Frederiksberg Allé in Copenhagen

The Very Best of Copenhagen

Photo: Astrid Maria Rasmussen - Copenhagen Media Center

Discover culture, food and cycling in this three-night, four-day itinerary taking in the very best of Copenhagen

Get to know the compact city during a short break with this itinerary, which takes you around the historic harbourside districts. Follow a path beside colored buildings and bakeries selling the country’s signature pastries, and into its trend-setting streets and stellar cultural attractions. Denmark’s capital is known for its sustainable focus, its work-life balance and its design scene, and these sights introduces visitors to the best of it.

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Day 1: Arrive in Copenhagen and explore the heart of the city

Arrive at Copenhagen Kastrup Airport, a 13-minute metro ride from the center of the city. After you’ve arrived at your hotel, it’s time to explore the city. Getting around is easy, either on a bike rented at the hotel or by metro – car rental is not required.

Start at the waterfront area around Nyhavn, the city’s colorful old harbor. Low-lying tourist boats cruise the historic canals with tour guides telling tales about the locations you’ll see along the trip, including the modern Opera House, old military buildings and the self-build houses in Christiania. Small group cruising is available with Hey Captain; further options include GoBoat, a self-drive boat cruise powered by solar energy, and Green Kayak, where travelers can enjoy a free kayak trip if they help clean up the harbor.

Stroll from Nyhavn to Tivoli Gardens, the city’s historic central theme park. Said to be an inspiration for Walt Disney, its beautiful gardens house rollercoasters and fairground attractions as well as a range of restaurants and eateries at every price point. Stop here for lunch, and explore the park at your leisure.

Spend your first evening in the city in the Meatpacking District of Copenhagen, Kødbyen. This small area is packed with bars, restaurants and cafés and acts as a good introduction to Copenhagen’s food scene. Take your pick from modern New Nordic cuisine, Mexican food cooked by ex-noma chefs, great pizza and fantastic fresh fish.

Photo:Martin Heiberg - Copenhagen Media Center

Day 2: Uncovering Copenhagen’s unique spirit

After breakfast at your hotel, rent a bike and cycle to the Danish Architecture Center. This museum and cultural center introduces Danish design and offers insights into Danish life. If you’re interested in Danish design, it’s a short bike ride from here to DesignMuseum Danmark for a deeper dive into the subject. Have lunch, or at least a coffee, in its lovely cafe.

Next, cycle to Refshaleøen, the city’s former boatbuilding area, which is now a hive of creative activity. Climb the unique ski hill Copenhill and ski down it (if you like!); swim and sauna at La Banchina or CopenHot, and eat at the street food market Reffen. For extra Danish points, stop by at Lille Bakery for a donut. This area of the city also has a modern art gallery, Copenhagen Contemporary, a wakeboarding park and a climbing center and it’s easy to spend an afternoon exploring its activities.

Book into Absalon for dinner to round off your day of living Danishly: the community center in a former church in the city center offers communal dining and a chance to mingle with locals. If you want to continue after dinner, look up the first Mikkeller bar in Vesterbro, a few streets away.

Photo:Kim Wyon

Day 3: Catch Copenhagen’s royal fever

Denmark’s new king was a cause for celebration at the start of 2024 and is a great reason to explore the city’s royal heritage. Start at Rosenborg Palace, a beautiful Dutch Renaissance style castle surrounded by rose gardens in the heart of the city. After strolling its royal rooms and marveling at its treasures, follow the King’s Guard down to Amalienborg Palace, the home of the King of Denmark. The King’s Guard changes over at 12pm daily, and processes from their barracks by Rosenborg Castle through the cobbled streets of the city to Amalienborg accompanied by music. It’s like something from a fairytale.

Take a well earned break at royal-approved Conditori La Glace before walking to Nørreport Station to take the metro to the city’s newest district, Carlsberg Byen. Hear about family feuds and brew your own beer at the Home of Carlsberg beer experience and drop into Kobenhavns Bageri for a classic Danish pastry.

From Michelin-starred restaurants to natural wine bars, Nørrebro is your evening playground. Stroll through Assistens cemetery, where fairytale author Hans Christian Andersen is buried, and discover the area’s diverse food and drink scene.

Rosenborg Castle in King's Garden, Copenhagen.

Photo:Martin Heiberg - Copenhagen Media Center

Day 4: Grab a Danish and discover the food scene

Don’t eat too much for breakfast on day four: you’ll need a little space for what comes next. The morning brings together two of Copenhagen’s great loves, food and cycling, in a tour around the city’s best cafés, markets and restaurants. Tour operators The Cycling Chef, Foods of Copenhagen and Cycling Copenhagen can all arrange a trip that combines tasting key city flavors including smørrebrød and licorice in an active adventure around the city’s streets.

Depending on your schedule, you can spend the afternoon in Frederiksberg Gardens, a romantic oasis in the middle of the city, take a day trip to the Louisiana Museum of Modern Art, a 40-minute train ride from the city’s central station, or explore more Danish design and fashion on a guided shopping trip before returning to the airport to fly home.