Traveler's Test

10 free and fun things to do in Copenhagen

10 free and fun things to do in Copenhagen

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The challenge: visit museums, watch a movie at an open-air cinema and enjoy amazing rooftop views of Copenhagen, all for free

Award-winning Copenhagen regularly features in the top 10 Best Places to Live in the World, but also ranks highly in The Most Expensive Cities in the World and Cities You Can Never Afford to Live In categories. We know that, as a visitor to this picturesque but pricey paradise, you’ll be craving some suggestions for free things to do. That’s why we’ve made some inquiries, called some friends in Copenhagen and compiled this list of free activities in the Danish capital.

Admire the Little Mermaid statue (before it gets defaced again)

This is both the biggest and the smallest attraction in Copenhagen. If you come expecting a giant, imposing sculpture you’ll be disappointed, but what the statue lacks in size, it makes up for with its frankly bizarre history. The poor Little Mermaid has been decapitated three times, had her right arm amputated once, has twice been covered in a burqa and was pushed off her rock in 2003. She has even been photographed, embarrassingly, with a dildo in her hand.

The Little Mermaid | © Rasmus Flindt Pedersen/ Visit Copenhagen

Enjoy a bird’s-eye view over Copenhagen

Since 2004, the Tower (Tårnet) of Christiansborg – the palace of the Parliament – has opened its doors to visitors free of charge. If you can handle the long lines and crowds of tourists, you’ll be rewarded with splendid views over Copenhagen. You can also dine at the restaurant inside the tower, although it’ll cost you a cartload of krone.

The Tower of Christiansborg is open Tuesday–Sunday: 11 am – 9 pm. More useful information here.

The view from the Tower of Christiansborg, Copenhagen | © Visit Copenhagen

Watch the changing of the royal guards

Amalienborg Palace is the official home of the Danish royal family, which is why it requires protection by scores of guards in ornate uniforms. Some of the guards change every two hours, but the most impressive scene occurs at noon, when all the guards change their posts to the sound of majestic music.

Changing of the guard at Amalienborg Palace | © Klaus Bentzen/ Visit Copenhagen

Picnic in the King’s Garden

Bring a picnic blanket, a feast and a bottle of bubbly with you to the King’s Garden (Kongens Have in Danish) at Rosenborg Palace, and you too will feel like royalty as you laze on the picnic-perfect grass. Visit the garden in summer to enjoy an array of free events, including concerts, puppet shows and exhibitions. It’s open 7 am – 18 pm.

Picnic in the King’s Garden | © Morten Jerichau/ Visit Copenhagen

Ride a bike through the city streets

Practically everyone cycles through Copenhagen’s extremely bike-friendly streets, and the best way to blend in is to do the same. You can take advantage of Copenhagen’s bike rental system, which has been free of charge since 1995. All you need is a 2 euro coin for a deposit, which you’ll get back when you return the bike.

Exploring Copenhagen by bicycle | © Jon Ram Bruun Pedersen/ Visit Copenhagen

Swim outdoors (in summer)

You may think you’re too far north to swim outdoors, but if you visit Copenhagen in the summer months you’ll see hordes of Danes splashing about in the water. Head to Brygge Islands, a wonderful free pool near the port and just a stone’s throw from the city center, to take the plunge. The water is clean and refreshing, although definitely on the chilly side.

Brygge Islands | © Christian Alsing/ Visit Copenhagen

Walk around the free town of Christiania

The world-famous bohemian neighborhood of Christiania was founded in 1971 as a haven for hippies and non-conformists, and soon gained a reputation as the place to buy hash and pot (but no hard drugs). Today, many of the original settlers still live in the collectively controlled village within the city, helping the area retain its laid-back ’70s feel. A lot of those Christianians built their homes themselves, which explains the quirky architecture on display.

Christiania | © Visit Copenhagen

Enrich your mind at Copenhagen’s free museums

Admission is free at the National Museum and the National Gallery, making some of Denmark’s most important cultural treasures accessible to everyone.

The National Museum in Copenhagen | © Visit Copenhagen

Join the festivities at Copenhagen Pride 

Every year in mid-August the city’s LGBT community celebrates Copenhagen Pride with a range of out-there activities and flamboyant festivities. Dates and more information here.

Copenhagen Pride | © Visit Copenhagen

Catch a movie at Copenhagen’s open-air summer cinema

Every summer, Danish TV channel 2 Zulu hosts the Zulu Summer Open-Air Cinema, which pops up in city parks throughout Denmark. Admission is free, so all you have to do is bring a blanket, some food and drinks (which you can also buy on site), and insect repellent. Exact dates and locations change every year, so ask a local to help plan your cinema session. Read our guide of Copenhagen as a movie location inspiration.