Copenhagen is an absolutely stunning city that boasts character, culture and culinary delights. It is a perfect location for a short trip because you can cover a lot of ground in just a couple of days. To that end, we have compiled a comprehensive list of our 9 favourite things to see and do and then transposed it into an ultimate 2-day guide to help you check everything off your bucket list.
Copenhagen has a special place our my hearts, not only because of the great coffee and friendly people but because it was our first European getaway destination after moving to London. We hope you find our list useful :-).
1. Enjoy a Drink Along the Nyhavn Canal
Nyhavn Canal is one of the most iconic places in Copenhagen, basically, it is the first image that comes up when you search Copenhagen in Google. The beautiful canal is lined with an assortment of colourful houses, one of which use to be home to the famous Hans Christian Anderson.
Our guilty little pleasure was stopping by one of the many cafes and indulging in a glass of the Danish version of Gløgg, which is a delightful warm mulled wine (The Danish sure know a thing or two about keeping warm haha). It’s a touristy stop, so it is best to pop down here first thing in the morning or late in the afternoon.
2. Go on the Hunt for the Little Mermaid and Sculptures.
We find the best way to explore a city is on foot and we try our best to avoid public transport were possible. First off it saves us money and secondly and most importantly, walking burns off all those excess calories from our chocolate addiction. You also increase your odds of discovering hidden gems that you wouldn’t have otherwise come across. And boy did we come across some gems in Copenhagen, it is home to some spectacular sculptures including the famous Little Mermaid statue, the lonely man sitting on a key (Officially known as Zinc Global) and the weird and wonderful sculptures at India Quay (Indiakaj). The tourist buses frequent the little mermaid statue pretty early on, so follow in our footsteps and get up early and enjoy the tranquillity without those pesky tourists buses.
3. Embrace the View from the Spire of Copenhagen’s Spiral Church
We are an absolute sucker for a view, and the Church of Our Saviour totally delivers one of the best views in Copenhagen. The 400 step climb takes you through a steep and narrow corridor until you reach the breathtaking view from the serpentine spire that mounts the top of the church. Inside the 17th-century church is equally spectacular, we especially loved the light beaming through windows of the bell tower as you walk to the roof.
The Church attracts over 60,000 visitors a year, so the earlier you get there the better to ensure you don’t miss out. It usually opens between 9:30AM and 10:30AM, so check out the website for times. Also, they also restrict people from climbing to the spire if it is windy, so make sure check the weather forecast before visiting.
4. Explore around Kastellet, the 17th Century Fortress
Kastellet is a star shaped fortress that is surrounded by acres of majestic parkland to explore. The parklands itself contains the charming Saint Albans Church and jet black Vindmøllen (windmill). Also scattered throughout the park is various military artefacts including cannons. If you are planning on heading over to the little mermaid you might as well detour through this park, it is a calming juxtaposition to busy streets of the downtown Copenhagen.
5. Wander Down the Picturesque Frederiksholms Kanal
This one of my favourite spots in Copenhagen, after conquering the spiral church, we decided we would visit the National Museum and get in touch with our inner Viking, but on the way, we came across some Frederiksholms Kanal which is home to some really interesting landmarks.
Firstly we came across the coolest bar I have ever seen, which is this epic concave greenhouse like structure. We didn’t have time to check it out, but when visit again I will certainly hit it up for a beverage. Just across the street is Christian IV’s Brewhouse, which is home to sculptures of Danish kings or Vikings (I could be completely wrong), but either way it didn’t stop us from striking a pose with them.
The best part about the canal is the beautiful marble bridge that leads into Christiansborg Palace. There is also a viewing point at the top of the palace, but we were too exhausted (or maybe too lazy haha) to trek up another lot of stairs.
The museum itself was well worth the visit, the architecture conveyed that classic minimalist Nordic feel with a beautiful use of timber. The exhibitions were educational and interesting, we went into full tourist mode and even got kitted up as a Viking haha (cringe).
6. Experience Nordic Cuisine and Nightlife in the Trendy Nørrebro District
I love experiencing local specialities and Copenhagen’s Norrebro District is the place to be. The area is a colourful cultural hub and is a mesh of cool shops, artwork, cafes, restaurants and bars. We only explored the area at night time on our last night, and we wish we had come here in the day time.
We ended dining at a restaurant called Grød which simply translates to porridge in English, and it literally was just that. We ate porridge for dinner and it was absolutely delicious, of course, it wasn’t traditional breakfast porridge but a savoury alternative. This area is definitely the place for a night out, so check it out. The Visit Copenhagen website has some great suggestions if you get stuck picking a place.
7. Visit The World’s Largest Unopened Beer Bottle Collection.
With over 22,000 different type of beer in the collection, Carlsberg Brewery homes Leif Sonne’s world record breaking unopened beer collection. This fact sets the Carlsberg brewery aside from a lot of the other breweries we have visited throughout our travels and makes it worth the trip out of town to get there. The brewery is a fun experience and the sight of the aisles and aisles of delightful untouched beer will definitely build up your thirst. Don’t worry though you do get a pint included with your ticket (Winning!!!).
8. Have Lunch in Malmo, Sweden
Sweden, Denmark’s friendly neighbour is only a half hour train trip from the centre of Copenhagen, so if you have a spare afternoon, why not jump on the train like we did and explore Malmo. It’s a charming city, and the fact you get to travel over the epic Øresund Bridge is well worth it (bridge nerd here). Malmo has a quaint cobblestoned square called Lilla Torg which is lined cafes and restaurants and is the perfect spot for lunch and people watching.
After lunch, we went on the hunt for the Malmo’s iconic black windmill located in Kungsparken which is another beautiful parkland west of the main square. After enduring a spout of rain we finally came across the mill and believe it or not, it is exactly the same as the one we saw in Copenhagen haha. The park is also home to Malmo Castle, and if you’re into architecture, 10 minutes walk north of the park is the iconic Turning Torso building. Malmo was a great afternoon trip and it is ridiculously easy to get to so if you have the spare time go for it.
9. Visit the Tivoli Gardens
Tivoli Gardens is the 2nd oldest theme park in the world and absolutely oozes character. If you have the time, this place is raved about by the locals so make an effort to head there and embrace your inner child.
Sadly we missed our opportunity to visit the theme park because park hours are seasonal. Make sure to check out the website for opening dates and times. The park also holds Christmas events, so check them out if you are there at the right time.
Ultimate Weekend Guide
Copenhagen is beautiful but expensive, so it is a perfect destination for an express city break. Below we have merged our experiences to produce the Ultimate 2 Day Guide to help you smash out the best sights in no time at all
7:30 AM – 8:00 AM Wake up and Smell the Coffee
I hope you are ready for a big day, you are going to need plenty of energy, so you need to be willing to leave early to beat the crowds and enjoy the peace and quiet while you can. The Danish are crazy about coffee and know how to make the perfect brew, so head to a cafe first up to get that caffeine pumping through your veins, our favourite spot was The Coffee Factory.
Now that you’re awake, head down to Nyhavn Canal while it’s still not bustling with tourists, and enjoy the gentle rocking of the docked boats in front of the backdrop of beautiful colourful buildings.
8:00 AM – 11:30 AM Exploring Kastellet and Sculpture Hunting
Head down Bredgade street, past Frederik’s Church until you get Esplanaden, turn right and go towards St Alban’s Church. This is the start of Kastellet, where you can find the charming park lands and traditional wind mill. Explore the area and embrace the beauty of the park. When you are done, walk to the north bridge cross and turn right. This will lead you down to the little mermaid statue.
From here you have a couple of options, you can head north and head to the Quay where they have more weird and wonderful sculptures to find, or you can follow the bank south along the coast until you come across the lonely man sculpture.
11:30 AM- 1:00 PM Conquering the Spiral Church.
From the lonely man sculpture, you can either walk 25 minutes to the church of our saviour or you can catch the A1 bus from Esplanaden (Store Kongensgade) bus station and get off at Kongens Nytorv and jump on the Metro and get off at Christianshavn St. Remember to check the weather forecast, if it’s too windy they won’t let up top.
1:00 PM- 4:00 Explore Frederiksholms Kanal and the National Museum
Puffed yet? The next stop on the agenda is to wander down the fabulous Frederiksholms Kanal. It’s a short 15-minute walk from the Church, or a quick ride on the 9a bus across the bridge if you like (get yourself a travel card for the day, it really pays off for it self after a couple of rides). Here you will go past the cool greenhouse like bar, Christian’s IV Brewhouse, the beautiful marble bridges that lead into Christiansborg Palace. We also spent a couple of hours checking out the National Museum which we loved, we could have spent longer but 2 – 3 hours was perfect for us.
4:00 PM to 7:00 PM Quench your thirst at the Carlsberg Brewery
After all of that learning and walking, you definitely deserve a cold well-earned beer. Just outside the museum, you can jump on bus 26 from the Stormbroen Nationalmuseet Station until you get to the Kammasvej station (takes about 20 minutes), right out the front of the Carlsberg Museum.
Note, that in Winter the Brewery is only open until 5:00 PM so you may need to skip the national museum in winter.
7:00 PM to 10:00 PM Dinner and Glogg
You’ve had a pretty big day, time to head back to your accommodation, shower and get ready to experience Copenhagens food scene. Tonight why not dine in the centre of town, we found plenty of options around Studiestræde street, our favourite place was Resturant Krebsegaarden, which is located next to an art gallery and bases its cuisine on the theme of the art exhibition. Pretty neat!
As you are right in the heart of the bar scene, after dinner you are spoilt for options for a night cap, this might even be a good chance to try Denmark’s local mulled wine concoction, Glogg.
8:00AM – 9:00AM Coffee in Kongens Have parkland
What better way to start the day than enjoying a coffee in the captivating surrounds of Kongens Have parkland, located in the centre of town. We came across this cute and cosy coffee shop called Kafferiet, get yourself a cup of coffee and explore the parklands. It s a good way to set the scene for the day.
9:00 AM – 11:00 AM Explore the Sights of the City
Has that caffeine kicked in yet? I know so far we have focused on adventuring to the best bits outside of the CBD, now is your chance to explore main shopping street and its best sights. A couple places you should check out is the Copenhagen Cathedral, the Round Tower and if you’re a keen shopper, you are basically in shopping heaven, go on, splurge!
11:00 AM – 3:00 PM Sweden for Lunch, why not?
The best thing about Copenhagen, you are literally a 35-minute train ride to Malmo, Sweden. Head to Nørreport Station, there is a train every few minutes that leaves to Malmo, look at buying your tickets online, you can sometimes get them for about 9 euros. During the train trip, you will travel over the famous Oresund bridge, which is an absolute engineering marvel.
The station you want to jump off at is called Centralstation, from there Lilla Torg, the cobblestoned main square is only a 5-minute walk. Find yourself a cafe and watch the world go by. Cafe Pronto, Drumbar or Mello Yellow bar are your best bets.
The next stop is Kungsparken, a majestic parkland home to a traditional windmill and Malmo Castle. If you are up to it, also check out the Turning Torso building which is a 15-minute walk north of the park. If you are a bit over park life, an alternative is to explore Södergatan, which is the main shopping street in Malmo.
3:00 PM – 6:00 PM Release Your Inner Child at Trivoli Gardens
Catch the train back to the Center of Copenhagen and head to Trivoli Gardens, which is the worlds second oldest theme park. If you aren’t keen on the rides, the gardens themselves are worth exploring.
6:00 PM – Late: Fit In With The Cool Kids at Norrebro District
Norrebro is the colourful, arty and trendy area of Copenhagen, which means whip out your best moustache wax and prepare for a good night out. Here you can find up and coming restaurants inspired by nordic culture and is a great opportunity to experience exotic culinary creations. We ended up at a resturant calleds Grod, which turned out to serve porridge based meals. It was mind-blowingly delicious, but if that doesn’t tickle your fancy, there are a number of other great alternatives, just jump on over to trip advisor to get some more inspiration.
I hope you guys enjoyed our guide to Copenhagen, there is a lot more to see and do, but I hope we gave you some inspiration.
Make sure to get in touch with us and let us know about your experiences of Copenhagen.