Photo: Pol.Albarran/Shutterstock

Essential Stops On an Architecture Tour Through Copenhagen, a UNESCO World Capital of Architecture

Copenhagen Insider Guides
by Olly Beckett Mar 27, 2023

Copenhagen is a city of contrasts, with a rich history and culture, stunning architecture, and a vibrant modern scene filled with many museums and art galleries, historic parks and gardens, and streets lined with beautiful buildings. And for those who are interested in architecture, Copenhagen is a city that simply must be seen. From the medieval churches and castles to the modern skyscrapers and bridges, Copenhagen is constantly evolving. And with some of the world’s most cutting-edge architects working in the city, Copenhagen is sure to continue to surprise and delight visitors for years to come. In fact, architecture is one of the main reasons why you’re sure to love this city — Copenhagen was recently nominated as a UNESCO World Capital of Architecture and is celebrating with events throughout 2023.

Head to Copenhagen in the summer and you’ll find architectural events, sublime bathing waters, jazz festivals, and more – just be sure to experience neighborhoods outside of the center, where you’ll find that the locals are keen to welcome tourists.

Must-see things to see on an architecture tour of Copenhagen

Visit the Norhavn neighborhood

Norhavn (pronounced “Norhown”) has been converted from docks and warehouses to blissful boardwalks and awesome architectural gems in recent years. In warmer weather, you’ll see locals flock to those boardwalks, and in any weather you’ll see them swimming in a harbor that has been rigorously cleaned over the past 20 years. Head to Kunditaget Lüders, which is a free outdoor gym and playground on top of a car-and-bicycle park and which, from 24 meters high, provides excellent views of the area. According to research by the Wonderful Copenhagen tourist board, Copenhageners are keen to show off neighborhoods such as this, and, with so much to see in them, the reasons behind this pride are as clear as that water.

Boat tours

boat Tour in Copenhagen, Denmark

Photo: DavidXu/Shutterstock

Taking a boat tour through the harbor and canals is perhaps the best way to see the city, passing many of Copenhagen’s key sights and with some of the tours including an audio guide. The rows of colorful houses that line the waterways are just the start, whether you’re on a bigger tour boat or decide to do the work yourself and kayak. Special tours are scheduled when citywide events take place.

Copenhagen boat tours: Various locations

Opera House

Royal opera house in Copenhagen

Photo: tomtsya/Shutterstock

Lovers of music and architecture will find treasure in the world-renowned Copenhagen Opera House, with public tours (from around $19.50) available to peer behind the scenes. Aida, Giselle, and Swan Lake are just some of the productions recently gracing the immense stage. Even though the auditorium seats over 1,500, be sure to book early to secure your tickets. Oh, and don’t forget to look up: the ceiling sparkles with 24-carat gold leaf.

Copenhagen Opera House: Ekvipagemestervej 10, 1438 København K, Denmark

Danish Architecture Center

Copenhagen, Denmark - Sept 2022: The BLOX, a new prestige building for architecture and design on Christians Brygge. House of Danish Architecture Center (Dansk Arkitektur Center, DAC)  designed by OMA

Photo: BERK OZDEMIR/Shutterstock

More architectural delights can be found at the Danish Architecture Center, where some of Copenhagen’s buildings have been reproduced in model form. I found the model of Copenhagen Airport to be most fascinating, with the movement of thousands of people, planes, and trains demonstrated using a sophisticated lighting system – did you know that the concept of “landside” and “airside” was invented at this airport? Entry is $16.40, free for children 17 and under (who, along with certain adults like me, will enjoy the Lego room and 4-story slide).

Danish Architecture Center: Bryghusgade 10, 1473 København, Denmark

Louisiana Museum of Modern Art

Louisiana Museum of Modern Art. The museum, which brings together green spaces, architecture and art, therefore attracts many visitors. Copenhagen, Denmark - 17.July.2022

Photo: fotopanorama360/Shutterstock

If you’ve got yourself a Copenhagen Card, then you can travel for free on the 27-minute journey from Oosterport to Humblaek, from where it’s then just a 12-minute walk to the Louisiana Museum of Modern Art. Popular with both locals and worldwide visitors, the museum contains works by famous modern and contemporary artists, outside is a peaceful sculpture garden overlooking the sea. Entry for adults is just under $21, if you have the Copenhagen card you get in for free.

Louisiana Museum of Modern Art: Gl Strandvej 13, 3050 Humlebæk, Denmark

Where to eat and drink in Copenhagen

POPL Burger

Summer 2020 and the world-famous NOMA restaurant was temporarily closed by the pandemic. In response, the chefs opened a pop-up kitchen, serving burgers that proved so popular that there’s now a dedicated restaurant on the edge of Christianshavn. As you may expect, the food at Popl is considerably above average, and the restaurant itself is a feast for the eyes thanks to the exquisite designs of Spacon & X studio. Burgers cost from $21.50, plus an extra $8 for fries which come with dipping sauces so sensational you’ll be in no doubt that they’re infused with that NOMA magic.

POPL Burger: Strandgade 108, 1401 København, Denmark

Restaurant Almanak

Perched on a balcony high up in that glassy and glitzy opera house, Restaurant Almanak serves delectable Danish dishes. The “5-dishes and 5-glasses” menu, where seasonal and imaginative food is paired with a variety of wines, may not be cheap at $155 per person, but it’s certainly as much of a memorable experience as the performances within the bulbous auditorium that dominates the vast interior overlooked by Almanak’s tables.

Restaurant Almanak: Ekvipagemestervej 10, 1438 København, Denmark

Restaurant Silo

Another location for those who love scenery with their smørrebrød, Restaurant Silo perhaps deserves the accolade of Copenhagen’s best restaurant with a view, for here the tables and cocktail bar come with panoramas of both city and sea. As for that smørrebrød; these tasty open sandwiches are a classic of Danish cuisine and Restaurant Silo serves them up at $42 for three perfectly-presented pieces. If you’re a seafood lover like me then you’ll enjoy the fillet of plaice with shrimps and mayonnaise, sitting pretty atop dark and nutty rye bread.

Restaurant Silo: Helsinkigade 29, 2150 København, Denmark

Where architecture lovers should stay in Copenhagen

There’s no shortage of unique accommodations in the city, whether you’re looking for a Copenhagen Airbnb or a boutique hotel. You can stay somewhere entirely new and modern or in an upcycled building like a malt chamber or transformer station that’s been converted into a hotel.

I stayed at The Audo, located at the gateway of the Norhavn neighborhood, just a 10-minute walk and metro ride from downtown Copenhagen. A designer’s dream, The Audo is a buzzy café, sublime fine-dining restaurant, chic shop and ten sensational rooms and suites which…OK, I’m going to say it, which truly embody that cosy hygge mood. In each room and suite are works of art, free minibars stocked with a range of beverages, plus a couple of extra delicious treats. My suite had what appeared to be a huge in-built closet but, upon opening the doors, revealed a large bathroom complete with a massive, tiled tub. Delightful. Stay from $400/night, with a most excellent breakfast included.

The Audo: Århusgade 130, 2150 København, Denmark

How to get to and around Copenhagen

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Copenhagen is easily accessible from the rest of Europe, either by plane, bus, ferry, or train. You can find the best flights to Copenhagen on Skyscanner. I took one of the many flights from London, but the Danish capital is well-connected to the rest of the world with hundreds of flights to here from over 40 countries. Trains to Sweden or Germany take no more than a few hours.

On the ground in Copenhagen, the Copenhagen Card covers all public transport in the city and nearby destinations, as well as all the main attractions. Copenhagen’s metro, opened just over 20 years ago, is an absolute delight of cleanliness and speed, and is constantly being expanded to outer neighborhoods. Buses are plentiful, harbor boats far less so and somewhat unreliable. Tickets can be bought from machines at stations and some stops, or look for “DOT Billetter” in the App Store or Google Play to pay using your smartphone. All the best-known tourist sights are within walking distance in downtown Copenhagen, but I recommend not restricting yourself to the center. Instead use the fantastic metro, boat or bus to see sights and delights in Norhavn, Bispebjerg and the other 10 neighborhoods around central Indre By.

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