Top 10 Copenhagen family attractions when travelling with boys
It is no wonder Denmark is called the happiest place on earth. With so many incredible things to do in its capital Copenhagen for families, a visit will surely put a smile on your face.
If I had to pick the one European capital city that was the easiest to explore with kids, had amazing things to do for all ages, and was not quite so frantic, then I would definitely choose Copenhagen.
Famous for its food, cycling, LEGO, Royal family, canals, and author Hans Christian Andersen, Copenhagen has some brilliant surprises in store for families. Having visited there several times, firstly as a child myself, then as a solo traveller, years later as a mother of boys, and in a group of 12 extended family members, I have discovered the best things to do in Copenhagen for families.
There is something truly special about Tivoli Gardens. It’s like entering a magical wonderland as you walk through the enormous arch to discover a world of fun for the whole family. Situated in the heart of the city, Tivoli Gardens has something for everyone with nostalgic rides, music concerts, theatre, dining, striking buildings, and beautiful gardens.
There are rides that will terrify your teenager, delight your toddler and enthuse your young school kid. Tivoli will soon unveil the first ever virtual reality ride in Denmark, where you can strap yourself into a real rollercoaster ride while you discover the virtual reality of fire-breathing dragons, demons, and exploding fireworks.
All ride tickets are paid for separately to your entry pass. You buy ticket passes from machines inside the park gates.
Built in 1843, Tivoli is a traditional theme park without the over the top commercialisation of many others. I can see where Walt Disney got his inspiration from to create Disneyland after his visit to Tivoli.
Tivoli is not open throughout winter. Check the Tivoli Gardens website for opening dates and times. You can easily spend up to a day here.
Changing of the Royal Guard
Every day at around 12 noon, the Royal Guards march to the beautiful Amalienborg Palace, the main residence of Queen Margrethe and the Royal Family, for the changeover ceremony.
We lined up just after 11.30am and the boys sat on the cobble-stoned street a mere metre away from the Royal Guards as they marched by. One thing we were thankful for was the boys had their cameras to keep them busy (and not wanting to run around).
The number of guards will all depend on if there is a member of the Royal Family in residence. Sadly every time I have visited, no one was home as they were always at their summer house. That being said it was still worthwhile going.
It’s all very relaxed but orderly. There are no bollards or fences, but there are a few police officers who will politely ask you to move back if you’re standing in the wrong spot.
Once you’ve finished seeing the changing of the Royal Guards, take the short stroll to Nyhavn. A trip to Copenhagen wouldn’t be complete without visiting Nyhavn, one of the city’s most photographed places. Nyhavn is the old commercial port whose brightly coloured buildings have been transformed into restaurants and bars. It’s not the cheapest place to dine but it’s certainly worthwhile stopping for a meal or a drink if your budget will stretch that far. If you’ve got better things to spend your money on then make sure still to visit and spend a little while walking through the area to soak up the atmosphere.
Explore the canals
What sets Copenhagen apart from so many other capital cities is not just its friendly bike-riding locals but the canals that are spread throughout the city. Luckily you don’t have to spend your time admiring them from the footpath. There are plenty of options for exploring them from closer to the water. If you’re feeling adventurous and energetic, head off on a kayak tour. Would you rather captain your own boat? You can hire a solar-powered picnic boat to explore on your own. However, if you’d rather sit back and relax and rely on the expertise of others, then line up for a canal tour. You’ll even get to see the surprisingly small Little Mermaid statue from the water. Some canal tours are included in the cost of a Copenhagen Card.
The Round Tower
One of the images burned into my memory from when I visited Copenhagen as a 10-year-old, is my visit to the Round Tower, the oldest functioning observatory in Europe. I loved this building as it was like nothing I had ever seen before. Going back after so many years can ruin a good memory which is why I was so surprised to find that the memory lived up to reality. It looked exactly as I had remembered it.
The Round Tower provides an incredible view of the old part of Copenhagen and is a novel experience of walking (very fast walking when boys are involved) on a spiral walkway. To get to the top of this 17th-century tower you will need to walk around 209 metres, even though the tower is only 36 metres tall.
Mums, Dads and even boys of all ages are going to enjoy shopping along one of Europe’s longest pedestrian streets. You’ll find everything from iconic Danish brands like Royal Copenhagen, George Jensen and LEGO, to touristy gift shops, toy stores and big brand stores. There is also plenty of street entertainment to keep those waiting outside the shops happy.
The chance of us ever being able to walk past the LEGO Store in Copenhagen was nil. The boys had been madly saving their money and dreaming of the day they would arrive into the country that was the home of LEGO. It made no difference that we were to head to LEGOLAND in a week, they needed their LEGO fix and they certainly got it. Not only was there wall to wall LEGO, but there were huge LEGO statues and interactive technology that beamed a video on the wall of the making of the set that you were holding in your hands. Even I was seriously impressed. The LEGO store is along the main pedestrian shopping street Strøget.
Ride a bike
If your boys are confident riders then why not explore the city like a local and hire a bike. With over 450km of cycle lanes in Copenhagen, you will never be short of places to discover and there are plenty of places to hire a bike from. There are now more bicycles than cars in Copenhagen which makes for busy cycle lanes, so make sure you all know the road rules and riding etiquette before you start.
If you want to see the Crown Jewels of the Danish kings and queens, and the Knights’ Hall with the coronation thrones, then you’ll need to make a stop at Rosenborg Castle. Rosenborg was the only place in Denmark where I felt a little on edge with the boys. The boys were very well behaved but it was one of those places that made you feel like you should tiptoe through and not say a word. Very hard with boys in toe on a rainy day! Still a very beautiful castle. Our favourite castles in Denmark are Frederiksborg Castle and Kronborg Castle which are a short day trip from Copenhagen.
Parks and Gardens
There are plenty of parks and gardens in the centre of Copenhagen for children to run around and explore. Just take a look at the map and you’ll hopefully find one fairly close by. If you’ve only got time to see one park, then head to Frederiksberg Have. This park boasts a royal palace, boating lake, waterfalls, a playground with a giant water-squirting butterfly, and miniature hammocks.
Copenhagen has so much more to offer than our top 10 experiences and what you see will all depend on your likes, your children ages and what time of year you are there. Here are a few other places to consider exploring while you’re in Copenhagen.
- Zoological Museum
- National Aquarium Den Blå Planet
- Denmark’s National Museum and Children’s Museum
If you are wondering how you will afford to see all of these attractions with a family in tow, check out our review on the Copenhagen Card.
Lykkelige rejser (Happy travels)