Copenhagen is arguably the most laid-back capital in the Nordics which also constantly ranks among the happiest cities in the world. It is the perfect blend of Scandinavian values with a distinct mainland European feel that sets it apart from the other Nordic capitals. As someone who has lived in Copenhagen, I recommend spending 3 days in Copenhagen so that you have enough time to get a good overview of the city and check out all the best sights on offer. Let us help you make the most of your trip, so you can experience some of the best things to do in Copenhagen over the weekend.
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How to Get Around During Your 3 Days in Copenhagen
Copenhagen is a very compact city and its flat terrain makes it easily walkable. Walking is certainly the best and most pleasurable way to see Copenhagen. Just be careful not to step on to the bicycle lanes that run along beside the pavements as this is strongly frowned upon and the normally placid Danes take serious umbrage to that, especially during rush hour.
In order to save some time or energy during your 3 days in Copenhagen, you can also get around Copenhagen using the city’s efficient public transportation system. This will prove particularly useful in order to get to some of the further lying attractions.
All the major attractions in Copenhagen are easily accessible by public transport, and switching from one form of transport to another is very seamless. The Copenhagen public transport network has an integrated ticket system based on geographical zones. Most of your travel within the city will be within two zones but some attractions may require you to travel three or four zones. For example, travel between the city and the airport covers three zones.
A Copenhagen City Pass gives you the freedom to make unlimited use of public transport. The 24-hour pass costs 80 DKK while the 48-hour pass costs 150 DKK. The City Pass can be purchased at the ticket vending machine at all stations or can be bought online. A more convenient way to buy the City Pass is getting the “DOT Tickets” app.
Single-trip tickets can also be purchased when boarding the buses. You can buy single-trip tickets (valid for 90 minutes) at ticket vending machines or 7-Eleven kiosks at the train and metro stations. Alternatively, you can purchase a Rejsekort (www.rejsekort.dk), a touch-on, touch-off smart card valid for all zones that accords you a 20% discount outside rush hours. You can plan your trip using public transport on Rejseplanen.dk.
Copenhagen is synonymous with cycling and has an excellent bike infrastructure. It is the most bike-friendly I have ever seen, with cycle lanes over much of it. Copenhagen is probably also the only city in the world where there are more bikes than people. Bikes are also a fast and handy way to get around the city. Copenhagen’s excellent city-wide bike rental system Bycyklen offers high-tech ‘Smart Bikes’ with GPS, multispeed electric motors and locks.
Bikes can be even be taken free of charge on the S-trains (S-tog) but are banned during rush hour if commuting through Nørreport Station (07:00-09:00, 15:30-17:30 on weekdays). Enter the train carriages which have large white bicycle graphic symbols on the windows. Bikes can be also be carried on the metro (except from 07:00-9:00, 15:30-17:30 on weekdays). Bike tickets (13 DKK) can be purchased at the metro and S-train stations. Keep in mind that they are not sold on buses.
Take precautions when cycling in the city and follow the rules of the road at all times. Cycle lanes can be rather pugnacious, especially at peak times.
You probably won’t need to use taxis at all during your weekend in Copenhagen since the city is so well served by public transport. However, if you do need to use a taxi, you can either hail a cab in the street or get one from a taxi rank. Taxis can also be booked on the phone by calling one of the various taxi companies in Copenhagen, for example, TAXA 4×35.
Is the Copenhagen Card Worth It For 3 Days?
When spending 3 days in Copenhagen, it would be a good idea to invest in the Copenhagen Card. It includes free public transport and accords you free entry and discounts to a wide array of attractions. It is an inexpensive way to experience the best of Copenhagen. This, of course, might also be a good option depending on your needs and interests.
Your Weekend in Copenhagen Itinerary
First off, this itinerary can be done during a long weekend in Copenhagen, but it’s also appropriate if you are visiting during the week. I have decided to give you a good mix of popular sights and off-beat quarters. I’ve divided the itinerary in such a way that it gives you a multifaceted view of the city. For your convenience, this post includes a free map which highlights the main points of interest in Copenhagen for three days. You can find the addresses of the attractions by clicking on the icons in the map.
I understand that everyone travels at a different pace so feel free to choose the destinations according to your own pace. The earlier you start your day the more time you’ll have to see the attractions. Below I have compiled a list of the best things to see (or eat) in Copenhagen over the course of three days:
Day 1 in Copenhagen: Royal Copenhagen
Day one of this ‘3 days in Copenhagen’ itinerary will cover most of the main sights within the inner city including a tour of Royal Copenhagen.
Start your 3 days in Copenhagen by treating yourself to breakfast at one of the several cozy little cafes in Copenhagen. One of the ones that Jacky and I like is Kafferiet, which serves some really nice coffee and tea and has a nice selection of pastries.
Kastellet Fortress is one of the best-maintained star fortifications in Europe in the shape of a five-pointed star encircled by high embankments and a deep moat. A fortress was first built on this site in 1626 and was finally completed in 1663. Kastellet is one of our favorite things to see in Copenhagen and we have come here numerous times for a stroll. In general, the walkways of Kastellet, which overlook the moat, are popular with joggers and walkers.
This historically evocative attraction was used as a prison in the 19th century. It was taken over by the occupying German forces during World War II who used it as their headquarters. The area is still an active military site and you can see a little bit of activity.
Grassy ramparts, a Dutch-style windmill, and red brick, slate-roofed buildings can be found here, all of which can be accessed from two bridges at either end of the complex. With traditional canons and scenic views, this free attraction is a great way to spend a morning. Kastellet is open daily from 06:00-22:00.
3. Gefion Fountain
The impressive Gefion Fountain (Gefionspringvandet) is located just beside Kastellet. It is Copenhagen’s largest fountain and shows the Norse goddess Gefion with a group of strong oxen. Legend has it that the king of Sweden vowed to give the goddess as much land as she could plow in one night. Gefion seized the opportunity by turning her four sons into oxen and harnessed them to a plow.
By the time the sun rose, she had managed to plow a sizeable chunk of Sweden. She then picked it up and tossed it into the sea, forming the Danish island of Zealand (on which Copenhagen is located). The hole left behind became Lake Vänern in Sweden (whose shape closely resembles that of Zealand).
The first medieval settlement on Copenhagen began around AD 1000 on the island of Slotsholmen by Sweyn I Forkbeard, son of Harald Bluetooth (who converted Denmark to Christianity). Copenhagen was officially founded in 1167 when a bishop named Absalon, who is regarded as the city’s founder, built a castle where Christiansborg Palace is today. Originally there was only a small settlement called Havn (harbor), but with the increased trading in the Middle Ages the name was changed to Købmannehavn, which means “the merchant’s harbor.” It was later shortened to its current name København.
4. The Little Mermaid
Whether you like it or not, the Little Mermaid (Den Lille Havfrue), is what people the world over generally associate with Copenhagen. Created by Edvard Eriksen in 1913 this bronze sculpture shows the mermaid sitting on a rock in the water gazing at the passing ships in the harbor. The body was modeled on that of the Eriksen’s wife.
The statue is based on Hans Christian Andersen’s bleak, twisted fairy tale. In this melancholic story, a mermaid exchanged her voice for human legs in order to gain the love of an earthly prince but had to watch mutely as he jilted her for a real princess. In desperation, she flung herself into the sea, turning into foam.
As the name indicates the sculpture is diminutive in size and is usually surrounded by hordes of tourists trying to get the best selfie. The statue has unfortunately been subject to acts of vandalism over the years and has had her head and arms cut off along the way. The Little Mermaid is a little underwhelming and is by no means one of the best things to do in Copenhagen, but you can’t really come to the city and not see it.
Copenhagen is also home to the quirky ‘Genetically Modified Mermaid Statue’. It is a surreal take on the Little Mermaid and is reproving of genetic alterations. The Little Mermaid in this sculpture has elongated skeletal legs and a contorted figure. A genetically modified Madonna sits atop it, surrounded by Adam, Eve, Christ, Mary Magdalene, and a pregnant man. I actually find it more interesting than its more famous namesake. It lies just a short stroll away from the Little Mermaid Statue and is totally worth checking out.
5. Amalienborg Palace
Amalienborg Palace is the winter residence of the Danish royal family. The palace complex is pretty big and consists of four identical Rococo-style buildings in an octagonal courtyard built in the mid 18th century. The buildings initially served as residences for four affluent families but when Christiansborg Palace burned down in 1794, Christian VII purchased one of the four palaces and turned it into his residence.
The optimum time to visit is at 12:00 when the daily changing of the guards takes place. If the marching band is playing at the same time, you’ll know that the queen is home.
It is only possible to see two of the four palaces from inside. Christian VIII’s Palace features exhibits of the royal apartments used by three generations of the monarchy its reconstructed rooms are decorated with gilt-leather tapestries, trompe l’oeil paintings, and antiques. Christian VII’s Palace is the most expensive palace in the complex and sports one of Denmark’s best Rococo interiors, especially in the Great Hall.
Christian VIII’s Palace is the one which is more accessible to the public while Christian VII’s Palace can only be visited on a guided tour. It isn’t necessary to see Christian VIII’s Palace as the interiors are nothing special and you can see more interesting palaces in Copenhagen. However, if you are fond of palaces you should see Christian VII’s Palace. Guided tours need to be booked two weeks in advance and are only offered on the weekend.
The equestrian statue of Frederick V in the middle of the complex is the work of French sculptor Jacques Saly and took 30 years to complete. The statue reputedly cost as much as the entire complex.
6. Frederik’s Church
Just a stone’s throw from Amalienborg Palace is the stunning 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. It is the largest dome church in Scandinavia, and its dome looms large over the Copenhagen skyline. The outside of the church features statues of Danish saints.
It’s totally worth popping inside to see the really phenomenal dome and artwork in the church. The dome is supported by 12 substantial pillars, each adorned with rich frescoes in blue, gold, and green, representing Christ’s Apostles. The stonework inside is rather modest, but the windows, paintings, and the bright ceiling are worth a look.
It is possible to purchase a ticket to the top of the dome on weekends only at 13:00 on the dot. Unfortunately, only a few tickets are sold so be there early.
Just 50 meters away from the Marble Church lies the Russian Orthodox Alexander Nevsky Church, the only one of its kind in Copenhagen. The church is dedicated to the Russian patron saint Alexander Nevsky and was built in 1883 as a gift from Tsar Alexander III to mark his marriage to Princess Dagmar of Denmark. I love the way how its golden onion domes shimmer in the sun.
The image of Nyhavn, Copenhagen’s colorful and vibrant canal district is most synonymous with postcards and travel brochures of the city. Nyhavn was once a squalid neighborhood of lowlifes, drunks, and prostitutes up until the 1970s, full of all-night bars and tattoo parlors.
Nyhavn has undergone a metamorphosis and now the lovely old pastel-colored townhouses around the canalside are full of family-friendly restaurants, and cafes. I just love how the vivid colors of buildings and docked boats give Nyhavn a refreshing aura.
Nyhavn was once the home of the famous Danish author Hans Christian Andersen, who lived at several addresses here. He wrote The Tinderbox, Little Claus and Big Claus and The Princess and the Pea while living at number 20, and also spent time living at numbers 18 and 67.
Nowadays, due to its immense popularity Nyhavn has become somewhat of a tourist trap. Prices at eateries here are some of the highest in Copenhagen. So if you just want to relax and dangle your feet off the pier I suggest getting a beer or an ice cream from the nearest corner store or supermarket as it will save you money.
8. Canal Tour
When spending a weekend in Copenhagen, a canal tour is a must. It is a great way to see Copenhagen as you get a unique view of the city from its waters. It will take you around the city’s harbor and through the canals of Christianshavn shedding light on Copenhagen’s maritime history along the way. The quaysides of Christianshavn are studded with small boats and moored houseboats. The houseboats along the canals have an eclectic mix of styles and are interesting to see.
Watch out for adorable 17th-century houses lining the canals that give it an Amsterdam like atmosphere. The pastel-hued houses are tall and narrow, with gables and crane hooks for pulling goods onto the upper floors. Don’t forget to see architectural and cultural treasures like the Opera House, the Royal Danish Playhouse, and the Black Diamond Royal Library along the way!
Canal tours depart at regular intervals from a number of stops, most notably Nyhavn. Several companies offer boat tours in Copenhagen like Stromma and Havnerundfart. I would personally recommend this fantastic canal tour.
9. Traditional Danish Lunch
Treat yourself to a classic Danish lunch with a smørrebrød (open-faced sandwich) that comes with a variety of toppings such as herring, salmon, raw beef, eggs, and pork. Restaurant Koefoed is one of the best places in Copenhagen for smørrebrød and comes highly recommended.
10. Old Stock Exchange
Just 100 meters from Christiansborg Palace lies the Old Stock Exchange (Børsen), one of Copenhagen’s most renowned sights. It was completed in 1640 and houses the city’s chamber of commerce. This exquisitely carved building is known for its immaculate Renaissance facade and copper roofs.
The building’s best feature, however, is its gleaming spire that resembles the entwined tails of four dragons. These are topped by three crowns symbolizing the friendship of the three Scandinavian countries of Denmark, Norway, and Sweden. It’s a lovely building to photograph.
11. Christiansborg Palace
Christiansborg Palace is located on the tiny island of Slotsholmen and is one of my favorite things to see in Copenhagen. It is steeped in more than 800 years of history and today the palace houses the Danish Parliament (Folketing), Supreme Court, and the Prime Minister’s Office.
The current building you see is actually the third incarnation of Christiansborg Palace built in Neo-Baroque style in 1928, the previous two burned down. Supposedly, the second palace was the most spectacular one of the lot. If you’re a fan of the hit Danish political drama Borgen like me, you will know it as the workplace of Prime Minister Birgitte Nyborg.
The highlight of the interior of Christiansborg Palace is definitely the Royal Reception Rooms, a series of 18 elegant palace rooms and halls that are ostentatiously decorated with art, tapestries, chandeliers, fine furniture, gold, and marble. They are the scene of gala dinners, presidential visits, and ambassadorial meetings.
As with all grand palaces, the Throne Room is naturally one of the biggest draws. However, the Danish Queen Margrethe II is famous for her simplicity and has apparently never even sat on this splendid royal seat.
The Alexander Room is famous for its marble frieze depicting Alexander the Great entering Babylon. We loved the wonderful Queen’s Library, which features a fantastic gilded interior with opulent chandeliers, ornate stucco work, and a small segment of the royal family’s vast historic book collection.
Best of all is the Great Hall, housing a collection of 17 intensively colorful wall tapestries depicting pivotal events in nearly a millennium of Danish history. One of the tapestries showcases an intriguing Adam and Eve–style representation of the queen and her husband (albeit clothed) in a Danish Garden of Eden.
The first building on the present site of Christiansborg Palace dates back as early as 1167 when Bishop Absalon’s Castle was built here. The ruins of the previous castles, including remnants of Absalon’s castle and the Copenhagen Castle, are beneath the palace. Among these remnants are each building’s ring walls, as well as a well, baking oven, sewerage drains and stonework from the castle’s Blue Tower.
The Royal Stables which feature antique coaches, uniforms and riding paraphernalia are also worth seeing. The Royal Kitchen features a relatively impressive array of shiny copper pots and pans of all sizes and shapes. The palace tower is also one of the tallest in the city and offers sublime views.
Christiansborg Palace is open daily from 09:00-17:00 (April-October) and Tuesday-Sunday from 10:00-17:00 (November-March). The price of admission to the Royal Reception Rooms is 95 DKK. If you want to see the ruins, the Royal Stables, and the Royal Kitchen go for the combined ticket which costs 160 DKK.
Just 100 meters from Christiansborg Palace lies one of Copenhagen’s quirkiest and most overlooked attractions. Look over the side of Højbro Bridge to find Agnete and the Merman statue playing hide-and-seek with tourists from their home beneath the water. This bronze sculpture is based on an old Danish ballad “Agnete and the Merman” which chronicles the story of Agnete, a young woman who leaves her family to start a new life in the sea with a merman. The couple had seven kids and things seemed to be going great until one day Agnete returned to her past leaving the merman forlorn and pining for her. It depicts Agnete’s husband and her abandoned children reaching up towards the surface with outstretched arms, longing for her return. The sculpture is best seen at night, when it is attractively illuminated.
12. Rosenborg Castle
If I was asked to name the most beautiful castle (from the exterior) in Copenhagen, Rosenborg Castle is the one I would always name. Complete with fairy-tale turrets, moats, battlemented gateways, and stone lions guarding the entrance, this spectacular castle is undoubtedly one of the major points of interest in Copenhagen and comes across as more of a romantic palace than a castle.
Rosenborg was built in the 1600s as a summer residence by Christian IV and named after one of his horses. The castle was only used as a royal residence for about 100 years and is now a royal museum of sorts. It contains an abundance of royal objects including paintings, trinkets, and ornate furniture used by the Royal Family for generations.
Rosenborg Castle is quite small from the inside and its 24 rooms occupy three floors. Most of them retain the original Renaissance decor from Christian IV’s residence, while the remaining ones have been redecorated by later kings.
Christian IV’s Winter Room is probably the most well-preserved room in the castle and features rich wooden paneling furnished with a fine selection of Dutch paintings. The 17th-century Florentine tabletop and the beguiling Astronomical Clock, are also noteworthy. The Marble Hall showcases splendid Baroque décor and the ceiling stuccowork and imitation marble-clad walls are superb.
On the third floor is the Baroque Long Hall which is exquisitely decorated with 17th-century tapestries and includes the King’s throne. For us, this was the best part of the interior. The tapestries gracing the walls of this room are 12 woven works that depict the battles between Denmark and Sweden during the Scanian War (1675–79). The hall is also home to a collection of 18th-century silver furniture including three silver lions that once guarded the king’s throne.
The Castle‘s star attraction is the Treasury which is found in the basement. where the famed crown jewels and royal paraphernalia are exhibited. Some of the highlights here are Christian IV’s spectacular diamond-encrusted crown and the jewel-studded sword of Christian III.
In the basement cellar rooms, you can also find antique weapons including a pair of Colt revolvers given to Denmark’s king by President Lincoln. The Rosenborg Castle is definitely worth checking out if you like royal sights.
The opening hours of Rosenborg Castle vary according to the season but it is generally open between 10:00-16:00. From November-March, the castle is closed on Mondays.
13. King’s Garden
The King’s Garden (Kongens Have) was established by Christian IV in 1606 as part of the Rosenborg Castle complex. The park was originally laid out in the Renaissance style, with a characteristically rectangular network of pathways that largely exists to this day.
Today, the shady gardens, crisscrossed by paths and with numerous benches, are one of the favorite places for Copenhagen natives to walk and relax. In the summer and on holidays, you’ll see many locals enjoying copious amounts of beer and other beverages, as well as mountains of food.
The King’s Garden is adorned with many sculptures and fountains. Be sure to check out the statue of Hans Christian Andersen, at the end of a long tree-lined path and surrounded on three sides by a circular hedge.
The King’s Garden is open daily, year-round. Hours vary, with opening time at 07:00 and closing time between 17:00 and 23:00, depending on the season. Admission is free.
14. Round Tower
The Round Tower (Rundetaarn) is situated in the Latin Quarter and forms one part of the academic Trinitatis Complex along with the University library and Trinitatis Church. The Round Tower is a 36-meter high structure dating back to 1642 and is the oldest functioning observatory in Europe.
The tower was erected on the orders of Christian IV. The tower is famed for its unique 209-meter long cobbled spiral walkway, which winds seven and a half times round to the top. From the rooftop, visitors are accorded magnificent panoramic views over the city.
The Round Tower is open daily from 10:00-20:00 (April-September) and 10:00-18:00 (October-March). The price of admission is 25 DKK.
HISTORY 101: KING CHRISTIAN IV
The story of Copenhagen can’t be told without mentioning King Christian IV. Christian was the ruler of Denmark from 1588 to 1648 and his accomplishments had a tremendous impact on the nation’s capital than any other king in history. His vision was to make Copenhagen a modern city and one of the main centers of commerce in Northern Europe, which is why he used Amsterdam as a template. That, coupled with his vivacious personality and tumultuous private life have accorded him a leading position in Danish history. King Christian IV is also responsible for many of the famous buildings and attractions you see in the city today, for example Rosenborg Castle, the Old Stock Exchange and the Round Tower, just to name a few. Unfortunately his profligacy put a tremendous strain on the empire’s finances and when he died in 1648, he left his realm virtually bankrupt.
In the heart of the inner city is Strøget, Copenhagen’s chief shopping area. It’s basically a chain of five pedestrian streets (Frederiksberggade, Nygade, Vimmelskaftet, Amagertorv, and Østergade in that order) that link City Hall Square to Kongens Nytorv. The interesting thing is that the streets differ in character and the stores become more exclusive in the direction of Kongens Nytorv.
Along the way, you will come across a plethora of stores ranging from tacky tourist shops to high-end, and pricey, specialty stores. There’s some beautiful classical architecture here so you should keep your camera close by. In particular, the corner of Amagertorv Square along Strøget features an alluring assortment of Dutch baroque facades.
Do you Copenhagen shopping fix here as Strøget is home to major international brand name stores like Ecco, Gucci, Bottega Veneta, and Chanel. Danish stores are well represented too and you can find stores such as Magasin Du Nord, Georg Jensen, Illums Bolighus, Royal Copenhagen and Lego. Be sure to allocate some time to explore the side streets running off Strøget, where you’ll find more surprises among the antique shops, boutiques, and fashionable restaurants.
16. City Hall
Copenhagen City Hall looms large over the bustling City Hall Square and is one of the veritable must-see attractions in Copenhagen. At 106 meters, it is one of the tallest buildings in Copenhagen. The architectural style and design are very beautiful and are a blend of Italian Renaissance and medieval Danish architecture.
Apparently, it was modeled after the city hall building (Palazzo Pubblico) in Siena, Italy. Standing above the main entrance is a gilded statue of Bishop Absalon, the 12th-century founder of Copenhagen
The expansive, rectangular hall on the first floor is flanked by cloisters and topped with a glazed roof. It has Italianate wall decorations and features a number of busts of some prominent Danes like Bertel Thorvaldsen, H.C. Andersen, and Niels Bohr. The City Hall’s rooms and chambers are full of architectural details such as intricate brickwork, mosaics, and decorated ceilings.
The stunning Jens Olsen’s World Clock is concealed in a room off the main foyer. It’s a mechanical marvel that has 14,000 moving parts and one gear will take about 25,000 years to make a complete revolution. 27 years were spent building this masterpiece and one of its many functions is to provide a calendar for the next 570,000 years!
You can either take a guided tour of the City Hall for 60 DKK or you can just explore the building on your own. The only difference is that with the guided tour you get to see the city council chamber and some other stately rooms that are off-limits. I wouldn’t recommend the guided tour unless you’re really dying to see these rooms. You can just visit the tower, Copenhagen’s highest viewpoint, for 30 DKK. Guided tours are offered in English Mon – Fri at 13:00 and Saturday at 10:00.
Copenhagen has a couple of top-notch burger joints with Halifax being my favorite one. If you’re not fond of burgers, you can try Pizzeria La Fiorita, which serves delicious Italian pizzas in an unpretentious setting.
Day 2 in Copenhagen: More Essential Sights & Museums
Day 2 of this ‘3 days in Copenhagen’ itinerary will cover some other important sights as well as some interesting museums.
A great place to grab a coffee in the morning in Christianshavn is Sweet Treat, another cozy little cafe serving great coffee and delicious cakes.
2. Church of Our Saviour
In my opinion, the Church of Our Saviour is the most beautiful church in Copenhagen. This alluring Baroque church was consecrated in 1696 is famous for its golden spire which is more than 90 meters high. The interior is nicely decorated and the church also houses a huge organ (carillon). The huge three-story organ is carved in wood and it rests over two marble elephants.
The Church of Our Saviour is open from 10:00-16:00. The entrance to the tower costs 35 DKK but it is certainly worth it if you want to enjoy one of the best viewpoints in the city. Note that the last 150 stairs are outside so if you’re acrophobic it can be a terrifying climb! The tower is not accessible in inclement weather.
3. Freetown Christiania
No weekend in Copenhagen would be complete without visiting Christiania. Christiania is an anarchist and partially autonomous community that is one of Copenhagen’s most popular attractions. It began as a social experiment in the early 1970s after a bunch of squatters moved into a deserted military barracks and were proponents of starting a free town.
Strictly speaking, Christiania doesn’t contain any sights. It is a functioning alternative society of about 900 residents, a place where many accepted norms don’t apply, and people formulate and live by their own rules. They have a certain set of rules for visitors that are expected to be followed. The central area has bars, organic eateries, souvenirs and a couple of quaint little artisan shops.
Pusher Street offers a fine selection of cannabis delights. The real treat of Christiania is experiencing the whimsical handmade houses and buildings, colorful murals and the nature around the lake. Many of the most interesting things to see in Christiania are located in the vicinity of the old city moat on Christiania’s eastern side. Just be mindful to be respectful and considerate since these are private quarters.
Today, Christiania is no more dangerous than any other area of Copenhagen and taking a stroll around the area is one of the best things to do in Copenhagen. It’s fun and interesting, not because of its history but because it has lots of shops and an atmosphere you won’t find in any other district in Copenhagen. Although it’s safe to walk around during the day, you should avoid coming here at night and visitors shouldn’t take pictures on Pusher Street.
Dyssen, the long, narrow strip of land parallel to Christiania, on the eastern side of the city moat served as the site of Denmark’s last executions, when 29 convicted Nazi sympathizers were shot dead by firing squad following the nation’s postwar trials. Today, it is an idyllic walking path and popular with birdwatchers.
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4. Islands Brygge
Islands Brygge is a popular waterfront area in central Copenhagen. Up until the mid 20th century, Islands Brygge was a dilapidated industrial and dockland area with a rowdy, blue-collar reputation. Since 2000 it has undergone a massive facelift and now the quayside along the harbor is one of the most sought-after places to live in Copenhagen.
A notable feature of the harbor park is that vestiges of the neighborhood’s past are still used to accentuate the history of the place. Railroad cars, ships, and machines are part of the park. The architecture here is a cool amalgam of old buildings and modern architecture. Islands Brygge is a nice place for a walk, relaxing and people watching.
If you’re visiting Copenhagen in the warmer months, you can take a refreshing dip in the sparkling clean harbor waters of the Harbor Baths (Havnebadet). This popular open-air pool offers a leisurely swim while taking in the great views of the city. There are three pools to choose from and they are separated from each other and from the harbor waters by floating bridges.
5. National Museum of Denmark
The National Museum of Denmark is a must-see attraction for anyone who is interested in Danish history and culture. It is housed in the 18th century Prince’s Palace, a sprawling Rococo building. This museum is absolutely brilliant with an eclectic range of collections.
The collection of archeological and ethnographic artifacts at the National Museum is incredibly well preserved including Greek pottery, Etruscan jewelry, Rune Stones, the Sun Chariot, and Viking prehistory. The marvelous Gundestrup cauldron, adorned with animals and mystical figures is Europe’s oldest example of Iron Age silverwork.
There are also exhibits about Asia, Africa, and Oceania as well as the culture of Inuits and Native Americans. I particularly enjoyed the exhibit about Inuit culture from Greenland that showcases skills and creative ingenuity of the Inuits. The displays include clothing like embroidered anoraks and boots, assorted toys and watercolors of daily life.
Don’t miss out on the collection of artifacts from China, Japan, and the Far East which includes immaculately costumed Samurai warriors and beautiful 18th-century Imperial Dragon robes, worn by Chinese emperors.
If you have kids you should go to the Children’s Wing. It’s a hands-on exhibit including a kitchen, horse, shops, classrooms, a Viking boat and costumes where kids can indulge themselves.
The National Museum is open daily from 10:00-17:00 (June-September) and Tuesday–Sunday from 10:00–17:00 (October-May). The price of admission is 95 DKK.
7. Ny Carlsberg Glyptotek
Next up on this three-days in Copenhagen itinerary is Ny Carlsberg Glyptotek, my favorite museum in Copenhagen. This museum houses an amazing collection of paintings from the Golden Age of Danish Painting and an extensive collection of French paintings. There are also antiquities from the Mediterranean including Egypt, Italy, and Greece.
Impressionists and Post-impressionists such as Cézanne, Monet, Manet, Van Gogh, and Gauguin are very well-represented at the museum. The collection includes the largest booty of Rodin sculptures outside of France and his famous Kiss sculpture is on display. Watch out for The Absinthe Drinker by Manet, Van Gogh’s stark Landscape from Saint-Remy, and Degas’ remarkable bronze ballerina The Little Dancer.
The Roman Collection is home to some top-notch busts of Rome’s public figures including those of luminaries such as General Pompey, Emperor Augustus, Emperor Hadrian, and the evil and depraved Caligula. The collection of Ancient Egyptian Art ranges from delicate vases to some huge sculptures.
I really love the Winter Garden here. This green oasis of palm trees, planted beneath a glass dome, was included in the original design as a means to lure visitors who normally might not have an affinity for art. It has certainly worked because crowds flock here. Look out for the Water Mother sculpture depicting a naked woman reclining in a small pool, surrounded by a group of babies.
Ny Carlsberg Glyptotek is open Tuesday–Sunday from 11:00–18:00 (until 21:00 on Thursday). The price of admission is 115 DKK with free admission on Tuesdays.
8. Design Museum
Scandinavia has a legendary reputation for design, so it’s hardly surprising that Copenhagen is home to a splendid design museum. The Design Museum was founded in 1890 with the goal of encouraging both designers and consumers to create and seek out better-quality goods and also to communicate the idea of quality within the design. Since 1926 it has been located in one of the best Rococo-style buildings in Copenhagen, the former King Frederik’s Hospital.
Covering handicrafts, industrial design, and furniture design, the collection accentuates work by esteemed Danish designers such as Arne Jacobsen, Poul Henningsen, and Kaare Klint. I really loved some of the furniture pieces that seemed straight out of a surrealist painting.
The museum is also home to the largest library in Scandinavia dedicated to design. If you’re interested in picking up some Danish souvenirs, you’ll find design-orientated books, unique ceramics, glassware and trinkets at the museum store.
The museum is open Tuesday–Sunday from 10:00–18:00 (until 21:00 on Wednesday). Admission costs 115 DKK.
9. Tivoli Gardens
Ah yes, we finally come to the world-famous Tivoli Gardens, one of the best experiences while sightseeing in Copenhagen. Tivoli first opened its gates in 1843, making it the second oldest amusement park in the world. With its amusement rides, carnival games, exotic buildings, splendid manicured flower gardens, and entertainment venues, Tivoli has a vibe that mesmerizes both children and adults. Whether you are a thrill-seeker or not, the atmosphere at Tivoli is magical enough to warrant a visit.
The Tivoli Gardens are named after the Jardins de Tivoli in Paris, which were themselves named after a place called Tivoli just outside Rome.
If you’re looking for an adrenaline rush, you can join the masses of people whizzing along on the high-speed thrill rides, such as The Dragon, The Demon and The Starflyer. If you prefer something more mellow like myself, you can stick to riding the old wooden roller coaster.
There is much more to Tivoli than thrill rides and roller coasters and part of its allure stems from the beautifully landscaped gardens and eclectic architecture. I guess this sort of justifies its hefty price tag.
Tivoli Lake, which is home to fish and ducks is perfect for a leisurely stroll. The lake was carved out of the old city moat and is extremely scenic due to the presence of a Japanese style pagoda from 1900. St George III, a huge 18th-century frigate turned restaurant, is also moored here. My other favorites are the exotic Pantomime Theater and the palatial Moorish-style onion-domed Nimb building which now houses two restaurants as well as an upscale boutique hotel.
Tivoli really comes to life at night with thousands of sparkling lights and Chinese lanterns and becomes really romantic. Seeing Tivoli in the evening sheds light on why it has been the main attraction in Copenhagen for generations.
A certain Mr. Disney derived a lot of inspiration from his visit to Tivoli in 1950. Supposedly, he was so bewitched with Tivoli that he exclaimed to his wife, “Now this is what an amusement place should be!” Tivoli also has a wide range of eateries like the Tivoli Food Hall to satisfy your needs.
The entrance to Tivoli costs 130 DKK. Tivoli has a carnival-like ticketing system that means you pay per ride with some rides requiring up to three tickets. So it’s better to purchase the unlimited ride pass (240 DKK) if you’re in the mood for a few rides. Check the Tivoli website for up to date opening times. I would recommend buying the skip the line ticket which will save you some time.
Day 3 in Copenhagen: Copenhagen Neighborhoods
On day three of this ‘3 days in Copenhagen’ itinerary, we will be covering some of Copenhagen’s contrasting and colorful neighborhoods.
1. Torvehallerne Market Hall
If you’re on a Copenhagen city break, you have to visit Torvehallerne, Copenhagen’s premier food market hall. With its two large steel and glass halls and an area of over 700 m², Torvehallerne is the largest covered market in Copenhagen. It is split into two market halls, each with its own offerings. Between the two halls is an area with communal picnic tables.
At Torvehallerne, you can find top products for all budgets and tastes, ranging from smoked meats, seafood, and cheeses to local specialties like smørrebrød. If you’re a foodie, don’t skip this place. In case you want to have breakfast at Torvehallerne, Grød is a fantastic porridge bar that has managed to transform normally mundane porridge into hip food by using ingredients like licorice sugar, skyr (Icelandic yogurt), ginger syrup, hazelnuts, and raisins.
2. Nørrebro District
Nørrebro is one of Copenhagen’s most diverse and vibrant neighborhoods and competes with Vesterbro for the title of Copenhagen’s hippest area. The area has undergone an extensive refurbishment in recent years that has helped spur its transformation from a poor working-class district into one of the most covetable addresses to live in.
Nørrebro has a high concentration of non-western immigrants. When I walked down the main street Nørrebrogade for the first time, I was amazed at the sheer number of Turkish kebab shops, Middle Eastern barbers and butchers, South Asian and African grocery stores and other bohemian stores that I encountered. If you’re into street art, you’ll have a field day as there are many colorful and thoughtful murals here.
While there aren’t any big tourist draws here, there are still plenty of things to do and see in Nørrebro for the adventurous traveler. The process of transforming Nørrebro into a modern neighborhood has ushered in new architecture.
Superkilen, an open urban space located on the border between Nørrebro and the Nordvest district signifies this best. It serves as a testament to Nørrebro’s ethnic diversity and has objects from all over the globe like swings, sculptures, seats, chess tables, and barbecue spots. Superkilen is what you would term a highly instagrammable place and is divided into three regions – The Red Square, The Green Park, and The Black Market.
2.2 Assistens Cemetery
You can take a stroll through Assistens Cemetery (Assistens Kirkegård), a popular green oasis in Nørrebro. The Little Mermaid might be the best-known tribute to HC Andersen but it is here that you will find his resting place. Other prominent Danes are also buried here such as the famous philosopher Søren Kierkegaard.
The cemetery is a great place to wander around and sunbathe in the summer and is as much a park and garden as it is a graveyard. Assistens Cemetery is open daily from 07:00-22:00, entrance is free.
3. Lunch & Dining
Nørrebro is home to a burgeoning culinary scene and there are plenty of dining options in here as the area is packed with restaurants, bars, and cafes for all budgets. There is a multitude of great eateries in the area around Sankt Hans Square. Ølbaren is one of the best beer bars I’ve visited. The bar has a fantastic atmosphere with diverse styles to choose from.
If you’re in the mood for Japanese ramen and good beer in a relaxed, unpretentious setting, Ramen to Biiru is the best place in Copenhagen. There are some great ethnic eateries in Nørrebro and Maed serves piquant Ethiopian dishes at very reasonable prices.
There are also a couple of fantastic streets here such as Jægersborggade and Ravnsborggade where you’ll come across small designer boutiques, charming antique dealers, art galleries and top-notch organic produce shops. Be sure to check out Meyer’s Bakery on Jægersborggade which for me offers the best pastries in town.
Every time I’m on Jægersborggade I always make sure to go to Istid where they make fresh organic ice cream with liquid nitrogen! This makes the texture of the ice cream different from regular ice cream and it is absolutely delicious.
4. Grundtvig’s Church
Situated in the Bispebjerg district in the North West Block of Copenhagen is the beautiful Grundtvig’s Church. This is by far one of the best churches that I have seen. It is often referred to as a Gothic cathedral, but it is a stunning piece of expressionist architecture.
The church was completed in 1940 and took 19 years to build. Grundtvig’s Church is made entirely of pale yellow bricks, a staggering six million of them. It was built in commemoration of the Danish priest, poet, and reformer Nikolaj Frederik Severin Grundtvig. The imposing facade of the church reminds me of some post-apocalyptic edifice.
The church has a cavernous, unadorned interior with towering columns, pointed arches, ribbed vaults and there are no frescos or stained glass windows. Even though it is extremely simple and undecorated from inside, the overall effect is extraordinary. The beechwood chairs inside are a fine illustration of Danish design.
A visit to Grundtvig’s Church comes highly recommended especially if you’re an architecture buff. Best of all, entrance is free. Opening hours are Tuesday–Saturday: 09:00 – 16:00 and Sunday: 12:00–16:00 (12:00–13:00 during winter).
Frederiksberg is a city within a city. It is an enclave surrounded by Copenhagen on all sides and even though it has its own municipal council and mayor Frederiksberg generally gets treated as a neighborhood of Copenhagen. The municipality is generally more affluent than other areas of Copenhagen and walking around some of the streets here serves as a testament to that. Frederiksberg Alle is a large tree-lined boulevard that is home to some exclusive addresses.
The district is known for its large green spaces such as Frederiksberg Gardens, Søndermarken, and Hostrup Gardens.
5.1 Frederiksberg Palace & Gardens
Frederiksberg Palace is a former Baroque-style royal residence that now houses the Royal Danish Military Academy. This ocher-colored palace sits atop the sloping lawns of Frederiksberg Gardens. It was completed in 1735 in Italian style as a summer residence for Frederik IV.
Frederiksberg Gardens are huge and an absolute treat to stroll around. The lawns are very well-manicured in English romantic style and are crisscrossed with a network of canals and tree-lined paths. You will come across waterfalls, grottos, an Apis Temple, a Chinese summerhouse and two follies here. A wide array of flora and fauna can be found here such as swans, geese, ducks, and herons.
5.2 Copenhagen Cisterns
If you’re on the lookout for some unique things to do during your 3 days in Copenhagen, you ought to pay a visit to the Cisterns (Cisternerne). The Cisterns once contained the supply of drinking water for Copenhagen and could hold as much as 16 million liters of clean water. This former 19th-century subterranean water reservoir has now transformed into one of Copenhagen’s most unique art venues with one major exhibition being held there each year. The exhibitions are usually thought-provoking and enjoyable.
Once you descend underground to the cavernous cisterns, it is virtually completely dark except light sources, so you wander in the twilight. The music playing in the background kind of lends this place an eerie aura.
The cisterns are located under Frederiksberg Hill in the core of Søndermarken Park. The opening hours of the Copenhagen Cisterns are Tuesday-Sunday: 11:00-18:00 (until 20:00 on Thursday). The entrance costs 70 DKK.
6. Vesterbro District
Vesterbro is arguably the hippest district in town and rival to Nørrebro. This is my absolute favorite district in Copenhagen. Vesterbro has a checkered history and was formerly known for being a working-class neighborhood and harboring the notorious red-light district.
Today, however, it is a neighborhood in transition and there’s little evidence of the seedy nightlife that once made it a no-go zone and the area is now full of organic food shops, fashion boutiques, tattoo shops, cafes, great new bars, and restaurants. One of the things I love about Vesterbro is that it is relatively devoid of tourist hordes compared to the city center.
Istedgade and Vesterbrogade are Vesterbro’s main shopping arteries. Among them, you’ll find enticing fashion stores, design boutiques, jewelry stores, antique shops, desirable homeware stores, independent galleries, bohemian shops, bars, and restaurants. On Istedgade, you’ll still find the occasional smut peddler.
Værnedamsvej, also known as Copenhagen’s answer to Paris, is where you’ll come across an array of wine bars and restaurants. There are also some fine delicatessens, chocolate shops, bistros, bakeries and cheese shops. The whole street exudes a charming French vibe.
6.1 Old Carlsberg Brewery
Beer fans should head over to the Old Carlsberg Brewery, located on the western fringes of Vesterbro. The complex comprises of breweries, offices, laboratories, and a small museum relating to the Jakobsen family history.
The chief attraction here is the Visitor Center that now houses the Visit Carlsberg Museum. This museum is certainly not one of the best in the world but it does provide a great insight into the history of beer brewing. You can also marvel at the world’s largest collection of unopened beer bottles, over 22,000 of them! The Visitor Center also features stables that contain a few Jutland horses.
Please note that the visitor center is going to be closed through all of 2019 for renovation. It is expected to reopen in 2020.
The brewery complex features numerous examples of industrial architecture, one of them being the famous Elephant Gate and Tower. It consists of four life-size granite elephants adorned with swastikas (a revered symbol in Asian cultures) that stand for good fortune, loyalty, and strength.
6.2 Dinner in the Meatpacking District
Vesterbro is renowned for its nightlife and excellent dining options and the Meatpacking District (Kødbyen) is the perfect place to go to experience this. For over a century this area was an industrial space. But nowadays these white buildings which formerly housed large meat halls are home to some of Copenhagen’s trendiest bars, restaurants, and even art galleries.
Take a stroll through Kødbyen and you’ll notice locals socializing over a beer. My personal favorite eatery here is the awesome WarPigs Brewpub that serves heavenly Texan style barbecue and some outstanding American-Danish style craft beer.
7. Beer Pubs
Copenhagen is full of microbreweries and Mikkeller is undoubtedly the best-known one. Mikkeller Bar run by the Mikkeller microbrewery is a beer lover’s mecca as is Mikkeller and Friends which is a collaboration between Mikkeller and To Øl.
Mikkeller has become a global craft beer trendsetter of late and is famous for experimenting with unusual ingredients such as chipotle chili, lychee fruits, seaweed, avocado leaves, and Vietnamese weasel droppings.
Other Copenhagen based craft breweries I really like are Amager Bryghus and To Øl. When it comes to beer bars, two of my favorites are Black Swan and Taphouse which have a fantastic selection of beer.
Extending Your Stay
Although 3 days in Copenhagen is a good amount of time, I certainly think you could stay one or two days longer. Below I 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? I have made sure to recommend only the best of the best (in terms of quality and value) 🙂
PS: We have personally stayed at Hotel Sct. Thomas and absolutely loved it!
Now, what do you think? How would you spend a weekend in Copenhagen? Share your thoughts with us in the comments below!
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