What to see and do in Copenhagen in two days
After researching Scandinavian and Baltic cruises and realising I wasn’t cool with never spending the evening on terra firma (and therefore not getting any local dinners!) I put together my own ten day itinerary covering a handful of countries in Scandinavia and the Baltics.
I’ve decided to describe this trip as part of a series of ’48 hours in…’ but the three 48 hour trips are super easy to connect together with budget flights (I flew into Copenhagen from London, then to Tallinn, then to Stockholm), but you can easily add in other countries. It’s only a 2 hour ferry ride between Helsinki and Tallinn with up to 6 crossings a day and flights between Tallinn and Riga are less than an hour and only around £60 one way, making it super easy to build a different or longer itinerary.
Getting to Copenhagen
Budget carriers Ryanair and Easyjet fly to Copenhagen from London airports for less than £100 return. Norwegian and SAS also offer reasonably priced flights, with more expensive options from British Airways and others. Bottom line: you’re not going to have a problem getting there from London.
Staying in Copenhagen
Copenhagen isn’t cheap, with the majority of hotels coming in at around £150 per night for a double room. There are some cheaper options if you’re willing to stay a bit further out of the centre.
A good tip for more expensive cities if you’re visiting at the weekend is to look for accommodation in the financial district, which is usually well connected but cheap at the weekend due to the drop in demand.
I stayed the Tivoli Hotel and Congress Centre in Vesterbro. It’s a bit out of the way but it’s slightly cheaper (around the £130 a night mark) and not too far from Copenhagen’s up and coming meat packing district where you can find plenty of great places to eat. It has the added bonus of having Danish sushi chain Stick ‘n’ Sushi on site if you arrive late and need something decent that you don’t have to go hunting for.
Where to eat and drink in Copenhagen
I really enjoyed the food in Copenhagen. It has a great mix of traditional places serving smørrebrød (open sandwiches) and trendier experimental places.
I used TripAdvisor to choose some restaurants ahead of my visit and none of them disappointed. I had my favourite smørrebrød at Restaurant Schønnemann (you’ll need reservations, it’s popular). Deliciously tart herring paired with beautifully soft beef all on rye bread- you can do far worse for lunch. If I’d been on a longer trip I absolutely would have come back.
Copenhagen’s meat packing district is home to a number of restaurants including the excellent Kødbyens Fiskebar which I ate at during my stay. You can find a guide to all the restaurants in the area here. Why not pick a few different ways and have a small bite at each over some drinks? It’s a great way to try several places on a short trip (I even do it in London sometimes just because I’m greedy!)
You can also find lots of great food at Torvehallerne Market which sells groceries but also has vendors selling food to eat. It’s a great place to grab lunch or just to wander and take in the sights and smells.
What to see in Copenhagen
I’ve marked on this map all the places I went over the two days I spent in Copenhagen and below is the two day itinerary I put together to see them all.
Day 1 in Copenhagen
Denmark’s Nationalmuseet (10am – 5pm) covers everything from prehistory to the present day, presenting artefacts from Denmark and other cultures. It has some important Nordic Bronze Age artefacts and a ‘bog body’ thought to have died around the second century BC, the ‘Huldremose Woman’. It’s also home to a number of Greek and Roman finds.
After getting up to speed on Denmark’s history head to Nyhavn to see the picturesque colourful buildings (Hans Christian Andersen used to live at No. 20) lining the canal and pick up a canal tour from Gammel Strand.
I’m not typically one for guided tours, but the topography of Copenhagen lends itself to a canal tour which is a much quicker way of getting your bearings and gives you some great views of Copenhagen’s opera house as well as a glimpse of acclaimed restaurant Noma.
Lunch at Restaurant Schønnemann (which you already made a reservation at, obviously) to try local smørrebrød.
Designmuseum Denmark (11am – 5pm Thursday to Sun) showcases arts, crafts and industrial design, including some wonderful Danish design.
For more traditional Danish fare, head to TivoliHallen for dinner.
Finish the evening at Tivoli Amusement Park. I actually didn’t go when I was in Copenhagen, but it looks like a fund way to spend an evening in Copenhagen so I regret not going. It was opened in 1843 and is one of the most visited amusement parks in Europe. You can enjoy rides including one of the world’s oldest rollercoasters, a wooden coaster built in 1914.
Day 2 in Copenhagen
Start the day by walking around the Christianshavn neighbourhood, a series of artificial islands founded in the 17th century and a very attractive part of town. While there you can visit the 17th century Church of Our Saviour (11am – 3pm and tower 10am – 6:45pm) and climb the winding staircase up the famous helix shaped tower for spectacular views out across Copenhagen.
Head back across town to take in Rosenborg Castle, a renaissance castle built in 1606 as a country summerhouse for Charles IV. It sits in lovely gardens which play host to a variety of events and also houses the Royal Collection.
Nearby is the Round Tower, a rather less exhausting climb than the tower of the Church of Our Saviour, but one that still affords great views of Copenhagen. It was built as an astronomical observatory in the 17th century. Today it’s still an astronomical observatory and plays host to a number of cultural events both in the tower and the Library Hall which is reached via the tower’s ramp.
Head to Torvehallerne market for lunch, where you can browse the groceries as well as picking up a variety of different cuisines.
Visit the NY Carlsberg Glyptotek, an art museum built around the collection of Carl Jacobsen. The focus of the collection is antique sculpture from Rome, Greece and Egypt but there is also a large painting collection including works by Monet, Pissaro, Renoir and Cézanne.
Explore Copenhagen’s trendy meat packing district for dinner options. I recommend Kodbyens Fiskebar, which sells fish and shellfish in a relaxed, informal restaurant. They have a good selection of oysters and also a raw selection.
After dinner relax with a beer (or several) at Mikkeller Bar with 20 beers on tap and an elegant Scandinavian style interior.
This is only an indicative itinerary to feel free to add or remove things to suit your own tastes, happy travels!