Copenhagen Holidays

A historic Danish waterfront city

Copenhagen has come a long way from its 10th-century origins as a Viking fishing village, but it’s still a port town at heart – and an extremely elegant one at that. From the colourful 17th-century townhouses that overlook picturesque Nyhavn Harbour and the canals that criss-cross the city, to the famed Little Mermaid statue, water is never far away. Copenhagen holidays attract a diverse crowd – couples on romantic trips drawn by its beautiful architecture and spire-studded skyline, fans of Denmark’s innovative design and culinary scenes, and families seeking fun at its kitsch fairgrounds.

Holidays to Copenhagen must include a visit to Tivoli Gardens, the second oldest operating amusement park in the world, jam-packed with thrilling rides and twinkling lights at night. Also high on the list are taking in the city’s superb architecture, exploring on-the-up neighbourhoods, such as Nørrebro and Refshaleøen, admiring world-class art and eating prettily plated Nordic cuisine. While there’s plenty to keep you busy at all hours, it’s worth slowing down and taking time to drink a pint of beer on a cobbled pavement, pootle around on a bike or window-shop at its many fashionable boutiques. The most relaxing way to tour the city is by taking a boat trip and puttering along one of its ancient canals – the way people have been seeing Copenhagen for centuries.

All resorts in Copenhagen

Three tips for a top trip

Whizz about on two wheels

Copenhagen is hugely bike-friendly, and the Bycyklen electric bike-share scheme is very affordable. Create an online account and off you go.

Try out perfect pastries

With alumni of world-famous Nordic restaurant Noma setting up on their own around the city, Danish pastries are next-level delicious, so be sure to visit several of the city’s many artisan bakeries.

Start with a card

The Copenhagen Card (also an app) gives you free access to 87 attractions and unlimited city transport, including canal cruises. Available online or from the tourist office.

Best attractions to see in Copenhagen

Nyhavn

The ridiculously photogenic waterfront is lined with brightly coloured 17th-century houses and charming wooden boats – it’s the ideal spot to order a beer or coffee, and watch the world go by.

Slotsholmen

Successive castles and palaces have been built on this 52-acre island since the 12th century. It remains the seat of government and an architectural marvel.

Statens Museum for Kunst

The vast collections (more than 260,000 pieces) in the National Gallery of Denmark will introduce you to the country’s idyllic landscapes, gracious style and exacting sense of design.

Your Copenhagen questions, answered

While it’s not the cheapest of cities, it’s certainly possible to have a budget break in Copenhagen. Research ahead and take advantage of museum deals and the bike-share scheme.
Absolutely – from the amusement parks to the zoo and its easily walkable streets, Copenhagen is a city that will suit families down to the ground.
As with many capital cities, Copenhagen is a thriving place to visit throughout the year. Summertime is great for chilling out by the harbour and going for a dip. The weather is usually warm, so idling in the parks and restaurants is a good pastime. Spring and autumn are usually still warm enough to enjoy the outdoor seating at many of the city’s restaurants and bars. And the temperature is still pleasant for tours. Don’t overlook a winter city break to Copenhagen either. There’s a frosty charm to the canalside buildings and the bars become all the cosier too.
Copenhagen’s harbours are the place to go for city centre bathing. If you’re too shy for a dip with the locals, you can watch from the safety of Sandkaj Harbour’s bustling restaurants. Half an hour north is Bellevue Beach. This sandy spot is popular with families and adults looking to relax or play volleyball. The beach has showers, lifeguards and refreshments close by. And it’s not far from Klampenborg’s train station either, so you can get there using public transport.
While the city can bask in brilliant sunshine in July and August, you won’t want to come without a jacket just in case. When winter hits, bring your warmest boots.
Copenhagen has a good breadth of food choices, from typical Danish cuisine to modern takes on international favourites. Open sandwiches are a staple here. It’s usually rye bread topped with fresh fish, meat or vegetables and a good sprinkling of herbs. You’ll discover endless versions of this traditional dish, wherever you go. But don’t be surprised to find enthusiasm for Turkish wraps and flatbreads in the city too. Thankfully, with so much variety, there’s no worry about finding places to eat that suit your budget.
From craft beer pubs to wine bars, and clubs to cocktail lounges, there’s a scene for everyone. If you’re not sure what you fancy, you could head to different areas of town for the first few nights. This will give you a good feel for what the city has to offer. Then you can pick your favourite neighbourhood to explore further. There’s plenty to experience, and many places open late so there’s no need to rush.
In terms of landmark buildings, there’s a castle, palaces and lots of pretty churches. For culture, there’s a good selection of museums to discover too. If you’re looking for a leisurely wander around the city, there’s the harbour and waterfront to walk around. The Little Mermaid Statue and traditional waterfront buildings are some of the city’s most photographed spots. If you want to see more, there’s also the opera house and Copenhagen’s many parks.
Visiting Copenhagen gives you a lot of choice, so, if you’re focusing on just one aspect, say the canals or palaces, you may not need long. A few full days and you could be happy. But if you’re looking to delve deeper into the city’s culture or do a full tour of the sights, you’ll want to stay longer. This will give you the chance to explore more of each area, from the harbour to the parks and palaces. You could easily spend a day at Tivoli Gardens or at the beach, so you won’t run out of things to do.