Copenhagen

Be it sea or canal, water surrounds Copenhagen. A network of bridges and drawbridges connects the two main islands—Zealand and Amager—on which Copenhagen is built. The seafaring atmosphere is indelible, especially around the districts of Nyhavn and Christianshavn.

Copenhagen is small, with most sights within 2½ square km (1 square mile) at its center. Sightseeing, especially downtown, is best done on foot. Or follow the example of the Danes and rent a bike.

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  • 1. Amalienborg

    Frederiksstaden

    The four identical rococo buildings occupying this square have housed royals since 1784. It's still the queen's winter residence. The Christian VIII Palace across from...

    The four identical rococo buildings occupying this square have housed royals since 1784. It's still the queen's winter residence. The Christian VIII Palace across from the royals' wing houses the Amalienborg Museum, which displays the second part of the Royal Collection (the first is at Rosenborg Castle) and chronicles royal lifestyles between 1863 and 1947. Here you can view the study of King Christian IX (1818–1906) and the drawing room of his wife, Queen Louise. Rooms are packed with royal heirlooms and treasures. On Amalienborg's harbor side is the garden of Amaliehaven, at the foot of which the queen's ship often docks. In the square's center is a magnificent equestrian statue of King Frederik V by the French sculptor Jacques François Joseph Saly. It reputedly cost as much as all the buildings combined. Every day at noon, the Royal Guard and band march from Rosenborg Castle through the city for the changing of the guard. At noon on April 16, Queen Margrethe's birthday, crowds of Danes gather for a special treat: their monarch stands and waves from her balcony at Amalienborg and the Danes cheer her on with many a "Hurra!" Queen Margrethe has been on the throne since 1972.

    Amalienborg Slotsplads, Copenhagen, Capital Region, 1257, Denmark
    33-12–21–86

    Sight Details

    Rate Includes: Museum DKr 125, Closed Mon. late Oct.--late Dec.
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  • 2. Christiania

    Christianshavn

    En route from Christianshavn to Refshaleøen is Copenhagen's legendary freetown Christiania, which was founded in 1971, when students occupied army barracks. It's now a peaceful...

    En route from Christianshavn to Refshaleøen is Copenhagen's legendary freetown Christiania, which was founded in 1971, when students occupied army barracks. It's now a peaceful community of nonconformists, consisting of 630 adults and 130 kids, where wall cartoons preach drugs and peace. There are a number of businesses here, including a bike shop, a smithy, a rock-music club, and several good organic eateries. When exploring Christiania, make sure to leave the central, busy part of the community to walk around on the idyllic, pedestrian paths that run through the forest, past the riding school, along the lake, and between the imaginative self-built houses.A group of residents recount their experiences as well as the history of Christiania on daily English-language tours, which are a great way to discover the nooks and crannies of this quirky community. Many inhabitants are not fond of cameras, and picture taking is forbidden on Pusher Street.

    Prinsessegade and Bådsmansstr, Copenhagen, Capital Region, Denmark
    32-57–96–70-guided tours

    Sight Details

    Rate Includes: Tours Dkr 40
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  • 3. Christiansborg Slot

    Indre By

    Surrounded by canals on three sides, the massive granite Christiansborg Palace is where the queen officially receives guests and from where the Parliament---and the prime...

    Surrounded by canals on three sides, the massive granite Christiansborg Palace is where the queen officially receives guests and from where the Parliament---and the prime minister---rules the country. From 1441 until the fire of 1795, it was used as the royal residence. Even though the first two castles on the site were burned, Christiansborg remains an impressive neobaroque and neoclassical compound. Several parts of the palace can be visited, including the Royal Reception Chambers, Ruins of Bishop Absalon's Castle, the Royal Kitchen, and the Royal Stables, all of which have separate admission fees unless you buy a combination ticket. The tower, which is free to access, offers wonderful views over Copenhagen. While Christiansborg was being rebuilt around 1900, the National Museum excavated the ruins of Bishop Absalon's castle beneath it. The resulting dark, subterranean maze contains fascinating models and architectural relics. At the Kongelige Repræsentationslokaler, you're asked to don slippers to protect the floors in this impossibly grand space.

    Prins Jørgens Gård 1, Copenhagen, Capital Region, 1218, Denmark
    33-92–64–92

    Sight Details

    Rate Includes: Tower free, Royal Reception Chamber Dkr 95, combination ticket DKr 160, Closed Mon.
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  • 4. Marmorkirken

    Frederiksstaden

    Officially the Frederiks Kirke, this ponderous baroque sanctuary of precious Norwegian marble was begun in 1749 and remained untouched from 1770 to 1874 due to...

    Officially the Frederiks Kirke, this ponderous baroque sanctuary of precious Norwegian marble was begun in 1749 and remained untouched from 1770 to 1874 due to budget constraints. It was finally completed and consecrated in 1894. Around the exterior are 16 statues of various religious leaders from Moses to Luther, and below them stand sculptures of outstanding Danish ministers and bishops. You can can scale 273 steps to the outdoor balcony on the top of the church for great views of the queen's palace and the Opera, across the canal. Afterward, continue along Bredgade to the exotic gilded onion domes of the Russisk Ortodoks Kirke (Russian Orthodox Church).

    Frederiksgade 4, off Bredgade, Copenhagen, Capital Region, 1256, Denmark
    33-15–01–44

    Sight Details

    Rate Includes: Church free, dome DKr 35, Church sanctuary closed weekends
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  • 5. Nationalmuseet

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    One of the best museums of its kind in Europe, the National Museum sits inside an 18th-century royal residence that's peaked by massive overhead windows....

    One of the best museums of its kind in Europe, the National Museum sits inside an 18th-century royal residence that's peaked by massive overhead windows. Extensive permanent exhibits chronicle Danish cultural history from prehistoric to modern times. The museum has one of the largest collections of Stone Age tools in the world, as well as Egyptian, Greek, and Roman antiquities. The exhibit on Danish prehistory features a great section on Viking times. The children's museum, with replicas of period clothing and a scalable copy of a real Viking ship, makes history fun for those under 12. Displays have English labels, and the do-it-yourself walking tour "History of Denmark in 60 Minutes" offers a good introduction to Denmark; the guide is free at the information desk.

    Ny Vestergade 10, Copenhagen, Capital Region, 1220, Denmark
    33-13–44–11

    Sight Details

    Rate Includes: DKr 110, Closed Mon.
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  • 6. Ny Carlsberg Glyptotek

    Indre By

    Exquisite antiquities, a beautiful winter garden, and a world-class collection of Impressionist masterpieces make this one of Copenhagen's most important museums. The neoclassical building was...

    Exquisite antiquities, a beautiful winter garden, and a world-class collection of Impressionist masterpieces make this one of Copenhagen's most important museums. The neoclassical building was donated in 1888 by Carl Jacobsen, son of the founder of the Carlsberg Brewery. Surrounding its lush indoor garden, a series of rooms house works by Pissarro, Degas, Monet, Sisley, Rodin, and Gauguin. The museum is also renowned for its extensive assemblage of Egyptian and Greek pieces, not to mention Europe's finest collection of Roman portraits and the best collection of Etruscan art outside Italy. A modern wing, designed by the acclaimed Danish architect Henning Larsen, provides a luminous entry to the French painting section. From June to September, guided English-language tours start at 2. The café Picnic, overlooking the winter garden, is well known among Copenhageners for its delicious small dishes.  The museum's permanent collection is free on Tuesday.

    Dantes Pl. 7, Copenhagen, Capital Region, 1556, Denmark
    33-41–81–41

    Sight Details

    Rate Includes: DKr 125, Closed Mon.
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  • 7. Nyhavn

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    This pretty harborfront neighborhood, whose name means "new harbor," is perhaps the most photographed location in Copenhagen. It was built 300 years ago to attract...

    This pretty harborfront neighborhood, whose name means "new harbor," is perhaps the most photographed location in Copenhagen. It was built 300 years ago to attract traffic and commerce to the city center. Until 1970, the area was a favorite haunt of sailors. Though restaurants, boutiques, and antiques stores now outnumber tattoo parlors, many old buildings have been well preserved and retain the harbor's authentic 18th-century maritime character. You can even see a fleet of old-time sailing ships from the quay. Hans Christian Andersen lived at various times in Nyhavn houses at numbers 18, 20, and 67.

    Nyhavn 1, Copenhagen, Capital Region, 1051, Denmark

    Sight Details

    Rate Includes: Free
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  • 8. Refshaleøen

    Refshaleøen

    This cultural and culinary hub used to be an artificial island home to a historical shipyard, but the island has been annexed with the rest...

    This cultural and culinary hub used to be an artificial island home to a historical shipyard, but the island has been annexed with the rest of Amager, and the shipping industry is long gone. Instead, Refshaleøen’s former factories are being turned into art galleries, not-so-micro-breweries, busy beach bars, music venues, and gourmet restaurants. It's the perfect place to while away an afternoon and evening.

    Copenhagen, Capital Region, 1432, Denmark
  • 9. Rosenborg Slot

    Indre By

    The Dutch Renaissance Rosenborg Castle contains ballrooms, halls, and reception chambers, but for all of its grandeur, it has an intimacy that makes you think...

    The Dutch Renaissance Rosenborg Castle contains ballrooms, halls, and reception chambers, but for all of its grandeur, it has an intimacy that makes you think the king might return at any minute. Thousands of objects are displayed, including beer glasses, gilded clocks, golden swords, family portraits, a pearl-studded saddle, and gem-encrusted tables. The underground treasury contains the crown jewels. The castle's setting is equally welcoming. It's in the middle of King's Garden, amid lawns, park benches, and shady walking paths. King Christian IV built Rosenborg Castle as a summer residence but loved it so much that he ended up living here until his death. In 1849, when the absolute monarchy was abolished, all the royal castles became state property except for Rosenborg, which is still passed down from monarch to monarch.

    Øster Voldgade 4A, Copenhagen, Capital Region, 1350, Denmark
    33-15–32–86

    Sight Details

    Rate Includes: DKr 125, Closed Mon.
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  • 10. Statens Museum for Kunst

    Indre By

    Old Master paintings—including works by Rubens, Rembrandt, Titian, El Greco, and Fragonard—as well as a comprehensive array of antique and 20th-century Danish art make up...

    Old Master paintings—including works by Rubens, Rembrandt, Titian, El Greco, and Fragonard—as well as a comprehensive array of antique and 20th-century Danish art make up the National Art Gallery collection, the biggest art museum in Denmark. Also notable is the modern art, which includes pieces by Henri Matisse, Edvard Munch, Henri Laurens, Emil Nolde, and Georges Braque. The space also contains a children's museum, which puts on shows for different age groups at kids' eye level. Wall texts are in English. The bookstore and café, which was recently taken over by Frederik Bille Brahe, one of Copenhagen's most hyped chefs, are also worth a visit.

    Sølvgade 48–50, Copenhagen, Capital Region, 1307, Denmark
    33-74–84–94

    Sight Details

    Rate Includes: DKr 120, Closed Mon.
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  • 11. Tivoli

    Indre By

    Tivoli is not only Copenhagen's best-known attraction, but also the most charming one. The amusement park, the second-oldest in the world, is located conveniently next...

    Tivoli is not only Copenhagen's best-known attraction, but also the most charming one. The amusement park, the second-oldest in the world, is located conveniently next to the city's main train station and attracts an astounding 4.4 million people from mid-April to mid-September. Tivoli is a pleasure garden as well as an amusement park. Among its attractions are a pantomime theater, an open-air stage, several dozen restaurants (some of them very elegant and with Michelin stars), and frequent concerts—from classical to rock to jazz. Fantastic flower exhibits color the lush gardens and float on the swan-filled ponds. The park was established in the 1840s, when Danish architect George Carstensen persuaded a worried King Christian VIII to let him build an amusement park on the edge of the city's fortifications, rationalizing that "when people amuse themselves, they forget politics." Try to see Tivoli at least once by night, when 100,000 colored lanterns illuminate the Chinese pagoda and the main fountain. Tivoli is also open select hours around Halloween and in the winter season.

    Vesterbrogade 3, Copenhagen, Capital Region, 1630, Denmark
    33-15–10–01

    Sight Details

    Rate Includes: DKr 145–155, entrance and unlimited ride pass DKr 379, Closed late Sept.--mid-Oct., early to mid-Nov., most of Jan., and late Feb.–May
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  • 12. Arbejdermuseet

    Museum/Gallery

    This museum chronicles the working class from 1870 to the present, with evocative life-size "day-in-the-life-of" exhibits, among them reconstructions...

    This museum chronicles the working class from 1870 to the present, with evocative life-size "day-in-the-life-of" exhibits, among them reconstructions of a city street and re-creations of apartments, including the home of a brewery worker, his wife, and eight children. Changing exhibits focusing on Danish and international social issues are often excellent. The exhibitions have explanatory texts in English. The museum also has a 19th-century-style café and beer hall serving old-fashioned Danish specialties and a '50s-style coffee shop.

    Rømersgade 22, Centrum, Copenhagen, Capital Region, 1362, Denmark
    33-93–25–75

    Sight Details

    Rate Includes: DKr 65, Daily 10–4
  • 13. Assistens Kirkegård

    Cemetery

    This peaceful, leafy cemetery in the heart of Nørrebro is the final resting place of numerous great Danes, including Søren Kierkegaard (whose...

    This peaceful, leafy cemetery in the heart of Nørrebro is the final resting place of numerous great Danes, including Søren Kierkegaard (whose last name actually means "cemetery"), Hans Christian Andersen, and physicist Niels Bohr. In summer the cemetery takes on a cheerful, city-park air as picnicking families, young couples, and sunbathers relax on the sloping lawns amid the dear departed.

    Kapelvej 4, Centrum, Copenhagen, Capital Region, 2200, Denmark
    35-37–19–17

    Sight Details

    Rate Includes: Free, Jan.–Mar. and Oct.–Dec., daily 7–7; Apr.–Sept., daily 7 am–10 pm
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  • 14. Botanisk Have

    Garden

    Trees, flowers, ponds, sculptures, and a spectacular 19th-century Palmehuset (Palm House) of tropical and subtropical plants blanket the garden...

    Trees, flowers, ponds, sculptures, and a spectacular 19th-century Palmehuset (Palm House) of tropical and subtropical plants blanket the garden's 25-plus acres. There's also an observatory and a geological museum. Take time to explore the gardens and watch the pensioners feed the birds. Some have been coming here so long that the birds actually land on their fingers.

    Øster Farimagsgade 2B, Centrum, Copenhagen, Capital Region, 1353, Denmark
    35-32–22–22

    Sight Details

    Rate Includes: Free, May–Sept., daily 8:30–6; Oct.–Apr., Tues.–Sun. 8:30–4
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  • 15. Børsen

    Indre By

    This masterpiece of fantasy and architecture is Europe's oldest stock exchange. Børsen was built between 1619 and 1640, with the majority of the construction in...

    This masterpiece of fantasy and architecture is Europe's oldest stock exchange. Børsen was built between 1619 and 1640, with the majority of the construction in the 1620s. Christian IV commissioned the building in large part because he wanted to make Denmark the economic superpower and crossroads of Europe. Rumor has it that, when it was being built, he was the one who twisted the dragons' tails on the spire that tops the building. When it opened, it was used as a medieval market, filled with shopping stalls. Though parts of Børsen still operate as a stock exchange, the bulk of the building houses the chamber of commerce, and the interior isn't open to the public except on special occasions such as Culture Night, held in mid-October. Across the canal, look for a square, modern building: the Nationalbanken (Denmark's central bank), designed by the famed Danish designer and architect Arne Jacobsen.

    Børsgade 1, Copenhagen, Capital Region, 1215, Denmark
    33-74–65–73
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  • 16. Carlsberg Bryggeri

    Vesterbro

    A large, ornate chimney makes this mid-19th-century brewery visible from a distance. J. C. Jacobsen, one of Denmark's most important historical figures, named the brewery...

    A large, ornate chimney makes this mid-19th-century brewery visible from a distance. J. C. Jacobsen, one of Denmark's most important historical figures, named the brewery after his son Carl; berg, or mountain, signifies the brewery's location on Valby Hill. The four giant granite elephants that guard the main entrance were inspired by Bernini's famous obelisk in Rome. In the visitor center, interactive displays, also in English, take you step by step through the brewing process. At the end of your visit, you can sample some of the company's beers for an additional fee. The Carlsberg Museum, also on the grounds, tells the story of the Jacobsen family, their beer empire, and Carlsberg's extensive philanthropy, which still greatly benefits Danish culture. Large-scale beer production has now moved outside of the city, and the old brewery complex is being developed for residential and cultural use. The visitor center has been closed for years due to major renovation work, but it was scheduled to reopen in mid-2023.

    Gamle Carlsberg Vej 11, Copenhagen, Capital Region, 1799, Denmark
    33-27–12–82
  • 17. Charlottenborg

    Arts/Performance Venue

    This Dutch baroque–style castle on Kongens Nytorv was built by Frederik III's half brother in 1670. Since 1754 the garden-flanked property has...

    This Dutch baroque–style castle on Kongens Nytorv was built by Frederik III's half brother in 1670. Since 1754 the garden-flanked property has housed the faculty and students of the Danish Academy of Fine Art. A section of the building is devoted to exhibitions of contemporary art and is open to the public.

    Nyhavn 2, Centrum, Copenhagen, Capital Region, 1051, Denmark
    33-36–90–50

    Sight Details

    Rate Includes: DKr 60, Tues.–Sun. 11–5, Wed. 11–8
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  • 18. Dansk Arkitektur Center

    Museum/Gallery

    The Danish Architecture Center occupies an old wharf-side warehouse built in 1880. The center hosts rotating exhibitions that cover trends and...

    The Danish Architecture Center occupies an old wharf-side warehouse built in 1880. The center hosts rotating exhibitions that cover trends and trendsetters in architecture and architectural design. The displays are labeled in English, and the museum's website has a guide for discovering noteworthy architecture in Denmark's major cities.

    Strandgade 27B, Christianshavn, Copenhagen, Capital Region, 1401, Denmark
    32-57–19–30

    Sight Details

    Rate Includes: DKr 40, free Wed. 5–9; exhibitions vary, Daily 10–6, Wed. 10–9
  • 19. Dansk Jødisk Museum

    Indre By

    In a wing of Det Kongelige Bibliotek (Royal Library), this national center of Jewish culture, art, and history holds objects of both secular and religious...

    In a wing of Det Kongelige Bibliotek (Royal Library), this national center of Jewish culture, art, and history holds objects of both secular and religious interest, including paintings, prints, jewelry, scrapbooks, and films. The site was designed by the famed architect Daniel Libeskind. The museum also gives extensive coverage to the Danish resistance movement, whose work during World War II helped bring nearly all of Denmark's 7,000 Jews to safety in Sweden. The museum has information in English.

    Proviantpassegen 6, Copenhagen, Capital Region, 1218, Denmark
    33-11–22–18

    Sight Details

    Rate Includes: DKr 100, Closed Mon. Jun.--Aug. and Mon. and Tues. Sept.--May
  • 20. Den Lille Havfrue

    East Indre By

    This small statue from 1913 commemorates Hans Christian Andersen's lovelorn Little Mermaid. You may want to read the original Hans Christian Andersen tale in advance;...

    This small statue from 1913 commemorates Hans Christian Andersen's lovelorn Little Mermaid. You may want to read the original Hans Christian Andersen tale in advance; it's a heartrending story that's a far cry from the Disney animated movie. Donated to the city by Carl Jacobsen, the son of the founder of the Carlsberg Brewery, the innocent waif has also been the subject of some cruel practical jokes, including decapitation and the loss of an arm, but she's currently in one piece. The Langelinie Promenade is thronged with Danes and visitors making their pilgrimage to the statue, especially on sunny Sundays. Although the statue itself is modest, the views of the surrounding harbor are not.

    Langelinie Promenade, Copenhagen, Capital Region, 2100, Denmark

    Sight Details

    Rate Includes: Free
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