Vandals have covered Copenhagen's famed Little Mermaid statue with pink paint, tourists who visited the landmark said.

Police could not immediately to confirm the incident, and it was not clear whether the vandalism was linked to two days of left-wing youth riots in the Danish capital.

"It was pink from head to toe," Kristoffer Eriksen, 29, said.

He said police were taking pictures of the statue while a cleanup crew tried to remove the paint with soap and high-pressure water cleaners.

The Little Mermaid was created by Danish sculptor Edvard Eriksen in tribute to Danish storyteller Hans Christian Andersen.

Sitting on a rock at the entrance of the Copenhagen harbour since 1913, she draws an estimated one million visitors a year, and is occasionally targeted by vandals.

She has been beheaded and doused in paint several times.

Four years ago, the statue was blown off its perch by vandals who used explosives.