- Three city palaces in the center of Copenhagen
- Three churches worth seeing
- Two major museums
- Historical and modern secular buildings in Copenhagen
- Copenhagen's fortifications
- Selected sculptures and statues
- Scene and entertainment district
- Squares and streets in Copenhagen
- Useful information for cruise ship guests
The Danish capital Copenhagen offers its visitors an undeniable advantage: the most beautiful and attractive sights are located close to each other over an area of 88 km². Many of the sights can be reached on foot or by public transport. This is especially true for those guests who visit Copenhagen by cruise ship.
The ranking of the top sights in Copenhagen is headed by the Little Mermaid, the Tivoli amusement park and the pub and harbor district of Nyhavn. In addition to these attractions, there is a plethora of other attractions. We present our favorites of the Danish metropolis, which we got to know and appreciate during several stays.
Three city palaces in the center of Copenhagen
In Copenhagen's city center, three must-see castles are on our list of places to visit.
Four Rococo palaces were grouped around the octagonal Amalienborg Slotsplads. In the middle of the square is an equestrian statue of Frederik V. The king initiated the construction of the ensemble. The royal family resides in the castle. Every day at lunchtime, the traditional changing of the guard of the royal guard takes place in front of the castle. When the flag flies on the roof of the castle, it indicates that the royal family is present.
Christiansborg Palace is the youngest of the city palaces. The plant was built between 1906 and 1937 on the island of Slotsholmen. The Folketing, the Danish parliament, meets in the palace. The castle is also the seat of the Prime Minister and the location of the Danish Supreme Court.
The Royal Stables and Remisen (Kongelige Stalde) border the castle. For ceremonial purposes 20 of the 200 horses and a number of carriages are kept ready.
The 106 meter high castle tower offers a wonderful view of Copenhagen. The visitor platform can seat a maximum of 40 people at any one time, which is why there are occasional queues in front of the security check. The view from Copenhagen's tallest tower makes up for the waiting time.
Open: Tuesday to Sunday from 11:00am
Two elevators go to the top of the tower, followed by a little more than 30 steps. People with reduced mobility take a third elevator up to the visitor level.
The castle, the throne and the knight's hall as well as the stables and the state carriages can be visited.
The construction of a royal summer house, later Rosenborg Castle, began as early as 1607. The romantic brick building has been used as a museum since 1838. The exhibits include the Danish crown jewels.
The castle, which is located in a spacious park and surrounded by a moat, can be visited on guided tours.
The castle is a maximum of two kilometers from the two cruise terminals Langeliniekaj and Nordre Toldbod.
Three churches worth seeing
Denmark's capital is rich in places of worship. Wherever you look, you can (almost) always see a church tower. Our favorites are:
Frederiks Kirke - marble church
Frederiks Kirke is within sight of Amalienborg Palace. King Frederik V wanted a marble church. To the ruler's chagrin, the state budget did not provide such a luxury, and construction work began nonetheless. The construction project stretched over a number of years before being stopped for financial reasons. The church then deteriorated into a ruin for more than 100 years.
In the second half of the 19th century, work on the church was resumed; sandstone was used as a building material instead of marble. In August 1894 the dome was completed. Visually it resembles the Roman one Pantheon or St. Peter's Basilica. The diameter of the dome is 31 meters. A tape in Danish runs under the arch. Above that, images of the apostles can be seen in twelve segments of the dome.
Address: Frederiksgade 4
Helligåndskirken - Church of the Holy Spirit
The Church of the Holy Spirit, a monastery church from the 14th century, is on the pedestrian street Strøget. During the first big fire in 1728, the inventory of the church fell victim to the flames.
The adjoining outbuilding is known by connoisseurs as the largest preserved medieval building in Copenhagen. The church is affiliated with Greenland, which explains why a service is held in Greenlandic once a month.
Vor Frue Kirke - Church of Our Lady
The Frauenkirche, part of the Danish People's Church, is Copenhagen's cathedral church. A previous church was destroyed in the town fire in 1728. The building that was built subsequently went up in flames again in 1807 when the British fleet was bombarded. The church was rebuilt and completed and consecrated in 1829.
The Frauenkirche received its current furnishings after restoration work in 1977/78. The Frue Kirke serves as a burial and coronation church.
Address: Frue Plads
Two major museums
More than 40 museums and cultural institutions are named for Copenhagen and its immediate vicinity. From our point of view, the most beautiful and important museums in the capital are the Ny Carlsberg Glyptotek and the Statens Museum for Kunst.
Ny carlsberg glyptotek
The Ny Carlsberg Glyptotek is dedicated to the sculptures of the Mediterranean and ancient Egypt. The “modern” part of the collection represents Danish and French artists of the 19th and 20th centuries. Auguste Rodin (35 sculptures), Paul Gauguin (more than 40 works) and Edgar Degas are well represented. The architecture of the museum is unique. A winter garden with palm trees can be found under a central dome.
The museum is funded by the Carlsberg Foundation. The museum is also financed by a small contribution that is added to every bottle of Carlsberg beer sold.
Address: Dantes Plads 7 (next to Tivoli)
Open: Tuesday to Sunday
Tickets (as of 2023): Adults 125 DKK (approx. 17,00 euros)
SMK Statens Museum for Kunst - the Danish National Gallery
The largest museum for fine arts in Denmark shows works of art by Danish and European masters. The painting and sculpture collection includes around 2.600 works that were created between the 14th century and the present day. The copper engraving collection has 300.000 objects, and the Royal Collection of Major Sculptures includes works of art dating back more than 4.000 years. One focus is on works by French artists from the period 1900 to 1930.
SMK Statens Museum for Art
Address: Sølvgade 48-50; near Rosenborg Castle
Online ticket prices (as of 2023): Adults 120 DKK (16,00 euros)
Historical and modern secular buildings in Copenhagen
Copenhagen's cityscape is a successful mix of historical and modern buildings. Venerable buildings such as the trading exchange or the Royal Theater compete with ultra-modern buildings such as the Skuespilhuset, the Royal Danish Opera or the Danish Royal Library.
Børsen - the trading exchange
The trading exchange, built at the beginning of the 17th century, is one of the most beautiful buildings in Copenhagen. Its Renaissance facade and the 54-meter-high tower depicting four entwined dragon tails make it one of Copenhagen's attractions.
Address: Børsgade; next to Chrstiansborg Castle.
The congregational library
The National Library of Denmark is the largest and most important library in the Scandinavian countries. Because of its dark facade, the futuristic-looking building was given the name "Den Sorte Diamant" (the black diamond). The library consists of an old building (built in 1906) and the new building (built in 1999).
The congregational library
In addition to the library, the Schwarze Diamant offers space for exhibitions, concerts and readings. The new building also houses a café, a restaurant and the National Photo Museum.
Address: Søren Kierkegaards Plads 1
Det kongelige teater
At Kongens Nytorv, the Royal New Market, is the city's most famous theater, the Royal Theater. The main building was completed in 1874. It offers space for 1.600 visitors. The foyer is open during the day; a small café invites you to linger.
The equestrian statue on Kongens Nytorv depicts King Christian V on horseback. The Copenhageners call the monument somewhat disrespectfully “Hesten” (horse).
Kongens Nytorv - Monument to King Christian V on horseback
Copenhagen City Hall
The town hall, planned in the style of the Italian Renaissance, was completed in 1905. It is the sixth town hall in the city's history. According to hearsay, the city hall of the city of Siena in Tuscany was the inspiration for the design. A golden statue set into the facade commemorates Absalon von Lund. The former Bishop of Roskilde and Archbishop of Lund was the city founder of Copenhagen. The huge hall inside the building, which extends over several floors, as well as the wedding hall are worth seeing. This room shows scenes from a medieval ballad painted in the style of old Italian frescoes.
The world clock by Jens Olsen exhibited next to the main entrance is of cultural and historical importance. The astronomical clock was constructed between 1943 and 1955.
City Hall - astronomical clock
The almost 106 meter high town hall tower can be climbed (around 300 steps). The town hall is located on Rådhuspladsen.
Admission - Town Hall: free; Tower ascent (as of 2023) 45 DKK (6,00 euros)
Magasin du Nord
The origins of the large, nostalgic Magasin du Nord department store go back to 1869. The offer ranges from fashion to luxury beauty products, design articles and delicacies. The department store is famous and appreciated far beyond the borders of Copenhagen. A good address on rainy days.
Magasin du Nord on Kongens Nytorv
Location: Kongens Nytorv 13
New Royal Danish Opera
The New Opera House is on the island of Holmen. The Danish entrepreneur Møller had the building, which opened in 2005, built at his own expense. The opera house impresses the viewer with its sheer size and impressive architecture. It is one of the most modern opera stages in the world.
The astronomical tower, built between 1637 and 1642, measures 34,80 meters in height and around 15 meters in diameter. Thanks to a 209-meter-long, spiral-shaped ramp, it is easy to climb. From the upper viewing platform, visitors can enjoy a panoramic view of Copenhagen's old town. Inside the tower has a library room and Europe's oldest used telescope.
Location: Købmagergade 52 A
Open: every day
Tickets (as of 2023): Adults 40 DKK (5,40 euros)
The Evangelical Lutheran Trinity Church connects to the Rundetårn. Along with the tower and the university library, it is part of the Trinity complex. The church was built in 1637 and 1651 at the behest of the Danish king Christian IX. built. To this day, the church functions as a university church. From an architectural point of view, it is advisable to take a look inside the church when visiting Rundetårn.
Skuespilhuset - playhouse
At the end of the Nyhavn tourist mile, by the water, is the New Royal Playhouse, which opened in 2008. Its main features are the huge stage tower and the glazed facade. Opposite the theater is the New Royal Opera.
Over the centuries, the prosperous city of Copenhagen has been the target of multiple attacks. Effective defenses were required to counter the attacks.
Between the cruise terminals Langeliniekaj and Nordre Toldbod lies one of the best preserved fortresses in Northern Europe. The pentagonal star rampart was built more than 350 years ago. The fortress' task was to protect the inhabitants of Copenhagen from Swedish raids. A system of moats protects the ramparts. Inside the fortress there are barracks, magazines, the commandant's office and a church. The facility is surrounded by greenery.
Copenhagen was particularly at risk from the water. The weak point was addressed with the installation of the Trekroner Søfort. The triangular fortress was built in the 18th and 19th centuries. Trekroner proved useful during the naval battle of Copenhagen and a British attack. After the First World War, the fortress lost its importance and was given up. Boat tours lead to Trekroner.
Selected sculptures and statues
In Denmark's capital, it is important to keep your eyes open. Copenhagen not only shines with a collection of classic and modern buildings, a multitude of museums, characteristic city quarters, but also with a variety of sculptures and monuments. We give four contrasting examples of art in public space.
Den Lille Havfrue - The Little Mermaid
The little mermaid sits on a stone block on the Langelinie promenade. It is one of the attractions of Copenhagen. The brewer Carl Jacobsen donated the 1,25 meter high bronze figure to the city. A fairy tale by the poet HC Andersen served as a template for the work of art. Den Lille Havfrue has been the target of vandalism several times in the past. The graceful figure was stripped of her head several times and she was smeared.
The little mermaid
For a few years the little mermaid competed with the "alternative mermaid" on Langelinie quay. That one was designed much more luxuriantly than the graceful little one on the waterfront. In the late summer of 2021, the "alternative mermaid" was no longer in its original place. In addition, the long line has lost its appeal. Many of the shops in the former warehouses are orphaned. Because of the corona pandemic, the cruise ships stayed away from Copenhagen. The long line currently looks boring and empty.
The alternative mermaid ex Langeliniekaj
Figure group Genetically Modified Paradise
At Langeliniekaj, at the level of the “Marina Lounge”, a passage leads to a fountain with the bizarre group of figures Genetically Modified Paradise by the artist Bjørn Nørgaard. According to the will of their creator, the figures embody the postmodern view of Christ, Adam and Eve, Maria Magdalena and other figures. In the background of the construction, and only a few hundred meters from the “Little Mermaid”, a “genetically modified mermaid” by Bjørn Nørgaard has found her place in the water of the adjacent canal.
Location: Langelinie Allé 17
Copenhagen's monumental Gefion Fountain is located near the Nordre Toldbod cruise terminal. The fountain depicts the Asen maiden Gefion, a goddess of Germanic mythology. According to legend, she separated the island of Zealand from Sweden with four oxen and a plow.
Equestrian statue of Bishop Absalon
A statue shows Bishop Absalon, Copenhagen's city founder, on horseback. Bishop Absalon is one of the most important figures in Danish church history. Floating pegs adorn the base of the statue. The fish symbolize the importance of herring fishing for Copenhagen in the Middle Ages. Copenhagen owes its rise to a metropolis to the fishermen.
Bishop Absalon on horseback
Location: Højbro Plads near Gammel Strand metro station
Scene and entertainment district
The "Freetown Christiana", the collectively managed area of the former squatter scene, has existed for 40 years. Around 1.000 people now live in the state-tolerated autonomous settlement in the Christianshavn district. The alternative housing project is one of Copenhagen's tourist attractions and attracts half a million visitors annually. In the summer months, guided tours through the residential area are offered daily.
To promote trade and shipping, a branch canal was dug from the port into the city center in the 17th century. On both sides of the port arm, which was completed in 1673, there are colorful gabled houses, with a few dozen boats lying in front of them. Nyhavn is Copenhagen's promenade and trendy area rolled into one. From the front of the canal, boats from two providers start for 60 minutes Canal cruisesn.
Canal tour operators: Stromma Danmark and Nettobådene
Tivoli is one of the oldest amusement parks in the world. The establishment opened its doors in 1843 and has since achieved world fame. Well over three million visitors use the rides, roller coasters, restaurants and theaters every year.
Tivoli - main entrance
Open: from April to September. Special opening times apply to Halloween and Advent.
Ticket (as of 2023): Visitors aged 8 and over pay 155 DKK (approx. 21,00 euros). In addition, there is the Ride Pass for the use of the facilities. It costs 169 DKK (about 22,70 euros)
Squares and streets in Copenhagen
The Danish metropolis offers contrasting impressions in a small space. These include monumental squares, busy main streets, noble pedestrian zones and an almost small-town ambience.
Where the Købmagergade branches off from the Strøget is the Amagerorv. The square was once Copenhagen's most important market place. Individual buildings on the square date from the 17th century. One of the features of the square is the Storchenbrunnen (Storkespringvandet).
Not far from the university and the Rundetårn is Gråbrødretorv in the city center. This square differs from the much larger squares in Copenhagen in that it has colorful houses and an almost small-town ambience. Originally, the square was the meeting place for the student scene. Today visitors of all ages can be found in the cozy bars, pubs and restaurants.
Compared to Gråbrødretorv, the “New King's Market”, which was built towards the end of the 17th century, overwhelms its visitors with its sheer size. The Royal Theater, the Charlottenborg Art Hall, the French Embassy, the Hotel D'Angleterre and the luxury department store Magasin du Nord are located in Copenhagen's largest square. After years of construction, the square shines in new splendor.
The Nytorv branches off from the Strøget. The striking building adorned with six columns on the west side of the square was the former city hall of Copenhagen. Today it is used by the city court.
Nytorv - the courthouse
The nearly three hectare town hall square is one of the most frequented squares in the Danish capital. The square is the venue for concerts, meetings or exhibitions. Other buildings around the square are worth seeing: Hotel Bristol, Palace Hotel and Politikens Hus.
Streets of a special kind are the pedestrian zone Strøget, the Købmagergade with its upscale, trendy shops or their stark opposite, the Krusemyntegade near Rosenborg Castle. Hardly a stranger runs into this tranquil residential street. It gives visitors the feeling of being in a small Danish town. On both sides of the cobblestone street there are colorful, two-story houses. The roofs have dormers and mallow and rose bushes thrive in front of the houses.
One of the oldest streets in Copenhagen is Magstræde, built in the 16th century, and its extension, Snaregade. The Gammel Strand square, which borders the Slotsholmen Canal, follows the Snaregade. One of the most beautiful houses on the square is “Kunstforeningen”, an exhibition and event location.
Useful information for cruise ship guests
The Langeliniekaj is one of the quays close to the city. A maximum of three cruise ships can dock at the long quay. Hop-on hop-off buses stop in front of the ships' berths. In 2021, a 24-hour ticket will cost 223 DKK (about 30 euros) when booked in advance online. The red buses visit most of the featured attractions.
Local public transport buses (line 27) connect the terminal with Østerport train station on Oslo Square. From there, the Copenhagen metro drives to inner-city destinations.
Nordre Toldbod Terminal
Small cruise ships call at the Nordre Toldbod Terminal south of the Kastellet. No public transport is required to get from this terminal in central Copenhagen.
Taxis drive to the center of Copenhagen from the three terminals of the quay in the north harbor.
Ocenankaj with MSC Euribia and the Nieuw Statendam
Not a cheap endeavor! In the summer of 2023 we paid for the transfer to the train station, the distance is eight kilometers, 330 Danish kroner (45 euros). It is cheaper to take the 25 and 27 buses. The bus stop is in front of Terminal 1 on Oceanvej. The drivers sell the tickets. The journey to the center requires a two-zone ticket.
Updated Aug 2023