Top 10 sights

Denmark, Copenhagen Guide (A): Top 10 sights

Copenhagen consists of a multitude of areas, each with its own distinctive character. Though different they all have three features in common; the presence of water, green areas and bicycle paths. The city is one of the most environmentally friendly in the world and the inhabitants supposedly the happiest in the world. This walking tour will take you through the historic, charming and dense city center of Copenhagen pass the top 10 sights.
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Walk Route

Guide Name: Top 10 sights
Guide Location: Denmark » Copenhagen
Guide Type: Self-guided Walking Tour (Article (A))
# of Attractions: 10
Tour Duration: 4.0 hour(s)
Travel Distance: 5.8 km
Sight(s) featured in this guide: Tivoli Gardens   City Hall   Strøget   Christiansborg Palace   Round Tower   Rosenborg Castle   Royal Danish Theatre   Nyhavn   Amalienborg Palace   The Little Mermaid  
Author: Connie Maria Westergaard
Author Bio: Journalist Connie Maria Westergaard was born in Copenhagen in 1977. She lives in the Østerbro area. Her favorite museums are the Worker’s Museum, Louisiana and the Karen Blixen Museum. She enjoys concerts at VEGA and PARKEN and coffee at Estate. Her favorite event of the year is the Night of Culture in October, and at weekends you can find her sipping cocktails at Zoo bar, 1105 or Karriere bar in the Meatpacking District.
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Tivoli Gardens

1) Tivoli Gardens

Tivoli is more than just an amusement park. It is a fairytale. It was founded in 1843 by a man called Georg Carstensen who had been granted permission by the king to build an amusement park just outside the city center. Nowadays those grounds are the heart of the city center. Tivoli has 26 rides, one of them being one of the world’s oldest wooden rollercoasters from 1914. If you are really tough however, you might want to ride the Vertigo, Demon or Star Flyer – some of the latest additions to the park. As its founder said; “Tivoli will never be complete”, Tivoli renews itself every year. Whether it is a new crazy ride, musicals, themes, restaurants or even a Tivoli hotel, you will always find something new when you come back. Every season in Tivoli is unique. Tivoli’s summer season runs from May to October and is characterized by beautiful displays of flowers and free open air rock concerts every Friday. During fall break it opens for ten days of Halloween-themed fun, and from November to December Tivoli gets in the Christmas spirit with stalls, displays, exhibitions, theatre, music and lots and lots of Christmas lights. To many Copenhageners it is not Christmas without a visit to Tivoli’s Christmas market. One of Tivoli’s biggest fans was Michael Jackson, who visited in 1992 and allegedly wanted to buy the park. Luckily it was not for sale then, now or probably ever.
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City Hall

2) City Hall

Copenhagen’s City Hall is home to the lord mayor of the City of Copenhagen as well as the city’s administrative offices. If you have ever been to the town of Sienna in Italy, you might see a resemblance to its town hall, as the Danish architect was inspired by it. The City Hall has not always been located here. In earlier times it was located at Gammeltorv and Nytorv squares further up the pedestrian street Strøget. It burned down twice before a third building was constructed. That building is still standing and today houses the city court. The current city hall is from 1905. The clock tower is 105.6 meters tall making it one of the tallest buildings in the city of Copenhagen. In the clock tower you will find Jens Olsen’s World Clock – an advanced astronomical clock. The clock tower itself and the sound of the clock striking have become synonymous with Copenhagen. On New Year’s Eve it is that very clock that is shown on TV’s all across the country.

The City Hall Square itself is often the venue of large public events like the MTV Europe Music Awards 2006, Copenhagen Countdown during the International Olympic Committee’s conference as well as Hopenhagen Live during the United Nations Climate Change Conference COP15 in 2009.
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Strøget

3) Strøget

Strøget is the world’s longest pedestrian street with a series of shops ranging from budget-friendly clothing to some of the world’s most fashionable brands. The shopping street is 1.1 kilometers long and stretches from City Hall Square to Kongens Nytorv square. Strøget is actually not one street, but four. It consists of Frederiksberggade, Nygade, Vimmelskaftet and Østergade as well as the squares Gammeltorv, Nytorv and Amagertorv. Denmark is famous for interior design. Besides shoes and clothes, you will find many interior design flagship stores like Georg Jensen, Illums Bolighus, Hay and Royal Copenhagen on Strøget.

But the famous stretch of asphalt is more than just a shopping haven. Walk up the street to Gammeltorv and Nytorv squares from where you can see Copenhagen’s cathedral, Church of our Lady, where Danish Crown Prince Frederik and Crown Princess Mary were married in 2004. Carry on up Strøget to Amagertorv for the next stop, Christiansborg Palace.
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Christiansborg Palace

4) Christiansborg Palace

Christiansborg Palace on the isle of Slotsholmen houses the parliament, Folketinget, the Prime Minister’s Office and the Supreme Court. In addition you will also find the Royal Reception Rooms, Chapel, Stables and riding grounds, often used by the Danish royal family. Actually the palace is the only building in the world, which houses a country’s all three supreme powers of government. The present Christiansborg Palace is the successor of a series of castles and palaces erected on these grounds going back 800 years. Due to the two large fires in Copenhagen, today’s palace is built in three architectural styles. The main building is the youngest and dates back to 1928 and is built in a neo-baroque style. The chapel, however, is from 1826 and in neoclassical style, whereas the grounds date back to the mid 1700’s and express a baroque style. Certain parts of the palace, such as the Royal Reception Rooms and the underground ruins of Bishop Absalon's Castle from 1100’s, are open to visitors. Surrounding the palace you will find a cluster of four museums, Thorvaldsen’s Art Museum, the Danish Arsenal Museum, the Danish Jewish Museum and the Theatre Museum - all worth a visit.
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Round Tower

5) Round Tower

The Round Tower of Copenhagen is located on the street Købmagergade, a side street to the main street Strøget. The tower is, as you might expect, round and was built by one of Denmark’s most popular kings, Christian IV in the mid 1600’s. At the time it was one of the tallest buildings in the area, and thus astronomers studied the stars and planets from the observatory on the top floor. Today it is Europe’s oldest functioning observatory. To get to the top, where you will also have a great view of the city’s old Latin Quarter, you will have to walk up the winding 209 meter walk going round and round. There is no elevator. Halfway up you will find a door leading to the Library Hall, which houses exhibitions and classical concerts on a regular basis. The Round Tower was destroyed in the great fire of Copenhagen in 1728, so the tower you see today is a reconstruction of the original.
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Rosenborg Castle

6) Rosenborg Castle

King Christian IV had a passion for architectural projects. Rosenborg Castle was another one of those projects, built in 1606 and finished in 1634. The style is Dutch renaissance, very typical of the time, and King Christian IV used it as his country residence, outside the center of Copenhagen. It is said it was his favorite castle. He often stayed there and died there in 1648. It continued as a royal residence up until 1720. Many royal treasures were collected and kept at the castle, and in 1838 a museum as well as the castle itself was opened to the public. The royal collection contains the Danish Crown jewels and regalia, which are still at the disposal of Her Majesty the Queen. Thus HM Queen Margrethe often wears them in connection with state visits and royal events. Rosenborg Castle is situated in the beautiful King’s Garden, a popular retreat among sun and picnic-loving Copenhageners during summer. Next to the castle you will also find the barracks of the Royal Guards. Every day at 11:30 they march from the barracks in Gothersgade through the city center to Amalienborg Palace for the change of guards at noon.
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Royal Danish Theatre

7) Royal Danish Theatre

The Royal Danish Theatre has been located on the fashionable Kongens Nytorv square in the heart of Copenhagen since the inauguration in 1748. Today the theater has expanded and now also includes The Opera across the harbor on Holmen and The Royal Danish Playhouse, which opened on the waterfront in 2008. Thus the old theater is known as the Old Stage. The Old Stage is a beautiful piece of architecture inside and outside. The theater stages both national works and international classics. The works of the famous 19th century Danish ballet master August Bournonville are the back bone of the theater, and his works are still performed to this day, unmatched by any other ballet company in the world. Catch a performance if you have the time. You can get a 50% discount on tickets if you are either under 25 or over 65 years of age or if you purchase your tickets on the same day after 18:00 for evening performances or one hour prior to afternoon performances from The Royal Danish Theatre Box Office on Kongens Nytorv square.
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Nyhavn

8) Nyhavn

One of the most common motives on postcards from Copenhagen is a picturesque canal with multicolored 18th century houses leading from Kongens Nytorv square to the main harbor. Nyhavn, meaning new harbor in Danish, is a popular hangout from early spring to the end of summer. On the northern side you will find restaurants, cafes and bars, hot dog stands and ice cream shops – a lot of them overpriced. Therefore it is very common for Copenhageners to bring their own cans of beer and drink them sitting on the wooden wharf while watching people from out of town paying a small fortune for the same beer across the pavement. And yes, it is legal in Denmark to drink alcohol on public property. On warm sunny days it can get so crowded on the dock that it can be hard to find a place to sit. The canal was originally built in 1673 and up until the 1970’s it was mostly frequented by sailors. The bars, brothels and tattoo shops meant it had quite a seedy reputation back then. Famous Dane Hans Christian Andersen wrote his first fairy tales here in number 20 in 1835. He lived in number 67 from 1845-64 and returned in 1873 to live his last two years in number 18. If you have an extra hour on your hands, embark on a canal tour from the inner harbor by the large memorial anchor or from the southern side.
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Amalienborg Palace

9) Amalienborg Palace

Amalienborg Palace is the Danish monarch’s winter residence on the waterfront in Copenhagen. The complex consists of four palaces placed around a large courtyard with a statue of King Frederik V, founder of the palace, in the middle. The palace became the royal residence in 1794, after Christiansborg Palace burned down. The four palaces look more or less identical. If you enter the complex from the waterfront, Schack’s Palace will be on your left. This has been the home of Her Majesty Queen Margrethe and Prince Consort Henrik since 1967. Moltke’s Palace on your far left is uninhabited and thus occasionally open to the public. On your right is Brockdorff’s Palace, the home of Crown Prince Frederik, Crown Princess Mary and their children. In 2010 the palace was renovated and made fit for a modern royal family, and thus it was open to the public for a period of six months, before the successor to the Danish Crown moved in. On your far right you will find Levetzau’s Palace, which houses the Amalienborg Museum. The museum exhibits the royal collection from 1863 onwards and thus picks up where Rosenborg Museum left. Guarding Amalienborg Palace and the monarch are the Royal Guards. You can see the change of guards every day at noon.
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The Little Mermaid

10) The Little Mermaid

Inspired by the fairy tale of Dane Hans Christian Andersen, The Little Mermaid sits on a rock in Copenhagen Harbor looking for her long lost human love onshore. This small statue sculptured by Danish sculptor Edvard Eriksen and modeled after his wife Eline Eriksen, was ordered by brewer Carl Jacobsen and presented to the City of Copenhagen on 23rd August 1913. The Little Mermaid has become a national landmark and city icon, who has evoked many feelings over the years. She has been violated, vandalized and even beheaded numerous times. However, she has also been loved and adored and still is. In 2010 the City of Copenhagen made a decision to send her to the World EXPO in China for six months. It was the first time in her 97 years of age that she left Copenhagen. Every year on 23rd August, her birthday, a group of women jump in the harbor to shape the number of her current age with their bodies. It is usually a festive day with balloons, fairy tales and music. The Little Mermaid has been copied several times in Copenhagen as well as overseas. Thus you will find sister statues in faraway places like New Zealand, Canada and even the US. What most people do not know is that Copenhagen’s Little Mermaid is actually a copy herself. The very first statue of the mermaid, which Edvard Eriksen created, is in the safe possession of his heirs.

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