Copenhagen is a fairy-tale city, rich in culture, charm and tradition.

From Hans Christian Anderson’s Little Mermaid, whose statue has sat on a boulder in Copenhagen’s harbor since 1913, to the glittering lights of the Tivoli Gardens, a visit to Denmark’s capital is like stepping into the pages of a lovely story.

Denmark sits on the Jutland Peninsula and hundreds of islands, pushing up into Europe’s North Sea.  Copenhagen is on the island of Sealand, its beauty and natural harbor attracting people from all over the world as the capital since the year 1417.

The Port of Copenhagen is a popular stop on any cruise to Northern Europe, and every year more than 300 ships bring nearly 600,000 passengers to its picturesque streets.  Since 2004, it has been named as Europe’s leading cruise destination.

Walking Around the City of Spires

One of the most delightful things about a visit to Copenhagen is that the city is perfectly walkable.

The Little Mermaid Statue

The Little Mermaid Statue in Copenhagen

Start off by having your picture taken with the iconic Little Mermaid statue.  She sits right in the harbor, one arm across her lap, looking out over the waters that used to be her home.  For nearly a hundred years, this solitary young girl has been the very symbol of this city.

Then, the cruise ship piers are just a five-minute taxi ride into the city center, or a lovely walk along the water, with historic buildings lining almost every street.

It’s just a few steps to the royal palace of Amaliensborg, the winter residence of Queen Margrethe II and her family. The four identical palaces around its courtyard have been the home of Denmark’s kings and queens since the late 1700s.

From there, walk up the cobblestone streets of the Nyhavn canals, past the boats, brightly-colored buildings, and outdoor restaurants.  The area was once a sailors’ quarter, and still keeps its old sea-worthy atmosphere along its now-fashionable promenade.

Wander up to the main pedestrian shopping area of Strøget,where lovely well-kept streets are lined with cafes and designer shops.  Visit the Christiansborg Palace, which has been the seat of Denmark’s power for more than 800 years. It may house the Danish Parliament, but it is also a royal palace, used for galas and receptions, and is open for public visits.

Rosenborg Castle in Kings Garden in the center of Copenhagen

You can get a unique look at Copenhagen’s stunning architecture by hopping on a canal tour at Gammel Strand.  The cruise will taking you through the canals of Christianshavn, an island neighborhood founded as a merchant’s town in the early 17th century.

The highlight of any trip to Copenhagen is a visit to the Tivoli Gardens, the most popular tourist attraction in the city. Part glorious garden, part amusement park, Tivoli was opened in 1843 and still maintains its Old World charm.  There are lakes, outdoor shows, rides, and an afternoon here offers up some of the best opportunities for people watching.

Where the Tivoli Gardens really come alive is at night, when its 100,000 colored lanterns are lit, and the city’s world-famous park becomes a glittering fairyland.

From its famous mermaid to its skyline of church steeples and castle spires, it is easy to feel as if you have stepped into a storybook as you walk through the streets of Copenhagen.

So, pack a good pair of walking shoes, and get ready for a happy ending on your visit to one of the most charming and beautiful cities in Europe.

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