This post has partner links that I may receive compensation for at no cost to you. Thank you!
Roskilde, Denmark is steeped in history. One of the oldest cities in the country, Roskilde served as the capital of Denmark for hundreds of years until 1443. Today, visitors can learn about that history while also experiencing modern Roskilde’s rich arts & entertainment scene, all less than 30 minutes away from Copenhagen by train (transportation included with the Copenhagen Card, as are entries to some of the Roskilde highlights below). Here are the 12 best things to do in Roskilde, including museums, historical sites, art galleries, parks, and more.
Viking Ship Museum
Roskilde grew to prominence thanks to its protected location at the end of a fjord. For centuries, the Vikings ruled these Scandinavian seas. In the 1960s, five scuttled Viking ships were recovered near Roskilde & preserved in the Viking Ship Museum.
Today, visitors can see these ships while learning about the Viking Age, including recreations of the boats out on Roskilde Harbour. Read more about the Viking Ship Museum & other museums in Roskilde. Entry is included with the Copenhagen Card.
Towering over the city center, Roskilde Cathedral is the most important church in Denmark, with a history dating back over 800 years. The UNESCO World Heritage Site was first established around 1170. Most of the building’s brick Scandinavian Gothic & Romanesque construction dates back to the 12th & 13th centuries.
Roskilde Cathedral is the burial site of all but one of Denmark’s kings & queens since the 15th century, as well as leaders dating all the way back to the Age of the Vikings. The cathedral has expanded with every monarch’s burial chapel in the Royal Mausoleum, demonstrating the architectural styles of each time period. Entry is included with the Copenhagen Card.
Musicon is a new Roskilde neighborhood dedicated to arts & entertainment. Located on the site of a former concrete factory, Musicon is located near the fields where the famous Roskilde Music Festival takes place each year.
In addition to bars, restaurants, and shops, Musicon is also home to multiple museums & other cultural sites.
The RAGNAROK Museum of Pop, Rock, and Youth Culture is the centerpiece of Musicon. The gold-studded cube certainly stands out.
Inside the museum, there are interactive exhibits about how rock & pop music have influenced youth culture in Denmark since the 1950s. Special exhibitions cover the history of the nearby Roskilde Festival. The museum is part of the Roskilde Museum. Entry is included with the Copenhagen Card.
Museum of Contemporary Art
The Roskilde Museum of Contemporary Art no longer has a permanent home, having reinvented itself as an itinerant museum in recent years. In addition to digital exhibitions, the museum is currently operating in Musicon, right behind RAGNAROK.
Located near the Viking Ship Museum inside a former gasworks, Roskilde’s RoS Gallery features exhibitions from contemporary Danish artists. Entry is free.
Roskilde Museum operates several museums around the area. Their main local history museum is located in the Sugar House and the Liebe House, which were a sugar refinery and a merchant’s house.
Lützhøfts Købmandsgård is part of the Roskilde Museum. The living museum is a restoration of a 1920s grocer’s shop housed inside an actual store that operated from 1892 to 1979. Today, the shop sells around 1,000 items that harken back to the early 20th century.
Stændertorvet is Roskilde’s central square.
Located just off the busy shopping streets Algade & Skomagergade, Stændertorvet serves as a popular event space & gathering spot, with public art and market days.
Folkeparken Roskilde is a large park located north of the city center.
With plenty of grassy areas, ponds, and an amphitheater, it makes for a pleasant walk to the Viking Ship Museum.
Byparken is another large park in Roskilde, also located between the city center & the Viking Ship Museum.
If you’re heading to the museum on foot, you can walk through Folkeparken in one direction, then Byparken in the other.
The Roskilde Jars are a public art installation located just across the street from the Roskilde Train Station.
Where to Eat & Drink in Roskilde
While exploring all of these great things to do in Roskilde, you’ll get hungry & thirsty. Popular restaurants include Mumm & Gusto Giusto for fine dining, and Smash Burger, Primo Piano, Nua Mama’s Secret, & Lene’s Streetfood for casual dining. There are several great places for craft beer, wine, & cocktails in Roskilde, such as Klosterkælderen, Musicon Mikrobryggeri, Skänk, & Liquid Kitchen.
Here are some great Roskilde tours & activities & other things to see & do in Roskilde.
If you’re looking for a place to stay in Roskilde, check out these hotels. For more restaurant recommendations, go here.