Ever wanted to know what makes Denmark different? There is no better place than Copenhagen and its surroundings to find out. No matter your interests, there’s something for you!
What was it like in the Nordic world before and during the Vikings? Head to the Nationalmuseet for a close encounter with that bronze and gold Sun Chariot eblazoned on the DDK 1000 note which a Danish farmer accidentally unearthed when ploughing a former peat bog in northwestern Zealand in 1902.
For a more contemporary take on Danish lifestyle after a full day of networking, check the area around the iconic and colourful Nyhavn and explore the city from the waterfront. Or venture further out along the Øresund coast to discover some of the many world-class art venues Copenhagen has to offer.
There are plenty of possibilities in and around the Danish capital. What you might just miss is time to take it all in.
What to do
Housed in an 18th-century Rococo palace, Denmark's Nationalmuseet (The National Museum) boasts vast collections of Danish and foreign archaeological artefacts that stretch from the Ice Age to the present.
From finely carved amber animals to the elegant Early Bronze Age Sun Chariot featured on the DDK 1000 note to the young Egtved Girl’s grave, its prehistoric exhibits are unparalleled.
The Nationalmuseet contains one of the most significant repositories for Arctic cultures in the world. Also on display are also fabulous ethnographic treasures from North America, South and Central America, Africa, Asia, and Oceania.
Spend time in the different exhibitions and immerse yourself in Danish history: admission tickets include a free Meet the Danes guided tour.
Prinsens Palæ Ny Vestergade 10 1471 Copenhagen K +45 33 13 44 11 www.natmus.dk
Adult/child (0-17): DDK 95/free
No list of top things to do in Copenhagen would be complete without a mention of Nyhavn.
A stroll along the quay will take you past some of Copenhagen’s most picturesque sights.
Long gone are the days when sailors from all over the world and writers like Hans Christian Andersen, who stayed at no. 18, 20 and 67, found refuge in its taverns.
Nyhavn's colourful 18th-century townhouses have been beautifully restored. The canal, dug to connect Kongens Nytorv to the harbour in 1671, is now lined with cosy cafes and restaurants. Sit down at one of the many waterfront terraces and soak up the atmosphere.
Or just hop on a boat ride to discover major attractions including Christianshavn, the Royal Library, the Opera House, and the Little Mermaid from another angle.
Commonly known as Elsinore, the setting of Shakespeare's Hamlet, Kronborg Castle became a designated UNESCO World Heritage Site in 2000. It now receives no less than 250,000 visitors a year.
Its spires, sandstone and copper roofs towering above a narrow promontory are testament to the lavish lifestyle King Frederick II (1534-88) enjoyed, fuelled by the heavy dues that Denmark collected every time a ship sailed past Kronborg's menacing remparts on its way to the Baltic Sea.
Devastated by fire in 1629, Kronborg was pillaged by the Swedish Army in 1658 and subsequently used as a fortress and barracks for the Danish military.
A 30-minute guided tour will take you back to the heyday of one of northern Europe’s most outstanding Renaissance castles.
From Copenhagen Central Station, take the train to Helsingør Station (+/-60 min.) and walk along the harbour all the way to the castle (+/-10 min.)
Built in an old concrete dry dock between Kronborg Castle and the newly renovated Kulturhavn Kronborg, this award-winning museum is barely visible from a distance. Yet it is among Copenhagen’s most iconic buildings.
Underground galleries, linked by a trio of glass and aluminium sloping bridges that span the entire dock, tell the story of Denmark's illustrious maritime past and present, through eight different themes.
A rich and colourful collection of artefacts, dramatically staged using everything from film projections to soundscapes.
Sail through these interactive treasures, stopping halfway to enjoy the spectacular architecture from the M/S Café.
From Copenhagen Central Station, take the train to Helsingør Station (+/-60 min.) and walk along the harbour all the way to M/S Museet for Søfart (+/-10 min.)
A vibrant cultural venue just a stone’s throw from Copenhagen using public transport.
The modernist building complex of Lousiana Museum of Modern Art blends perfectly into the natural surroundings of the Sound (Øresund), providing an ideal setting for its 3,500-strong collection of works from the mid-20th century onwards as well as cutting-edge temporary exhibitions.
Wander through the glass-walled galleries and get lost in the rolling hills of its unique sculpture park, with stunning panoramic views of Sweden across the water, before relaxing over modern Danish cuisine in the Lousiana Café.
A perfect day-trip from Copenhagen, easily combined with a visit of Kronborg Castle. From Copenhagen’s Central Station, take the train to Humlebæk Station (+/-35 min., twice hourly, DDK92) and walk the remaining kilometre, following signposts (+/-10 min).
One of the best examples of Denmark’s deconstructive architecture, ARKEN Museum for Moderne Kunst lies like a giant stranded ship on an island by Køge Bay, just 25 minutes from Copenhagen.
Its collection of Danish, Nordic and international contemporary art, featuring new, young talents as well as established names, is among Scandinavia’s finest.
During Security Printers, ARKEN will hold a wide-ranging exhibition of Vincent van Gogh’s paintings and drawings (extended opening hours: Tuesday-Thursday 10:00-21:00, Saturday-Sunday 10:00-18:00).
From Copenhagen Central Station, take S train line A towards Solrød/Hundige or line E towards Køge to Ishøj Station. From there, walk via the path system (+/-20 min.) or hop on bus 128 directly to ARKEN (+/-5-min.).
Copenhagen has long been a food-lover’s paradise. With its firm focus on purity, freshness and simplicity, the New Nordic cuisine movement is now central to Danish identity.
Local and seasonal produce from the Nordic terroir is what you can except from the capital’s vibrant and innovative restaurant scene. From Michelin-starred gastronomy to fine eateries at affordable prices, there are plenty of options.