Looking to start planning your next adventure? Here’s a new reason to travel to Copenhagen, Denmark in 2023. 

A good time to visit Copenhagen is…any time.

Yet those who love architecture and design have a new reason to visit the Danish capital in 2023: Copenhagen has been officially named the Unesco World Capital of Architecture, a title it will hold for a three-year period.

The idea behind this designation is to highlight how architecture, city planning and culture can in tandem shape urban identity and sustainable urban development. Over the next year, the city will host no fewer than 300 events under the framework of “Copenhagen in Common.” These exhibitions, talks, tours and other happenings will showcase the value that architecture and design bring to everyday lives in cities.  

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Photo of a young couple riding bicycles and enjoying the lovely winter morning in the city.
Copenhagen is a city that can be easily explored by bike © Getty Images

Famed for its culture of biking, hip design and purposeful buildings, Copenhagen has inspired countless planning professionals. Any travelers here will experience how careful policy choices have improved the lives of its citizens – with wide bike lanes, public gyms on building rooftops and shipping containers turned into student housing. The World Capital of Architecture title will help to shine a light on all of this. 

The Danish Architecture Center (DAC) will host a number of events for anyone interested in architecture. That will include guided tours around the city, where you can learn about hidden gens and iconic buildings. 

Under the “Copenhagen in Common” theme, DAC will present an exhibition (May 4–October 22) exploring the meaning of Danish architecture. The show will also highlight the strong Danish tradition of community thinking and citizen involvement in public projects, by polling locals, architects and visitors what they like about Copenhagen, what urban architecture works well – and what doesn’t. Additionally, DAC will introduce its first permanent exhibition on Danish architecture: “Made in Denmark,” opening March 24, explores architectural history from the Viking Age to present day.

The ground is painted pink in an outdoor park, as seen from an aerial image.
Superkilen park is one of Copenhagen's top parks © Iwan Baan

From July 2 to 6 at Copenhagen’s Bella Center, the UIA World Congress will gather to promote an even more sweeping theme: how architecture can be a catalyst for reaching the UN’s 17 Sustainable Development Goals. The conference will present groundbreaking scientific research, with key partners speaking about the journey toward a more sustainably built environment. 

Yet even if you skip these events, just a short walk through the streets of Copenhagen is a wonderful way to soak in standout architecture, from the ultra-modern “Black Diamond” Royal Danish Library extension to stately Christiansborg Palace. You don’t need to be a UN delegate to enjoy Copenhagen’s rich variety of cafes, restaurants and hotels, all of which embody the importance of design, architecture and community. 

Where to eat in Copenhagen

Located in the gracious art museum SMK, Kafeteria offers great design, famous fluffy pancakes and vegetable-forward dishes. Tårnet, in Christiansborg Palace, offers city views alongside delicious, traditional Danish smørrebrød.

Copenhagen teems with artisanal bakeries. Try Lille Bakery in the former shipyard area of Refshaleøen; Juno for must-try cardamom buns; and Coffee Collective for the bun with cheese. In Copenhagen’s newest district, Carlsberg Byen (formerly home to the Carlsberg brewery), the new location of Gasoline Grill serves one of the best burgers anywhere. 

Where to drink in Copenhagen 

Have a coffee at Copenhagen’s best coffee spot, Prolog, in Copenhagen’s Kødbyen (or Meatpacking District). This development makes the case for how former industrial areas can be transformed into usable and lively areas for the community. In Nordhavn, another of the city’s newest and most architecturally striking neighborhoods, Silo serves up delicious cocktails, along with views from its 17th-floor lounge over Øresund and the city skyline. Brus has a rotating selection of craft beers, all brewed on site in Copenhagen’s hippest neighborhood, Nørrebro. At Ancestrale in cool Vesterbro, a handpicked selection of natural wines and good vibes will make for a great time. 

The UN City building reflected in the water by night, Nordhavn, Copenhagen, Denmary
Head to Nordhavn, a former industrial seaport that has been recently redeveloped, to take in some of Copenhagen’s newest and most daring buildings © Photojungle/ Shutterstock

Where to stay in Copenhagen

If you stay in the compact city center, you’ll have no problem taking in the city’s architecture on foot. The Audo – with a splendid mix of historic details and super-stylish modern design – is located in the new seaside district of Nordhavn, where you can see first-hand how creative redevelopment can create livable neighborhoods. In a former university building in the very core of the city, 25hours has comfortable lodgings, a lovely salon serving afternoon tea, a Middle Eastern restaurant and several lounges. For a more budget-friendly option, Steel House Copenhagen’s dorms and private rooms are decorated in a contemporary style.

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