Picturesque, compact Copenhagen is perfectly packaged for sightseeing

Picturesque Copenhagen seems tailor made for sightseeing. Neat and compact, its biggest landmarks are perfectly packaged and arranged around the harbor and inner city.

Of the many sightseeing tours of Copenhagen on offer, the best is surely a self-guided Canal Tour, an attraction in itself – nab the hop-on, hop-off option and fit in as many of the city’s waterfront landmarks as you can. This is an ideal way to see much-discussed icons like The Little Mermaid and the ultra-modern Opera House in the same trip; and while you won’t get up close enough to Amalienborg Palace to see the changing of the guard, sightseeing via the canals offers a completely new perspective on the city. Pick the tour up from Nyhavn – a bustling quayside popular with tourists and locals alike.   

Take a walk away from the harbor front to see two examples of Copenhagen’s splendid Renaissance architecture, Rosenborg Slot – home to Denmark’s crown jewels - and Rundetaarn, a still functioning observatory in a unique round tower from 1642. On the opposite side of the city in picturesque Christianshavn, Vor Frelsers Kirke, with its distinctive spire, is arguably Copenhagen’s most attractive church: All of these 17th-century architectural pearls were the vision of Christian IV (1577-1648), often referred to as the ‘Builder King’.

Sightseers shouldn’t miss out on Copenhagen’s two power bases: Parliament’s Christiansborg and City Hall Rådhuset are both impressive examples of quite different architectural styles. At Christiansborg, the layers of history are clear as not one but four previous castles were all built on this same site, the oldest dating back to the origins of Copenhagen.

Photo courtesy of Ib Rasmussen via Wikimedia Commons

Copenhagen's city hall was inaugurated in 1905, designed by architect Martin Nyrup and inspired by the city hall of Siena, Italy. (The previous city hall had been located in the old court house building, 'Domhuset'). While its red brick facade...  Read More

Copenhagen Opera House

You don't have to be fan of opera to have heard of Copenhagen's opera house: Inaugurated amid much fanfare in 2005, the Henning Larsen-designed masterpiece is one of the most expensive opera houses ever built anywhere in the world, costing well...  Read More

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...  Read More

Christiansborg Palace dominates Slotsholmen, where it all started back in the 12th century when Bishop Absalon built a castle in the midst of bogland and herring fishermen. Christiansborg is shared equally by the Danish state and its monarchy...  Read More

Vor Frelsers Kirke
Photo courtesy of Bjørn Giesenbauer

The twisting spire of Vor Frelsers Kirke (The Church of Our Savior) is one of the clearest landmarks in the Christianshavn district of Copenhagen, rising above the other buildings with its gold domed top. The large, baroque church dates from...  Read More

Rundetaarn (The Round Tower)
Photo courtesy of Morten Jerichau

The Rundetaarn dates back to 1642 and is the oldest functioning observatory in Europe. Built on the orders of Christian IV, it forms one-third of the scholarly Trinitatis Complex, the other two being the university library and church,...  Read More

City Centre
Rosenborg Slot
Photo courtesy of

There aren't many castles that actually look like the trademark Disney one, with fairytale turrets raised high over Copenhagen's other rooftops, but Rosenborg does, and stone lions guarding the entrance, too. This castle was built as the summer...  Read More

A canal boat is a great way to get around Copenhagen as well as the perfect means to take in some sightseeing. Two companies offers boat tours in Copenhagen, Canal Tours Copenhagen and the blue Netto Boats. The sightseeing boats of Canal Tours...  Read More

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...  Read More

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...  Read More


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