Art, Architecture & Design in Copenhagen

The Danish capital is unquestionably an extremely stylish city that doesn’t disappoint visually. With a long history as a hub for design and architecture known and recognised around the world, Copenhagen unsurprisingly has a lot in the way of fascinating art, architecture, and design to offer visitors to the city. Here’s a brief overview of some of the most noteworthy stuff to see.

Copenhagen by Sam Wood for Smash Transit

Danish Museum of Art & Design

This former hospital, built in the mid-18th century, was transformed into museum in the 1920s, and now, most of what is on display here is Danish-designed furniture, but there’s also a large collection of ceramics, textiles, silverware, fashion, and even posters. It’s also home to the largest library of design in all of Scandinavia. Entrance to the museum is free to students and anyone under the age of 26, and visiting on a Wednesday evening, when it stays open till 9pm, can be a nice way to see the collection at a slightly less busy time. Give yourself up to two hours in order to see everything in the museum.

Danish Design Museum in Copenhagen by Sam Wood for Smash Transit

Havnegade

This street facing the harbour that leads out to the Øresund is lined with fascinating and beautiful examples of Danish architecture. Formerly part of the naval dockyards, the area was redeveloped in the late 19th century, when the Royal Danish Navy moved to another location. As a result, many of the buildings along the street were built in the functionalist style popular in the 1860s and 70s. Most notably, with its striking turquoise exterior, is The Standard, a jazz club and restaurant, formerly a ferry terminal and customs house. Nowadays, you can pop in for lunch, dinner, or just a cocktail, but make sure to reserve in advance as it’s a very popular place!

The Standard in Copenhagen by Sam Wood for Smash Transit

Langelinie Promenade

Another water-facing promenade a bit further to the north, in downtown Copenhagen, this outdoor space and park is known for the famous Little Mermaid statue, often overcrowded by tourists trying to snap a photo with her. However, there are other works of art worth checking out here, such as the replica of Michelangelo’s David, which you can find outside of the Royal Cast Collection. This collection of over 2,000 sculptures, associated with the National Museum of Art, was founded by Carl Jacobsen in the early 20th century and has a store of hundreds of replicated sculptures. Many of the copies are now in better condition than their original counterparts, which may have deteriorated since their casts were made.

Langelinie in Copenhagen by Sam Wood for Smash Transit

Other Waterfront Architecture

 Beyond these, there are several more examples of groundbreaking and unique Danish modern architecture along the many waterways of the city. Standout examples are the Royal Danish Playhouse, which received an award from the Royal British Institute of Architects in 2008; the Opera House, which was one of the most costly opera houses ever to be built in the world; and the Royal Library, known by locals as the Black Diamond for its harsh, black exterior.

Royal Danish Playhouse in Copenhagen by Sam Wood for Smash Transit

Have you ever been to Copenhagen? If so, do you have any suggestions or tips for people? If not, what do you think? Let us know your thoughts in the comments!

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Sam Wood

Sam is originally from London, living nomadically since 2010 teaching English as a foreign language, and is now based in Berlin. He's a wannabe minimalist and language geek, working and often traveling with his husband, Zab. On his blog, Indefinite Adventure, he chronicles their journey as two city boys looking for the best vegan food, street art, and most interesting things to do in any given destination.
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