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Copenhagen see + do

Sightseeing in Copenhagen means falling in love with the city's high aestheticism—always clean and progressive, yet rooted in a love of domesticity and coziness that's summed up in the Danish word hygge. The result is a dual-faceted city. To sample the quaint, fairy-tale side, ride Tivoli Gardens' Viking ship carousel, admire the pastel canal houses that line Nyhavn inlet (Hans Christian Andersen lived in several of them), tour straight-out-of-the-Renaissance Rosenborg Castle, and survey the pearly landscape paintings in the Danish National Gallery. Copenhagen's other side is a trendsetting research lab where designers, chefs, architects, and artists sustain the city's status as a European style-setter. Multiethnic Nørrebro and fast-living Vesterbro are the current centers of arty, forward-thinking Copenhagen, but the city's stunning new landmarks, including the Royal Library's Black Diamond, are strewn across its inner harbor. Two of the city's most spectacular models of contemporary architecture—Henning Larsen's Opera House and Jean Nouvel's Copenhagen Concert Hall—are dramatic showcases for the musical heritage that buoys the city's busy nightlife.

For a taste of both Copenhagens, tour Christiania. Since radical hippie squatters took over a number of empty army barracks in 1971, this arts-happy enclave has sprouted several serious businesses, including a bakery, bike shop, and communal bathhouse, but the bong smoke–perfumed air still evokes the innocence of a hangout run by kids who don't want to grow up. Hans Christian Andersen would have understood completely.

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Tivoli Gardens, Copenhagen

Only a city as whimsical as Copenhagen would bill an amusement park as its main attraction—but of course this isn't just any amusement park. Forget bumper...more

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Rosenborg Castle, Copenhagen

Christian IV's 17th-century summer palace sprouts like a Renaissance mirage in the center of the city, its red-brick turrets and towers rising above an oasis of...more

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Ordrupgaard, Copenhagen

Laid out like a stately country manor when it was first completed in 1918 in a Copenhagen suburb, this modern-art museum recently added Zaha Hadid's spatial,...more

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Harbour Baths, Copenhagen

As part of Copenhagen's harborfront revitalization, the first city-center bath opened in 2002 opposite the Marriott Hotel in the Islands Brygge area (Kalvebod...more

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Danish National Gallery, Copenhagen

After its renovation, completed in 2006, Denmark's most extensive museum of art now displays a new approach. While some works in its massive...more

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Danish Jewish Museum, Copenhagen

Designed by Daniel Libeskind, one of Copenhagen's newest museums is fittingly located in the former Royal Boat House—it was built by Christian IV, the king...more

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Copenhagen Opera House, Copenhagen

Opened in 2005, Denmark's first purpose-built opera house, a striated, bulgy glass module with a "floating" slab of a roof, asserts its presence on the harbor....more

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Copenhagen Concert Hall, Copenhagen

Jean Nouvel's Copenhagen Concert Hall (opened in January 2009, in a commercial district that skirts the inner city) is a study in architectural ambition that's...more

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Black Diamond, Copenhagen

This waterfront extension to the Royal Library opened in 1999 and stretches from the original 19th-century structure to the harbor's dockside. The name gives it...more

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Information may have changed since date of publication. Please confirm details with individual establishments before planning your trip.

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