Copenhagen is well known as a buzzing cultural centre of unique Scandi art and design, here is our list of the absolute best museums in Copenhagen you can visit. If you’re just there for a weekend or have been a thousand times, make sure you aren’t missing these ones.
Getting Around and Our Top Tips:
The city is relatively small, with many of the museums clustered together. So go by foot, or, the favoured way of locals, by bike (use one of the many bike hire apps) or take the easy-to-navigate subway.
If you get peckish along the way check out our suggestions for the best food in Copenhagen here: Where to Eat in Copenhagen: Best Restaurants in Copenhagen. Watch out when you’re planning your trip, don’t get caught out by many museums and shops closing on a Monday! So, store your luggage and plan your tour of the best museums in Copenhagen accordingly.
The Museum: Overlooking the gorgeous Øresund is the unmissable Louisiana Museum. This major work of Danish modernist architecture seamlessly blends with the natural landscape and an old villa.
The museum’s permanent collection holds over 4,000 works, from 1945 to the present day and is constantly on rotation. It covers almost every genre imaginable. Expect to see major names like Giacometti, Warhol, Yves Klein, Hockney and infamous Kusama mirror installations.
Outside there is an interactive sculpture park where you are led around the museum’s exterior in a playful way, following the map of 45 sculptures. These works interplay with nature, the view and light, which makes coming back at a different time or season always a new experience! There are also ever-changing displays, such as the recent Sonia Delaunay exhibit that showcased her incredible career.
Good to know: The museum has a wonderful cafe facing a large Calder mobile sculpture and the sea. As well, the shop must be mentioned! Heralded as one of the best museum shops in the world, it is filled with trendy homeware, posters and clothes.
Access: The museum is a 35 minutes train ride from Copenhagen’s Central Station and then a 10 minute walk from Humlebæk Station, it is also accessible by bus and car.
The Museum: Fancy something a bit different and love ornate patterns or exquisite miniatures? Sitting opposite the leafy King’s Garden is the David Collection. Renowned for its extensive Islamic art collection, the museum houses this and two other permanent collections: European Art and Danish Early Modern Art.
The collection of Islamic Art is considered the most important and spans a huge range of superb decorative art from the 7th to the 19th century. Its geographical coverage is extensive, reaching from the western Spain, eastern China, northern Uzbekistan and southern Yemen. The Danish collection is of paintings and sculptures by Danish artists made between 1880-1950. The European collection is a selection of various ornaments and paintings from across the 18th and 19th centuries.
Good to know: There is no cafe at the museum but there is a small shop, largely selling books and postcards related to the museum. Detailed audio guides are also available for free.
Access: The museum is centrally located and right next door to Rosenborg Slot (described just below) so the two are worth seeing together!
The Museum: In the heart of the pretty King’s Garden, and the centre of the city, is Rosenborg Castle. This castle, built in Dutch Renaissance style, houses over 400 years of royal treasures, the sumptuous Crown Jewels and various Royal regalia. Built-in the 17th century by one of the most important Danish kings, Christian IV, it was originally intended for purpose as a summerhouse.
Good to know: The museum does not have a cafe but does have a small shop. However, there are many trendy and good restaurants or cafes nearby.
Access: The park is free to enter, many Copenhageners mill around here on a nice day and you can walk around admiring the facade (however entry does cost!).
The Museum: This is the National Gallery of Denmark and the largest art museum nationwide. Due to its huge size and variety, it’s best to take one of the free maps and focus on an area- we love the 20th and 21st-century modern art galleries. The picture above is from this section! (Summer by Jean Metzinger)
No other museum in Denmark can claim to hold such a rich selection of art, from Renaissance paintings to diverse modern practices. Well-known artists featured are Mantegna, Matisse, Munch and Elmgreen & Dragset, to name just a few.
Good to Know: There is a lovely cafe and guided tours are also available to ticket holders, often for free.
Access: Another museum just next to Rosenborg castle (so close that you can see it!)
Design Museum Denmark
The museum: This newly renovated design museum displays Danish and international design, and crafts- from furniture to fashion, textiles, glass and ceramics. Featured are famous designers like Arne Jacobsen (the visionary creator of Egg chairs), Jacob Jensen and Kaare Klint.
It’s a don’t miss in Copenhagen because it beautifully showcases Denmark’s design legacy, one that is indisputably distinct and influential. Founded in 1890, it has resided in a former hospital in a wonderful Rococo-style since 1926. Definitely come to this museum if you have any interest in Danish or Scandinavian design.
Good to know: There is a cafe serving food indoors and in a green courtyard. All items in the shop are hand-picked and relate to exhibitions or Danish history, it is intended to be almost an extension of the museum experience.
Access: Centrally located, the museum is situated 10 minutes walk from the iconic tourist attraction of the little mermaid bronze statue, as well as the star-shaped ruins of the citadel (Kastellet).
The Museum: Famous for its marble sculptures, the Glyptoteket’s collection contains over 10,000 artworks and archaeological objects. This is Scandinavia’s largest collection of Ancient art: there are Etruscan, Greek, Roman and ancient Egyptian antiquities to see.
If you would also prefer to see something more recent, there is something for you too! Glyptoteket owns Denmark’s largest collection of Impressionist art, you can see works by Manet, Monet, Van Gogh, Cezanne and more. It also boasts of being one of only four museums worldwide that own a full set of Edgar Degas’ 74 sculptures.
Good to Know: There is a beautiful winter garden, complete with palm trees and a central sculptural fountain, that is popular to sit in. A great cafe overlooks the covered winter garden and in summer there is a pop-up on the roof terrace with charming views of Copenhagen’s skyline.
Access: The museum is also right next door to the infamous Tivoli Gardens amusement park, if that is on your bucket list. Also a handy tip- entry to the museum and/or cafe is free on Tuesdays!
The Museum: The approach on foot to Frederiksborg Castle is stunning. The castle itself floats on three small islets in the Castle Lake in Hillerød. Built by the same king who commissioned Rosenborg Castle in the 17th century, it is the largest Renaissance complex in the entire Nordic region.
Intended to bolster King Christian IV’s status as a powerful ruler within Europe, the building today houses The Museum of National History. 500 years of Danish history are depicted here through portraits, history paintings, furniture and applied art.
Good to know: If you’re bored of wandering inside, there are peaceful walks in the immaculate, surrounding gardens and boat trips available. Whilst the immediate baroque gardens are perfectly maintained with symmetrical hedges, there are also larger but more natural, romantic English-style gardens.
Access: The castle is accessible by car, bus and is about 40 minutes from Copenhagen central station. The closest station is Hillerød.
The Museum: Focusing on Danish, Nordic, and international contemporary art this sculptural building takes its architectural queues from its watery position, playing with ship motifs.
There are ever-changing exhibitions and highlights from the main collection including works by Ai WeiWei, Damien Hirst and Grayson Perry. Upcoming is the Haus-Rucker Co interactive exhibition, get ready to play a giant game of human billiards when the giant installation takes over Arken in October!
Good to Know: Perfect for combining with a trip to the seaside, the museum sits on the edge of a stunning, long, sandy beach. There is also a café with panoramic sea views.
Access: The museum is reachable in 25 minutes from Copenhagen central station.