Last week we got home from Paris, and then I turned right around and packed to head off to Copenhagen. Timmer’s cousin was heading there for a quick trip with her two girls (ages 8 and 10) so I went to join them. This was my first time traveling with kids, and it was a ton of fun. Timmer and I plan on going back next year, so it was fun to scope out where we should stay and what we should do next time around. For now, though, here are some things to do in Copenhagen with kids.
Where to Stay
I definitely recommend staying near Tivoli Gardens when traveling to Copenhagen with kids. Tivoli (see below) was the girls’ favorite part of Copenhagen, so it’s nice to be able to walk there. There are also a bunch of kid-friendly restaurants around and within Tivoli; we learned the hard way that there aren’t many restaurants in Copenhagen with kid’s menus. They stayed at the Andersen Hotel, a super cute boutique hotel that includes a breakfast buffet in the morning and a wine hour from 5 to 6 pm. The wine hour was really nice for us adults, and gave us all a chance to regroup in the hotel before dinner. Soda was free for kids during wine hour too!
What to Do
I was surprised and impressed by Tivoli Gardens. I had expected it to be just another amusement park, but it was absolutely beautiful inside and it had something for everyone. The rides and carnival games were great for the kids, but there were also really cute, delicious, and diverse restaurants as well as cute, affordable and unique shops inside. I was pleasantly surprised by the wide range of cuisine available – not just typical park food, but quality Italian, Asian, French, German, sushi, tacos, etc., plus a whole food hall with diverse food stalls.
Fun fact: Walt Disney drew inspiration from Tivoli when he designed Disney World. This makes sense because when walking around the park, it reminded me of Disney. Everything in the park was beautiful and no detail was left out. We spent one full day at the park (11am to 4 pm) and there was plenty for us to do. We just happened to go during their Halloween , so there were pumpkins and Halloween decor everywhere!
Pro Tip: Go there right when it opens, and go around to the back entrance at the corner of Tietgensgade and H. C. Andersens Boulevard. You can’t use the Copenhagen Card here, but you can pay to enter with a credit card using their kiosks. You’ll skip the long entrance lines from the main entrance, and by coming in the back you’ll have the whole back of the park to yourself for awhile! We were able to walk right up to rides and ride them multiple times by ourselves.
Tivoli at Night
Tivoli is open until 11 pm Sundays through Thursdays and midnight Fridays and Saturdays. Although the daytime is perfect for rides and games, I definitely recommend coming back at night, too. I thought the park was already beautiful during the day, but at night the whole park lights up even more magically. If you exit through the Food Hall, you can obtain a re-entry stamp from the staff. We bought a one day pass for Wednesday, and then used our one free entrance with the Copenhagen Card to enter on Thursday night.
Pro Tip: Every night at 7:30, 8:30, 9:30 and 10:30 (but double check the times here) there is an illumination show on the lake. About 15 minutes before showtime, go to the bridge across the Tivoli lake and stand on the side opposite the boats. You’ll have front row views of the show.
Another great attraction for kids is the Little Mermaid statue. The little bronze statue is only 4 ft tall, and is an iconic landmark of Copenhagen. On warm sunny days, the free attraction is super busy so everyone advised us to get there early to avoid a long line. We went on a chilly cloudy day, so it wasn’t as busy and we were able to walk right up to take a picture. To get to the Little Mermaid statue from our hotel, we took the M3 metro to the Osterport stop, and walked there in less than 10 minutes, following google maps.
Changing of the Guard
From the Little Mermaid, we walked another 15 minutes to the Amalienborg Palace for the Changing of the Royal Guard ceremony at noon. The Palace square is beautiful and grand with large identical buildings surrounding the square. We got to the square about 10 minutes early and lined up with the others to wait for the ceremony to start. The changing of the guard ceremony was fun to watch, and was one of the girl’s favorite parts of our trip.
After the ceremony, we toured the Amalienborg Palace museum, which was free with the Copenhagen Card. The Amalienborg Palace is where the Danish royal family lives, so most of the castle wings are private. Side note: I didn’t even know Denmark had a royal family, but now I can’t wait to research all about them. The museum showcases the history of the Danish royals as well as the palace interiors. There are also several other castles/palaces that we didn’t see on this trip, such as the Christiansborg Palace, Rosenborg Castle, and the Frederiksberg Palace which is now the Danish Museum of Natural History.
On the way to the Changing of the Royal Guard ceremony we passed by the Designmuseum Danmark and decided to go inside after the palace tour. This design museum was really cool! It covered all types of design from prints and posters, to household items, to furniture and fashion. I loved the Danish Chair collection and of course the fashion section – there was a dress and shoes made out of straws! This is a museum that I would definitely come back to. Admission is free with the Copenhagen card.
Pro tip: At this point in the day we were getting hungry. There is a super tiny food stand (I wouldn’t even call it a cafe) in the building with the ticket counter, but there is a bigger cafe inside the actual museum by the entrance. Make sure to go into the actual cafe if you are hungry.
The Round Tower is actually an observatory, and its platform at the top has 360 degree views of the city. To get to the top, you have to walk up a spiral ramp, which is nice compared to climbing up a long spiral staircase like most towers. To get to the viewing platform you do have to climb up a short spiral staircase, but the majority of the climb is a ramp. Halfway through the tower is the old Library Hall which is now a venue for exhibitions and events. When we were there, there was an exhibition celebrating the 50th anniversary of the first footsteps on the moon. Also, make sure to peak into church – it’s so pretty!
Ripley’s + Guinness World Records
Kids love the Ripley’s Believe it or Not and Guinness World Records Museums, and they have both in Copenhagen. We went here to break up the day and both are included with the Copenhagen Pass.
If you are planning on visiting a lot of the attractions in Copenhagen, I highly recommend buying the Copenhagen Card. The card includes entrance into 87 attractions and museums, plus public transportation in Copenhagen. You can purchase the 24 hour, 48 hour, 72 hour or 120 hour card, and you can purchase it online. Make sure download the app for easy access to the card (you can activate it within the app) and to see all of the nearby attractions.
Important: The CPH Card is only worth buying if you are planning on visiting at least 3 museums/attractions in one day and taking the train or the metro. Additionally, the card only allows one visit per attraction (i.e., it only includes one free visit to Tivoli so plan accordingly if you want to visit the park more than one day). So, on Day 1 we went to Tivoli and I paid a one day entrance fee and didn’t activate my CPH Card. On Day 2, once we got on the Metro to go to the Little Mermaid I activated my card and went to the Amalienborg Palace, Design Museum, Round Tower and Guinness, plus the metro trips that day and the train the next morning to the airport. It’s nice that the cards work for 24 hour time periods instead of days. There is a calculator on their website here that shows how much money you will save depending on the attractions you’re planning on going to.
Overall I had such a fun time in Copenhagen, and I can’t wait to go back! Next time I want to visit the iconic Nyhavn Harbour during the day (we only went at night this time), maybe do a boat cruise, and try a smorrebrod. Maybe we’ll try Noma, on the list of the world’s best restaurants with two Michelin stars, or take a 30 min trip over to Malta, Sweden. Copenhagen, you are beautiful and I can’t wait to see you again!