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Cultural Sites in Copenhagen: Must-Sees and Hidden Gems


Nyhavn waterfront in Copenhagen, Denmark.
Hi, I'm Karen!

Karen is a Scottish freelance travel and culture writer based in the US. Her work has appeared in The Washington Post, National Geographic, BBC, and Condé Nast Traveler.

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From the Vikings to the modern-day royals, Denmark has a rich heritage at the heart of which lies its charming capital, Copenhagen. The city’s cultural offerings are eclectic—from artifact-stuffed museums and soaring feats of architecture to underground art galleries and cozy live music venues. Add in effortlessly cool fashion, innovative cuisine, and one of the most sustainable urban centers in the world, and you’ll soon realize why Copenhagen is one of the world’s cultural capitals.


Museums and cultural centers

Top sites that are perfect for history lovers.

The must-see: The National Museum

Denmark's National Museum takes visitors on a journey through Danish history, from the Stone Age through the Viking and Middle Ages, the Renaissance, and the present day. Via exhibitions and themed guided tours you’ll learn about everything from Viking mythology to the concept of hygge and how the Danish prioritize life-work balance.

Don’t miss: The Voices from the Colonies exhibition on the first floor focuses on Danish colonialism from the perspectives of those impacted by it, including a Greenlandic seal hunter and the West Indian rebel Queen Mary.

The hidden gem: North Atlantic House

A visit to the North Atlantic House (Nordatlantens Brygge) will expand your cultural horizons while in Copenhagen. This cultural center, which is housed in a historic warehouse, preserves and promotes culture and art from Denmark and its former colonies—Iceland, Greenland, and the Faroe Islands—through exhibitions, performances, and other events. The center also houses the Icelandic embassy and the Greenlandic and Faroese diplomatic missions.

Don’t miss: Visit the on-site café to try regional specialties such as Icelandic dried fish, Greenlandic schnapps, and Faroese beer.

National Museum of Denmark, Copenhagen
The National Museum is a must-visit in Copenhagen. Photo: Klaus Hertz-Ladiges / Shutterstock

Architectural sites

Top spots for design-savvy visitors.

The must-see: The Royal Danish Library

Better known as the Black Diamond, the shiny black facade of this extension of the Royal Danish Library mirrors the sea and sky on Copenhagen’s waterfront. Designed by Schmidt Hammer Lassen Architects and completed in 1999, the striking, leaning structure is an attraction in its own right but also houses reading rooms, a concert hall, exhibition galleries, and a café.

Don’t miss: Housed inside the Black Diamond, the National Museum of Photography organizes rotating temporary exhibitions of varying themes and artists from the Royal Library’s collection.

The hidden gem: Circle Bridge

Designed by the renowned Danish-Icelandic architect and artist Olafur Eliasson, and completed in 2015, the Circle Bridge (Cirkelbroen) connects Christiansbro in the north to Appelbys Plads in the south. The bridge consists of five differently sized circular platforms, each with its own mast, bringing to mind the image of a ship by the quay as a nod to Copenhagen’s maritime history.

Don’t miss: Visit in the evening to see the Circle Bridge lit up, creating an even more striking image.

Danish Royal Library, aka Black Diamond, interior
The Danish Royal Library is an architectural masterpiece on the waterfront. Photo: Lepneva Irina / Shutterstock

Music venues

Where to have a toe-tapping night out.

The must-see: Tivoli Gardens

One of Europe’s most loved—and one of the world’s oldest operating—amusement parks, Tivoli Gardens offers more than carousels and roller coasters. It’s also a major concert venue, hosting live music every day during the summer. The music program includes such special events as the one-off Friday Rock concert, as well as weekly events including Mundo Monday, which features folk and world music; Tuesday Tunes, featuring Danish songs; and Jazzy Wednesday featuring Denmark’s best Jazz musicians.

Don’t miss: Taking a spin on a ride is a must-do in Tivoli but park admission fees do not include ride tickets. If you want to experience multiple rides, a package with unlimited rides is a better deal than purchasing individual tickets.

The hidden gem: Mojo Blues Bar

You can catch live performances of deep, soulful blues and its associated genres, any night of the week at Mojo Blues Bar. The bar has a warm, welcoming, and relaxed atmosphere and after the band has finished playing, DJs take over, keeping the dance floor busy into the wee hours.

Don’t miss: Check the calendar online or on the posters outside and be sure to arrive in good time; the small size of the venue means there’s often a battle for the best seating.

Tivoli ride in Copenhagen, Denmark.
Tivoli is one of the world's best amusement parks, ideal for culture fans in Copenhagen. Photo: George Sandu / Shutterstock

Art galleries and museums

Top picks for arty travelers.

The must-see: Ny Carlsberg Glyptotek

Founded in 1888 brewing magnate Carl Jacobsen, Ny Carlsberg Glyptotek is home to Northern Europe's largest collection of ancient Mediterranean art and Denmark’s leading collection of French Impressionist paintings, including more than 40 by Gauguin, as well as works by Cézanne, Van Gogh, Monet, and Renoir. Visitors can also admire the largest collection of Rodin sculptures outside of France.

Don’t miss: At the heart of the museum is a glass-domed conservatory where you’ll find tall palm trees, a fountain, fish pool, and an inviting café.

The hidden gem: Cisternerne

In leafy Frederiksberg, beneath the lush green grass of Søndermarken Park, Cisternerne (“the Cisterns”) is a former water reservoir that has taken on a new life as an exhibition space for contemporary art. The venue’s rotating exhibitions have included The Water, a 2017 exhibition by Hiroshi Sambuichi who refilled the space with water to create a sensory experience.

Don’t miss: Check the calendar for upcoming events. Musical experiences are especially atmospheric in the underground space, where sound reverberates for 17 seconds.

Ny Carlsberg Glyptotek
The Ny Carlsberg Glyptotek is one of Copenhagen's top art galleries. Photo: Antony McAulay / Shutterstock

More things to do in Copenhagen

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Hi, I'm Karen!

Karen is a Scottish freelance travel and culture writer based in the US. Her work has appeared in The Washington Post, National Geographic, BBC, and Condé Nast Traveler.

Keep exploring
See all Copenhagen tours
251 tours & tickets
Things to do in Copenhagen
See all things to do in Copenhagen
People ride bikes across a crosswalk in Tokyo
7 of the World's Best Cities to Explore by Bike