For a city as compact as Copenhagen, the best way to explore it is undoubtedly on foot! Because Mihir and I tend to walk a LOT in Copenhagen, we thought we should pass on our insider tips to you. That’s how this self-guided Copenhagen walking tour was born. It takes you past some of the city’s most important sights, but also a few hidden gems. Of course, this post comes with a handy map. Enjoy your walk! 🙂
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Table of Contents
Why Choose This Self-Guided Copenhagen Walking Tour?
This self-guided Copenhagen walking tour itinerary is perfect if you are short on time and trying to save some money. With our free map, you can follow the route easily without having to hire an expensive guide for the day. Because I actually live here, I know what is feasible and what isn’t. The walking tour focuses on the inner city. However, you can easily add a few more attractions to it to fill a whole day. It will take you past some of the most important sights in Copenhagen, but will also show you some hidden gems that others don’t know about 😉
Can I Do This Self-Guided Tour on Bike
Most of the city is accessible by bike, but biking in Copenhagen can be a bit intimidating for beginners. That’s why I do generally not recommend sightseeing by bike in Copenhagen. However, even as a pedestrian, you should keep an eye open.
As a rule, it’s always good to look out for bikes when you are crossing the street. To be honest, I’m even more scared of getting hit by bikes than by cars these days! Similarly, always walk on the sidewalk and never in the bike lane as people WILL lose their Nordic coolness and get angry at you. It is also a safety measure for you.
Copenhagen Walking Tour Itinerary
This walking tour of Copenhagen is 11 km long. Generally, you should have more than enough time to everything within half a day or so, but you can easily extend this to a full day by planning in a lunch break and/or dinner along the way. It’s probably best if you do this walking tour in the summer, although it’s also doable in spring and fall. If you’re ambitious, bundle up and do it in winter as well.
I recommend that you open the above map in a new window and bookmark it so you can access it easily later. On this walking tour, you will see
- Rosenborg Castle
- The Little Mermaid
- Gefion Fountain
- St. Alban’s Church
- Amalienborg Palace
- Frederik’s Church
- Royal Danish Playhouse
- Charlottenborg Palace
- Kongens Nytorv
- St. Nicholas Church
- Agnete and the Merman
- Holmens Bro
- Christiansborg Palace
- The Royal Library
- Ny Carlsberg Glyptotek
- Tivoli Gardens
- City Hall
- Axel Towers
- Palads Cinema
- Gammeltorv & Nytorv
- Church of Our Lady
- Round Tower
Start your walking tour at one of my favorite places in Copenhagen, Torvehallerne. Torvehallerne represents one of the things I love most about the city: continuous reinvention. On its location once stood Grønttorvet, a market selling fresh produce from the region – a farmers market. Because of the emergence of supermarkets, Grønttorvet lost its importance.
However, Torvehallerne is trying to bring back fresh food into the city. And they are succeeding, because Torvehallerne is one of the city’s foodie hot spots today. Take a stroll through the two halls and maybe pick up a treat to give you strength for the rest of the walking tour 😉
Your next stop is Rosenborg Castle (2). You’ll be walking a distance of 650 m.
2. Rosenborg Castle & Kongens Have
One of the highlights of this Copenhagen walking tour is without a doubt,
Kongens Have has been open to the public since 1770 and has been an important reprieve from the buzzing city ever since. At one point in history, bears supposedly roamed the grounds of the gardens. Today, Copenhageners come here to relax and catch some much-needed sun
Your next stop is Nyboder (3). From the garden gates, you’ll be walking a distance of 400 m.
Speaking of King Christian IV, another project of his is Nyboder. These charming yellow buildings once served as the homes of Danish sailors and their families. They were barracks under the command of the Danish Navy. Today they are popular due to their ‘Instagram-worthy’ color. And I have to say – they DO make a beautiful backdrop for photos 😉 Just please remember that these are the homes of actual people who would prefer not to appear in your next profile picture 🙂
Your next stop is Kastellet (4). To reach the gates, you’ll be walking a distance of 700 m.
Kastellet, also known as the Citadel, is a star-shaped fortress that was once an integral part of the city’s defense system. Although it is still under the command of the Danish Armed Forces today, it is also a popular recreational space for Copenhageners.
Besides the bright red barracks, there is plenty to see on the grounds. The citadel is home to a church and a prison, but the most surprising sight may be a traditional Dutch-style windmill. In order to get to it though, you will need to climb the ramparts from which you’ll also be rewarded with a beautiful view 🙂
Your next stop is the Little Mermaid (5). From the northern gate, you’ll be walking a distance of 450 m.
5. The Little Mermaid
No visit to Copenhagen could ever be complete without seeing The Little Mermaid. Granted, it’s probably the most overrated sight in Copenhagen, but hey, if you’re already in the area, you might as well see it 😉
Commissioned by industrialist Carl Jacobsen in 1913 the bronze statue depicts the character of the same name from H.C. Andersen’s “Den
Your next stop is Gefion Fountain (6). You’ll be walking a distance of 420 m.
6. Gefion Fountain
The Gefion Fountain is a large fountain depicting the Norse goddess Gefjon driving a wagon pulled by numerous animals. According to legend, it was Gefjon who plowed the Danish island of Zealand out of Sweden. Swedish king Gylfe supposedly offered her as much land as she could plow out within a day and a night. In order to accomplish the incredible feat, Gefjon transformed her sons into oxen which are seen pulling the plow. The fountain itself was donated to the city by the Carlsberg Foundation and draws thousands of tourists every year.
Your next stop is St. Alban’s Church (7). You’ll be walking a distance of just 10 m.
7. St. Alban’s Church
One of my favorite churches in Copenhagen, St. Alban’s Church is also commonly known as the English Church. It was built in the late 19th century in a distinct British Gothic Revival style, otherwise known as the Victorian Style. The church has served the British-Anglican community in Copenhagen ever since and is one of the few churches with services in English today. It is a fairly simple church but offers a pleasant architectural contrast to the rest of the cityscape.
Your next stop is Amalienborg Palace (8). You’ll be walking a distance of 900 m. Along the way, you can also see the Opera House and Amalienhaven.
8. Amalienborg Palace
Amalienborg Palace is one of the most important sights in Copenhagen and obviously had to be included in this itinerary. What started once as a ‘simple’ collection of city palaces for Danish noblemen, is the residence of the Danish royal family today. In fact, it has been so since the late 18th century when the original residence of the royal family, Christiansborg Palace, burned down to the ground.
Parts of the palace are open to the public, while others are reserved exclusively for the royal family. Whether any of them are at home is indicated by the flags hoisted at the palace. Another giveaway is the changing of the guards.
While the changing of the Palace Watch takes place, they are only accompanied by the King’s Guard when Queen
Your next stop is Frederik’s Church (9). You’ll be walking a distance of 250 m.
9. Frederik’s Church
Frederik’s Church, otherwise known as the Marble Church, is quite possibly one of my favorite sights in Copenhagen. It’s best known for its outstanding rococo interiors and its striking dome which dominates the cityscape
Your next stop is the Royal Danish Playhouse (10). You’ll be walking a distance of 850 m.
10. Royal Danish Playhouse
The Royal Danish Playhouse is one of Copenhagen’s most modern edifices. Although its construction had been discussed since the 19th century, the building as we know it today was opened only in 2008. It’s a striking mix of deep-brown brick, stainless steel, and glass. Much of the building protrudes over the water and is supported by Venetian-style crooked columns. Walking around the pier of the building is one of the best things to do in Copenhagen in the summer.
Your next stop is Nyhavn (11). You’ll be walking a distance of 130 m.
No visit to Copenhagen and no Copenhagen walking tour could ever be complete without Nyhavn. If you have ever seen postcard pictures from Copenhagen, I bet you they featured a view of this quaint harbor
However, did you know what is now one of the most expensive addresses in Copenhagen, was once considered the city’s seediest area? When Nyhavn operated as the city’s main harbor, it attracted sailors, pubs, and prostitutes – not very glamorous! Today much has changed, of course, but you can still find a good number of cafes and restaurants here. Unfortunately, they tend to mostly cater to tourists and are pretty expensive.
Instead of eating here, just enjoy the view and take a couple of photos. If the weather is good, do it like the locals and buy some beers to sit down by the water with 😉
Your next stop is Charlottenborg Palace (12) which you can see best from Nyhavn. You’ll be walking a distance of 350 m.
12. Charlottenborg Palace
On the other side of the canal, you can also see Charlottenborg Palace. It was originally constructed in the 17th century as a city palace for the half-brother of King Christian V. Since 1754, it has served as the Royal Danish Academy of Fine Arts. Today, it also hosts the art gallery Kunsthal Charlottenborg. The building is a fine example of the Dutch Baroque style with Italian influences.
Your next stop is Kongens Nytorv (13). You’ll be walking a distance of 100 m.
13. Kongens Nytorv
As the largest square in Copenhagen, Kongens Nytorv is probably what you would call the city’s ‘central square’. The square was initially laid out in the 17th century by King Christian V. His plan was to expand the city and to that end, he purchased several acres of undeveloped land. Here he created a new cobbled square, heavily inspired by French city planning of the time
After its completion, several notable buildings were erected around the square. To the south lies the Royal Danish Theatre from
At the heart of the square, you’ll find an equestrian statue of Christian V himself, as well as a cute little kiosk that once served as a public telephone and is used as a coffee kiosk today.
Unfortunately, the square has been under construction for several years now. The expansion of the Copenhagen Metro has most of the area in scaffolding. Construction is expected to be completed in 2019 and I know we are all eager to see Kongens Nytorv in its new-old glory!
Your next stop is St. Nicholas Church (14). You’ll be walking a distance of 330 m.
14. St. Nicholas Church
St. Nicholas Church is one of the city’s most recognizable landmarks, thanks to its 90-meter high spire. The original building dates back several hundred years but unfortunately burned down almost completely in 1795. What you see today, is a modern reconstruction of the building by architect Hans Christian Amberg from 1912. The reconstruction of the spire was financed by none other than Carl Jacobsen. Today, it houses the art gallery Kunsthallen Nikolaj. For 75 DKK you can take a guided tour to the top of the church.
Your next stop is Agnete and the Merman (15). You’ll be walking a distance of 170 m.
15. Agnete and the Merman
Agnete and the Merman is a collection of bronze statues submerged in one of the city’s numerous canals. They depict a merman and his seven sons, urging his daughter Agnete to return to them. The artwork by Danish sculptor Suste Bonnen is inspired by a traditional Danish folk story “Agnete
Your next stop is Holmens Bro (16). You’ll be walking a distance of 200 m.
16. Holmens Bro
The Church of Holmen, or
Your next stop is Christiansborg Palace (17). You’ll be walking a distance of 80 m.
17. Christiansborg Palace
Christiansborg Palace is the location of the Danish Parliament and as such an important political institution. However, its history is much more curious than that. The first castle at this location was built in the early 12th century but was demolished in the late 14th century. In its place, the original Copenhagen Castle was built. In 1731 it was demolished to make room for Christiansborg Palace.
This palace burned to the ground in a devastating fire in 1794. Even worse, its successor burned down in 1884. After these two fires, most Copenhageners were opposed to rebuilding the castle once again. However, Christiansborg Palace as we know it today was completed in 1928.
Most of the royal rooms are open to the public and the parliamentary rooms can be visited on a guided tour. You can also climb the tower and enjoy the beautiful view over Slotsholmen for free 😉
Your next stop is the Royal Library (18). You’ll be walking a distance of 420 m.
18. The Royal Library
The Royal Library, or Det Kongelige Bibliotek, is the national library of Denmark. Not only is it the largest library in the Nordics, but one of the largest libraries in the world. The main building of the library is known by most people as the Black Diamond. Completed in 1999, it was one of the first buildings leading the modernization of the Copenhagen waterfront.
Your next stop is BLOX (19). You’ll be walking a distance of 250 m.
BLOX is one of the newest additions to the Copenhagen cityscape. The impressive building was designed by Dutch company OMA (a bit of a rarity in a landscape dominated by Danish architects). It was completed in 2018 and is the new home of the Danish Architecture Center (DAC). Looking at it is really quite a treat, but I love it especially for its canal-side terrace which serves delicious coffee with beautiful views 😉
Your next stop is Ny Carlsberg Glyptotek (20). You’ll be walking a distance of 500 m.
20. Ny Carlsberg Glyptotek
Ny Carlsberg Glyptotek is one of the most notable art museums in Copenhagen. It primarily exhibits sculpture from Ancient Rome, Greece, and Egypt, although it also houses a sizable collection of impressionist and post-impressionist art. The building itself is quite a sight as well, consisting of three wings. Its most distinguishable feature is the building’s palm house. You can take a quick peek inside without having to pay the admission fee (or visit for free on Tuesdays).
Your next stop is Copenhagen City Hall (21). You’ll be walking a distance of 300 m.
21. Copenhagen City Hall
On city hall square you find, not surprisingly, Copenhagen City Hall. This monumental building was first opened in 1905. It was designed by Danish architect Martin Nyrop who drew inspiration from Siena City Hall and put elements of the Italian style in a Danish context. Inside the city hall, you can find Jens Olsen’s World Clock, an astronomical clock, completed in 1955. With a guided tour, you can also take a trip to the tower and enjoy the views over the inner city.
Your next stop is Tivoli (22). You’ll be walking a distance of 300 m.
22. Tivoli Gardens
Although every Copenhagen itinerary includes Tivoli Gardens, on this Copenhagen walking tour you’re only passing it. Tivoli is the second-oldest amusement park in the world still in operation. It first opened its doors to the public in 1843 and has been popular with locals and tourists ever since.
Unfortunately, the entrance to the gardens is not free which is why I have decided not to include Tivoli in this itinerary as such. However, I really enjoy the decorations at the main gate during Halloween and Christmas. They are pretty photo-worthy in and by themselves 🙂
Your next stop is Axel Towers (23). You’ll be walking a distance of 40 m.
23. Axel Towers
While you’re in the area, don’t miss the Axel Towers. Designed by Danish architect Lene Tranberg, the towers opened in 2017. The building consists of five interconnected towers, the tallest of which reaches a height of 61 meters. They house various company offices, specialty shops, as well as cafes and restaurants.
Your next stop is Palads Cinema (24). You’ll be walking a distance of 330 m.
24. Palads Cinema
Palads Cinema first opened its doors to the public more than 100 years ago in 1912. At the time, it was located in the former central railway station which had ceased operation one year prior. The cinema was extensively renovated in 1955 and was further updated in the 1970s. In 1989 the cinema received its signature coat of paint which by itself attracts thousands of visitors every year.
Your next stop is Gammeltorv (25). You’ll be walking a distance of 760 m.
25. Gammeltorv & Nytorv
Nytorv and Gammeltorv are two adjoining squares in the inner city of Copenhagen. Gammeltorv is the oldest square in Copenhagen, dating back to the city’s foundation in the 12th century. Its most distinguishable feature is the Caritas Fountain, the oldest fountain in Copenhagen. Most buildings around the square were erected in the 19th century after a devastating fire had damaged almost all edifices around the square.
Your next stop is the Church of Our Lady (26). You’ll be walking a distance of 100 m.
26. Church of Our Lady
The Church of Our Lady, or Vor Frue Kirke in Danish, is the city’s most important church and otherwise also known as Copenhagen Cathedral. The original church was built soon after the city’s foundation in the 12th century, but also fell victim to a devastating fire in the early 14th century.
Due to money constraints, however, the tower wasn’t built until the 16th century. Due to a lightning strike, a bombing, and further fires, the church needed to undergo further restoration throughout the years. The building as you see it today is a beautiful example of Neo-Classical architecture in Denmark.
Your last stop is the Round Tower (27). You’ll be walking a distance of 360 m.
27. Round Tower
Finally, you have arrived at the last stop in this walking tour of Copenhagen. The Round Tower, or Rundetaarn, is one of Copenhagen’s most recognizable sights and included in practically every itinerary. The tower was erected in the 17th century under none other than Christian IV.
It was built as an astronomical observatory and still functions as such today. The tower is, however, most known for its equestrian staircase which spirals all the way to the top. At the top of the tower is a viewing platform that offers some of the best views of the city. Why not cap off this walking tour with a good old Copenhagen selfie? 😉
Guided Copenhagen Walking Tours
If you are very short on time or simply don’t want to deal with the hassle of a self-guided Copenhagen walking tour, you can also opt to take a guided tour instead.
Copenhagen Old Town Walk: This two-hour walking tour of Copenhagen takes you through the heart of the historic Old Town. Listen to interesting stories and legends as you go past historic landmarks, churches, and palaces.
What Else to See in Copenhagen
Obviously, there is plenty more to see in Copenhagen than what we have covered in our walking tour. Fortunately, we got you covered. Below we have compiled some of our most popular posts on how to spend the best time of your life in Copenhagen 🙂
Now, what do you think? Would you add any other stops to this self-guided walking tour of Copenhagen? If you have followed our itinerary, what was your favorite stop? Share your thoughts with us in the comments below!