Copenhagen København is everything I imagined a Scandinavian city to be like: stunning architecture, cozy cafes and a relaxed vibe that North Americans, like myself, find hard to embrace at first. But then the hygge grows on you and you casually start strolling around the harbour, ignoring what time it is. If the clouds sneak up on you with surprising sun-showers, you can find shelter under one of the many umbrellas on the patio street. If you are sitting with a Dane, you won’t realize that hours have passed while you have been casually talking about everything under the sky while sipping on your coffee (or beer, as per your preference).
But, if you don’t have time on your side and need to catch your train to Stockholm (or better yet, your bus to Aarhus to visit me), here is what you must see and do while you are in Copenhagen.
Disclaimer: I didn’t make it to Vesterbro or Norrebro while I was in Copenhagen.
Start your day by walking through Stroget and the Latin Quarter. Stroll carelessly on this longest pedestrian friendly, shopping street in Copenhagen. Stop to buy an overpriced souvenir or the most expensive coffee of your life before making your way to Nyhavn (pronounced as “New Hawn” as I was sternly corrected by a local).
I could spend the entire day admiring the colourful buildings that line up Nyhavn, but since we are on a tight timeline here, my suggestion would be to jump on a canal boat tour. Your boat would exit the harbour and make its way to the stunning Copenhagen Opera House, definitely the most modern and stylish theatre I have ever seen.
The boat will also pass by Amalienborg Slot, but you can explore this castle on foot after the canal tour since it’s very close to Nyhavn.
Gawk at the stunning boats parked along Christianshavn and check out the most expensive real estate in Copenhagen. You can also spot Vor Frelsers Kirke (a.k.a. Our Saviour’s Church) from the boat, and if you have a second day, definitely climb up those 400 steps for a mind-blowing view of Copenhagen.
After lunching in Nyhavn (you can probably guess by now that Nyhavn was my favourite part of Copenhagen), start your trek to the infamous Little Mermaid. Stop by at the Amalienborg Slot to check out the guards or just admire the Copenhagen Opera House from a different angle.
After that, if you manage not to get lost, you’ll end up at the most underwhelming popular tourist attractions of all time – The Little Mermaid. Danes cringe at the very mention of her but you’ll notice tourists flooding around her, trying to sneak some pictures with the lovely statue. I do think that it’s underwhelming, but I also think that you should definitely check it out, if not for the history, then at least for the pop cultural significance.
If this is your only evening in Copenhagen, it has to be spent at Tivoli Gardens. Go there before sunset so that you can admire the beautiful landscape. Stroll around until it’s completely dark and be dazzled by the bright lights of this park. Tivoli Gardens have a ton of eating options, so that’s probably where you’d like to have your dinner.
That’s a busy 24 hours, I know! I also realize that I haven’t included Christiana, the Danish Design Museum and Nationalmuseet, all of which are absolutely gems in their own right.
What would make on the top of your Copenhagen in a day list? Share your thoughts if you have been or would like to go.