20 unique things to do in Copenhagen

by Lizzie Davey  |  Updated September 2, 2018

Copenhagen’s trendy, bicycle-filled streets are a rabbit-warren of unusual finds and unique attractions. Join TravelMag as we explore some of the well known yet truly unique-to-Copenhagen sights, with a couple of under-the-radar options thrown in for good measure.

Nyhavn in the morning (Photo: Roman Boed via Flickr)

Nyhavn in the morning (Photo: Roman Boed via Flickr)

Visit an original and an alternative mermaid statue

Potentially one of Europe’s most visited statues is that of The Little Mermaid (Langelinie, 2100 Copenhagen). Edvard Eriksen’s bronze sculpture homage to Hans Christian Andersen’s fairy tale character is over a century old and just as popular a sight as ever. But, in a very Scandinavian backlash to the popularity of the Little Mermaid, a 21st century-appropriate alternative statue has been created too. It was instigated by Bjørn Nørgaard, a fine arts professor with a penchant for the absurd. In 2006 his collection of statues, including that of a pregnant man and a twisted, distorted Christ, were unveiled. But it is his Genetically Modified Little Mermaid (Langelinie Allé 17) straddling a rock with her abstract body and elephantine head that steals the show.

The Little Mermaid statue (Photo: Miguel Mendez via Flickr)

Explore the Nyhavn Neighbourhood

Colourful Nyhavn is understandably considered a must-see part of Copenhagen, and the reasons for this are multiple: It is a great centre of entertainment, with many of the city’s  best nightlife options, the waterfront location makes it a great place from which to take tours and boat rides along the many canals, and the colourful buildings are particularly charming at sunset, when the warm natural and artificial lights coalesce forming an agreeable atmosphere.

A great way to discover the neighbourhood is by joining a guided tour. Getyourguide offers a good number of walking, bus or bike tours. There is also a canal cruise from Nyhavn. Check them out here:

Firey Nyhavn sunset (Photo: Jacob Surland via Flickr)

Seek thrills at Tivoli Gardens

Located right next door to the Central Station is perhaps the last thing one would expect to see occupying a city centre: a sprawling amusement park named Tivoli Gardens (Vesterbrogade 3). It has been running continuously since 1843, longer than any other amusement park outside of Denmark (but not the longest running in Denmark – that accolade belongs to Dyrehavsbakken). Top rides include the wooden rollercoaster Rutschebanen, which was built back in 1914. More modern rides include the gut-churning Demon along with perennial favourites like the bumper cars and swinging galley ships.

Tivoli Gardens’ main entrance at night (Photo: Jacob Surland via Flickr)

Escape the crowds at Assistens Kirkegaard

While Assistens Kirkegaard (Kapelvej 4) is primarily a cemetery filled with famous historic Danes, including Hans Christian Andersen, it’s by no means as morbid a visit as it sounds. In fact, the cemetery is a popular haunt for locals to hang out at come the weekend, with a selection of secluded spots perfect for an intimate BBQ or a lover’s tryst. Set in the heart of the trendy Norrebro district, it’s the definition of an urban hideaway.

The peaceful surroundings of Assistens (Photo: News Oresund via Flickr)

The peaceful surroundings of Assistens (Photo: News Oresund via Flickr)

Embrace the alternative at Bolsjefabrikken

For an alternative glimpse into Copenhagen’s flourishing art scene, check out the graffiti-covered Bolsjefabrikken (Ragnhildgade 1), a volunteer-run cultural institution housed in a rustic old warehouse. Known primarily for the various live music performances, café nights and underground concerts, the venue also hosts weekend workshops, while celebrating and showcasing the work of young, emerging artists. There’s a cash-only bar where you can buy reasonably priced drinks.

Copenhagen, things to do, art in Copenhagen

The hustle and bustle of Bolsjefabrikken (Photo:

Encounter hygge at Huset-KBH

Huset-KBH (Rådhusstræde 13) is a multi-purpose cultural centre brimming with hygge in the city centre. Live shows include anything from jazz to burlesque, while the cinema runs a series of cult classic films from around the world with thematic twists, like “The Big Lebowski” drink-alongs. Alternatively, grab some plastic spoons to throw at the screen during screenings of “The Room”. There are also regular board game nights in the venue’s cosy cafeteria.

Visit Amager Strandpark’s man-made beach

It might sound strange to suggest a beach trip in regularly frigid Copenhagen, but Amagerstrand Beach Park (Amager Strandvej) might just be the perfect bolt hole when the weather starts to change. During the summer, the crowds tend to heave, but Spring and Autumn are good times to head to the man-made beach to take part in water sports or to walk barefoot along the water’s edge. It’s also a good spot to exercise, with volleyball courts and paved paths for running.

Beaches in Copenhagen

Kitesurfers on Amagerstrand Beach (Photo: Stig Nygaard via Flickr)

Wander around Christiania

The Free State of Christiania (Bådsmandsstræde 43) is like a city within a city. It was built by hippies on a former military base back in 1971 and now boasts its own laws, as well as a cool collection of workshops, organic cafes and galleries. Copenhagen’s autonomous neighbourhood has lashings of graffiti, many colourful characters and plenty of ramshackle buildings to explore. The best way to do so is with a local guide, who can help enlighten visitors on the area’s history.

Christiania, Copenhagen

A painted building in Christiania (Photo: Kieran Lynham via Flickr)

Wander through Royal Library Garden

The impressive domed silhouette of the Christiansborg Palace doesn’t go under the radar of a lot of tourists, but its Royal Library Gardens (Søren Kierkegaards Pl. 1) do. Tucked behind one of the city’s best-loved buildings, the peaceful green space offers a slice of Eden away from the crowds. The large water fountain that acts as the centrepiece springs to life every hour on the hour.

The serene setting of the Royal Library Gardens (Photo: Matthew Black via Flickr)

The serene setting of the Royal Library Gardens (Photo: Matthew Black via Flickr)

Eat your way through Copenhagen

With markets dedicated to street food stalls and a competitive restaurant industry that includes world-renowned chefs and brands, Copenhagen is a place for the taste buds. Copenhagen’s Culinary Experience Tour is a four-hour introduction to that scene bringing you to some of the best places to taste cheeses, meats, chocolates and Danish sandwiches, as well as local liqueurs and spirits. This fantastic food and walking tour has an itinerary of around seven different spots specialising in some of Denmark’s finest delicacies.

Book the tour with Getyourguide by clicking here.

Explore a large allotment neighbourhood

For a healthy dose of serenity, a walk through Nokken (Islands Brygge) reveals a peaceful world that seems a million miles from fast-paced city life. The charming green oasis boasts a labyrinth of manicured gardens and hobbit-style huts built on land that was reclaimed over a century ago. Here, you can kick back and relax in a natural hideaway devoid of honking horns or bike bells.

One of the quirky huts at Nokken (Photo: Stig Nygaard via Flickr)

One of the quirky huts at Nokken (Photo: Stig Nygaard via Flickr)

Watch a film at Vester Vov Vov

The charming, independent cinema of Vester Vov Vov (Absalonsgade 5) is a far cry from your generic, blockbuster multiplexes. Here you’ll find a kitsch display of antique French furniture and a high-end selection of worldly beers, teas and coffees. As the oldest cinema in Denmark, it’s dedicated to showing artsy documentaries and independent films from local and international creatives. There are also reruns of classic films from the last decades.

Delve into the local LGBTQ+ scene at Warehouse9

Set on the outskirts of Copenhagen’s increasingly trendy Meatpacking District, Warehouse9 (Halmtorvet 11A-F) rocks a schedule of performances, exhibitions, poetic workshops and musical shows that often focus on the issues facing the international LGBTQ+ community. Offering edgy cultural experiences in the form of curious events and parties, it presents a full range of fascinating perspectives.

The inside of creative Warehouse9 (Photo: Warehouse9)

The inside of creative Warehouse9 (Photo: Warehouse9)

Eat sushi bread at Smushi

You probably already know that Copenhagen goes crazy for smorrebrod, the local speciality of rye bread topped with everything from fish to meats, cheeses and vegetables. Royal Smushi Cafe (Amagertorv 6) has gone one step further and combined the popular Danish dish with a sushi style experience, serving a range of bite-sized, layered smorrebrod. The presentation of their dishes is practically an art form in its own right.

Inside the Smushi cafe (Photo: Royal Smushi Cafe)

Inside the Smushi cafe (Photo: Royal Smushi Cafe)

Stroll around Frederiksberg Park

Emanating a quintessentially English vibe, the romantic green park of Frederiksberg (Frederiksberg Runddel 1A) is one of the largest in the country. Dotted with picturesque lakes, winding canals and crisscrossing nature trails, it’s the ideal place for an afternoon stroll. Don’t miss the on-site Frederiksberg Palace, built in a delightful Italian Baroque style. Tours of the former royal apartments and the grounds are available onsite.

Duck Island in Frederiksberg Park (Photo: bjaglin via Flickr)

Duck Island in Frederiksberg Park (Photo: bjaglin via Flickr)

See a show at Folketeatret

At almost 160 years old, the Folketeatret (Nørregade 39) takes the title of Denmark’s oldest public theatre. You can catch a wide range of performances here for both local and international audiences. The theatrical style is primarily original Danish plays, but can include classic operas and performances too. There are three stages here, with the largest hosting up to 600 people, making most performances a rather intimate affair.

Have a cuppa at A.C. Perch’s Tea Shop

Tea lovers tend to make a beeline for A.C. Perch (Kronprinsensgade 5) to get their fix. Opened way back in 1835, it remains one of the city’s oldest remaining shops, serving a sophisticated selection of teas from all over the world. You can also buy loose leaf teas, like oolong, Darjeeling and Green Ginseng, to take away. The interior remains pretty much untouched since its early days (though the electricity and technology have been upgraded, of course).

The outside of A.C. Perchs (Photo: Wikimedia Commons)

The outside of A.C. Perchs (Photo: Wikimedia Commons)

Get scientific at Experimentarium

Become a scientist for the day and try your hand at experimenting like the best of them. At the interactive institution Experimentarium (Trangravsvej 10-12), visitors can conduct more than 300 experiments, spanning vision tests, puzzle problems and musical quandaries. There’s also a bubblearium where you can create giant soap bubbles and learn about the science behind them. This is definitely a must-visit for the younger members of the family (or those who are just young at heart).

Inside Experimentarium City (Photo: Jesper Rais)

Inside Experimentarium City (Photo: Jesper Rais)

Nasothek Nose Collection

Though Copenhagen is choc-full of exhibitions in all shapes and sizes, none are more mind-boggling than the Nasothek Nose Collection. Found inside the Ny Carlsberg Glyptotek Art Museum (7 Dantes Plads), this collection of sculpted noses goes relatively unnoticed in a tucked-away cabinet. Here, you can gaze (in awe or confusion) at more than 100 plaster noses arranged so meticulously they might well be a work of art all on their own. In fact, the Nasothek collection acts as a commentary on the history of art preservation shown, strangely, in the form of the nose.

Learn how to make Danish Smørrebrød

Learn how to make Danish Smørrebrød (Photo: Viator)

You might think that you know how to make a sandwich already, so what’s the point of taking a class in it? Well Danish sandwiches are quite different. Smørrebrød, as they are known, involve open-faced, rye bread creations that are in harmony with the seasons, while being designed to appeal to the eye as much as the tongue. Learn how to make the bread as well as how best to arrange a classic smørrebrød which might just be the best sandwich in the world.

Book the class with Viator here.

Genetically Modified Little Mermaid (Photo: Paradasos via Flickr)