Things To Do In Copenhagen

Best things to do in Copenhagen: Get more out of your experience in Denmark’s capital

Copenhagen’s recent success has led to tourists from all over the world wanting to find out what all the fuss is about — but with so much to see, knowing the best things to do in Copenhagen can be somewhat tricky. Luckily, we’re here to help.

The Danish capital is lauded internationally for good reasons. It’s a poster child for good urbanism, and its authorities deserve a lot of credit for going above and beyond to make Denmark’s capital a place that is liveable and lovable in equal measure.

One of the coolest things about Denmark’s largest city is that the top touristy things to do cross over with what the locals enjoy doing in many cases. As such, you’re almost always guaranteed at least a semi-authentic experience.

If you’re wondering what to do in Copenhagen, you’re in the right place. This guide will give you a complete rundown of the top things to do in this most wonderful of cities, and each of them are worth doing regardless of whether you plan to visit for a short trip or stay for the long term.

Things To Do In Copenhagen

Hire a bicycle

Let’s start with perhaps the most obvious one. Copenhagen frequently tussles with Amsterdam and Utrecht in the Netherlands, along with neighboring Malmö, for the accolade of being the most bike-friendly city on the planet.

The capital has done a remarkable job at making it easy and safe to get around on two wheels, with hundreds of kilometers’ worth of cycling lanes visible almost everywhere you look.

In Copenhagen, nearly half of daily trips to school or the office are by bike. The city also has a pretty good track record at limiting the number of serious accidents, and for the most part, drivers treat cyclists with respect that you’ll find perhaps a little surprising if you’re from more car-centric places.

If you’re only planning to visit Copenhagen for a short time, buying a bike is probably not the most sensible option financially. However, you can find an abundance of places to rent one and embark on your adventure.

Most of the city’s main hotels will allow their guests to borrow bicycles, and many hostels will do likewise. You’ll also be able to rent one from many of the bike shops dotted throughout Copenhagen and its suburbs.

In addition to the above, you can find several city bikes to borrow. Donkey Republic is another useful alternative; with your membership, you can also rent bikes in Aarhus, Malmö, and other European cities like Berlin. Swapfiets is also popular if you’re staying for a month or more.

Things To Do In Copenhagen

Visit Tivoli

Nowhere is better to experience the magic of Copenhagen than Tivoli. Although this is a major tourist attraction, the world’s second-oldest functioning amusement park is also immensely popular with locals; children and adults relish the opportunity to visit.

Even if you don’t go on any of the rides, Tivoli is well worth visiting to walk around. Inside, you’ll find an abundance of culinary experiences — along with quaint walking paths and no shortage of photography opportunities.

There’s no right or wrong time to visit Tivoli, but it really comes to life at night. It’s worth remembering that it shuts at various points during the year to prepare for the next season, so you should make sure that your visit coincides with it being open if you want to experience everything.

You can buy entry tickets on the door, but purchasing online is much easier. A single-entry ticket costs 145 Danish Kroner without rides; children under three years old go for free. You can buy an annual card for 379 DKK.

Getting to Tivoli is easy; it’s right next to the main train station in Copenhagen.

Things To Do In Copenhagen

Stroll around Freetown Christiania

Freetown Christiania is an… interesting place if we put it diplomatically. This former military zone has been transformed into a rebellious hipster hangout in Christianshavn and is perhaps best-known among visitors for its approach to marijuana (side-note: said drug is still illegal in Denmark).

While Freetown Christiania certainly divides opinion, it’s well worth a walk around if you’re a tourist. Inside, you’ll see a way of living that feels worlds away from the rest of Copenhagen. And even if the concept isn’t your cup of tea, the natural areas are some of the city’s most beautiful.

If you’re thinking about photography in Christiania, you might want to revise that. Generally speaking, it’s forbidden to take images without consent — and the locals do not take kindly to you doing so.

To get to Freetown Christiania, take the metro to Christianshavn and walk around the backend of Vor Freslers Kirke (not on the canal side). You’ll see an entrance next to a gray wall covered in graffiti and posters.

Learn more about Freetown Christiania here.

Things To Do In Copenhagen

Go hiking in Dyrehaven

Okay, sure — Denmark doesn’t have the same level of dramatic nature as Norway or Iceland. However, that’s not to say that it isn’t pleasant; the Danes, like all the other Nordic countries, have a close relationship with their natural landscapes.

You don’t need to venture far out of Central Copenhagen to sample some of Denmark’s unique nature for yourself. One of the most popular weekend day trips for city dwellers is Dyrehaven, a huge nature reserve just north of the capital.

Inside Dyrehaven, you’ll find several “wild” deer — many of which are accustomed to humans and you can get relatively close to. You’ll also find acres of footpaths and a few pleasant restaurants to enjoy a food or drinks break.

Not far from Dyrehaven is Bakken, the world’s oldest functioning amusement park. Unlike Tivoli, it’s completely free to enter.

To get to Dyrehaven, take the S-train from Copenhagen Central Station to Klampenborg. The entrance to the park is at the top end of the station.

Things To Do In Copenhagen

Relax by the beach

Denmark has a surprising number of good beaches, and Copenhagen’s surrounding areas are no different. During the summer, it’s not uncommon to see almost all of the patches of sand in and around the city brimming with locals trying to soak up every last ounce of sun that they can.

Copenhagen has several beaches in and around its city limits, but two are worth checking out in particular: Bellevue Strand and Amager Strandpark.

Bellevue Strand is in the upscale Klampenborg neighborhood and not far from Dyrehaven. It’s well-known for its iconic lighthouses, designed by the renowned architect Arne Jacobsen. Just across the street, you’ll also find the exclusive Bellavista Apartments — also a work of Jacobsen.

Amager Strandpark is just over 20 minutes away from Copenhagen’s city center in the opposite direction. Here, you can find plenty of places to sunbathe — along with well-marked cycling and walking paths. If you’re feeling particularly adventurous, you can enjoy a spot of surfing too.

To get to Bellevue Strand, you can take the S-train to Klampenborg and walk the rest of the way. Meanwhile, Amager Strandpark is close to Amager Strand metro station; you can also bike here from the city center without difficulties.

Find out more about Amager Strandpark here.

Things To Do In Copenhagen

Go swimming in the harbor

Around the world, many cities struggle with water pollution, and you wouldn’t dream of swimming in their rivers and lakes. Copenhagen, however, is not one of those places. The water quality throughout much of the harbor is astonishingly high, and it’s not uncommon to see locals going for a swim throughout the year.

Throughout central Copenhagen, you’ll find various designated bathing zones. Some of the most popular ones are Islands Brygge and Fisketorvet, both of which aren’t far from most of the main tourist attractions.

If you’re staying a little further afield, the newer Nordhavn and Sydhavnen districts also have areas where you can go for a swim.

To go into the water, you typically don’t need to pay unless you want to use locker rooms. However, you must stick to the designated areas — these are clearly marked. If you choose to ignore these, you could receive a hefty fine and put yourself in unnecessary danger.

Find out more about Copenhagen’s harbour baths here.

Things To Do In Copenhagen

Be surprised by Denmark’s cuisine

When you think of amazing cuisine, which country springs to your mind first?

Italy?

Vietnam?

France?

Whatever your answer was, it probably wasn’t Denmark. But in recent years, Danish cuisine — and Copenhagen’s foodie scene in particular — has evolved dramatically.

If you’re not willing to fork out the eye-watering prices of NOMA, don’t worry. Throughout the city, you’ll find several bakeries serving some of the best sweet treats you’ll ever try (by the way: the Danish pastry isn’t called a Danish in Denmark!). Cinnamon buns are a must year-round, while seasonal specialties like Fastelavnsboller are also worth a try.

In terms of full meals, Danish cuisine will certainly not leave you starving. You can find several places serving hearty portions of various pork and potato combinations and an abundance of outlets to buy smørrebrød with countless toppings.

Alongside Danish cuisine, you’ll also find restaurants from cuisines around the world. Find your favorite and dig in.

Things To Do In Copenhagen

Enjoy Nyhavn

If you’re wondering what to see in Copenhagen, Nyhavn should be top of your list. This beautiful row of colorful houses is one of the most photographed spots in Denmark and the star of a thousand postcards and Instagram feeds.

In addition to the main row of houses, Nyhavn’s side streets are also worth exploring. Surprisingly, most tourists have seemingly missed the memo with these — meaning that you won’t need to jostle between as many crowds as otherwise would be the case.

To enjoy Nyhavn at its best, come here early in the morning where you’ll be accompanied by few people other than some sailors and waiters preparing for the day. You’ll feel like you’ve remarkably traveled back in time by a few centuries.

Getting to Nyhavn is easy; the closest metro station is Kongens Nytorv. Alternatively, you can cycle here from the city center in 10 minutes at most. 

Find out more about Nyhavn here.

Things To Do In Copenhagen

Go on a boat tour

If you look at a map of Copenhagen, you’ll notice that water plays a significant role in shaping how the city looks. Naturally, one of the best ways to enjoy the Danish capital is from a boat.

You’ll find a good selection of boat tour operators in the city, and you can join one from both Nyhavn and close to Christiansborg Palace. Alternatively, you can rent one yourself; GoBoat is popular with locals.

Another unique way to enjoy Copenhagen from the water is to rent a kayak; you’ll find numerous spots to do this. One initiative is GreenKayak, where you can borrow a boat for free and go around to pick up litter from the city’s waterways.

If you don’t want to get on a tourist boat, you can experience Copenhagen from the water by hopping on a harbor bus. The route goes from Refshaløen in the north to Teglholmen in the south, stopping at Nyhavn and Islands Brygge, among other places.

It’s the city’s official boat network, and you can stay on board for the price of a public transport ticket.

Things To Do In Copenhagen

Enjoy the city from above

Copenhagen’s flat topography is great news if you’re not a big fan of walking up hills. However, the city’s lack of natural vantage points can get a little irritating if you want to enjoy the Danish capital from a different perspective.

One of the most enjoyable things to do in Copenhagen is to take in the city from above, and you’ll find several places to do this. Christiansborg Palace is one of the most popular, and it’s completely free for locals and tourists alike to go to the observation deck.

Another excellent place to enjoy from Copenhagen’s colorful rooftops is Rundetårn (the Round Tower). An entrance ticket costs 40 DKK, and you’ll get a complete view of the city from all directions; on a good day, you can even see the Øresund Bridge that connects Denmark with Sweden.

If you’re visiting Copenhagen during the summer months, Vor Freslers Kirke in Christianshavn is also a popular viewing point. The observation deck is shut during the winter, though, and you’ll soon see why; its revolving staircase can be a little disorienting, especially as you get to the top.

Other cool viewing spots in Copenhagen include:

  • CopenHill
  • ILLUM Rooftop
  • The MÆRSK Tower (open on weekdays only)

Join a free walking tour

Sure, you can enjoy Copenhagen with your own two feet. But wouldn’t you rather get to know the city on more of a granular level?

One of the best ways that you can get to know the Danish capital better is by joining a free walking tour. From Friday to Monday each week, Copenhagen Free Tours operates a grand tour of the city’s highlights at 10:30am from Rådhuspladsen; you can pay whatever you think it was worth at the end.

Copenhagen Free Tours also has a few smaller tours for different parts of the city. With each of these, you’ll learn more about the streets you wander and the buildings you stumble across — leaving you with a little more insider knowledge from your trip.

Things To Do In Copenhagen

Go for a walk or run around The Lakes

One of Copenhagen’s most iconic locations is The Lakes. As the name suggests, it’s a group of lakes that carve through the city center and divide the inner districts from Copenhagen’s neighborhoods.

The Lakes are a popular meeting spot for Copenhageners, and you’ll find pretty big crowds throughout the year. You can walk around them at a casual pace, taking various detours to pop into the numerous cafés, restaurants, and pubs along the way.

Alternatively, you can go all-in and grab your running shoes. It’s a pretty easy route if you’re a beginner and scenic to match. It’s probably best to go early in the morning if you’re running, though, because it gets quite packed on those brighter and warmer summer evenings.

Find out more about The Lakes in Copenhagen here.

Things To Do In Copenhagen

Combine your trip with an international day trip

There are plenty of things to see in Copenhagen, but that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t combine your trip with one elsewhere.

One of the coolest things about Copenhagen is its location. It’s a bridge between mainland Europe and the rest of Scandinavia, and getting to Sweden from the city center is very minimal effort-wise.

In less than an hour, you can find yourself in Malmö — Sweden’s third-largest city. It’s an excellent introduction to the country if you’ve never visited before; you’ll find a whole range of places to eat, fashion outlets, and routes for cycling and wandering.

Elsewhere in Southern Sweden, the picturesque university town of Lund is also well worth your time; it’s just 15 minutes from Malmö.

You can buy train tickets to Sweden from the ticket machines at Copenhagen Central Station, along with the DSB and SJ apps. If you’re going to be in Skåne for a while, consider downloading Skånetrafiken for local public transport. 

There are also organised tours that you can book, such as with Get Your Guide.

Things To Do In Copenhagen

Sit down with a beer

Unlike its Nordic cousins, Denmark has a pretty relaxed approach to alcohol. It’s the land of Carlsberg and Tuborg, though, so how could it not?

As long as you’re not being a nuisance, drinking in public is legal in the country. And on a warm spring or summer’s day, one of the top things to do in Copenhagen is grabbing a couple of cans and finding a spot to sit down with your friends.

Copenhagen has several public spaces for you to bring your own beer and wind down. The waterfront at Nyhavn is one of the best places, but it’s almost always crammed.

Elsewhere, try some of the following:

  • Fælledparken
  • The Lakes
  • Frederiksberg Have

Fælledparken and Frederiksberg Have are also excellent choices if you’d rather sit down with a picnic instead.

Things To Do In Copenhagen
Credit: Suicasmo

Go museum-hopping

Regardless of your interests, Copenhagen probably has a museum that caters to it. The Danish capital is one of Europe’s most impressive cultural centers, with a wide range of places that are interesting and engaging in equal measure.

If you want to learn more about why Danish design has thrust the country into the spotlight, visiting the Danish Architecture Center is a must. Conveniently, it’s located in BLOX — one of the country’s most exciting examples of innovative architecture.

Close to BLOX, you can also learn more about Denmark as a country at the Danish National Museum. And in roughly the same area, you’ll find the Natural History Museum of Denmark — also well worth your time.

A little north of Copenhagen is the world-renowned Louisiana Museum of Modern Art. Here, you’ll find a broad range of interesting exhibitions — plus stunning natural surroundings close to the sea.

Some museums in the Danish capital have days where you can visit for free; one example is Glyptoteket, which costs nothing on Tuesdays. To save money, you can also buy the Copenhagen Card. This grants you free access to over 80 museums, and you can also use public transport without needing to pay for a ticket.

Find our comprehensive guide to museums in Copenhagen here.

Things To Do In Copenhagen

Explore Copenhagen’s neighborhoods

Most of the best things to do in Copenhagen are within the traditional inner city district. However, you’ll miss out on a lot if you don’t venture a little further and check out the city’s unique and vibrant neighborhoods.

Copenhagen’s traditional districts are all easily accessible from the city center by foot, bike, or public transport. Østerbro is excellent if you’re seeking a Parisian vibe with lots of green spaces, and Frederiksberg is perfect for cafés and easy living.

If you’re looking for something a little more intense, Nørrebro has maintained its working-class vibe despite rapidly becoming one of Copenhagen’s most desirable neighborhoods. Here, you’ll find several excellent places to eat and drink.

Vesterbro also has a lot to offer the curious traveler; you should, if you have time, give each of these districts at least a day.

Get to know the districts of Copenhagen here.

The best things to do in Copenhagen are impossible to choose

So, there you have it — here’s our ultimate list of the best things to do in Copenhagen! All of these experiences are excellent for visitors and locals alike — and truth be told, we’ve only scratched the surface of what you can do in this dynamic city.

One of the best things about Copenhagen is that it caters to everyone; pick your own adventure and see where it takes you. Regardless of whether you choose the typical touristy stuff or want to live more like the locals, you’re going to have a fantastic time in one of Europe’s most beautiful cities.

Why not take a few days to see what the city has to offer and book an overnight stay? Copenhagen has hundreds of hotel options to suit all tastes and budget.

Copenhagen is well worth visiting, but it’s not the only place you should see in Denmark. The country will surprise you if you’re willing to step off the beaten path, so why not visit Aarhus or one of Denmark’s many other iconic cities?

Scandification: Discovering Scandinavia.

Now read these:
What is Copenhagen famous for?
Best tourist attractions in Copenhagen
The best museums in Copenhagen
The best parks in Copenhagen
How expensive is Copenhagen?
Michelin dining in Copenhagen
Just how safe is Copenhagen?
Interesting facts about Denmark

Scandification explores and celebrates the magic of Scandinavia. Stay tuned and we’ll bring the essence of Scandinavia to you.

Advertising enquiries

Scandification explores and celebrates the magic of Scandinavia. To advertise your brand to a global audience, contact our advertising team below.

advertising@scandification.com