How To Spend A Weekend In Copenhagen, Denmark

Copenhagen is a name synonymous with modern Scandinavian lifestyle. Known as the home of hygge and happiness, the Danish capital city is packed with historic landmarks, intriguing architecture, family-friendly attractions and exceptional restaurants.

Whether you’re curious about Denmark’s status as one of the happiest places on earth, seeking to uncover more details about the history of the Viking Age, or simply looking for an enjoyable city break, Copenhagen offers something to satisfy most tastes.

One week is about right to experience everything Copenhagen has to offer, but most people visit the Scandinavian city for a weekend. Whether you’re on a city break or the beginning of a Scandinavian adventure, here’s how to make the most of 48 hours in the stylish city.

Day one: orientation and the basics

On the first day, take some time to get to know the city. By far the best way to do this is on two wheels.

A cycle tour

When in Copenhagen, do as the locals do and get around by bike. It’s impossible to miss the dominance of the bicycle in Denmark’s capital. Stepping out of Copenhagen Central Station, visitors are greeted with an endless ocean of parked bicycles used by commuters.

A cycle tour is especially useful on the first morning to orient yourself and pick out highlights you may wish to explore later. Although many locals own their own bikes, plenty of rental companies exist primarily for tourists. Bike Copenhagen offers 2-hour guided tours or full-day rental for those who want to explore on their own.

The National Museum

Denmark’s National Museum is a good place to spend the afternoon, diving into an overarching review of Danish history. There is of course a strong focus on the Viking Age. Highlights include the legendary Viking ship Roskilde 6, the treasure collection Fæstedskatten and a cinematic story of life in the Viking Age.

Elsewhere in the museum, the vast collection of Middle Ages and Renaissance artwork together with an honest review of the history of Danish colonialism are among the other highlights.

Design Museum

While the National Museum dives deep into Danish and Scandinavian history, the Design Museum takes a look at the more recent development of contemporary Danish design. It’s a must for fans of Scandinavian furniture.

Day two: castles and gardens

On the second day, take some time to experience some of the beautiful castles and gardens that Copenhagen is known for. You won’t have time to get to all of these, so choose wisely.

Rosenborg Castle

Art, crown jewels and other treasures of the royal family are housed within this impressive building originally built as a summer house in the early 17th century for King Christian IV.

Despite its location in central Copenhagen, the castle is surrounded by parkland. The formal gardens in front of the castle and nearby Botanical Gardens are worth a stroll if the weather is on your side.

Tivoli Gardens

A perennial family favorite for generations of Danes, Tivoli Gardens is a traditional amusement park and pleasure gardens at the very heart of Copenhagen. A visit here is a must if you are traveling with kids.

Even if you’re not a fan of theme park rides, the gardens themselves are a pleasurable way to spend some time. The separation of entrance tickets from ride tickets ensures this remains reasonable value.

Frederiksberg Palace

This Baroque residence and formal gardens served as the royal family’s summer residence until the mid-19th century. Recently restored, the palace is today home to the Royal Danish Military Academy.

Guided tours of the impressive palace rooms are infrequent but the beautifully-kept lakes, canals and shrubbery of the English-style gardens are always open during daylight hours. Don’t miss the Chinese Pavilion and the Temple of Apis.

Where to stay and eat in Copenhagen

With 15 Michelin star restaurants, Copenhagen is the undisputed culinary capital of the Nordic region. Booking in advance is essential to get into any of them, with waiting lists many months long for the three-star restaurants Geranium and Noma.

For a more down-to-earth experience, head to the meatpacking district in Vesterbro. Enjoy Texas barbecue along with one of 22 craft beers at the WarPigs brewpub, tasting dishes at the trendy butcher-restaurant Fleisch, or cheap, homemade burgers at Tommi’s Burger Joint.

For a room with a view, it’s hard to beat 71 Nyhavn, a historic, elegant hotel on the corner of Copenhagen’s most famous waterway.

Budget seekers should consider the various modern hotels under the Wakeup Copenhagen umbrella. Rooms are tight but so is the price, coming in at $100 per night with advance booking.

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