Looking for a quick city break in Europe? Consider spending 2 days in Copenhagen, the Danish capital, for a taste of the historical beauty in Scandinavia. This itinerary will take you through all the main attractions to make sure you see the best of Copenhagen in just 2 days!
Living in London, it’s easy to be tempted by all the amazing flight deals and easy access to so many diverse cities around Europe just a few hours away… And when I saw flights to Copenhagen for under £30 return, how could I say no?!
Determined not to use up any annual leave, I found great flights arriving late on a Friday night, and leaving early Monday morning to arrive back in London just in time for work. Having done a similar weekend away in Prague, I knew I’d be fine with that travel approach but it’s certainly not for everyone!
Arriving into Copenhagen
A smooth and shockingly early Ryanair flight arrived into Copenhagen around 9pm, and I swiftly made my way to the metro for the 15 minute train ride to Copenhagen Central Station, which was itself conveniently just 2 minutes walk from my accommodation: Urban House.
On first impressions late at night, the hostel was spacious, modern, and lively with plenty of activity in the bar adjacent to the reception. After a quick peek around the hostel I knew I’d enjoy my stay immediately, and headed straight for the dorm room!
Day 1 in Copenhagen Itinerary
For my first of two days in Copenhagen, I had a lot planned. The weather was gorgeous, I was full of energy, and I had a whole city to explore! Here’s how I spent day one.
8.30am – walk to Nyhavn
I split my two days in Copenhagen into districts (roughly): first was the east side along the canals, second would be the west along the parks.
Up bright and early, I left the hostel and began just walking. And walking. It’s how I like to familiarise myself with my surroundings, observe the daily lives of locals, understand any habits to adopt, and identify where to go back to!
I ended up developing a rough plan of where to spend the rest of my day, as I’m very much a plan-as-you-go-along person. I came across Nyhavn, possibly the most quintessentially Copenhagen-esque area of the city.
The iconic bright houses lining the canal docks is instantly recognisable, and arriving at such as early hour meant I had the ENTIRE place to myself! Boy I was in for a shock when I returned on my way back later, the area is jam packed with over-priced cafes and bustling with tourists, performers, and locals. I very much enjoyed the still waters and calm vibe at this time of the morning, and so glad I visited such a famous part of the city so quickly.
9am – explore Kastellet
No time to pause with so much to do, I continued on north towards Kastellet (citadel). Being a little further out of the city centre, I saw plenty of runners, dog walkers, and early morning strollers enjoying the sun in and around the Kastellet.
Not only is this part of Copenhagen a beautiful open space perfect for taking in your surroundings, but it’s also a fascinating historical site. Famed as being one of the best-preserved fortresses in Europe, the star-shaped grounds is still functioning as a military base today (albeit not as it once was).
The Rows comprising of perfectly aligned red terraced houses were my favourite part of the Kastellet. There’s something very aesthetically satisfying about uniformed symmetry!
9.30am – snap a photo of the Statue of the Little Mermaid
Exiting the Kastellet through the second gate, continue towards the open waterfront and quayside to visit one very special Copenhagen attraction.
The Statue of the Little Mermaid is a famed attraction in Copenhagen, but not for all the right reasons. Standing at a meagre 4.1 ft tall, it’s considered to be rather underwhelming. That doesn’t stop the throngs of visitors snapping away to capture this mythical beauty of the fairytale of the same name. With low expectations it was exactly what I anticipated it to be, but despite that, I’m still glad to have included it in my 2 days in Copenhagen!
10.30am – wander through Design Museum Danmark
As I’d started the day nice and early, I had already ticked off a few items before any attractions had even opened! This meant I arrived at the Design Museum Danmark just after it opened.
It was a welcome break to spend some time indoors and away from busy crowds, as well as being an informative and enjoyable museum to explore. It’s especially interesting to learn about Danish design and its impact on the world scene, certainly not something I would have learned about anywhere else!
Best of all, being under 26 means you can get free entry to the Design Museum Danmark. This comes in very handy when you’re spending 2 days in Copenhagen which is a notoriously expensive city!
11.30am – step inside Marmorkirken
Popping just down the road and you certainly won’t miss Marmorkirken (Marble Church), otherwise known as Fredrik’s Church. The imposing pillars and green dome give such beautiful exteriors, and poking your head inside offers an even bigger “wow” moment! The domed ceiling is remarkably beautiful, and as you walk around the church’s circumference you’ll notice more and more intricate details decorating the walls.
Visiting Marmorkirken might not be the first thing on everyone’s list for their 2 day trip to Copenhagen, but if you can squeeze in time to go it’s a really magnificent piece of rococo architecture with a prominent place in Copenhagen’s history. Plus, the street it sits on – Frederiksgade – is where you’ll find a whole number of attractions, so you’ll practically be stopping by anyway!
11.45am – walk around Amalienborg Palace Courtyard
Just across the street from Marmorkirken is Amalienborg Palace, home to the Danish Royal Family. The edges of a large and neat courtyard house each of the 4 palace buildings, and as you can imagine it’s well-secured by guards standing at each corner.
I was surprised to find that visitors can walk right up to and around the palace, it’s unlike Buckingham Palace that’s for sure! I decided against paying the entry fee to look through the Amalienborg Palace museum, instead preferring to admire the architecture and reading up on the palace’s history in the sunshine.
12pm – witness the Changing of the Guard
If you linger outside Amalienbord Palace at the right time of 12pm, you’ll get the chance to catch the Changing of the Guard as the Royal Life Guards march from Rosenborg Castle to Amalienborg Palace and perform the regimented daily ritual.
It’s an enjoyable spectacle to behold, and certainly worth staying around for, if you can get a good spot to observe the guards. At this time of day, the palace becomes very busy so if you’re not interested in seeing this practice it’s best to adjust your itinerary accordingly for your 2 days in Copenhagen!
1pm – go up Christiansborg Palace Tower
Walking away from this area of Copenhagen, you won’t miss Christiansborg Palace on the islet of Slotsholmen with it’s imposing grey front and tall central tower. I chose to kick off my exploration of this historically rich attraction by visiting the free tower viewing platform – the perfect way to get an exceptional aerial view of Copenhagen!
You will likely have to wait in the queue for a while (up to 45 mins), particularly on a sunny day. The tower lift holds only a small number of people, and the viewing platform although large only allows for a limited number of visitors at a time.
Once you’re up there, however, the view is worth the wait! You can spot all of Copenhagen’s iconic sights from one place, and see the city from a truly unique perspective.
2pm – explore the attractions of Christiansborg Palace
Continuing the exploration of Copenhagen’s most diverse palace, I purchased the multi-entry ticket to four attractions: The Ruins, The Royal Reception Rooms, The Royal Stables, and the Royal Kitchen.
Heading below the palace courtyard, you’ll feel a dramatic drop in temperature as you navigate through The Ruins of Christiansborg Palace. You’ll get an understand for the rich history of the site, the fires that destroyed the palace on TWO separate occasions, as well as see the remains of key areas of the old structure.
The lighting is atmospherically dark in the ruins and is one of the quieter areas of the palace. This gives an aptly eery feel as you walk through the echoing chambers, but in my opinion, only adds to the fun.
The Royal Reception Rooms
Now it’s time to visit what everyone REALLY wants to see at Christiansborg Palace; the Royal Reception Rooms!
These elaborately decorated and carefully kept halls lined with fine art and decadent furnishings is exactly what one expects from a palace, and you won’t be disappointed. Even having to cover your shoes before entering, you can be sure that this is a place to respect and admire the Danish monarchy.
It was hard to decide my favourite part of the Royal Reception Rooms in Christiansborg Palace, but if I had to narrow it down I would choose the Throne Room (because duh), The Great Hall (because who else has such vibrant, risque tapestries on their palace walls?), and The Queen’s Library – so I could finally live Belle from Beauty and the Beast dream.
No matter if you’re a royal fan or not, it’s hard to deny the beauty of the Royal Reception Rooms, and is certainly not one to miss during your 2 days in Copenhagen.
The Royal Stables
Heading to a very different part of the palace, I crossed the square and entered the pungent stables.
There wasn’t that much to see in this part of the palace, I’ll be honest. It was interesting to learn about hunting, riding, and equestrian practices throughout the royals’ lives, and see how things have changed over time. From taxidermied horses to the royal carriages, this part of Christiansborg Palace certainly covers all bases of this tradition!
I mostly enjoyed saying hello to the horses themselves to be honest, they looked ready for bed!
The Royal Kitchen
Last but not least, is the Royal Kitchen. Spacious and bright with brilliant copper utensils, I was surprised by how much I enjoyed the kitchens! While it had fewer areas of information than others, it was fun to explore without the fakeness that often comes with “how it used to look” exhibitions (I’ve previously moaned about those weird statues… eww).
4.30pm – pause in the Royal Library Garden
Only a few steps from the palace is the Royal Library, Det Kongelige Bibliotek. After so much indoor time I was glad to spend some time in the lowering light in the Royal Library Garden. In the centre you’ll find a pond and fountain with plenty of wildlife joining you. If you’re lucky, a grey heron will swoop for his tea-time snack!
5pm – peek inside the Black Diamond
Just over the road and behind the unassuming old Royal Library building is the Black Diamond – the newer library building. Only 20 years old, this modern, sleek construction oozes chic like no other library I’ve ever seen.
With a cafe to enjoy a snack and coffee (and outdoor river-front seating!) plus a spacious atrium to browse you’ll get a peaceful moment or two inside the Black Diamond. Head up the escalators for some pretty neat views, and cross the bridge to the old part of the library to enjoy some classical interiors from The Octagon, or catch a glimpse of the Old Reading Rooms (for students only).
5.30pm – head to a bar in the Latin Quarter
With the sun lowering gently in the sky, you’ll find the cool coastal air picking up around the waterfront. Aim for the Latin Quarter and choose from one of the many dive bars and neat cafes to hang out with friends, play some pool, enjoy a beer, and simply unwind from a long day of sightseeing.
Day 2 in Copenhagen Itinerary
Having packed so much into the first half of your 2 days in Copenhagen, you can afford to relax a little more on day 2! Similarly to day 1, the agenda includes a lot of walking. Conversely, the focus is on exploring the city’s green spaces and beautiful architecture. It certainly makes a welcome break from crowded tourist attractions!
9.30am – walk through the King’s Garden
I like to plan my day by the opening times of key attractions, and seeing what I can do around them. Fortunately, the Rosenborg Castle that was high on my list is surrounded by the beautiful King’s Garden where one can browse through tree-lined avenues and enjoy a light breakfast inside the garden grounds before lining up to enter the castle.
For horticultural fans, visiting Copenhagen in the warmer months is your best bet to enjoy the various gardens in their prime, as during the winter and early spring you’ll probably be met with lots of bare flowerbeds! For me, this wasn’t an issue as I enjoy the open green space regardless. And, with the backdrop of the formidable Rosenborg Castle who wouldn’t want to stick around for a moment or two?
10am – explore inside Rosenborg Castle
The doors for Rosenborg Castle entry open at 10am every day, and 9am in summer (June-August), making it the perfect starting point for the day’s activities. As one of Copenhagen’s most iconic historical castles, it’s certainly not to be missed when you visit Copenhagen!
After purchasing a ticket for 115DKK (£13.60), I headed straight for the main building. Your ticket covers entry to the castle itself as well as the Crown Jewels in the treasury below, giving you an unrivalled chance to see some of Denmark’s most valued royal regalia.
The castle itself at first felt quite underwhelming. The dark rooms felt crammed with trinkets of history, the walls adorned with numerous portraits and no real sense of guidance or information available. There is a small pamphlet available to offer more context on each room, however, I hadn’t seen this at the ticket desk so was heading in rather blind! Regardless, I still enjoyed the creaking floors and regal interiors, and as I moved through the 17th Century castle I found it to be more enjoyable with each room between the ground and first floor rooms.
Moving upstairs via the turret’s winding steps, I was complete wowed by what awaits. The Knight’s Hall is quite spectacular, with coronation chairs flanked by life-size silver lions standing protectively on guard. This dramatic hall was once intended as a ballroom and eventually used for banquets, and one can easily see how this could impress any dinner guest.
Exiting the main castle, I continued down to the basement to see the weaponry and various pieces of carved ivory and amber. I’m not sure why these contrasting displays are adjacent, maybe they’re each precious in their own way… Nonetheless, I was especially enamoured with the techniques used to delicately carve ivory and amber. Many of the decorative and religious artefacts in this cellar room were gifts, but some were made by the royals themselves! I can’t quite believe what skill it must take to manipulate the materials in such a way to create these stunning artworks, but I certainly appreciate them.
Next up was a visit to the Crown Jewels themselves. Of course, these are some pretty fantastic gems and pieces of jewellery, armour, and royal clothing, but overall I wasn’t especially amazed. I guess it is exactly what you’d expect! After seeing so much already, the Crown Jewels themselves felt like just another display among the many that had already been inspected.
On reflection, I very much enjoyed visiting Rosenborg Castle during my 2 days in Copenhagen. When I managed to research what I’d seen via the official castle website, I felt sufficiently informed and more impressed by the sheer quantity of historical items housed here. So many side rooms house cabinets filled from floor to ceiling of delicate ornaments and royal belongings, it’s clear that this castle holds an important place in Danish history.
11am – roam through the streets of Nyboder
Exiting the grounds of the King’s Garden and waving goodbye to Rosenborg Castle, continue north towards the quayside. I was keen to visit my next paid-for attraction at 12pm when it opened, so had a good hour or so to kill enjoying the fresh air.
It was on my route north that I stumbled across Nyboder, purely by accident. The brightly coloured terraces of neatly identical houses immediately caught my attention, so I just had to follow my nose and wander around.
It turns out that these ex-military barracks are a fairly hidden gem attraction in Copenhagen. The now-residential homes are so quaint and set amongst a curiously peaceful part of the city their charm is instantly apparent.
I spent a little time snapping photos of these endless rows of “Nyboder yellow” buildings before catching my breath in the grassy square on the outskirts of Nyboder.
12pm – reflect at Den Frie Centre of Contemporary Art
For the arty tourists such as myself, you can’t visit Copenhagen without stopping by Den Frie Art Gallery. Set in one of the oldest contemporary art venues in the city, the no-fuss interiors and wooden structure is a beauty in itself. A popular artist hangout, I found I had the space all to myself on this sleepy Sunday.
After admiring the various works on display in the main gallery, I continued downstairs to watch The Watchers Of Malheur (TWEET TWEET) by Søren Thilo Funder. This art film was helpfully narrated in English, and I appreciated a time for reflective contemplation during this beautifully intense film.
1pm – stop by Freetown Christiania
Having achieved so much already during my 2 days in Copenhagen, I was now able to enjoy a slower pace during the afternoon of my final day.
I walked back through some favourite parts of the city, which is always a pleasure when one has limited time! Passing back through the bustling Nyhavn area, I crossed over the Inderhavnsbroen bridge to Broens Gadekøkken – a lively food stall area with music, plenty of delicious food, and communal benches. Not resting for too long, I moseyed onwards through Christianshavn to reach Freetown Christiania. This famous commune of liberal folks is a world away from the squeaky-clean impressions of Copenhagen. With weed openly for sale on the streets, vibrant street art and chattering locals it is indeed a little world of its own inside an otherwise rather sleepy city.
3pm – rest at the Botanical Gardens
I was truly darting all across the city throughout my 2 days in Copenhagen, and so a rest at the Botanical Gardens was a welcome break for tired feet. The Botanical Gardens themselves are of course an attraction worthy of note; the grand glasshouses are a popular place for visitors (at a small price). For me though, I was content just enjoying the various flowers, trees, birds and insects doing their lovely things.
Even if gardens or plants aren’t your cup of tea (they’re certainly not mine!), there’s always something to enjoy in a city’s botanical garden. That might be the landscaping, the aesthetics, the atmosphere, or a bit of everything!
4pm – amble through the Latin Quarter & pause for a break
Nearing the end of another exciting day in Copenhagen, I revisited the Latin Quarter to see what I might have missed on Day One. I walked by the Round Tower several times, but chose not to go up it as I was thoroughly satisfied with my Christiansborg Palace Tower visit which was free!
The Latin Quarter is named for the University of Copenhagen sitting in the area, and made up of a few key streets including Sankt Peders Stræde, Studiestræde, Teglgårdsstræde, Larsbjørnsstræde, Larslejsstræde, and Vestergade as well as Frue Plads (a central square).
Each of these streets is famed for the quintessentially Danish terraced buildings, home to shops, cafes, bars, homes, and all sorts. The compact nature of these streets is a step back in time, you feel as though things haven’t changed much since their construction hundreds of years ago.
After walking around the area and passing so many gorgeous cafes, I couldn’t resist poking my head inside a couple! First up is Paludan Bog & Cafe – the most studious cafe in town. Sat right by the university, the library turned cafe is the ideal place to grab a Danish pastry and curl up with a good book. Be sure to find a table though, as it’s a very popular spot!
A little while later I gave the Coffee Industry Sweden a try. A simple but effective two-storey cafe with bags of space to enjoy a brew, it was the perfect way to warm up my chilly fingers.
Finishing up for the day, I walked past Copenhagen City Hall one last time before making my way back towards my hostel.
6.30pm – watch the sunset at The Lakes
Grabbing (another) pastry or two from 7/11, I headed for The Lakes to watch the sunset. Accompanied by a couple of swans, watching the golden light dip below the rooftops was a pretty magical way to end my 2 days in Copenhagen. And with a belly full of sweet treats I was ready for a cat nap!
I spent the remainder of my evening sorting through the MANY photos taken, relaxing in the hostel and gathering my belongings for an early flight back to London the following morning.
I easily could have done more with my time in Copenhagen, but sometimes it’s better to just enjoy the moment rather than rush yourself silly ticking boxes for the sake of it.
Up for my 8am flight the following day, luckily I was so close to the train station I could return back to London Stansted with ease, and make it in time for work on the Monday morning!
Cost of 2 days in Copenhagen
Copenhagen is a notoriously expensive city, as noted in my list of free activities in Copenhagen! However, it’s still possible to enjoy your 2 days in Copenhagen on a budget. Accommodation and food wore the biggest holes in my pocket, but by staying in a dorm room and eating on the cheap from 7/11 I managed to save a few pennies for more important things like activities!
- Activites for 2 days – £46.44
- Return London flight – £27.98
- Transport to/from London airport – £20.50
- Airport to accommodation cost – £4.17
- Accommodation for 3 nights – £67.35
- Food & drinks – £27.78
And there we have an itinerary for 2 days in Copenhagen, complete with my thoughts on all the activities and attractions. For those looking for a weekend getaway with plenty of culture, history, art, and beauty, Copenhagen is the ideal destination. For those hoping for a budget trip, there might be other suitable places to visit in Europe that can save you more.
My top tip for visiting Copenhagen is to plan ahead. You’ll want to know the attractions you want to visit, their costs, their locations, and weigh up all the pros and cons of the various money-saving offers, such as the Copenhagen Card, and if they’re right for you. It’s a city that requires a little bit of planning to ensure you make the most of a short visit, but if you’re organised and prepared you’ll have an incredible time.
What attractions are you interested in visiting in Copenhagen? Are there any you’d recommend for my next trip?
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