Rådhuspladsen – Copenhagen City Hall Square
At the beginning of the famous shopping street Strøget in Copenhagen, you’ll find Rådhuspladsen or City Hall Square. Rådhuspladsen is a commercial and entertainment center for the city. In the late 1800’s it was changed from a hay yard into a small square and used as Copenhagen’s first exhibition space. The spot was also selected for the new City Hall around the same time and since has expanded and has become the center for the Old Towne. Today the plaza is still used as an exhibition area and you can commonly find artists, performers and even activists here. Also, many of the tours that are offered in the city use Rådhuspladsen as their starting point.
City Tours at Rådhuspladsen
Hop On Hop Off Bus Tours
We highly recommend these. Not only do they offer a great sightseeing opportunity with a recorded guide, they also come with great coupons to use around the city when you buy your ticket. The ticket costs about 30 USD and is good for 72 hours. These are great for seeing all the main features of Copenhagen. You can choose to hop on and off anytime to go explore more as well. Also because of the hop on hop off aspect, it makes for cheap transportation around the city!
Small Group Walking Tours with Photo Shoot
These 3-hour tours will take you in a small group around to see the best that the city has to offer. Many of these focus on the cultural and historical significance of spots around the city. These are a great way to meet other travelers as well! This tour starts at 42 USD.
Private Walking Tours with Photographer
You can also book private walking tours here. The same as the above but more intimate with your very own private guide. These will also include a photographer so you can capture every moment. This will cost you 170 USD and up. But, hey, at least you’ll get to feel like Anthony Bourdain, right?
The Grand Copenhagen Walking Tour
This is a free walking tour that meets in the square every day at 11 am. This tour is also 3 hours and will take you around the area of Rådhuspladsen including inside City Hall itself, Christiansborg Palace, Nyhavn, and Amalienborg. As I said it is free but please make sure you tip these guides for all their hard work!
Check out these sites for more info and tours!
Rådhuspladsen is sorta like the Times Square of Copenhagen, while Strøget is the 5th Avenue equivalent. There’s plenty of big names in food, hotels, and shopping both at Rådhuspladsen and on Strøget. You’ll even see a few of the same big flashy neon signs just like at home! Though, in less of a slap you in the face with a hundred different seizure inducing billboards, subtle kind of way. Also just like home, most stores and restaurants were super expensive from our budget traveling perspectives. Copenhagen is one of the most expensive cities in the world, but for us, it was about the same as home and was pretty manageable, even if it did mean we had to miss out on a lot.
The plaza is huge and definitely impressive. Unfortunately, it was under construction while we were there, and has been since 2010. A large chunk of the square was congested with equipment or blocked off. A new metro line and station is being built under Rådhuspladsen and hopefully finishes on time this year.
Even with the construction, there’s a lot of great architecture and sculptures to see around the square. City Hall itself is one example, the building is stunning on the outside but is even more so inside. If you want to see the inside it is free to do so…I wish we knew that then. In our first few cities, we didn’t actually take advantage of going inside buildings that were free and open to the public. We simply didn’t think about it unless we saw a sign that said we were allowed. It just didn’t seem right at first…
You see, walking into a government building here in the States for sightseeing isn’t really encouraged. Here generally you need to be part of a guided tour to visit one. This is not the case with most historical buildings in Europe and you are generally welcome if you are respectful. Take advantage of this! We were noobs and even though we had read plenty of guides directly telling us this, we still barely went inside anything for almost a whole week!
What to see:
Rådhus (that’s Norwegian for City Hall)
Psst… don’t forget to go inside…
Statue of Hans Christian Andersen
He is a very influential historical figure for the people of Copenhagen and is known worldwide for his stories and fairytales. His statue is located next to the Dragon Fountain facing a street that is named after him.
Lur Blower Statue
Vikings rocking out on their bronze age instruments.
The Dragon Fountain
This is one of the coolest sculptures I have ever seen! And it’s a freaking fountain too! There’s a dragon fighting a bull with some other dragons standing around spitting water on them…which is actually quite mean, now that I think about it. The fountain was originally just the bottom bowl when it was first introduced. The dragon and the bull were added in 1950. Over the years the fountain has been moved to various spots around the square, which is completely fitting since the dragon and bull would actually be moving around if they were really fighting.
These posts mark where the gates of the original city walls were. There are three in the city including this one where the West gate once was. We found out about these watching something on Copenhagen after our trip. We literally missed every single one while we were there.
In case you didn’t know McDonald’s are way cooler in Europe. Many of them are in building’s that are hundreds of years old. This sign rises high above the square fittingly marking the start of Strøget.
Across the street is Tivoli Gardens an old-timey amusement park and beautiful botanical garden.
We flew through the square and Strøget, only stopping for a few pics, food and to play with some Lego’s. We steered clear of many commercial locations like this on our trip because we were traveling on a budget and also didn’t want to lug souvenirs around with us in our backpacks for three months.
Our exception was food markets where we were drawn to by their godly smells. Those kinda put me in mind of back in the day when I was a fat kid and heard the ice cream truck. Which by the way “ice cream” in Europe is soooo much better than ours and we need to seriously step our game up.
If you are visiting Rådhuspladsen on a budget be sure to take advantage of the free tours that start here. Explore city hall, and learn the history of the different statues. There are beautiful sculptures all out Copenhagen and you can find a few of the best right here. You don’t have to spend a lot of money to still enjoy the sights and sounds, even if it makes you wish that you had a bag of holding.
Up next on our Copenhagen trip is a quick rundown Strøget!
*Thanks to lonleyplanet.com for the names of the sculptures!