Welcome to Copenhagen, the capital city of Denmark and one of the most engaging and fun capitals we ever visited with our kids!
There is so much to do here that our 5 days were not enough to explore it all. However, our time here made us want to come back again soon!
In my long list, you will find places we visited and a few that we had to skip due to limited time, but that were on our bucket list, too. So, I felt it was important to share anyway. Come with us and explore this incredible gem of a city!
A Glimpse of the History of Copenhagen
The earliest records of Copenhagen, known as “Køpmannæhafn” in Old Norse, which translates to “Merchant’s Harbor,” date back to the 11th century. It began as a small fishing village and gained prominence over the following centuries. Its strategic location made it a critical center for commerce and trade.
By the 15th century, it had become the capital of Denmark, reflecting its growing importance. Many fortifications, like Kastellet, were constructed during this period to defend the city. King Christian IV built Rosenborg Castle in the early 17th century.
Unfortunately, by the 18th century, Copenhagen faced some challenges: devastating fires, plague, and wars. During the Napoleonic Wars, the British besieged the city twice, first in 1801 and again in 1807. Despite these hardships, this period also initiated rebuilding efforts and modernization, including the foundation of some of Copenhagen’s most charming neighborhoods like Nyhavn.
During the 19th century, a period of rapid industrialization started. The city expanded beyond its traditional boundaries, and new forms of infrastructure, such as trams and railways, were introduced. The Carlsberg Brewery was founded then and would become one of the world’s leading beer brands.
The early 20th century saw Copenhagen embracing modernity with several Art Nouveau buildings popping up around the city. During WWII, Germany occupied Denmark, and Copenhagen was no exception. However, it was also a site of significant resistance efforts, including the rescue of the majority of its Jewish community.
Today, Copenhagen is known as a pioneer in sustainable urban planning and environmental policies, setting an ambitious goal to become the world’s first carbon-neutral capital by 2025. No wonder it has earned its reputation as a “Green Capital” since it has been a forerunner in integrating sustainability into its urban fabric.
As you can see, Copenhagen offers a unique blend of the historical and the contemporary, making it a fascinating city for anyone to visit.
Unique Facts About Denmark
We always like to learn a few interesting facts about the country we visit, making it even more intriguing.
So here is what we learned about Copenhagen:
The Danish Flag. Denmark boasts the world’s oldest state flag still in use, known as the ‘Dannebrog.’ Legend has it that it fell from the sky during a battle in Estonia in 1219! This was an interesting story!
Happiest Country. Denmark frequently tops the list of the world’s happiest countries, partly thanks to its focus on societal well-being, excellent healthcare, and education. I will add that many activities are offered for the whole family here, which contributes to even more happiness!
Flat Landscape. Denmark is one of the flattest countries in Europe. Its highest point, Møllehøj, is only 170.86 meters (560.56 feet) above sea level. No wonder they bike so much in this country!
Island Nation. Denmark is an example of an island nation, thanks to its unique geographical composition that includes 443 named islands. Despite this large number, only 74 of these islands are inhabited. The country’s islands vary significantly in size and character, from Zealand, the largest island and home to the capital city of Copenhagen, to smaller, more remote islands like Bornholm, known for its idyllic landscapes and medieval architecture.
Wind Power. Denmark invested in wind energy as far back as the 1970s, driven by the oil crises and a growing awareness of the need for sustainable energy solutions. This early adoption allowed it to become a pioneer in wind power technology. With over 40% of its electricity generated from wind turbines, Denmark is a global leader in wind energy per capita.
World’s Oldest Monarchy. Denmark boasts the world’s oldest continuous monarchy, dating back to at least the 10th century.
District Heating. Denmark, particularly its capital, Copenhagen, is known for having one of the world’s most extensive and efficient district heating systems.
District heating is a system for distributing heat generated in a centralized location to meet the heating requirements of residential, commercial, or industrial buildings in a specific area. It’s an energy-efficient and environmentally friendly method of heating and hot water, often using waste heat from electricity production or renewable sources. Pretty fascinating!
Public Baths. Copenhagen harbor is so clean you can swim in it! The city’s focus on clean waterways has transformed the harbor into a popular spot for public swimming and recreation.
Various designated swimming zones and floating bathhouses are available, where locals and tourists can dip right in. These harbor baths testify to Copenhagen’s commitment to sustainability and urban well-being. You should see how many people are tanning in the harbor on sunny days!!!
Now that we know some of the remarkable facts about this country and its capital, it is time to see what activities and attractions you can do here with your kids, and believe me; you will quickly fill your days!
First of all, let me give you an extremely important tip!
1. Visit Tivoli Gardens while in Copenhagen
Tivoli Gardens, located in the heart of Copenhagen, is the world’s second-oldest operating amusement park, opening its doors in 1843. Did you know that Walt Disney came here to find inspiration for his Disney World? Unbelievable!
This iconic attraction is more than just a collection of rides and games; it’s a cultural institution that blends history, architecture, and scenic beauty. The park features a variety of attractions ranging from adrenaline-pumping roller coasters to classic carousels, as well as lush gardens, fountains, and live entertainment venues. Whether enjoying a leisurely boat ride, attending a concert, or simply taking a stroll amid its beautifully landscaped grounds, Tivoli Gardens offers a magical experience for visitors of all ages.
Did you know that one of the world’s oldest operating wooden roller coasters is here? It is called “Rutschebanen,” a classic wooden roller coaster opened in 1914 and features a brakeman who rides along to control the train’s speed manually. It was one of our favorite rides. I lost count of how many times we did it!
Tivoli Gardens isn’t open all year round, so if you want to enjoy it, plan your trip during their opening season, from March to September. Plus, they open for special events like Halloween and Christmas.
*Remember that Copenhagen Covers covers the entry to the gardens but not the actual rides.
2. The Little Mermaid Statue
A must-see when you come here is the Little Mermaid Statue, or “Den lille Havfrue” in Danish. She is a bronze sculpture on a rock along Copenhagen’s Langelinie promenade. Unveiled in 1913, the statue was inspired by Hans Christian Andersen’s famous fairytale about a mermaid who sacrifices her life underwater for unrequited love.
Although smaller than expected, standing at just over 4 feet tall, the statue has become a symbol of Copenhagen and a must-see landmark that captivates millions of visitors annually. I was amazed by how many people, including us, were standing there taking selfies with her!
Did you know the statue has repeatedly been vandalized despite its iconic status? She has been decapitated twice, her arm has been sawed off, and she has been covered in paint more than once. Nevertheless, she is restored meticulously each time and returned to her perch! Not a easy life for this Little Mermaid!
3. Visit the Genetically Modified Little Mermaid
If you continue walking, you will find the far less famous and visited but still fascinating to see “Genetically Modified Little Mermaid.” This mermaid reimagines Copenhagen’s iconic Little Mermaid statue with a futuristic twist. Envisioned as a provocative symbol of the intersection between nature and technology, this hypothetical sculpture would incorporate elements of biotechnology, raising questions about ethics, identity, and the future of human and environmental intervention.
This mermaid has never been vandalized, probably due to her appearance already being very “different.” There aren’t hundreds of people taking selfies with her daily; still, she is pretty fascinating to see and worth the walk to!
Your kids don’t want to do any sightseeing? This is the perfect place to spend the day: educational and fun! Experimentarium is a cutting-edge science center designed to make learning about science an interactive, hands-on experience. With over 300 exhibits, the center covers topics ranging from physics and technology to human biology and environmental science.
Features like the giant Bubblearium and the interactive Tunnel of Senses make it an ideal destination for families and curious minds of all ages. Through its engaging displays and live demonstrations, Experimentarium turns scientific exploration into an adventure, making it a must-visit for those looking to combine education with entertainment. Our kids loved it; we were there all day!!!
*tickets available with the Copenhagen Card
5. Take a ride on the canals
A canal ride in Copenhagen offers a unique perspective of the city’s historic landmarks and modern architecture. As you glide through the intricate waterways, you’ll pass by iconic sights like the colorful row houses of Nyhavn, the impressive Christiansborg Palace, and the futuristic Black Diamond Library.
Whether aboard a classic wooden boat or a modern solar-powered vessel, a canal tour provides a relaxing and informative way to experience the Danish capital’s charm and beauty.
We skipped doing a tour or renting a boat for a few hours but took the water bus from one end to the other, and it was lots of fun to see this amazing city from a different perspective!
*tours and water bus available with the Copenhagen Card
6. Climb up the tower of the Chruch of our Saviour in Copenhagen
Climbing the Church of Our Saviour in Copenhagen is an exhilarating experience that rewards you with panoramic city views. Known for its distinctive corkscrew spire, the church offers a challenging ascent up a narrow spiral staircase with 400 steps.
As you climb higher, the stairs transition from inside the tower to the external winding staircase that coils around the spire. Reaching the top, you’ll find yourself standing beside a golden globe, with Copenhagen’s skyline stretching beneath you. It’s an adventurous and memorable way to witness the city from a unique vantage point.
Luca was the only one that could fit up to the tippy top; for adults, it gets tight at one point. We had never seen a place like this, so it was a fascinating climb!
*tickets available with the Copenhagen Card
7. Looking for Thomas Dambo’s trolls
After learning about these trolls, we were on a mission! Finding Thomas Dambo’s trolls in the forests around Copenhagen is like embarking on a whimsical treasure hunt.
Created from recycled wood, these giant, hidden sculptures blend seamlessly into their natural surroundings, turning a walk in the woods into an enchanting experience. Dambo’s trolls are art installations and interactive pieces encouraging exploration and a deepened connection with nature. Discovering each troll feels like uncovering a well-kept secret, making for an unforgettable and magical day out.
Remember that they are not all close to each other, so unless you have an extended stay in Copenhagen, it might not be easy to see them all. We managed to find 2 closer to the areas we were visiting, but there are so many more we want to see around the country and the world! So happy troll search!!!
8. Freetown Christiania
Freetown Christiania is an autonomous, bohemian neighborhood in the heart of Copenhagen. Established in 1971 on a former military base, this unique community operates under its own set of laws and has its currency. Known for its colorful murals, alternative lifestyle, and artistic atmosphere, Christiania is both a social experiment and a vibrant urban space.
While controversial and debated, the area remains a popular destination for those seeking to experience Copenhagen’s alternative and creative side. Due to its free-spirited nature, some parts of Christiania may be more suitable for older kids and adults.
We walked there searching for the troll that Dambo built inside this community. However, we did not stay long since we kept on being stopped to purchase certain products…
9. Copenhagen’s Playgrounds
The city is dotted with innovative playgrounds. Unfortunately, we didn’t have much time to see them all, but we did spend the day with some friends in a really fun one. They had an extensive playground, slides, climbing equipment, goats, ponies, and free scooters for kids to go on at the skate park, and one of Dambo’s trolls lived there! The plan was to stay briefly, but it quickly extended to the whole day!
10. Copenhagen Street Food
Street food places in Copenhagen offer a vibrant and diverse culinary scene that encapsulates the city’s cosmopolitan flair. Whether it’s along the waterfront at Reffen, Copenhagen’s largest food market, or the bustling stalls of Torvehallerne, you’ll find a melting pot of global cuisines. From traditional Danish smørrebrød to Asian fusion dishes, the options are endless and cater to all tastes and dietary needs.
These bustling hubs are not just about food; they often feature live music, workshops, and cultural events, making them a dynamic part of the city’s social fabric. It is a must-visit for foodies and anyone looking to experience Copenhagen’s authentic flavors and atmosphere.
11. National Aquarium Denmark (The Blue Planet)
The National Aquarium Denmark, or The Blue Planet, is Northern Europe’s largest aquarium. Located in Copenhagen, this state-of-the-art facility is designed to resemble a whirlpool, drawing visitors into an immersive underwater experience.
Home to thousands of marine creatures worldwide, the aquarium features exhibits like the Ocean Tank, where hammerhead sharks and rays glide, and the Coral Reef display, showcasing vibrant aquatic biodiversity. Focusing on education and conservation, The Blue Planet offers a captivating and informative outing for marine life enthusiasts and families.
12. Rent a bike for the day
Renting a bike for the day in Copenhagen is a convenient and enjoyable way to explore the Danish capital like a local. With more than 400 km of dedicated bike lanes, the city is designed to be cyclist-friendly. Bike rental shops are abundant, offering a range of options from basic commuter bikes to electric and cargo bikes.
Many shops also provide extras like child seats, helmets, and city maps designed for cyclists. Once you’re geared up, you can easily ride to iconic sights like Tivoli Gardens, the Little Mermaid statue, or the trendy neighborhood of Nyhavn. Whether you’re interested in a leisurely ride along the canals or a more adventurous route through various neighborhoods, a bike rental allows you to explore Copenhagen at your own pace.
Initially, we would be here with our campervan and bikes. Unfortunately, our plans changed, and we were here with no bikes. We didn’t take advantage of the rental option because we had plenty of places to visit, but it was tempting!
13. The Round Tower
The Round Tower, or “Rundetaarn” in Danish, is a 17th-century observatory in central Copenhagen. Known for its unique helical ramp that spirals upwards, the tower offers visitors a gradual climb to its viewing platform, which provides panoramic views of the city’s skyline.
As the oldest functioning observatory in Europe, the Round Tower is a historical monument to Denmark’s scientific achievements. Whether you’re interested in astronomy or want to capture a scenic vista, the Round Tower is a must-visit landmark with educational and visual appeal.
*tickets available with the Copenhagen Card
14. Visit Nyhavn
Nyhavn, Copenhagen’s iconic “New Harbor,” tells a tale of sailors, stories, and transformation. Dug out in the late 17th century, this canal was once the bustling heart of maritime trade, where rugged sailors unloaded cargo and sought merriment in the alehouses that lined the harbor. Among the residents of these colorful townhouses was Hans Christian Andersen, the fairy tale writer, who found inspiration amid the harbor’s ever-changing tales.
Yet, as times evolved, so did Nyhavn. The once tumultuous harbor transformed into a serene cultural hub. Today, the historic ships still float gracefully alongside the quay, and while the alehouses remain, they cater to the hundreds of tourists who fill the streets daily!
15. LEGO Store:
The LEGO Store, especially significant in Denmark, being LEGO’s birthplace, offers an immersive experience into the world of these iconic building blocks. Packed with a vast array of sets, from simple kits for beginners to intricate designs for expert builders, the store is a haven for LEGO enthusiasts of all ages.
Visitors can also experience the “Pick & Build Wall,” where they can hand-select specific bricks and see elaborate displays and models that showcase the creative possibilities of LEGO. Unfortunately, we didn’t have the chance to go to Legoland, but stopping by this store allowed us to enjoy a bit of LEGO time, at least!
The Guinness World Records Museum, located in various cities worldwide, is a fascinating attraction dedicated to showcasing extraordinary talents and achievements that Guinness World Records have officially recognized.
Visitors can explore exhibits covering everything from the tallest human ever recorded to the fastest land vehicle. Filled with interactive displays, trivia, and life-size models, the museum offers an engaging and educational experience that celebrates the limits of what is possible. It’s a fun and inspiring outing for people of all ages, intrigued by the exceptional and the extreme.
We spent a few hours here; it was engaging and interactive, lots of fun for the whole family, and we learned some pretty unexpected records! It makes you want to come up with your world record!
*tickets available with the Copenhagen Card
17. Copenhagen Zoo:
Copenhagen Zoo, located in the Frederiksberg area, is one of the oldest zoological gardens in Europe, founded in 1859. Home to over 3,000 animals worldwide, the zoo offers visitors of all ages a rich and educational experience. Highlights include the Arctic Ring exhibit featuring polar bears and seals and the Elephant House. With its commitment to conservation and animal welfare, the zoo provides entertainment and valuable insights into wildlife and biodiversity.
Our family has stopped visiting zoos since we started traveling. After seeing animals in the wild, it is hard to accept seeing them behind a cage in a country that isn’t their one of origin. I share this option because I know that many don’t share our views, and out of respect, I feel this might be an option for them.
*tickets available with the Copenhagen Card
18. Children’s Museum (Børnenes Museum):
The Children’s Museum (Børnenes Museum) in Copenhagen is a dedicated section within the National Museum, offering a hands-on, interactive experience tailored for young visitors.
Designed to educate and entertain, the museum allows kids to step back in time and explore aspects of life in ancient Denmark and other cultures. From dressing up in period costumes to engaging in traditional crafts and games, the museum provides a dynamic environment where learning comes alive. It’s an ideal destination for families combining fun with educational enrichment.
I love that kids are invited to touch everything in sight at the Children’s Museum! Another interesting aspect of this Museum is that since visiting the National Museum can sometimes be a drag, they have created the Boredom Button! If you push them, anything can happen: statues come to life, paintings talk, and secret chests open to reveal their treasures. This button may be found anywhere, so the mission is to find them all. It’s a clever way of keeping kids engaged!
*tickets available with the Copenhagen Card
19. Stop at the Dansk Architecture Center
The Danish Architecture Center (DAC) in Copenhagen is an architecture, design, and urban planning hub. Located in the modern BLOX building along the waterfront, the center features a range of exhibitions, workshops, and events aimed at professionals and the general public. DAC offers an immersive experience through its interactive exhibits, models, and cutting-edge displays that explore the impact of architecture on daily life and the future of cities. Whether you’re an architecture enthusiast or just curious about the built environment, the Danish Architecture Center provides valuable insights into design and urban living.
The highlight for our family was the playground area outside of the building; it was so unexpected to see something so creatively connected to the environment and lots of fun for kids. But I cannot deny what drew us there was the slide! You can take a unique 40-meter, 4-story spiral slide once you finish visiting the museum, although our kids went up and down many times!
*tickets available with the Copenhagen Card
20. Change of the guard ceremony
The Changing of the Guard ceremony in Copenhagen displays Danish royal tradition and military precision. This daily event takes place at Amalienborg Palace, the winter residence of the Danish royal family. Known as “Den Kongelige Livgarde” (The Royal Life Guards), the soldiers dressed in distinctive uniforms with bearskin hats march from their barracks at Rosenborg Castle to Amalienborg Palace.
The ceremony varies in grandeur depending on whether the Queen is in residence; when she is, the event includes a full band and a more elaborate procession. The Changing of the Guard provides a unique glimpse into Danish ceremonial customs and is a must-see for those interested in royal traditions and military pageantry.
Extra activity: for the adults…or probably for the whole family too
Famous Brewery. The Carlsberg Brewery was founded in Copenhagen in 1847 and is a significant part of the city’s industrial history. Visiting Carlsberg Brewery with your family offers a unique blend of learning experiences catering to adults and children.
It provides insights into the evolution of beer-making and its significance in Danish society. You will learn about the fermentation process, ingredients, and the science of crafting beer. Kids can see the iconic Carlsberg draught horses, once crucial for transporting beer, can still be seen at the brewery’s stables. Adults can savor the nuances of Carlsberg’s brews.
In essence, a visit to Carlsberg Brewery is not just about beer. It’s about history, science, art, and shared experiences that can provide families with valuable insights and lasting memories.
Accomodation in Copenhagen
Copenhagen offers various accommodation options catering to different tastes, budgets, and preferences. Whether you’re looking for luxury, mid-range, budget, or unique stays, Copenhagen has something to offer:
1. Luxury Hotels
- Hotel d’Angleterre: A historic hotel dating back to the 18th century, offering luxury accommodations and located in the heart of Copenhagen.
- Nimb Hotel: A boutique hotel with a unique Moorish-inspired design overlooking the Tivoli Gardens.
2. Mid-Range Hotels
- Copenhagen Admiral Hotel: Set in a converted 18th-century warehouse, this hotel offers a mix of history and modern comfort.
- Absalon Hotel: A family-run hotel with colorful, contemporary designs and a central location.
3. Budget Accommodations
- Copenhagen Downtown Hostel: A lively hostel with a bar and regular social events, appealing to younger travelers.
- Steel House Copenhagen: A trendy, modern hostel offering private and shared accommodations.
4. Boutique Hotels
- Hotel SP34: A bohemian boutique hotel in the Latin Quarter known for its rooftop terrace and stylish interiors.
- Manon Les Suites: A chic, eco-friendly hotel with an urban resort vibe and a rooftop pool.
5. Unique Stays
- Urban House Copenhagen by MEININGER: A hybrid between a hostel and a hotel, offering a cinema, tattoo shop, and bicycle rentals.
- CPH Living: A floating hotel on a boat, providing an unmatched view of the city’s waterfront.
6. Vacation Rentals. Platforms like Airbnb, Vrbo, and Booking.com offer many apartments, houses, and unique stays for travelers who prefer a more homely or local experience.
7. Eco-Friendly Accommodations: given Copenhagen’s commitment to sustainability, many hotels also prioritize eco-friendly practices. These might range from efficient energy use to sustainable sourcing of food and materials.
Tips for Booking:
- Location: Consider staying in neighborhoods like Indre By (City Centre), Vesterbro, or Nørrebro, depending on your interests and activities.
- Season: Copenhagen can get busy in the summer months. Consider booking well in advance if you’re traveling during peak season.
- Transport: The city is bike-friendly and has an excellent public transportation system, so you can choose accommodations slightly further out to save on costs and still have easy access to main attractions.
Our family opted for an Airbnb stay. We wanted to have the chance to cook as much as possible at home and have more space than a hotel room. During this experience, we learned that many homeowners in Copenhagen Airbnb their own homes and move out while it is rented. I am mentioning this because it can sometimes be a bit of a discomfort for the tenant. The house was so full of stuff that we could not unpack our bags, and the fridge only had a shelf available. Once I mentioned this to the owner, I was criticized for acting like I expected to be in a hotel. I picked the apartment for more space, but clearly didn’t work out that way. Also, because of how expensive the accommodation is, we had to book a place further away from downtown, but luckily, we had the Copenhagen Card for our transportation.
Whatever your preference, Copenhagen’s varied accommodations ensure you’ll find a place to stay that enhances your experience in this charming Nordic city.
How to get to Copenhagen
Getting to Copenhagen is relatively straightforward due to its status as a major European city and a hub for Northern Europe. Here are the primary ways to reach Copenhagen:
- Copenhagen Airport (CPH): It’s the main international gateway to Copenhagen and one of Northern Europe’s busiest. Major airlines from around the world operate flights to and from this airport. The airport is about 8 km from the city center and easily accessible via trains, metro, buses, and taxis.
- Copenhagen Central Station (Københavns Hovedbanegård): Situated in the heart of the city, this station is the main rail hub. International trains connect Copenhagen to European cities like Stockholm, Hamburg, and Berlin. The Øresund trains also connect Copenhagen to various cities in Sweden, including Malmö.
- If you’re coming from mainland Europe, you can drive to Copenhagen. The city is well-connected by highways. For instance, if you’re driving from Germany, you’d typically take the E4 or E47 routes.
- The Øresund Bridge also connects Copenhagen in Denmark to Malmö in Sweden, offering a direct road (and rail) link between Denmark and Sweden.
- While the frequency has reduced over the years, some ferry services still connect Copenhagen to destinations like Oslo (Norway) and Poland.
- Several international bus companies, like FlixBus and Eurolines, operate routes to Copenhagen from various European cities. Buses usually arrive and depart from the central bus station adjacent to the Central Train Station.
- If traveling within Europe, consider budget airlines or train services for cost-effective options.
- Remember to check visa requirements if you’re traveling from outside the Schengen Area.
- Copenhagen is well-connected with public transportation, so even if you arrive by air, train, or bus, you’ll find it relatively easy to get to your accommodation or other parts of the city.
In our case, originally we were meant to travel to Copenhagen by campervan, but unfortunately, it broke down in Germany. We didn’t cancel our trip there but simply booked a Flixbus. Once in Copenhagen, we were meant to catch a plane to Iceland and back. We simply took the train to the airport. When we did fly back to Denmark, we hopped back on the train to the central station, where we got a Flixbus back to Germany. In the end, it was cheaper, fast and simple!
No matter the mode of transportation, Copenhagen’s efficient infrastructure ensures visitors have a smooth journey to this vibrant Nordic capital.
As you can see, Copenhagen offers plenty of options budget-wise for everyone. It is easy to reach and also to get around. Once here, there are plenty of activities to cater to all types of visitors, including the ones with families. So when are you coming to Copenhagen?
**Would you like to learn more about our favorite way to travel? Check out this blog post!
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