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Are you planning to spend a weekend in Copenhagen? Copenhagen, the capital of Denmark deserves a spot on anyone’s bucket list. Not only is it an eco-friendly city with more bicycles than people, it is also at the top of the World Happiness Report for being one of the happiest places to live. With beautiful architecture, a focus on the arts and loads of history, Copenhagen proves to be a destination that is worth visiting. Here is a list of the top 10 cool things to do, places to see and experience when in Copenhagen!
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1. Nyhavn (New Harbor)
This iconic spot is a must-see when visiting Denmark’s capital city, Copenhagen. Here you will find picturesque buildings, like “Nyhavn 17”, which is easy to spot with its bright yellow color, and classic ships that line the entire length of the canal along one of Copenhagen’s most famous streets. If you are feeling rather sea-worthy yourself, you can also take a canal tour and experience this area by boat. The cafes and restaurants offer great, outdoor views and tasty Danish specialties, but visitors can also enjoy an ice cream or glass of wine before exploring nearby shopping on Copenhagen’s main shopping street, Strøget.
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2. The Little Mermaid Statue
The Little Mermaid statue is probably one of the most loved attractions in all of Copenhagen. Many people have heard the story told by Disney, but few know that the original story doesn’t have quite a happy ending. The real Little Mermaid did ask the sea witch to turn her into a human to win the love of the prince, but when he decided to marry another, the Little Mermaid had the choice to kill him and live or spare him and die. Because of her love for him, she spared the prince, and in doing so, cursed herself for the next 300 years. You can see her sitting sadly on the stone at the edge of the water in Copenhagen, waiting for her true love who will never return. Besides being visited by my many tourists each year, she is also accompanied by a family of swans who frequently swim in the waters around her statue.
3. Tivoli Gardens
Tivoli Gardens, the world’s second oldest amusement park, is a fun place for both the young and the young-at-heart. Not only is it a beautiful garden with many displays of flowers, fountains, trees and a pirate ship in the middle of a pond, it also has many very unique and artistic rides that make you feel that you have stepped into a time machine. If you need a break from the rides, you can see a show at the open-air theater or have a meal in one of their many restaurants that serves everything from burgers to fine dining. If you plan your visit on a Friday night from April to September, you can see an open-air, music concert for a slightly higher fee, but the price is very reasonable to be able to see one of Denmark’s top music performers take the stage. The concert program for 2019 also has international stars like Jason Derulo, Lauren Hill and Tom Jones.
4. Carlsberg Brewery Tour
If you are interested in learning some history about Denmark while enjoying a nice drink in the process, be sure to stop by the Carlsberg Brewery. First, you will be able to visit the museum to the brewery, which takes you through the story of the first, family-owned brewery in Copenhagen. It is very detailed with many pictures and artifacts.
After the museum, you can visit the stables, where they house the horses that pull the beer wagon, and if you are interested, you may even be able to get a ride around the grounds. Sign up for a beer tasting, and get a behind-the-scenes introduction of the many different flavors of their top-of-the-line beer label, Jacobsen. After the tasting, you are welcome to take the remains of your tasting bottle over to the restaurant, which has a relaxed, casual setting and great hearty lunch specials that complement any brew.
5. Free Town Christiania
For a truly unique experience, visit Christiania Free Town, which is a special neighborhood in Copenhagen that goes by its own set of rules. You can read these rules on signs posted near the main entrance to the “town”, but the main one would have to be their restriction on taking photographs. The saying, “what happens in Christiania Free Town stays in Christiania Free Town” couldn’t be more true because of these restrictions, but they allow for a more personal experience you can’t get anywhere else. Here, you will find a more laid-back lifestyle of people wanting to live a more “green” lifestyle, free from governmental influence and free to express themselves in their art and cuisine. All year long, you can find some of the best vegetarian dishes and homemade arts and crafts, and if you visit during the summer, there are many open-air, music concerts and markets.
6. Round Tower
For some of the greatest views in all of Copenhagen, head to the Round Tower just off the main shopping street in the heart of Copenhagen. This tower was built in the 1600s by the Danish king originally as an astrological observatory and has a winding ramp all the way to the top instead of a large staircase, which makes it much easier for visitors. Once at the top, you can see for miles in all directions and get a great view of the many places to see in Copenhagen. The street where you’ll find the tower has great shopping, and just below the tower is one of the famous Danish hotdog wagons, which serves up a tasty, popular Danish food. They even have veggie hotdogs.
7. Design Museum Denmark
One thing that is truly “Danish” is the Danes’ love for good design. This is why a stop at the Design Museum Denmark will not only teach you the importance of Danish design, but will give you a cultural lesson as to what items fill many Danish homes even today. You will see furniture, appliances, lamps, and more from many well-known Danish designers, and there are also other sections of the museum that show ways in which Danish designers have been influenced by other artists in countries from around the world. Their one-of-a-kind finds in their gift shop and posh café are other reasons to visit this inventive place.
8. The Cisterns
In order to get one of the best sensory experiences with art in Copenhagen, you will want to see what they have on display at the Cisterns. This hidden art hall is located underneath the Søndermarken Park in Copenhagen and houses different exhibits of artist allowing visitors the chance to experience art on a completely different level. During the “In Is The Only Way Out” exhibit by Jeppe Hein in 2018, visitors could hear and see different shapes of art as mirrors hung from the ceilings, balls hit metal bowls and fire blasted in the distance. With the combination of darkness, vibration and sound, visitors get to feel the art that is all around them.
9. Palaces and Castles
Copenhagen has a variety of castles and palaces to explore. One of which is Amalienborg, which is the local residence of the Danish royal family and offers a daily, changing-of-the-guards ceremony with music and a small parade. Tours are available for small sections of the palace, so you get to experience a bit of how the royals live.
Another impressive palace is Christiansborg, where much of the daily activities and special events of the royal family take place. Here, tourists can take a tour of the impressive throne room or the beautiful great hall where the queen has many dinners and parties. The palace is filled with a variety of outstanding artwork and detailed tapestries, and be sure to take one of their many tours or attend a special, seasonal event.
A third palace in Copenhagen called Frederiksberg serves a different purpose these days and is actually home to the Danish Royal Army Officers Academy. Tours here are very limited, but the peaceful grounds and natural gardens are frequently visited by locals and tourists. This is a great spot for a picnic or a casual stroll in nature.
10. National Museum of Denmark
If you really want a glimpse of what the Danes are about and you are only planning on visiting Copenhagen while in Denmark, you will want to add the National Museum of Denmark to your list of must-see attractions. Here, you are taken through time from the earliest, recorded period in Denmark to the present. You can see tons of archeological finds with informative videos and life-like displays. Each section is completely different from the next with many giving you the full experience from brave knights in suits of armor on top of their valiant horses to fierce Vikings planning their conquests aboard large, powerful ships.
This is a guest post by: Kelly of My New Danish Life. All pictures provided by the author.
About the Author: Kelly Kristensen is the blogger behind “My New Danish Life“, a travel and lifestyle blog focused on family travel and life experiences as an expat. Kelly is an American living in Denmark with her husband and two children. Kelly shares her love for being a mom with some life hacks, tips on travels as a family, camping experiences in both the USA and Europe and tutorials for her many crafty endeavors. As a former English and language teacher, she enjoys reading and writing and is always up for planning her next family adventure.
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