The Best of Summer in Copenhagen

Like a bear emerging from hibernation after a long winter, Copenhageners throw open their doors with a hunger for sunlight, food, and community. Summer is an amazing time to be in the city as it comes alive with events, festivals, and folks just soaking it all up.

In spring and summer months, peaking in July, it is strawberry and cherry season. Street vendors around the city sell both en mass. Raised to Danish agricultural standards, they are incredibly flavorful, healthy, and the perfect budget-friendly snack for exploring the city. One of my favorite places to buy from is a small flower and fruit stand located just south of Norreport in the square called Kultorvet. The booth is impossible to miss, and with the recently installed fountain situated about 10 paces away, you can sit and enjoy them while watching people go about their daily business.
Amager Strandvej
Copenhagen (and Denmark) are famous for being incredibly environmentally friendly. Windmills play a huge role in making that possible. One of the best places to see the large windmills installed just off Copenhagen’s coast is from the beach at Amager Beach Park. I find that the fact that they are marine windmills makes them even cooler and more fascinating than those installed on land.
Frederiksborg Slot, 3400 Hillerød, Denmark
A Renaissance castle just isn’t the same without a sprawling garden to go with it. Luckily, not only is Frederiksborg Slot (castle) the largest Renaissance castle in Scandinavia, it also has an amazing garden that lives up to its stature.
Gothersgade 87, 1123 København, Denmark
More than just a wine bar, this is also a vibrant Italian restaurant dedicated to the senses. The restaurant is located right across from Kongens Have (the King’s Garden) in central Copenhagen. Well aware of this fact, they have an innovative take-away option for those interested in picnicking in the park. The restaurant received an Award of Excellence from Wine Spectator in 2011, 2012, and 2013. Photo: Il Senso
Øster Farimagsgade 10, 2100 København, Denmark
A visit to Denmark must include trying the country’s famous, impossible-to-pronounce open-faced sandwich, smørrebrød (I’m fairly certain that only native Danish speakers can pronounce it properly -"SMUHR-bruth”). Smørrebrød translates to “buttered bread,” and a traditional smørrebrød lunch usually includes three or four small sandwiches ranging from potatoes and radish to egg salad. The once working-class lunch gets a chefy makeover at Aamanns where the smørrebrød is served on homemade rye bread. The restaurant design is charming, with big stencils of radishes and cows on the walls. Order the smørrebrød trio for lunch, and ask to have it paired with a biodynamic wine.
100 Kongevejen
Situated just outside of Copenhagen, the Danish Open Air Museum is a fantastic place that allows you to see and experience Danish history. The museum features historic buildings, traditional breeds of Danish livestock, and stunning gardens. Buildings within the museum cover the time period 1650-1940 with a mixture of farm houses, mills, and common buildings available for you to visit.
Gl Strandvej 13, 3050 Humlebæk, Denmark
If you’re visiting Copenhagen, don’t miss a visit to the Louisiana Museum of Modern Art. It’s an easy 1/2 hour train ride from the city followed by about a 10 minute walk. Everything about our visit was excellent but a highlight is spending time in the sculpture garden which overlooks the Sound (and you can see the coast of Sweden in the distance). This is a great outing with kids. The children’s wing does a fantastic job of creating interesting ways for the kids to plug into modern art and the museum. On our visit there was a sculpture garden detective kit where kids had to seek out certain sculptures and examine different aspects and make some discoveries. Our kids loved it and it kept them engaged -- and it allowed me to leave them with my husband while I viewed the galleries in peace. There is also a great winding slide near the children’s wing that they spent a lot of time on. At the end of the day we got a bite to eat and and a glass of wine (for the adults) on the terrace overlooking the Calder sculpture garden and the Sound. Don’t miss the gift shop with lots of great modern design items to tempt you.
Nørre Voldgade 1, 1358 København, Denmark
Situated just next to the hustle and bustle of Norreport Station, Ørstedsparken has a small lake, gorgeous bridge, and series of flowerbeds and tree-lined walkways that make it easy to forget you’re in a major city. The park is stunning year-round but at its most beautiful in late spring and early fall. Join locals in the park for BBQing, sunbathing, and relaxing while snacking on lunch or downing Carlsberg or Tuborg purchased at a nearby 7/11, Netto or Fakta.
128 Gothersgade
Though it has somewhat limited hours, the Palm House in the heart of Copenhagen‘s botanical gardens is open year round and a lovely spot to visit. Built in the late 1870s, the structure is everything you would expect from a building dating back to that era including cast-iron spiral stairs, and butterfly room.
16B Helgolandsgade
What does the world’s oldest amusement park look like? To find out, take a visit to Bakken just outside of Copenhagen. The park, which is situated on the edge of Dyrehaven dates back to 1583 and is open on a seasonal basis with modern rides including six roller coasters and traditional amusement park attractions. Photo: Erkan (Wikipedia)
Roskildevej 32, 2000 Frederiksberg, Denmark
In a design-obsessed city, it’s only right that the animals in Copenhagen Zoo (Denmark’s fourth most popular attraction) should live in style. The Elephant House was designed by British architect Sir Norman Foster, while the Tasmanian kangaroos have a home designed by one of Sweden’s top agencies, White Arkitektur. The Panda House, opening in 2018, is by the hottest Danish architect of the moment, Bjarke Ingels. The enclosure is inspired by the Chinese yin-and-yang symbol, which should make it a happy home for the male and female panda that will be coming over from China to live here.
Frederiksborg Slot 10, 3400 Hillerød, Denmark
While its more famous neighbor to the north (Kronborg) steals all the headlines, my favorite palace in Denmark is without question Frederiksborg Castle. Situated on its own island in the midst of a stunning lake in the heart of Hillerod, this castle/museum is a must-see as part of any day trip from Copenhagen. It is the largest Renaissance palace in Scandinavia.
Vindeboder 12, 4000 Roskilde, Denmark
We went to the Viking Ship Museum while visiting Copenhagen. It’s about 1/2 hour train ride from the city and another 10 minutes or so on the bus (#203). I expected to spend about a half day here entertaining the kids but we ended up spending much more because it was so engaging. They have actual kid activities that are interesting and fun -- view old viking weapons, learn how to sword fight with wooden shields and sword (a staff member will show you how it’s done), decorate your own shield and sword to take home, learn how to make rope -- and this is just one small part of the whole experience. Inside you can view the remnants of the 5 viking ships that were discovered in the harbor and learn about how they recreated them. You can also watch a film about how a crew sailed a recreated ship from Roskilde to Dublin (while seated in a replica ship). The kids can try on traditional viking costumes. And finally, but not least, you can pay a small fee to take one of the replicated viking boats out on the water! There’s no motor -- just oars to row out and then use the wind to sail back in. It’s beautiful out on the water and to have a view back to town. The kids can participate or just watch all the activity. There was so much to do and a variety of offerings that engaged the whole family. Definitely a must-do with kids on a visit to Copenhagen.
Strandvejen 150, 2920 Charlottenlund, Denmark
Situated in the suburbs just outside Copenhagen, Charlottenlund Beach Park is a small oasis in one of Denmark’s wealthiest areas. The old fortress retains several naval artillery batteries in a space that has been converted to a park and overlooks a small, but beautiful, Danish beach. Just behind the park you can head into the park itself, which is a richly forested area that is absolutely stunning in fall. Head to the nearby Charlottenlund Palace, built by Christian the VI in 1733, as part of your stroll through the park. There’s also a lovely cafe down by the beach which is open to visitors and offers a view over the water.
Prins Jørgens Gård 1, 1218 København, Denmark
The success of the TV drama Borgen has piqued international interest in the building that houses the Danish government. Christiansborg Palace (from which Borgen takes its name) is also the tallest tower in the city center, and it’s free to visit though you will have to go through airport-style security to get in. There’s a viewing platform or, better yet, go to the casual restaurant in the tower. One of the most unusual and memorable places to dine in Copenhagen, the belfry-like eatery has a Harry Potter–like charm, with casts of sculptures left over from the time the space was used as a storage room.
More from AFAR
Sign up for our newsletter
Join more than a million of the world’s best travelers. Subscribe to the Daily Wander newsletter.
AFAR Journeys
Journeys: United States
Journeys: Sports + Adventure
Journeys: Family
Journeys: United States