Dating back to the 12th century, this flourishing city – a highlight of Danish holidays – effortlessly combines history, legend, tradition and innovation in one neat, accessible package. Even a brief visit to the City of Spires – named for its soaring towers and domes – is enough to capture the essence of this unique Northern European destination.
Whether you’re keen to tick off its must-see highlights on one of our 2019 dedicated tours, or content to wander the character-packed streets, squares, gardens and canal paths with map in hand, a visit to the capital of Denmark – ranked one of the happiest countries in the world – is guaranteed to put a smile on your face.
Copenhagen is actually formed by two coastal islands – Zealand and Amager – and linked to southern Sweden by the Øresund Bridge. At almost five miles, it’s the longest combined road and rail bridge in Europe, and was made famous by the TV thriller series, The Bridge.
The city’s most famous mode of travel is the bicycle. Some 55% of Copenhageners cross the capital on two wheels, while certain areas, such as the self-governing Freetown Christiania, are entirely car free.
Copenhagen is the home of hygge. The Danish word defies exact translation, but generally means anything that engenders feelings of contentment, cosiness and relaxation.
EXPERT NAME (to come) highlights just a few fabulous things to do in Copenhagen.
Nyhavn. This 17th-century waterfront area is still bustling today. The colourful townhouses lining the quay were once home to artists: Hans Christian Andersen lived in several of the houses here.
Tivoli Gardens. The second oldest operating amusement park in the world – dating back to 1843 (the oldest is also in Denmark) – features historic buildings, lush gardens and fairground rides, including the charming 100-year-old wooden roller-coaster.
The Little Mermaid. Perched on a rock and measuring just over 4ft tall, the Edvard Eriksen statue – inspired by Hans Christian Andersen’s story – gazes pensively across the harbour, searching for her prince.
Amalienborg Palace. Home to Denmark’s royal family, you can watch the changing of the guard at noon every day in its magnificent cobbled square.
Kronborg Castle. This 16th-century UNESCO World Heritage Site once controlled the ships through the strait dividing Denmark and Sweden, but is best known as Hamlet’s Castle (called Elsinore in the play). Laurence Olivier and Jude Law played Hamlet here.
Quote to come.
Take in the sights.
Time to stroll. Make your way to Amagertorv. This square is home to the iconic Georg Jensen silverware store and Royal Copenhagen porcelain’s flagship store.
Explore more. Head to the Jægersborggade district, where you’ll find a host of eclectic individual shops, alongside numerous quirky cafés and bars.
Eat local. Don’t miss the covered food market, Torvehallerne, where stalls are laden with fresh organic produce, as well as chocolates, spices, coffee beans and more. If you find yourself in the cobbled Latin Quarter, follow the wafting scent of cinnamon to the city’s oldest bakery, Sankt Peders Bageri, to sample the country’s most famous treat of all – the Danish pastry.