The Museums in Copenhagen You Should Visit To Learn About Denmark

The sleek new building of the Royal Danish Library holds historical treasures
The sleek new building of the Royal Danish Library holds historical treasures | © Oliver Förstner / Alamy Stock Photo
Irene Chirita

Wander through the cobblestoned, narrow streets of Copenhagen and you will find shops, venues and attractions that will tell you a thing or two about Danish culture and society. But, to truly get to grips with the Scandinavian city and learn more about its past, visit one of Copenhagen’s best museums.

Copenhagen is a small but fascinating city. From its history as a Viking settlement to its acclaimed Scandinavian architecture, the Danish capital has long been an important European location, and its selection of captivating museums help tell the story of both Copenhagen and Denmark’s evolution. Culture Trip spoke to curator Julija Balukevica about where to go in Copenhagen to find out about its fascinating history.

Did you know – Culture Trip now does bookable, small-group trips? Pick from authentic, immersive Epic Trips, compact and action-packed Mini Trips and sparkling, expansive Sailing Trips.

National Museum of Denmark

The National Museum of Denmark is located in the 18th-century former Prince’s Mansion

SMK – The National Gallery of Denmark

The Statens Museum for Kunst (National Gallery of Denmark) hosts weekly art talks

The National Gallery of Denmark displays the most prestigious Danish royal collections, as well as holding special exhibitions and workshops. It’s Denmark’s largest art museum, and displays captivating art from the 1300s until the present day, making it a wonderful place to learn about the country itself as well as Western European culture. “Its weekly art talks are a perfect way to learn about how history has influenced Danish culture,” advises Balukevica. “Take time to lose yourself in each room, and make sure to end your journey with a glass of wine at Kafeteria.” The museum’s café has been elegantly designed by artist Danh Vo, who has combined classic Danish design with furniture by Italian designer Enzo Mari and light sculptures from Japanese-American artist Isamu Noguchi.

Royal Danish Library – The Black Diamond

The Royal Danish Library in Copenhagen

Take a deep breath as you enter The Black Diamond, a newly designed entrance to the library building, with Per Kirkeby’s impressive 200 square-metre (2,100 square-foot) painting on the ceiling. For Balukevica, the Royal Danish Library demonstrates “the Danish success of mixing old and new.” The design is particularly notable: “Mirroring the sea, the black shiny glass building is the home of treasures inscribed on UNESCO’s Memory of the World Register, such as a collection of about 2,000 books by Swedish botanist Carl Linnaeus or manuscripts and correspondence of Danish author Hans Christian Andersen.” says Balukevica. “All the Danish knowledge you could possibly absorb is held here.”


The Ny Carlsberg Glyptotek is free on Tuesdays

Glyptoteket was designed as a Greco-Roman winter garden; a wild oasis of water fountains and tall palms, the museum’s greatness has more to do with how it was created than the art it exhibits. As Balukevica explains, “Carl Jacobsen, Carlsberg’s owner, dedicated his private art collection to the city in 1888,” giving rise to Glyptoteket. The move was also “an example of the Danish tradition of always giving something back to their country,” says Balukevica. Jacobsen was an antiquities art collector, and the museum exhibits sculptures and paintings from throughout the ages, including Danish Golden Age artworks and French Post-Impressionism, and there are even works by big-name artists such as Rodin, Monet and Renoir. The museum offers free entrance on Tuesdays, making it a great spot if you’re looking to escape the hustle and bustle of Copenhagen during the week.

The Round Tower (Rundetaarn)

Climb the Baroque Rundetaarn (Round Tower) for panoramic views

Taking a glimpse of Copenhagen from above is usually on many travellers’ to-do lists, so why not combine the experience with a light history lesson? Put on your walking shoes and get ready for a cultural workout by climbing the famous Round Tower in central Copenhagen. The 209-metre (686-foot) spiral walk up the 17th-century tower takes you to a panoramic view of the city. Commemorating Denmark’s astronomical achievements, the tower is still used as an observatory, “making it the oldest functioning observatory in Europe,” says Balukevica. On the way up, you’ll pass through the Library Hall, which houses changing exhibitions. Once at the top, perhaps share a victory kiss with your loved one on the kyssebænken (the kissing bench).

The Danish Music Museum

Combine your passion for music with knowledge by going back in time to learn about prominent Danish musical figures at the Danish Music Museum. Suitable for both kids and adults, visitors can practise playing everything from the harp to the xylophone, or quainter instruments, such as the ‘amoeba-shaped violin’, ‘the giraffe piano’, and the ‘sausage bassoon’. Then move from the past to the future at Flexspace, the museum’s new area that showcases instruments of the future, where you’ll be able to record your voice into an instrument called a Caleidoscope or become a DJ for a day on the museum’s own MashMachine.

Nikolaj Kunsthal Art Hall

Art can be found anywhere, and this unusual gallery space is proof of that. Dating back to the 13th century, St Nicolai Church hosts Copenhagen’s most innovative and engaging contemporary art hall. The immaculate architecture plays the role of a blank canvas for the always-changing futuristic exhibitions, showcasing the active role that art plays in Danes’ lives. Situated not far from the colourful Nyhavn neighbourhood, Nikolaj Kunsthal is a lively house with concerts, talks and performances. The venue is popular among locals, making it an ideal place to visit if you’re looking to get insight into Danish culture.


If world-class art and architecture is your niche, ARKEN is the ultimate destination for you. Hosting one of Scandinavia’s finest collections of contemporary art, it contains around 400 Danish, Nordic and international works from the 1990s on. Situated just 30 minutes by train from Copenhagen Central Station, the not-for-profit museum is surrounded by water and can only be accessed via a bridge that takes you to the manmade beachscape on which it sits.
This article is an updated version of a story originally created by Aliki Seferou.

landscape with balloons floating in the air


Connect with like-minded people on our premium trips curated by local insiders and with care for the world

Since you are here, we would like to share our vision for the future of travel - and the direction Culture Trip is moving in.

Culture Trip launched in 2011 with a simple yet passionate mission: to inspire people to go beyond their boundaries and experience what makes a place, its people and its culture special and meaningful — and this is still in our DNA today. We are proud that, for more than a decade, millions like you have trusted our award-winning recommendations by people who deeply understand what makes certain places and communities so special.

Increasingly we believe the world needs more meaningful, real-life connections between curious travellers keen to explore the world in a more responsible way. That is why we have intensively curated a collection of premium small-group trips as an invitation to meet and connect with new, like-minded people for once-in-a-lifetime experiences in three categories: Culture Trips, Rail Trips and Private Trips. Our Trips are suitable for both solo travelers, couples and friends who want to explore the world together.

Culture Trips are deeply immersive 5 to 16 days itineraries, that combine authentic local experiences, exciting activities and 4-5* accommodation to look forward to at the end of each day. Our Rail Trips are our most planet-friendly itineraries that invite you to take the scenic route, relax whilst getting under the skin of a destination. Our Private Trips are fully tailored itineraries, curated by our Travel Experts specifically for you, your friends or your family.

We know that many of you worry about the environmental impact of travel and are looking for ways of expanding horizons in ways that do minimal harm - and may even bring benefits. We are committed to go as far as possible in curating our trips with care for the planet. That is why all of our trips are flightless in destination, fully carbon offset - and we have ambitious plans to be net zero in the very near future.

Winter Sale Offers on Our Trips

Incredible Savings

Edit article