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13 things to do in Copenhagen with 2 days on the clock

Janine Magnin

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Things to do in Copenhagen: Explore a boat docked in the water.

What do you do in the happiest city in the world when you only have two days available on your travel itinerary? Copenhagen is a very walkable city – just don’t get caught jaywalking (it’s illegal). This chic Northern European city offers visitors unique waterways, historic architecture, world-renowned restaurants, and cafes that epitomise the Scandinavian concept of hygge (comfortable well-being and contentment).

Yes, you could spend weeks exploring all the sights, experiences, and variations of cheesecake and smørrebrødthat Copenhagen has to offer, but here’s some advice on things to do in Copenhagen when you only have a couple of days.

1. Go see the palace

Even if you’re not a Royal lover, the Amalienborg Palace is a must-visit. A stunning Rococo building, its architecture is as impressive as the changing of the Royal Guard. The Royal Family still lives in the palace, but you can explore parts of it. Why not visit the museum and immerse yourself in the antiquity of Denmark’s constitutional kings and queens?

Amalienborg Palace, Copenhagen

Image source:Joseph / unsplash

2. Relax in the Tivoli gardens

The Tivoli Gardens is an amusement park and pleasure grounds with rides and concerts. Something is ALWAYS happening in the beautiful park, so be sure to stick around for some live music and to see the fairy lights at night.

3. Visit the free town of Christiania

What’s a free town, you ask? Freetown Christiania, or just Christiania, is a self-proclaimed autonomous district of around 1,000 people in the borough of Christianshavn in Copenhagen. They have their own rules outside of Danish law, their own flag, and live a different way of life that prioritises sustainability. No photos or cars are allowed (you’ve been warned!), but it’s 100% worth a look. 


Image source:Contiki

4. See the famous Little Mermaid statue

You can’t go to Copenhagen and not see its most iconic piece of art, The Little Mermaid.   Inspired by a famous Hans Christian Andersen fairytale, this bronze statue was unveiled in 1913. Perched on an unassuming rock by the waterside at the Langelinie promenade, the Little Mermaid elegantly sits, looking out to sea and waits for her prince to return to her. Expect crowds, or beat them and take a canal tour so you can see it by boat.

5. Eat smørrebrød

Smørrebrød is basically an open-faced sandwich, but it’s so much more than that! Served on dense rye bread with a huge variety of toppings (cheese, fruit, nuts, fish, thinly shaved meats, and pickled veggies), it offers a taste to suit everyone. The layering is also important, so take a moment before diving in with a knife and fork (please, not your hands!).

6. Rent a bike and ride like a local

Do as the Danes and get around by bike. It’s good for you and the environment, and thanks to the bike lanes, you’ll be able to get around quicker than on foot. One of the best things to do in Copenhagen is renting a bike. With bike racks aplenty, you can safely lock up your bike anywhere to explore the many sights of Copenhagen. Or, opt for a bike sightseeing tour and let an expert take the lead. 

7. Take a Danish dip

A cold Batic bath might not appeal to everyone, but the Danes are known for their enjoyment of cold water swimming. They say it invigorates their senses and makes them feel happier. Considering Denmark is said to be the second happiest country in the world, they may be onto something here. You simply jump into the cold sea, jump out, step into a sauna, then repeat: sea, then sauna. The temperature changes are said to be good for you, and who are we to argue? It clearly works for the Danes.

sauna, Denmark

Image source:Huum / unsplash

8. Explore the hipster neighbourhoods

Copenhagen is cool. Like, it’s really cool. If you want to discover some quirky, offbeat and downright interesting places to eat, shop and check out, head to Vesterbro (in the Kødbyen area) or Nørrebro neighbourhoods. All your hipster needs will be satisfied between trendy coffee shops and high-end galleries.

9. Embark on your own Hans Christian Andersen fairytale adventure

Hans Christian Andersen spent most of his life living in Copenhagen, and you can still visit many places he once frequented. These include the Royal Danish Theatre and three different residences in the area of Nyhavn. You can find his statue in The King’s Garden, and the Little Mermaid statue (mentioned above) is at Langelinie Pier. 

One of the things to do in Copenhagen is visiting the little mermaid statue.

Image source:Contiki

10. Cruise the Copenhagen canals

If you’re tired of biking and pounding the pavements, that just leaves boating. Copenhagen has an extensive system of canals and waterways, and a canal cruise may be just the ticket for those who want to diversify their Copenhagen sightseeing perspective. The trip begins in Nyhavn’s colourful 17th-century townhouse district and lasts about an hour. While onboard, your captain delights you with stories of Copenhagen’s history, heritage, and many iconic sights.

11. Indulge in ‘Danish’ pastries… or something else if you prefer

I’m sorry to burst the bubble, but Danish pastries aren’t actually Danish. I know – shocker! In Danish, they’re known as wienerbrød (Vienna Bread) and were first made in Denmark by Austrian bakers in the 1840s. Since then, they’ve become synonymous with Denmark and visiting Copenhagen would not be complete without trying a kanelsnegl (Cinnamon Snail). The Danes do love their cinnamon.

pastries in Denmark

Image source:Nathalie / unsplash

12. Splurge a little and visit a Michelin-starred restaurant

Copenhagen is 2023’s top culinary destination. Some excellent Michelin options include Noma (as referenced in The Bear), Geranium, and Alchemist. Noma is a three-Michelin-star restaurant that Rene Redzepi opened in 2003 and has been named the best restaurant in the world four times. It leads Denmark’s New Nordic Food Manifesto – an innovative approach combining traditional flavours with ethical and sustainable practices. 

13. Shopping in Copenhagen

A visit to Copenhagen would not be complete without a bit of retail therapy. Shopping in Copenhagen is really convenient because of how accessible and close everything is. Every neighbourhood has its own variety of shops and boutiques. Danish fashion is known as ‘Scandi Style’ and is distinctively minimalistic and effortlessly casual. Here are a few places you can shop the look:

What if you only have a day in Copenhagen?

It’s easy to get around Copenhagen quickly. The city’s public transport is one of the best in the world. Unlike other sprawling cities, Denmark’s capital is conveniently compact, bikable and, yes, really walkable. Your stay may be short, but your day will be jam-packed long! 

1. Public transport

If arriving by plane, trains run frequently into Kongens Nytorv station (12 minutes). The M3 Cityringen (city ring) is a three-minute journey to the town centre. Then, it’s just a one-minute walk to the town hall steps for a city walking tour. Copenhagen’s public transport infrastructure is one of the world’s most reliable and efficient systems. You can take the Metro, buses, hire a bike, or take river buses.  

2. Walkability

Copenhagen is a mostly flat city built around waterways. The city is not very big, and the old town is even smaller. There are plenty of sights, restaurants, and amenities for walkers, and Copenhagen has pedestrianised many of its streets.

What can I do while waiting for my Contiki trip to depart?

Before embarking on a Contiki exploration of scintillating Scandinavia and the beautiful Baltic regions, spend some time in Copenhagen, drink the Karlberg beer, eat as much cheesecake as you can, and peruse the many sights and adventures on offer. These Contiki experiences include seeing The Little Mermaid, the Gefion Fountain, and the Royal Palace. 

While you’re at it, why not throw in a Copenhagen Culinary Bike Tour and indulge in a three-hour bike ride while sampling an impressive array of local Nordic cuisines and pastries? 

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