Tivoli Gardens: 6 tips for planning a great visit
Planning a trip to Tivoli Gardens is a given for anyone taking a traveling to Copenhagen. It’s not surprising that nearly 5 million people visit the park each year. It’s historic in that it has been a destination for Danish families and foreign travelers alike for nearly two centuries. It’s gorgeous, with acres of colorful gardens and beautiful light displays at night. And it’s fun, boasting 29 rides, including four roller coasters. It’s even rumored that Walt Disney visited the amusement and was immediately inspired to create the happiest place on earth.
The Roller Coaster at Tivoli Gardens in Copenhagen, Denmark. Photo credit: ©Tivoli
But with Tivoli’s nearly 15,000 reviews (and that’s just from TripAdvisor and Yelp), countless restaurants (actually you could count them, but that’s hard) and 20 acres of land mass, it’s really difficult to gather all the relevant info to prepare enough to make the most of your trip. So we’re here to help out with a few pro-tips and personal experiences.
The front gate entrance at Tivoli Gardens in Copenhagen, Denmark. Photo credit: ©Tivoli
1. If you want get in free, pick up a CopenhagenCard.
Of course, you’ll have to pay for the card, which will run you anywhere from about $8-$18, depending on whether you get a one-day or five-day card. But for Tivoli, all this covers is the cost of admission (which is about $16). Once you step foot through the gate, everything other than walking, looking and breathing will cost more. Still a good deal considering the CopenhagenCard gives you free admission and discounts to many other city attractions and restaurants.
The Dæmonen (The Demon) Rollercoaster at Tivoli Gardens in Copenhagen, Denmark. Photo credit: ©Tivoli
The Galley Ships ride at Tivoli Gardens in Copenhagen, Denmark.
2. If you like rides, get the unlimited ride pass.
Any Tivoli complainer will tell you this: “Rides not being included in the entrance fee sucks, and paying for them separately is very expensive.” But for folks who have no interest in riding rides or can’t for health reasons, it’s more than fair that they don’t have to pay for an activity in which they wouldn’t be able to participate. For that, we say thanks Tivoli!
Now, let’s do some math: Separately, rides require one-to-three tickets, and each ticket costs about $4. So one three-ticket ride is about $12 out of your pocket. You hit three three-ticket rides in your first hour at the park. That’s $36, but you’re traveling on a budget and only set aside $30 for rides. Now, you’ve blown your ride budget AND you have to skip the well-deserved beer lunch with your buddies.
But wait, we have good news for you. The unlimited ride pass only costs about $30. Instead of going over budget for three rides, you can enjoy the all-day-all-rides-all-you-want buffet and still maintain your beer budget.
3. Return your plastic beer and soda cups for cold-hard cash.
According to multiple sources, including TreeHugger.com (no description necessary), Tivoli adds an extra charge (5 DKK, about 75 cents) to each purchase of beer or soft drinks you make at any of the park’s concession stands. Tivoli then refunds that charge when you return the thick polystyrene cup your drink came in to one of the many on-site recycling kiosks throughout the park. It’s like finding money in the washing machine–it was always yours but it’s oh-so satisfying to get it back!
The Friday Rock concert at Tivoli Gardens in Copenhagen, Denmark. Photo credit: ©Tivoli
4. Beware of (some) Friday nights!
Remember when I said locals frequent Tivoli? Well, they especially love the Friday nights that the park offers free live Danish music. According to multiple reviewers (Danish and foreigners alike), when Danish musicians hit the stage, it becomes so crowded that it’s nearly impossible to meander around Tivoli without physically touching other people.
In addition to Danish musical act, big celebrities also draw huge crowds. Although the show wasn’t free, Elton John performed at Tivoli the night we were there, and I can say from personal experience, it was literally shoulder-to-shoulder even outside of the main music area.
The Himmelskibet (Star Flyer) ride at Tivoli Gardens in Copenhagen, Denmark. Photo credit: ©Tivoli
5. Know the rules of the rides.
Be sure to carefully read the signs outside of the rides informing riders what’s cool and what’s not. If you’re headed for the Star Flyer (swings), for example, know that you are not allowed to take any items on the ride with you–even if they are secured in a pocket. That includes wallets. There are bins in which you can place items before boarding the ride and pick them when you exit, but some parker goers were less than thrilled that their wallets have to stay behind.
On the flip side, the park seems to do everything it can to ensure its guests have a great time. On The Demon (Daemonen) roller coaster, for example, several rows on the train are accommodate larger sized individuals with extended belts. If you think you’d be more comfortable in one of those rows, just ask the operator to point you to one of those rows.
6. Don’t expect Disney … cuz it’s not Disney.
Yes, rumor has it Walt was inspired after a trip to Tivoli Gardens and put some of that inspiration into his Disneyland idea. But this is Denmark, not America. It’s different. And that’s kind of the point. Tivoli is a European amusement park, and it feels like it. From the beautiful gardens throughout the grounds to the extreme rides that make Americans cringe to the beer halls and pubs throughout the park, it’s really nothing like anything in America. And that’s what makes it so special. It’s truly a unique experience.