WHY YOU SHOULD VISIT COPENHAGEN WITH KIDS
Traveling with kids and babies is not easy! Trust me, I know. My family and I travel the world with our 4 and 1.5 year olds. There are certain cities that make the experience enjoyable and magical for both parents and children alike. Copenhagen, Denmark is one of those cities! Denmark was ranked by the UN World Happiness Report as the happiest country in the world in 2016.
In recent years Copenhagen, has received world-wide recognition for its New Nordic food scene, Danish design, and hygglig (cozy) lifestyle; however, what isn’t widely known is how child-friendly this city is. It almost feels like every aspect is geared to the reality that people have kids and they travel with them. In fact, recently Copenhagen was named best family oriented city in the world by a newly-published index from the German-based online housing portal Homeday. From the free strollers found throughout Copenhagen Airport and the Lego play areas at the luggage carousel, to the ease of using public transport with strollers to the countless kids’ activities and green spaces found throughout the city; life in Copenhagen with children is AMAZING!
Copenhagen is in Scandinavia, so the weather isn’t always the best. Summer is by far the best time of the year to visit, with warmer and longer days (sun sets around 9:30pm). December is also a very special time of year to visit because of the Christmas markets, street decorations and festive moods. However, the days are shorter, darker, and colder (sun sets around 4pm).
This post highlights our Top 10 Things to Do with Children while including Insider Tips that we’ve learned throughout the 5 years we’ve lived here.
You’ll also find a section called “Good to Know Tips” for some general pointers about what kind of clothes to pack, The Copenhagen Card (which provides free entrances to many of the attractions), and public transport tips.
Stroget, the Walking Street, dressed up for Christmas
10 THINGS TO DO IN COPENHAGEN WITH KIDS
#1 TIVOLI GARDENS
No trip to Copenhagen is complete without a visit to Tivoli Gardens. A fairytale-like amusement park located in the heart of the city said to have inspired Walt Disney’s Disneyland. It’s the second oldest amusement park in the world – second only to Bakken, another Danish amusement park located on the outskirts of Copenhagen. Tivoli is only open four seasons a year – the summer period (Mid-March – Mid-September), the Halloween period (Mid-October- November), the Christmas season (Mid-November – December) and the Winter Season (February) (Please check exact opening times before you go). It is beautiful and magical all times of the year. The Copenhagen Card provides you free entrance, and children under the age of 8 enter for free.
For detailed Tivoli Tips please see my post on Instagram using the hashtag #TwoTravelingTotsCPH.
The Nimb Hotel in Tivoli Gardens. Photos: @Antigoni_X_GR
#2 CANAL TOUR
Another favorite activity for parents and kids alike is the Canal Tour. Copenhagen is located on a harbor, so on a beautiful sunny day there is nothing nicer than seeing the city by water. This is also a good way to see the bronze statute of the Little Mermaid from the back (in my humble opinion, it is not worth your time to make a trip to see her as she is underwhelming small). You can catch the canal Tour at Nyhavn or Gammel Strand. The Copenhagen Card provides you free entrance to the Canal Tour but only at the Gammel Strand location.
Insider Tip: Strollers are not allowed on the canal boats, so I recommend you leave them by the ticket counters. I suggest investing in a simple flexible bike lock for your stroller so you can just lock it up wherever, and put your mind at ease.
Nyhavn, originally a busy commercial port where ships from all over the world would dock, is now the perfect place to enjoy a canal ride.
#3 ROSENBORG CASTLE
A Royal Hermitage set in the middle of the City Center and the King’s Garden. It was built by Christian IV in the early 17th Century. Not to be missed is the Crown Jewels Exhibit – my kids’ favorite.
We recommend this castle because it’s not too big, easy to do with children, and it’s also in the heart of the King’s Garden. So, after a quick tour of the castle, you can set up a picnic in the King’s Garden, let the kids run around or visit the playground in the park.
Insider Tip: If you visit mid-summer, you may be able to catch a free puppet show (Tuesday-Sunday at 2pm and 3pm located near the restaurant Orangeriet.)
#4 PLAYGROUNDS – INDOOR AND OUTDOORS
Copenhagen can be an expensive city, so a visit to one of the many amazing parks located around town is a good free way for the kids to let off steam.
The biggest open space park is Fælledparken located in Østebro. There are several different playgrounds located in this massive park:
- “Mini Copenhagen,” just as it sounds, it’s a playground designed after iconic Danish buildings
- A cycling park where kids can rent bicycles for free and practice riding on fake streets
- Trampolines and swings
- A skateboarding area
- An outdoor gym both for kids and parents
- A free waterpark (open in the summers)
Superkilen, is another massive park located in the Nørrebro district.
Indoor Parks/Play Areas:
On a rainy day, which is quite often, try the FREE indoor playground called Remisen, located in Østebro; a short 10-minute bike ride or bus ride from the city center.
Ku.Be: another great indoor play area located in Frederiksberg; however, it is not free. There’s a climbing area and a café – great place for kids to get energy out.
#5 COPENHAGEN ZOO
The Copenhagen Zoo is a great zoo with elephants, hippos, polar bears, monkeys, giraffes and tons of other exciting animals. Also, there is free entrance with the Copenhagen Card. If you don’t take your stroller, you can rent a wagon for the kiddos. There are also two different playgrounds, a petting zoo and designated picnic areas (you can bring your own food!).
Insider Tip: if a day at the Zoo seems too overwhelming or you’re short on time, try the Free Petting Zoo, ByOasen, in the Nørrebro district.
# 6 EXPERIMENTARIUM
Experimentarium, Copenhagen’s new Science Center, is fun for all ages, from little toddlers to parents! Two floors with 16 interactive exhibits from soap bubbles to a Labyrinth of Light to a Tunnel of Senses. Free entrance with the Copenhagen Card. It’s located in Hellerup – a 15-minute bus ride from the city center.
Insider Tip: It gets crowded on weekends, so go early. Also, if the café is too crowded, the Waterfront shopping center, located next door, has tons of eating options.
#7 THE LAKES
Another favorite is to walk or bike around the Lakes that surround the City Center. I love to pick up a coffee from Lagkagehuset and a free bread bun (boller) for the kids (see my tips below “Where to Eat”) and take a nice stroll around the lakes. On a sunny summer day, we like to rent swans at Kaffesalonen and ride them in the lakes. They also have a great food menu!
Rented Swans from Kaffesalonen
#8 SMK – The National Gallery of Denmark
This museum provides more than 700 years of Danish Art. Plus, every weekend there are special art workshops for children, with tips and information on how your family can get creative at home.
Insider Tip: SMK is located near the King’s Garden and can easily be combined with a trip to the Rosenberg Castle.
#9 KLAMPENBORG – Dyrehave and Bakken
Take a 20-minute train ride out of the city center to Klampenborg station to visit Jægersborg Dyrehave and the Bakken amusement park. Jægersborg Dyrehave, the deer park, is a huge forest where approximately 2100 deer live among the woods. Also, located within the forest is Bakken, the oldest amusement park in the world!
Insider Tip: the entrance to Dyrehave is located right near Klampenborg station – when you reach the train station, go up the hill (over the over-pass) and make a left. Also, you can take a horse carriage ride through the park. Final tip, beware of tics.
Horse and Carriage Ride in Dryehave
Bring your baby to the movies! As a new parent, the one thing I missed was going to the movies because let’s be realistic you can’t take a crying baby to the movies. However, in Copenhagen there is something called Baby-Bio – a couple of different films showings on specific days where you can bring your baby into the movie theater with you. The lights are not dimmed all the way so you can still see, and if the baby cries it’s no big deal. Also, if your baby is sleeping, you can leave him in his stroller by the movie attendant. Once your baby wakes up, the movie attendant will come get you. Win, Win! Google “BabyBio Copenhagen” for participating theaters near you.
WHERE TO EAT WITH KIDS
There are tons of great restaurants and cafes located everywhere in the city, and pretty much all of them have great children’s menus and high chairs. I’ve highlighted only a couple of our favorite places.
A food hall located within the City Center near Rosenberg Castle. My kids’ favorites include the Fish and Chips and Oatmeal #2 from Grød. I would suggest visiting Torvehallerne in the morning to grab your lunch for a picnic, then head over to the Rosenberg Castle where you can have your picnic in the King’s Garden. After, you can even wander over to SMK, which is close by.
BOLLER (Bread Bun)
A favorite treat or after school snack for my kids is a Danish bread bun called boller (pronounced bo-lla). They can be found at different pastry shops throughout the city – try the ones from Lagkagehuset, Emmery’s and Myers. They come in different flavors – plain, with raisins or with chocolate.
Insider Tip: If you get yourself a treat or a coffee from Lagkagehuset, you may be able to get a free boller for your child – just ask!
This café offers a small play area right in the middle of the café, so parents can enjoy a relaxed meal while the kids play. They have three different locations – Nørrebro; Østebro and Frederiksberg C. The food is delicious!
Located right in the middle of the pedestrian walking street, Stroget, Café Norden is a favorite for locals and tourists alike. You can bring your stroller inside, and there’s great seating options upstairs with views of the walking street. The brunch plate is a must-try.
GOOD TO KNOW TIPS:
After living in this wonderful city for over 5 years and raising our two kids here, I’ve learned lots of tips and tricks. Here are some of my essential “Good to Know” tips. For more specifics, refer to the hashtag #TwoTravelingTotsCPH.
In my opinion, it is one of the best airports in Europe because it’s not too big and overwhelming; there is a kid’s play area in terminal 2; there are fantastic eating options, and best of all FREE STROLLERS to use throughout the airport. So, feel free to gate check your stroller as you can just pick one up at the airport – they are around everywhere. They also lay flat, so they are suitable for all ages.
Free Strollers in Copenhagen Airport
Nursing and Diaper Changing Area
I’ve nursed my two little ones almost everywhere in Copenhagen with no issues whatsoever as it is very common here. However, if you’re in the city center and would like some privacy and a break from shopping and sightseeing, stop by either Illums or Magasin. The rooftops of both department stores offer a special nursing area and diaper changing area – a nice break for parents and kids.
The nursing area at Illums Rooftop
Strollers and Public Transport
Copenhagen is a very stroller friendly city in the sense that all the roads and sidewalks are paved (aside from a couple cobblestone streets), it’s flat with no hills so it’s a very walkable city, and strollers are allowed in most stores. There is a maximum allowance of two strollers per bus, and the entrance for the strollers is in the middle of the bus. The metro and trains also have special stroller sections.
Insider Tip: If there are already two strollers on a bus and you have an umbrella stroller, just fold up your stroller and get on the bus.
Yes, even our Uppababy double stroller fits on the bus!
Invest in a Copenhagen Card: it provides entrance to over 70 museums and attractions plus offers free public transport. Bring along two children under the age of 10 for free. You can purchase different cards depending on how many days you intend to spend in the city – you can pick one up at the CPH Airport Service Center or throughout the city.
“There is no such thing as bad weather, just bad gear.” I love this quote!! Depending on what time of year you visit, it is important to pack accordingly – think lots of layers for both yourselves and the kids. In the summer, even though the weather may reach only 65 degrees, in the sun it gets very hot and in the shade it might be too cool. Also, it is very important to bring a rain jacket and rain boots – I know luggage space is precious – but it tends to rain often, and having the right gear will only make your stay more memorable.
I hope this is helpful! Enjoy your time in this beautiful city!