Copenhagen, the captivating capital of Denmark, effortlessly marries old-world charm with modern innovation. The city, adorned with fairy-tale castles, historical landmarks, lush parks, and a picturesque waterfront, provides a unique cultural journey. This is particularly true for families with children, as Copenhagen is a city where history, nature, and contemporary design come together in a captivating symphony. With an abundance of kid-friendly activities, delicious eateries, and comfortable accommodations, it’s an inviting haven for families. This invaluable guide is specifically tailored to help families with children uncover the myriad charms of this extraordinary Scandinavian city.
Table of Contents
- Things to Do in Copenhagen
- Copenhagen with Kids
- Where to Stay in Copenhagen
- Where to Stay with Kids in Copenhagen
- Where to Eat in Copenhagen
- Family-Friendly Dining: A Culinary Journey for Kids in Copenhagen
- Day Trips
- Festivals and more
- Weather and Packing Guide
- Family-Friendly Transportation
- Local Customs and Etiquette
- Further Reading
Things to Do in Copenhagen
While Copenhagen is a splendid destination for families, its charm extends to travelers of all kinds. The city radiates a vibrant spirit encapsulated in its dynamic culinary landscape, chic boutiques, and pioneering architecture. Whether your passion lies in historical exploration, gastronomy, shopping, or appreciating art and design, Copenhagen’s diverse offerings cater to every interest. The following recommended sites offer a glimpse into the richness of the city’s unique character, appealing to all travelers. However, rest assured, a section tailored specifically for families and activities for children is forthcoming. So, delve into these universal attractions and savor the captivating essence of Copenhagen.
- Tivoli Gardens: A fairy-tale-like amusement park right in the city center, Tivoli Gardens is a place where imagination and reality blur. Founded in 1843, it offers a mix of thrilling rides, beautiful gardens, exotic architecture, and various cultural events like concerts and theater performances. Whether you are seeking the adrenaline rush of roller coasters or the tranquillity of lush gardens, Tivoli has something for everyone.
- Nyhavn: A historic waterfront district, Nyhavn is a postcard-perfect area of Copenhagen. The old harbor is adorned with colorful 17th-century townhouses, bars, cafes, and vintage ships. Once the home of celebrated Danish author Hans Christian Andersen, it’s a delightful place to walk, grab a bite to eat, or simply sit by the canal and watch the world go by.
- The Little Mermaid Statue: This bronze statue perched on a rock by the waterside is one of Copenhagen’s most iconic landmarks. Based on Hans Christian Andersen’s fairytale, the sculpture, although petite, attracts countless visitors who enjoy the sea breeze while capturing a memorable picture with the famous mermaid.
- Strøget (on the map): As one of Europe’s longest pedestrian streets, Strøget offers an unrivaled shopping experience. This bustling thoroughfare is lined with a blend of high-street stores, designer boutiques, and local brands. Additionally, Strøget is home to a number of landmarks, cafes, and street entertainers, ensuring that it’s more than just a shopping destination.
- Christiania: Known as Freetown Christiania, this self-proclaimed autonomous district is one of Copenhagen’s most controversial and intriguing attractions. Founded in the 1970s by squatters and artists, the neighborhood has its own rules and a bohemian atmosphere. It’s filled with colorful murals, homemade houses, organic eateries, and a unique ambiance that challenges mainstream culture.
- Rosenborg Castle: This majestic Renaissance castle is an immersion into Danish royal history. It houses the crown jewels and royal regalia, surrounded by the charm of antiquity. The adjacent King’s Garden is the oldest and most visited park in the city and is perfect for a leisurely stroll or picnic.
- amalienborg Palace: The home of the Danish royal family consists of four identical palaces surrounding a square. The changing of the guard ceremony takes place daily at noon. The nearby Amalienborg Museum gives an intimate insight into the private rooms of the most recent kings and queens and showcases royal life’s pomp and ceremony.
- National Museum of Denmark: A must-visit for history buffs, this museum takes you on a journey from the Stone Age, the Viking Age, the Middle Ages, the Renaissance, and Modern Danish History. It’s a comprehensive and fascinating look at the way the country’s past has shaped its present.
- Christiansborg Palace: Located on the tiny island of Slotsholmen, Christiansborg Palace contains the Danish Parliament, the Supreme Court, and the Ministry of State. Parts of the palace are used by the Royal Family for various events and receptions, and it’s the only building in the world that houses all three of a country’s branches of government.
Copenhagen with Kids
Copenhagen, Denmark’s picturesque capital, is a veritable treasure trove of experiences that can provide a lifetime of memories for younger visitors. With a combination of historical landmarks, outdoor adventures, and creative spaces, this city offers a plethora of family-friendly activities that are as engaging as they are educational.
One of the most alluring spots for children in Copenhagen is Tivoli Gardens. This world-famous amusement park, which inspired Walt Disney to create Disneyland, captures the imaginations of young and old alike. A walk through the park’s enchanting landscape presents an opportunity to enjoy thrilling rides, spectacular performances, and an array of games. The atmosphere, filled with joyous laughter and the aroma of cotton candy, creates a magical world where children can let their imaginations run wild.
For families with a love for the sea and its creatures, the National Aquarium Denmark, known as Den Blå Planet, is a must-visit. This state-of-the-art aquarium, the largest in Northern Europe, transports families into an underwater world where thousands of aquatic animals coexist. Children will be fascinated by the hammerhead sharks and rays, and the interactive exhibits can spark curiosity and a sense of wonder about the oceans.
The city’s cultural education continues with a visit to the National Museum of Denmark. The Children’s Museum within this complex provides an interactive playground where kids can dress up in historical costumes, cook in a Viking kitchen, or sail a Viking ship. It’s not just entertaining; it’s an immersive way for kids to learn about Denmark’s rich history.
Copenhagen is also home to one of the oldest zoos in Europe. The Copenhagen Zoo creates a world of adventure with its exotic animals and diverse habitats. Watching the feeding of polar bears or wandering through the Tropical Zoo to experience an indoor rainforest, kids will engage with nature in an exciting, tangible way.
Another gem in the city is the Experimentarium, a world-class science center. Through interactive exhibits that cover topics like light, sound, and mechanics, children can learn about scientific phenomena in a hands-on way that makes learning fun.
In addition to all these organized activities, kids will enjoy simply exploring the city’s green spaces. From picnicking in the King’s Garden near Rosenborg Castle to watching the Changing of the Guard at Amalienborg Palace or visiting the city’s many playgrounds, there are plenty of outdoor activities to delight children.
When it comes to dining, Copenhagen caters to little ones too. Visit Copenhagen Street Food (Reffen), an outdoor food market offering a variety of cuisines, where even the pickiest eater can find something delicious. Or stop for a pastry at one of the city’s numerous bakeries for a sweet treat.
The essence of Copenhagen, its charm, and friendliness extends to its youngest visitors. This welcoming city is a place where kids can experience discovery, wonder, and delight at every turn. Copenhagen is not just a place to visit; it’s a place to experience, to learn, and to grow – a playground for the young and the young at heart.
Where to Stay in Copenhagen
Discover the essence of Danish ‘hygge’ in Copenhagen’s diverse accommodations. Whether you’re seeking the luxury of iconic hotels, the personalized touch of boutique establishments, the affordability of hostels, or the unique charm of historic guesthouses, Copenhagen offers a warm welcome to every kind of traveler.
What exactly is hygge?
“Hygge” (pronounced ‘hoo-guh’) is a Danish word that doesn’t have an exact translation in English, but it broadly refers to a feeling of cozy contentment and well-being through enjoying the simple things in life.
It’s a fundamental aspect of Danish culture, reflecting a unique approach to everyday life. Hygge can be experienced in various ways – it could be curling up with a good book, enjoying a dinner with friends, lighting candles to create a cozy atmosphere, or sipping a warm cup of coffee in a favorite chair.
Although it’s particularly associated with the colder months when Danes spend a lot of time indoors creating a warm, comfortable environment, hygge can be pursued at any time of year.
In essence, hygge is about creating and appreciating simple, comforting, and harmonious experiences, whether alone or with others. It’s a concept that many believe contributes to Denmark’s high rankings in surveys of the world’s happiest countries.
Copenhagen Luxury Hotels
- Hotel d’Angleterre: One of the most iconic hotels in Copenhagen, it offers luxury accommodation in a historic building located in the heart of the city.
- Nimb Hotel: This boutique luxury hotel located within the Tivoli Gardens amusement park combines historic charm with modern amenities.
- Radisson Collection Royal Hotel: Designed by renowned Danish architect Arne Jacobsen, this hotel offers a unique, stylish experience.
Copenhagen Mid-Range Hotels
- 71 Nyhavn Hotel: Set in two renovated warehouses, this hotel offers rooms with a maritime theme, some offering views of the canal.
- Ibsens Hotel: A cozy, boutique hotel located near the Torvehallerne food market and the Nørreport Metro Station.
- The absalon Hotel: This family-run hotel offers comfortable accommodation and is located close to the trendy Vesterbro district.
Copenhagen Budget Hotels
- Copenhagen Downtown Hostel: A popular choice among young travelers, offering both dormitory and private rooms, a bar, and a lively atmosphere.
- Cabinn Metro: Offering functional rooms modeled on cabins of a ship, this hotel is a good budget-friendly option.
- Urban House Copenhagen by MEININGER: A hybrid between a hostel and a hotel, Urban House is a budget-friendly option that offers a mix of private rooms and dormitories.
Unique Stays in Copenhagen
- Tivoli Hotel: Designed with a fun and playful Tivoli Gardens amusement park theme in mind, it’s a unique stay for families.
- Urban Camper Hostel: This hostel offers private sleeping pods, creating a camping-like atmosphere indoors.
- Manon Les Suites: Each suite is designed with a unique theme in mind, offering a boutique experience.
Where to Stay with Kids in Copenhagen
Choosing the right accommodation is crucial when traveling with kids. Thankfully, Copenhagen offers a variety of family-friendly hotels that cater to the needs of younger guests.
- Tivoli Hotel: Not only is it conveniently located close to Tivoli Gardens, but this hotel also offers a range of family-themed rooms. With an indoor pool, a playroom, and even a children’s menu at the in-house restaurant, this hotel goes out of its way to make sure its little guests are well taken care of.
- Hotel LEGOLAND®: Although it’s outside Copenhagen (in Billund), this LEGO® themed hotel might be worth the trip for families with LEGO® fans. The hotel offers themed rooms, a play area, and easy access to the LEGOLAND® amusement park.
- Copenhagen Admiral Hotel: This hotel’s spacious family rooms and central location make it an ideal choice for families. It’s within walking distance of many attractions and offers a relaxed, comfortable stay.
- absalon Hotel: Offering family rooms and located in a convenient central location, Absalon Hotel is another great choice. The vibrant Vesterbro district, home to Tivoli Gardens and numerous restaurants, is right at your doorstep.
- Copenhagen Strand: This hotel offers larger rooms to accommodate families and is situated in a peaceful location by the harbor. It’s within walking distance to Nyhavn and the shopping street, Strøget.
- Danhostel Copenhagen City: For families on a budget, this hostel offers clean, spacious rooms, and it’s located close to major attractions. The communal kitchen can be a plus for families wanting to self-cater.
Remember, when choosing a place to stay, consider its proximity to attractions, the availability of family-friendly amenities, and the space you’ll have to relax and unwind after a busy day of exploration. Staying in the right place can make your family holiday in Copenhagen even more special.
Where to Eat in Copenhagen
Copenhagen is a food lover’s paradise and is known for its culinary scene. Here are some places you might want to visit:
- Noma: Frequently ranked among the best restaurants in the world, Noma offers an exceptional and unique dining experience.
- Torvehallerne: This food market offers a wide range of food stalls selling everything from Danish smørrebrød (open-faced sandwiches) to gourmet chocolate.
- Restaurant Höst: Offers New Nordic cuisine in a beautiful setting. It’s a great place to try contemporary Danish cuisine.
- Copenhagen Street Food (Reffen): This outdoor food market offers a variety of cuisines from around the world. It’s a perfect place for a casual, affordable meal.
- Kødbyens Fiskebar: Located in Copenhagen’s trendy Meatpacking District, this restaurant serves top-quality seafood in a cool, industrial setting.
- Copenhagen Admiral Hotel Salt Bar & Restaurant: Located in a converted 18th-century warehouse, this restaurant offers a unique dining experience with views of the Copenhagen harbor.
- Smørrebrød at Restaurant Schønnemann: For a classic Danish food experience, head to Schønnemann for smørrebrød (open-faced sandwiches), a traditional and delicious Danish lunch.
Family-Friendly Dining: A Culinary Journey for Kids in Copenhagen
Copenhagen’s culinary scene is world-renowned, boasting a collection of Michelin-starred restaurants, innovative dining experiences, and the inimitable Danish pastry shops. However, eating out in Copenhagen is not exclusively an adult affair; the city is teeming with kid-friendly dining options that cater to the tastes and interests of younger visitors.
One of the most loved destinations for families is the Copenhagen Street Food market (Reffen). Here, you’ll find an array of food trucks and stalls serving dishes from around the world, offering a relaxed atmosphere and a diverse menu sure to satisfy even the pickiest eaters. Not only can children choose what they’d like to eat, but the open-air, picnic-style dining also adds an element of fun to the meal.
For a taste of traditional Danish cuisine, Restaurant Puk is a great option. Located in the city center, this cosy restaurant offers a child-friendly menu alongside classic Danish dishes. The welcoming staff and homely atmosphere make it a comfortable choice for families.
When it comes to sweet treats – a must-have when traveling with kids – Copenhagen doesn’t disappoint. The city is sprinkled with bakeries, or ‘bageri’, where the tantalizing scent of freshly baked Danish pastries wafts onto the street. For a truly memorable experience, take your kids to La Glace, one of the city’s oldest confectioneries. Known for its delectable cakes and hot chocolate, it’s the perfect spot for an afternoon treat.
However, a visit to Copenhagen with kids wouldn’t be complete without a trip to a traditional ice cream shop. Vaffelbageren in Nyhavn is an iconic spot, serving up gigantic, freshly baked waffle cones loaded with delicious ice cream and topped with whipped cream, syrup, and a flødebolle (a traditional Danish sweet).
Copenhagen’s allure extends beyond its city limits, with the enchanting treasures of Denmark easily accessible thanks to the country’s compact size and efficient transportation. Day excursions lead you to a variety of cultural, historical, and natural sites, from Roskilde’s quaint streets to Billund’s captivating LEGO® wonders. Each journey complements your Copenhagen experience and reveals Denmark’s diverse offerings. Embark on a Viking history exploration, a fairytale journey in Odense, or an art-filled day in Humlebæk, all within a short distance of the capital.
- Roskilde: Just a short train ride from Copenhagen, Roskilde is home to a UNESCO World Heritage Site, the Roskilde Cathedral, where Danish monarchs have been buried since the 15th century. But the main attraction for families is the Viking Ship Museum, where you can see original Viking ships and even sail out on the fjord on a traditional Viking boat.
- Frederiksborg Castle: This majestic Renaissance castle is located in Hillerød, around 30 kilometers north of Copenhagen. The castle is surrounded by a beautiful lake and gardens, making it perfect for a leisurely picnic. The Museum of National History inside the castle provides an engaging lesson in Danish history.
- Helsingør: This city is the home of Kronborg Castle, which was the setting for Shakespeare’s Hamlet. Take the guided tour and get lost in the fascinating history and legend of this famous castle. Also, visit the Maritime Museum of Denmark, an innovative, underground museum that tells the story of Denmark’s historical relationship with the sea.
- Malmö, Sweden: Cross the iconic Øresund Bridge into Sweden and visit Malmö. This cosmopolitan city is known for its contemporary architecture, beautiful parks, and the Turning Torso, Scandinavia’s tallest building. It’s a delightful mix of old and new and an easy day trip from Copenhagen.
- Odense: Take a train to Odense, the birthplace of Hans Christian Andersen. Visit the author’s childhood home and the Hans Christian Andersen Museum to learn about his life and works. Also, the city zoo and the open-air museum, The Funen Village, are fun for the whole family.
- Louisiana Museum of Modern Art: Located in Humlebæk, this museum is home to an extensive collection of modern and contemporary art. The museum also has a dedicated children’s wing where kids can engage in creative activities. The sculpture garden, with views of Sweden across the water, is also worth a visit.
- LEGOLAND® in Billund: Although a bit farther away, LEGOLAND® is worth the three-hour drive. This theme park is a delight for Lego fans of all ages, with rides, displays, and areas where kids can build their own Lego creations. Combine it with a visit to the original LEGO® factory nearby for a full Lego experience.
Festivals and more
Immersing in local events and festivals is an excellent way for families to engage with Copenhagen’s culture, adding richness and excitement to their trip. The city hosts an array of vibrant events and festivals throughout the year, many of which offer family-friendly activities.
Winter brings the magic of Christmas to Copenhagen, turning it into a festive wonderland. Families should not miss the Tivoli Gardens Christmas Market, which runs from mid-November to late December. Kids will love the beautifully decorated area, traditional Danish treats, and the myriad of rides.
In February, the Wondercool Festival celebrates Copenhagen’s culinary, cultural, and artistic scenes, with many events suitable for children. Kids can enjoy various art workshops, food tastings, and concerts.
Spring heralds the start of the Copenhagen Carnival, usually held in May. It’s a riot of color and music, with kids’ workshops, a dedicated children’s parade, and lively performances.
Summer, from June to August, hosts several music festivals. One to mark in the calendar is the Roskilde Festival, offering a dedicated children’s area with games, performances, and creative activities.
The autumn months signal the celebration of Halloween at Tivoli Gardens. The park is transformed with festive decorations, spooky rides, and pumpkin carving workshops.
Lastly, the Culture Night in October opens the doors of over 250 institutions across the city, including museums and the parliament, for night-time exploration. Many places have special activities for children, making it an educational and fun family experience.
Remember that exact dates can change yearly, so it’s advisable to check the official websites closer to your visit.
Weather and Packing Guide
Planning a family trip to Copenhagen requires consideration of the city’s diverse weather and understanding what essentials to pack for kids. The Danish capital experiences a temperate oceanic climate, characterized by mild temperatures throughout the year, but each season presents its own charm and demands.
The winter months from December to February can be quite cold, with temperatures often dropping below freezing. Snowfall is a possibility, making warm clothing, such as coats, hats, gloves, and waterproof boots, absolute necessities for kids.
Spring, from March to May, sees temperatures gradually rise, with the city blooming into vibrant colors. Lighter jackets, sweaters, and rain gear (due to occasional showers) are advisable during this season.
Summers, from June to August, are pleasantly warm but not overly hot, with average highs around 20-22°C. Pack lightweight clothing, sun hats, sunscreen, and comfortable shoes for outdoor exploration.
Autumn, from September to November, can be cool and rainy. Bring along warm layers, scarves, and waterproof jackets.
Year-round, Copenhagen’s weather can be unpredictable, so it’s a good idea to pack layers for sudden changes. Also, considering the city’s bike-friendly culture, backpacks might be more suitable for kids instead of traditional suitcases, ensuring they can carry their essentials while biking. Armed with this information, families can be better prepared to enjoy their Copenhagen adventure, no matter the season.
Navigating a new city can be a daunting task, especially when traveling with children. However, in Copenhagen, the city’s thoughtful urban design and infrastructure make transportation not only easily accessible but also family-friendly.
Copenhagen is one of the world’s most bike-friendly cities, where bicycles often outnumber cars on the streets. The city offers an extensive network of bike lanes, making cycling a safe and enjoyable mode of transportation for families. Bike rental shops are abundant and many provide child seats, trailers, or cargo bikes specifically designed to carry children. This offers a fun way for families to move around while also being eco-friendly.
For those who prefer not to cycle, Copenhagen’s public transportation system is another excellent option. The city’s buses, trains, and metro services are reliable, clean, and safe. Families will appreciate the dedicated spaces for strollers in buses and trains, and children under the age of 12 typically travel for free. Furthermore, the intuitive ticketing system and real-time travel information make using public transport a breeze.
If you plan on driving, you’ll find that Copenhagen’s roads are well-maintained and traffic is generally calm compared to many other cities. Do remember that parking can be costly in the city center, so plan accordingly.
Finally, don’t forget that Copenhagen is a wonderfully walkable city, especially in pedestrianized zones like Strøget, one of the longest car-free shopping streets in Europe. Here, families can leisurely stroll, take in the sights, and stop whenever something interesting catches their eye.
Regardless of your chosen mode of transport, getting around Copenhagen is an experience in itself. As you move through the city, whether by bike, public transport, car, or on foot, you’ll be treated to a visual feast of scenic canals, historic architecture, and vibrant urban life. This easy accessibility of transportation in Copenhagen ensures that families can focus less on logistics and more on making the most of their visit to this charming city.
Local Customs and Etiquette
Understanding local customs and etiquette is key to respectful travel and can provide a deeper appreciation of the host culture. In Denmark, politeness, respect for personal space, and equality are highly valued.
Danes typically greet with a firm handshake and direct eye contact. In casual settings, a friendly ‘hej’ (hello) is common. Teaching children these simple greetings can foster a sense of connection with locals.
Queuing is respected in Denmark. Encourage your kids to wait their turn patiently, be it at an amusement park or a bakery.
Danish society is eco-conscious. Littering is frowned upon, so be sure to use public bins or carry a small bag for trash when out and about. Cycling is a major part of Danish life, and bike lanes have their own rules – walking in them is a faux pas.
Finally, Danes appreciate quiet and calm public behavior, so keeping noise levels low, especially on public transportation, is advisable.
Navigating these cultural nuances will not only enrich your children’s experience but also teach them the importance of respect and understanding when traveling.
For more in-depth information and up-to-date recommendations for a family vacation in Copenhagen, here are some highly recommended websites and blogs to explore:
- Visit Copenhagen: The city’s official tourism website offers a wealth of information, from event listings to themed guides. Their family section provides tips and ideas specifically tailored to families visiting Copenhagen. Website
- Kids Love Travel: This blog provides family-specific travel advice for a variety of destinations, including Copenhagen. Their guides, experiences, and tips are very child-oriented and practical. Blog
- Mummy Travels: A travel blog by Cathy Winston focusing on her journeys with her daughter. Her guide to Copenhagen offers valuable insights from a parent’s perspective. Blog Post
- The Copenhagen Traveler: This lifestyle and travel blog by Regitse Rosenvinge provides insider tips and guides about Copenhagen, including posts about family activities. Blog
- Lonely Planet – Copenhagen: While not solely dedicated to family travel, their Copenhagen guide offers a detailed look at the city’s attractions, many of which are family-friendly. Website
- Little Scandinavian: This blog shares Scandinavian inspiration including travel, with a specific guide on Copenhagen offering useful tips for families. Blog
These resources will equip you with a wealth of information, making the planning process easier and your family vacation in Copenhagen more enjoyable and memorable.
Copenhagen is a city that beautifully balances tradition and innovation. It’s a place where you can explore historical palaces and modern design museums, dine at world-class restaurants, or enjoy street food markets. Enjoy your visit to this wonderful city!