Copenhagen is a surprising city and I say that with love! It’s one of those cities that feels almost town-like in its appearance but with the buzz and vibrancy that matches any major capital city across Europe! It’s also a city where can you visit one of the oldest Luna parks in the world, ride the waves of its famous waterways and gorge on delicious street food – all within one day!
Everyone who’s ever been before remembers their first time visiting Copenhagen – whether due to its amazing castles, its stunning waterways or that little mermaid that everyone seemed to mention is apparently a thing… ;-).
Planning your time efficiently here can be a daunting prospect, especially if you’ve got to herd friends or your significant other around (which can sometimes feel like herding cats) – the pressure even builds up more if you’re the person who’s in charge of the maps/itinerary so if you find yourself in that position (of indeed, if you fancy yourself in that position), here are 14 of the best spots to include for a first time visit to Copenhagen.
1.) Eat at the best street food markets
There are a good few street food markets to visit in Copenhagen – each of which will ensure that you never run out of delicious opportunities to fill your tummy!
A street food market to visit before your night out on the town: Head to Papirøen (Paper Island) that is the perfect place to visit as this is where locals and visitors alike start their evenings in the city. Head to one of the many worldly and unique stalls that sell everything from juicy steaks and Japanese food to craft bears that are out of this world! Read more about how to plan your visit to Paper Island here.
A street food market to enjoy brunch: Torvehallerne street food market is the perfect place to enjoy a weekend brunch or even buy some of the freshest seasonal ingredients to make your very own! Take a wander through the stalls and discover some of the high quality produce that this market offers – just be prepared for slightly higher than average grocery prices (though it is arguably worth it!). Read more about how to plan your visit to Torvehallerne here.
A street food market to grab a quick bite and drink with friends: Koedbyen is the city’s ‘raw’ but wholesome Meat Packing District Market in Copenhagen. Head here for a quick bite to eat in one of the many street food stalls and check out the local bars here that open until quite late! Read more about how to plan your visit to Koedbyen here.
2.) Tivoli Gardens
No first time visit to Copenhagen is complete without a trip to Tivoli – the greatest and quaintest theme park in all of Europe!
Said to be the inspiration behind Walt Disney World, Tivoli is a truly stunning inner-city park that’s filled with some impressive and historic rides. Hop on board the Rutschebanen Rollercoaster, a 100-year-old wooden masterpiece that weaves in and out of a (faux) snow-capped mountain… right in the centre of Copenhagen! See more tips from Tivoli here.
3.) Walk the spiralled walkway of Rundetårn
For a few Euros, you can grab yourself a really great view of the city that is situated on the top of Rundetårn. Walk the spiralled and slightly dizzying reverse-style helter skelter walkway to the top – there are actually no steps… just a constant and gently incline until you reach the summit.
4.) Become royal for a day at Rosenborg Castle
There are lots of castles to explore in Denmark, with Rosenborg Castle in Copenhagen being a top favourite. Head here to discover a truly stunning piece of Danish history and the ornate yet beautiful artistry of the castle which embodies Danish architectural prowess at its finest!
If you’re visiting Denmark, don’t forget to check out these 14 impressive castles during your stay.
5.) Pop in to see The Little Mermaid
Loved or loathed, a fleeting trip to see the Little Mermaid should be on every first-timer’s visit to Copenhagen. Some people feel underwhelmed when visiting (probably because it was over-hyped before they visited) but for lots of visitors it is a photo opportunity of the city’s most famous landmarks, where you can spend 10 minutes or so viewing her statuesque pose!
6.) Board a relaxing Boat Tour
There are many ways to see the city of Copenhagen, with its waterways being one of the best! Board a boat near Nyhavn harbour area and discover a whole new perspective of Copenhagen.
Top tip: Many of the boat tours also include a stop by The Little Mermaid, though the photographic perspective is not as great as seeing her from the land.
7.) Grab a dog!
If you’ve ever visited a Scandinavian country, you’ll have to realise that their love of hot-dogs is deep and very, VERY real! It’s not just any old sausage slapped in a 3-week old bun (served to you at a cinema), these hot-dogs are deliciously gourmet.
Hot dogs can be found in many of the market stalls or even in the central district of Copenhagen itself. If you’re not ‘into’ bread buns… no problem, it’ll be replaced with creamy mash or tasty, seasonal beets – all served with your very own type of sausage, cooked just how you like it!
8.) Visit The Aquarium, Den Blå Planet
Den Blå Planet (The Blue Planet) is one of the biggest aquariums in all of Europe. Housed in an impressive building, this aquarium is an education centre that teaches the importance of protecting our oceans and the animals that live within it.
10.) Party on up at Blågårdsgade in the evening
This area of Copenhagen is fuuuuuuuun! Filled with lots of chilled out local bars, live music venues and a buzzing atmosphere, this area is a great place to spend a Saturday evening out with friends and locals alike.
11.) Kayak the waterfront
If you’re feeling a little more adventurous and fancy something with a more of a workout than a cruise of the harbour, hop on board your very own kayak! Kayaks can be used within certain parts of the waterways in Copenhagen and is a really unique way to get around the city… though, nowhere near as much fun if you fall in! 😉
12.) Stay at Kong Arthur
This is my favourite hotel in Copenhagen! It’s such a lovely, centrally located hotel that has some of the nicest rooms ever! They serve a pretty mean breakfast and even have their own (not so) secret spa that’s under the hotel itself!
Top tip: To save money, book during off peak rates and take advantage of their FREE happy hour in the early evening! Wine please! 😉
13.) Enjoy the colourful houses at Nyhavn
Every picture you’ll ever find of Copenhagen will include these colourful houses. Take a wander around the area and enjoy some of the pretty little homes, cafes and shops that make up this part of town.
Top tip: Prices for food here tend to be a little higher due to the volume of visitors, so take that into account if you plan on dining around here.
14.) Thorvaldsen’s Museum
Bertel Thorvaldsen is arguably one of Denmark’s most famous artists from Copenhagen. His craftsman skills were obtained from a rather long residency in Rome (some 40 years). When he returned, he brought a wealth of artefacts, beautiful art and stunning new artistic perspectives for the city to enjoy. Nowadays, Thorvaldsen’s Museum is like stepping back in time to see some of the very best in classical architecture!