Copenhagen - Attractions
Christianshavn & Christiania
One of the highlights of the canal-punctured district of Christianshavn is Vor Frelsers Kirke ('Our Saviour's Church'), topped by a 95m (311ft), 400-step spiral steeple which affords breathtaking views over the city. On the eastern side of the district is the self-labelled 'progressive' community of Christiania.
In Christianshavn's north is the Orlogmuseet (Royal Danish Naval Museum), where you can see over 300 model ships and naval knick-knacks from the last couple of centuries.
Christiania started life as a military camp before being abandoned and taken over in 1971 by ambitious squatters who proclaimed their own 'free state'.
It never achieved full independence but still enjoys status as a rent- and tax-free enclave and a lively, arts-soaked environment. You can stroll or cycle through the area (cars aren't allowed) and check out the local craft market or organic food eateries - informative guided tours are offered daily throughout summer.
Copenhagen's Latin Quarter surrounds the old campus of Copenhagen University and brims with pedestrians, cafes and bookshops. Kultorvet, a plaza just to the north of the Latin Quarter, is particularly busy during summer, when its beer gardens and produce stalls are well attended, and when buskers will endeavour to win your patronage.
Directly opposite the university grounds is Vor Frue Kirke, the city's striking neoclassical cathedral which was originally built in the late 12th century and then rebuilt three times after succumbing to various pesky fires. The interior is decorated with sculptor Bertel Thorvaldsen's acclaimed statues of Christ and the 12 apostles.
Good views of the city's rooftops are available from the summit of the Rundetårn (Round Tower), a 35m-high (115ft) pile of bricks a few blocks east of the Latin Quarter. The Rundetårn was erected as an observatory in 1642 and is still used by amateur astronomers in the wintertime, qualifying it as the oldest functioning observatory in Europe.
The Nationalmuseet (National Museum) is a must-see for anyone who wants a comprehensive grounding in Danish history and culture. True to its name, the Nationalmuseet has the biggest collection of Danish historical artefacts in the country. On Sundays in summer the ambience is enhanced by free chamber music concerts.
The Nationalmuseet has dibs on virtually every antiquity found on Danish soils, whether it was unearthed by a farmer ploughing his fields or a government-sponsored archaeological dig.
The artefacts date from the Upper Palaeolithic period to the mid-19th century. Highlights include the Sun Chariot, which is over 3500 years old, and an exhibition of 3000-year-old bronze lurs (Danish horns).
Rosenborg Slot houses a museum and the treasury where the royal regalia and jewels are kept. Downstairs is a public viewing room where you can marvel at incredible jewellery.
It was built in Dutch Renaissance style by Christian IV to serve as his summer home. A century later Frederik IV, who felt cramped at Rosenborg, built a roomier palace north of the city in the town of Fredensborg.
The 24 rooms in the castle's upper levels are chronologically arranged, housing the furnishings and portraits of each monarch from Christian IV to Frederik VII. However, the main attraction lies on the lower level, where the dazzling collection of crown jewels are displayed.
These include Christian IV's ornately designed crown; the jewel-studded sword of Christian III; and Queen Margrethe II's emeralds and pearls, which are kept here when the queen is not wearing them to official functions. These items are considered such a national treasure that the queen is not permitted to take the royal jewels with her when she travels outside Denmark.
Slotsholmen is a groovy island connected to the rest of Copenhagen by small bridges, it is the place that Denmark's national government calls home. Slotsholmen attracts large numbers of visitors who come to check out the palatial (literally) government office.
The original Christiansborg palace was constructed in the 1730s to replace the pokey Copenhagen Castle and several buildings, namely the royal stables and edifices surrounding the main courtyard, date from this time.
Folketinget, the parliamentary chamber, can be toured on Sunday year-round, as well as on weekdays over summer, and this includes a peek at Wanderer's Hall, which contains the original copy of Denmark's Constitution.
For sheer Renaissance grandness, De Kongelige Repræsentationslokaler (the Royal Reception Chambers) won't disappoint - it's where royal banquets are scoffed and heads of state entertained. Underneath the palace are the excavated ruins of two earlier castles, including Bishop Absalom's original 1167 effort.
Tivoli & Strøget
Funsters will want to head to Tivoli, the popular amusement park-cum-flower garden in the heart of the city. The famed park has been operating for over 150 years and so has had plenty of time to figure out how to best cater to the hordes of tourists and locals, many trailing enthusiastic youngsters, who flock there between mid-April and late-September each year. There are all the usual fun-park attractions, such as a roller coaster, Ferris wheel, open-air performances, carnival games and food pavilions. For the more cultured fun-loving palates, there are also traditional folk dances and a large concert hall hosting international symphony orchestras and ballet troupes. Tivoli also opens up for a few weeks prior to Christmas for holiday festivities, a seasonal market and ice-skating on the lake.
When you've had all the gee-whiz, whoop-it-up, wallet-emptying festivities you can stomach, stagger out to the northern corner of the Tivoli compound and proceed in a calmer consumer-oriented manner up the world's longest pedestrian mall, Strøget. Strøget is a long chain of five streets that is replete with shops and eateries, as well as a myriad of entertainment options including street theatre.