Things to do in Copenhagen with kids

boy on deckchair tivoli gardens copenhagen denmark

Why we loved Copenhagen with kids

City breaks and kids don’t always mix: lots of walking, busy streets, confusing transport, too much culture and not enough play time. Not so in Denmark’s capital. Copenhagen has some key ingredients which make it a very family-friendly city break. Copenhagen is compact, flat and easy to navigate so it’s possible to walk between many of the key sights, even with young children. There are relatively few vehicles on the streets compared to London and other UK cities so what makes a visit to Copenhagen with kids particularly enjoyable is the ability to explore the city by bike.

Child climbing on Nyhavn sign in Copenhagen Denmark

Copenhagen has a beautiful, clean harbour and elegant streets filled with enticing shops and restaurants. Stylish architecture, brilliant design and environmentally focused planning have made Copenhagen a city which many other capitals should consider emulating. It also has some wonderful museums, castles and parks and some BRILLIANT play spaces.

Children playing in Tivoli gardens playground copenhagen Denmark
Colourful playground in the Tivoli Gardens
We visited Copenhagen with kids in April 2019. We had great weather despite it being early spring so we spent most of our time outside enjoying the sunshine (there’s plenty to do if the weather isn’t on your side though, see below). Copenhagen’s waterfront is particularly lovely in good weather.
Having had a taste of spring in Denmark, we’d love to return to Copenhagen in summer to fully enjoy the cafe culture and mild evenings as well as trips to the beach just outside the capital.

The best thing to do in Copenhagen with kids: hire bikes

This is my number one recommendation for a family trip to Copenhagen. I would happily return to Copenhagen with kids simply because it’s possible to explore the whole city by bike. I hadn’t realised how liberating this would feel until I actually did it.

cycling over bridge copenhagen denmark
Only have one day in Copenhagen with kids? Hire a bike!

I had hoped to hire bikes for our kids (aged 5 and 7) but I was unable to find any bikes small enough. However, this turned out not to be a problem as I think my boys may have struggled dealing with the volume of bikes on the city streets, they’re used to cycling along country lanes at home with few other road users around.

family bike ride copenhagen denmark
The family bike in Amager Fælled nature reserve

Instead, we hired a city bike (with a handy basket) and a family bike from Copenhagen Bicycles in Nyhavn. The family bike has space for two children in the “cargo” area at the front and it comes with seat belts, a rain cover and a blanket. We took the advice of Erin from Oregon Girl Around the World and cycled along some of the Harbour Circle, an impressive sign-posted bike route next to Copenhagen’s waterfront.

swimming harbour and sand copenhagen things to do with kids
The bathing harbour in front of Cafe Noa’h
Highlights included stopping for coffee and an impromptu game of footie outside Cafe Nöa’h in Islands Brygge. Newly built homes spill (sometimes literally) on to a pedestrianised area with a sandy beach and swimming harbour. We sat in the sun and marvelled at the idea of being able to step out of your city-centre home and go for a swim in the surprisingly clean looking water. After coffee, we continued past old fishing shacks at Nokken and through Amager Fælled nature reserve and over the bridge to the new building developments at Sluseholmen before pedalling north away from the harbour circle to the city centre and on into Nørrebro. It was a brilliant day out, really safe and easy, even for an inexperienced road cyclist.

If you’re visiting Copenhagen with teenagers, I’d recommend hiring bikes for the duration of your stay. It really is the best mode of transport.

elevated cycle path in Copenhagen things to do in copenhagen with kids
elevated cycle path in Copenhagen
I lived in London for quite a while but never dared to cycle on the roads, there is just too much traffic. Cycling through the centre of Copenhagen was incredible. I hope over the coming years other cities including London, can implement some of the revolutionary ideas that Denmark’s capital has introduced. Cycling in Copenhagen is brilliant.

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things to do in copenhagen with kids, Nyhavn Harbour

Take a boat trip on Copenhagen’s waterways

If you arrive into Copenhagen on an early flight as we did, you probably won’t feel like doing a great deal on your first day. We hopped onto one of the boats which regularly ply the harbour and enjoyed a relaxing hour exploring Copenhagen from the water. Our trip took in Copenhagen Opera House, the independent community at Christiania and the Danish royal home of Amalienborg among many other highlights, and it was a great way to tick off the Little Mermaid sculpture without actually having to trek round to see it (it’s quite a walk from other attractions in the city). The statue is rather small and underwhelming.

colourful buildings in Nyhavn: New Harbour in Copenhagen
Our Copenhagen boat tour departed from Nyhavn

As an aside, for a far superior Hans Christian Anderson-related sculpture experience, I’d recommend a visit to Odense (one hour 40 minutes from Copenhagen by train) where you can follow a sculpture trail around the city. Odense is currently undergoing some major changes to make the most of its famous son but in the meantime it’s a fun place to visit for the day or overnight. It’s a useful place to stop if you’re heading west to Billund, home of the Lego brick. Of course, my children’s favourite sculpture in Odense was the Emperor admiring his “new clothes” in a mirror held up by the naughty weavers.

people sitting on the harbour in copenhagen denmark
Harbourside life
Back to boat trips in Copenhagen, if you have cash and time to spare you could try the more intimate Hey Captain or skipper an electric boat for a particularly civilised excursion.

Visit some great Danish play spaces

So good and plentiful are the playgrounds in Copenhagen that I’m worried we’ve set a dangerous precedent for future city breaks. Our children will expect to be wowed daily by amazing play spaces wherever we go. This is thanks to the brilliant Danish play engineers Monstrum. Take a look at this review detailing some of Monstrum’s best creations if you’re heading to Denmark or elsewhere in Scandinavia with kids.

Child climbing on blue broken plane play structutre in Nørrebroparken Copenhagen Denmark
Family-friendly Nørrebroparken with its broken plane

In Copenhagen, we particularly enjoyed Nørrebroparken or “the Bermuda Triangle” as it’s also known. There’s a plane crash to clamber on and plenty of space for a game of football and there are also some little trikes for the kids to pedal around on. Our kids loved it here.

white lines in a park in copenhagen with kids
Superkilen, Nørrebro
Also in the Nørrebro district we found Superkilen, a series of leisure spaces including an area with quirky stripes on the pavement, there’s a brilliant octopus climbing structure too. And on our bike ride we discovered that even Copenhagen’s cemeteries are appealing places for a walk: Assistens Kirkegård in Nørrebro is particularly attractive.

Heading into the old town area of Copenhagen, we came across the rather industrial looking Hauser Plads which sits behind Kultorvet square. It’s a convenient spot for a quick bit of energy burning a short walk from where we were staying at the Generator Hostel. Our kids loved trying to run up the metal domes.

metal domes of Hauser Plads playground in copenhagen with kids
Hauser Plads play area
We didn’t exhaust Copenhagen’s play spaces. In fact, we missed out on a couple of key ones which are great reasons to return to the city: the Nature Playground on the outskirts of the city sounds like a lovely green space and the Children’s Traffic Playground is perfect for teaching young cyclists the rules of the road.

Ice creams and aperitifs at Nyhavn

There’s a reason why Nyhavn (New Harbour) is packed with visitors: it’s beautiful. Lined with brightly coloured 17th and 18th century townhouses, Nyhavn is the scene you’ll see on countless postcards and Instagram posts. Originally a vibrant port with ships from all over the world plying its waters, Nyhavn is now predominantly used by tourist boats and floating restaurants. Interestingly (or depressingly), there is a lap-dancing bar stubbornly taking centre stage in a beautiful building amid the classy hotels and eateries, a nod to the port’s seedier past.

people walking next to colourful buildings of Nyhavn Copenhagen
Popular Nyhavn

We didn’t eat at Nyhavn but did find ourselves there on more than one occasion for an ice cream and a drink: there’s an excellent ice cream parlour,  Vaffelbageren and plenty of bars for enjoying an aperitif before heading somewhere a bit cheaper for dinner.

Eat at a food market in Copenhagen

Although food was pricey in Copenhagen, it was extremely good quality. We enjoyed Sunday lunch at the Bridge Street Kitchen. This food market, located over Inderhavnsbroen (inner harbour bridge) not far from Nyhavn, consists of a series of food and drink stalls. This is a great concept for families like mine who all want to eat something different. The boys enjoyed hot dogs, my husband had curry, while I tried the Danish open sandwich smørrebrød with fried cod on one side and pickled herring on the other.

prawns on bread and herring on bread Smørrebrød: the Danish open sandwich
Smørrebrød the Danish open sandwich

There are food markets all over Copenhagen, some with live music (there was a blues band playing when we ate at Bridge Street). The Visit Copenhagen website has more information.

Blues band at Bridge Street Kitchen, good place to eat in copenhagen with kids
Blues band at Bridge Street Kitchen
Almost everywhere we visited in Denmark there was a preference for cards over cash, including the food markets; even a train station toilet let me pay by card for the entrance charge. We opened Starling bank accounts before our trip to Denmark so that we could pay by card without incurring any transaction charges.

The National Museum of Denmark and the Children’s Museum

If you want to see some of the main collection at the National Museum (or Nationalmuseet), ensure you do so before visiting the Children’s Museum section. I had hoped to explore some of the other parts of the museum and to come across the “boredom button” with my kids: an ingenious way of livening up what can be a stuffy experience. There are some incredible artefacts on display and of course a very good Viking exhibition. However, we very quickly found ourselves in the Children’s Museum, a wing of the main museum but an altogether different experience.

children playing at house building at childrens museum of national museum of denmark copenhagen
Children’s Museum, National Museum of Denmark, Copenhagen

We had a really hard job extracting our kids from the Children’s Museum. I’m not sure I’ll ever be able to take my kids to a normal museum again. There’s a Viking ship to sail, a castle to explore, medieval kitchens to cook in and wooden swords to fight with plus plenty of dressing up clothes. The National Museum is open every day BUT the Children’s Museum is shut on a Monday (as are many other museums in Denmark).

Enjoy coffee and cake at Illum

I have Erin from Oregon Girl Around the World to thank again for this tip. Instead of going up one of the towers in Copenhagen, we took the elevator to the top of the Illum department store and enjoyed coffee and croissants overlooking the city. It’s a great spot. There’s a narrow terrace around the cafe with tables and chairs from which to admire the view.

illum rooftop cafe in copenhagen denmark
Illum: perfect for coffee

Take the kids to Tivoli Gardens

Should the Tivoli Gardens be at the top of your Copenhagen itinerary? We hesitated on visiting Tivoli, it costs a lot to get in and we’re not big fans of fairground rides. Tivoli is a strange place: I felt like I’d stepped on to the set of Mary Poppins or Chitty Chitty Bang Bang. Copenhagen is such a stylish city with incredible design that Tivoli feels at odds with the rest of the capital. Even my seven year old said “I feel odd” without any prompting from me.

pirate ship lake tivoli gardens denmark
Tivoli Gardens

Luckily, we visited Tivoli on a sunny day so we relaxed in deck chairs while the very talented Tivoli Youth Guard band marched past and the kids enjoyed the playground (another brilliant one). However, I think it would be rather underwhelming on a grey day. The restaurants are expensive and the one we ate at charged us for tap water (which came in cartons), an anomaly in an otherwise environmentally aware city.

I’ve heard Tivoli is magical if you’re visiting Copenhagen at Christmas. There’s a Christmas market and plenty of festive attractions laid on, and I believe Father Christmas also makes an appearance.

children playing in tivoli gardens playground pirate ship
Play area at Tivoli Gardens

On another trip to Copenhagen, I’d be tempted to visit Dyrehavsbakken, or Bakken, the world’s oldest amusement park on the outskirts of the city. Opened way back in 1583, the park is in a woodland setting where deer roam free, and visitors can roam free too as there’s no charge to enter. There’s a range of rides (which are carry a charge) and activities plus a good selection of places to eat and drink.

Copenhagen for children: rainy day activities

The weather was incredible during our visit to Copenhagen with kids so we were outside from dawn until dusk aside from a morning in the Children’s Museum. However, there are plenty of indoor activities in Copenhagen.

Louisiana Museum of Modern Art on the coast just north of the city looks like a great day out. It has a dedicated children’s section where kids can take part in workshops and there are lovely views across the Øresund towards Sweden.
Closer to central Copenhagen and voted last year by Time Magazine as one of the 100 best places to visit, Experimentarium is a brilliant science and technology museum with plenty of hands-on exhibits for kids. There are science demonstrations, sea-related experiments at The Beach and bubble play in the Bubblearium.
National Aquarium Denmark, Den Blå Planet
National Aquarium Denmark, Den Blå Planet

Denmark’s national aquarium, Den Blå Planet or Blue Planet is worth a visit for its architecture alone. However, as northern Europe’s largest aquarium it does a very good line in all things fishy. And there’s plenty of child-specific attractions: my kids would love the water playground, even in the rain.

walkway up to the top of the round tower in copenhagen denmark
The walkway inside the Round Tower
My kids love climbing a tower or tall building for a good vantage point of the city they’re visiting, so much so that I’ve written a blog post about towers to climb in Italy. Copenhagen doesn’t have many tall structures but the 17th century Round Tower (Rundetårn) near Hauser Plads is a great way to burn a bit of energy walking / running up and round in circles to the summit for a good view of the city. It’s mostly step free so it’s great if you’re visiting Copenhagen with a toddler or baby.

Day trips from Copenhagen

There are endless fun things to do in Copenhagen with kids but if you fancy a day out, there are plenty of adventures to be had close by.

Copenhagen to Malmo day trip

A train trip over the 7.8km Øresund Bridge to Malmo in Sweden is great fun. Our kids loved the concept of nipping over the border to another country in just 40 minutes. Malmo is an enjoyable, compact and walkable city which also boasts some pretty good play spaces and food markets but more on that in a separate post.

The Øresund Bridge connecting Denmark to Sweden, credit Pixabay Daniel 4021
The Øresund Bridge connecting Denmark to Sweden, credit Pixabay Daniel 4021

Amagar Beach

If you’re visiting Copenhagen in the summertime, it’s just a short metro ride to Amagar Beach. This man-made sandy beach is great for visitors of all ages: there are pools for toddlers, a promenade and areas for footie and other beach sports.

Roskilde Viking Ship Museum

We visited the Roskilde Viking Ship Museum by car from Copenhagen on our way to Billund further west. However, Roskilde makes an easy 30 minute day trip by train from Copenhagen. The beautifully designed Viking Ship Museum explores the history of the Viking settlements in the area and details how a collection of 11th century ships were scuttled to prevent enemy attack.
Viking Ship Museum, Roskilde
Viking Ship Museum, Roskilde

Frilandsmuseet Open Air Museum

One of my children has a very low tolerance to museums so I love anywhere that allows him to learn a bit of history in a less formal environment. Denmark’s Open Air Museum (or Frilandsmuseet), a collection of farms, mills and houses from 1650 to 1940 sounds perfect for children who prefer to be outdoors.


If your trip to Denmark doesn’t include a visit to Legoland and you’re keen for more thrills after a visit to Tivoli, you can experience the oldest theme park in the world by heading out to Bakken, half an hour by train north of the Copenhagen. Unlike Tivoli, it’s free to get in and you can wander through the huge deer park as well as hop on a roller coaster.


Where to eat in Copenhagen with kids

We ate really well in Copenhagen and elsewhere in Denmark. As I mentioned above, food markets are found throughout the city and work really well with children. We really enjoyed the Bridge Street Kitchen near Nyhavn. It consists of a range of street food kiosks selling hotdogs, curry and smørrebrød, the Scandinavian open-faced sandwich and much more. I loved this concept as we could all eat something different but sit together al fresco at the communal tables. We had Sunday lunch at Bridge Street Kitchen and enjoyed listening to a Blues band playing nearby.

Bikes parked in front of Bridge Street Kitchen, great place to eat in Copenhagen with kids
Bridge Street Kitchen, Copenhagen

Next time, I’d like to try Torvehallerne next to Nørreport station which has an even wider variety of eateries as well as actual market stalls selling fresh produce, perfect if you’re self catering during your stay in Copenhagen.

We discovered a great little Italian restaurant on our last night, La Vecchia Signora, which serves reasonably priced pizzas and pasta. It’s only a five minute walk from the Generator Hostel.

I have heard good things about Gasoline Grill and I’m sure if we’d had time to track down this burger joint situated in a former petrol station my kids would have been delighted at the concept, it has branches popping up at various locations around the city. It’s been rated by Bloomberg as having some of the best burgers in the world, there’s also a veggie option if cow’s not your thing.

Where to stay in Copenhagen with kids

There are lots of AirBnB apartments and plenty of hotels in Copenhagen but we opted to stay at the Generator Hostel Copenhagen due to its central location and reasonable price. We stayed in an en suite family room. From the Generator we were able to walk to all the main sights and it’s easy to reach the hostel by public transport from the airport. There’s a supermarket round the corner to stock up on picnic provisions and it’s a two minute walk to Kongens Have (the King’s Garden) park should you need to burn a bit of energy before bedtime. You can read my full review of the Generator Copenhagen here.

people drinking at tables in the Generator Hostel Copenhagen Denmark
Generator Hostel Copenhagen

How long to spend in Copenhagen with children

We spent four nights in Copenhagen with one day out of the city visiting Malmo. So the three days we had in Copenhagen allowed us time to explore the city at a leisurely pace. If you are short of time, a weekend in Copenhagen with kids would also work well.

We didn’t see a great deal of the main “sights”: the changing of the guard at Amalienborg, Rosenborg Castle and the zoo weren’t on our radar, our children haven’t actually experienced the equivalent activities in their own capital city of London. We could easily have spent longer in Copenhagen if it was summertime: the proximity of the coast, the many outdoor attractions and the cafe culture make it a very appealing break for a summer holiday of a week or more.

people sitting by the harbour in Copenhagen Denmark
Outdoor life in Copenhagen

Is it worth getting the Copenhagen card with kids?

The Copenhagen Card is a way of pre-paying and potentially making a saving for a great range of attractions and transport options in Copenhagen. Many of the key sights in Copenhagen carry a fairly steep entrance fee so it can work out cost effective to use the card. 87 attractions are included in the card along with transport in the centre of Copenhagen and as far out as Roskilde. Each adult card allows you to include two children under the age of 10.

The card isn’t cheap so it’s worth making a list of the cost of the attractions that you’re definitely going to visit and working out if you’ll make a saving. The card includes transport from the airport into the city centre, boat tours, entrance to Copenhagen zoo, Christiansborg Palace, the Tivoli Gardens and much more.

boy on deckchair tivoli gardens copenhagen denmark
Copenhagen for children: relaxing in the Tivoli Gardens

I came very close to purchasing the Copenhagen Card. However, I concluded that it wasn’t for us. I felt we would be pressured to rush around the city visiting as many places as possible. If you plan to visit a lot of paid attractions or if you’re staying outside the centre and need to use public transport, it will be worthwhile (the card also includes discounts on bike hire).

family cycling under an archway of a building in copenhagen denmark
Cycling through Copenhagen with kids

As we had beautiful sunny days during our visit, we spent quite a bit of time just soaking up the atmosphere of the city and exploring at a slow pace, enjoying the cafes and outdoor spaces. The Copenhagen Card works better if the weather forces you indoors as there are some brilliant family-friendly museums included.

Looking for somewhere family friendly to stay in Copenhagen? Read our review of the Generator Hostel Copenhagen.

Disclaimer: This post contains affiliate links. Should you click to purchase, it is at no additional cost to you, although I receive a small commission that goes towards the running of this blog.

Have you visited Copenhagen with kids? What were your favourite things to see in Copenhagen? Let me know your suggestions of what to do in Copenhagen with kids in the comments below.

Looking for other city break ideas with young children? Here’s my guide to the best walled cities to visit in Europe with kids.

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things to do in copenhagen with kids

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