Copenhagen is the capital city of Denmark, and it is such a beautiful city. That’s why I created this dedicated guide on the top things to do in Copenhagen for your next visit! This includes both outdoor and indoor activities, as well as some tips about free things to do in Copenhagen.
Top things to do in Copenhagen, Denmark (outdoor activities)
If you happen to be in Copenhagen on a sunny day, why waste it in museums and restaurants when you could be outside, discovering the top outdoor attractions?
After visiting all these must-see places in Copenhagen, here are my recommendations for things to do and see if you are looking for outdoor activities in Copenhagen.
Note that all the mentioned places and activities are either free or included in the list of attractions offered by the Copenhagen Card.
What’s the Copenhagen Card?
The Copenhagen Card is a city card that grants admission to over 80 attractions in and around Copenhagen. The card also offers public transport in the entire capital region. You can buy this card for one and up to 5 days (this is what I did). While the Copenhagen Card may seem pricey at first, it was worth getting it. If this is your first trip to Copenhagen, and you plan to visit museums and move around the city and even outside the city, then don’t hesitate to get the Card!! It’s worth it!
Without any further ado, here are my top outdoor activities in Copenhagen, Denmark.
Where to stay in Copenhagen?
Copenhagen is a very walkable city, and you can also get around biking. If this is your first time in Copenhagen and you want to make the most out of it and get to see all the top things to do in Copenhagen, I advise you to find a place closer to center.
Budget accommodation: Generator Copenhagen
Medium accommodation: citizenM Copenhagen Radhuspladsen
Luxury accommodation: Copenhagen Admiral Hotel
Top outdoor activities in Copenhagen Denmark
The Little Mermaid
The Little Mermaid is one of the most popular and famous places in the entire Copenhagen. This icon sculpture was inspired by the famous fairy tale of the Danish writer Hans Christian Andersen. The Danes are most proud of their famous writer, and you can find many souvenirs inspired by his tales. And if you want to take a trip down the memory lane or teach your kids about Hans Christian Andersen’s tales, you may also visit the museum next to the city hall.
And she still stands today in the Copenhagen harbor.
This famous statue was unveiled on 23 August 1913 and was commissioned by the Danish brewer Carl Jacobsen as a gift to the City of Copenhagen. As the tale has it, the mermaid decided to give up her underwater life to be united with the young prince that lives on land. That’s why she is next to the shore, hoping to catch a glimpse of her beloved prince.
Carl Jacobsen decided to commission the Little Mermaid statue after watching a ballet performance based on the fairy tale. The sculptor Edvard Eriksen created the sculpture of the mermaid.
Over the years, the little mermaid statue has been a victim of vandalism. Twice she has lost her head, once the arm was sawn off, and several times she has had paint poured on her. But she was rescued every time and still stands in the Copenhagen harbor to welcome travelers.
Another popular thing to do in Copenhagen on a sunny day is to visit the Citadel, also known as Kastellet by locals. This citadel was created by the Danish king Christian the 4th in 1626.
Today, this place is used both as military barracks and offices. And luckily you may visit it free of charge. Locals love to hang out around here and visit it as they would visit any other park. Some come here to jog.
Boat canal cruise
If you haven’t guessed by now, then know that Copenhagen is a city by the sea and has many canals, which make the perfect backdrop for a boat canal cruise.
If you’re in Copenhagen on a beautiful sunny day, then consider booking a canal tour and discovering the city from a new perspective. These tours are both in Danish and English and take around one hour. Some of the highlights of a canal tour include The Copenhagen Opera House, Amalienborg Palace, Christiansborg Palace, the impressive Black Diamond Library, and, of course, the Little Mermaid.
If you want to explore at your own pace or have a private party on a boat, you may also do that by renting your own boat. It seems like a lot of fun and might be more appropriate for a larger group of friends. Other water activities may be surfing, kitesurfing, kayaking, canyoning, and paddling.
The Round Tower
Welcome to the round tower, one of Copenhagen’s most iconic buildings, which is right in the city center.
The Round tower was built by Christian IV 17th century to show his gratitude to the Danish astronomer Tycho Brahe. At the time, Denmark was famous for its astronomical research. Some stories say that a Russian Tsar once rode up on a horse on the wide spiral path that leads to the top. The ascending is certainly worth it, as you will find yourself on an outdoor platform offering magnificent views of the old part of Copenhagen.
Today, The Round Tower is the oldest functioning observatory in Europe, and it is used by amateur astronomers. And the breathtaking view at the top isn’t the only thing the tower has to offer. Here, you will also find a grand library hall which now hosts various exhibitions. And did you notice that the tower has a hollow core? Don’t worry, it’s protected by glass, and you won’t fall.
Christiania is the famous Freetown of Copenhagen. It was founded in 1971 when a group of squatters occupied the buildings. Today many of the original settlers still live in the collectively controlled village, and the area has a clear 70s feel to it. This controversial area has become one of Denmark’s most popular tourist attractions mainly because of its hash and cannabis tolerance and its residents’ relaxed lifestyle.
Inside Christiania, you will find a lot of creative spaces and outdoor art, which attracts more than 500,000 people every year to this only 1,000-people community.
There are tours of the place, and you may also stop for a snack or a drink here. Above all, you may also find interesting architecture and unique music venues, and art galleries. Note that Christiania is different from any other palace of Copenhagen, and visitors are discouraged from photographing the area, especially around Pusher street, which is quite rough and dodgy.
According to Copenhagen police, the area around Pusher Street is controlled by organized criminal groups. The residents themselves discourage visitors from photographing, running and talking on the phone in the area, especially in and around Pusher Street. At the main entrance, you will find a sign listing the rules, which the residents advise visitors not to photograph either. There have been media reports of a small number of cases where visitors who have violated the rules have been threatened, assaulted, or robbed by hash dealers.
During summer weekends, locals will offer guided tours of Christiania, which is the best way to experience and understand this alternative community that exists right in the heart of Copenhagen.
According to the Visit Copenhagen website, The tours are in English and Danish and start from the main entrance at 15:00. The price is DKK 40 in cash to the guide.
Church of Our Savior
You’ve probably already seen pictures of Denmark’s most famous church, the Church of Our Saviour. The most impressive part of this church is the architecture of its tower, which features a serpentine spire that was inaugurated in 1752.
If you want to make it to the top, you’ll have to climb 400 steps, which will get you 90 meters above street level. Since the last 150 steps are outside, climbing this tower might not be a fun activity if you are afraid of heights. On top of the spire, you’ll see Our Saviour Himself standing on top of a golden globe while watching over Copenhagen.
Know that this popular outdoor attraction in Copenhagen attracts over 60,000 people every year. Note that the tower is closed in January and February.
As a travel tip, it might be a good idea to book your visit in advance. During high season, this place gets lots of visitors, and you may have to wait quite a while until it’s your turn to climb to the top.
Tivoli amusement park
Welcome to one of the oldest theme parks in the world. Tivoli is a magical place, and it’s located right in the heart of Copenhagen. Founded in 1843, it inspired Hans Christian Andersen and Walt Disney, who visited the place many times.
Imagine strolling around the city and randomly hearing people screaming every now and then. I bet that you’ll find it creepy the first time you’ll hear it, but it will soon become hilarious once you realize it’s only the effect of one of the rides at Tivoli.
Some come here for the gardens, which are one of the best decored that I’ve seen. Others come for rides or special events. Either way, you will love the time you spend at Tivoli. Note that only the entrance to Tivoli Gardens is included with the Copenhagen Card. If you also want to try the rides, you have to pay extra at the entrance. You have to either purchase individual rides tickets or buy all-rides tickets, and you may get on any ride as many times as you want. I strongly advise spending at least half the day here to ensure you have plenty of time to try all the rides. Note that Tivoli tends to get crowded during summer when all kids and teenagers are on holiday.
To be honest, it’s quite easy to spend an entire day here at Tivoli. You have a huge variety of restaurants, fun activities, rides, beautiful corners where you can relax, and great music. There’s always something happening at Tivoli, so make sure to check out their schedule in advance.
Tivoli is open throughout the year and gets decorated to match every international holiday, such as Halloween or Christmas.
Fireworks at Tivoli (every Saturday)
And that’s not all about Tivoli. If you happen to be in Copenhagen during summer, make sure to be around Tivoli on a Saturday. From May to September, they offer these fantastic fireworks show that can be seen even from the city hall square.
Even from the sidewalk, you may watch the fireworks for free, which counts as one of the top free things to do in Copenhagen. Of course, the best view would be right from the Tivoli Gardens, next to the Open Air Stage. I suggest using your entry to Tivoli Gardens offered by the Copenhagen Card on a Saturday when you can also enjoy this beautiful fireworks show.
Other outdoor activities in Copenhagen
Other things to do in Copenhagen on a sunny day include
- Strolling along the Nyhavn, the popular waterfront and canal, which is famous for its brightly colored 17th and 18 townhouses. This is one of the most popular activities to do in Copenhagen is it is free!
- See the Changing of the Royal Guards at Amalienborg Palace. It takes place daily at 12:00. This event is free for the public to watch.
- Rent a bike to explore Copenhagen like a local
- Get out for a beer in the Meatpacking District at one of the many bars with outdoor setting area
Top things to do in Copenhagen, Denmark (indoor activities)
If you want to see more of Copenhagen, explore some of its museums and castle, or you’re just looking for a fun way to spend a rainy day, then I’ve got you covered.
Here are the top things to do in Copenhagen if you’re looking for indoor activities.
The first museum to check out on a rainy day should be is Rosenborg Castle. This is a 17th-century royal castle that safeguards the crown jewels and royal regalia.
The Rosenborg Castle was built by the famous Danish king. Christian the 4th, and it stands today as a testimony of the 400 years of the royal treasure.
As you walk up, the rooms are decorated lavishly, full of royal portraits. One room that will certainly remain in your memory is the Knights’ Hall, where you’ll find the coronation thrones. The hall is full of symbols and pieces of history. The wall tapestries illustrate the battles between Denmark and Sweden.
It’s truly rare to see such a well-preserved royal castle. You’ll get to see the king’s private writing cabinet and his bathroom and view wax figures of former royal inhabitants. The castle is also home to an exquisite collection of Flora Danica and one of the world’s finest Venetian glass collections.
And as if that wasn’t enough, you’ll end this castle visit with Denmark’s crown jewels, which are kept in special vaults. The main sets are the diamond set, ruby, pearl, and emerald sets – the emeralds being among the world’s finest.
If you’re keen to discover more about the Danish royal family and its history, then you should also visit the Amalienborg Palace, which displays more modern pieces from the mid-19th century until today.
Natural History Museum of Denmark
Denmark’s national museum of natural history is a great option for spending time indoors on a cloudy or rainy day in Copenhagen. Here you’ll discover beautiful minerals, and you’ll be able to touch a 16-ton meteorite from outer space. Some of the exhibitions are changing, so you’ll always find something new at the Natural History Museum.
Every year, the museum hosts the Wildlife Photographer of the Year exhibition, which features the 100 best photos of wildlife selected from photos from all over the world.
Welcome to Christiansborg palace, the place to experience 800 years of Danish royal history.
Once home to kings and queens, Christiansborg Palace now houses the Danish Parliament, the Supreme Court, and the Ministry of State. You can visit the state rooms and walk in the footsteps of royalty.
The Great Hall is the most imposing room in the palace. This is where you will find the Queen’s tapestries.
The Danish business community celebrated Her Majesty Queen Margrethe II’s 50th birthday in 1990 by ordering a gift of 11 tapestries. Bjørn Nørgaard painted the full-size sketches upon which the tapestries were woven. The tapestry series depicts 1000 years of Danish history.
The Prime Minister of Denmark also uses The Royal Reception Rooms in connection with state visits by foreign state leaders. The Alexandra Hall is used for official dinners.
If you hold a ticket to the Royal Reception Rooms, you are entitled to a free guided tour of the premises. Other experiences at Christiansborg Palace include a spooky tour of the ruins discovered underneath the palace, which include a wall dating to the Middle Ages, and a trip around the castle’s former kitchens, complete with sounds and models.
To sum it all up, you may visit here the ruins, the royal reception rooms, the royal stables, and the royal kitchen. You may choose to buy an individual ticket for any of these or to buy a combined ticket that includes all of these. If you plan to visit two of the exhibitions, you are better off with a combined ticket. And if you have the Copenhagen Card, all of these entries are included.
NY Carlsberg Glyptotek
The Carlsberg Glyptotek displays ancient and modern art in truly unique surroundings. Founded in 1888 by brewer Carl Jacobsen, the gallery is renowned for its marble sculptures and its winter garden.
Inside, you will discover a beautiful building with high ceilings. The winter garden full of palm trees surrounding a fountain and pond was my favorite.
As for the collections, there’s plenty to see.
The gallery is divided into ancient and modern collections. You’ll also find some temporary exhibitions if you are lucky. There’s always something happening at the Glyptotek. You may also visit it for free, as every Tuesday, they offer free admission to all visitors. The Department of Antiquities houses excellent collections of Egyptian, Greek, and Roman art. You’ll walk through 3,500 years of art and history. Can you imagine yourself in Ancient Greece? Or maybe in Egypt or Rome?
Ripley’s Believe It or Not
This is the only Ripley’s Believe It or Not! Exhibition in all Scandinavia. Here you’ll find a world of curios which is quite a long way from the everyday normalities that you’re used to. The exhibits are collected from around the world.
You’ll see many things that seem fake at first, but then you get to read their stories and begin to wonder. You’ll see things like a two-headed cow (don’t worry, it’s stuffed) and a genuine shrunken head no bigger than a clenched fist.
Other must-sees include the woman who elongated her neck 34 cm (13,39 inches) using metal rings, the condemned prisoner who survived 13 shots and was granted a reprieve, and the awesome reconstruction of the Taj Mahal, built from 300.000 matches!
Ready to explore these must-see places in Copenhagen?
So there you have it, folks, the best outdoor and indoor attractions and free activities in Copenhagen. If you want to see as much as possible, then consider getting the Copenhagen Card, which has everything I’ve mentioned included and more!
Make sure to take advantage of your sunny day and see as much as possible of this beautiful city! You won’t regret it!