When most people hear the words “amusement park”, the first thing that comes to mind is usually Disney World or Six Flags, but visiting Tivoli Gardens in Copenhagen offers a throwback to the pleasure gardens of the 19th century.
Once common in both Europe and America, these “gardens” were venues for public entertainment. They were similar to early carnivals in that they featured rare attractions and animals as well as several rides such as carousels and roller coasters. We thought our three children (ages 7, 10, and 12) would enjoy stepping back in time and learning about the history of amusement parks, while still enjoying some modern day entertainment.
Second Oldest Amusement Park in the World
Tivoli Gardens was created in 1843, making it the second oldest amusement park in the world, next to Dyrehavsbakken, another amusement park outside of Copenhagen that has been a gathering place for the Danish people since 1583.
Tivoli is an excellent destination for children, history lovers, and thrill seekers alike. Located in the heart of Copenhagen, directly across from the central train station, the signs for Tivoli Gardens will attract the attention of every visitor as they pass by the main gates. These signs were calling to our children each time we passed by the park, and they begged us to enter until we finally relented.
Admission to Tivoli Gardens is included with your (as is admission to 72 other museums and attractions and free transportation in and around Copenhagen), but the price of the rides is not included.
Tips for Visiting Tivoli Gardens in Copenhagen
If you are short on time, I would recommend strolling through the park to admire the exquisite landscaping, pantomime theatre, carnival games, aquarium, and the evening light display.
If the weather is agreeable, there are numerous international restaurants or you can simply enjoy a coffee and watch the crowds stroll by. If you have been to a Walt Disney theme park this is the perfect time to stop and compare the two. Sit back, relax, and imagine if you can see how Disney drew his inspiration from this very park. Supposedly, Disney inspiration for Main Street came from the well-lit, wide boulevards, magic, and charm of Tivoli.
Rides at Tivoli Gardens
If you plan on taking the kids to spend the day on the rides at Tivoli, be sure to buy a ticket package. Individual tickets are quite expensive. When we visited in 2014, I believe two rides per child was the equivalent of $10 USD. A day pass seemed more reasonable. An unlimited ride pass is approximately $50 USD per child .
There are close to 30 rides available and each one has various height requirements. They are also rated on a speed and action scale (star rating system) to help you choose which rides are appropriate for your children. I would recommend walking through the park first, noting the rides your children wish to go on, and then purchasing your tickets from one of the centrally located ticket booths.
Some of the favorite rides at Tivoli are the Rutschebanen, the park’s original wooden roller coaster built in 1914, the Himmelskibet (Star Flyer) which spins riders around a 240’ high central tower for a panoramic view of the city, Daemonen (Demon) a wild roller coaster ride with loops and dives to make you scream, and the Vertigo, the fastest ride in the park, where riders travel 60 mph and complete 360 degree turns in an airplane cockpit. The Vertigo is not for the faint of heart.
There are plenty of other experiences if rides aren’t for you. There are outdoor concerts, carnival games, a children’s playground, and fireworks most evenings. The restaurants and beer gardens come alive when the lights go down and the bands start playing.
What I found fascinating is the fact that the park is seasonal. The park is open between April and September for regular operating hours. In October and November the park is decked out for Halloween with goblins and witches, performances are Halloween themed, and they serve seasonal treats. The same is true at Christmas time when Father Christmas comes to visit, the Nutcracker is performed, Christmas markets abound, and there is a holiday parade complete with marching Tivoli Boys Guard soldiers.
Copenhagen is a wonderful city to visit with children. People are friendly, the food is delicious, and transportation is excellent. Tivoli Gardens was one of many attractions we enjoyed in Copenhagen, but there was something special about it, something so different from theme parks at home, that we will not soon forget this enchanting destination.