The 25 Most Beautiful Places in Copenhagen
In May I spent three wonderful weeks traveling through Denmark, Norway, Sweden, and the Netherlands. I fell in love with Scandinavia, but Copenhagen most of all -- I would go back in a heartbeat.
If you decide to go, I highly recommend the hardback Monocle travel guide. As it was for my Tokyo trip, Monocle recommends the tastiest restaurants, most curious architectural gems, and best museums off the well-trod Rick Steves path. I also referred back to Ashley's blog about her family's travels in Copenhagen, which first sparked my interest in the region years ago.
Below are the quick hits of things not to miss, and then scroll down for the 25 most beautiful places in the city:
At A Glance
EAT: Atelier September, Barr, Baest, Café Det Vide Hus, Coffee Collective, Democratic Coffee, Grod, Hija de Sanchez/Sanchez, Juno the Bakery (don't miss the cardamom buns), Kodbyens Fiskebar, Lagkagehuset, Mirabelle, Noma, Street Food Reffen, Torvehallerne, SOURCES: Bon Appetit's list and Eater's Essential 38
SEE AND VISIT: Brumleby neighborhood, Christiansborg Palace, CopenHot (cold weather only), Design Museum Denmark, Fredericksborg Castle (day trip), Grundtvig's Church, Glyptoteket Museum, Louisiana Museum of Modern Art (day trip), Rundetaarn, Rosenborg Castle gardens, Royal Danish Library, Superkilen park, Thorvaldsen's Museum, SOURCES: architecture and walking sections of Monocle's guide, Copenhagen's tourism Instagram account
WALK: Indre By (downtown/main city), Christianshavn (charming canals), Nyhavn (touristy with classic waterfront), Norrebro (family-friendly, hip), Vesterbro (lively, good restaurants)
You simply can't come to Copenhagen without seeing this museum. An ode to great design around the world, it has a particular focus on Danish beauties. Don't leave without seeing the breathtaking hall of chairs -- the chairs illuminate from behind when you walk in front of them.
2. Bikes! Everywhere!
It's hard to comprehend a city where 62 percent of residents bike to work or school every day. The bikes are everywhere, on ever street, and they take priority over both cars and pedestrians. See if you can spot the bucket bikes which serve as the Danish version of the minivan:
I was lucky enough to have dinner at Noma in the final days of its seafood season, and it was without hesitation the best meal of my life. The service was warm and friendly. The interiors were creative and sleek. The food was otherworldly. Four hours in, I didn't want to leave. If you can possibly swing it, go!
These may look like mussels, but they were actually ice cream sandwiches with a plum shell:
A tower you can climb! With beautiful white walls! What's not to love.
I wrote how all the Airbnbs in Copenhagen are particularly beautiful, but ours really made the trip special (I stayed in this one). Part art gallery, part apartment, it was the perfect place to hang out when I was jetlagged at 3 AM. I'll never forget watching the sun rise over Rosenborg Castle as people biked home from the bars below:
7. Red mailboxes
Even the mailboxes are well-designed:
We took the train about 45 minutes from Copenhagen on a rainy day when we wanted to get out of town. It went from a light drizzle to torrential downpour in the 15 minutes it took us to walk from the train station to the castle, ending in sort of a comical situation where we shook water off our coats in the front hall of a massive, imposing castle. But once we stepped into the halls of Fredericksborg Castle, the opulence and detail took us by surprise -- it was simply stunning:
Centrally located in the middle of the city, Christiansborg Castle is a must-see in Copenhagen. I recommend going at 10 AM right when it opens so you can enjoy it in relative quiet. Don't miss the Queen's Library with the blue sky ceiling mural:
This was my favorite museum in Copenhagen and I didn't leave nearly enough time to explore it. If you decide to only visit one museum, make it this one:
This is the touristy wharf where you can take the famous photo of the boat in front of the houses along the water. Sure, it's touristy, but it's also very charming:
12. Grundtvig's Church
I took a short bus ride to see this church on my last day in Copenhagen, and I'm so glad I didn't miss it. You can read an overview of the architecture here, but nothing compares to seeing the Scandinavian simplicity mixed with gothic drama in person.
13. Hay Design Store & Cafe Norden
I'm sorry in advance, because you'll want to buy everything. There's a lot of great shopping in Copenhagen, but Hay House is the mothership of beautiful Danish design. Also, if you get hungry while shopping, Cafe Norden is in the same building as Hay House and it's surprisingly good (if expensive) given its touristy location.
14. Illums Bolighus
My other favorite store to browse in Copenhagen, Illums Bolighus is where you can go to purchase the chairs you see on display at the Design Museum. It's not the most affordable (many chairs cost the same as small cars), but it's too beautiful to miss.
16. Juno Bakery
You must take the subway two stops out of town to visit Juno the Bakery. Buy a still-warm cardamom bun, and maybe you'll understand why I decided it's the best pastry I've eaten in my life:
This tiny neighborhood was designed to be communal housing for families in the 1850's. I dare you to visit Brumleby and not become completely charmed by the yellow walls and families eating dinner in their tiny front yards.
Not the spot to visit if you suffer from vertigo, The Royal Library sits on the waterfront and sports stunning views of the modern interior. Head to the top if you dare!
This is a fun area to walk around -- it's fully of great restaurants and shopping.
This seafood restaurant sits among a number of trendy restaurants in old warehouses that have been converted. One of the most creative dining experiences in Copenhagen:
This tiny coffee shop next to our Airbnb became a true favorite, but it's apparently popular with chefs and locals too. Don't miss the cozy upstairs.
This neighborhood is one of the oldest in Copenhagen and reminiscent of Amsterdam's canals and houseboats. A great area to wander:
A small but impactful museum that displays the paintings and statues of Bertel Thorvaldsen. I visited on a Wednesday when the museum is free to enter, right after I made my way through Christansborg, and before I went to the Glyptoteket. It's a great place to stop if you're in the area, but not a must-see:
Restaurant Barr now sits in the building that used to house Noma, and you can you see the clear design relationship between the two. Don't miss eating a meal at Barr, and enjoy the stunning decor while you're at it: