Denmark, Europe, Local's Guide to Copenhagen

How to Spend the Perfect 2 Days in Copenhagen

With its picturesque canals, bike culture, cutting-edge cuisine, world-class design and laidback lifestyle Copenhagen is the embodiment of Scandi cool. It’s not hard to see why it gets perpetually ranked as the happiest city in the world. Copenhagen has a lot to offer for tourists and the more time you spend here will leave you craving for more things to experience. 2 days in Copenhagen gives you plenty of time to experience the city’s classic attractions and a little bit more 🙂

2 DAYS IN COPENHAGEN – WHY & HOW

Although we generally recommend 3-4 days in Copenhagen to get the most out of the city and its surroundings, 2 days in Copenhagen can certainly sufficient. We know that you don’t always have a lot of time to travel and that you’d still like to see as much as possible.

We’ve created a two-day itinerary for Copenhagen with information on what to do and see. This itinerary covers all the essential sights but we also focus on some of Copenhagen’s unique neighborhoods which add to the city’s flair. We’ve included a free map which highlights the best places to visit in Copenhagen in two days.

YOUR TWO DAY ITINERARY TO COPENHAGEN

For practical reasons, we have divided this itinerary into 2 parts: Essential Copenhagen (rose) and Alternative Copenhagen (gold). The itinerary includes both walking and the use of public transport. The great thing about Copenhagen is that it is a very compact city and most of the main sights are relatively close to each other. You can plan your trip using public transport here.

Alternatively, you could purchase the Copenhagen Card which includes unlimited travel within Copenhagen as well as free entrance to a number of attractions. We have added a map of all the attractions included in this Copenhagen itinerary for you below!

Day 1: Essential Copenhagen

Today’s itinerary will cover the must-see attractions of Copenhagen at a reasonable pace. We’ve tried to curtail the walking aspect here in comparison to our earlier one day self-guided walking tour itinerary. Today you are going to see:

  • Torvehallerne Market Hall
  • Rosenborg Castle & Gardens
  • Nyhavn
  • Kastellet & The Little Mermaid
  • Amalienborg Palace & Frederik’s Church
  • Lunch at a traditional Danish Restaurant
  • Strøget Shopping Street & Round Tower
  • Ny Carlsberg Glyptotek
  • Tivoli Gardens

Breakfast at Grød in Torvehallerne Market

Start your 2 days in Copenhagen with a hearty breakfast at Grod.

Grød is a popular local franchise that has five locations across the city. They are famous for concocting delicious porridge with mostly organic ingredients. There are many variations of porridge with delectable flavors and the size of the portions is quite large leaving you very full. Whoever thought porridge could be so enjoyable!

You have to stop at the food hall Torvehallerne during your two days in Copenhagen.

The Torvehallerne Food Market is one of Copenhagen’s best food markets and is a foodie paradise. It is home to over 60 different stalls selling all kinds of foods from smørrebrød (Danish open-faced sandwich), pizza, tacos, sushi, cheese, bakery products and spices. You can also buy raw ingredients from the farmer’s market ranging from meat, seafood, fruits, and vegetables. There’s also an assortment of juices, smoothies, coffee, wine and beer to choose from. Torvehallerne Food Market is just a great place to check out and comes highly recommended!

Rosenborg Castle

Rosenborg Castle is a must see during a weekend in Copenhagen.

Now that you’re well satiated make your way to Rosenborg Castle. This castle, commissioned by the Danish king, Christian IV, is our favorite spot in Copenhagen. It was built in 1606 in a Dutch Renaissance style. The castle garden is lovely and is the oldest royal garden in Denmark making it popular with locals and tourists alike. The castle is home to a cultural history museum that holds royal collections, tapestries, and artifacts depicting Danish culture from the 15th to 19th centuries, including the crown jewels. The entrance is 115 DKK.

Nyhavn

No Copenhagen itinerary can be complete without a stroll along colorful Nyhavn.

A search for images of Copenhagen most likely conjures up pictures of Nyhavn, the radiant waterfront district. Indeed, it is the image of colorful old townhouses and vessels lining the glistening canal waters that are most closely linked with Copenhagen. In the past Nyhavn used to be a seedy area where drunken sailors would go and most others would avoid, but is now an area beloved by locals and tourists alike. Nyhavn is utterly delightful in terms of architecture, boats, and street life. It can get pretty crowded though. There are lots of places to eat or have a drink and people watch.

This is a very charming place and it richly deserves full marks. However, the exorbitant prices of all the places where you can sit down for a refreshment put a serious damper on the enjoyment. Our top tip for those on a budget is going to a corner shop or a supermarket and stock up. Then stroll down to Nyhavn and soak in the atmosphere of the place. This will cost you a fraction of a bar visit.

Kastellet & The Little Mermaid

This Dutch style windmill is a hidden gem in Copenhagen.

Kastellet is one of the best-preserved star fortresses in Europe and one of our favorite places in Copenhagen. The old citadel is surrounded by a deep, water-filled moat with steep ramparts. It has been a Danish defensive site for centuries and even today at its center it hosts numerous working military buildings and a parade ground. Inside you can see the old army headquarters, lovely lakes, ponds and the beautiful Dutch-style old windmill.

Gefion fountain in Copenhagen is widely considered one of the most beautiful fountains in Europe.

The grand Gefion Fountain that represents the Norse goddess Gefion with a group of strong oxen is just outside the complex as is the wonderful St. Albans Church. The park and the buildings of the Kastellet are beautiful, it makes for a peaceful and relaxing walk, full of nature.

Even if you're in Copenhagen for only 2 days, you HAVE to see the Little Mermaid.

Just a stone’s throw from Kastellet is the iconic Little Mermaid statue. The Little Mermaid is synonymous with Copenhagen and it is worth seeing the statue at least once. However, it is just a sculpture which is rather small and nothing more. So don’t have any lofty expectations from this attraction. There’s usually a horde of tourists mounting the rocks surrounding the statue aspiring to get selfies so chances are high that someone will gatecrash your picture.

Amalienborg Palace & Frederik’s Church

Amalienborg is one of the top sights in Copenhagen.

Amalienborg Palace is the winter residence of the Danish royal family. The palace complex is huge and consists of four Rococo-style buildings encircling an octagonal courtyard. An equestrian statue of Frederick V, the founder of Amalienborg is located in the center of the complex. The changing of the guards takes place at 12 noon.

Frederiks Church is the most impressive church in Copenhagen and a must-see.

Just down the street from Amalienborg Palace is the mesmerizing Frederik’s Church (Marble Church). This striking Rococo- style church with a large copper green dome is reminiscent of St Peter’s Basilica in Rome. This Evangelical Lutheran church is the largest dome church in Scandinavia and its dome dominates the Copenhagen skyline. The first stone was laid in 1749 but the church wasn’t completed for another 150 years due to financial problems and other unfortunate circumstances. The interior is quite lovely and serene. The dome’s interior is decorated with frescoes of Christ’s apostles. It is possible to purchase a ticket to the top of the dome on weekends only at 13:00 on the dot. However, only a few tickets are sold.

Lunch at Kronborg Restaurant

One thing you must eat in Copenhagen is traditional smorrebrod.

Get a taste of authentic Danish cuisine at Restaurant Kronborg. It is a reasonably priced restaurant (by Copenhagen standards) offering traditional Danish smørrebrød in varieties like herring, meatballs, roast pork and liver paté. Smørrebrød is a classic Danish lunch that originated as the afternoon meal of agricultural workers. You can flush the food down with some aquavit or some great Danish beer!

Strøget and Round Tower

Stroget is the most important shopping street in Copenhagen.

Take a stroll along Strøget, one of Europe’s longest pedestrianized streets. Along with its pedestrianized side streets, the 1.1 km kilometer (0.7 miles) Strøget is one of Copenhagen’s premier shopping areas. It stretches all the way from City Hall to Kongens Nytorv. There is an assortment of specialty shops, department stores, souvenir shops, high-end boutiques, bars, cafes, and restaurants.

The upscale stores can be found near the Kongens Nytorv end of the street while the more affordable options are located near the City Hall end. You can also get a taste of Danish design at stores like Illums Bolighus and Hay House. Make sure to gaze in all directions to admire some of the local history as many buildings are of historical significance in this beautiful area.

The round tower is easily recognizable and one of the top things to see in Copenhagen.

The Round Tower is a glorious example of old world architecture and charm. Built as an astronomical observatory in the 17th century by the Danish king Christian IV, it has a fully working telescope that is still in use today. Part of the experience is walking up the tower on the helical ramp, which the king and queen used to ascend by horse and carriage. It costs 25 DKK to enter but is definitely worth the price. The view from the top is truly breathtaking, you get to see a complete panorama of the city.

Ny Carlsberg Glyptotek

Ny Carlsberg Glyptotek is one of the best museums in Copenhagen.

Ny Carlsberg Glyptotek is definitely our favorite museum in Copenhagen. It is a fantastic museum filled with over 10,000 works of art spanning 6,000 years. The building itself is beautiful, the central part of the ground floor is the beautiful winter garden, a tranquil place where you can sit and take a breather. There are antique sculptures from the Mediterranean including Egypt, Italy, and Greece. The modern sculptures collection includes works by Rodin, Degas, and many others. There is also an extensive collection of paintings by French impressionists (Cézanne, Monet, Manet, Renoir), post-impressionists (Van Gogh, Bonnard, Gauguin) and from the Danish Golden Age. Price of admission is 115 DKK and it is free on Tuesdays.

Tivoli Gardens

Tivoli is one of the best places to visit in Copenhagen in the evening.

Cap off your day by heading to the iconic Tivoli Gardens, the world’s second oldest operating amusement park in the world dating back to 1843. The amusement park set within beautiful gardens makes it feel like you are going back in time. The atmosphere of this place is magical. It’s not hard to see why Tivoli was the inspiration for Disney World. The park offers rides for thrill seekers and the more yellow-bellied like myself. The old wooden roller coaster (Rutschebanen) is a must. However, even if you aren’t a fan of rides, the gardens are great to walk around and there are quite a few different restaurants to spend some time and eat a meal.

It is quite pricey though as it is a tourist magnet. The one beef I have with Tivoli is that you have to pay 120 DKK just to get in. The rides come at an additional price. Individual rides cost a minimum of 30 DKK with some rides requiring up to three tickets (90 DKK). If you’re planning on going on a couple of rides I would recommend buying the unlimited ride pass (230 DKK) as it will prove to be more economical. For up-to-date opening times, check the Tivoli website.

Day 2: Alternative Copenhagen

The itinerary for this day in Copenhagen focuses more on showing you something different. If you’re feeling like you’ve seen the Old Town and the canals and you’re after something different, this should give you an insight into the alternative side of Copenhagen. Today you should use public transport as the sights are more stretched out. Alternatively, you could also rent a bike for the day. On this second day in Copenhagen you are going to see:

  • Organic Danish Breakfast
  • Assistens Kirkegård (Nørrebro)
  • Superkilen (Nørrebro)
  • BaNanna Park (Nørrebro)
  • Christiania
  • Church of Our Savious (Christianshavn)
  • Lunch at Reffen Street Food Market
  • Frederiksberg Palace & Gardens
  • Værnedamsvej (Vesterbro)
  • Kødbyen Meat Packing District (Vesterbro)
  • Carlsberg Brewery (Vesterbro)

Breakfast at Sidecar

Sidecar is one of the best places for brunch in Copenhagen.

Kick off your day with another hearty breakfast, this time at the wonderful Sidecar restaurant. They serve an excellent breakfast platter. Although it isn’t exactly cheap, the food is fresh and organic. What could represent Copenhagen better?! 🙂

Nørrebro

Since you’re already in the area it will be the perfect opportunity to explore Nørrebro. Nørrebro is Copenhagen’s multicultural hub, with a large concentration of non-western immigrants. This lends a very vibrant and unique aura to this neighborhood. Take a stroll down Nørrebrogade, Nørrebro’s main artery where you will encounter an abundance of Turkish kebab shops, Middle Eastern butchers and barbers, grocery stores, cafes and bohemian stores. Nørrebro is home to Assistens Kirkegård (Assistens Cemetery), one of the city’s most popular places, where many legendary Danes are buried including HC Andersen. The cemetery doubles as a park and a place where people come to chill out.

Superkilen is on of the most instagrammable places in Copenhagen.

Superkilen is an open public space that is one of the most instagrammable places in Copenhagen. It is divided into 3 regions – a large red area, a hilly grass-green landscape and a black region. The three colors represent the various functions of the spaces. The red zone is devoted to physical activities, the green landscape consists of hills, a playground, and picnic spots while the black portion consists of stone chess tables and benches.

BaNanna park is a must-see on an alternative guide to Copenhagen.

BaNanna Park is another funky spot in Nørrebro. It is a small green park that was formerly an old building site that is now home to some interesting artwork and a 14-meter high climbing wall. It is worth the detour if you’re on the lookout for something quaint.

Christiania

Christiania is the unconventional and semi-autonomous anarchist community in Copenhagen that has an interesting backstory. A bunch of squatters decided to live a different lifestyle than that of the rest of the Copenhagen society. So they moved into the abandoned military barracks and eventually obtained sovereignty. Christiania quickly developed from a squatter residency to a hippie movement. Approximately 1000 people reside here and they concoct their own laws and plan their own development. Christiania may not be to everyone’s taste but we feel it is well worth visiting.

The area is very bohemian, with lots of creative signage and graffiti. Pusher Street is the main draw here and the smell of weed is pervasive. Many creative shops and stands have interesting items for sale. The main rules on Pusher Street are no pictures and no running and be sure to abide by them.

Most visitors don’t venture beyond Pusher Street which is a shame as there is more to Christiania than cannabis. You can encounter creative warehouses, colorful murals, picturesque huts, and sculptures. Many of the homes here were built by the people who live in them and as a result, there’s a certain amount of unusual architecture. Christiania is situated in a beautiful green area by the river, and a stroll around is just lovely. During the summer there are usually guided tours which only cost 50 DKK and will actually take you deep into Christiania.

Church of Our Saviour

The Church of Our Savior is easily recognizable due to its spiral tower.

Standing almost adjacent to Christiania is the magnificent Church of Our Saviour, one of Denmark’s most notable churches. This Baroque church is renowned for its unique twisted spire. The inside of the church is quite nice with some very intricate carving, especially on the carillon. You can also scale the 400 odd steps to reach the top for 35 DKK and be treated to a breathtaking view.

Lunch at Reffen Street Food

Eat a traditional pork roast sandwich at Reffen Street Food.

Reffen is Copenhagen’s excellent new street food market. Reffen houses more than 50 stalls of food and drinks You will discover a wide range of international cuisines such as Indian, Japanese, Thai, Chinese, South American, African, Greek, Italian, Icelandic, Mexican and local specialties. The stalls are open on all days from 11-21.

Alternative: Tivoli Food Hall

Unfortunately, many street food markets close during the winter, including Reffen. If you still want a food hall experience and have already visited Torvehellerne, head to Tivoli Food Hall. It’s very conveniently located just opposite of the Main Train Station and has a small but good selection of food stalls and cafes!

Frederiksberg

Frederiksberg isn’t technically part of Copenhagen as it is a separate municipality completely surrounded by the municipality of Copenhagen. The district is an affluent locality and there are plenty of prestigious villas, regal apartment blocks, upscale shops, fine theaters, wide boulevards and gourmet food shops reflecting this. Frederiksberg Alle is certainly one of the most elegant boulevards I’ve seen with some stunning Neo-Renaissance architecture, high-end boutiques, and cafes.

Frederiksberg Gardens are a green oasis in Copenhagen.

Frederiksberg is also home to the Frederiksberg Gardens (Frederiksberg Have), our favorite green space in Copenhagen. They were laid out as a garden in the English romantic style with winding paths, canals, lakes, small islands, fountains and majestic trees. There’s even a large grotto, a waterfall and a Chinese pavilion here. The gardens are exceptionally well maintained with a large variety of exotic flowers, plants, and birds including swans, mallards, herons, and storks. It’s a fantastic place for taking a breather from the bustle of the city.

Frederiksberg Palace is only one of the palaces you can see during 2 days in Copenhagen.

Frederiksberg Palace is perched atop a hill overlooking the Frederiksberg Gardens. This Baroque residence was the Danish royal family’s summer home until the mid 19th century and is now home to the Royal Danish Military Academy. It is not open to the public except when taking one of the guided tours that take place on the last Saturday of each month.

Vesterbro

End your day by taking a walk through Vesterbro, Copenhagen’s hipster haven. Formerly a working-class district with a seedy reputation, Vesterbro has undergone an upgrade in the last 2 decades. It is now a raw, edgy district of basement bars, corner cafes and small-scale art galleries where you can find a lot of creative types. Vesterbro’s creative scene mirrors that of Berlin’s Kreuzberg and Brooklyn’s Williamsburg. There aren’t really any conventional attractions in Vesterbro as such. Take a stroll down Istedgade, the main street that is full of restaurants, bars, cafes, ethnic grocery stores, kebab shops and fashion stores.

Vesterbro is the hipster district of Copenhagen.

Værnedamsvej is a small street filled with fine deli, coffee, wine, cheese and chocolate shops. It has a distinctly French vibe about it. The Meatpacking District (Kødbyen) is a great place to go out with its array of dining and nightlife options.

Kodbyen in Vesterbro is one of the best places for nightlife in Copenhagen.

If you’re a beer aficionado like myself you should definitely head to the Carlsberg Brewery. It lies a little south of the palace. Jacky and I went there in 2015 and had a fantastic time! You can get a great insight into the history of beer brewing and a peek at the world’s largest collection of unopened beer bottles, over 22,000 of them.

Is the Copenhagen Card Worth it for 2 Days?

At the beginning of this post, we suggested you may want to get the Copenhagen Card for 2 days. Below we have compared expenses, with and without Copenhagen Card. You may have noticed that our itinerary is a mix of free and paid attractions. The paid attractions, however, can be rather expensive. If you follow our itinerary, you would pay 710 DKK without Copenhagen Card and 569 DKK with the Copenhagen Card. This means that the Copenhagen Card would actually save you 141 DKK.

Without Copenhagen Card With Copenhagen Card
Public Transport300 DKK0 DKK
Rosenborg Castle115 DKK0 DKK
Round Tower25 DKK0 DKK
Ny Carlsberg Glyptotek115 DKK0 DKK
Tivoli Gardens120 DKK0 DKK
Church of Our Saviour35 DKK0 DKK
Total710 DKK569 DKK

Extending Your Stay

Personally, we think that 2 days in Copenhagen are the bare minimum and if possible you should stay a little longer. Below we have compiled a few suggestions on how to spend one or two extra days in Copenhagen. And while you’re at it, why not check out our list of the best hotels and hostels in Copenhagen? We have made sure to recommend only the best of the best (in terms of quality and value) 🙂


Now, what do you think? Is there anything else you must see during two days in Copenhagen? Share your thoughts with us in the comments below!

Got only 2 days in Copenhagen? Our guide got you covered. In two days in Copenhagen you will see the city's main sights as well as some of its quirky neighborhoods. #travel #denmark #copenhagen
Got only 2 days in Copenhagen? Our guide got you covered. In two days in Copenhagen you will see the city's main sights as well as some of its quirky neighborhoods. #travel #denmark #copenhagen

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