I Took My Family to Copenhagen, and It Was Our Best Vacation Yet

In Copenhagen, the current UNESCO World Capital of Architecture, interactive Museums and outdoor play spaces make enjoying a family trip a breeze.

Children play in a multicolored museum exhibit
An interactive exhibit at Copenhagen’s Danish Architecture Center. Photo:

ASMUS HJORTSHOJ/COURTESY OF DANISH ARCHITECTURE CENTER; Hanne Fuglbjerg/Courtesy of Danish Architecture Center

“What is that?” asked one of my 10-year-old twins, pointing to my pickled-herring smørrebrød, the open-faced sandwich popular in Denmark, with that special combo of disgust and disdain only a tween can pull off. 

While this particular lunch likely won’t top my daughters’ list of Copenhagen memories, in other respects, the city had exactly the right recipe for family fun: almost every museum has children’s programming, outdoor experiences abound, and public spaces are built with kids in mind.

Here, a family-friendly guide to the city.

A family watches as a child slides down a 4-ft indoor slide
The four-story slide at the Danish Architecture Center.

Kontraframe / Thorbjørn Hansen/Courtesy of Danish Architecture Center

Danish Architecture Center

The focus of this museum — housed in a striking stacked-glass building designed by Rem Koolhaas’s firm, OMA — is Danish innovations in architecture and urban development. But it manages to make this seemingly academic topic engaging for younger visitors. It has large bins of LEGOs to occupy little fingers and big imaginations, and there’s an outdoor play area with trampolines and a climbing tunnel. Inside, get oriented with a giant aerial map of the city streets and canals. The twisting four-story slide designed by Carsten Höller is also sure to elicit screams of delight. 

Onlookers view a vibrantly colored exhibit at the Danish Architecture Center
“Formgiving,” a recent show at the Danish Architecture Center.

Rasmus Hjortsho//Courtesy of Danish Architecture Center

The Round Tower

Climb the spiral ramp to the top of this city icon, built in 1642 as an observatory by King Christian IV, and enter the planetarium to learn about ancient and modern astronomy. In summer, little detectives can grab a map and go on a scavenger hunt. The top of the tower also offers views of the long, curving Øresund Bridge that connects Denmark and Sweden.  

A large telescope sits in an dome shaped astronomy center
The Round Tower, the oldest functioning observatory in Europe.


Designmuseum Denmark

Set in the former Royal Fredericks Hospital, where the philosopher Søren Kierkegaard died in 1855, this museum has four wings that surround a central courtyard — but is manageable in a little more than an hour. The exhibitions showcase midcentury Danish design and art from Arne Jacobsen, Poul Gernes, and Kaare Klint. Kids will love the whimsical Egg chairs, decorative Pop art, and funky lamps.

Related: The Best Times to Visit Copenhagen for Great Weather, Lower Prices, and Fewer Crowds

Children playing on swings below a building
Children play at The Blox Building in Copenhagen.

Rasmus Hjortshoj/Courtesy of Realdania City & Build Club

Rosenberg Castle

Have a picnic in the King’s Garden after seeing the noontime changing of the guard at Amalienborg Palace, the fall and winter home of the Danish royal family. To view the family’s treasures, visit the nearby 400-year-old Rosenborg Castle, where their crown jewels and regalia are on display, along with a silver coronation throne.

Canal Tours

See the city’s architectural highlights on a cruise through the Inner Harbor. Kids will marvel at CopenHill, a waste-to-energy power plant with a ski slope on its roof — covered in silicon-coated fibers that mimic snow — and the Circle Bridge, a pedestrian path made of five round platforms. You might also catch a glimpse of the Little Mermaid statue, one of Copenhagen’s most iconic landmarks, and, weather permitting, residents swimming in the canals.

Children and adults play at an outdoor basketball court in The Blox Building in Copenhagen
The outdoor play space at the Blox Building, which houses the Danish Architecture Center.

Rasmus Hjortshoj/Courtesy of Realdania City & Build Club


The promise of horses alone may get kids excited about this island in the city’s harbor. Most mornings, teams from the Royal Stables pull carriages in front of Christiansborg Palace, once the seat of the monarchy and now home to the Danish parliament. Nearby you’ll find the Black Diamond, a modern addition to the Royal Library that faces the Inner Harbor and is clad in black granite. Kids will get a kick out of riding the Diamond’s moving walkway up the 80-foot atrium and walking across a bridge to the library to peer into the grand reading room. 

A table tennis set up in a blue themed hotel room
The table-tennis room at the Coco Hotel.


Coco Hotel

After busy days spent sightseeing, it helps to come home to a stylish yet kid-friendly hotel. Voted the top stay in Scandinavia by readers in T+L’s 2023 World’s Best Awards, this property in the Vesterbro neighborhood has a fifth-floor family suite with two bedrooms (one of which has twin beds), beanbags, and a bunny lamp. While the little ones get their energy out in the table-tennis lounge, parents can sip wine in the lush courtyard at Café Coco. When it comes to splurge-worthy hotels in Copenhagen, this property ticks all the boxes for families.

A multicolored design childrens bedroom in a hotel
The family suite at the Coco Hotel, which sleeps four.

Courtesy of Coco Hotel

A version of this story first appeared in the November 2023 issue of Travel + Leisure under the headline "The Cool Kids."


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