Looking for your next European adventure? Copenhagen will not disappoint. Nestled in the coast of Denmark, this colorful Scandinavian city is full of life offering rich historical and cultural activities that will impress any tourists.
Although one weekend is not enough to get through everything Copenhagen has to offer, this consolidated two-day guide is perfect if you’re making a short pit stop on a European tour or stopping by on a scandinavian cruise.
I highly recommend CPH Studio Hotel for an affordable yet cozy and spacious option. This hotel offers studio-like rooms complete with a kitchenette and has a beautiful rooftop terrace and cozy cafe serving breakfast and dinner. Even though it isn’t located in the city center it is only a couple stops away by metro and conveniently lies between the airport and the city. Not to mention the nearest metro station is less than a five minute walk away.
The Copenhagen Metro runs 24/7 and only has four lines which keeps it simple and helps ease confusion. You’ll also be doing lots of walking but the metro is pretty much the only transportation you’ll need to get around.
If you’re flying in on a Friday and have some time to explore at night after settling into the hotel I highly recommend taking the metro to Kongens Nytorv. It leaves you in the heart of downtown Copenhagen and only a couple steps away from the infamous Nyhavn canal. The canal doubles as an entertainment district lined with bars, cafes and restaurants and at night it is decorated with bright neon signs and fairy lights.
When I visited, we walked over from Nyhavn to MASH for dinner. Recommended by locals we were a little let down to find out it was a modern American steakhouse. However, it was a culinary experience different from anything I’ve had in the US. The stylish contemporary spot had red leather banquettes & window seats with dim cozy lighting. Their menu offers “steaks of exquisite quality from some of the best cattle in the world” and it was interesting to experience a foreign take on American food that wasn’t junk food. Although quite pricey, the food was incredible (even when we got the cheapest items on the menu). I would recommend MASH to anyone traveling to Copenhagen.
After dinner, head to one of Copenhagen’s best bars for a diverse and authentic quality bar experience.
With seafood being an integral part of Danish Cuisine there’s no better way to start your day than with smoked herring or salmon. If you’re looking for something more affordable and on-the-go I recommend The Bagel Co. Grab a smoked salmon bagel at this Danish franchise spot and you’ll be set for the day.
Head over to Amalienborg Palace for the changing of the royal guards at noon. The ceremony takes place daily and, when the Queen is in residence, the guard is accompanied by the Royal Guards music band. Make sure to get there by 11:30 AM to secure a good spot.
Walk back to Nyhavn to enjoy the scenery in the daylight. Lined with brightly coloured 17th and early 18th century townhouses this bright district sets a great backdrop for your pictures. Once you’ve explored the waterfront district, I highly recommend taking a canal tour.
Covering Copenhagen’s main attractions like the Opera House, Amalienborg Palace, Christiansborg Palace, and the Black Diamond Library, the canal tour makes the most of a short amount of time. If you’re interested in catching a glance of the famous, 100-year old Little Mermaid Statue, this is the best way to do it without having to dodge a cluster of tourists. Priced at only $7.50 and spanning over an hour, you will definitely get your money’s worth.
For a quick art experience after offboarding walk along Nyhavn and cross the Inderhavnsbroen bridge to the Christianshavn neighbourhood where you’ll find the The Cosmic Room. This glass-and-mirror room is situated in the harbour front appearing as an igloo on the outside. Step inside and your breath will be taken away as you immerse yourself in a small galaxy in the middle of a city. Its is open from 10 AM to 5 PM and at night time the igloo lights up, serving as a blue, illuminated lighthouse.
Walk down Strandgade until you see the sailboat and check out the North Atlantic House, a cultural centre dedicated to preserve culture and art from the North Atlantic area. Entrance is priced at only 20 DKK for students (about $3).
If art and culture aren’t your thing, keep walking past the sailboat to Barr. Even if you don’t like beer I highly recommend checking out this craft beer bar. With an almost underground feel, this all-wood dining room has a wide selection of beers on tap. From a chocolate stout to a fruity IPA guests can experiment and find something new.
Hunger has probably settled in by now so take a short walk to Broens Gadekøkken (Bridge Street Kitchen) for a late lunch. This street food market is closed for the winter but in the Spring and Summer it is buzzing with life, serving tasty food and drinks from around the world and offering water-front seating.
After lunch, head over to Tivoli Gardens for the evening and enjoy the rest of the day here. Unless you feel confident in figuring out the bus system, this is the one time I would recommend taking a taxi or uber (only an 8 minute ride from the Bridge Street Kitchen). Being second-oldest operating amusement park in the world (it opened in the 1800s!) the park is not only a great time, but a piece of Copenahgen’s history. Heading there is the evening is the perfect time to go, as you get to enjoy the rides and scenery as the sun goes down and enjoy the park lit up at night, Entrance on the weekends averages 140 DKK ($20.82).
For your last day in Denmark head over to Aamann’s for brunch. Indulge yourself in some smørrebrød, open-faced sandwiches that are typically eaten with rugbrød (rye bread) and topped with raw herring or shrimp, hard-boiled eggs, meat, or vegetables. Aamann’s opens at 11:30 AM on the weekends as is known for being one of the most gourmet open sandwich restaurants in town.
Walk off the smørrebrød with an 8 minute walk to Rosenborg Castle. Built by one of the most famous Scandinavian kings, the royal hermitage offers 400 years of royal art treasures, crowns jewels, and royal regalia. Be mindful it closes early, between 3 or 4 depending on the time of year. The cost for students is 75 DKK (about $11).
Afterwards, take an afternoon walk in the King’s Garden . Laid out during the reign of King Christian IV, the garden features huge flowerbeds in the summer months, a rose garden, and different-sized sculptures.
Lastly, a visit to Denmark isn’t complete without a pølser, the Danish version of an American hot dog (but so much better). Located in multiple stands throughout the city, you’ll be sure to encounter one on your way back to the hotel, just keep your eyes peeled.
Take the rest of the evening to pack your bags, take the metro to the airport, and head off to your new european destination!