For anyone planning a trip through western Europe, Copenhagen, Denmark, is a must-see locale. About 1.66 million travelers a year visit Copenhagen, and for a good reason.
The rich, vibrant city full of history and culture offers so much to see and do year-round. From parks and beaches to cycling tours to electronic dance parties to Christmas markets, the adventures that await in Copenhagen are sure to delight.
Popular activities to do in Copenhagen vary from season to season. Check out what you can do in Copenhagen throughout the year.
Things to Do in Copenhagen in Spring
After a long winter, as the days start to get longer and warmer, Copenhagen bursts into life. Here are some of the best places to visit in Copenhagen in the spring.
1. King’s Garden
The King’s Garden, the oldest park in the city at over 400 years old, was originally the Danish royal family’s private park. Today, it is open to the public and attracts crowds of people every year, especially on warm spring and summer weekends.
Visitors to the King’s Garden can stroll along the two historic old avenues, the Knight’s Path and the Lady’s Path, each shaded with tall trees. Or they can explore the crocus lawn and rose garden. Visitors can also play croquet and attend concerts, ballet performances and a biennial sculpture showcase. In the warmer months, King’s Garden boasts a quaint, charming puppet theater that puts on two shows a day every day except Monday.
Visit the King’s Garden to wander or enjoy entertainment, a picnic or the beautiful scenery.
Superkilen, a public park situated along a cycling route in Copenhagen’s diverse, sprawling Nørrebro district, is a fun, eclectic place to go for people-watching and exploring. The park consists of three sections. The Red Square is bustling and modern, featuring a cafe, sports, and music events. The Black Market is a public square, built upon asphalt decorated with swirling white stripes, that features fountains and benches for resting, chatting and taking in the experience. The Green Park is a beautiful area where visitors can wander, picnic and kick around soccer balls to their hearts’ content.
This urban park features a diverse array of multicultural artifacts and attractions — a Thai boxing ring, swing benches from Baghdad, a Santa Monica “muscle beach” gym, a Morrocan fountain, a Turkish beach, seven different types of bike racks from across Europe, manhole covers from Israel and red soil from Palestine.
3. Island’s Brygge
Island’s Brygge is a harbor swimming area right in the center of Copenhagen, on the island of Amager. Its pools, diving towers and grassy expanse for relaxing make this a popular spot for hanging out on warm days and nights. Visitors to Island’s Brygge can swim, dive and sunbathe in the warm spring weather. There’s a jogging path where people can get in a run before cannonballing into the pool or lounging on the lawn.
Many locals bring grills, wine and music and make a night of it, chatting and indulging themselves with friends and strangers. And coffee, chocolate and ice cream are all readily available nearby.
4. Langelinie Park
Langelinie Park is a picturesque walkway and quay. Monuments and statues, including Edvard Eriksen’s famous bronze “The Little Mermaid,” dot the walkway, which also features a marina, a playground, a pavilion for eating and shopping, and several buildings. From the park, visitors can watch the ocean sparkling and oceangoing ships entering and leaving the pier. They can also see Kastellet — a charmingly shaped old pentagonal fortress, preserved with its red-roofed buildings and grassy lawns — right nearby. Stroll along Langelinie park to take in some of Copenhagen’s most famous landmarks and experience the bustling seaside life of the city.
5. Bispebjerg Cemetery
The beautiful Bispebjerg Cemetery is renowned for its Japanese cherry trees, which burst into bloom each spring. Visitors come from all over the world to take photos of the tunnels of beautiful pink blossoms that form above the paths each year. The cemetery reports that some of the trees have become diseased and had to be cut down in recent years, but a replanting project is underway.
Bispebjerg Cemetery is also home to Grundtvig’s Church, a monumental edifice that stands near the main entrance — this enthralling gothic architecture is not to be missed. The cemetery houses many beautiful urns and has plots for people of all faiths, including a special section for Buddhists. Visit Bispebjerg Cemetery to walk, bike, contemplate, have deep, quiet conversations with friends or family and enjoy the natural beauty the cemetery has to offer.
Things to Do in Copenhagen in Summer
In the summer, the days get longer yet — the longest day in Copenhagen has about eighteen hours of daylight. It’s a great time to get outside and enjoy the plentiful sunlight and warm weather. Here are some summery ideas for visiting Copenhagen.
The best way to see Copenhagen may well be by bicycle. Copenhagen has a robust bicycling culture, and the city offers terrific avenues for biking. Visitors can take a bike for a spin at King’s Garden, Superkilin, Island’s Brygge, Langelinie Park or the Bispebjerg Cemetery. You can use a bicycle to explore other areas of the city as well, such as Nyhavn. It’s a colorful, charming, seventeenth-century canal and entertainment district where Hans Christian Andersen once lived. Now, an incredible array of breweries and restaurants has replaced the old sailors’ pubs, and Nyhavn is a perfect area to cruise around on a bike.
If you’re on a cruise, the chances are good that you haven’t brought your bike along in the hold. No need to worry — Copenhagen has many places to rent bikes. WeCycle, which offers a delicious cafe experience along with bikes and biking gear, is one good option — all its rental bikes are handmade Belgian Achielle bicycles. Or you can book a bike tour to do your exploring in a group.
2. Swim in the Harbor or Sea
Swimming in Copenhagen Harbor is a fun way to cool off after a day of exploring. Swimming in the clean water of this old industrial harbor is allowed only in public areas. Fortunately, Copenhagen has many free public harbor baths to take advantage of during your visit.
Island’s Brygge is always a favorite swimming place, and there are miles of swimming areas in Copenhagen. Many are free and only a brief bus ride from the city center.
Check out sea baths like Kastrup Søbad, which locals have nicknamed “the Snail” because of its conch shaped structure. The structure is made out of beautiful African wood that never rots and is harder than steel. Visitors can swim and dive here, even at night, when lovely colored lights come on. You can venture to the fishing village of Dragør, known for its cobblestone streets, tiny yellow houses and amazing sea baths. Or try the Fisketorvet Harbour Bath, which is across the way from Island’s Brygge but draws fewer crowds and features an Olympic-sized pool.
Wherever you go swimming, bring some blankets, food and cold beverages for relaxing afterward. You can also stroll the surrounding neighborhoods in search of coffee and ice cream.
3. Visit the Markets
Check out some of Copenhagen’s local markets, where visitors can eat fresh food and drink local beer to their hearts’ content. Try Torvehallerne, which boasts over 60 stands offering everything from fresh fish to gourmet chocolate, as well as delicious dishes to eat right on the spot. Another option is to sample wares from Rebel Foods, a fleet of food trucks that park at changing locations on Copenhagen’s streets. There’s also Tivoli Food Hall, near the Tivoli Gardens Amusement Park. Visitors can get coffee, burgers, pizza, open-faced Danish smørrebrød, Icelandic fare, and many other delicious items there. Take them to go or enjoy them while viewing the beautiful gardens.
Or try the food near Elsinore — of Hamlet fame — where a shipyard street food market offers options from fish and chips to tacos to beer. Even Philly cheesesteaks are available here. A beautiful UNESCO world heritage site, the Kronberg Castle, sits nearby, along with the Maritime Museum of Denmark.
4. Stop by the Beaches
In the summer, there’s nothing like going to the beach to cool off and relax. Copenhagen has several beautiful beaches for some fun in the Danish sun. Check out Svanemølle Beach, an urban beach on the western side of Copenhagen, where many of the patrons are locals. The beach boasts 4,000 square miles of soft, fine sand that’s perfect for sandcastles. There’s also a pier extending more than 100 feet into the water for jumping and swimming. A bench runs the length of the pier, offering places to take in the lovely views of the water and city. In the evening, coffee and ice cream vendors show up at the boardwalk to provide the perfect ending to a magical beach day.
Make your way to Amager Beach, located on a spit of land that extends from the large island of Amager. The sand here is a bit coarser than the sand at Svanemølle Beach, but it’s still fun to play and relax on. Visitors can swim, sunbathe, kayak, windsurf, kite-surf, snorkel and even explore the underwater activity pitch. In the summer, Amager Beach becomes a major draw for Copenhageners and visitors from all over, so expect some crowds if you go.
Several other beaches dot the Copenhagen coastline, including the popular Bellevue Beach Park and the beach park at Charlottenlund Fort, an old military installation, so there are plenty of sandy shores to explore.
5. Go to a Festival
The long summer hours are also perfect for festival-going in Copenhagen. Stop by the Roskilde Festival, a cultural celebration boasting music, food, activities and community. The musical bookings are extensive, with close to 200 bands and artists performing across eight stages over the four days of the festival. This event draws a huge international crowd to see the likes of The Rolling Stones, Paul McCartney, Bob Dylan, Neil Young, Bruce Springsteen, Pearl Jam, Kendrick Lamar, Cardi B and more, along with local Scandinavian bands.
To soak in more music, check out the Copenhagen Jazz Festival, where clubs, concert halls, and city squares and streets all fill with jazz music. Or dip your toe into the roaring electronic waves of Distortion, a combination of an electronic music festival and a street party that sweeps through the city to a different location each night. For a more laid-back vibe, stop by the Tivoli Gardens for the Summer Classic, a festival celebration of classical music. If cooking is more your style, check out the Copenhagen Cooking and Food Festival. The festival features an abundance of Nordic cuisine, beer and wine at more than fifty events throughout the city streets.
Things to Do in Copenhagen in Fall
As the crisp fall days descend, visitors can find both indoor and outdoor activities in Copenhagen. In the fall, make a point of visiting these excellent Copenhagen spots:
1. Tivoli Gardens
The world-famous Tivoli Gardens, built in the 1800s, is the second-oldest active amusement park in the world. It offers thrilling rides and fun games and also hosts concerts and events on its grounds. The roller coaster, the most popular ride, was built in 1914 and is the world’s longest-running wooden roller coaster. Tivoli Gardens has a boating lake as well, with a nearby Chinese tower lighted with different colors at night for a cozy romantic glow.
2. Vestre Cemetery
Vestre Cemetery, or the western cemetery, is known for its peaceful scenery. It offers sheltered groves, sunny lawns, meandering, tree-lined paths, calm ponds, and uniquely designed graves and monuments. Vestre Cemetery is also the burial place of many famous Danes from throughout history, including renowned politicians, artists and scientists. The area is a bit off the beaten path, so visitors who are looking for solitude and a quiet place for contemplation will likely find it here.
3. Open-Air Museum
Visit the open-air museum to learn more about historical Denmark throughout the centuries. The grounds feature more than fifty houses, farms and mills spread across 86 acres of land. Visitors can stroll through the rustic landscape and pretend that they are living in different periods of Danish history. The museum also offers historical gardens and activities such as horse-drawn wagon rides and live Hans Christian Andersen plays.
If you’re looking for things to do in Copenhagen at night in the fall, Kulturnatten, or culture night, should be part of your itinerary. In October, take part in Kulturnatten for a different spin on Danish culture. Museums, theaters, galleries, libraries, churches and political institutions are open to the public for fun and informative Danish cultural events. On culture night, attendees can participate in activities such as touring the supreme court, viewing art, looking at planets through a telescope, attending a disco, eating cake in the royal kitchens, listening to music while soaking in the public baths and much more.
5. National Aquarium
Don’t miss Copenhagen’s national aquarium, the largest aquarium in northern Europe. Colorful fish swim in the aquarium, and visitors can also view aquatic creatures like sea otters, sea turtles, sharks, rays and eels. Certified scuba divers can even dive with the sharks. Members of the general public can register for an up-close-and-personal encounter with a sea turtle or watch the daily otter feedings.
Things to Do in Copenhagen in Winter
Winters in the northern reaches of Europe are cold and dark. Fortunately, Copenhagen offers many opportunities for visitors to come in from the cold and brighten their days with fun and good cheer. When visitors aren’t perfecting their hygge by curling up by the fire with a cozy blanket and a good book, they can try out these Copenhagen winter ideas.
1. Explore the Restaurant Scene
Copenhagen has many wonderful restaurants. If you’re looking for an unforgettable high-end experience, make a reservation at Noma, a two-Michelin-star restaurant that was named the best restaurant in the world for several years running. The restaurant focuses on three “seasons” of food — seafood season, vegetable season and game season. The dishes are always delicious and innovative. Past ingredients have included ants, fungus, deep-fried marigold flowers and seaweeds foraged from Copenhagen beaches.
Also, check out restaurants like Iluka, a seafood restaurant where fish, oysters, mussels and octopus and are abundant — the house specialty is sea urchin from the Faroe Islands. Or take the chill out of the air at 108, a restaurant that crafts small Nordic dishes from local ingredients.
For more casual fare, don’t forget to stop in at Grød, where much of the menu is devoted to different kinds of porridge. What better way to warm up on a cold, snowy day? And don’t miss Slotskaldæren Hos Gitte Kik, one of the oldest smørrebrød restaurants in Denmark. Open-faced smørrebrød — sandwiches piled with herring, cod, shrimp, meats, or cheeses and other toppings like fruit — are a delicious way to take in some traditional Danish fare.
2. Go Shopping
Shopping experiences abound in Copenhagen. Shopping streets, where rows of cute shops offer everything from big names like Prada and Gucci to handcrafted ornaments to organic perfumes, are excellent places to browse. Stroll along Strøget, one of Europe’s longest pedestrian streets, to window-shop for the high-end brands or check out stores like H&M. Or take a walk down Grønnegade, one of Copenhagen’s oldest streets and one featuring cute half-timbered houses, to find everything from fashion to organic sushi. Or wander down the vibrant, hip Jægersborggade to discover buzzed-about art galleries, vintage clothes, locally made jewelry and ceramics, and of course, a smattering of cafés, restaurants and wine bars.
3. Visit a Café
When it comes to cafés, Copenhagen has many options. Don’t miss Paludan Bogcafé, a bookstore and café where hundreds upon hundreds of volumes line the walls, alongside vibrant art. The café serves breakfast, lunch and dinner, along with a variety of hot beverages. Or check out Bastard Café, located in a culture house that offers musical and theater productions and film screenings. The café itself is a board game café, where people can settle in with warm drinks, beer and comfort food and play the night away with family and friends.
4. Check Out the Botanical Garden
The Copenhagen Botanical Garden is too good to miss, even in the winter. Located in the center of the city, and part of the University of Copenhagen’s Natural History Museum, the botanical garden features over 13,000 varieties of plants, as well as a rock garden, exhibitions such as a butterfly house and a Nordic beer garden, an air-conditioned greenhouse for growing arctic plants, and elegant historical glasshouses from 1874. Spend a day here exploring the plant world, watching butterflies flit and wandering in a beautiful natural setting.
5. Browse the Christmas Markets
Visiting the Christmas markets in Copenhagen is an unforgettable experience. At Christmastime, the festive atmosphere in the city is unlike anything else. Browse the Christmas markets to get in the Christmas spirit and find holiday souvenirs you’ll always treasure. The number one Christmas market locale is Tivoli Gardens. Many Copenhageners make a holiday tradition of going to Tivoli Gardens to find Christmas gifts, decorations, snacks, sweets and hot beverages, along with a welcoming Santa Claus.
Or go to Nyhavn, where the harbor transforms into the coziest of Christmas markets, with shops, mulled wine and Christmas treats available along the waterfront. Also, check out the Hans Christian Andersen Christmas Market in Nytorv square, where the stalls are all decorated with Christmas lights and named after Andersen fairy tales. You’ll also find mulled wine, hot chocolate, a Christmas caravan and a merry Santa.
Plan Your Copenhagen Trip With Windstar Cruises
If you’re excited by the prospect of visiting Copenhagen for yourself, Windstar can help make that dream a reality.
Windstar cruises offer an experience unlike any other. We like to say that our trips are for travelers, not tourists. If you’re looking to have a real, personal, immersive experience in a country and its culture, a Windstar cruise is the perfect way to go. Our small ships offer an intimate, welcoming experience, and they can dock in many ports where larger cruise ships won’t fit. With Windstar, you’ll have so many opportunities for adventure, exploration and genuine cultural experiences.
If you’re ready to experience the beauty of Copenhagen in person, contact one of our vacation planners today!