Copenhagen is cool, cultured and cosmopolitan. This Danish city has a lively café culture, thriving music scene, excellent shopping and superb museums. Find out why this small, yet perfectly formed city was the European Capital of Culture in 1996. Copenhagen will also host the European Green Capital 2014 honour.
Explore the National Museum and National Gallery
Start your exploration of Copenhagen in the ‘Indre By’ district, aka the medieval city centre. With a multitude of churches, landmark buildings and hidden alleys there is plenty to do here.
Lovers of the arts should include a trip to the Danish National Gallery which is known locally as the Statens Museum for Kunst, which contains some 700 years of art and history. Key pieces include those from Picasso, Matisse and Rembrandt as well as Golden Age works from Danish artists. There are also guided tours, workshops and converts throughout the year. And combine this with a visit to the Danish National Museum (Nationalmuseet) which is often hailed as the best European museum. With many interesting exhibits from the Viking period, classical Danish artefacts and oriental pieces, this is a must for the whole family, especially as there is an intriguing museum for children in the basement. And the best news is that both the museum and gallery are free to enter.
Visit the Tivoli Gardens themepark
Also located within the city center is the world famous Tivoli Gardens amusement park, which is the second oldest in the world. Open during the summer season (April to September), Tivoli grew up around the Dragon Boat Lake. Today the main draw is the wooden roller-coaster, Rutschebanen, which was built in 1914. There is also ‘The Demon’ roller-coaster which loops and rolls and the Star Flyer carousel is the tallest in the world and offers great views over Copenhagen. As expected there are also bumper cars, a ferris wheel and plenty of rides for smaller children. However if you prefer your amusement parks a little more low key, check out the Dyrehaven (Dyrehavsbakken) park instead in Klampenborg (north of Copenhagen), which also happens to be oldest amusement park in the world!
Explore the canals, harbour and Little Mermaid Statue
Explore authentic Copenhagen on a canal tour in the Østerbro district, just north of the city center. Here you’ll find the Little Mermaid statue, the Kastellet Citadel and The English Church. A canal tour takes in the picturesque Nyhavn canal and passes by the Trekroner fortresses. Most travellers walk the harbour and head straight to the Little Mermaid Statue (Den Lille Havfrue) which was originally unveiled in 1931. This is one of the most photographed statues in the world yet stands at only 1.25m (3.3 feet) tall. She was of course made famous by the fairytale from the Danish writer Hans Christian Andersen. Whilst in Østerbro also visit the flint English Church, the Danish Resistance Museum which has free entry and the Kastellet (Frederikshavn Citadel) which was built in 1626 and is fully restored. Alternatively, hire a bike to explore, after all Copenhagen is one of the safest cycling cities in the world!
Catch the Copenhagen Jazz Festival
The Copenhagen locals like their jazz music, and each July the annual Jazz Festival is held. For ten days the entire city comes alive to the sweet sounds – from the theatres, music clubs, squares and parks. And with around 800 separate concerts throughout the festival, there’s something of a carnival atmosphere in the city. And if live current music is your thing, be sure to check out the annual Roskilde Music Festival which is held each summer.
Discover the mighty Oresund Bridge
The new addition of the Øresund Bridge makes exploring both Denmark and Sweden a little easier. Opened in July 2000, the bridge connects Copenhagen to Malmo in Sweden. Spanning 8km (5 mile), the bridge is the longest road and rail bridge in Europe.
Check out the vibrant Nørrebro district
Hailed as the cultural and vibrant center of Copenhagen, Nørrebro probably has the best selection and diversity of bars, clubs, unique boutiques and restaurants. The area also has a really fun quirky side, which is apparent in the slightly bizarre local museums such as the Barbie Doll Museum (which is open by appointment only), the Herman Stilling Museum which features the Danish artists paintings of trolls and gnomes and the Museum of police history which details some of the weird and cunning stories from police cases. Also in the district is the Assistens Cemetery where fairytale author Hans Christian Andersen is buried. Find out for yourself why Denmark was voted the happiest country in the world!
Discover the opulence of the Frederiksberg district
As well as frequently appearing on the ‘Top 10 Green Cities’ and ‘Top 10 Best Places to Live’, Copenhagen is also (unjustifiably) regarded as an expensive destination. There are many free things to do in Copenhagen and with cheap flights and affordable accommodation; the city is no more expensive than most other European cities.
However the Frederiksberg district will do nothing to dispel the myth. With lush sprawling parks, large mansions and tree-lined boulevards, this is the luxury district. Actually set on a small island, the town is set around the impressive Frederiksberg castle. Visitors should head to the Baroque Frederiksberg Palace which dates from 1699 and is only open on the first Saturday of each month. Copenhagen Zoo is also on the island, as is imposing City Hall and the Storm P. Museum which is home to more than 50,000 drawings from the famous Danish author, Robert Storm Petersen.