my Christmas at the Tivoli Gardens post.
NY CARLSBERG GLYPTOTEK: This glorious museum is home to the personal sculpture and art collection of Carl Jacobsen, son of JC Jacobsen who founded the Carlsberg brewing company. Not only is the collection impressive but the exquisite design of the building, including the tropical garden, is worth the visit alone.
CITY HALL SQUARE (RADHUS PLADSEN): Most European cities have squares that act as central meeting points. City Hall Square is Copenhagen’s offering. Concerts and other events are held here.
NATIONAL MUSEUM (NATIONALMUSEET): Admittedly, I didn’t do much historical research on Denmark prior to my trip but the exhibitions in Copenhagen’s National Museum made up for that oversight. Set over several floors, visitors are taken on a tour of prehistoric Denmark, the Viking era, the ruling royals to life in modern times. The exhibitions are engaging and easy to understand. There’s a dedicated children’s section as well.
AMALIENBORG PALACE: Home to the Danish Royal family, the palace comprises a number of buildings built around a central courtyard. In the centre of the courtyard lies a statue of Frederik V astride a horse. Time your visit with the changing of the guard ceremony which takes place at noon.
CHRISTIANSBORG PALACE: Denmark is a constitutional monarchy which means the head of the royal family is also the Head of State (currently Margrethe II). However, Christiansborg Palace is where the Danish parliament is based. The complex also holds certain civic and royal events. Christiansborg Palace is nicknamed Borgen (the castle) which is where the TV series Borgen gets its name from.
HARBOUR: Given its maritime location, much of Copenhagen can be seen from a harbour tour. The new Opera House is one of the main features of this area. In summer time, the harbour area is used for swimming. Islands Brygge, Fisketorvet and Sandkaj are the harbour baths closest to the above sights.
LATIN QUARTER: This is the area located around the university. The architecture is quaint, bringing you back several centuries. I visited during university term time and found a buzzing atmosphere. The best selection of cafes were also to be found in this area.
ROSENBERG PALACE: I didn’t get a chance to visit it, instead focusing on Amalienborg for my royal fix. It comes recommended by locals and tourists I spoke to during my visit. So if you have more than 3 days in Copenhagen Rosenberg Palace would be an ideal fourth day activity.
THE LITTLE MERMAID: Most visitors (and locals) say that it’s over-rated. I regretted giving it a miss.
CHRISTIANIA: I didn’t enjoy my Freetown of Christiania experience. Firstly, I didn’t particularly like the idea that people’s lives and way of living would be a tourist attraction. I felt I was intruding. Secondly, I saw no women during my visit, just a lot of men staring at me. It felt uncomfortable.
BEST TIME TO VISIT COPENHAGEN
I visited in November and found the weather to be bitterly cold – the temperature never exceeded 7°C. The low temperatures were compounded by the Baltic and North Sea breezes. The summer months of July and August are warm enough for harbour swimming.
GETTING AROUND COPENHAGEN
For journeys outside the city centre Copenhagen has a very efficient metro system. Copenhagen is a walkable city and that was my predominant mode of transport along with the metro. Copenhagen is famed for its bike-friendly environment. Bike rental companies are dotted around the city but there is also a public bike system called Bycyklen.
For further practical travel information, check out my Facts About Denmark for Visitors guide.