Things not Worth Seeing in Copenhagen on a Short Trip
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Copenhagen is a beautiful city that I’d recommend everyone visit at least once. Despite it being a fairly compact city, I would still suggest you would spend at least one week so you have time to properly see everything. However, if you only have a few short days in Copenhagen, here are some things not worth seeing.
There’s nothing wrong with these attractions, they’re just a little overrated. And if you’re time-constrained, make the most of your trip by skipping the following sights:
1. The Little Mermaid
Also known as the most disappointing Copenhagen attraction, the Little Mermaid statue is incredibly small, measuring only 1.25 meters. Although you can get close to it in theory, in practice it is always surrounded by tourists. I used to live close to it and whenever I walked by the poor statue had 20 to 50 obnoxious tourists around it trying to snap selfies. And you won’t get a much better view from a boat tour either. You’ll only see the back of it from a distance as the statue is just off the shore and the boat can’t get too close due to shallow water.
So if you’re not in the area already, making a trip just to see the Little Mermaid is not worth it. You’ll get much better views of the statue by looking up pictures of it online.
Right next to the Little Mermaid is Kastellet, one of the best preserved fortresses in Northern Europe. However there’s not much to see there. It’s shaped like a pentagon with bastions on the corners and some buildings in the center. Those buildings are currently used for military activities so you cannot go inside.
Kastellet is an important part of Copenhagen’s history. There’s just not much to do other than walking around looking at some old buildings and a windmill. Your time is better spent going elsewhere or taking a boat tour, which allows you to see a lot of sights in a short time.
Also nearby is Nyboder, a historic area with a few rows of bright houses. They were originally built as naval barracks, but today they house those in the army, navy, airforce and their families, as well as a few civilians. Although Nyboder is an important part of Copenhagen, it’s just a residential area with not much worth seeing. Since there’s very little traffic, Nyboder is a great place to take pictures, but otherwise there’s nothing going on.
As the most popular tourist landmark in Copenhagen, Nyhavn is always busy. Although it’s worth seeing at least once, it’s a very short street with just a handful building. Don’t spend too much time here, do this instead:
Walk on the opposite side so you can get a better view of the colorful houses. Then keep walking past the bridge and make your way to Christianshavn. It’s very close, only 2-3 minutes away on foot. In addition to it being more picturesque, there are barely any tourists there. The sidewalks are less crowded and you can get better views of colorful buildings along canals. Additionally Christianshavn is much larger than Nyhavn which means there are more colorful buildings to admire and photograph.
Moving on from Christianshavn you will find the independent community of Christiania. However I would not recommend visiting it. Ever since it become well-known around the world for being a self-governing micro nation, Christiania is always listed as one of the top things worth seeing in Copenhagen. Personally, I disagree. When I visited it felt more dirty and unkept than hippie. As a woman, I also felt a bit on edge even though it’s supposedly safe. You do have to be aware of your surroundings at all times and not do something that’s not allowed, like taking a picture of the wrong thing.
The second oldest amusement park in the world, Tivoli is beloved by everyone who visits it. However, if you are on a short trip to Copenhagen, a stop by Tivoli is not worth it. You really need to spend at least half a day to fully enjoy the beautiful grounds, games, rides, delicious foods, and any performances that might be taking place at that time. It’s not worth paying the equivalent of 22 USD per person to quickly walk in and leave shortly after.
7. Bispebjerg Cemetery
If you’re visiting Copenhagen in the spring season when trees blossom, then Bispebjerg Cemetery is the best place to see the cherry blossoms. However, Bispebjerg Cemetery is also located in Nordvest, which is quite far from the city center. Thus if you are on a tight schedule, I’d recommend against going all the way to Bispebjerg Cemetery. Instead you can see the cherry blossoms at the botanical garden, which is in the city center. And if you’re in the area, you can also see the cherry blossoms at Langelinie Park.
Unless you are visiting Nørrebro to go to a specific shop/ eatery, it’s not worth going there on a short trip. It’s a mostly residential district with a few shops and restaurants, but not much in terms of sightseeing. There are no museums or landmarks. And since this is one of the least green spaces in all of Copenhagen, Nørrebro is also quite crowded. Thus I would skip it on a short trip.
However, if you want to get a similar experience to that of Nørrebro, I would recommend a visit to Vesterbro. It is much closer to the city center, and it has plenty of restaurants, bars, and nightclubs, like Nørrebro.
Since 2018 Reffen has been Northern Europe’s largest street food market. With a focus on sustainability and good ingredients, Reffen hosts over 50 food stalls serving a mix of international and local dishes. However, given its location on Refshaleøen Island, Reffen is quite a way out of the city center. To get there you can take a land bus, a harbour bus, or you can bike. But between travelling, ordering the food, and eating, it will take up a significant chunk of your day. Instead I recommend stopping by Torvehallerne Food Market. It is located in the heart of the city and it offers plenty of delicious foods to try.
10. Most Museums
Copenhagen has a lot of wonderful museums that are definitely worth seeing if you have the time. However that’s not possible on a short trip. One hour at the SMK, for example, won’t do it justice. Instead, I would suggest visiting the Rosenborg Castle. The areas that are open for visitation are quite compact, but packed with interesting artefacts. And in the basement you can see the crown jewels. If it’s not crowded with tourists, you can see most of the castle in just one hour.
11. Den Blå Planet
The aquarium, also known as Den Blå Planet, is located outside of the city near the airport. Although it is the largest aquarium in Northern Europe, Den Blå Planet is quite small compared to other aquariums around the world. However, it can get busy at times, and it will take you a while to fully see the aquarium.
If you’re only visiting Copenhagen for a short duration, you can skip Den Blå Planet. Between the time spent travelling to and from the aquarium, and the time you would spend there, it could easily take a full day.
There are plenty of fish and turtles you can see in the pond at the botanical garden (for free). Additionally, if you want to do something fun, you can bring some oats to the King’s Garden and feed the fish in the pond by the castle. Or just watch other people feed the fish.
12. The Zoo
Just like the Aquarium, the Copenhagen Zoo is a full day type of attraction. It does have a lot of animal species including pandas, elephants, lions, giraffes, and more. However, most zoos around the world have these types of animals. Thus you won’t miss much by skipping the zoo.
I would recommend the botanical garden instead because it’s centrally located and free to enter. Buying some food from Torvehallerne and having a picnic at the botanical garden on a sunny day is especially pleasant.
And there you have it, 12 things not worth seeing in Copenhagen on a short trip. I’d like to emphasize again that there’s nothing wrong with these attractions. But if you are on a short trip, there are other attractions more worthy of your limited time. However, if you are spending more than a handful of days in Copenhagen, you might enjoy reading about these 85+ things to see and do.