How to Spend a Rainy Day in Copenhagen
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Copenhagen can experience quite a bit of precipitations given its Nordic, coastal location. However, in my experience living there, I have rarely seen torrential rain. More like a fine drizzle, usually accompanied by wind. You don’t need to worry about getting soaked, but prolonged exposure can get you feeling damp and cold. Due to the wind, I recommend you bring a rain jacket as umbrellas might be useless.
If you want to know what you could do on a rainy (or very windy) day in Copenhagen, keep reading. I divided this article into three sections: museums and attractions, shopping and dining, and practical tips. Most of the attractions mentioned in this post are located in central Copenhagen so you can easily walk from one to another. For the few ones that are outside of city centre, there is easy-to-use public transit that will drop you off steps away.
MUSEUMS AND ATTRACTIONS
There are many interesting museums and attractions in Copenhagen. Most of them are located in the city centre, very close to each other. Here are some of the most popular things to see and do:
Built in the early 17th century, Rosenborg Castle has four levels open to the public for visitations, allowing you to experience over 400 years of history. Every floor is full of well-preserved, exquisite artworks. Some of the most popular attractions are the Knights’ Hall with the coronation thrones, and the crowns of the Danish kings and queens, which are kept in the basement vaults.
If you are a fan of history, you could easily spend a good 5 hours at Rosenborg Castle. Once it stops raining you could take a stroll across the King’s Garden, which is actually a park.
In case you get hungry, there is a quick service café selling sandwiches, salads, Danish pastry, ice cream and different types of coffee and tea. However, if you also plan on visiting the SMK museum across the street, I would recommend you eat at the cafeteria there.
Tickets cost 120 DKK for adults, 85 DKK for students, and free for children under 18 years of age. For more information about the castle, visit the official website.
SMK – Statens Museum for Kunst
Right across the street from Rosenborg Castle is the National Gallery of Denmark, where you can find art dating as far back as the 14th century. This is Denmark’s largest art museum and it features both Danish and international collections including: Anna Ancher, Derain, Matisse, Rubens, Elmgreen & Dragset, and more.
Occasionally there are art talks, concerts, group drawing classes and other events. These usually require additional tickets. On the weekends, there are children’s workshops where little ones can make their own art. Children’s workshops are free. If you’re interested check the calendar for a list of current events.
Tickets cost 120 DKK for adults, 95 DKK for those under 27 years of age, and 100 DKK for an adult visiting with a child. There is free entrance for those under 18. Take a look at the website for more information and current exhibitions.
If you get hungry, you can enjoy a meal where art meets food at the cafeteria. The menu is influenced by Danish and Japanese cuisines. The cafeteria also has its own bakery, where it bakes all bread from scratch, as well as a large selection of cakes and pastries.
Rundetårn – Round Tower
Built in the 17th century, this is the oldest observatory in Europe. To reach the top, you will have to walk up a spiral ramp, followed by two small sets of stairs. The observatory on the roof is not covered, however there are plenty of windows you can look/ take pictures through on your way up the ramp. The observatory offers a 360° view of Copenhagen. On a clear day you can see all the way to Sweden.
One ticket costs 40 DKK per adult and gives you access to the: Library Hall, Bell Loft, Planetarium, and Observatory. In the summer months, there is a kiosk at the top of the tower where you can buy snacks, refreshments, coffee, ice cream, and souvenirs.
For more information and to purchase tickets go to the Rundetårn website.
Christiansborg Palace used to be the home of the home of the royal family, but after a series of fires they moved to Amalienborg Palace in the late 1800’s and never returned. Today’s Christiansborg Palace is the third construction on the site (completed in 1928), and it houses the parliament.
There are so many things you could do here, that you could easily spend an entire day. There are both free and paid attractions to see. And if you get hungry, there is a restaurant in the tower and a small café in the archway between Christiansborg Palace and the Library Garden. In addition, there are multiple restaurants across the canal.
If you wish to visit multiple paid attractions, you can purchase a combined ticket for The Royal Reception Room, The Royal Kitchen, The Ruins and The Royal Stables and save 40%. The tickets cost 160 DKK for adults and 140 DKK for students; children under 18 enter for free. If you only wish to see on attraction, you can purchase and individual ticket for that.
Christiansborg Palace Tower
Standing at 106 meters, this tower is the tallest in Copenhagen. It opened to the public in June 2014 and anyone can access it free of charge. The entrance to the tower is at King’s Gate, right bellow the tower.
At the top of the tower there is a restaurant which is open for lunch, dinner, as well as coffee and cake. The restaurant specializes in modern Danish cuisine, with a focus on seasonal dishes.
Tip: since entrance is free, visit the tower in daylight and during sunset.
The Royal Reception Rooms and the Great Hall with the tapestries
Visit the rooms where the Queen and prime minister welcome foreign sate leaders for formal events, galas, and state dinners. During the visit you will also see the Throne Room where all of Denmark’s rulers have been proclaimed, as well as the Queen’s library.
The Queen’s Tapestries were a gift from the Danish business industry to Queen Margrethe II for her 50th birthday. However it took 10 years to make the tapestries, and they were hung in the Great Hall on the Queen’s 60th birthday. They depict series of events from the past, present, and future of Denmark, as well as the royal family.
Tickets cost 95 DKK for adults and 85 DKK for students.
The Royal Kitchen
This tour gives you a glimpse of the preparations required for royal events. Experience the preparations required to host the 1937 king’s Silver Jubilee dinner for 275 people.
Tickets cost 60 DKK for adults and 50 DKK for students.
The ruins were discovered by accident during the construction of the current Christiansborg Palace, and they date back as far as 1167! If you’re looking for a spooky activity, this is the place for you.
Tickets cost 60 DKK for adults and 50 DKK for students.
The Royal Stables
The stables date back to the first Christiansborg Palace. In their prime days, the Royal Stables used to house as many as 250 horses, but today they only house 20. From time to time, they still pull the Queen in a her gold carriage from Amalienborg to Christiansborg Castle.
When visiting the stables, you can also see the former kings and queens carriages, as well as stuffed royal horses dating back to 1600s.
Tickets cost 60 DKK for adults and 50 DKK for students.
The Palace Chapel
Dating from 1826, the Palace Chapel is used for royal events such as weddings and baptisms. The entrance to the chapel is similar to that of a Greek temple with four support pillars.
Free admission during opening hours.
While parliament is in session, there are free tours and free entrance to the public galleries.
More information about Christiansborg Palace and updated ticket prices can be found here.
Ny Carlsberg Glyptotek
Perhaps the most unique museum you’ll ever visit, Glyptotek combines beautiful artworks and stunning architecture. Featuring a large collection of sculptures, the museum is divided into two departments and a garden.
The Department of Antiques houses Greek, Egyptian, Etruscan, and Roman collections spanning through 3500 years of history. The Modern Department showcases Danish and French artworks from the 19th and 20th centuries. The Winter Garden provides a wonderful refuge from gloomy weather with a tropical atmosphere, 20 meter tall palm trees and a café. Café Picnic serves light lunches, cakes, snacks, coffee, and tea, with a side of serenity. There is also a roof top terrace where you can enjoy 360° views of Copenhagen.
Tickets for adults cost 115 DKK, for students and those under 27 tickets are 85 DKK and entrance is free for everyone under 18 years of age. On the first Wednesday of every month, everyone can visit the museum for free.
Den Blå Planet
Denmark’s National Aquarium is the largest and most modern in Northern Europe. It is located outside of city centre, but it’s very easy to reach it. Just take the airport-bound metro and get off at the stop before the airport (Kastrup station). From there it’s a quick 5 minute walk to the aquarium entrance.
Den Blå Planet features thousands of marine life from northern lakes and seas, tropical rivers, and oceans. The most popular are the northern sea otters. If you are there during meal time, you can watch them break open the shell of crustaceans. In addition there are fun presentations, audio tours, and the chance to touch some sea life.
You could easily spend a full day at the aquarium, and if you are travelling with children, you may want to. In case you get hungry, there is a bistro which features delicious foods and a priceless view. You can get anything from brunch, burgers, salads, fish platter, and more. There is also a children’s menu.
Tickets cost 185 DKK per adult and 100 DKK per child ages 3-11. Take a look at the website for updated opening hours and ticket prices. The aquarium is stroller and wheelchair accessible.
Louisiana Museum of Modern Art
Unlike Den Blå Planet, which takes around 20 minutes to reach from the city centre, Louisiana Museum of Modern Art takes almost one hour to get to. However, if time permits, it is definitely worth a visit! It is located along the coast, in a house 40 km north of Copenhagen. The house is connected through tunnels and hallways to other buildings, which are used as exhibit rooms. The outdoor museum grounds are also feature artworks.
Originally, the museum was intended to house modern Danish art, and later Danish art only. Nowadays Louisiana is home to multiple international works of art. Occasionally the museum hosts activities such as lectures, concerts, workshops, and more. Take a look at the calendar for more info.
If you get hungry, there is a restaurant with great views of the sea. You can enjoy both lunch and dinner, various fish, meat, vegan and vegetarian dishes. There are cakes and coffee, as well as wine. Moreover you can also have a picnic on museum grounds with your own food.
Tickets cost 130 DKK per adult, 115 DKK per student, and free for those under 18 years of age. See the official website for more information and updated opening hours.
Copenhagen City Tours
When it comes to guided tours of Copenhagen’s most famous attractions, there are quite a few options:
These are double decker buses with sliding tops for rainy days. They are called hop on hop off, meaning that you can get on and off the bus anywhere you want. On the bus you have access to free wifi and guide (via headphones). Tickets are valid for 72 hours and buses run daily regardless of season.
For more information, timetables, and to purchase tickets, visit the website.
Also offered by the same company (Stromma), this little train on wheels takes you around medieval Copenhagen. The train slowly rides around plazas and pedestrian streets, which you wouldn’t be able to access on a bus. The tour takes around 45 minutes and you can also hop on and off as much as you want during the day. For more info and tickets click here.
A boat tour is a nice way to sit back and enjoy the sights from a different angle. The waters in the canals are very calm, so don’t worry about motion sickness.
There are many options for boat tour options in Copenhagen, most of them departing from Nyhavn. If you don’t already have a boat tour included in a city pass, I would recommend you purchase your ticket on the spot.
In addition to tour boats, there are also public transit boats you could take. These are not guided, but they allow you to quickly get around and see some attractions (for free if you have a pass that allows you on public transit). These boats are yellow and operated by Movia (same company as the city buses).
SHOPPING AND DINING
If you are a fan of Scandi style, you will NOT get bored in Copenhagen! This city is heaven for those who appreciate good design; both modern and classic. From clothing, to homeware, to industrial interiors, there will be plenty of things to catch your eye!
Magasin du Nord
This popular department store dates back to 1869 and is located in Kongens Nytorv (King’s New Square) right in the centre of Copenhagen, only 2 minutes away from Nyhavn. The store covers 6 floors and it offers: beauty, clothing, homeware, books, sportswear, and travel necessities.
If you get hungry, there are healthy eating options in the basement. After your meal, try some Flødeboller, traditional Danish marshmallows dipped in chocolate. The raspberry ones were my favourite. The is also a grocery store called Mad&Vin, where you can find snacks, sweets, coffee and tea, dairy products, meats, cold cuts, frozen meals, wine, and more.
If you are visiting during the colder months, this is a great place to buy some knitwear. There are both international and Danish brands to choose from. Regardless of season, you can also find traditional and modern Danish homeware accessories. They make for very useful souvenirs to bring home with you.
In case the weather is very bad, and you are coming by metro, you’ll be pleased to know there is direct access to Magasin du Nord from the Kongens Nytorv station. For opening hours, visit the website.
A premium department store with a large selection of luxury items, Illum is mere steps away from Magasin du Nord. Even if you are not planning on buying much, it is worth a visit. You can do some people watching and enjoy the luscious displays. During the winter season, the store is beautifully decorated.
This department store has two dining options. The rooftop has both indoor and outdoor sitting options which come with a great view of the city. There are four restaurants where you can order seafood, pizza, pasta, paleo dishes, sandwiches, and coffee. In the basement, you can find a small grocery store, Irma, ready to eat sandwiches, salads, coffee, cakes, pastries, and ice cream.
For store opening hours, take a look at the website.
The most popular food market in Copenhagen, Torvehallerne is located right next to Nørreport Station. There are two buildings, and between them there are some stands selling fresh fruit and vegetables.
Indoors you will find anything from smoked meats and cheese, freshly baked bread and pastries, to warm pizza and coffee. At Torvehallerne you can also purchase raw meats, fish, and other ingredients to cook at home. You can spend a good few hours sampling various savoury and sweet dishes and snacks. The sitting spaces are a little tight, making for a very cozy and casual experience.
This is the place I recommend to everyone who wants to try authentic Danish Smørrebrød. They are delicious, very fresh (they sell quickly!) and much cheaper that what you’ll find at any restaurant. You can also get them to go and eat them in bed at the hotel.
For more information and opening hours, take a look at the official website.
A street food market that sits in the former industrial area of Refshaleøen. Reffen is built from recycled materials and as a result you may find it has a bit of a hippy-like atmosphere. This food market showcases chefs who are just starting their own businesses. They all have a shipping container or food truck where they cook and serve the food out of.
There is both indoor and outdoor sitting. The area itself is very large, almost making you feel like you’re in a street food village. In addition to food, there are multiple concerts and events take place here. Check out the events calendar here. Some of them require you purchase a ticket.
Find more info and updated opening hours here.
Conditori La Glace
If you need a break for something sweet, stop for some delicious pastries, cake, and coffee at oldest patisserie in all of Denmark! Dating back to 1870, Conditori La Glace has over 20 different types of cakes and a very large selection of pastries, small confections, baked marzipan goods, ice cream cakes, and more. With cakes, can purchase individual slices or whole cakes. One slice costs 62 DKK and a whole cake (12 slices) costs 744 DKK.
Tip: Try the Sports Cake , the house specialty which was for the theatre production “Sports Man” that premiered in November 1891. The cake consists of crushed nougat, whipped cream, a macaroon bottom and caramelized choux pastry. Anything but sporty.
Note that service stops 30 minutes before closing, but you can still order to go.
Take a Food Tour/ Class
If you’d like to learn more about Danish cuisine, consider taking a food tour or a cooking class. There are many options on websites like Viator. You can choose anything from baking Danish pastries to a private market tour with a local. Taking a class or tour allows you to try something new and interact with locals, who could answer any questions you may have and give you additional recommendations.
- While it rains frequently in Copenhagen, it rarely rains torrentially. Don’t cancel your trip if you suspect it might rain, but DO bring waterproof shoes and a rain jacket. If you are travelling during colder months, bring a scarf, ear warmers, and gloves.
- If you plan on visiting a few attractions, consider purchasing a Copenhagen Card. It gives you free entrance to 87 attractions and unlimited access to public transit.
- Stromma (the tour company) also offers a city pass, which gives you access to 50+ attractions, and unlimited rides on the hop on hop off buses and boats. Find more info and updated prices here.
- If you will be in Central Copenhagen and and would like to visit a few of the nearby museums, consider purchasing a Parkmuseerne ticket. One ticket costs 245 DKK and gives you access to the following museums: The David Collection, The Hirschsprung Collection, SMK (National Gallery of Denmark), Natural History Museum of Denmark, The Workers Museum and Rosenborg Castle.
- If you wish to visit individual attractions/ museums, you can purchase tickets online. Beware that in some instances you will have to purchase your ticket for a specific time slot and make it there at that time.
- When you’re shopping for treats and snacks remember that lakris means liquorice. This is a very popular flavour in all Scandinavian countries, and you can find a large selection of treats like ice cream, chocolates, marshmallows and more. So if you don’t like liquorice, avoid anything described as lakris.