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Best things to do in Copenhagen

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Where in the world: Europe  /  Denmark  /  Zealand  /  Copenhagen
The list of things to do in Copenhagen expands far beyond taking a picture with The Little Mermaid or climbing to the top of The Round Tower for sweeping views of the city. To experience the old-fashioned charm of the city and discover its rich heritage, take a stroll along the picturesque canal of Nyhavn. In the fairytale setting of the elegant Rosenborg Castle, you can see a collection of Danish crown jewels and regalia, including a coronation carpet and the throne chair of Denmark. Featuring flower gardens, food pavilions, and open-air shows in addition to traditional amusement rides and carnival games, Tivoli Gardens is a great destination to visit when traveling with kids.

Copenhagen is best known for its Historic Walking Areas, Gardens, and Monuments.

Top 15 things to do in Copenhagen

1. Rundetarn

For sweeping views over the city, climb to the top of Rundetarn. Built in the 17th century as one of many architectural projects commissioned by King Christian IV, this tower long served as an important astronomical observatory. The structure formed part of a scientific complex that once provided scholars with access to a chapel, church, and academic library. Today the tower ranks among the country's major tourist attractions, featuring a famous 7.5-turn spiral corridor leading to an observation platform. Through the tower you can also access a former library hall, now used as a cultural venue and exhibit space.
Suggested duration: 1 hour
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2. Tivoli Gardens

Set some time aside for fun and games at Tivoli Gardens, the second-oldest amusement park in the world. Established in 1843, the park sits in the heart of the city and offers not only traditional amusement rides and carnival games, but also flower gardens, food pavilions, and open-air shows. The most-visited amusement park in Scandinavia, this large venue attracts the majority of its visitors after dusk, when the lights come on and the area becomes one big stage for a range of cultural activities. Be sure to try a few roller coaster rides, but leave plenty of time for a show at the park's world-famous pantomime theater, built in the 1870s by celebrated architect Vilhelm Dahlerup. Also there, H.C. Anderson Statue.
Suggested duration: 8 hours
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3. Rosenborg Castle

To see an exhibit featuring a collection of Danish crown jewels and regalia, head to Rosenborg Castle, one of the country's finest examples of Renaissance architecture. Originally constructed as King Christian IV's country house in 1606, the structure underwent several major expansion projects through 1624. The elegant castle sits in the middle of one of the city's liveliest parks and serves as a royal history museum. In addition to the famous crown jewels, which are displayed in the catacombs beneath the castle, the museum collection also includes a coronation carpet and the throne chair of Denmark.
Suggested duration: 2 hours
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4. Stroeget

A shopaholic's dream come true, Stroeget is a large, traffic-free shopping area in the center of the city. Clear of motorized traffic since the early 1960s, this is one of the longest pedestrian-friendly streets in Europe. Bookended by two major public squares, the street opens up into a number of side alleys, each one dotted by upscale shops, bars, and restaurants. Bustling with tourists and street performers, the area attracts nearly 100,000 daily visitors at the height of the tourist season and about half that many during the colder months. Start your stroll or bike ride at the area's famous porcelain store, located inside one of the city's oldest houses.
Suggested duration: 4 hours
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5. Nyhavn

Discover the city's rich heritage by strolling along Nyhavn, a picturesque canal lined by brightly colored townhouses, cafes, restaurants, and bars. Built in the 17th century, this New Harbor (as its name roughly translates), long attracted mostly rambunctious sailors and Bohemian writers. Hans Christian Andersen, who spent most of his life in this district, resided in houses numbered 18, 20, and 67 at various times. Today, the canal area attracts mostly tourists who come here from around the world in search of traditionally prepared herring dishes and the city's famous foaming beers. Don a pair of comfortable shoes, and start your tour at house number 9, the area's oldest building, constructed in 1681.
Suggested duration: 1h 30 min
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7. The Little Mermaid

Despite its small size, The Little Mermaid serves as one of the city's major symbols. Based on the well-known fairy tale by Hans Christian Andersen, this unimposing bronze mermaid is the work of sculptor Edvard Eriksen. Commissioned by Danish beer baron Carl Jacobsen in 1909, the artist modeled the mermaid's face after ballerina Ellen Price and the body after his wife's. The statue miraculously survived the destructive forces of World War II undamaged, becoming a kind of city mascot over the years.
Suggested duration: 30 minutes
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8. Ny Carlsberg Glyptotek

Conveniently located in the center of the city, Ny Carlsberg Glyptotek houses the personal art collection of beer baron Carl Jacobsen. The eclectic museum boasts the largest collection of Rodin sculptures outside of France, as well works by masters like Picasso, Leger, and Matisse. Although antique sculptures serve as a kind of focal point for most visitors, this museum also contains one of the world's biggest collections of paintings by Paul Gauguin. An added treat for art lovers, the venue features a glass-domed conservatory housing a small cafe that serves light dishes and cakes. Take a self-guided tour of the collection, or attend one of the museum's special concert performances.
Suggested duration: 2 hours
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9. National Museum of Denmark

Travel through 14,000 years of history at National Museum of Denmark, which narrates the stories of the many different cultures that once thrived in this and other parts of the world. The museum's eclectic collection includes everything from Viking coins and Bronze Age coffins to Egyptian mummies and African masks. Offering a kind of crash course in Danish culture, the museum stores a vast collection of prehistoric archeological treasures unearthed from Denmark's soil over the last few centuries. The easiest way to see the most representative exhibits quickly is by guided tour. Stop by the information desk at the entrance to sign up for one, or visit the website for downloadable guides and leaflets.
Suggested duration: 2 hours
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10. Christiania

Breathe in some fresh air at Christiania, a car-free neighborhood of free-spirited Copenhagen. Home to about 800 permanent residents, this district covers approximately 35 hectares (84 acres) and functions as a self-governing community. Famous for its relaxed atmosphere and brightly colored houses, the area attracts nonconformists from around the world with its collective workshops and communal living. Venture farther away from the neighborhood's famous main street to discover a world of green gardens, beer halls, music venues, and gift shops. Although you cannot drive into the neighborhood itself, you can leave your car just outside it and join a guided walking tour at the main entrance.
Suggested duration: 2h 30 min
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11. Amalienborg Museum

The four identical classical palaces of Amalienborg Museum serve as the Danish royal family's winter residence. It was originally built for King Frederick V, whose equestrian statue adorns the center of the square--a masterwork of Rococo architecture. The story goes that the king made a deal with four rich families to free them from paying taxes in exchange for their palaces. Choose from a few different tour options, and visit the historic royal museum housed in one of palaces. If you time your visit right, you can catch the change of the royal guard ceremony (12pm daily). The brass band accompanies the guardsmen only if the palace is occupied by someone from the royal family.
Suggested duration: 1h 30 min
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12. Our Saviour's Church

See the city from the top of Our Saviour's Church, built of red and yellow bricks in the Dutch Baroque style. Although builders completed work on the church in 1695, it took nearly six more decades to finish its famous corkscrew spire, which was designed by architect Lauritz de Thurah. According to urban legend, the architect jumped to his death from the top of his creation when he realized it twisted in the counterclockwise direction. The spire reaches a height of 90 m (295 ft) and features an external staircase, which you can climb for a suggested fee. Be sure to explore the interior of the church, noted for housing an altarpiece depicting Jesus and two angels, considered the masterpiece of artist Nicodemus Tessin.
Suggested duration: 1h 30 min
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13. Christiansborg Slot

The seat of the country's parliament, the stately Christiansborg Slot stands directly above the ruins of a castle that existed in this very spot nearly 1,000 years ago. Take a guided tour of the palace to see its famous royal reception rooms used by the queen to entertain visiting heads of state. Be sure to visit the largest of the reception rooms, a hall so vast it can seat up to 400 guests. For a crash course in Danish history, visit the remains of the original castle to learn about the palace's long service as a royal residence and seat of legislative power. Check the website for downloadable maps of the palace.
Suggested duration: 2h 30 min
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14. Kastellet

Walk or jog on the ramparts of Kastellet, Europe's oldest military bastion and a favorite park area in the city. Danish King Christian IV founded this typical Renaissance fortification with five bastions in 1626. The citadel features the original windmill from 1847, three 18th century bronze cannons on the Princesses bastion, the National Monument of Remembrance, an 18th century church, and a prison. The site also is home to the new National Memorial for all fallen Danish soldiers. A prominent prisoner at the citadel prison was a German count and the royal physician, whose affair with Queen Matilda led to his beheading by the schizophrenic King Christian VII. Today, the buildings inside the citadel serve as military barracks and offices of the Danish Defense Intelligence.
Suggested duration: 1 hour
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15. Room Escape Games

Suggested duration: 1h 30 min
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