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Best Things To Do In Copenhagen - Brunette girl in white jumper and blue denim jeans at a canal in Denmark

Posing under historic brick arches opposite Nyhavn in Copenhagen

Are you looking for the best things to do in Copenhagen? You’re in the right place!

I recently spent a long weekend in Copenhagen in November – a festive month when the stylish city is steeped in Christmas magic and hygge spirit. Each time I visit Copenhagen, I fall more in love with it, and discover new things to try out, experience, and of course, eat.

So in this creative foodie guide to Copenhagen, I’m sharing epic things to do in Copenhagen over a long weekend. These are my personal recommendations – I’ve highlighted must-eat Danish street food, my favourite places to buy Danish homeware, and must-see spots in Copenhagen. Let’s jump in!

16+ Best Things To Do In Copenhagen

The Best Hotel In Copenhagen City Centre

The warm, inviting, tastefully designed interiors of the Finn Juhl room at Hotel Alexandra Copenhagen

Hotel Alexandra Copenhagen – Best Boutique Hotel In Copenhagen

I personally think that Hotel Alexandra Copenhagen is the best hotel in Copenhagen! Their sustainable rooms are cosy, beautifully curated, and dedicated to Danish design. I’ve stayed there twice now, and each time it has felt like a home away from home. It’s a boutique gem in the heart of the action, perfectly located on H. C. Andersens Boulevard, one of the main arteries of the city. The staff are lovely and their breakfast (hosted next door at Ø12 Coffee and Eatery) is sensational. Now, on with the guide!

Cyclists riding between a red brick archway with yellow and blue buildings visible in the back. View of Nyhavn from an archway by Danish National Art Library - Danmarks Kunstbibliotek.

Cyclists riding down Nyhavn, visible through a red brick archway

What are the best things to do in Copenhagen?

Below I’ve included a mix of touristy, creative and foodie things to do – from taking in Copenhagen’s gorgeous blend of historic charm and contemporary design, to going on a culinary journey with all the world-class food that Copenhagen has to offer. (If you’re a foodie, check out my culinary guide: Best Things To Eat in Copenhagen!)

1. Roam along Nyhavn or Christianshavn – iconic 17th-century waterfronts

Ah, Nyhavn! Could there be a more picturesque spot in Copenhagen?

This stunning 17th-century harbour is known worldwide for its iconic multi-coloured townhouses and historic wooden ships. Nyhavn is a must-visit if you’re heading to Copenhagen – it’s a place bustling with life, history, cafés and boutiques.

Danish author Hans Christian Andersen called this place home in 1834. Today, Nyhavn is the perfect spot to enjoy a morning stroll with a coffee and Danish pastry, or, if it’s evening, to grab a a drink at one of the many great bars and admire the twinkling waterfront.

If you’re a photographer, golden hour (just before sunset) offers stunning warm lighting that will glimmer off the water and buildings, adding to that cinematic feel.

Best things to do in Copenhagen for creatives - a brunette girl in a white fleece and brown scarf staring at the reflections of colourful houses in Nyhavn, Copenhagen

Admiring the stunning reflections of colourful houses in Nyhavn

If you’re not into crowds, head to Christian’s Harbour (Christianshavn) for a more low-key canal stroll. Nyhavn can get busy – especially on weekends! Christianhavn has a similar charm and look with a fraction of the crowds.

Christianshavn itself is one of the most aesthetic districts in Copenhagen, with vibrantly painted buildings and the occasional boat.

Also once a mercantile town for European traders, Christianshavn is now buzzing hub of businesses, boutiques and trendy eateries. The slender houses along the canals look strikingly similar to Amsterdam, thanks to the Dutch influence on the city’s planning. Grab a bubble waffle while you’re there!

Best things to do in Copenhagen, Denmark

The grand Round Tower in Copenhagen’s old town

2. Enjoy stunning 360° views of Copenhagen at Rundetårn

Did you really go to Copenhagen if you didn’t visit the Round Tower? Known locally as Rundetårn, it’s the oldest functioning observatory in Europe. Built in 1642, the quirky tower doesn’t have stairs – rather, it has an eccentric spiral ramp that’s 268.5 metres long, and a long central shaft you can peer down into. Get ready to climb!

Best things to do in Copenhagen, Denmark

Here’s the best part: once you’ve made the charming ascent, you’re rewarded with a corker of a view – a stunning 360-degree panorama of Copenhagen’s picturesque red rooftops. On clear days, you’ll even glimpse the iconic Øresund Bridge leading to Malmö. All this for just £4 entry.

There’s usually an exhibition held in the tower’s lower levels, once the royal library. If you’re a photographer, bring a zoom or telephoto lens – the view is fantastic.

3. Feel the old-school Danish magic at Tivoli Gardens

Tivoli Gardens, the magical place that inspired Disneyland, is Copenhagen’s world-famous amusement park. It’s not all about funfairs and rollercoasters here – Tivoli Gardens is a place packed with history and culture, giving visitors a peek into Danish tradition, and caters to adults and children alike.

From local cuisine served in scenic restaurants overlooking Tivoli’s lakes, to the charm of the old-world bars, you can sip an Irish coffee from the Coffee House, head to a performance at the Pantomime Theatre, or enjoy a cheeky chai latte after seeing the nightly light show.

Tivoli Gardens isn’t open year-round due to cold weather and snowy winters, but it welcomes visitors in spring, summer, Halloween, and Christmas. The park dazzles with thousands of twinkling lights during the holiday season. Grøften is one of the oldest restaurants in Tivoli, Nimb Bar has fabulous cocktails, and Nimb Vinotek boasts an impressive selection of over 1,000 wines. Biergarten brings Austrian flavour with its traditional attire and beer selection, while Ølgrotten is a lakeside brewery spot.

Tivoli Gardens is fun to visit regardless of what season it is. We picked up some delightful rhubarb and sour liquorice liqueur at one of Tivoli’s shops to bring back as gifts.

Best things to do in Copenhagen for creatives: visit the Design Museum Danmark

Holding up our playfully-designed entry tickets to the Design Museum Danmark

4. Explore global design thinking at the Danish Design Museum

Every café has design-worthy chairs, every workplace has a Poul Henningson lamp. That’s how stylish and design-oriented Copenhagen is.

As such, no trip to Copenhagen would be complete without diving into the city’s amazing design history at the famous Designmuseum Danmark. Located in the heart of the city, is both a museum and a lively hub that showcases Denmark’s significant contributions to the world of design.

Best things to do in Copenhagen for creatives and designers

My boyfriend sitting on a giant orange chair at the Design Museum Denmark

Interactive and playful, with an extensive collection highlighting works from iconic Danish designers like Finn Juhl, Arne Jacobsen, and Verner Panton, the museum gives an eye-opening journey into applied art and design, covering everything from Art Nouveau to modern Danish design to Japanese culture, across a range of mediums. It also has a beautiful garden, café and museum shop.

A trip to Designmuseum Danmark is worth it as one of the best things to do in Copenhagen for creatives. I always leave feeling inspired.

Best things to do in Copenhagen for creatives and designers

Olafur Eliasson’s Cirkelbroen on a frosty morning in Copenhagen

5. Spot contemporary artist Olafur Eliasson’s masterful designs around the city

Olafur Eliasson, the award-winning Danish-Icelandic contemporary artist, has left his fingerprints across Copenhagen. From Tivoli Gardens to Christianshavn Harbour, Eliasson’s work provokes interaction and reflection around the city. Admiring Eliasson’s installations is one of the best things to do in Copenhagen for creatives.

During our visit to Tivoli Gardens, we spotted a stunning series of colourful, geometric polished glass lamps hovering across the trees near Tivoli Lake. I said, “That looks like an Olafur Eliasson piece.” Turns out it was!

Eliasson’s social business, Little Sun, created this series of shimmering, colour-changing renewable energy lamps called “Little Sun Light Swarm” to delight visitors with their changing appearance, and pay homage to the way Tivoli uses light to create a magical blend of dreams and reality.

Also designed by Eliasson is the Circle Bridge, known as Cirkelbroen, a tribute to Copenhagen’s harbour and maritime history. Cirkelbroen resembles a ship docked at the quay with tall masts reaching into the sky. The bridge is made up of five conjoining circular platforms, making it both beautiful and practical for pedestrians and cyclists. Up to 5,000 people cross it daily.

You can also go and check out Fjordenhus, Eliasson’s first building – a fortress-like office in the Vejle Fjord!

Brunette girl in white sweater, denim jeans and boots admires the waterfront in Nyhavn

Admiring the stunning reflections on the waterfront at Nyhavn

6. Roam the Indre By (Inner City) Neighbourhood – Copenhagen’s blend of old and new

Speaking of Nyhavn, exploring the Indre By (Inner City) neighbourhood is a must-do in Copenhagen. This old town area is a real blend of historic charm and modern architecture. Wide boulevards and cobbled streets lead to picturesque canals and a state-of-the-art harbour.

Indre By buzzes year-round, hosting everything from jazz festivals to outdoor ice skating rinks, and even city centre parachuting at the lakes. The compact district is home to old castles, serene parks, and lively squares; there’s always a bench nearby for a restful pause fuelled by amazing coffee from spots like Coffee Collective Torvehallerne.

Explore Reffen (a venue for the best street food in Copenhagen, open March to October), relax by the lakes, or visit the intriguing Freetown Christiania. Speaking of which…

Fairy lights, plants and gorgeous architecture in Copenhagen's Indre By neighbourhood

Fairy lights, plants and gorgeous architecture in Copenhagen’s Indre By neighbourhood

Is Freetown Christiania worth visiting?

Freetown Christiania is a colourful, self-proclaimed autonomous neighbourhood full of street artthough it has a violent, controversial history. The area won’t be everyone’s cup of tea due to its unconventional vibe. It’s half-hippie spot, half-social experiment. I first visited in 2018 and didn’t have a positive enough experience to go back.

While Freetown Christiania might not be super family-friendly, it offers a raw and unfiltered peek into a lesser-known chapter of Copenhagen’s history and is worth a visit for those curious and open-minded.

You can’t take photos in certain areas, like on Pusher Street. Some residents are fairly hostile towards visitors, particularly at those taking photos without permission – angry locals have broken cameras before. Respect the rules and take photos at places like the Christiania Art Gallery South Pacific. Just ask if in doubt!

That said, this  may appeal to adventurous travellers. The area is teeming with lively DIY energy and foodie spots like organic veggie restaurant Morgenstedet, or Spiseloppen, a warehouse eatery.

If you do visit Freetown Christiania, go during daylight hours in morning or afternoon to ensure safety, given the area’s reputation. If you’ve only got a couple of days in the city, I wouldn’t say it’s worth visiting Freetown Christiania unless you’re keen to see a less polished, more chaotic glimpse into Copenhagen’s history.

Best things to do in Copenhagen for creatives and designers

Browsing Danish ceramics and glassware at concept store Stilleben

7. Explore handmade Danish ceramics and tableware at independent pottery stores

Copenhagen’s reputation for exceptional food paves the way for ceramics excellence, since eateries need tableware that meets these high standards. This naturally makes the Danish capital home to a stunning handmade ceramics scene, with pieces as functional as they are gorgeous.

Whether you’re a design enthusiast, love decorating your home, or are a sucker for a cute bowl (guilty as charged), you can invest in some beautiful Danish pottery during your trip. Imagine sipping your morning coffee from a tastefully speckled mug you purchased in Copenhagen. A beautifully designed ceramic sets the tone for your day – it’s all about the value, vibe, and hygge each ceramic piece brings.

Independent ceramics stores like Studio Arhoj, KLAY, Tasja P. Ceramics, and MK Studio are dreamy. Seeing their processes helps you appreciate the skill involved in pottery.

A visit to the quirky, maximalist-yet-minimalist pottery store Studio Arhoj in Copenhagen should definitely be on your itinerary. Their colourful Japandi style will make you want to walk out with 5 different pieces. Behind the shelves of the studio, you can see their artisans transforming, shaping, and firing raw clay into perfectly formed vessels.

Other shops that stock lovely ceramics in Copenhagen include Stilleben (which also sells textiles, furniture, jewellery, prints and original artworks), HAY, and Frama. For more affordable ranges, check out Søstrene Grene or the homeware sales at Magasin du Nord.

Best things to do in Copenhagen - go shopping on Stroget, one of the longest streets in Europe, filled with charming classic Danish architecture and colourful houses

The lively shopping streets of Strøget, viewed from the top of the Round Tower

8. Stroll down Strøget, Copenhagen’s liveliest shopping area

When in Copenhagen, don’t miss Strøget, one of Europe’s longest pedestrian shopping streets. Nestled in the heart of the old town (Indre By), Strøget stretches 1km from City Hall Square to Kongens Nytorv and is lined with budget chains, designer brands, restaurants, bars, coffee shops, and so much more.

Strøget isn’t just one street, by the way – it’s a nickname from the 1800s that covers Frederiksberggade, Nygade, Vimmelskaftet, Østergade, Nytorv Square, Gammeltorv Square and Amagertorv Square.

Passing through Strøget multiple times is inevitable due to its central location and convenience as a path between tourist spots – I found myself strolling through several times during my trip. Walk the length of it and you’ll eventually arrive at Nyhavn! The charming alleys lit up by Christmas lights and beautiful architecture made for great street photography.

The aisle of Trinitatis Church, part of the 17th century Trinitatis Complex, which includes Rundetårn and the Copenhagen University Library

The aisle of Trinitatis Church, part of the 17th century Trinitatis Complex, which includes Rundetårn and the Copenhagen University Library

What landmarks are there to see on Strøget?

Strøget offers more than just shopping! If you explore the side streets you’ll find stunning sights and attractions of Copenhagen: Helligåndskirken; Church of Our Lady (Vor Frue Kirke), where Crown Prince Frederik and Crown Princess Mary were married, behind Gammeltorv Square; the court house at Nytorv Square and the Stork Fountain (Storkespringvandet) at Amagertorv Square.

From Amagertorv, peer across the canal to Christiansborg Palace, where the parliament sits. Don’t forget City Hall Square (Rådhuspladsen) either, with Copenhagen City Hall Tower and the beautiful Kongens Nytorv Square with The Royal Danish Theatre and, of course, Nyhavn at the end of Strøget.

Contemporary furniture and hygge feels at HAY House

9. Admire contemporary Danish design and homeware at HAY House

For those seeking an immersion in timeless Danish designs, a must-see showroom is HAY House. Founded by Mette and Rolf Hay in 2002, this creative and design powerhouse is committed to crafting high-quality, affordable furniture and homeware that blend art, architecture, and fashion.

The underlying philosophy is simple but profound – contemporary design should be a harmonious fusion of innovative technology, quality materials, and joyful aesthetics. Sat on the second and third floors of the stunning 1890s Højbrohusin building on Østergade (Strøget), HAY House is a must-visit.

The appeal of HAY’s designs lies in their timeless simplicity. HAY skims over trends to champion functionality without compromising on aesthetics. The atmosphere within HAY House, looking down the street towards the equally impressive Illum Bolighus, is nothing short of inspiring.

What I love about Hay’s designs is they’re not boring, but packed with personality, joy and usefulness. I had to stop myself buying one of their gorgeous giant canvas totes in every colour (settling on khaki, navy and cream to give away as gifts) and walked away with a few of their multicoloured crates.

Christmas lights at blue hour in Copenhagen

Christmas lights at blue hour in Copenhagen

 

10. Get vintage and second-hand finds on Larsbjørnssstræde and Nørrebrogade

In Copenhagen, vintage and second-hand shopping forms an integral part of city life, reflecting the city’s deep-rooted commitment to sustainability.

Copenhagen’s Larsbjørnsstræde and Nørrebrogade streets are a bounty for vintage and second-hand enthusiasts. These streets are renowned for their variety of shops that breathe new life into pre-loved items, from clothes to furniture. Hot spots for sustainability and recycling, these streets host numerous charity stores supporting noble causes, alongside upscale thrift boutiques carrying high-end vintage treasures.

In the bustling Larsbjørnsstræde, you’ll find Carmen Copenhagen, one of the city’s best vintage shops. Larsbjørnsstræde generally has a trendy crowd and plenty of unique boutiques that give you a glimpse of authentic Copenhagen culture.

You’ll also discover Time’s Up Vintage tucked away in the cobbled lanes of Krystalgade nearby, nestled among renowned Danish designers like Henrik Vibskov and Nué.

Like Copenhagen’s brilliant ceramics scene, the spirit of Danish design filters through every piece these secondhand shops curate: functionalism and high-quality craftsmanship.

If you’re in the market for something specific, be it a vintage dress for your next party or a ceramic mug to refresh your morning coffee ritual, Copenhagen’s vintage scene has something to cater to your taste.

 

11. Satisfy your sweet tooth with delightful Danish sweet treats

When in Copenhagen, you’ve gotta try Denmark’s heavenly sweet treats. Sankt Peder’s Bakery, the oldest bakery in town, is famous for their mouthwatering spandauer (egg-custard danish) and kanelsnegle (cinnamon roll). The spandauer is to die for – it’s a flaky, buttery Danish pastry filled with marzipan. Meanwhile their classic kanelsnegle is sweet and subtly spiced. I started almost every morning in Copenhagen with a coffee and pastry from Skt. Peter’s!

When the Danish winter hits, try æbleskiver, which are hot, sweet, and fresh Danish pancake balls. They’re like Dutch poffertjes, but Danish style. These fluffy treats are a Christmas staple. Served piping hot, they’re light, airy, and taste amazing with syrup, honey, jam, or a sprinkle of powdered sugar.

You can also check out more traditional Danish desserts, like koldskål – a cold, sweet ‘soup’ made with buttermilk, eggs, cream, vanilla, and lemon. Another must-try dessert is Danish Apple Cake (Æblekage), which has layers of stewed apples, caramelised toasted oats, and whipped cream.

12. Grub like a local with impeccable Danish street food

Top Danish street foods to try include Flæskestegssandwich (a roast pork sandwich), Bøfsandwich (similar to the humble hamburger), and pølser (hot dogs served with Danish remoulade, onions, and sliced pickles).

World-renowned Danish burger joint Gasoline Grill offers top-tier cheeseburgers that are anything but average. Hand-rolled patties, fresh ingredients, and a unique grilling process make their Cheeseburger a thing of beauty. Paired with organic fries seasoned with truffle salt or herb oil, you’ll be wishing there was a Gasoline Grill on your doorstep. Be quick – they close their shops once they sell out!

If you’re craving hot dogs, head to DØP Organic Hot Dogs. This award-winning stand serves up mouthwatering organic sausages on whole grain bread, topped with fried onions and linseeds. Their humble hot dog has even been named Best Eatery, surpassing a Michelin-starred restaurant. So go try one out for a satisfying afternoon bite.

13. Have an award-winning culinary experience at Høst and other Michelin-ranked dining spots

Copenhagen is a foodie haven. Even the street hot dogs are premium. Høst, ranked in the Michelin guide, consistently delivers a life-changing culinary experience.

Høst is one of the best restaurants ever. It’s incredibly experiential and offers multiple seasonal courses at a reasonable price – each course is full of surprises. I first went in 2017 and still bang on about it to this day.

Høst celebrates Scandinavian cuisine with an innovative twist, transforming locally sourced ingredients into exquisite, experiential dishes. Impeccable attention to detail is evident in the beautifully presented plates and cosy restaurant decor. Each small plate embodies the heart and soul of Danish gastronomy.

Dining at Høst, and other Michelin-starred spots in Copenhagen, is a must for the bucket list. Copenhagen has become the world’s culinary capital after two of its restaurants were named the best on the planet. Noma took the number one place, with Geranium being placed at number two in the Top 50 World’s Best Restaurants.

 

14. Kickstart your day with Danish breakfast classics for a ‘godmorgen’

Traditional Dutch breakfast involves rye bread, eggs, and coffee – but now fresh pastries, porridge and a stylish brunch are Copenhagen staples. I recommend trying highly popular dishes grød (classic Danish porridge) or smørrebrød (open-faced sandwiches) for a real Danish twist on your morning.

The most traditional choice for smørrebrød is Marinerede Sild (pickled herring, onions, capers, sometimes apples). I’d personally recommend Hønsesalat (chicken mayo salad with mushrooms, mustard, and bacon). One of the best places to try smørrebrød is Hallernes Smørrebrød in Torvehallerne, Copenhagen’s famous food market.

While at Torvehallerne, you can also try an elevated bowl of grød  at GRØD. Forget about sticky, sludgy oatmeal – from spelt porridge with chestnut purée to oatmeal with toasted almonds and caramel, you’ll be leaving Copenhagen with a newfound love for porridge.

For Scandi-Aussie style brunch, head to Ø12 Coffee and Eatery, which serves up superb coffee and fresh juices along with elevated brunch classics. Try the Ø12 Plate – a breakfast smörgåsbord of avocado smash, smoked salmon, bacon, eggs, chili cheese sausage, Comté cheese, butter, sourdough and rye bread, and chia pudding.

 

Wilkinson Eyre's Lille Langebro Bridge snaking across Inner Harbour

Wilkinson Eyre’s twisty Lille Langebro Bridge’snaking across Inner Harbour, Copenhagen

15. Explore Copenhagen’s sights from the water with a sustainable boat rental

Spend a few hours skippering a solar-powered boat or join a social sail with Hey Captain around the harbour. No experience necessary!

Choose between GoBoat or FriendShip for a leisurely cruise, taking in iconic landmarks like Christiansborg, BLOXHUB, and the Royal Danish Opera House.

If you’re going solo or as a duo, bring your camera, because you’ll be passing pretty canals and multi-coloured houses galore. And if you’re going in winter, like I did, make sure you’ve got a hat, gloves and scarf – because the winds will be chilly!

Two very brave people going for a dip at Havnebadet Havnegade in late November (located near Soho House Copenhagen)

Two very brave people at Havnebadet Havnegade going for a dip in late November! Located near Soho House Copenhagen, 5 minutes from Nyhavn

16. Brave a dip at one of Copenhagen’s harbour baths

If you’re not into boats, what about baths? Swimming in a city harbour bath is a unique experience in Copenhagen, especially in summer. Even in winter, I passed a brave couple taking a dip in the river at Havnebadet Havnegade near Nyhavn on a freezing November morning!

The Islands Brygge, Copenhagen’s first and most popular harbour bath that opened in 2002, is an iconic city landmark designed by architect Bjarke Ingels. On warm sunny days, thousands come here to swim, sunbathe, or people-watch. As the sun sets, the area becomes a lively spot with music and barbecues filling the air. Just outside the harbour bath, you’ll find food truck Munchies, as well as various coffee shops, dessert spots and restaurants.

Dive in, the water is great – but very, very cold! (It’s also funny how the bitter cold and rain hurts so good in Copenhagen, yet in London it makes me want to hide under my duvet and hibernate until spring.) For more info on the Copenhagen Harbour, download the dedicated app: KBH Havn.

Festive feels at Juliemarked, one of Copenhagen’s best Christmas Markets

17. Go and sip glögg at Copenhagen’s stunning Christmas markets

Christmas markets should be top of your list if you’re looking for the best things to do in Copenhagen in November or December!

Copenhagen shines in the winter, especially during Christmas season. becomes a festive wonderland, full of twinkling lights and cosy bars offering glögg (the Danish version of mulled wine, made with nuts and spices and a dash of rum or whisky). One of Europe’s most iconic Christmas markets is in Copenhagen at the world-famous Tivoli Gardens, which takes place from mid-November to the end of December each year.

I loved visiting Christmas Markets like Juliemarked, Nyhavn, and Kongens Nytorv – they all sell plenty of handcrafted gifts, festive decorations, and traditional Danish treats like æbleskiver and waffles, as well as festive bevvies.

Best Things To Do In Copenhagen

So those are my recommendations on the best things to do in Copenhagen, especially during winter and Christmas Market season! I hope you found this guide to Copenhagen useful.

If you’re ready to tickle your tastebuds during your trip, then check this out next: 10+ Best Things To Eat In Copenhagen: Must-Try Danish Food

Mel Legarda

Melissa Legarda is the founder of illumelation. She has worked as a travel blogger, creator and writer since 2015, and has collaborated with well-known brands worldwide. She has helped over 1,100+ students improve their travel photography skills since launching her creative courses. Her mission is to encourage and empower others to travel and create more. Find her on Instagram.