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. Christiansborg Slot

    Government Building

    Surrounded by canals on three sides, the massive granite Christiansborg Castle is where the queen officially receives guests. From 1441 until...

    Surrounded by canals on three sides, the massive granite Christiansborg Castle is where the queen officially receives guests. 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. It now houses parliament and the prime minister's office.

    Slotsholmen, bordered by Boørsgade, Vindebrogade, and Frederiksholms Kanal, Centrum, Copenhagen, Capital Region, 1218, Denmark
    33-92–64–92

    Sight Details

    Rate Includes: Tower free, Tower: Tues.–Sun. 11–9
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  • 2. Nationalmuseet

    Museum/Gallery

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

    One of the best museums of its kind in Europe, the Nationalmuseet is 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.

    Frederiksholms Kanal 12, Centrum, Copenhagen, Capital Region, 1220, Denmark
    33-13–44–11

    Sight Details

    Rate Includes: Free, Tues.–Sun. 10–5
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  • 3. Rosenborg Slot

    Castle/Palace

    The Dutch Renaissance Rosenborg Castle contains ballrooms, halls, and reception chambers, but for all of its grandeur there's an intimacy that...

    The Dutch Renaissance Rosenborg Castle contains ballrooms, halls, and reception chambers, but for all of its grandeur there's an intimacy that makes you think the king might return 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 the Kongens Have (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, Centrum, Copenhagen, Capital Region, 1350, Denmark
    33-15–32–86

    Sight Details

    Rate Includes: DKr 90, Castle and Treasury: June–Aug., daily 10–5; Sept. and Oct., daily 10–4. Castle: Nov.–mid-Dec., Tues.–Sun. 11–2. Treasury: Nov.–mid-Dec., Tues.–Sun. 11–4
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  • 4. Tivoli

    Amusement Park/Water Park

    Copenhagen's best-known attraction, conveniently next to its main train station, attracts an astounding 4 million people from mid-April to mid...

    Copenhagen's best-known attraction, conveniently next to its main train station, attracts an astounding 4 million people from mid-April to mid-September. Tivoli is more than just an amusement park: among its attractions are a pantomime theater, an open-air stage, 38 restaurants (some of them very elegant), and frequent concerts, which cover the spectrum 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." The Tivoli Guard, a youth version of the Queen's Royal Guard, performs every day. Try to see Tivoli at least once by night, when 100,000 colored lanterns illuminate the Chinese pagoda and the main fountain. Some evenings there are also fireworks displays. Call to check the season's opening and closing dates as well as family discounts. Tivoli is also open select hours around Halloween and from mid-November until late December.

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

    Sight Details

    Rate Includes: Grounds: DKr 99. Unlimited ride pass: DKr 209, Apr.–Sept., Sun.–Thurs. 11–10 or 11, Fri. 11 am–12:30 am, Sat. 11–midnight
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  • 5. Amalienborg

    Castle/Palace

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

    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 royal's wing houses the Amalienborg Museum, which displays the second part of the Royal Collection (the first is at Rosenborg Slot) 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.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 Slot through the city for the changing of the guard. At noon on Queen Margrethe's birthday, April 16, crowds of Danes gather to cheer their monarch, who stands and waves from her balcony. On Amalienborg's harbor side is the garden of Amaliehaven, at the foot of which the queen's ship often docks.

    Christian VIII Palace, Amalienborg Pl., Frederiksstaden, Copenhagen, Capital Region, 1257, Denmark
    33-12–21–86

    Sight Details

    Rate Includes: Museum: DKr 65, Museum: May–Oct., daily 10–4; Nov.–Dec., Tues.–Sun. 11–4
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  • 6. 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
  • 7. 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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  • 8. 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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  • 9. Børsen

    Bank

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

    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 was first 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, Centrum, Copenhagen, Capital Region, 1215, Denmark
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  • 10. Carlsberg Bryggeri

    Winery/Brewery/Distillery

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

    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 illustrate that Jacobsen was a well-traveled man who adored art. The elephants are in fact inspired by Bernini's famous obelisk in Rome. In the visitor center, new 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 extra DKr 45. 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 transformed into a combined neighborhood for arts, culture, and living.

    Gamle Carlsberg Vej 11, Valby, Copenhagen, Capital Region, 1799, Denmark
    33-27–12–82

    Sight Details

    Rate Includes: DKr 85, Tues.–Sun. 10–5
  • 11. 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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  • 12. Christiania

    Neighborhood/Street

    If you're nostalgic for 1960s counterculture, head to this former anarchists' commune that has now struck a deal with the government to obtain...

    If you're nostalgic for 1960s counterculture, head to this former anarchists' commune that has now struck a deal with the government to obtain legitimacy. You can walk here from Christianshavn: take Torvegade and make a left on Prinsessegade, which takes you to the main gate. You can also take Bus 2A from Rådhuspladsen, Tivoli, Christiansborg, and Christianshavn Station. Founded in 1971, when students occupied army barracks, it's now a peaceful community of nonconformists who run a number of businesses, including a bike shop, a rock-music club, and good organic eateries. Wall cartoons preach drugs and peace, but some of the inhabitants are less fond of cameras—picture-taking is forbidden on Pusher Street. 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.

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

    Sight Details

    Rate Includes: Tours Dkr 40, Tours Sept.–late June, weekends at 3; June 26–Aug., daily at 3
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  • 13. 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
  • 14. Dansk Design Center

    Museum/Gallery

    This sleek, glass-panel structure looms in sharp contrast to the old-world ambience of Tivoli just across the street. The space is more a design...

    This sleek, glass-panel structure looms in sharp contrast to the old-world ambience of Tivoli just across the street. The space is more a design showroom than a museum, with offices on the upper floors. But it provides a stylish place to take an afternoon coffee, flip through design magazines, and listen to music on Bang & Olufsen speakers. The center's shop carries a wide range of Danish design items.

    H. C. Andersens Blvd. 27, Centrum, Copenhagen, Capital Region, 1553, Denmark
    33-69–33–69

    Sight Details

    Rate Includes: DKr 50, Sept.–June, Mon., Tues., Thurs., and Fri. 10–5, Wed. 10–9, weekends 11–4; July and Aug., Mon., Tues., Thurs., and Fri. 10–6, Wed. 10–9, weekends 11–5
  • 15. Dansk Jødisk Museum

    Museum/Gallery

    In a wing of the Royal Library, this national center of Jewish culture, art, and history holds objects of both secular and religious interest...

    In a wing of the 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, Centrum, Copenhagen, Capital Region, 1218, Denmark
    33-11–22–18

    Sight Details

    Rate Includes: DKr 50, June–Aug., Tues.–Sun. 10–5; Sept.–May, Tues.–Fri. 1–4, weekends noon–5
  • 16. Den Lille Havfrue

    Public Art

    Somewhat overhyped, this 1913 statue commemorates Hans Christian Andersen's lovelorn Little Mermaid. (You may want to read the original Hans...

    Somewhat overhyped, this 1913 statue commemorates Hans Christian Andersen's lovelorn Little Mermaid. (You may want to read the original Hans Christian Andersen tale in advance; it's a heart-wrenching story that's a far cry from the Disney animated movie.) Donated to the city by Carl Jacobsen, the son of the founder of Carlsberg Breweries, 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, Østrobro, Copenhagen, Capital Region, 2100, Denmark
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  • 17. Det Kongelige Teater

    Arts/Performance Venue

    The old, pillared Det Kongelige Teater, dubbed Gamle Scene after the openings of the Opera and the Royal Danish Playhouse, was established in...

    The old, pillared Det Kongelige Teater, dubbed Gamle Scene after the openings of the Opera and the Royal Danish Playhouse, was established in 1748, although the facade dates from 1874. Since the division of the Royal Theatre into separate venues, the original building is primarily devoted to ballets performed by the world-renowned Royal Danish Ballet. Statues of Danish poet Adam Oehlenschläger and author Ludvig Holberg—whose works remain the core of Danish theater—flank the facade. The theater closes for part of the summer. There are guided tours for the Playhouse and Opera in a mix of Danish and English. Royal Theatre Old Stage tours are only in Danish.

    Kongens Nytorv 9, Copenhagen, Capital Region, 1050, Denmark
    33-69–69–69-for tickets
  • 18. Folketinget

    Government Building

    Free tours of the Folketinget are given on Sundays, holidays, and on certain other days. A full list of the days the parliament building accepts...

    Free tours of the Folketinget are given on Sundays, holidays, and on certain other days. A full list of the days the parliament building accepts visitors is on its website. You can sign up for a tour in advance or pick up a ticket when they are distributed at 10 am on tour days. However, you can visit the tower and see the view for free every day but Monday.

    Christianborg, Centrum, , 1240, Denmark
    33-37–55–00

    Sight Details

    Rate Includes: Free, Tower: Tues.–Sun. 11–9. Parliament: By appointment only most Sun. and school holidays
  • 19. Frihedsmuseet

    Museum/Gallery

    Evocative, often moving displays commemorate the heroic Danish resistance movement, which saved 7,000 Jews from the Nazis by hiding and then...

    Evocative, often moving displays commemorate the heroic Danish resistance movement, which saved 7,000 Jews from the Nazis by hiding and then smuggling them to Sweden. The homemade tank outside was used to spread the news of the Nazi surrender after World War II. The displays have information in English.

    Churchillparken, Østerbro, Copenhagen, Capital Region, 1263, Denmark
    33-47–39–21

    Sight Details

    Rate Includes: Free, Oct.–Apr., Tues.–Sat. 10–3; May–Sept., Tues.–Sat. 10–5
  • 20. Gefion Springvandet

    Fountain

    Not far from The Little Mermaid yet another dramatic myth is illustrated with this fountain. The goddess Gefion was promised as much of Sweden...

    Not far from The Little Mermaid yet another dramatic myth is illustrated with this fountain. The goddess Gefion was promised as much of Sweden as she could plow in a night. The story goes that she changed her sons to oxen and used them to portion off what is now the island of Zealand.

    East of Frihedsmuseet, Østerbro, Copenhagen, Capital Region, 1263, Denmark
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