"Hygge" (pronounced hooga) is a Danish word meaning "to create a warm atmosphere and enjoying the good things in life with good people". The word is imprinted on every Danish people, it defines who they are and sums up the way they live their lives. You can experience the concept of Hygge in all corners of Copenhagen, from a cozy cafe to the greenery of the King's Garden. Within in this guide, I will show you 10 best places where to go and things to do in order to understand why the Danish people are one of the happiest people in the world. Without further ado, join me and explore the city of Copenhagen together.
Things to Do Map
When to Go
May - Early June is the best time to visit Copenhagen as it is during the beginning of peak season, where the city is not as crowded and not as pricey as in Late June - August, the peak of high season. The weather during this shoulder season is quite manageable at around 16°C - 20°C not as extreme as the Scandinavian neighbors. September is also a good time but the weather get cold faster in Autumn than in Spring so do prepare accordingly if you decided to visit in the Autumn.
Where to Stay
Copenhagen - Copenhagen Downtown Hostel - 36.54 USD/Night (Dorm) | 171.03 USD/Night (Private Room)
How to Get Around
Copenhagen and all its attractions are pretty compact, and mostly walkable throughout the city. If you are looking to go further, trains, buses, and the metro are very reliable, punctual, and it takes you everywhere. A single trip ticket (for traveling within 2 zones) will cost you 24 DKK (3.76 USD) and can be used on trains, buses and the metro. You can buy the ticket from the DSB ticket office or the ticket machines at the central train station or if you have small changes, you can buy the ticket from the bus driver.
10 Best Things to Do in Copenhagen
1. Climb Up the Round Tower
As with many European cities, there is always a tower to climb up for an expansive view of the city from above. For Copenhagen, it's the Round Tower, a 17th-century observatory, one of the oldest functioning observatory in Europe, located at the center of Copenhagen. The cool thing about this tower, despite the 360˚ view, is instead of the usual hazardous small staircase you have to climb in other places in Europe, this tower is equipped with a spacious spiral ramp instead. Easy to walk with several stops for you to sit down and relax.
From the observational deck, you will be able to see the green dome of Frederik's church towering above the city, the Strøge street full of people living out their lives, and the Rosenborg Castle, all of which we will be visiting in this itinerary, so the Round Tower is a good place to start, and orienting yourself with where things are and how we will get there.
2. Chill out at the Nyhavn waterfront area
The Nyhavn waterfront is one of the most iconic places in the city, and possibly the image people have when they think of Copenhagen. This old part of the city was built in the 17th century as a commercial port but have since been renovated into a tourist attraction, full of restaurants and colorful old houses along both sides of the port. It is one of the most photogenic places in Copenhagen in my opinion and makes a great stop in between or at the end of a long day of exploring the city.
3. Admire the architecture around Amalienborg
Home to the Danish royal family, Amalienborg is a must visit if you are interested in the royal history of Denmark or enjoys the intricate detail of the Rococo style architecture. Amalienborg Palace is located in the spacious square not too far from Nyhavn port. Right at the center, there is a statue of King Frederik V surrounded by some of the best Danish Rococo style architecture you will ever see. If you are here at noon, you will also be able to see the Changing of Guards ceremony, with soldiers marching around the courtyard, sometimes, with marching bands accompanying the ceremony.
4. Look up at the mighty Frederik's Church
A little further west from the Amalienborg palace, you will find the giant copper green dome towering everything in its vicinity. That is Frederik's church, a truly magnificent piece of architecture dubbed the "marble church", which is considered to be the largest of its kind in Scandinavia.
The interior is as impressive if not more, with its grayish gold illumination, and the gigantic dome hovering above the main hall. The intricate detail of the dome's interior will blow your mind away.
5. Enjoy the greenery of The King's Garden
With the spacious grass area, lush green trees and huge flowerbeds shielding you from the buzzing city center, the King's Garden is a great spot to retreat from the crowds while you make your way towards the Rosenborg castle. Inside you will find plenty of sculptures, fountains, and rose gardens where you can picnic, hang out with friends, or have a quiet stroll and admire the beautiful flowers surrounding you.
6. Visit the Rosenborg Castle and go down the Treasury
The Rosenborg castle is a must-visit especially if you are interested in the history of the Danish monarch. This Dutch Renaissance castle was built in the 17th century as a summer house but now, converted into a 24-room museum where you can get in and admire all the beautiful varieties of monarchy's heirlooms they stored there.
One of the highlights for me was to get access to the underground treasury and see the dazzling crown jewels and the glorious sword of the past monarchs.
7. Have Danish Pasties at Bertels Salon Kompagnistæde
Other than its beautiful architecture and their mastery of the art of Hygge, the Danish are also known for their world-class pastries. One of the local pastry shops I would recommend to visit is the Bertels Salon Kompagnistæde, famous for its mouth-watering cheesecake that can convert even the most prominent cheesecake skeptics out there. They have a great range of flavors (lime, strawberries, etc.) but if you are not much of a cheesecake fan, they also serve coffee or other types of pastry as well such as brownies or croissants. It is a place for everyone. The location of the pastry shop is shown below:
8. Try all the Cafes!
The Hygge culture can be experienced easily through one of the many cozy cafes around the city center. I had the chance to go cafe-hopping when I was in Copenhagen and these are 3 of my favorite cafes.
The Paludan Bogcafe, a cozy social gathering point for students, the cafe is a great place to enjoy a nice cup of coffee while reading your favorite book in a cozy chair, surrounded by bookshelves and beautiful modern art displayed on the wall. If you don't have a book with you, you can borrow one from the bookshelves in the cafe as well. The location of the cafe is shown below:
The Living Room cafe is also another cozy cafe to enjoy a shot of espresso or two. As the name suggests, the aim of the cafe is to create a shared living room experience in Copenhagen with a cozy atmosphere of your living room, equipped with comfy couches, pillows and plenty of natural light. I really like the concept of creating a shared living room in a big city so people can come and enjoy hygge together as a collective. If you are interested, the location of the cafe is shown below:
The Bastard Cafe is a board game cafe where you can come with friends, enjoy the coffee, select and play one of the many board games collection, proudly displayed on the wall of the cafe. With over 2,000 board games, and with the classics like Monopoly and Settlers in the mix, you and your friends are sure to have a great time here. If you are interested, the location of the cafe is shown below:
9. Walk the street of Strøget
The Strøget is one of the most popular streets among tourists, considered to be one of the longest pedestrian streets in Europe, stretching over 1 km long. The street is full of shops, restaurants, and cafes for you to indulge yourself in.
If you are like me who doesn't care much about shopping, Strøget is still a great place to drop by for an hour or two as the place prove to be a great location for people-watching and experiencing the coziness culture (hygge) through one of the many beautiful comfy cafes surrounding the area.
10. The Mandatory Little Mermaid
Photo by Brando from Flickr
This is a dead giveaway since this bronze statue of the Little Mermaid, named after the famous fairy tale by the Danish author, Hans Christian Andersen, is one of the most popular tourist attraction of Copenhagen. It is a little further out from the city center but if you are able to get up early and make your way here during sunrise, you will be rewarded with a stunning view of the statue, reflecting on the calm water of the sea, one of the best photos you can get of the statue.
And that is it for the 10 best things to do in Copenhagen list. What do you think? Did I miss anything on the list? If so, feel free to let me know in the comments below.
The Solo Traveler’s Journal is a series of posts by BucketListly where we will follow our founder, Pete Rojwongsuriya around the world as he singlehandedly travel alone and experience different cultures, people, and historical locations one country at a time.
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