Copenhagen—København in Danish—has no glittering skylines and hardly any of the high-stress bustle common to most capitals. Throngs of bicycles glide along in ample bike lanes. The early-morning air in the pedestrian streets of the city's core is redolent of freshly baked bread and soap-scrubbed storefronts. If there's such a thing as a cozy city, this is it.The town was a fishing colony until 1157, when Valdemar the Great gave it to Bishop Absalon, who built a castle on what is now the parliament, Christiansborg. It grew as a center on the Baltic trade route and became known as købmændenes havn (merchants' harbor) and eventually København. In the 15th century it became the royal residence and the capital of Norway and Sweden. From 1596 to 1648, Christian IV, a Renaissance king obsessed with fine architecture, began a building boom that crowned the city with towers and castles, many of which still stand. They're almost all that remain of the city's 800-year history; much of Copenhagen was destroyed by two major fires in the 18th century and by British bombing during the Napoleonic Wars.Despite a tumultuous history, Copenhagen survives as the liveliest Scandinavian capital. With its backdrop of copper towers and crooked rooftops, the venerable city is soothed by one of the highest standards of living in the world and spangled by the lights and gardens of Tivoli.
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Things You Can't Miss
The world’s second-oldest amusement park, this Copenhagen icon enchants kids and adults with rides, gardens, fountains and a dazzling light display.
Built in 1642 as an observatory, the 114-foot-high Round Tower offers a perfect view of the central city’s rooftops and spires. Visitors ascend by spiral ramp, not stairs.
Peter Topp Engelsted Jonasen/Getty Images
The era of Viking domination is just part of the exhibits at the excellent National Museum, which traces Danish history from the Stone Age onward.
The Danish National Gallery and Ny Carlsberg Glyptotek offer world-class collections ranging from ancient sculpture to post-impressionist paintings.
Set in an invitingly green park, Rosenborg Castle dazzles the eye with halls full of magnificent furnishings and the priceless Danish crown jewels.
Rainbow-hued houses and picturesque boats give this neighborhood a postcard look. Sidewalk cafés, shops and street performers enliven the scene.
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