Denmark’s bijou capital city is a charming and inspirational place to visit as a family – well, what else would you expect from the country named the best destination in the world to raise children in 2020, the home of LEGO, and one of the happiest countries in the world?
With museums stuffed with Viking treasures, parks with inventive and imaginative playgrounds, and a harbor with water clean enough to swim in, there’s plenty to do in Copenhagen with kids, particularly in spring, summer and autumn.
As the homeland of fairytale writer Hans Christian Andersen, expect to be entranced by cobbled streets and historic half-timbered houses; as the birthplace of chic brands Ganni, Hay and Stine Goya, it’s also super stylish with plenty of shopping options and design-led hangouts to please you, too.
Our 8 Favorite Things To Do in Copenhagen With Kids
- Copenhagen Zoo
- The Harbour Baths
- Amager Strand
- The Louisiana
- Tivoli Gardens
- National Museum
This is one of my favorite places to take the kids. The zoo has a great playground on one side, plus a petting zoo with goats and bunnies, and just about every big animal you could want to see on the other, from tigers to bears, elephants and giant pandas, in an enclosure designed by superstar Danish architects Bjarke Ingels Group. If you’re wild about stories, like me, read the Norwegian fairytale East of the Sun, West of the Moon before you visit and imagine the polar bears are princes stuck in off-white fur. The polar bears are my absolute favorites.
A lot of people bring a picnic with them to the zoo, but there are also lots of options, from street food to hot dogs and churros to keep the kids happy. You can even eat in a restaurant that is almost in the Giant Panda enclosure, timed to open when they start eating their own bamboo lunch. It’s good for all ages. If you arrive by bike or bus but have a small child with you – don’t worry! You won’t have to carry them round the whole place – just rent a small wagon on your way in and you can pull them and the picnic gear around the zoo. It saves a back-breaking carry.
- Activity type: Zoo
- Ages: All ages
- Cost: Kids from DKK139; adults from DKK239
You have to get down with the Viking spirit at least once while you’re in town. For us as a family, that means getting into the water. On Islands Brygge, in the heart of the city, there is a floating harbor swimming pool that’s great in the summer. The water is really clean and everybody takes their kids there to paddle and splash about. I’d be lying if I said it was actually warm, but it can be refreshing on a summer day. Older kids love to jump off the platform. It’s a Danish design fix for you too – the harbor baths were also designed by Bjarke Ingels Group.
The added fairytale element here is that a swim in the harbor makes you feel in tune with the Little Mermaid. If you want to see her statue, which might be one of the only ‘true’ sights in the city, cycle up to Langelinie and see her perched on the rocks. Warning: usually very, very crowded.
- Activity type: Outdoor activity
- Ages: Toddlers to teens
- Cost: Free
Copenhagen has a beach, which you can easily reach by public transport from the city center. It’s long with white sand, occasional ice cream stalls and clear water, with views across to Sweden. You can spend a lovely day here, especially if you have a bike, skateboard or scooters, as the beach path is really smooth. It leads along to the Kastrup Sea Baths at the end, a gorgeous sheltered sculptural enclosure where you can swim and sunbathe, or just take pictures to share on Instagram, as you wish.
- Activity type: Beach
- Ages: All ages
- Cost: Free
This incredible modern art gallery is in Humlebaek, a short train ride from the city, and is really worth the effort. Set in beautiful gardens studded with sculptures from the likes of Henry Moore and Jean duBuffet, it is huge and filled with treasures. Even the shop is beautiful. It has a specialist wing just for families, where over three floors you can experiment with art yourselves (and yes, there are aprons so the mess is a bit contained) – anything from sculpture to pottery and paintings. It’s impossible to not feel inspired.
- Activity type: Museum
- Ages: Young kids to teens
- Cost: Adults 145 DKK, children (up to 18) free.
I have a love-hate relationship with this mini theme park which is in the heart of the city. You can’t miss it – the golden towers and rollercoasters really stand out against the city skyline. If you’ve got older children, they will love it – buy a day pass and try everything. You can apparently see Sweden from the top of the towers. If your children are under five, it’s better to buy tickets to the rides as you go along. Like mine, they will probably spend most of their time in the playground – and will likely be too small for a lot of the rides. We love to eat toffee apples, climb aboard the pirate ship restaurant just for fun and wander the grounds in search of peacocks. The food hall next door is fun too.
- Activity type: Theme park
- Ages: Young kids to teens
- Cost: Entry is 155DKK for age 8 and up; under 8s 70 DKK. Rides are extra.
Speaking of food, super food market Torvehallerne is a good place to head towards for lunch. It’s a collective of upmarket food stalls and is always good for ice cream, people watching and families where you all want to eat something different. You can find pizza, Brazilian food, Italian food, tapas, smørrebrød and much more and all eat them together on a wooden table in the sunshine. If you like that kind of thing, a food market called Broens Gadekøkken, just across the main bridge from Nyhavn in the heart of the city, offers another space where you can eat street food in the open air, with its own ice skating rink in the winter.
- Activity type: Food market
- Ages: All ages
- Cost: Varied
No trip to Copenhagen is complete without a visit to at least two playgrounds every day. This is where renting a bike will help you out – by cycling the city, you’ll see snatches of colorful playgrounds, sand boxes and more around street corners that are absolutely irresistible. I have yet to find one I haven’t liked. Many of them are staffed and have a selection of bikes and trikes to play on as well as play structures; some also have animals and an indoor space if it’s raining. Some of our favorites include The Kings Garden, which has a dragon-themed play area, Skydebanehaven, which has a huge parrot slide and a coffee shop, and Faelledparken, where the kids can try cycling in a traffic light themed zone, bounce on trampolines or play in a playground with a replica of the city’s skyline.
- Activity type: Playgrounds
- Ages: Toddlers to young kids
- Cost: Free
On a cold, wet or rainy day, you’re going to want to have some ideas to entertain the family. Up here in Northern Europe, it isn’t always sunny. Grab yourselves a slice of culture at the National Museum on Ny Vestergade in the heart of the city, where you can marvel at Viking gold and rune stones, but more importantly, do lots of dressing up in the children’s museum section, which is basically an indoor playground for kids. The whole museum could keep you busy for well over half a day (and there’s a picnic room if you want to bring something to eat too!).
The nearest outdoor playground, if you’re interested, is just around the corner at Blox, by the city’s architecture center, right by the water with a design-led feel. An alternative rainy day spot is at Kube, in Frederiksberg. It’s an indoor hard play center (not soft play) great for under 10s, and it’s free!
- Activity type: Museum
- Ages: Toddlers to teens
- Cost: Entry is free for under 18s, adults 120 DKK
Tips For Traveling To Copenhagen With Kids
Copenhagen offers a very seasonal experience – that’s another way of saying check the weather forecast ahead of travel and pack accordingly. That can include travel black out blinds for the summer, when the sun sets late, and warm, wind-proof clothes for any time after September.
- Kids are welcome everywhere – this is a city designed for families and family life
- Copenhagen is made for walking and cycling – you don’t need to rent a car. Public transport is also quick, cheap and efficient.
- Baisikeli rents out cargo bikes and bikes with kids seats or trailers ideal for families.
- It’s not a cheap city but parents rejoice: two children under 12 are free with an adult on public transport and under 18s are free in most museums.
- If you have picky eaters, bakeries are a really good option for a quick and inexpensive bite to eat. Eating out otherwise tends to be pricey.
- The city is a super easy 13-minute train or metro ride from Kastrup airport
- The local currency is the Danish Krone, not the Euro, and you don’t need cash. You can pay just about everywhere with a card.
- People speak very good English and are happy to show off their skills.
- www.visitcopenhagen.com is a great website if you want to find out more about the city.
- Museums are closed on Mondays; shops close early at the weekend, around 3pm.
- There’s more to Copenhagen than The Little Mermaid – get off the beaten path to truly discover the best parts of the city as a family
- The Tivoli theme park right in the city center is best for kids aged 6+ – there are few rides for very little children.
- The most fun way to get around and see the city is by GoBoat or by harbour bus.
4 Day Family-Friendly Copenhagen Itinerary
Spend a weekend in the cobbled streets of Copenhagen, enjoying the city’s history, relaxed pace of life and cycling culture. The kid-friendly vibe makes it easy to get around and have fun.
- INDRE BY
Copenhagen’s oldest neighborhood, Indre By, or the ‘inner city’, is all cobbled streets, cozy cafes and designer shops. This being Copenhagen, there are plenty of places to play, including The King’s Garden, where you can find shows and events for families in the summer. Its playground has wooden dragons and a golden egg to play on, and there’s a beautiful Renaissance castle, Rosenborg Castle to visit as well. Indre By is a great location for the modern waterfront and the city’s museums too, all just an easy walk away. It’s not a great location if you’re shy of spending money though…the shopping here is the best in the city.
The northeastern district of the city is classical, charming and full of elegant buildings and families eating a classic Scandinavian brunch on a Sunday. Shop upmarket boutiques on Østerbrogade, full of Danish design classics, play on the small sandy beach at Svanemøllen or in Fælledparken, the country’s largest park, and rent bikes to cycle around Copenhagen’s city lakes. While Østerbro is just to the northeast of the city centre, in Copenhagen terms, that really means it’s just around the corner from everything. Buy a book of Hans Christian Anderson fairy tales for bedtime, and make a pilgrimage to the Little Mermaid on the waterfront before you leave.
Lively and colourful Vesterbro is right in the heart of the city, with great transport links and plenty of restaurants and boutiques on the doorstep. Some key streets for you: Værnedamsvej, also known as ‘The French Street’, which has a wonderful European feel and some great cafes, and also Istedgade, a bohemian design street with a mixture of second-hand shops, bars and interior design boutiques. Staying in Vesterbro puts you close to Tivoli and plenty of parks; you’re also within easy reach of museums and the zoo by public transport. It’s an easy and central place to stay.
Frederiksberg is Copenhagen’s most wanted neighborhood, especially when it comes to families. With classy tree-lined cobblestone streets, historic buildings, Copenhagen Zoo and plenty of green space at Søndermarken for anyone who wants to run or play, it’s the place to stay if you want to feel like a well-heeled local. Rent bikes and cycle around the city from here – it’s pretty central – and don’t miss the French Street, Værnedamsvej, which has a bakery, spirit shop, cheese shop and more, leading to lively Vesterbro area.
Copenhagen is set across a number of islands, and Amager is the largest one. Depending on where on Amager you’re staying, you could be a stone’s throw from the city centre, or a 30-minute or so bus ride from it. Highlights include Amager Strand Beach Park, busy all summer long with families playing in the fine sand and clear water. You can cycle or scoot along its boardwalk to Kastrup Sea Baths, an architectural treasure where you can swim in the sea beside a curved wooden deck, and look out across the Øresund Strait to the coast of Sweden. Amager has a growing reputation for interesting foodie joints too, and has some up-and-coming night spots.
Gilleleje is a beach town in North Zealand, under an hour’s drive from central Copenhagen. Super chic and super pretty, it has long sandy beaches, a fun fisherman’s themed playground (complete with a crab racing track) and cafés lining the quay selling fish and chips. Rent a bike and cycle quiet lanes, play on the beach and swim in the clear water, or browse the shops for beach toys and interior design treats. Staying here is a chance to experience life in a summer house – the traditional Danish holiday house – complete with a large dose of hygge.
Booking Your Family-Friendly Stay in Copenhagen
Whether you’re spending a short weekend sightseeing in the city or looking to explore the beautiful beaches and islands around the capital, find your perfect family-friendly vacation rental in Copenhagen with Kid & Coe.
Frequently Asked Questions
Two days in Copenhagen is enough to see some of the most central sights but to truly sink in to the lifestyle of the city, you might prefer to stay for a week. This would allow you to take day trips to the Louisiana art gallery and beach towns up the coast, as well as find a favorite local bakery.
Copenhagen is one of the world’s most child-friendly cities and Denmark is one of the best places in the world to bring up kids, so we’d say YES! It’s easy going, kids are welcome everywhere and it’s compact, so if nap-time calls, it’s not a huge drama to get back to your residence for a rest. The only quibble we have is the prices – it’s not the cheapest place in the world, especially if you’re eating out.
Laura Hall is one of Kid & Coe’s founding directors and works as a writer in Copenhagen. Her children’s book, One Day, So Many Ways, looks at life around the world as lived by children in over 40 countries; she’s also the author of Time Out Copenhagen.
Follow her life in the city on Instagram at @laura_hall_copenhagen.