Around 40 minutes by train from the capital, this small city in the North Sealand district is best known for the magnificent Renaissance-style Frederiksborg Castle. Built by Christian IV in the 17th century, this imposing palace was created to show off his wealth and power. Within the castle you can see displays of modern art alongside paintings dating back to the 16th century, as well as grand baroque interiors and a maze of opulent rooms. The museum does its best to cater for children, with regular activity programmes which encourage them to learn about history while having fun. The grounds are lavish too, with ornamental ponds, formal gardens and a large lake.
2. Louisiana Museum of Modern Art
On the east coast of North Sealand and also around 40 minutes by train from Copenhagen is the Louisiana Museum of Modern Art. Housed in a building which mixes classic and ultra-modern architecture, the museum’s collection includes works by Francis Bacon, Max Ernst, Andy Warhol, Henry Moore and Pablo Picasso, along with several temporary exhibitions featuring as-yet unsung artists. The museum’s parkland is home to many of the museum’s sculptures, and offers a peaceful coastal setting with views across the water to Sweden.
Still in the North Sealand district, Kronborg Castle is best known as Hamlet’s castle from the Shakespeare play. Built by Frederik II in the late 16th century, it’s a miracle anything still stands after a history of fire, bombardment and occupation. But survive it has, and it remains an imposing square fortress, surrounded by cannons and a solid wall. The halls inside the castle offer an interactive depiction of Denmark’s golden era, and the palace plays heavily on the fame which Shakespeare bestowed upon it, with daily Hamlet tours and occasional on-site performances.
Around 25 minutes by train to the west of the capital is the city of Roskilde. Its main attraction is the Viking Ship Museum, which includes 5 ships excavated from nearby Skuldelev. The museum provides a highly interactive experience which celebrates the Danish maritime heritage, and even offers courses in sailing a Viking ship. The city is also home to the famous Roskilde Festival, an open-air music festival which takes place every summer.
It’s a little naughty to include a Swedish city in this list, but Malmö
is so accessible from Copenhagen that it makes a very easy and fascinating day out. Once a gritty industrial city, Malmö has in recent years become a cultural hotspot, with a rich music scene (appealing to all tastes), some daring examples of 21st-century architecture on its skyline, and the pleasant buzz of a modern university city. Best of all, it’s barely half an hour by train from Copenhagen, with several trains running every hour.