Copenhagen was the initial port on our Baltic Sea cruise, and what a fabulous way to start. The capital of Denmark totally stole our hearts!
We had the most wonderful experience in Copenhagen and my 10 year old even started learning to speak Danish as soon as we got back home in the hopes that it would convince us to go back again soon!
This article is published in partnership with Princess Cruises. All content and opinions belong to Mama Loves Food.
Table of Contents
I’ve tried to cover all the important points of visiting the city, but if you just need some quick info, feel free to use the table of contents below to jump around!
What to do | What we did | What to pack | What is the weather | Where is Copenhagen | What time is it | Shopping | Downtown | Where to eat | Local events | When is the best time to visit | What you should know before visiting | Fun Facts | Why you should visit | Major points of interest | Getting around town | Other ports on this trip | Where we’ve cruised with Princess | Recipes inspired by our travels | Must-read cruising tips
What to do in Copenhagen, Denmark
Castles and Palaces
- Kronborg Castle – Built as a fortress in the 16th century to defend the kingdom of Denmark, this magnificent Renaissance castle was immortalized by Shakespeare as the setting for his play, “Hamlet.”
- Rosenborg Castle – Constructed in 1606 as the summer residence of King Christian IV, this fairytale-looking castle serves as a museum and holds the crown jewels, coronation chairs, family portraits, and more.
- Tivoli Gardens – One of the oldest amusement parks in the world, Tivoli Gardens boasts the world’s highest carousel, the 262-foot Star Flyer, and the world’s oldest wooden roller coaster
- Fredensborg Castle – This beautiful 18th-century Baroque palace is used by the royal couple for state visits and events. When Queen Margrethe II is in residence, the Changing of the Guard takes place every day at noon.
- Frederiksborg Castle – This magnificent Dutch Renaissance castle sits on three small islands on Lake Slotso and is home to a historical museum noted for its outstanding collection of portraits – the largest of its kind in Demark.
- Amalienborg Palace – The prime winter residence of the Danish royal family, the Amalienborg Palace is a palatial complex comprised of four identical palaces planned around a beautiful octagonal courtyard.
- Christiansborg Palace – Spanning 800 years as the site for the Danish Parliament and royalty, the Palace you see today dates to the early 20th century, built on the ruins of former royal palaces.
Shopping and eating
- Nyhaven – Once the home of Hans Christian Andersen, this colorful 17th-century waterfront district features brightly colored 17th – and 18th-century townhouses, restaurants, and cafés, and a canal packed with old wooden ships.
- City Centre – The city’s historic center is a treasure trove of culture, great restaurants, attractions and fun things you don’t want to miss.
Landmarks and Museums
- The Little Mermaid – The Little Mermaid is a bronze statue inspired by Hans Christian Anderson and sculpted by Edvard Eriksen, depicting a mermaid becoming human. It is displayed on a rock by the waterside at the Langelinie promenade.
- Hans Christian Anderson Statue – Author Hans Christian Andersen is a very important part of Danish culture, and his fairytales are known worldwide. At Copenhagen City Hall Square, facing H.C. Andersens Boulevard, there is a statue of Hans Christian Andersen sitting with a book.
- The Danish War Museum – The Danish War Museum is a museum of military history and arms on Slotsholmen in central Copenhagen, Denmark. It is located in Christian IVs arsenal Tøjhuset, from which it takes its former name.
- Botanical Gardens -The University of Copenhagen Botanical Garden, is located in the centre of Copenhagen, Denmark. It is particularly noted for its extensive complex of historical glasshouses dating from 1874.
- Tivoli Gardens – Tivoli Gardens is an amusement park in central Copenhagen offering rides, games, musicals, ballet, and major concerts. Make sure to check your dates as it does close for periods of time during the year.
- Bakken – One of the oldest amusement parks in the world, operating since 1583.
What we did in Copenhagen, Denmark
We visited Copenhagen for four days (two before getting on the cruise and two after) so we were able to see all the sites! We walked miles upon miles and soaked up as much as possible.
I think the only thing we missed was Tivoli – unfortunately it was closed the days we were there, but that’s just a wonderful excuse to visit again!
My favorite parts (as with most cities) were walking around, looking at the gorgeous architecture, and getting in some good people watching. My daughter loved the shopping in City Centre (especially the LEGO store), and my boys were so into the Danish War Museum that we actually visited twice!
What to pack for Copenhagen, Denmark
Depending on when you travel, your packing will vary. Summer is generally mild and pleasant weather, with average temperatures around 66F. Light pants or jeans, t-shirts/blouses that are well-fitted with a light jacket are recommended, preferably a rain jacket as summer months also are rainy season (with the wettest months being July and August).
Local style generally is casual, but still chic and stylish. Outdoor activities are quite popular, so a nice pair of sunglasses, sunscreen and a hat will come in handy.
For Summer months, again, rain gear is stressed. Rain jacket, umbrella, rain pants, anything that will keep you from finishing your walk or tour soaked. Winters are more predictable, in that they are always extremely cold. Beginning around October you want to ensure to pack a heavy/warm coat, gloves, boots, scarves and any warm clothing. Layers are best.
*Make sure to check out our comprehensive cruise packing guide, complete with a free printable checklist!*
What is the weather in Copenhagen, Denmark
Summer in Copenhagen, as mentioned before is mild to warm in temperature, but unpredictable in possibilities for rain as well as the occasional windy or chilly day here and there.
Temperatures between May – September average highs in the upper 60’s and lows in the lower 50’s. December-February, is noted for its cold and snowy winter weather, averaging temps in the low 40’s and upper 30’s for daytime highs and low 30’s in the evenings.
Where is Copenhagen, Denmark
Copenhagen is found in the Capital Region of Denmark. Located on the northeastern coastline, the city bordered on the eastern side by the Baltic Sea, across from Sweden.
The capital city can be found on the island of Zealand, one of several islands, separated by multiple seas and inlets, that make up the country of Denmark.
What time is it in Copenhagen, Denmark
The city of Copenhagen operates on CET (Central European Time) and CEST (Central European Summer Time) in the summer.
CET (Central European Time) is six hours ahead of EST (Eastern Standard time), ten hours ahead of Alaska Standard Time (AKST), nine hours ahead of PTD time zone (Pacific time zone), and eight hours ahead of MST (Mountain Standard Time).
It is important to note that Copenhagen does observe daylight savings time (DST) and switches to CEST (Central European Summer Time) between the last Sunday in March and last Sunday of October.
Shopping in Copenhagen, Denmark
While shopping can be found anywhere in the city, and high end, name brand fashion is readily available, the Danish have a rich design history and it is worth seeking out the local shops and fashions while there.
Leading Danish fashion brands will have a shop in the City Centre, alongside the world known brands, but up and coming designers will be located in smaller boutiques throughout the city. The most popular area is City Centre, where you will find all of the classic, name brand and prime Danish designers.
For a more “local” experience, try Stroget, one of Europe’s longest pedestrian streets, lined with everything from budget friendly chains to the most expensive designer labels.
Downtown, better known as City Centre in Copenhagen, is packed with restaurants, shopping, attractions, culture, nightlife and more. From gourmet dining to the best cafes and coffee shops, there’s something for everyone.
The main street in this area is Stroget, which connects from the City Hall Square to Kongens Nytorv. City Centre is considered both the political and historic centre and houses some of the city’s most popular attractions.
Where to eat in Copenhagen, Denmark
- Restaurant Marv & Ben
- Amass Restaurant
- Restaurant Kronborg
- The Olive Kitchen & Bar
- Husmanns Vinstue
- Aamanns 1921
- Sporvejen Byens Burger Bar
- See more highly rated eateries in Copenhagen!
Events in Copenhagen, Denmark
- Roskilde Festival – This 8 day, world known music festival includes some of the biggest names in international music. Make sure to get a ticket if you are in the city around late June, early July.
- Copenhell – For those into heavy metal music, it is well known that Scandinavia is a mecca for the genre, so where better to host some of the greatest names of rock and metal than in Copenhangen? The annual festival takes place every June in the old industrial area of Refshaleoen
- Copenhagen Cooking & Food Festival – 10 days of 100 unique food events. Cooking demonstrations, classes, tastings and more transform the city into one large dining event in late August.
- Strom Festival – For three days in August, some of the greatest DJs and producers of the electronic music scene take over the underground nightclubs and urban spaces throughout the city.
- Distortion – Imagine a music festival in the style of a progressive dinner, moving through the city for 5 days in early June. This is also known as Copenhagen’s greatest street party, with stages set up in different neighborhoods from Norrebro to Vesterbro and then on to Refshaleoen hosting around 40 street parties all day and night.
When is the best time to visit
Summer is definitely the best time to visit Copenhagen. Not only is the weather much more pleasant and the days longer, but the city seems to have a festival every few weeks throughout the summer season in addition to all of their already great attractions.
What you should know before visiting
- Their currency isn’t the Euro. While Denmark is part of the EU, they do not use the Euro, but rather the Danish Krone. Some shops, hotels and restaurants will sometimes accept Euros, but it is best not to depend on it. At the time of this writing, 1USD is worth 6.7 DKK.
- Jaywalking isn’t just frowned upon. You will notice locals waiting for a green pedestrian light to cross the street, even when there is no traffic and the road is clear. Not only is it just considered unacceptable, but fines can range around 700DKK or $108USD
- Bike responsibly. Biking is a popular and heavily promoted means of travel in the city. That said, it is also, in some cases, more congested and traffic ridden than driving. Be sure you not only familiarize yourself with hand signals and bike lane etiquette, but also keep in mind the rules are just as strict/regulated. Fines for Biking under the influence can be up to 1500DKK ($231)
- Water is not free. When eating at restaurant, still/tap water costs about as much as a soft drink and not much less than beer and wine.
Fun Facts about Copenhagen, Denmark
- Danes are the happiest people in the world. Well, not technically in 2019, Finland just eeked them out. But they have won the honor several years and generally exude happiness regardless of where they fall on the UN World Happiness Report.
- Copenhagen is eco-friendly. More than 60% of Copenhagen’s hotel rooms are endorsed as eco-friendly. The city has clean harbors, electric buses and you can even find designers that produce all of their fashions from natural bamboo. But that isn’t enough, Copenhagen plans on becoming the first carbon-neutral city in the world by 2025.
- Ariel would be proud. In a city with centuries of history, castles, top designers, 15 Michellin stars and more, the most famous and iconic landmark in the city is the bronze statue of Hans Christian Anderen’s “The Little Mermaid”
- Move over Tivoli. While Tivoli Gardens is by far the more well known amusement park, Copenhagen is also home to Bakken, one of the oldest amusement parks in the world, operating since 1583.
- Fun with Flags. The flag of Denmark, adopted in 1219, is the oldest state flag in the world still in use by an independent nation.
Why you should visit Copenhagen, Denmark
If being touted as one of the cleanest, safest and happiest places in the world isn’t enough, then ask yourself, are you a foodie? Music aficionado? Theme Park junkie? Shopaholic?
Any of these reasons or a combination would be reason enough. Copenhagen’s food scene includes several Michelin star restaurants, with the city collectively boasting 15 stars. If there is a music festival for it, one of them takes place here. Electronica, heavy metal, jazz, and more, the summer is packed with one music festival after another.
It’s hard to not want to see the theme park that inspired Walt Disney himself. Spend an afternoon, or two, exploring the longest pedestrian shopping street in Europe, where you can find a one of a kind creation or the finest brand labels in the world.
Major Points of Interest
If you only have a time to see a few things, these are the most popular!
Founded in 1843, the park is both a national treasure and world renowned attraction. It’s beautiful scenery, exotic architecture, and fairy tale atmosphere has inspired the likes of Hans Christian Andersen and Walt Disney. Nostalgic rides, historic buildings, lush gardens and concert venues provide something for everyone.
The Little Mermaid
Inspired by Hans Christian Andersen’s fairy tale, this bronze and granite sculpture was unveiled in 1913 as a gift from Danish brewer Carl Jacobsen to the city of Copenhagen. Over the past 100+ years, it has become quite possibly the most iconic landmark in the city.
Getting around Copenhagen
Copenhagen is a totally walkable (and bike-able) city, which we loved! It also has a very robust public transportation system that we utilized on several occasions. If you’re not familiar with the public transportation, Google maps is your friend. It will tell you exactly what trains and buses to take, as well as where and when to catch them.
Unfortunately Uber no longer exists in Copenhagen, and there are taxis, but they tend to be very expensive. We suggest relying on public transportation or walking whenever possible.
Ports on this trip
- Copenhagen, Denmark – Copenhagen was the starting point on our Baltic Sea cruise, and what a fabulous way to start. The capital of Denmark totally stole our hearts!
- Berlin, Germany – Berlin is a city rich with history and culture and was my 12 year-old’s absolute favorite stop on our trip. Definitely worth the drive in from port!
- Tallinn, Estonia – If you’re looking for a cobble-stoned storybook style European town, Tallinn is where you want to set your sights. I left thoroughly enamored with this magical town.
- St. Petersburg, Russia – St. Petersburg was a wonderful surprise to me! I had no idea how beautiful and rich with history the city is, and the food was so delicious too!
- Helsinki, Finland – We love Helsinki! The bright and vibrant colors along with the fun and quirky building shapes and super friendly people in Finland made it an absolute joy to tour!
- Stockholm, Sweden – Stockholm is a beautiful walkable city filled with gorgeous architecture, canals, and brightly colored buildings. I could easily have spent a week wandering around and soaking in the sites.