It is easy to fall under the spell of Copenhagen, the capital of Denmark. Are you ready to discover the city with our guide? Here are some tips and inspirations to organize your trip among Christmas markets, warm cups of glögg and picturesque corners.
Top things to do in Copenhagen in two days
Whether you choose to visit Copenhagen at Christmas or some other time of the year, the city will embrace you with its fairytale charm and the hygge atmosphere that is considered the “Danish recipe for happiness”.
Two days in Copenhagen are enough to see the main attractions, but we suggest spending three or four days in the city. This is the only way you can enjoy the Danish hyggeligt lifestyle, which means enjoying the simple pleasures of everyday life.
If you are looking for a cheap place where to stay in Copenhagen, we recommend Danhostel Copenhagen City, a design hostel near the city center that offers dorm and private room accommodation.
Ready to discover Copenhagen with our guide? Here are 13 things not to miss in the Danish capital and lots of tips on where to eat and how to get around the city.
- 1. Nyhavn, the ancient harbour of Copenhagen
- 2. The Royal Library of Copenhagen
- 3. Børsen, the stock exchange palace
- 4. Christiansborg Palace
- 5. Amalienborg Palace and Marmorkirken
- 6. Kastellet fortress and the Little Mermaid statue
- 7. Rosenborg Castle
- 8. Nørrebro and Superkilen park
- 9. Strøget, the shopping street of Copenhagen
- 10. Rundetårn, the round tower of Copenhagen
- 11. The Tivoli Gardens
- 12. Designmuseum Danmark, the museum of design
- Other things to see in Copenhagen
- Copenhagen Card
- Copenhagen at Christmas
- Where to eat in Copenhagen
- Where to stay in Copenhagen
1. Nyhavn, the ancient harbor of Copenhagen
The colorful houses reflected in the Nyhavn canal are probably the first image that comes to mind when thinking of Copenhagen. The old harbor of the city is now the center of city life, perfect for taking lots of travel pictures.
Built by King Christian V of Denmark in the second half of the 17th century, the Nyhavn is lined with brightly painted terraced houses, cafes and restaurants. The writer Hans Christian Andersen lived here for about 18 years – this setting must have been a great inspiration for his fairytales.
During Christmas time, the atmosphere is even more magical thanks to the traditional markets along the canal and in the adjacent Kongens Nytorv Square. Among piles of wool caps, nutcrackers and hot mulled wine, your heart will open up to the joy of Christmas.
2. The Royal Library of Copenhagen, the “Black Diamond”
For book lovers, no jewel is more precious than the Black Diamond, the new building of the Royal Library of Denmark. This magnificent black granite palace overlooks the harbor, which can be seen through the large windows.
On the ground floor, there are a café, a shop and a scenic escalator leading to the upper floors. Here the new building joins the old library through a long corridor: not to be missed is the northern reading room, with magnificent lamps and tables for reading.
The Royal Library of Copenhagen has the largest collection of books in Northern Europe: founded in 1648, it contains over six million volumes today. Sounds like heaven, doesn’t it?
Royal Library of Copenhagen
- Open Monday to Friday (8 a.m. – 9 p.m.), Saturday (9 a.m. – 7 p.m.), closed on Sundays.
- Free entrance
3. Børsen, the stock exchange building of Copenhagen
The stock exchange palace of Copenhagen is one of the most unusual buildings in the city. Although it is not open to the public, we recommend a stop to admire its architecture from the outside, with the 56 m high spire formed by the intertwined tails of four dragons.
4. Christiansborg Palace
Christiansborg Palace is the seat of the Danish Parliament and the Supreme Court, but some quarters – such as the Royal Reception Rooms and the Palace Chapel – are also used by the Royal Family of Denmark.
We have only observed it from the outside, but the Palace is worth a proper visit to immerse yourself in the history and architecture of this beautiful building.
- Adult tickets DKK 175
- With the Copenhagen Card you can visit the ruins of the fortress, the kitchens and the royal stables for free.
- Online tickets for Christiansborg Palace
- Opening hours
5. Amalienborg Palace and Marmorkirken
Nestled in the elegant royal quarter, Amalienborg Palace is the official residence of the royal family, now led by Queen Margrethe II.
The building dates back to the eighteenth century and is formed by four distinct palaces, arranged around a vast paved square. Here the changing of the guard ceremony takes place every day at noon, and we were lucky enough to witness it.
Like Christiansborg Palace, Amalienborg Castle is also open to the public: you can visit the museum in the palace of Christian VIII and the palace of Christian VII to discover the history of the Danish monarchy.
- Open Tuesday to Sunday (10 a.m. – 3 p.m.)
- Adult tickets DKK 95,admission included in the Copenhagen Card
A stone’s throw from Amalienborg Palace is the imposing Marmokirken (also called Frederikskirken), a magnificent neo-baroque church whose dome was inspired by that of St. Peter in Rome.
6. The Kastellet Fortress and the Little Mermaid
To fully appreciate the Kastellet you should observe it from above: this fortress, built in 1664 by Frederick III, has the shape of a star. The green ramparts and the impressive moat enclose a series of 18th-century barracks painted a bright red.
Do not miss the spectacular windmill that stands on the King’s Bastion, in the southwest corner of the fortress.
As you leave the Kastellet through the Northern Gate, you will find yourself within walking distance of the Little Mermaid, the statue symbol of Copenhagen. The delicate creature depicted by Andersen in his famous tale awaits you at the entrance to the harbor, her melancholy gaze fixed on the sea.
7. Rosenborg Castle
With its characteristic shape and bizarre towers, Rosenborg Castle is definitely our favorite. It is located in a large park, Kongens Have, perfect for a picnic in the summer.
The palace was built as a summer residence between 1606 and 1633 by King Christian IV. The interior has maintained the original furnishings: wooden panels, paintings, tapestries, ceramics, even an ancient music machine.
The most fascinating parts of the castle are the Knights’ Hall, used for receptions and as a throne room, and the Museum of Royal Danish Collection, which exhibits possessions of the Royal Family and the Crown Jewels. One cannot help but be amazed at the magnificence of these artifacts.
- In summer open from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., reduced hours during the rest of the year
- Adult tickets DKK 120
- Admission included in the Copenhagen Card
- The visit takes about 2 hours
8. Nørrebro and Superkilen park
Nørrebro is Copenhagen’s multicultural district, full of street art, lively cafés and beer gardens. The different ethnicities of Nørrebro’s inhabitants blend into Superkilen, the park designed by the art group Superflex with objects from all over the world.
There are benches from Brazil, signs from China and Russia, a fountain from Morocco and soft lines drawn on the ground resembling a green hill. It will look great on your Instagram profile!
9. Strøget, Copenhagen’s shopping street
If you are not afraid to reach for your wallet and go shopping, Strøget is the perfect place for you in Copenhagen. This central pedestrian area is a hub of shops: we loved Illums Bolighus, a department store full of Scandinavian design products.
10. Rundetårn, the round tower of Copenhagen
This red-brick tower in the city center was built in 1643 as an observatory for astronomer Tycho Brahe. Today the observatory is still functioning and you can climb to the top of the Rundetårn to admire Copenhagen from above.
Inside the tower there is a helicoidal ramp leading to the top: they say that Tsar Peter the Great climbed it on his horse! The tower is mentioned in various tales by Andersen, for example The Magic Tinderbox.
- Open every day from 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. (April-September) or from 10 a.m to 6 p.m. (October-March)
- Adult ticket DKK 25
- Admission included in the Copenhagen Card
11. Tivoli Gardens
Close your eyes and imagine reopening them in an enchanted garden. Snow-covered trees, threads of light, small wooden houses with inviting scents, colorful carousels… In winter the Tivoli Gardens turn into a huge Christmas village waiting to win your heart.
Opened in 1843, Tivoli is Copenhagen’s amusement park, the second oldest in the world. The attractions inside the park are divided into thematic areas that will allow you to travel across the world: you will come across Japanese pagodas, Chinese markets, pirate ships, Middle Eastern roller coasters…
The best time to visit the Tivoli Gardens is in the evening when the lights fill them with splendor. Strolling through the park during Christmas time is the most hygge thing in the world: you could not but feel happy among Christmas decorations, cotton candy carts, mugs of glögg and caramelized almonds.
- Full ticker DKK 135, entrance + illimited rides DKK 409
- Admission included in the Copenhagen Card
- You will find many restaurants and stalls where to eat inside the park
- Tivoli online entrance tickets
- Openings change depending on the time of year, updated opening hours here
12. Designmuseum Danmark, the design museum of Copenhagen
Copenhagen is the ideal destination for design lovers. Danish designers are among the most famous in the world: pieces of furniture designed by them have become iconic, entering the homes of millions of people around the globe.
Visiting the Designmuseum Danmark allows you to take an advanced course on Danish design. Our favorite part is the one dedicated to chairs, including some celebrities, such as the Round Chair used by Nixon and Kennedy in their TV debates.
If they all looked the same before, after a trip to Copenhagen you will never look at a chair or a lamp in the same way again!
- Open from Tuesday to Sunday, 10 a.m. – 6 p.m.; on Wednesday open until 9 p.m.
- Adult tickets DKK 115, free admission for students and under 26
- Admission included in the Copenhagen Card
Other things to see in Copenhagen
Given the short duration of our trip, we had to exclude some attractions from our itinerary. However, we would have liked to visit other sites in the city, such as:
- the Statens Museum for Kunst, the best art museum in Denmark
- Freetown Christiania, an intentional community created in Copenhagen in the 70s and inspired to the hippy ideals;
- the Nationalmuseet, to discover Danish history from early times to the present day (buy the entrance tickets for the musesum).
Copenhagen Card: how it works and why to buy it
The Copenhagen Card is a tourist pass that includes free admission to 87 attractions in the city and unlimited transport throughout the Copenhagen region, including transport to and from the airport.
Depending on the length of your trip you can choose between different options:
- 24 hours, 62 €
- 48 hours, 92 €
- 72 hours, 113 €
- 96 hours, 132 €
- 120 hours, 148 €
If you plan to visit many museums and palaces, the Copenhagen Card is a convenient solution to save money and get around the city on public transport without worrying about getting a ticket. You can also buy the Copenaghen Card on GetYourGuide.
Things to do in Copenhagen at Christmas
We have already mentioned it: Copenhagen at Christmas is truly magical. The Christmas decorations make the streets of the city like sparkling jewels, and everywhere there are markets where you can buy souvenirs or stop for a snack and a cup of glögg.
The most popular Christmas markets in Copenhagen are:
- the market in the Tivoli Gardens
- the market along the Nyhavn and in Kongens Nytorv Square
- the market in Højbro Plads, right in the city center, just a short walk from the Strøget.
Where to eat in Copenhagen
Eating in Copenhagen will make everyone happy, except for your wallet. The city has a high concentration of Michelin-starred restaurants where you can taste the delicacies of New Nordic cuisine and super hygge cafés.
You cannot leave the Danish capital without trying smørrebrød, the typical open sandwich garnished with salmon, herring, shrimp or sliced and decorated with herbs.
We ate them for the first time at Hallernes Smørrebrød in the Torvehallerne KBH, Copenhagen’s covered market. Here you can find not only delicious Danish specialties but also fresh local products and get lost in a thousand scents and colors.
Okay, not exactly a typical food, but it is our tradition to taste a hamburger in every city we visit. It’s Burger was a second choice, but we were impressed with its great value for money.
For only 10 € you can get a burger, fries and a drink of your choice – a real bargain in Copenhagen.
Where to stay in Copenhagen: Danhostel Copenhagen City
We stayed at Danhostel Copenhagen City, a few minutes’ walk from the train station, Tivoli Gardens and downtown. We spent 227 € for two nights in a double room with breakfast included: not cheap, but it is difficult to find more affordable options.
How to reach Copenhagen from the airport
Thanks to the metro service it is very easy to reach the center of Copenhagen from the airport: the M2 line stops at Kongens Nytorv and Nørreport – about 14 minutes.
If you need to get to København H Central Station you can take the S-tog train, which takes about the same time. With the Copenhagen Card, you are entitled to free travel throughout the entire metropolitan area, including the airport.
We have reached the end of our guide. Copenhagen is a delightful city, and you will not help but fall in love with it. Do you have any questions or curiosities? Leave a comment!