Copenhagen, Denmark - Things to Do and See

residential buildings in copenhagen

 Taylor McIntyre / © TripSavvy

01 of 10

Tivoli Gardens - Copenhagen's Playground

 Taylor McIntyre / © TripSavvy

Copenhagen, Denmark is the largest city in Scandinavia, with lots to see and do for everyone. Copenhagen is also a very popular port of call or embarkation point for cruise ships sailing to the Baltic capitals.

Copenhagen is a great city to walk in, and it is flat terrain with no skyscrapers and few automobiles. Tivoli Gardens is Copenhagen's most popular tourist destination. Millions of people fill the gardens, dine in the 40 restaurants, enjoy the entertainment, ride the amusement rides, play the games, or just sit and eat ice cream and people-watch from mid-April to late September each year. Tivoli was opened in 1843, and it was once on the western edge of the city. Today it is in the center of Copenhagen and is only a short taxi ride from the Langelinie cruise ship pier. Tivoli is definitely not Disneyland but has its own magic.

The entertainment varies each day, so be sure to pick up a map and schedule when you pay the entry fee at the gate.

Tivoli is at its best at night, when over 100,000 colored lanterns light up the gardens.

More Copenhagen, Denmark travel planning information --

02 of 10

Little Mermaid Statue

Little Mermaid of Copenhagen
Photo (c) Linda Garrison

The Little Mermaid statue is only a 10-minute walk from the cruise ship pier in Copenhagen. At less than five feet tall, the little statue is much smaller than most people expect, and she sits on a rock near the shore, not in the middle of the harbor.

Hans Christian Andersen wrote "The Little Mermaid" fairy tale in 1837, and in 1909 the founder of Carlsberg Breweries, who was fascinated by the story, had the statue built.

The Little Mermaid statue has sat on her boulder since August 23, 1913, but has had a very turbulent life, with at least eight vandalism attacks. She has been dowsed in paint numerous times, had her right arm amputated, been decapitated three times, and even pushed from her rock in 2003. Fortunately, the sculptor made a mold, so the Little Mermaid's "parts" have been reattached from the original mold.

Disney's "Little Mermaid" Ariel has introduced a whole new generation to the story.

03 of 10

City Hall Square

 Taylor McIntyre / © TripSavvy

The City Hall is near Tivoli Gardens and the Stroget pedestrian mall and is a good place to start a tour of Copenhagen. The lobby has a good selection of tourist information and maps. The City Hall is free except for the 300-step walk to the top of the tower, which will cost you 20 Kroner. The large atrium of the City Hall was inspired by the City Hall in Siena, Italy.

On the exterior front of the City Hall are large polar bears that symbolize Greenland, which is still a protectorate of Denmark.

Before starting a stroll down the pedestrian mall of Stroget, look at the top of the "Philips" building on the opposite side of City Hall square. The golden weather girls used to tell the weather before the mechanism broke. One girl on a bicycle would rotate to the front when it was sunny, and the second girl with an umbrella would rotate to the front when it was rainy. Today the statue is permanently stuck halfway in between!

04 of 10

Hans Christian Andersen Statue

Hans Christian Andersen statue next to the City Hall in Copenhagen, Denmark
Photo (c) Linda Garrison

This statue of Hans Christian Andersen greets visitors to Copenhagen. When Hans Christian Andersen was alive, he loved to have his photo made, and most tourists continue to accommodate his wish. Note how shiny his knees are! That's from everyone sitting on his lap for their memory picture from Copenhagen.

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05 of 10

Fountain of Charity in Old Square

Fountain of Charity in the Old Square of Copenhagen, Denmark
Photo (c) Linda Garrison

The Stroget pedestrian mall is a wonderful place to experience some of the sights of Copenhagen. The Stroget is actually a series of streets that weave through downtown Copenhagen from the City Hall to the Nyhavn harbor. You can walk the length of Stroget in 30 minutes, but it will take you a half-day if you take in many of the side streets.

This Fountain of Charity in Gammel Torv (Old Square) in the photo is only one of the fascinating sites on the Stroget. Although the statue has been in Gammel Torv since the 1600s, the two figures were once "corked" during the Victorian era, and the statue was put high on this pedestal so that the pregnant nude woman and the young boy would not be so noticeable. Sights and stories like this one are found all over Copenhagen (and most other cities).

Near Gammel Torv is the marvelous neoclassical Lutheran church, the Cathedral of Our Lady. It looks much like a Greek Temple, with all the Apostles in Roman togas. The church has marvelous acoustics and free organ concerts each Saturday at noon. We were lucky enough to be there when someone was practicing on the organ, and it was beautiful!

As you continue strolling down the Stroget, don't miss all the street mimes and shopping opportunities ranging from upscale shops to street vendors.

06 of 10

Nyhavn Harbor

Nyhavn Harbor in Copenhagen, Denmark
Photo (c) Linda Garrison

Nyhavn Harbor in Copenhagen, Denmark is a good place to eat outside and enjoy a summer day. The old sailors' quarters have been converted into colorful trendy cafes, bars, and jazz clubs. The Nyhavn canal is filled with sailboats and is also the best place to take a tour on one of the many Copenhagen harbor cruise and canal cruise boats.

07 of 10

Christiansborg Castle Square

Taylor McIntyre / © TripSavvy 

Christiansborg Castle Square in Copenhagen, Denmark is the site of a complex of government buildings, including the Parliament, Supreme Court, and Prime Minister's office. The royal family has not lived at Christianborg for over 200 years but uses the palace for special occasions. You can't wander around the palace alone, but the 50-minute English language tour of the palace is well worth the cost.

To find the entrance to the Christiansborg Palace tours, enter the wooden door behind this equestrian statue, go past the entrance to the Christianborg ruins, go into a courtyard and up the stairs on the right. A tour provides great information on the Danish royal family and its connection to the royals of other European countries. The highlight of the tour is the collection of modern wall tapestries given to the Queen for her 60th birthday in 2000. They were made by Gobelin of Paris and are some of the most spectacular you will ever see.

08 of 10

Copenhagen Jazz Festival

Copenhagen Denmark Jazz Festival balloon photo
Photo (c) Linda Garrison

The Copenhagen Jazz Festival is held each July in Copenhagen. This balloon was used in one of the parades for the Jazz Festival. Jazz musicians from around the world perform practically non-stop at Tivoli Gardens and around the city both indoors and outdoors. Many of the performances are free.

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09 of 10

Amalienborg Castle in Copenhagen, Denmark

 Taylor McIntyre / © TripSavvy

The Amalienborg Castle in Copenhagen, Denmark is the home of the Danish Royal family. Queen Margrethe II and her husband live in one of the four identical buildings and her son and heir to the throne Crown Prince Frederik, lives in one of the other buildings.

10 of 10

Oresund Bridge Connecting Sweden and Copenhagen

Oresund Bridge connecting Copenhagen, Denmark and Malmo, Sweden
Photo (c) Linda Garrison

The Oresund Bridge in Copenhagen, Denmark links Denmark and Sweden for the first time since the end of the Ice Age over 7000 years ago. The $4 billion bridge/tunnel project was completed in 2000 and consists of a 5-mile bridge, 2.5-mile tunnel, and a man-made island. Malmo, Sweden, the third largest city in Sweden, is now just 35 minutes away from Copenhagen via the train across the Oresund Straits.

I took this photo as we sailed under the Oresund Bridge on the small luxury ship the Silversea Silver Cloud while on our way to the Baltic Sea. What a great view we had of this bridge/tunnel engineering marvel.

The Oresund Bridge was selected as one of the seven wonders of Sweden in a 2007 Swedish newspaper poll.

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