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Copenhagen, Denmark

Tivoli Gardens

Copenhagen's celebrated theme park and gardens. 

Tivoli, which opened in 1843, is the second-oldest amusement park in the world (after nearby Dyrehavsbakken, which opened in 1583). Consolation prize: Tivoli, with its merry-go-round and boat rides, resident symphony orchestra, and Chinese harlequin theater (which is designed like a peacock), is the most visited amusement park in Scandinavia. At night its gardens are made bright with colored lamps and hundreds of thousands of little lights.

Located in the center of Copenhagen, Tivoli is an urban phenomenon and is surrounded by the town hall square, the Hans Christian Anderson house, and the main train station. It was founded by Georg Cartensen, who was given a five-year commission by King Christian VIII; Cartensen reportedly persuaded the king by telling him, “when the people are amused, they do not think about politics.” From the beginning, the park included restaurants, cafés, a theater, gardens and flower beds, a merry-go-round, and fanciful Oriental-style buildings.

In 1964, the Beatles played at Tivoli. Michael Jackson offered to buy it. Walt Disney once described the park as “happy, with an unbuttoned air,” and he borrowed heavily from its whimsy for Disneyland. Disney even told his wife, “Now this is what an amusement place should be!” But Tivoli is more tranquil than the Disney parks, perhaps more tranquil than any other theme park, full of cozy gardens and fountains and scattered benches.

Dæmonen (The Demon) roller coaster opened in 2004 and is one of the most expensive structures in the park. It is a floor-less coaster, which means that a rider’s legs dangle during the ride.

Tivoli is probably the most famous landmark in Copenhagen - if not in all of Denmark. In 1944, the Nazis attempted to burn it down. But the Danes rebuilt and reopened the park within weeks.

Know Before You Go

By bus: Take 10, 15, 26, 30, 40, 66, 2A, 5A , 6A or 250S. By train: Central Station or Vesterport station.