7 unmissable museums in Copenhagen

If you’re into art, design, architecture and food, Copenhagen is the place for you. The city hosts numerous world-class museums ranging from prestigious institutes with large art collections to new, niche museums for installation art. In addition to the art they house, the galleries are destinations in and of themselves, complete with gorgeous architecture and top notch cafes.

Get ready to explore the art, design, and food of Copenhagen through the city’s best museums.

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Louisiana Museum of Modern Art: best for modern art and a must do experience

Often referred to as one of the best art museums in the world, the Louisiana should definitely be on your list when in Copenhagen. Louisiana is a unique (and photo-worthy!) experience in many ways, from its location just half an hour north of the city along the coastline with gorgeous ocean views, to the buildings themselves. Alongside its permanent and temporary exhibitions, it has a mesmerizing sculpture park, a museum shop with handpicked Danish design items and a delicious restaurant.

The art collection boasts more than 4,500 pieces from great impressionists and expressionists, including Monet to Sezane, Giacometti, Kusama and Miró. It also features thought-provoking temporary collections by artists such as Arthur Jafa and Lauren Greenfield.

A blonde woman sits in front of classic sculptures while she sketches them in the Glyptotek in Copenhagen
Wander the corridors of the Glyptotek to see treasures of the ancient world © Bo Zaunders / Getty Images

Ny Carlsberg Glyptotek: best for an oasis in the middle of the city

The art, the palm tree garden, the sculptures, the rooftop, the museum shop and cafe – Glyptotek has it all. Originally established by Carl Jacobsen, brewing magnate of Carlsberg, as a place to hold his private collection for the public to enjoy, Glyptotek has become the place to view a world-class collection of art in beautiful surroundings.

The collection holds ancient Egyptian, Greek and Roman sculptures set in grand rooms with columns, tiled floors and ornamented ceilings, as well as painting collections that date back to the Danish Golden Age and French Impressionism. At the center of the museum is the Winter Garden, a sprawling space with palm trees and a glass dome – a perfect Instagram backdrop.

A great insider tip: if you visit Glyptotek on Tuesdays, entry is free.

Danish Architecture Center (DAC): best for architecture

In 2018 Danish Architecture Center opened their doors to their new museum in the brand new building, Blox, an architectural gem. The museum explores how architecture and design build and shape our lives.

The museum is created for kids and grownups alike, and if you’re up for a thrill, you can take the slide through the museum or try out some virtual reality. Make sure you visit the museum’s top floor, a rooftop overlooking the city and its harbor.

People walk and bike in front of a large, historic-looking building with a copper roof
The National Gallery of Denmark (Statens Museum for Kunst, also known as SMK) collects, registers, maintains, researches and handles Danish and foreign art dating from the 14th century to the present day. © PicsFactory / Getty Images

Statens Museum for Kunst (SMK): best for kids, art, architecture and pancakes

The Statens Museum for Kunst is the National Gallery of Denmark and the largest museum in the country. It boasts a vast collection of both Danish and European art pieces ranging from the 14th century to modern day. The architecture of the museum is also striking; The original building is over 100 years old and is connected by a glass covered street to a more modern building, making a tangible transition from old to new.

The museum is great for kids, with a complete area dedicated to playing and creating art. You should also visit SMK for its cafe, Kafeteria, run by the famous chef Frederik Bille Brahe. On the menu you’ll find fluffy pancakes, dishes made with fresh seasonal vegetables, baked goods and great coffee.

Nationalmuseet: best for Danish history

If you’re interested in Denmark’s history from prehistoric times all the way to the present day, the National Museum of Denmark is the place to go. The museum showcases several gripping exhibitions: one on Inuit history, one on the Viking past, as well as other highlights like the Sun Chariot, an artifact dating back to the Bronze Age. Make sure you stop by the Eggtved Girl’s grave, the bog-preserved body of a buried woman almost 3,500 years ago and found in 1921. The museums recognizes the country’s colonial past with a remarkable exhibition on the Caribbean and Greenland.

The National Museum is a great museum for kids, too, with fun and interactive ways to learn, play and explore Danish history. Youngsters can prepare medieval food to or even join a Viking raid.

An exhibit of modern-style chairs framed by modern paintings at the Designmuseum Danmark
Learn about how design influences our surroundings at the fascinating Designmuseum Danmark © Evikka/Shutterstock

Design Museum: best for interior and design lovers

At Design Museum, visitors can explore an impressive collection inside a beautiful 18th-century Rococo building right in the city center. The permanent collection offers a look at Danish design through participating pieces, like the fun exhibition chair by famous artists and architects Arne Jacobsen, Kaare Klint and Hans Wegner. The museum has a great cafe with lunch bites (think Danish smørrebrød!), coffee and cake as well as a cute garden that’s perfect for a break from the bustle of the city.

Copenhagen Contemporary: best for installation art

Copenhagen’s hippest museum is without a doubt Copenhagen Contemporary, an international art center located in the up-and-coming neighborhood of Refshaleøen in a former B&W welding hall. The museum features installation art by world-renowned artists and emerging talents in the gorgeous, high-ceiling industrial halls.

Since its opening in 2016, the museum has organized exhibitions with artists such as Yoko Ono, Pierre Huyghe and Superflex among others. Don’t miss the museum’s cafe, Connie-Connie, and its award-winning interior – the cafe furniture was designed by 25 different artists and each seat is unique. On the menu you’ll find natural wine, line-caught fish and baked goods. After enjoying Copenhagen Contemporary, make sure you explore the surrounding neighborhood.

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