Design Museum – (Bredgade 68, just a few blocks from Nyhavn) Founded in 1890, the Danish Museum of Art and Design features works of famous Danish designers like Arne Jacobsen, Jacob Jensen, and Kaare Klint, who was one of the two architects who remodeled the former Frederiks Hospital into a museum in the 1920s. The museum houses the biggest library for design in Scandinavia. It also hosts a fully annotated and illustrated database of all furniture made in Denmark from 1900 to 2000, originally compiled by Reese and Marilyn Palley and later donated to and further developed by the museum. In 1926 the museum moved to its current building, the defunct Frederick’s Hospital from 1757, a gift from the banker Emil Glückstadt. The architects Kaare Klint and Ivar Bentsen had undertaken the necessary alterations and furnishings. Check out their great podcast on the history of Danish design.
National Museum – (Prince’s Mansion, Ny Vestergade 10) Founded in 1819, it’s Denmark’s largest museum of cultural history, comprising the histories of Danish and foreign cultures, alike. It contains exhibits from around the world, from Greenland to South America. The museum has a number of national commitments, particularly within the following key areas: archaeology, ethnology, numismatics, ethnography, natural science, conservation, communication, building antiquarian activities in connection with the churches of Denmark, as well as the handling of the Danefæ (the National Treasures). The museum covers 14,000 years of Danish history, from the reindeer-hunters of the Ice Age, Vikings, and works of religious art from the Middle Ages, when the church was highly significant in Danish life. Danish coins from Viking times to the present and coins from ancient Rome and Greece. The National Museum keeps Denmark’s largest and most varied collection of objects from the ancient cultures of Greece and Italy, the Near East and Egypt. Exhibits are also shown on who the Danish people are and were, stories of everyday life and special occasions, stories of the Danish state and nation, but most of all stories of different people’s lives in Denmark from 1560 to 2000. In 2013, a major exhibition on the Vikings was opened by Queen Margrethe. The museum has a great costume collection with many artifacts, accessories, toys and household items.
Glypotek – (Dantes Plads 7, just a few blocks from the main trains staion, across from Tivoli amusement park) Ny Carlsberg Glyptotek (“ny” means “new” in Danish; “Glyptotek” comes from the Greek root glyphein, to carve, and theke, storing place) is an art museum in Copenhagen. The collection is built around the personal collection of Carl Jacobsen (1842–1914), the son of the founder of the Carlsberg Breweries. Primarily a sculpture museum, as indicated by the name, the focal point of the museum is antique sculpture from the ancient cultures around the Mediterranean, including Egypt, Rome and Greece, as well as more modern sculptures such as a collection of Auguste Rodin’s works, considered to be the most important outside France. However, the museum is equally noted for its collection of paintings that includes an extensive collection of French impressionists and Post-impressionists as well as Danish Golden Age paintings. The French Collection includes works by painters such as Jacques-Louis David, Monet, Pissarro, Renoir, Degas and Cézanne, as well as those by Post-impressionists such as van Gogh, Toulouse-Lautrec and Bonnard. The museum’s collection includes all the bronze sculptures of Degas, including the series of dancers. Numerous works by Norwegian-Danish sculptor Stephan Sinding are featured prominently in various sections of the museum.
Radisson Royal Hotel designed by Arne Jacobsen – (Hammerichsgade 1, next to the main train station and Tivoli Park) The hotel was designed by Danish architect and designer Arne Jacobsen for the airline Scandinavian Airlines System (SAS). It was opened on July 1, 1960 by King Frederick IX and Queen Ingrid as the Royal Hotel. It was also known as the SAS Royal Hotel. The hotel was renamed the Radisson SAS Royal Hotel in 1994. When SAS and Radisson ceased the marketing agreement in February 2009, the hotel remained with Radisson and was renamed the Radisson Blu Royal Hotel. On March 6, 2018 it was renamed Radisson Collection Hotel, Royal Copenhagen. At its completion the hotel was the largest in Denmark. At 69.60 meters in height, it was the first skyscraper in Copenhagen, and until 1969, the tallest high-rise building in Denmark. In 2009, it was the country’s seventh-highest tower. The entire hotel – from the exterior façade through to the stainless-steel cutlery used in the restaurant and the Swan and Egg chairs gracing the lobby – was designed by Arne Jacobsen. Since most of his work has been replaced by corporate standard fabrics and furniture, the hotel has been referred to as Jacobsens’ Lost Gesamtkunstwerk. Only a single room, Room 606, has been kept in the original design. It has all of the original, green furniture and the wood panels on the wall, and is still available for booking.
The Royal Library – (Black Diamond, Søren Kierkegaards Plads 1) Founded in 1648, the Royal Library in Copenhagen is the national library of Denmark and the university library of the University of Copenhagen. It is among the largest libraries in the world and the largest in the Nordic countries. In 2017 it merged with the State and University Library in Aarhus to form a combined national library. It contains numerous historical treasures, and a copy of all works printed in Denmark since the 17th century are deposited there. Thanks to extensive donations in the past, the library holds nearly all known Danish printed works back to and including the first Danish books, printed in 1482 by Johann Snell. Founded by King Frederik III, who contributed a comprehensive collection of European works. It was opened to the public in 1793. In 1989, it was merged with the prestigious Copenhagen University Library (founded in 1482). In 2005, it was merged with the Danish National Library for Science and Medicine, now the Faculty Library of Natural and Health Sciences. Between 1968 and 1978, the library saw one of the largest book thefts in history. Someone had managed to steal some 1,600 historical books worth more than $50 million, including prints by Martin Luther and first editions by Immanuel Kant, Thomas More and John Milton. The theft remained undetected until 1975. Between 1998 and 2002, the thief succeeded in selling books worth about $2 million at various auctions. The case was finally solved in September 2003, after a stolen book had surfaced at Christie’s auction house in London. The thief, a director of the library’s oriental department named Frede Møller-Kristensen, had died in January 2003. His family then became careless in selling the remaining books. At a coordinated raid of the family’s homes in Germany and Denmark in November 2003, some 1,500 books were recovered. In June 2004, his wife, son, daughter-in-law and a family friend were sentenced to prison terms ranging from 18 months to three years; the friend was acquitted on appeal. In April 2005, a daughter of the thief was also found guilty.
Royal Theatres (Old Stage, Opera House, and Playhouse) – The Royal Danish Theatre (RDT, Danish: Det Kongelige Teater) is both the national Danish performing arts institution and a name used to refer to its old purpose-built venue from 1874 located on Kongens Nytorv in Copenhagen. The theatre was founded in 1748, first serving as the theatre of the king, and then as the theatre of the country. The theatre presents opera, the Royal Danish Ballet, classical music concerts (by the Royal Danish Orchestra, which dates back to 1448), and drama in several locations. The Royal Danish Playhouse (Danish: Skuespilhuset) is a theatre building for the Royal Danish Theatre, situated on the harbour front in the Frederiksstaden neighbourhood of central Copenhagen. It was created as a purpose-built venue for dramatic theatre, supplementing the theatre’s old venue from 1874 on Kongens Nytorv and the 2004 Copenhagen Opera House, which are used for ballet and opera. Constructed between 2001-2005, the Copenhagen Opera House is the national opera house of Denmark, and among the most modern opera houses in the world. It is also one of the most expensive opera houses ever built. It is located on the island of Holmen in central Copenhagen.
Stærekassen (lit. “The Starling Nest Box”), also known as Ny Scene (English: New Stage) is a theatre building annexed to the Royal Danish Theatre on Kongens Nytorv in Copenhagen, Denmark. It opened in 1931 to serve a dual purpose as an additional stage for the Royal Theatre and the first home of the new Danish Broadcasting Corporation. The colloquial name, which has now obtained official status, refers to the design of the stage tower in the shape of a box suspended above the street, and in the initial design proposals with a large round window high up as the dominating ornamental feature of the facade. After the Royal Danish Theatre abandoned the building in 2008, it was handed over to the Palaces and Properties Agency which now rents it out for cultural event, or to companies, organisers, public institutions and other interested parties. The auditorium is best suited for theatre performances, concerts and small conferences. The foyer has service functions and toilet facilities and is mainly used for receptions.
Hans Christian Andersen Exhibit – (inside the Scandic Palace Hotel, next to City Hall Rådhuspladsen 57, a few blocks from main train station and Tivoli Park) See and listen to Hans Christian Andersen’s many fairy tales in colorful displays with exciting light and sound effects! Experience the entire story of his life – from his childhood to his adult life and his many travels world-wide. The actual H.C. Andersen Museum is in Odense, where he was born.
Tivoli Gardens – (Vesterbrogade 3, across from the main train station) Opened in 1843, Tivoli is an amusement park and is the second-oldest operating amusement park in the world, after Dyrehavsbakken in nearby Klampenborg, also in Denmark. Named after Tivoli near Rome, Italy, it was founded by Georg Carstensen (1812–1857). Until the 1850s Tivoli was outside the city, accessible from the city only through the Vesterport. In 1874, a Chinese-style Pantomimeteatret (pantomime theatre) took the place of an older smaller theatre. The audience stands in the open, the stage being inside the building. The theatre’s “curtain” is a mechanical peacock’s tail. In 1943, Nazi sympathisers burnt many of Tivoli’s buildings, including the concert hall, to the ground. Temporary buildings were constructed in their place and the park was back in operation after a few weeks.
Tivoli Food Hall – (Bernstorffsgade 3, across from the main train station, connected to Tivoli Gardens) Great choice of food stands from different parts of the world, this is like a higher-quality food court with mostly gourmet foods. There is something for everyone, and you can sit on the terrace and watch the Tivoli Pantomime Theatre performances (for free).
Tivoli Hallen – (Vester Voldgade 91) An authentic and charming Danish lunch restaurant, known for the good Danish open-faced sandwich (smørrebrød), where everything is prepared from scratch. They are included in the book 1001 Restaurants You Must Experience Before You Die, where only 4 Danish restaurants are mentioned. The interior dates back to 1920 and is set among the many intriguing things that adorn the walls and shelves. The service is also as you imagine it was then, friendly and helpful. In addition, it is also known for being the only place in Copenhagen where clipfish (cod that has been both salted and dried) is served.
Hidden Dimsum – (Nytorv 19, in the heart of the shopping streets, overlooking a the Nytorv plaza) An Asian bar inspired by Hong Kong street-food culture back in the early 90’s, with different Asian beers and night snack for the late night people! With chefs from both Hong Kong and Denmark. Open daily 5-10pm. Try their eggplant stir-fry!
Green Island – (Kalvebod Brygge 9, just next to the Marriott Hotel on the river, next to the bathing structures) A floating venue based on good vibes, delicious cocktails and tasty food made using highest quality produce. They partnered with the best pizza-makers in town and have a wood-fired oven. Try their roast sandwiches or organic lemonade. Open 10am-10pm.
Café Norden – (Østergade 61, in the heart of the shopping streets, across from Nyhavn) This is a famous Parisian-style cafe with outdoor tables facing the open plaza with a fountain and street performers. There is lots of space to set on the first or second floor and a great view from the large windows. The food is so-so because they mostly cater to tourists, but their cakes are pretty good!
Market at Torvehallerne (Frederiksborggade 21, Nordgade Metro) – a great indoor and outdoor gourmet food market with gourmet food stands, bakeries, chocolate shops, coffee and juice shops, and food from different parts of the world. Urban, covered marketplace featuring stalls with local produce, gourmet foods, beverages & desserts.
Library Bar (Bernstorffsgade 4, Copenhagen Plaza Hotel, right next to the main train station) – Great cocktails and a nice atmosphere.
Politiken – (Rådhuspladsen 37, across from City Hall, just a few blocks from main train station and Tivoli) An independent bookshop affiliated with the Danish newspaper daily Politiken, the ground floor has a sizeable collection of English fiction, including a section for English translations of Nordic authors. On the non-fiction shelves downstairs, English books coexist with Danish ones – not surprising given that Danes are among the world’s best non-native English speakers. It is one of Copenhagen’s largest bookshops (rivalling Arnold Busck’s flagship store on nearby Købmagergade). The store’s elegant glass staircase serves as a setting for regular events – poetry readings, discussions, even live music. There is a little coffee bar in the corner.
The Booktrader – (Skindergade 23) Skindergade in central Copenhagen traces its name back to medieval times, when the street was the centre of the city’s skin (leather) and fur trade. It is now home to one of the most fascinating bookshops. The Booktrader is a second-hand bookshop founded in 1983 by American bookseller David Grubb. Housed in a semi-basement and with no real signboard, the shop is easy to miss. It used to sell only books written English, but when Lars Rasmussen became the owner, he added Danish books to the already-big collection of antiquarian books. Visitors will find a great selection of history, art, architecture, photography, and music books that cover a wide range of eras and styles.
Ark Books – (Møllegade 10) Before moving to Denmark, I started listening to the Ark Podcast that features a monthly audio book club, and occasional guests and English-speaking authors visiting Copenhagen and doing a book reading at the little English bookshop. It’s tiny and easy to miss, but very worth finding. They carry new and used books. The mission of this unique, non-profit shop is to introduce Danes to lesser known literature from around the world and to introduce the city’s non-Danes to the best of Danish literature. This cosy shop is a great place to escape a rainy day. Step in, talk literature and have a free cup of coffee.
Tanquebar Bookstore Café – (14 Borgergade) When a music lover and a literature aficionado met, they created Tranquebar. Decorated with objects from different cultures around the globe, Tranquebar Bookstore and Café hosts concerts and special events, the store gets packed with locals who never miss the chance to savor one of the bar’s ice-cold beers while listening to uplifting tunes.
Paludan Bog og Café – (Fiolstræde 10) bookstore and a stylish café that serves fresh coffee, burgers, and one of the best brunches in the city. Its great selection of books in combination with the café’s stylish and warm atmosphere makes it a real favorite for locals. Located in the historic old Jewish quarter, its proximity to the Nørreport station makes it ideal for a stop. Paludan was founded in 1951 when a Danish bookseller named Erik Paludan took over a bookselling business that was already nearly 100 years old. They also have board games.
Amager Beach Park – (Amager Strandvej 110) Copenhagen’s beach area, Amager Beach Park is busy all day long in the summer. The beach park consists of a 2 km long artificial island forming a lagoon with toddlers’ pools on the one side, and a big sandy beach with dunes on the other. The southern part of the park has a broad promenade and areas for different ball play and picnicking. From the beach you have a spectacular view to a windmill park and the impressive bridge Øresundsbroen connecting Denmark and Sweden. The beach park is a popular place both for sunbathing and relaxation, as well as for all kinds of sports and activities.
Møns Klint chalk cliffs – (4791 Borre) Møns Klint is a 6 km stretch of chalk cliffs along the eastern coast of the Danish island of Møn in the Baltic Sea. The highest cliff is Dronningestolen, which is 128 m above sea level. The area around Møns Klint consists of woodlands, pastures, ponds and steep hills, including Aborrebjerg which, with a height of 143 m, is one of the highest points in Denmark. The cliffs and adjacent park are now protected as a nature reserve. There are clearly marked paths for walkers, riders and cyclists. The path along the cliff tops leads to steps down to the shore in several locations. In 2007, close to the cliff tops, the Geo-Center Møns Klint was opened by Queen Margrethe. The geological museum with interactive computer displays and a variety of attractions for children traces the geological prehistory of Denmark and the formation of the chalk cliffs.
Bella Vista Apartments – (Strandvejen 419-443, Klampenborg) When designing the Bella Vista Estate in 1934, Arne Jacobsen had the housing units built in split levels, thus allowing for two living-rooms with sea views in each apartment. There are also stunning views of the Bellevue Beach from the balconies. The split-level design, the latticework over the balconies and the rounded corners of the building all contribute to an exotic modernistic exterior. An example of Bauhaus architecture in Denmark, the estate is located just north of Copenhagen, in Klampenborg, Gentofte Municipality, next to Jacobsen’s Bellevue Beach, which had been completed a couple of years earlier. While still a student, Jacobsen travelled to Germany where he was attracted by the Modernist architecture of Mies van der Rohe and Walter Gropius, both pioneers of the Bauhaus school. This encouraged him to collaborate with his old friend Flemming Lassen in designing the “House of the Future” which won the Danish Architects Association’s competition in 1929. His 68 modern, well-fitted apartments stand in a U-shaped configuration consisting of three wings overlooking a central lawn. The name Bellavista stemmed from the Bella Vista villa which had previously stood on the site.
Bellevue Beach – (Strandvejen, Klampenborg) Just a 30min S-train ride from Copenhagen central station, this is one of the best beach in Denmark! The water is clean and clear, the ground is sandy, there is enough room to spread out on the 700m-long sand or the green grass areas. There are ice cream stands and showers; life guards on duty and change rooms. It feels like a southern resort town and one of the best places to be on a hot summer day!
Bellevue Theatre – (Strandvejen 451, Klampenborg) Just across from the beautiful beach and opened in 1936 and designed by Arne Jacobsen, the building is one of his most important architectural works and exemplar of Danish functionalism. The theatre is part of a scheme also including the adjoining Bellevue Beach and residential block. The theatre opened in 1936 as a mondain summer theatre. It closed a few seasons later, then operating as a cinema until 1980, when it was reopened as a theatre and film centre by Jes Kølpin.
Karen Blixen House and Garden – (Rungsted Strandvej 111) Karen Blixen Museum is a country house in Rungsted on the Øresund coast just north of Copenhagen. Karen Blixen was born on the estate in 1885, and returned there after her years in Kenya, chronicled in her book Out of Africa, to do most of her writings. The property is today managed by the Rungstedlund Foundation as a museum. The property traces its history back to 1520 when it was owned by the Crown. The oldest part of the current house dates from about 1680 when it was a combined inn and agricultural estate. The inn closed in 1803. In 1879 the estate was purchased by Wilhelm Dinesen, father of Karen Blixen, and after his marriage to Ingeborg Westenholz in 1881 they took up residence there. Karen Blixen spent her childhood at Rungstedlund and took up residency there again after she returned from Africa in 1931. She lived there until her death in 1962 and did most of her writings in the Ewald Room. She is interred in the park. In 1958 Karen Blixen and her siblings founded the Rungstedlund Foundation which was to own and manage the estate after her death. The Karen Blixen Museum was founded in 1991. Karen Blixen’s home has been preserved largely unchanged with its original furniture, decor and book. The museum also features a complete collection of her oil paintings.
Helsingor (Hamlet) Castle – (Kronborg 2C, Helsingor) Kronborg is a castle and stronghold in the town of Helsingør, that was immortalized as Elsinore in William Shakespeare’s play Hamlet. Kronborg is one of the most important Renaissance castles in Northern Europe and has been added to UNESCO’s World Heritage Sites list (2000). The castle is situated on the extreme northeastern tip of the island of Zealand at the narrowest point of the Øresund, the sound between present Denmark and the provinces of present Sweden that were also Danish at the time the castle was built. In this part, the sound is only 4 kilometres (2.5 mi) wide, hence the strategic importance of maintaining a coastal fortification at this location commanding one of the few outlets of the Baltic Sea. The castle’s story dates back to a stronghold, Krogen, built by King Eric VII in the 1420s. Along with the fortress Kärnan, Helsingborg on the opposite coast of Øresund, it controlled the entranceway to the Baltic Sea. From 1574 to 1585, King Frederick II had the medieval fortress radically transformed into a magnificent Renaissance castle. In 1629, a fire destroyed much of the castle, but King Christian IV subsequently had it rebuilt. The castle also has a church within its walls. In 1658, Kronborg was besieged and captured by the Swedes who took many of its valuable art treasures as war booty. In 1785 the castle ceased to be a royal residence and was converted into barracks for the Army. The Army left the castle in 1923, and after a thorough renovation it was opened to the public.
Kockeriet Resto in Malmö – (Norra Vallgatan 28, open daily 6pm-12am except Sundays) Tareq Taylor, the host of Nordic Cookery travel and food show, has been running Kockeriet since 2014. They grow their own vegetables in their garden and buy high quality meat from local breeders.