Food, Festivals And Fairy Tales: 22 Things To Discover In Copenhagen

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Copenhagen is home to some of the happiest people in the world and it’s not hard to see why.

It’s a pretty small place, which means you can do a lot of your sightseeing on foot. Wandering from the pretty harbour, through historic streets to new neighbourhoods with thriving food and drink scenes.

You’ve got palaces and castles, photo-friendly buildings and architecture, stylish shopping and cool nightlife, so here’s how to make the most of your weekend there.

Eating and drinking

Cafe Borde - Osterbro (c) Kasper Thye - Image via www.copenhagenmediacenter.com

Cafe Borde – Osterbro (c) Kasper Thye – Image via www.copenhagenmediacenter.com

1. Try a Danish takeaway

You’ve probably heard that Copenhagen is expensive – and it can be, with things like beer costing around £8.

So whilst you’re there, try and save on lunches with some great take away food to eat on the move.

Visit one of the hot dog stalls (pølsevognen in Danish) – these are everywhere and the sausages are amazing.

2. Do some fine dining

At the opposite end of the spectrum Copenhagen has quite the foodie reputation – perhaps the most well known, Noma, heads up a list of the world’s best restaurants.

As of 2016, the city has a total of 20 Michelin stars (the most of any Scandinavian city).

3. Eat something truly Danish

Strekers in Skipperkroen does a really good monthly menu  – three courses with a glass of bubbly for 350KR.  We recommend you save room for the creme brulee if it’s on the menu.

Madklubben Bistro-De-Luxe is part of a really cool Danish chain. You’ll eat in a relaxed environment, full of locals with proper local food (You will need to book at the weekend).

If you’re thirsty, try an “all you can drink” set menu (about 5 courses for 450KR / c£40) at Restaurant Vespa.  As you can imagine it is pretty popular so book ahead.

Lundgren V.I.P does a great line in Scandi-style buffet food – with different menu prices depending on what you’re after – the decor is pretty nice too,
If you’re after something sweet for a quick lunch  – try Restaurant La Galette for some crepes – its in the middle of the student district where you’ll find vintage shops.
For excellent pizza try Mother then pop into Warpigs bar for a good range of beer and ale – both are in the Meatpacking district.

You’ll also find loads of places to get a quality caffiene hit – Original Coffee is just one of the chains that serve up a great cup of coffee.

To try a little big of everything, visit the Copenhagen Street Food market on Papirøen (Paper Island). It’s all undercover which makes it ideal if the weather is bad or cold.

Sightseeing

The Little Mermaid (c) Alice Hawcroft

The Little Mermaid (c) Alice Hawcroft

4. See THE statue

One of the best known sculptures in the world, the Little Mermaid statue on Langelinje Pier continues to pull in the crowds more than a hundred years after it was first unveiled.

It does get really busy, especially because lots of boat trips get dropped off there, so take a stroll down in the early morning if you can.

It’s there because the Little Mermaid was written by Danish author Hans Christian Andersen. His other stories include The Emperor’s New Clothes, Thumbelina and The Ugly ducking.

5. Visit Rosenborg Castle

King Christian IV built this Royal Renaissance residence more than 400 years ago and it became his favourite home from home.

Even if you don’t go inside its a lovely place to wander around the gardens and the outside of the castle, which is also home to the Crown Jewels.

Rosenborg Castle Photographer - Wonderful Copenhagen - Image via www.copenhagenmediacenter.com

Rosenborg Castle Photographer – Wonderful Copenhagen – Image via www.copenhagenmediacenter.com

6. Head up high

Christiansborg Palace’s tower has sweeping views of the city – for free.

It’s also got a restaurant at the top, and while you’re there, the Round Tower is also worth a visit – there aren’t steps but a sloped walkway.

The Round Tower_Photographer Morten Jerichau - Image via www.copenhagenmediacenter.com

The Round Tower_Photographer Morten Jerichau – Image via www.copenhagenmediacenter.com

7. Check out the churches

The striking green dome of Frederik’s Kirk, popularly known as The Marble Church, is a popular place for weddings.

Pop up to the dome for views of the city.

The Church of Our Saviour or Vor Frelsers Kirke has an unusual helix spire with an external winding – and you can climb up the tower in nicer weather.

The Marble Church - Marmorkirken - Photographer Ireneusz Cyranek - Image via www.copenhagenmediacenter.com

The Marble Church – Marmorkirken – Photographer Ireneusz Cyranek – Image via www.copenhagenmediacenter.com

Neighbourhoods

8. Visit picture perfect Nyhaven

If you’ve seen any pictures at all of Copenhagen, you’ll probably recognise Nyhaven.

This lovely colourful road is full of bars and restaurants, and well worth a stroll.

Nyhavn in Copenhagen

Nyhavn in Copenhagen

9. Go to one of the most alternative communities in the world

The freetown of Christiania is one of the most controversial and popular locations in the city since its foundation in 1971.

This is a people watching place: some of the residents like to smoke cannabis in the streets, and has intriguing military-style architecture as it is founded in a barracks.

There can be the odd dodgy character around so if you’re worried, take a guided tour.

Christiania (c) Ty Stange - Image via www.copenhagenmediacenter

Christiania (c) Ty Stange – Image via www.copenhagenmediacenter

10. Eat drink and shop in Vesterbro and Istedgade

These areas are a bit student-y in places and Vesterbro was once the red light district – however it’s become super fashionable lately.

Either way you’ll want to see Copenhagen’s homage to Paris- Værnedamsvej street – where there are plenty of bars, restaurant and coffee shops.

The Meatpacking District is also worth a look too.

Square in Vesterbro - Image via www.copenhagenmediacenter.com

Square in Vesterbro – Image via www.copenhagenmediacenter.com

Culture

11. Find out more about the Vikings

The National Museum of Denmark takes you back to when the Norsemen ruled the waves.

As well as rare artefacts like the Sun Chariot, the museum will also bring you up to date with recent history as well.

12. See some art

The National Art Gallery is free to visit and is housed in a huge building.

They also look after the Royal Art collection here.

13. Catch a play, opera or ballet

The Royal Danish Theatre was established back in 1748.

You can get guided tours of the building, as well as The Opera House, if you just want to look around.

Copenhagen Opera House (c) Ty Stange. Image via www.copenhagenmediacenter.com

Copenhagen Opera House (c) Ty Stange. Image via www.copenhagenmediacenter.com

Outdoors

14. See the local plants and trees at the Botanical Gardens

Copenhagen’s gardens are the biggest collection of flowers and plants in the country, stretching throughout large glasshouses.

It’s a quieter walk during the colder months, but there is also a lovely cafe to have a hot or cold drink in – depending on the weather.
Botanical Garden in Copenhagen (c) Ty Stange - Image via www.copenhagenmediacenter.com

Botanical Garden in Copenhagen (c) Ty Stange – Image via www.copenhagenmediacenter.com

15. Visit the famous city centre amusement park

Tivoli Gardens is open late – all the better to see the illuminations on the lake.

The fairground is superb, with a Ferris Wheel and rollercoasters or you can just mosey round the gardens.

Its open from April to September, and then also for Halloween and Christmas.

16. See the oldest amusement park in the world

Just a short drive from the cit you’ll find Dyrehavsbakken

Surrounded by woodland, the pleasure gardens have been around since 1583 – although thankfully there are some modern amusements alongside the traditional entertainments.

17. Travel the canals on a boat tour

With its rich maritime history its a good idea to get another view of Copenhagen by boat.

Pick a tour up at Gammel Strand – it’s a great way to get your bearings – here are some of boat tours available.

Canalboat and boat rental at Christianshavn canal (c) Ty Stange - Image via www.copenhagenmediacenter.com

Canalboat and boat rental at Christianshavn canal (c) Ty Stange – Image via www.copenhagenmediacenter.com

18. Take a free walking tour

These go every day of the week – and you can pick and choose which one you want to go on – they cover a decent range of interests.

If you really enjoy the walking tour – make sure you have a little cash for tips.

19. If it’s nice, go for a dip

You can go for a swim at the beaches along the coast or in one of the recently cleaned up harbour pools which are dead in the centre – here are some of the best spots for swimming.

Jump in for a swim (c) Photographer Cees van Roeden - Image via www.copenhagenmediacenter.com

Jump in for a swim (c) Photographer Cees van Roeden – Image via www.copenhagenmediacenter.com

20. Do some serious shopping

If you’re interested in clothing and furniture, pop in to shops like Wood Wood and Acne Archive.

If you want to visit the biggest department store in Scandinavia, head to the historic Magasin du Nord – there are seven floors.

Copenhagen

Magasin du Nord by night. Photographer Morten Jerichau – Image via www.copenhagenmediacenter.com

21. To day trip or not to day trip? That is the question

Just north of Copenhagen, you’ll find the 16th Century Kronborg Castle in Elsinore, which is now a UNESCO’s World Heritage site, and was rumoured to have inspired Hamlet.

It’s definitely worth the one hour trip by train – its cheap and reliable (you can pay by car), but make sure you get a day ticket not return as it is much better value.

Rosenborg Castle Photographer - Wonderful Copenhagen - Image via www.copenhagenmediacenter.com

Rosenborg Castle Photographer – Wonderful Copenhagen – Image via www.copenhagenmediacenter.com

22. Go across the border to Sweden

If you get the train to Malmo in  Sweden, you can say you did two countries in one trip.

And if you’re a fan of hit Scandi drama The Bridge, you’ll already know you can cross the Oresund Bridge both ways by car or by train (in fact 25 million people travel across it every year).

Malmo is the third biggest city in Sweden and this pretty harbour town will give you a little slide of Swedish life.

The Old Lighthouse in Malmo

The Old Lighthouse in Malmo

Essential information for Copenhagen

Getting around the city

You can buy a Copenhagen Card if you’re planning on travelling round on public transport. Buy it at the airport and use it to get into the city – they work on buses and give you free admission into 73 museums and attractions as well as further discounts.

There’s a big cycle culture in Copenhagen (they even have a bike bridge) and you can hire your own two wheels to get about.

The city is also easy to navigate on foot and you could be able to get where you want in around half an hour at a normal walking speed.

You’ll need Danish kroner for currency – although you might be able to use Euros in certain places.

City of Bikes (c) Kasper Thye. Image-via-www.copenhagenmediacenter

City of Bikes (c) Kasper Thye. Image-via-www.copenhagenmediacenter

When’s the best time to visit Copenhagen?

The peak tourist season is during the summer, with the temperatures between May and August easily hitting an average of 20 – 22C.

You’ve got nice long days and it’s festival time in the city – here are the latest summer events from live music to where to eat outside.

Spring and autumn have their attractions, while when it gets to Christmas you’ve got the Christmas markets and mulled wine (gløgg).

Christmas in Tivoli (c) Ty Stange - Image via www.copenhagenmediacenter.com

Christmas in Tivoli (c) Ty Stange – Image via www.copenhagenmediacenter.com

Getting there

You can be in Copenhagen in just under two hours from London airports. Find flights to Copenhagen here.

Staying there

We’ve got plenty of hotels in Copenhagen to choose from.

It can sometimes be cheaper to book a city break package where you get your flight and hotel together.

What would you do on a weekend in Copenhagen?

We’d love to know what your favourite things to do in Copenhagen are. Tell us your top travel tips by leaving a comment below.

Images in the main supplied by VisitCopenhagen
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About Author

Kirsten is the chief blogger here at lastminute.com. A former newspaper journalist (don’t hold that against her), having taken extensive trips to China, America and Australasia, she is now pouring her passion for travel into writing blogs and features for the lastminute.com website. Arriving in London via exotic Scunthorpe, Kirsten has made it her mission to try out as many pubs and restaurants as she possibly can in the capital.

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