I recently travelled to the beautiful city of Copenhagen for a week’s holiday with my boyfriend. It was such an amazing destination to visit, however, it can get quite expensive when you’re trying to make the most of your trip and visit as many heritage sites as humanly possible! We ended up buying the 72 hour Copenhagen card, which gives you access to so many museums and other attractions for free. By visiting only 3 things a day this worked out so much cheaper, so I would definitely recommend it to anyone visiting!
After visiting the beautiful city, I thought it was important to highlight how many things you can actually see for free throughout the city, allowing you to experience the culture and save money. So this post is my top 8 free things to see in Copenhagen!
Okay so this is the obvious one, but you really can’t go to Copenhagen without visiting the beautifully colourful 17th-century waterfront, gateway from the sea to the old inner city. The original architecture now houses restaurants, bars and cafés, making it the perfect location for a relaxing few hours. However, the site is rich with dark history, initially dug by Swedish prisoners of war, the port became notorious for beer, sailors, and prostitution. Danish author, Hans Christian Andersen also lived at Nyhavn for over 20 years, where he wrote many of his fairy tales.
2. The Little Mermaid
The Little Mermaid is also another key attraction to visit when visiting Copenhagen. Positioned on a rock by the waterside, the bronze statue looks dwarfed by the industrial scene behind it. Obviously, it’s not always been this way, and perhaps when it was created in the early 20th century it would have appeared more majestic posed in the water. As it’s based on the fairytale The Little Mermaid, by famous author Hans Christian Anderson, it still is worth going to see, however just be warned it’s a little underwhelming!
3. The Gefion Fountain
I personally found the Gefion Fountain to be a more impressive landmark. Situated a short walk from the Little Mermaid I suggest you visit both! The fountain is a sculpture of legendary Norse goddess, Gefjun. According to ancient legend, the Swedish king Gylfe offered Gefjun as much land as she was capable of ploughing within one day and one night. She had transformed her four sons into immensely powerful oxen (as seen in the fountain) and had them plough so deeply, they raised the land and pulled it into the sea. This was when the island of Zealand was formed. The lake Vännern in Sweden approximately resembles the shape of Zealand, leading people to claim the story to be true!
4. Lego shop
Denmark is famous for creating one of the most popular toys to date, Lego. You can’t really go to the home of Lego without visiting one of the flagship stores. As well as an impressive amount of lego for sale, the store also featured some amazing creations such as Nyhavn made out of lego!!
As one of the best-preserved star fortresses in Northern Europe, the Kastellet is well worth a visit. Originally built by King Christian IV of Denmark in 1626, Kastellet was used to encircle and protect Copenhagen and is still an active military area today, belonging to the Danish Defence Ministry. Despite its use as a military base, visitors are allowed to explore the historic area and park. Many of the original buildings still exist today such as the Commander’s house, windmill, rows of terrace houses (pictured), a powder house, used to hold black powder, a church and prison. It’s such a great place to immerse yourself in the history of Danish military.
6. The Botanical Gardens
As you’ll know from my post A Day in Amsterdam, featuring a visit to the botanical gardens, I love exploring gardens. So when I found out our Airbnb was right next to Copenhagen’s botanical gardens and they were also FREE we had to visit. Sadly we left this to the last day and the palm house was closed but we got to wander around the outdoor spaces which were still beautiful. Dating back to 1600, the gardens are home to over 13,000 species, including Danish plants and those in the old glasshouse, dating back to 1874.
7. Fredrik’s Church (The Marble Church)
I’m not 100% sure this one is free, but we just wandered around without the woman on the reception asking for a donation. This church was breathtaking, housing the largest church dome in Scandinavia, with a span of 31m. The cupola is intricately decorated with 12 sections displaying 12 apostles and angles. Designed by the architect Nicolai Eigtved in 1740 and is a prime example of rococo architecture and is a key landmark in Copenhagen’s skyline. Definitely well worth a visit to take in Danish religious culture.
8. Amalienborg Palace
The Amalienborg Palace is the home to the current royal family so is a must see if you love royal history and also architecture as the four identical buildings have the most beautiful classical façade’s. The palace was originally built for four noble families; however, when Christiansborg Palace burned in 1794, the royal family bought the palaces and moved in. You have to pay to go to the museum inside, however, simply visiting the square and taking in the architecture and view of Fredrik’s Church is worth a visit!
Hope you’ve enjoyed my small guide of the free things to visit in Copenhagen! More detailed posts on some of the other things I got up to following shortly.