The 13 best things to do in Copenhagen

Tivoli - one of the best things to do in Copenhagen
There is so much more than an amuseument park, these are the best things to do in Copenhagen - SeanPavonePhoto/SeanPavonePhoto

Some things are non-negotiable – first-timers really shouldn’t leave Copenhagen without at least once strolling along the waterfront at Nyhavn or succumbing to the twinkly charms of Tivoli amusement park. But there are plenty of other experiences to keep you happily busy too, from picnicking on board a little boat as you float through the city's waterways to climbing the spire of a baroque church for impressive views. Telegraph Travel expert Suzanne King shares the best things to do in Copenhagen.

For further Copenhagen inspiration,  see our guides to the city's best hotelsrestaurantsshopping, and nightlife.

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City centre

Explore the city on two wheels

Back in the Sixties and Seventies, when other cities started bending over backwards to cater for cars, the Danes made a conscious decision to encourage cycling instead. As a result, Copenhagen is the perfect city to explore on two wheels: the streets are (mostly) flat, there are proper dedicated bike lanes and pretty much all the hotels and hostels keep bikes for guests to borrow or hire.

Insider’s tip: To avoid infuriating the locals, ride on the right-hand side of the path (so faster cyclists can pass on your left), give way to passengers at bus stops, and always raise your right hand first if you want to stop.

Cycling in Copenhagen
Pedal your way round Copenhagen to really fit in with the locals - Julia Davila-Lampe/Julia Davila-Lampe

Follow your nose at Torvehallerne market

The two glass-and-steel market halls at Torvehallerne are a must on any foodie tour of the city. There aren’t really any weak links among the 60-odd stalls (all are stocked with tempting displays of fresh produce and deli supplies) but highlights would have to include the duck confit baguettes at Ma Poule and the artisan Danish cheeses at Arla Unika. Many of the stalls have stools where you can perch for a bite to eat or drink.

Insider’s tip: Unsurprisingly, things get seriously busy over the peak lunchtime period. Time your visit for breakfast/brunch or mid-afternoon instead, when it’s easier to browse the stalls and you stand more chance of finding a spare stool or two.

Nearest metro: Nørreport
Price: £-£££

Torvehallerne, Copenhagen
Browse the produce at Torvehallerne before pulling up a stool and tucking into street food - Thomas Steen Sorensen/ thomas@colorr

Watch the world go by on the quayside at Nyhavn

No wonder Nyhavn is one of the most popular, and most photographed, places in Copenhagen: there are boats bobbing at anchor, colourfully painted townhouses lining the cobbled quayside, and the bars and restaurants on the sunny side of the canal have plenty of alfresco tables, perfect for people watching. Come at Christmas and you'll find festive market stalls dotted along the way as well.

Insider’s tip: Because Nyhavn is such a tourist magnet, many assume the restaurants won’t be up to much but there are some goodies in amongst them. Try Hummer for great shellfish and Told & Snaps or Restaurant Carl Nielsen (both just round the corner on Toldbodgade) for smørrebrød.

Nearest metro: Kongens Nytorv
Price: £-£££
Book tour tickets

Nyhavn, Copenhagen
The painted townhouses that line the cobbled quayside in Nyhaven are a magnet for photographers, and rightly so - Copyright Powerfocus/Powerfocusfotografie


Discover the city’s newest park

Turn your back on Copenhagen’s ever-evolving harbour for five minutes and something new is guaranteed to pop up – like this new park, opened in autumn 2023 on its own little island next to the Opera House. Danish architecture studio COBE has transformed a once featureless expanse of grass, bringing in 600-odd trees and tens of thousands of plants from around the world to create six themed gardens, joined by winding footpaths, dotted with water features and centred round a flower-shaped greenhouse and café.

Insider’s tip: While you’re here, pop into nearby Hart Bageri for some of the city’s best bread, cakes and pastries. Eat in or grab some goodies to go and enjoy them in the park, along with the view across the water.

Nearest metro: Kongens Nytorv – but the easiest way to get here is by ferry.


Fall in love with the enchanting Tivoli Gardens

You’d need a heart of stone to remain uncharmed by Tivoli. To call it an amusement park doesn’t really do it justice – yes, it has rides (and some pretty hairy ones at that), along with fairground stalls and candyfloss, but it also has high-end restaurants, attractive flower gardens and live entertainment from major international artists.

Insider’s tip: The rides and restaurants are open all day but to get the full Tivoli magic you have to be there after dark. The park is lit up with endless strings of fairy lights, coloured bulbs and lanterns, turning it into a totally twinkly, cynic-defeating wonderland.

Price: ££
Nearest metro: København H or Rådhuspladsen
Book tickets

Tivoli-  - the best things to do in Copenhagen
Indulge in a bit of nostalgia on an old-fashioned amusement park ride at Tivoli - Tivoli, Lasse SallingTivoli, Lasse Salling/Lasse Salling

Join the party in the nightlife hub

Kødbyen, aka the Meatpacking District, is a complex of former meat warehouses turned nightlife central; the area has been a hotspot for a while, but it still shows no sign of cooling off. Food-wise, there’s pretty much something for everyone, with different foodie sights and scents tugging you this way and that, especially in summer, when the weekend food market adds dozens more street food stalls into the mix. You’ll also find a number of contemporary art galleries tucked away between the bars and restaurants. At night, the clubs that look dead by day come alive and the place is jumping into the early hours.

Insider’s tip: If you’re more of an early morning bird than a night owl, check out tiny Prolog. They serve some of the best coffee in town – along with freshly baked croissants and cool lifestyle magazines – to a silky, sunny soundtrack of Brazilian/Cuban sounds.

Nearest metro: København H


Take a walk in Frederiksberg Have park

Frederiksberg Have is one of the city’s loveliest parks, with paths twining round lakes, lawns and woodlands and opening up into clearings where you might find a Chinese pavilion, a little grotto or a waterfall. Potential wildlife sightings include herons as fearless as pigeons, red squirrels scampering round the trees and even the elephants in next-door Copenhagen Zoo – you can get a good view of them (and their Norman Foster-designed home) from a couple of spots in the southwest corner of the park.

Insider’s tip: If you come in to the park through the Frederiksberg Runddel entrance, veer off left before the main gate to discover the crowd-free Haveselskabets Have (Garden Company’s Garden) – a tranquil series of garden rooms, designed for serenity and inspiration.

Nearest metro: Frederiksberg Allé

Frederiksberg Have - the best things to do in Copenhagen
Frederiksberg Have is dotted with little grottos and waterfalls - Florin Cristescu / EyeEm

Go underground to experience a quirky art installation at Cisternerne

Two glass prisms jutting out of the ground at Søndermarken are the only external signs of Cisternerne, an exhibition space housed within the subterranean vaults that once stored the city’s water supply. Each year a different artist creates a site-specific installation (usually open mid-March to late November), so what you see will depend on when you go; previous years have seen the space transformed with ethereal yarn installations, reverberating to the sound of Tibetan singing bowls, and flooded with water so visitors floated round in small boats.

Insider’s tip: Wear something warm - even when it’s the height of summer outside, it’s chillier in this underground space.

Price: £

Cisternerne, Copenhagen
The 2018 site-specific installation at Cisternerne is a piece by Danish artist Jeppe Hein

Carlsberg Byen

Find out what’s brewing at the new Home of Carlsberg

In 2018, Visit Carlsberg, one of Copenhagen’s top tourist attractions, closed for renovation. Five years later, it finally re-emerged, bigger and better than ever and reborn as Home of Carlsberg, with new interactive exhibits and displays telling the story of the brewery and its profound influence on the city. As well as touring the museum, you can visit the draught horses in the stables, book a beer tasting in the old cellars and stroll through the sculpture garden, where a replica of the Little Mermaid (even smaller than the original) sits in a fountain.

Insider’s tip: Take time to explore the surrounding area of Carlsberg Byen, once the vast brewery site, where many handsome old industrial buildings now house cool restaurants, bars and shops.

Nearest metro: Enghave Plads
Price: ££


Climb the spire of a baroque church for city views

For those untroubled by vertigo, Vor Frelsers Kirke in Christianshavn is one of the most exciting places to go for a view over the city skyline. It’s a 400-step climb to the golden globe at the top, with the final, hair-raising 150 of them taking you up a gilded oak staircase that spirals in ever-decreasing circles round the outside of the tower.

Insider’s tip: It’s not for the faint of heart – the railings round the external staircase are open and quite low, and if it’s windy, everything shakes slightly (indeed, if it’s too windy, it’s closed). If nerves fail you, just go as far as the base of the spire and enjoy the view from there.

Nearest metro: Christianshavn
Price: £

Islands Brygge

Picnic on a solar-powered boat

There’s no shortage of options when it comes to exploring Copenhagen’s waterways, from canal tours and harbour ferries to pedalos and kayaks. Particularly popular is GoBoats’ little fleet of solar-powered vessels, moored up at Islands Brygge. No experience or qualifications necessary - anyone can hire one for a few hours and steer their own course along the harbour and through the canals.

Insider’s tip: Pack a picnic to take with you – each boat has a large table in the middle so you can graze as you go. If you forget, you can pick up drinks (including wines and beers) at the booking office.

Nearest metro: Islands Brygge
Price: ££

Goboat, Copenhagen
Float along Copenhagen's waterways on one of Goboats's solar powered vessels


Indulge your inner boffin at Experimentarium

The idea of visiting a science museum might not be immediately appealing, but don’t be put off – the hands-on Experimentarium is stuffed full of interactive exhibits and is honestly enormous fun. You’ll come away eager to regale anyone who’ll listen with tales of lying on a bed of nails, encasing yourself in a giant soap bubble and playing a laser harp.

Insider’s tip: With so many exhibits vying for your attention, it’s surprisingly easy to miss one of the star attractions. Don’t leave the second floor without making sure you’ve experienced the entrancing displays of the Lys Labyrinten, or ‘labyrinth of light’.

Price: ££

Emperimentarium, Copenhagen
The Experimentarium is stuffed full of interactive science exhibits and is enormous fun


Go skiing at CopenHill

This new urban mountain captured the world’s imagination when it opened in 2019, creating a ski slope and public park on top of a waste-to-energy power plant. It’s brought year-round winter sports to the Danish capital (hire gear from the shop at the base and you can then ski, snowboard or sledge your way down the slope) but there are activities for non-skiers, too. Experienced climbers can tackle the world’s highest climbing wall while walkers get to stretch their legs on a landscaped trail or along the stepped paths that run either side of the building.

Insider’s tip: Even if you’re not the active type, it’s still worth a visit: just take the lift to the top to visit the rooftop café and soak up stellar views over the city.

Price: Free entrance to the rooftop and café; extra charge for alpine sports/equipment hire

copenhill - the best things to do in copenhagen
CopenHill is a unique place to ski or snowboard - OLIVIER MORIN

How we choose

Every attraction and activity in this curated list has been tried and tested by our destination expert, to provide you with their insider perspective. We cover a range of budgets and styles, from world-class museums to family-friendly theme parks – to best suit every type of traveller. We update this list regularly to keep up with the latest openings and provide up to date recommendations.