Copenhagen hidden gems: 8 unique things to do in the city

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. 

Colorful Nyhavn canal lined with restaurants, old sailboats and historical houses in Copenhagen, Denmark.

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?

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Copenhagen hidden gems: 8 unique places and experiences

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 about the Glyptotek though – and the main reason I included it in this list of Copenhagen hidden gems – 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 anyone above the age of 27. The entrance to the museum is completely free on Tuesdays but expect to see bigger crowds.

Lush tropical plants in the Winter Garden of Ny Carlsberg Glyptotek, one of the best Copenhagen hidden gems.

Read also: 7 day trips from Copenhagen – castles, cliffs and quaint villages

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 65 DKK (9 EUR) for adults, and tickets need to be booked in advance here. The tower is closed in the winter months and in case of bad weather.

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.

If you don’t want to deal with the hassle of figuring out how to get to each of the giants, you can take this tour with private transportation or this guided e-bike tour.

4) Take a dip in the pool at Manon Les Suites

Manon Les Suites is an adults-only eco-hotel in central Copenhagen. Between its walls, it hides a tropical treasure which definitely deserves a spot on this list of Copenhagen hidden gems.

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 exotic ambience.

It’s a really unique spot and makes you feel like you’ve been transported to the tropics! Plus, the photos of this place will look amazing on Instagram!

I have never stayed in this hotel overnight so I can’t comment on the quality of the rooms or the service but I did visit their pool a few years ago when they hosted pool parties that were open to the public. Now you can unfortunately only access the pool if you’re a guest at the hotel.

If you want to see this amazing place with your own eyes, book your stay here! (P.S. They also have a pretty cool rooftop spa and lounge area offering views over the Copenhagen Lakes.)

Read also: Best street food markets in Copenhagen

5) Unwind at Amaliehaven

This small waterfront park in the center of Copenhagen is perhaps one of the least known Copenhagen hidden gems. It’s also one of my favorite parks in the city and a great place to hide from the hustle and bustle or 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.

a unique waterfront park called Amaliehaven, one of the lesser-known Copenhagen hidden gems

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 will be even better!

There is no entrance fee to the Deer Park and it’s always open.

Deer eating grass on a meadow in the Deer Park, one of the many Copenhagen hidden gems.

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.

Located in Christianshavn neighborhood, Christiania is visited by quite a lot of tourists so it’s not exactly a hidden gem of Copenhagen. 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 agendas.

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.

If you’d like to learn more about Freetown Christiania and the neighborhood of Christianshavn, consider taking this 1.5-hour guided walking tour.

People having a picnic and sunbathing next to the Christiania lake on a sunny summer day.
Summer vibes at Christiania
Huge scrap wood sculpture of a troll sitting next to a wall in Christiania.
If you liked Thomas Dambo’s scrap wood troll sculptures (The Six Forgotten Giants), you can find another one of them in Christiania

8) Explore the canals on a kayak

One of the most unique things to do in 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.

One of the most unique things to do in Copenhagen is paddling through the city canals on a kayak.
Exploring the city on the water

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! 

In the summer months, I recommend that you book the GreenKayaks well in advance due to high demand.

Another more relaxed way to explore the canals is to take this 2-hour Hidden Gems canal tour on a boat.

Urban kayaking along the city canals, one of the most unique things to do in Copenhagen, Denmark
My recent kayak tour along the canals of Christianshavn neighborhood

Best places to stay in Copenhagen

If you’re wondering where to stay in Copenhagen, here are my top picks for budget, mid-range and luxury accommodations.

BUDGET: Generator Hostel
Located right in the heart of the city, this vibrant hostel is just a few minutes’ walk from the famous Nyhavn canal and Amalienborg Castle. The hostel offers both shared and private rooms and there’s also a bar with a pool table, DJ nights and karaoke. It’s one of the best places to stay in Copenhagen if you want to meet other travelers.

MID-RANGE: Scandic Palace Hotel
This hotel is set in a charming historical building next to the lively City Hall Square in Copenhagen’s old town. They offer a variety of rooms with modern yet elegant design and many of them have a spectacular view of the city. There’s also a bar and an on-site restaurant specializing in Nordic cuisine. 

LUXURY: Manon Les Suites
As I already mentioned above, Manon Les Suites is a truly unique hotel with an eco-conscious mindset. Aside from the stunning Bali-inspired Junglefish Pool, this hotel boasts a rooftop & spa with views over Copenhagen, a gym and stylish rooms with sleek, modern decor.

Copenhagen hidden gems: final thoughts

I hope that this article gave you some inspiration for visiting these Copenhagen hidden gems and lesser-known spots next time you’re in the city! As always, in case you have any questions, please let me know in the comments section. 

Have you been to Copenhagen yet? Do you know any other hidden gems or secret spots in Copenhagen?

If you’re looking for a full Copenhagen experience including all the main attractions and must-see sights, read my Copenhagen bucket list, and if you’d like to get out of the city, have a look at these 7 day trips from Copenhagen. For some of the coolest and quirkiest places to eat, check out my Copenhagen street food guide.

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  1. These are such great ideas. I love that you can rent a kayak for free. Although, I have never been in a kayak so I’m not sure how that would go for me. LOL! I will be saving your post for my future trip to Copenhagen 🙂

  2. Great post! I was in Copenhagen for a few days a few years back and loved it. I only visited the popular tourist destinations but now regret it! I love all the ideas on your list. Climbing the Church of our Saviour looks so fun and what a great view!

    1. Thank you 🙂 I think it’s fun to visit the popular tourist attractions at least once but the city definitely offers some other cool stuff to do as well! If you ever return, I’d definitely recommend climbing the spire of that church 🙂

  3. Thanks. Great recommendations. One could add, though, that the colorful professor Lidenbrock in Jules Vernes classic novel, Journet to the Center of the Earth, actually “climbed” the tower of The Church of our Saviour to get used to vertigo before entering a volcano in Iceland that brought him and his team on an adventure deep down down in our planet.

  4. Thanks. Great recommendations. One could add, though, that the colorful professor Lidenbrock in Jules Vernes classic novel, Journet to the Center of the Earth, actually “climbed” the tower of The Church of our Saviour to get used to vertigo before entering a volcano in Iceland that brought him and his team on an amazing adventure.

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