Copenhagen has a number of must-see sights that you can all fit in to one day. Why not start with the world-famous Little Mermaid statue, located by The Citadel (Kastellet), an old fortification used to guard the entry into the Baltic Sea. From the Little Mermaid, make your way south until you get to Amalienborg Palace, the official residence of the Danish Royal family. If you get there by noon you can witness the changing of the guards ceremony, performed every day by the Royal Danish Life Guards. From the Amalienborg Palace gardens you have a clear view of the new Royal Danish Opera across the river.
From Amalienborg it is just a short stroll to Nyhavn, Copenhagen’s colourful and perhaps most photographed district. Originally a purpose-built canal to handle trade from ships, the neighbourhood became known as Copenhagen’s red light district. It has long since been gentrified and is now an extremely popular place to eat seafood, enjoy a beverage and do some people watching.
From Nyhavn, take a harbour bus (#s 991 or 992) across the straight to Knippelsbro by Christianshavn. Stroll through the cosy streets by the canals and head for the Church of Our Saviour. From the top of the golden spire you can see a great 360-degrees view of Copenhagen and the surrounding areas.
Form the church it is but a short walk to Christiania, Copenhagen’s very own autonomous region. A disused military barracks complex overtaken by hippies and alternative types in the early 1970s, Christiania is today a cultural melting pot with its own set of rules and customs. Tourists are always welcome, but be aware that soft drugs are openly sold and therefore we recommend that you don’t use your camera in Christiania.
Jump on the metro at Christianshavn Square and head for Nørreport, one of Copenhagen’s busiest transport hubs. From Nørreport, head north-east towards Rosenborg Castle. The castle was built between 1606-1634 and was home to the Royal Family until 1720. Rosenborg Castle is currently home to the Danish Crown Jewels. A short stroll from there you’ll find the National Gallery of Denmark, with a fantastic and changing selection of Danish and international art. The Royal Botanical Gardens are also close by.
Next you may want to walk through Strøget from Nørreport towards the City Hall Square. A stroll through Strøget will take you past The Round Tower (Rundetårn), Europe’s oldest functioning observatory, built in the 17th century by King Christian IV. Climbing to the top of the tower may require some stamina, but the great 360-degree view of Copenhagen makes the ascent all worth it, and on a clear day you can see all the way to Sweden.
Finish off your sightseeing with a visit to Tivoli Gardens, located next to the City Hall Square. If you're in Copenhagen during Tivoli's opening seasons, you simply must experience one of the world's oldest theme parks, complete with beautiful gardens, fun roller coasters and rides and great restaurants.
Copenhagen has firmly planted its flag on the international culinary map, with 13 Michelin-starred restaurants to choose from. So whether you want to try traditional or modern Scandinavian food, innovative cuisine inspired by the world or just some delicious pastries, Copenhagen has it covered.
For the classic Danish lunch, try the unique smørrebrød (literally spread bread, or open faced sandwich). They’re especially noteworthy at Slotskælderen hos Gitte Kik, Aamanns Etablissement, or the The Royal Café.
Copenhagen is home to a number of world-class restaurants that are all worth a visit – if you can get a table. Noma, Churchill and Kokkeriet all have Michelin-stars and a waiting list to match. But the quality and ethos of Danish cooking trickles down and you don't have to spend a fortune, or wait three months, to get a good eating experience in the capital.
If you're just looking for a quick snack or meal on the go, a Danish favourite is the humble hot dog. With hot dog stands spread throughout the city, you’re never far away from a tasty bite and a chat with the often colourful vendors.
A very popular and centrally located spot for great nightlife is the Meatpacking District, to be found just south of the Central Station. Here you’ll find hipster bars and good restaurants that are open until late.
Another great place for soaking up the vibrant Copenhagen nightlife scene is Sankt Hans Torv located in the Nørrebro district. The area is teeming with cocktail bars, clubs and discos, and is a popular with hipsters, students and other young people.