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5 top places to visit in Copenhagen

Jan Richardson / 28 November 2016

The most populated city in Denmark, Copenhagen has lots to offer tourists, from opulent palaces to trendy Danish design. Here's our top 5 places to visit.

The Christmas installation with Swans in front of the Moorish Palace in Tivoli Garden, Copenhagen
Tivoli Gardens, or simply Tivoli, the world’s second oldest amusement park and pleasure gardens, have something to cater for all ages © Mikhail Markovskiy /

Originally a 10th century fishing village, by the early 15th century Copenhagen, København, had become the biggest city and trading place, and naturally, the capital of Denmark. 

The most populated city in Denmark, Copenhagen is located on the eastern coast of the Danish island of Sjælland, linked across the Öresund Strait with its close neighbour Malmö, in Sweden.

There is something for everyone in easy-going, cosmopolitan Copenhagen: from magnificent palaces, lovely canals, leisurely pleasure gardens, comfortable cafe culture, interesting museums and inspiring art, to trendy shops and so much more.


Tivoli Gardens, or simply Tivoli, the world’s second oldest amusement park and pleasure gardens, have something to cater for all ages - a must for you to visit. Situated close to Central Station, it is quite easy to access. 

The park was founded in 1843 and this venue has always been one of the most important tourist attractions to visit in Denmark. It was visited often by Denmark’s famous author, Hans Christian Andersen, best known for his children’s fairy tales. 

Like Andersen and other celebrity visitors, you too will quickly fall in love with the park’s beautiful scenery, historic buildings and verdant gardens. 

If you are lucky enough to visit at night, you will not fail to be impressed by the magical atmosphere created everywhere by myriads of beautiful coloured lights. For locals and visitors alike, Tivoli Gardens are always a favourite place to relax. 

Perhaps you would prefer simply to wander through the gardens and take in the sights but, should you feel youthful and brave, why not indulge in one of the 25 rides the park has to offer? 

The most popular of these, and the oldest in the world, is the 1914 wooden Roller Coaster, one of a mere seven of its kind worldwide that boasts a brakeman on every train. 

On the other hand, if listening quietly to music is more your style, maybe one of the major music events, or the many concerts happening on a regular basis in the park might suit you better. 

For your refreshment, there are numerous themed restaurants scattered around the park - or you might even prefer to pack a picnic. But one thing is certain - whatever you choose to do in the park, it is bound to be enjoyable.

The Little Mermaid (Den Lille Havfrue)

You simply cannot visit Copenhagen and not be fascinated by the Little Mermaid. Its creator, Hans Christian Andersen, grew up on Ödense on the Danish island of Fyn, a couple of hours by road from Copenhagen, via the Great Belt Bridge. 

His children’s fairy stories are well-known internationally and his tale of ‘The Little Mermaid’, Den Lille Havfrue, has been translated into more than 125 languages. 

So it is little wonder that Denmark’s famous author should be represented by a statue of a little mermaid in its capital city: Edvard Eriksen’s 1913 sculpture sits rather unimposingly on a rock by the waterside on Langelinje promenade, but when you see it, you will be captivated by its loveliness. 

Contrary to your expectations, perhaps, her size might surprise you. At only 4ft tall, the statue is unimpressive, but the beauty of the mermaid is encapsulated in her serenity. 

You wonder, just as Walt Disney must have done on his visit to Copenhagen, why she is looking longingly at the shore and not out to sea. 

The answer is easy: she is still waiting for her prince to come. Her story obviously inspired the Disney Corporation enough for them to use her as a base for their popular 1989 musical fantasy for children.

New Port (Nyhavn)

Another great place on your list to visit must be Nyhavn, Copenhagen’s attractive 17th century waterfront, lined with jaunty coloured townhouses and many bars, restaurants and cafes, which often tumble out onto the street. 

Nyhavn stretches from Kongens Nytorv, or King’s New Square, down the side of the canal to the harbour

Established as a gateway to the old inner city by King Christian V, who ruled Denmark and Norway in the 17th century, Nyhavn is historically where fishermen could land their catch and trading ships could unload their cargo. 

Its picturesque harbour was for centuries the place for sailors coming in to Copenhagen and these important shipping facilities have been instrumental in the growth of Copenhagen.

Nowadays, Nyhavn is more likely to be regarded as one of Copenhagen’s main districts for entertainment and one of its most popular tourist attractions. Here you can catch a one-hour boat cruise round the city’s canal network and harbour. 

From the water, you can see Christiansborg Palace, the Opera House, the Royal Library, Amalienborg Palace, where Queen Margrethe II was born and one of her official residences, Christianshavn and the Little Mermaid. 

What better way to finish off your day than with a relaxing dinner overlooking the many wooden sailing ships moored on the historical harbour-front?

Christiansborg Palace (Christiansborg Slot)

Copenhagen’s canal system networks the heart of the city, linking its small island groups. One of these islands is the tiny Castle Island, Slotsholmen, on which stands Christiansborg Palace.

 This splendid palace houses the Danish Parliament, Folketinget, the Ministry of State and the Danish Supreme Court. 

Take a daily guided tour around the palace and visit the Throne Room, with its marble pilasters and green silk wall-coverings; the Velvet Room; the Great Hall, where the queen holds her gala dinners and banquets; the Queen’s private book collections and the Palace’s tapestries, to name but a few of the wonderful reception rooms. 

Complete your visit with the 18th century Royal Stable complex, with its display of stable uniforms and decorated harnesses in the Harness Room, its handsome, well-kept horses, and superb state coaches and carriages.


Do you fancy a spot of shopping? Copenhagen’s ‘Strøget’, meaning ‘pedestrian street’, is one of Europe's oldest and longest pedestrian street system in the world. 

Along its length, punctuated by historical squares - some small, some larger, usually fountained, all bustling - you will find a host of designer shops and international flagship stores, including Louis Vuitton, Benetton, Geox, Diesel, Levi, Vans, H&M, amongst many other familiar brand names. 

Housed within typical Danish architecture, there is an abundance of facilities, alongside a thriving outdoor cafe culture. 

Because it is such a long street, you might like to rest your weary legs by catching a rickshaw for some of the way, or stop for a drink and a bite to eat in one of its many food outlets to catch your breath. 

Although no cars are allowed in the squares along your route, you will see many parked bikes. Denmark is a very flat country and most Danes use a bicycle for transport. 

When travelling to and from the city they are even more useful, but they are not permitted in ’Strøget’ unless they are pushed

Almost 3.2km long, ’Strøget’ runs from Town Hall Square, Rådhuspladsen, in the west and Kongens Nytorv in the eastern part of the town, incorporating within its length the medieval part of Copenhagen. 

If you do not wish to walk the whole distance, as probably most people do not, you can come into it and go out of it as you please - and when you are all done with shopping, there are plenty of restaurants with delicious Danish fare to choose from for your evening meal. 

Cheers! Enjoy your meal. Skål. Eet Smakelijk!


The opinions expressed are those of the author and are not held by Saga unless specifically stated. The material is for general information only and does not constitute investment, tax, legal, medical or other form of advice. You should not rely on this information to make (or refrain from making) any decisions. Always obtain independent, professional advice for your own particular situation.