10 Best Attractions within Walking Distance of Copenhagen's Cruise Ports

Copenhagen visitors with limited time to spend in the vicinity of Copenhagen’s cruise ports need not despair, as there are plenty of attractions within walking distance of Freeport, Langelinie and the newest Nordhavn cruise terminal. Top of most visitors’ lists will be the Little Mermaid statue; despite being somewhat underwhelming in stature, the bronze monument to Hans Christian Andersen’s popular fairy tale is rarely left alone to gaze forlornly at the sea, and visited by hundreds of tourists daily.

The nearby park, Kastellet, actually the old Citadel of Copenhagen, is one section of the city’s fortifications that also includes Østre Anlæg and Christianshavns Vold. Amalienhaven, a landscaped public garden between Amalienborg Palace and the sea, is one of Copenhagen’s newest parks (1983) and centers around a large fountain.

Amalienborg Palace, a pleasant 10 to 15-minute walk from Langelinie and about 25 minutes from Freeport, is a must-see for anyone interested in European royalty. The four identical rococo palaces are placed around an octagonal courtyard; one of them, Christian VIII’s Palace is open to the public. From here, it is a quick stroll down to Nyhavn harbor, a great spot for lunch or dinner.

The area between the cruise terminals and downtown Copenhagen, Frederikstaden, characterized by its elegant wide streets, was built in the late 1700s. Adjacent to each other on Bredgade are two museums: Designmuseum Danmark, formerly Denmark’s first hospital, and Medical Museion, an offbeat treasure trove of medical curiosities. Just across the road from Østerport Station, the museum Den Frie Centre of Contemporary Art is a historically important art museum that has been extended in 2014.

Two churches of differing styles dominate the area. Marmorkirken (or more accurately Frederikskirken), is so-called after the Norwegian marble that was used for much of its construction. Nearby, the three onion domes of Russian Orthodox Alexander Nevsky Church are plainly visible above the rooftops.



Den Frie exhibition space is the strange looking building one sees when leaving busy Østerport station; with its Greek-style gold pillars and relief of Pegasus, it looks a little out of place in central Copenhagen. Now an important contemporary art space hosting changing solo and group exhibitions, it boasts a long history that started in 1891, when a group of artists that included J.F. Willumsen and Vilhelm Hammershøj teamed up to present censorship-free exhibitions in protest at the jury-led shows of nearby Charlottenborg. This tradition of an open artists' association remains, and the building hosts an open exhibition each year for association members. In November 2014, the art museum unveiled its new extension, including basement exhibition space, cafe and gardens.

Recommended for Attractions near Cruise Port because: Den Frie is an important artists' exhibition space historically, and its recent expansion has brought it well up to date.

Jane's expert tip: This unusual building hosts interesting and changing exhibitions - closed Mondays.

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Alexander Nevsky Kirke
Photo courtesy of Terry Wha

Tsar Alexander III personally helped finance the cost of this Russian Orthodox Church, which was commissioned by Danish Princess Dagmar. Designed by Russian architect David Ivanovich Grimm, it was built by Albert Nielsen from granite and Danish red brick and completed in 1883. Open only for services or by appointment, the church is distinguished by three onion-shaped domes, which have made the church familiar to visitors and residents alike - few, however, will realize that the church boasts an equally grand interior. A marble stairway leads to the top floor, from where you get a great view of both the iconostasis (which separates the sanctuary from the rest of the church) and the ceiling's Byzantine and Russian paintings.

Recommended for Attractions near Cruise Port because: Copenhagen's Russian Orthodox church Alexander Nevsky is known for its onion shaped, gold domes.

Jane's expert tip: Though open to visitors by appointment only, the church's ornate interior is worth viewing.

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Amalienhaven was opened to the public in 1983, making it one of Copenhagen's newest parks. Situated directly on the waterfront below the royal palace, it is a neat, elegant garden of ornate flowerbeds and statues, which was designed by the French landscape architect Jean Delogne and presented to the city as a gift by the late shipping tycoon, Mærsk McKinney Møller. A stroll through the park affords pleasant harbor views and a chance to take a snapshot next to the park's familiar fountain, which stands in a direct line with nearby Amalienborg and Marmorkirken.

Recommended for Attractions near Cruise Port because: Instantly upon inauguration, Amalienhaven became a great green space between harborfront and royal palace.

Jane's expert tip: Check out the direct line between fountain, palace and church dome.

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Medical Museion
Photo courtesy of Medical Museion, University of Copenhagen

Located in the former Royal Academy of Surgeons building from 1787 (the lecture hall, hardly changed, is still used by medical students), this rather macabre museum is dedicated to the history of medicine and run by the University of Copenhagen. It's an offbeat mix of artefacts, crossing wildly in theme from dentistry to the hygiene of 19th-century prostitiutes, and its far more modern research wing, hosting talks, exhibitions, and events in English as well as Danish. Note that due to the 200+ year-old location, the medical museum remains inaccessible to wheelchair users.

Recommended for Attractions near Cruise Port because: An offbeat museum packed with medical and scientific curiosities that also hosts interesting talks.

Jane's expert tip: Guided tours in English July and August at 2.30pm.

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Marmorkirken (The Marble Church) is so named because of its Norwegian marble, which proved too costly to use for the entire church - it was finally completed in 1894, over 150 years since royal architect Nicolai Eigtved first drew up the grand designs for a flamboyant royal church, after much controversy and with the less expensive Danish marble. The church was designed as part of the ambitious Amalienborg complex; its magnificent dome rises above the nearby buildings and with a span of 100 ft, is among the largest in Europe. Visitors should note the impressive statues outside, baroque altar, baptismal fonts and German woodcarvings.

Recommended for Attractions near Cruise Port because: Marmorkirken is one of Copenhagen's most impressive churches, an architectural masterpiece with a landmark dome.

Jane's expert tip: The dome is open to the public in summer at 1pm and 3pm.

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Designmuseum Danmark
Photo courtesy of Christian Alsing

Formerly the Danish Museum of Art & Design or Kunstindustrimuseet, the largest museum for industrial design and applied arts in Scandinavia is located in a beautiful rococo building in the Frederiksstaden district, the former King Frederik's Hospital, which dates from the 1750s. Housed in this building are permanent collections of European furniture, textiles, prints and posters that will prove fascinating to anyone interested in the history of decorative arts. A delightful addition to the exhibitions is the museum garden, Gronnegaard, which is open to all museum visitors: In the summer, the doors of the museum cafe are opened out into this secluded green space, which is completely hidden from the busy street in front of the museum.

Recommended for Attractions near Cruise Port because: Interesting exhibits apart, Designmuseum Danmark is a beautiful old building with a lovely garden.

Jane's expert tip: Free entry with Copenhagen Card.

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City Centre
Photo courtesy of Dennis Jarvis

Nyhavn may be a tourist trap, but with good reason: On a sunny evening, it's one of the loveliest spots in Copenhagen. With its pretty painted houses clustered around the canalside (most of them restaurants and cafes), it's hard to imagine that Nyhavn was a notorious neighborhood of lowlifes, drunks and prostitutes right up until 1970, popular with sailors on shore leave and littered with all-night bars and tattoo parlors. Only one of those original tattooists now remains, along with seaman's' hostel Hotel Bethel; these days, prices at Nyhavn's eateries are some of the highest in Copenhagen. You could always follow the lead of the other sun worshippers, buy a bottle of beer or an ice cream from a nearby store and dangle your feet from the jetty.

Recommended for Attractions near Cruise Port because: An undeniable tourist trap that remains one of Copenhagen's most fascinating and attractive strips.

Jane's expert tip: Nyhavn has two sides: While its northern side is the busy one, its southern side (by Charlottenborg) is considerably quieter.

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Amalienborg Slotsplads
Photo courtesy of Klaus Bentzen

Amalienborg is actually a group of four Rococo palaces built around an octagonal square by royal architect Nicolai Eigtved in the 1750s. Of these, Queen Margrethe lives in Christian IV's palace with her husband, Prince Consort Henrik while Crown Prince Frederik and Crown Princess Mary have lived in Frederik VIII's Palace since 2010, together with their children. Part of Christian VIII's Palace is open to the public as a museum (Amalienborg Museum). In the center of the square is the imposing statue of Frederik V on horseback, a costly commssion by French artist Jacques Saly. The public are free to walk around the square, though respect is expected; no sitting on the palace steps, for example. Changing of the guards takes place daily at noon.

Recommended for Attractions near Cruise Port because: Even for those with only a passing interest in royalty, the four Rococo palaces of the Amalienborg complex are an architectural masterwork.

Jane's expert tip: For best savings, buy a combined ticket for both Amalienborg Museum and Rosenborg Slot.

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Kastellet (The Citadel)
Photo courtesy of Lotte Dyna

Kastellet translates into English as 'the Citadel', and this excellently-preserved, pentagram-shaped military fortification is one of a ring of four bastions encircling old Copenhagen (other ramparts can be found in Christianshavn; Tivoli Gardens was also built along the old ramparts). Besides its continued use by the Danish Defence services (not open to the public), both visitors and local residents make recreational use of the grounds, including occasional events and concerts (the annual open-air performance by the Royal Danish Ballet is a long-standing tradition). This pleasant public park includes a moat and windmill. Nearby attractions include the Gefion Fountain and the English church of St Alban's.

Recommended for Attractions near Cruise Port because: Well worth a wander, Kastellet is a pleasant park area with a rich military history.

Jane's expert tip: Kastellet is an ideal stop enroute to the Little Mermaid statue.

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Den Lille Havfrue
Photo courtesy of Erling A

The small, unassuming figure in bronze of Hans Christian Andersen's tragic heroine sits patiently on her rock, her head bowed, climbed on by tourists and buffetted by the waves. You might want to hate her, this rather over-rated tourist attraction that's been the icon of all things Danish since she was first unveiled back in 1913, but you may leave Langelinie feeling sorry for her, she who has falled victim to graffiti, politcal actions and even her own beheading in a famous artist's happening of the 60s. Still, the walk up here from Nyhavn is pleasant, and the nearby Amaliehaven Park looks lovely on a warm summer's day. Alternatively, many people take in the landmark as part of a canal tour.

Recommended for Attractions near Cruise Port because: Target of taunts and butt of jokes for decades, the Little Mermaid has stood the strength of times and remains worth a visit.

Jane's expert tip: Whilst here, don't miss the Little Mermaid's mutant siblings just a few minutes' walk away in Bjorn Norgaard's sculpture, 'Paradise Genetically Altered'.

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Meet Jane Graham

After touring most of Europe in her twenties, Jane was charmed by Copenhagen's relaxed tempo and moved there from her native northern England in 1999. Four young children at home has meant...  More About Jane