Things To Do
Copenhagen is awash with things to do and there is always some major event happening in the city. You can check out AOK for some ideas. If you’re looking for tickets to just about anything, they can be purchased online at billetlugen.dk.
Bevar Christiania!: Christiania is a self-styled nation unto itself. Really though, it’s a self-governing hippy commune founded in the 1970s by squatters who took over an abandoned military base. After numerous clashes with the government, an uneasy peace has persisted and the commune has been de facto granted sovereignty, though its future has been uncertain since a government crackdown in 2004. Christiania is world-renowned for its idiosyncratic architecture (850 people live there in self-made dwellings), concerts, and alternative lifestyle. Because Christianians do not consider themselves under Danish jurisdiction, they sell drugs “legally” to throngs of tourists and locals alike, although Copenhagen police stage the perfunctory raid from time to time. Although they’ve had problems in the past with hard drugs and (weirdly) the Hell’s Angels biker gang, these days they stick to pedaling hash or marijuana, and you’re liable to face the commune’s unofficial justice system (read: an ass-kicking) if you go snooping around too much.
Copenhagen's Amusement Parks: Bakken, founded in 1583 and a few miles north of the city center, is the oldest amusement park in the world. However, Tivoli Gardens in the city center, which opened in 1853, is far more famous, and, with nearly 4 million visitors each year, is the most visited attraction in Denmark. Tivoli is the second oldest amusement park in the world and well worth the entry fee; besides hosting dozens of concerts, there are almost always seasonal events on. The park is open all summer, but closes in the fall only to re-emerge briefly around Halloween all gussied up in spooky attire and haunted houses. Tivoli opens up again later in the winter with a Christmas theme.
Copenhagen’s Nightlife: Copenhagen has a legendary drinking culture, and this is reflected in the multiplicity of bars, pubs, and clubs in the city. However, there is much less of a pub culture in Denmark than in, say, Britain, and people prefer to gather in small groups at houses for the hygge and to save money on drinks before going out closer to midnight. Studenterhuset (the Student House), next to the round tower, is the university student hangout, with cheap draught beers (2-for-1 happy hour!) and a friendly atmosphere. Charlie’s Bar is the place to go if you care about your beer; it's expensive but they have a vast array on tap. Floss is the ultimate dive bar with 20 kroner Tuborg, pool tables in the basement, and a toxic level of tobacco smoke enshrouding the whole place in a vague air of criminal intrigue (most places have banned smoking inside). Den Glade Gris (The Happy Pig) off Skindergade is another inexpensive place to get the night going. Rust, in Nørrebro,is a multi-level bar and club, with great live music and an alternative vibe. For a more chilled-out experience, any time of day, there’s the java shop The Living Room on Studiestrade, or if you like to multitask, there’s the Laundromat Café in Nørrebro and Østerbro, where you can do your wash while examining a book from their library and drinking an Irish coffee.
Copenhagen Concerts / Music: The contemporary Danish music scene is as vibrant as it is eclectic, spanning all major genres and, unsurprisingly, Copenhagen is its beating heart, with great local bands playing live at venues around the city every night. In addition, Copenhagen is a popular destination for touring international artists, who sell out stadiums like Parken or play more intimate shows in music clubs like the much-loved Vega in Vesterbro, Rust in Nørrebro, and Amager Bio, a former cinema, to name a very few. Just 45-minutes by S-Tog from the city center, the massive annual Roskilde Festival is the second-largest music festival in Europe with headliners like Bruce Springsteen, Iron Maiden, and Kings of Leon in recent years. Another huge event is Distortion, which takes place throughout the downtown area in June and turns the streets of Copenhagen into a wild electro-dance-rave party for several days. The Danish magazine Gaffa is a good place to look for upcoming concerts as are the numerous free event guides and newspapers distributed around the city, especially metro express. Get all your tickets online from billetlugen.
Classical music and opera fans can take advantage of state of the art acoustics in the stylishly designed new Concert Hall or Opera House, situated on opposite sides of Copenhagen Harbor. Jazz and blues are also strongly represented in the city, especially at the Copenhagen Jazzhouse and Mojo Blues Bar, and during the annual summer Jazz Festival. Other venues include Culture Box for electronic music, Loppen in Christiania for alternative anything and cheap drinks, Stengade for anything from dub to death metal, and the Grey Hall for bigger names and events in Christiania.
Copenhagen Museums: Copenhagen's museums are often free, especially if government operated. This includes the extensive National Museum, which covers the history and culture of Denmark, the Frilandsmuseet, an open-air folk museum that recreates a 19th century Danish village, and the National Gallery (except exhibitions).In addition, many other museums are free on certain days, like the Copenhagen City Museum on Fridays, the Ny Carlsberg Glyptotek on Sundays, The Hirschsprung Collection on Wednesdays, and the Bertel Thorvaldsen Museum of sculpture also on Wednesdays. The Glyptotek in particular is worth a visit; it was set up by the son of the founder of Carlsberg Breweries and is primarily a sculpture museum but also has a large French impressionist painting collection including Monet, Degas, Pissaro, Renoir, and more. Look for Rodin’s powerfully evocative The Shade tucked away on the landing of the stairs up to the French galleries and contemplate your own existence. On Kulturnat, which takes place in mid-October, all museums and many other cultural institutions are free and open to the public.
Palaces in Copenhagen: Denmark is chock full of reminders of latter-day baroque splendor, and Copenhagen is no exception. The centrally located Amalienborg Palace is still the residence of the royal family, although the smaller Rosenborg Castle is probably more beautiful in its fairy-tale way. You can take tours of these and others, like Frederiksberg Castle and (not to be confused) and the more impressive Frederiksborg Palace in Hillerød, in its typically Danish renaissance grandeur. Further afield, about an hour and a half from Copenhagen, there is Kronborg Castle in Helsingør, where Shakespeare’s Hamlet was set.
Architecture in Copenhagen: If you’re at all interested in modern architecture and design, Copenhagen is the place to be. Even the metro stations reflect meticulous attention to detail. There are a number of ultra-prominent architects working in Copenhagen currently, and many more have already left their mark. Check out the area around the Amager section of the M1 metro line for a new sustainable utopian vision of urban planning (Ørestad). There’s also The Royal Library, colloquially called the Black Diamond after its striking shape, the Henning Larsen-designed Opera House, and the Royal Danish Playhouse, all of which overlook Copenhagen harbor. There is also the cubical Concert Hall near DR Byen metro station, with its psychedelic nightly light show. The alternative tour company CPH:cool can arrange an architecture tour. Additionally, The Danish Architecture Center has a great website detailing present and future developments in Copenhagen.
Roskilde: The beautiful old town of Roskilde, an hour from Copenhagen by train, was the ancient capital of Denmark and final resting place of its kings. In addition to the enormous Cathedral, there is the famous Viking Ship Museum, wherefrom you can sail across Roskilde Fjord in a replica Viking longship.