For my 30th birthday, I took myself on a solo birthday trip to visit one of my best friends in Copenhagen, Denmark. The trip was one of the best things I’ve ever done in my entire life—and not just because I also got to eat at one of the world’s best restaurants. When it came to the trip, my end-of-March birthday meant that it would be cold but there was still plenty to do in this pretty little city in Northern Europe.
Although it may not be quite as underrated as Portugal (which is still on my bucket list), Copenhagen turned out to be a very interesting city filled with so much to do in a week that I felt like I couldn’t get enough. From fantastic tacos (yes, really!) to gorgeous castles everywhere to the world’s second oldest theme park, here are 10 fabulous things to see, do and eat in Copenhagen, Denmark.
Eat tacos at Hija de Sanchez.
Hija de Sanchez is THE taco spot if you’re looking for a little Mexican love in Copenhagen. Rosio Sanchez, who grew up in Chicago’s Little Village neighborhood and worked for years at Noma—recognized as the world’s best restaurant for several years in a row, is serving up her family’s favorites at a space in Torvehallerne from April through October. The food stand is serving up all of our taqueria favorites, including the classic tacos al pastor, a tres leches paleta that should NOT be missed and delicious aquas frescas.
Visit one of the many, many palaces and castles.
How many castles and palaces do you have time for? Why, ALL OF THEM! In Copenhagen and nearby, you can visit Christiansborg Palace, Rosenborg Castle, Amalienborg Palace and even the castle that inspired William Shakespeare’s Hamlet, Kronborg Castle. All of them are beautiful and unique in their own way, but my favorite was definitely Kronborg Castle—which should be considered a day trip since it’s a couple hours outside of the city. Go to that one with your passport ready so that you can quickly cross into Sweden for coffee and a snack.
Take a trip to see fabulous modern art at Louisiana Museum of Modern Art.
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A new presentation of works from the Louisiana Collection opens today – '7 X SPACE X TIME'. Join us in the museum's South Wing – free entrance from 17.30! — Works from the Collection in this photo: sculpture in the front; Roy Lichtenstein, Endless Drip, 1995. From left to right in the background; Roy Lichtenstein, Figures in Landscape, 1977. Ed Paschke, Romanzi, 1985. Andreas Gursky, Katar, 2012. — #louisianamuseum #louisianacollection #roylichtenstein #edpaschke #andreasgursky
The Louisiana Museum of Modern Art is just outside of Copenhagen via train, but well worth the trip. The museum, which features an amazing landscape, gorgeous architecture, and views of Sweden just across the coast, has six to ten rotating exhibitions throughout the year and a distinguished art collection of over 3,500 pieces. There is a beautiful outdoor garden that features art, too, which is a great place to explore after a lovely picnic.
Spend a day having fun at Tivoli Gardens.
This may seem like it’s a garden, but Tivoli Gardens is actually a theme park that should be a MUST on your visit Copenhagen list. In fact, it’s so famous that some people actually come all the way to this lovely Danish city just to finish this park. There are roller coasters and carousels a plenty as you stroll through this romantic 19th-century representation of the Orient. Oh, and did I mention that this is the second oldest theme park in the world? Yes, go NOW!
Check out the amazing foodie options at Copenhagen Street Food.
A good thing to do in Copenhagen is to rent bikes, which you can then ride to the waterfront Copenhagen Street Food hall. It’s a beautiful, wooden venue that features a huge array of different food stalls with many, many options to dine. I honestly had the most difficult time choosing between the tortas, Colombian rice and beans, duck fat french fries and so much more… You might want to come here with a big group of friends so that you can all buy something different and share. Trust me on this one.
Visit The Little Mermaid statue commemorating Hans Christian Andersen.
You might not be a fan of fairy tales but then… who are you, exactly? I grew up on Disney movies and my absolute favorite is The Little Mermaid. But what makes Copenhagen special isn’t their devotion to Disney but rather their love and appreciation for one of the greatest fairy tale writers of all time, Hans Christian Andersen. Not only can you learn more about the author at the Hans Christian Andersen Fairy-Tale House but you can (and should!) visit The Little Mermaid statue on the waterfront. This was, by far, one of my favorite experiences in the city.
Take photos at the beautiful Nyhavn.
When you think of Copenhagen, you are likely picturing this very scene—the historic waterfront area that is next to a 17th century canal where old wooden ships are still docked. All of the beautiful, colorful little houses of the New Harbor (what “Nyhavn” means in English) are not only picturesque but a beautiful call-back to the 1600s and 1700s. They now house bars, restaurants and cafes with outdoor seating and are a great place to check out any time of year (but may be especially lovely in the summer, when the weather is nice).
Learn more about the country at the National Museum of Denmark.
The National Museum of Denmark is not what it seems: It’s actually much bigger than it seems and is a must-see for anyone coming to Copenhagen for a trip. This museum is the most important and largest cultural and historical museum of Denmark that hosts a broad variety of exhibitions. You can spend just an afternoon exploring parts of the museum or even a whole day exploring everything there is to see. You can explore everything from Vikings to Egyptian mummies to a hash stall from Christiania. Anyone who is even remotely a history buff will love this one.
Do some serious window shopping at Strøget.
This street is full of all kinds of shopping and is definitely a fun place to just walk around all day. Whether you’re looking for high-end or simpler stores, there’s something for everyone—and even a great place to simply window shop. You can follow Strøget into the Old City and then look for the narrow side streets to find the independent shops that will be a bit less pricey than the main street. I had a blast looking through old specialty stores and hip boutiques.
Feast in one of the world’s best restaurants when you visit Relæ.
If you’re lucky enough to score a reservation at Relæ, then GO! You’ll want to book ahead for this can’t-miss restaurant that has been named one of the World’s Best Restaurants for several years in a row. The menu here is pretty incredible—you choose from a vegetarian or a non-vegetarian option and pick either four or seven courses—and the food is absolutely to die for. No, seriously, this was probably the BEST meal I’ve ever had in my entire life. The best part? They offer a wine or juice pairing and, let me tell you, the juices are pretty incredible. This place is truly an experience and well worth the money which, for one of the best places to eat in the world, is actually not all that much.