If you’ve been to Copenhagen before, you’ve most likely already visited all the must-see attractions and are looking for some alternative spots. Or perhaps you’re just the type of person who prefers to avoid swarms of tourists and wants to explore the lesser-known sights? In either case, you’ve come to the right place! In this article, I’ve compiled my favorite Copenhagen hidden gems and off the beaten path treasures for you to discover next time you’re in the city.
Copenhagen, the capital of Denmark and the city that I currently call home, is becoming an increasingly popular destination among tourists. Its world-class culinary scene, the Tivoli Gardens amusement park, the Little Mermaid statue, and the brightly-colored houses of Nyhavn attract millions of foreign visitors every year.
While these iconic sights are undoubtedly worth a visit (Tivoli gardens being my personal favorite), Copenhagen and its surrounding areas offer many other unique things to do which I will share with you in this article. These places are definitely not secret for most locals but they are off the typical tourist trail.
Ready to discover the lesser-known spots and unusual activities in Copenhagen?
1. Wander around the Glyptotek
Just across the street from the immensely popular Tivoli Gardens, you’ll find The Glyptotek, an art museum with a collection of more than 10,000 pieces. The museum’s main focus is antique sculptures from ancient Egypt, Rome and Greece as well as 19th-century French and Danish paintings.
In general, I’m not a big fan of looking at paintings and sculptures, but this place offers so much more than that! With its large colorful halls, marble columns, intricate mosaic floors, and lots of natural light coming through the glass roofs, the building itself is spectacular.
The best part of the Glyptotek though is its lush Winter Garden in the central courtyard of the museum. This tropical oasis contains lots of greenery, a beautiful fountain, and palm trees reaching towards the huge glass dome above the garden.
Also, don’t miss the museum’s underground exhibition area that resembles an Egyptian tomb and houses two creepy mummies and several sarcophagi from thousands of years ago.
Fun fact: You might notice that the museum is occasionally referred to as Ny Carlsberg Glyptotek. This is because it was established by Carl Jacobsen, the son of the founder of the world-famous Carlsberg beer brewery.
The ticket price is 115 DKK (15 EUR) for adults and 85 DKK (11 EUR) if you’re under 27. The entrance to the museum is completely free on Tuesdays, but expect to see bigger crowds.
2. Climb the Church of our Saviour
This baroque church, located in the neighborhood of Christianshavn, is known for its black and golden serpentine spire with a winding external staircase that you can climb.
Going up to the top of the spire is not particularly hard, but a few small sections in the tower are quite narrow where the staircase looks more like a ladder than steps. In total there are 400 steps, the last 150 of them on the outside of the spire.
If you’re scared of heights, this place will most likely freak you out since you’ll be 90 meters above the street. The outer staircase has a sturdy handrail though, so it’s of course totally safe to be up there.
Once you’ve made your way to the top, you’ll see that it was worth the effort as you’ll be rewarded with amazing panoramic views over Copenhagen. Needless to say, for the best views, climb the spire on a clear sunny day.
The entrance fee is 35-50 DKK (5-7 EUR), depending on the time of the year. The tower is closed in the winter months and in case of bad weather. For more detailed information about the tickets and opening times, have a look at the website of the church.
3. Find The Six Forgotten Giants
If you’d like to spend some time outdoors and get seriously off the beaten path, go on a hunt for The Six Forgotten Giants. It’s a collection of big troll-like sculptures hiding in the forests and meadows of the western municipalities of Copenhagen.
Thomas Dambo, the author of these impressive scrap wood sculptures created the project with the intention to bring art out of museums and encourage people to get outside and enjoy the nature around them.
To find the exact location of each of the wooden giants, simply type the name of the sculpture in Google Maps. The creatures are called Little Tilde, Thomas on the Mountain, Teddy Friendly, Oscar under the Bridge, Sleeping Louis and Hilltop Trine.
Each of the six quirky giants is located in a different municipality and unless you have a car, the best way to reach them is using a bike and an S-train (trains serving the Copenhagen metropolitan area). You can rent a bike (for example from Donkey Republic) in central Copenhagen and take it onboard one of the many S-trains departing frequently from the city. All the sculptures are located within a few kilometers from the nearest train station – that’s when the bike comes in handy. Check the train schedules at Rejseplanen.
4. Take a dip in the pool at Manon Les Suites
Manon Les Suites is an eco-hotel in central Copenhagen that hides a tropical treasure between its walls. From the outside, the hotel isn’t particularly eye-catching, but don’t let the modest exterior fool you! Once you enter the building and make your way to the pool area, you’ll find an epic Bali-inspired jungle pool surrounded by lush greenery and canopy beds where you can lounge and enjoy the tropical ambience.
Even if you’re not staying at the hotel, you can still visit the pool by attending one of Manon’s Friday Lounge events that take place on the first Friday of every month. The entrance fee to these parties is 75 DKK (10 EUR). However, if you’d like to take a dip in the pool, you would need to rent a bag consisting of a towel, kimono and slippers for a fee of 150 DKK (20 EUR).
The Friday Lounge events are highly popular so make sure to arrive when the doors open or make a reservation beforehand. Otherwise, you risk being denied entry as the place often reaches its full capacity!
If you can’t make it to the Friday Lounge, you can still access the hotel’s pool and rooftop spa at other times for a fee of 495 DKK (66 EUR). A bit pricey if you ask me! That’s why I recommend going to the party instead.
I have never stayed in this hotel overnight so I can’t comment on the quality of the rooms or the service. What I do know, however, is that it’s a really unique spot for some Friday night drinks and makes you feel like you’ve been transported to the tropics! Plus, the photos of this place will look amazing on social media. 🙂
5. Unwind at Amaliehaven
This small waterfront park in the center of Copenhagen is one of my favorite parks in the city and a great place to hide from the hustle and bustle or just sit down with a good book.
Amaliehaven isn’t some ordinary park with vast grassy fields. In fact, it doesn’t have any grass at all! Instead, this narrow little garden has a geometric layout with perfectly trimmed hedges, symmetric walkways, a wide variety of plants, and two artificial waterfalls. As this hidden gem is surrounded by walls and hedges, it is shielded from the noise of the street, and only the calming sound of running water can be heard.
Even though the park is located right next to Amalienborg Palace, a popular tourist attraction and the residence of the Danish royal family, not many people seem to actually wander into this tranquil little oasis and head straight from the palace to the waterfront promenade next to the garden.
As with most outdoor spots in Copenhagen, Amaliehaven is best enjoyed during the warmer half of the year when the garden is blooming and the waterfalls are operating.
6. Admire the nature in the Deer Park
The Deer Park, or Dyrehaven in Danish, is a beautiful nature reserve with lakes, forests and 2000 free-roaming deer in the northern outskirts of Copenhagen. As the park spans over 1100 hectares, you can easily spend several hours wandering through the green valleys, enjoying the tranquility, and admiring the herds of deer.
The deer are used to humans, so there’s a high chance that you’ll see them up close. This feels like stating the obvious, but please don’t try to touch them, feed them or chase them.
On a sunny day, lots of locals go to the park to have a picnic, walk their dogs or go for a jog, but since the park is gigantic, it never feels crowded.
When you’ve had enough of deer-watching, pop into Bakken, the world’s oldest amusement park near the southern end of the Deer Park. It’s free to enter Bakken and there are lots of restaurants and bars in case you wanna grab something to eat.
To get to the Deer Park, you’d need to either drive or take the S-train to Klampenborg station. Due to the size of this place, I recommend that you rent a bike at the entrance to the park. Since you can cover more ground on a bike, your chances of seeing the deer are even better!
There is no entrance fee to the Deer Park and it’s always open.
7. Stroll through Freetown Christiania
In case you’re not familiar with Christiania, it’s essentially an alternative, self-governing, car-free hippie district in Copenhagen.
Christiania is visited by quite a lot of tourists so it’s not exactly a hidden gem in itself. Nevertheless, I wanted to include it in this list because it’s such a unique and controversial place. You either love it or hate it. I belong to the first category. Plus, the area contains many nice secret spots that most tourists don’t include in their agenda.
Christiania was created back in the 70s when a group of free-spirited people started taking over abandoned military barracks with the aim to create a self-governing society. Nowadays, it’s a community with roughly 1000 residents and it has its own rules and regulations.
Cannabis is sold commonly and openly on the main street of Christiania known as Pusher Street. Contrary to what many people think, this does NOT make Christiania a dangerous place to visit. Quite the opposite actually. People go there to relax and have a good time. You just need to follow two rules – don’t take photos on Pusher Street and don’t run as it can create panic.
There is so much more to Christiania than just Pusher Street, where most tourists go. You can visit quirky little shops selling colorful art and handicrafts (I recommend Christiania Art Gallery), or grab a bite in one of the cozy cafes, such as Månefiskeren or Morgenstedet. Admire the vibrant murals and the eccentric architecture of the houses. Or take a stroll along Christiania’s lake and enjoy the tranquil side of the neighborhood.
8. Explore the canals on a kayak
A truly unique way to experience Copenhagen is to rent a kayak and paddle your way through the city’s canals. Not only will you escape the hordes of tourists, but you will also see the city and its architecture from an entirely different perspective.
The two main places renting out kayaks in the center of Copenhagen are Kayak Republic and Kajakhotellet. A single person kayak can be rented for about 200 DKK (27 EUR), whereas a two-person kayak costs 300 DKK (40 EUR). I think it’s more fun to be two people in a kayak, especially for beginners.
If you’ve never been in a kayak before, don’t worry! It’s super straightforward and the kayaks are very stable. Even if you somehow manage to fall into the water, you’ll be wearing a life vest, so there’s nothing to be scared of really. It’s also possible to buy a guided tour where you’ll be accompanied by an instructor who will take you to the most important buildings next to the canals and tell you about their history.
In certain places in Copenhagen (including Kayak Republic), you can rent a GreenKayak FOR FREE! Yes, you read that right. The concept is the following: in return for getting a free kayak trip, you need to collect trash from the canals while you paddle around (using a special tool of course, not your bare hands). So if you’re eco-conscious and/or on a low budget, this is the option for you. I haven’t managed to try it out yet myself but I love the idea!
P.S. In the summer months, I recommend that you book the GreenKayaks in advance due to high demand.
I hope that this article gave you some inspiration for unique things to do and off the beaten path places to visit next time you’re in Copenhagen! As always, in case you have any questions, please let me know in the comments section.
Have you been to Copenhagen yet? Which other hidden gems would you recommend?
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