It is hard to see everything in any city in only two days, but a quick visit to Denmark’s capital can be done with the right itinerary and a good pair of walking shoes. Denmark is a relatively small country, so it makes sense that its cities would be small too, and that is the case with Copenhagen, which thankfully makes it entirely possible to see the major attractions within the city, and possibly even venture further afield, in the space of only a few short days if you really plan your time well. So it is time to put those walking shoes on and come along as I guide you through how to make the most of a weekend in Copenhagen.
1. Getting into Copenhagen
Coming into the city is easily done, whether coming via plane, train, or car, you will not have much difficulty getting into the centre. If flying into Copenhagen Kasthrup Airport the best option is to take the train that conveniently connects directly to Copenhagen Central Station. This is a lot cheaper than taking a taxi from the airport, remember Denmark is part of Scandinavia, one of the most expensive locations in Europe and the taxi fares will be costly. If you are coming via rail from elsewhere in Denmark or bordering countries like Sweden and Germany, then you will not have much trouble. Most trains will almost always have direct routes to Copenhagen Central. Driving will incur tolls and parking rates, yet is also a relatively easy option. Though with such a good public transport system, you won’t be needing a car very much when in the city.
2. Getting around once in the city
Once you are within Copenhagen you’ll find that most everything is located pretty close together and so while there is the metro and bus routes I would highly recommend just walking everywhere, it really is the best way to see and experience the city and not just go from one site to another.
3. First stop: Nyhavn
Nyhavn is the colourful small harbour area that is so often pictured on postcards and travel websites, and is definitely a hotspot for tourists in any weather, and so it is best to hit this site first in the early morning when it is less crowded. During the winter months you’ll be able to cozy up at one of the many cafes that line the docks with a blanket and a hot cocoa, or during the summer months soak up some sun while lounging with your feet hanging over the edge and an ice cream in hand. This is one of those blessed locations that can look great in any photo from any angle, so make sure to have your cameras ready!
4. Amalienborg Palace
Home to the current royal family of Denmark, the Amalienborg Palace is located only a few blocks away from Nyhavn so is perfect for your next stop. With four individual palaces, one for the Queen, one for the crown Prince and his (Australian) wife and their kids, one used for accommodating visiting Presidents, Prime Ministers, international royalty etc., and the last is the only one open to visitors, set up like a museum, yet is still in use for official parties, banquets, and meetings. If visiting at the right time you will also be able to partake in free guided tours that offer details of each room. Make sure to check if the Queen is home by seeing if her flag is flying high over her personal palace. This is also where you can view the changing of the guard’s ceremony.
5. Gefion Fountain and St Albans Church
Just a short stroll away sits the Gefion Fountain and St Albans Church. These two picturesque attractions are a nice photo opportunity, where you can make a wish by tossing a coin into the fountain and admire the inside architecture of this quaint church.
6. The Little Mermaid Statue
The Little Mermaid statue is one thing that I’m sure is on most peoples to do lists in Copenhagen. Denmark, being the home country of the celebrated fairy tale author Hans Christian Anderson, it is full of little tokens of memorabilia from his famed stories and of himself. The Little Mermaid is one such token. A little bit of a walk out of the centre of the city, she sits overlooking the sea, and makes for a fun photo, yet is honestly a little underwhelming.
7. The Kastellet
Making your way back to the heart of Copenhagen, detour through the Kastellet (Citadel) and see the home of the military base. While there is not a lot to do here, it is an interesting walk through, more so admired from above due to its distinctive star shaped layout.
8. The Round Tower
While Copenhagen is not filled with skyscrapers like a lot of other capital cities, it does have a great skyline that presents the older parts of the city compared to the newer areas, and the best way to see this view is from the top of the Round Tower. While winding your way up to the top make sure to take a peep at the ever changing exhibitions that are displayed in one of the rooms along the way up, this area is usually filled with exhibitions from locals based on photographs or writings on Denmark.
9. Shop, shop, shop
Just on the doorstep of the Round Tower is coincidently the major shopping street in Copenhagen. Work your way along it, just window shopping or empty your wallets in the various stores that line the street from high end designers to the typical Topshop and H&M. But make sure to save some money for your next stop that lies just at the end of the street.
10. Finish the day off at Tivoli Gardens
A small theme park in the heart of the city, Tivoli Gardens is best visited during the evening when the bright lights of the attractions and the decorations start to turn on, and it turns into a colourful array of displays and flashing lights as the rides zip by. Although Tivoli is quite expensive, especially if you plan on going on the rides, it is a fun way to end the day, with many dining options on offer.
11. Head across the border into Sweden
After all that walking the day before it would be nice to sit for awhile, luckily you can sit while on the train over to the city of Malmo, Sweden’s most southern point, and only a half an hour train ride away from Copenhagen. Wander through the Slottsparken before heading into the town to experience a little bit of Sweden in the two major squares of Malmo, Stortorget Square and Lilla Torge Square, then maybe grab an early lunch before heading back to Denmark.
12. Christiansborg Palace
The past home of the royal family before it partly burnt down and they moved into Amalienborg Palace, Christiansborg Palace has been restored and is still is use for formal occasions. One interesting aspect of this palace are the ruins laying beneath it that go through the history of Copenhagen and Christiansborgs role in it. While it may seem plain on the outside in comparison to other palaces, the inside is anything but. Grand, elegant, and pristine are words that could definitely describe the inside of this palace.
13. Afternoon Tea at Konditori Antoinette
A cute and a somewhat hidden away dessert shop renowned as having some of the best cakes and pastries in Copenhagen is Konditori Antoinette. With a French like feel to it, you can try some of the flavour of the day macaroons or tuck into a typical Danish cake, but whatever you choose will be amazing, you just can’t go wrong with your order choice here, everything on the menu is just too good!
14. Rosenborg Castle
If you aren’t too palaced out then wander over to one of the oldest castles in Copenhagen, Rosenborg Castle. Here journey through the life’s of the Danish Kings and Queens and admire the finer things in life that were popular within Renaissance era and the royal families. From the mirrored room, designed to resemble the mirror room at the Palace of Versailles in France, to the porcelain room, decorated from floor to ceiling with plates, teapots, vases, all made from the finest porcelain. Rosenborg Castle is also the place where you can view the Crown Jewels which are heavily guarded in the basement of the building.
15. Explore the trendy neighbourhood of Norrebro
To finish off your weekend in Copenhagen head over the bridge to what is considered to be one of Copenhagen’s trendiest neighbourhoods, Norrebro. Grab some dinner at one of the restaurants that serve food from all over the world from Indian to Italy, or if you’re after something a little fancier to end your time here, how about trying one of the few Michelin star Thai restaurants Kiin Kiin.
So there you have it, the most important sites and neighbourhoods to check off your Copenhagen bucket list on this jam-packed itinerary that will give you an insight into the history of Denmark and offer you a taste of what this country has to offer. Although it may seem like a lot to fit into only two days, everything on this list is situated so closely together or is easily accessible in only a short time, and if you are in Copenhagen for only a few days why not make the most of that time and try to squeeze in as much as you can, while still leaving enough time at each place to appreciate it.
What are your favourite parts of Copenhagen, or further out in other parts of Denmark? Was there anything else that you would have added to the list, or perhaps exchanged one thing for something else? Let me know your thoughts in the comments!