An art lover’s guide to Copenhagen

A sculpture by François Rude in the Ny Carlsberg Glyptoteket

Copenhagen, the achingly cool capital of Denmark. Home of cycling, great design, hygge and, as I recently found out, full of wonderful art.

Whether you like yours ancient or modern, Copenhagen knows how to house it, leaving even the least interested spectator impressed. If art is all about experiences, these are my pick of the top five you should have.

A sculpture of Jason and his golden fleece inside the Thorvaldsens Museum

Thorvaldsen’s Museum

A must-do for fans of classical sculpture that also happens to be non-stop Instagrammable. You may not have heard of him but Thorvaldsen’s sculptures adorn many major cities across Europe.

Look out for Jason (above), the Alexander frieze, Ganymede with Zeus’s eagle and endless colourful corridors of rooms – making for a marvellous treat of a museum. (2 Bertel Thorvaldsens Plads. Adult 70 DKK, about £8, or free on Wednesdays. Closed Mondays).

Photoraphy on the walls of the glass-lined corridors of the Louisiana Museum north of Copenhagen, Denmark

Louisiana Museum of Modern Art

This international art gallery makes for a great day trip by train along a scenic route that also takes you to Kronborg castle, of Hamlet fame. The gallery is set in lush sculpture-speckled gardens looking out to sea and a series of wood and glass corridors bring the outdoors in, the indoors out.

Big names including Ernst, Hockney and Giacometti form their rotating permanent collection on display alongside enviable blockbusters, most recently 100 works by Marina Abramović. (Follow signs from Humlebæk station. Adult 125 DKK, about £15. Closed Mondays)

The stairs inside The David Collection museum in Copenhagen, Denmark

The David Collection

A labyrinth of beautiful interiors full of art amassed by one man, lawyer C. L. David. It’s no surprise that the gallery is free entry; as well as leaving one of the world’s most important collections of Islamic art behind, David also left a huge fortune on his death in 1960.

Over 12 centuries of Islamic art means you would need to devote most of a day to examining it all, so look out for special exhibitions and temporary photographic displays to pick out highlights. (30-32 Kronprinsessegade. Free admission. Closed Mondays).

Inside the botanical gardens of the atrium in the Ny Carlsberg Glyptoteket, Copenhagen, Denmark

Ny Carlsberg Glyptoteket

A museum owned by Carlsberg is probably going to be the best in the world, right? Well, not quite, but its grand botanical garden of an atrium and collection of 19th Century French art, housed in a modern wing, make it worthwhile for any art fan. Save and go when it’s free entry on Tuesdays.

On now, head to the Café for Danish artist HuskMitNavn’s cartoon take on people just like you. (Dantes Plads 7. Adult 95 DKK, about £11 or free on Tuesdays. Closed Mondays).

A painting in the SMK permanent collection in Copenhagen, Denmark

National Gallery of Denmark (SMK)

Growing up as I did with London’s National Gallery on my doorstep, other European cities have a hard act to follow. But I fell in love with SMK’s sensational French art gallery and their temporary exhibition programme is a refreshing mix of blockbuster shows and homegrown talent.

On until 7 January, Family Stories from Turner Prize-winning artist Gillian Wearing. (Sølvgade 48-50. Adult 110 DKK, about £13 or save on entry to five museums with a Parkmuseerne card. Closed Mondays).

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