The Danish capital of Copenhagen is a hugely underrated gem of a city. Compact, walkable and fun-filled its a great choice for a short city break or weekend away. It makes for the perfect escape in order to surround yourself with inner-city greenery, culture, nordic design trends and canal-side hangouts. Copenhagen is chic, sophisticated and effortlessly cool. 3 days in the perfect amount of time to explore Copenhagen and get to know it’s charm.
Recently, I was given the chance to spend a whole 3 days exploring and wandering through Copenhagen’s delightful neighbourhoods and parks, visiting all the most famous places and the lesser-known ones too. Copenhagen has a buzzing cafe and arts scene and an air of sustainability- Denmark really is at the forefront of green action against climate change. Keep reading for the perfect little 3-day itinerary for Copenhagen.
Getting around Copenhagen has never been so easy. The city has an extremely well maintained public transportation system which is fast, efficient and easy to use. What’s great about Copenhagen is that buying single tickets is still an option, both on the buses and on the metro. This is great if you want to cycle or walk for the majority of your stay and only use public transport a few times. The airport is serviced by both train and metro and it’ll take you about 15 minutes to get to the centre of the city.
Metro & Bus – If you’re staying in Copenhagen for around 3 days and you’re going to be using public transport a lot a good investment might be the City Pass. It’s a digital transport ticket for travel over a 24, 48, 72, 96 or 120 hour period, including travel through Zones 1-4 and the airport. Prices start from DKK80.
WHERE TO STAY
Splurge – Manon Les Suites Guldsmeden – A no-thrills building from the outside, this has got to be the coolest hotel in Copenhagen if not Europe and if you’re looking for a special place to stay this will be it. Sleek Danish design meets modern kitsch- spacious, well designed and the lighting in this property is perfect. You may have already seen their courtyard pool somewhere on Instagram or Pinterest but there is so much more to this hotel. Their bar and restaurant are fantastic and the rooms are large, sleek and they get plenty of natural light too. Their gym is one of the best hotel gyms I’ve been to.
Mid– Copenhagen Admiral Hotel – Set in an 18th Century listed building this fabulous hotel combines centuries-old Scandinavian architecture with modern Danish design. Each room is spacious, well lit and brilliantly designed with minimal Danish furniture and finishings that will make design lovers never want to leave. Each room also sports the original Pomeranian pine beams of the building and its unique brickwork and archways. Added touches that will make your stay even better is the desk and workspace in each room, free wifi and a delicious organic breakfast served every morning. Did I mention it’s only a 5-minute walk from Nyhavn?
Budget – Annex Copenhagen – Annex is the perfect no-frills budget accommodation, well, budget for Copenhagen that is. While the cheapest rooms come with a shared bathroom the hotel is clean, brightly painted and airy. Rooms are simple but comfortable and the location cannot be any better- you’re 10 minutes walk from most of Copenhagen’s best attractions.
As you’ll probably guess Copenhagen, like the rest of Scandinavia isn’t cheap. If you’re on a serious budget I’d suggest staying in a hostel dorm or sharing an Airbnb with friends. We did the latter and it cost us about £25/$30 per person per night which is great for Copenhagen.
If you haven’t yet signed up for Airbnb and you’d like to try it, sign up here for $40 off your first stay.
WHERE TO EAT
Copenhagen is the capital of healthy, local and seasonal cuisine. In one of the greenest nations in the world, locally grown ingredients are at the centre of food culture here. Things you simply have to try is smørrebrød, the famous Danish open sandwich, danish pastries which are delicious and abundant all over the capital and porridge, a Danish staple since Viking times.
Plant Power Food – For some of the best plant-based nosh in the city head straight here. Their menu is creative, colourful and absolutely delicious and includes dishes like vegan smørrebød, buddha bowls, wraps and a variety of tapas. If there’s one restaurant you have to go to in Copenhagen it’s here. Check out their menu here. Open 7 days a week from 10 am-10 pm.
Kosmos K – A lovely, cosy, raw vegan restaurant with a varied menu that includes wraps, salads, amazing freshly pressed juices and desserts. It’s a great place to stop for lunch while walking around and exploring the centre of the city. Open for breakfast and lunch only, closed on Sundays.
Grød – The world’s first porridge bar. If you love starting your day with a bowl of hot, delicious porridge, this place is a must for breakfast. Porridge is a pretty big deal in Denmark and they do it very well. Choose between a variety of toppings such as fruit compotes, fresh fruit, caramel sauce, nuts and seeds and nut butter. Open from 9 am- 9 pm every day.
Coffee shops – Copenhagen has some fantastic cafes and coffee shops and if you like your morning cup of Joe, you could spend forever exploring them all. Here are some of my favourites:
Atelier September – Light, cosy and incredibly photogenic this cafe serves up Danish brunch classics with a modern twist and Japanese influence. Its the place to go if you love matcha and their coffee is pretty amazing too. Grab a seat at the communal tables order avocado toast or their porridge and plan your day.
The Coffee Collective – Modern, slick and minimalist, this coffee shop screams ‘hygge’ and it’s the nicest space to sit, take some time out and sip some coffee. The coffee here is of high quality and well prepared.
Kaffebaren Copenhagen Coffee Lab – This cute underground coffee shop in the city centre, with its inconspicuous entrance and cosy workspace, is a great place to stop if you’re in need of a pick me up.
3 DAY ITINERARY COPENHAGEN
Once you’ve arrived, checked-in to your hotel or Airbnb and you’re ready to start exploring. Why not start your Copenhagen itinerary at the most iconic location, Nyhavn– one of the oldest areas of Copenhagen? No doubt you’ll be back here so don’t spend too long admiring the centuries-old buildings and canal reflections. From Nyhavn make your way to Ofelia Plads located just a short walk away, it’s a lovely dock to just wander around check out any temporary art exhibitions or installations going on.
Then head north to Amalienborg, home of the Danish Royal Family. Its consists of four grand, classical palace buildings all facing out onto an octagonal courtyard. In the centre of the courtyard, you’ll find an equestrian statue of King Frederick V- founder of Amalienborg. It is possible to go inside the palace buildings and admire the rococo interiors, we didn’t however due to lack of time.
On the opposite bank of the main canal, you’ll see the imposing modern structure of the Opera House. Head back to the canal and head north alongside it admiring the luxurious schooners and private yachts. Eventually, you’ll get to the Little Mermaid– the symbol of Copenhagen and Denmark. She is perched on a slab of stone, by the water’s edge bringing you back to the innocent tales of Hans Christian Andersen.
Once snapping all the photos you please, loop back around to Kastellet. On Google Maps this peculiar fort looks like a pentagon and surrounded completely by a moat, the only ways to get in or out are to the north and south of the structure. It is one of the best-preserved fortresses in all of Northern Europe but now serves as a public park and historic site. Walk around and admire the historic, orange-painted architecture, windmill and gardens. If you’re staying around here Kastellet is also a great place for a morning or evening run with the locals.
Take the southern Kastellet exit and make your way south back down to the Denmark Design Museum. If you’re in the mood for a museum and only planning on visiting one in Copenhagen I would recommend this one. Danish design has a reputation in the design world and for good reason. They perfectly combine and balance simplicity with practicality and aesthetics. In short, everything here looks pretty, well designed and would last for years in your home. The museum takes you on a tour of the history of Danish design and gives you insight into some classics you’ll most probably have seen before.
On your exit from the design museum, you can admire Frederik’s Church, just a stone’s throw away, one of the most lavish baroque churches in Copenhagen.
From here it’s a short walk back to Nyhavn. On a nice evening grab a beer, preferably a Carlsberg, from a nearby store (there’s one just behind the canal on the north side), sit on the canal bank and enjoy the view as the sun sets over the city. The perfect way to end your first day of this 3 day Copenhagen itinerary.
Planning a trip to Copenhagen? Check out the 10 Epic Things To Do in Copenhagen
Start your second day of this 3 day Copenhagen itinerary by heading to Freetown Christiania located on the island of Christianshavn. Christiania, a hippie, marihuana-smoking commune governed by its own rules and laws was founded as a military squat in 1971. Some 1,000 people currently live there permanently in their own communities, abiding by their own rules. It’s an interesting place to go for a walk in. You can visit the many shops, cafes or bars and support the communities. Even though it isn’t legal you’ll also find residents selling marihuana on stalls guarded closely incase of oncoming raids.
Next, head back over the main canal to Christiansborg Palace, the seat of Danish Parliament. This huge neo-baroque building houses all three branches of the Danish government and much of it is open to the public. You can take a tour of some of the reception rooms and the entrance halls. Even if you don’t enter, it’s still a pretty imposing building from the outside.
Across the street from Christiansborg, you’ll find the start of Copenhagen’s famous shopping areas. Spend the next few hours exploring the shops particularly the Lego store, and the splendid Danish architecture they’re housed in. Three streets you’ll want to look out for are Magstræde, Strøget and Reno Boulevard. These streets are some of the oldest in the country. Their cute houses are painted warm pastel colours, each one beautifully matching the next. It honestly feels like you’re walking through a fairytale.
In the evening it’s time to explore one of Copenhagen’s most famous sights, Tivoli Gardens. Tivoli is one of the oldest theme parks in the world. It was originally built to help keep the Kings of Denmark mind’s off politics by giving them an area to amuse themselves. Over the decades it’s transformed itself into the park it is today. It’s full of both traditional and modern rides and rollercoasters as well as variously themed buildings containing a variety of different shows and performances. The best time to visit in in the evening as the whole park comes to life after dark, glowing in magical fairy lights. Thank goodness it’s open until 11 pm most days or even midnight on Fridays and Saturdays.
Check out and leave your bags at the hotel. Before leaving this fabulous city it’s a good idea to have a look at some neighbourhoods outside of the city centre. Take the metro to Nørrebro and take a walk around Superkilen Park, a forward-thinking, contemporary urban space with running, track, playground and skateboard ramp- it’s a great place to get a taste of unique Danish urban planning.
Then, hop back on the train and head to Vesterbro neighbourhood- one of the coolest in Copenhagen. Spend the rest of the trip walking around the neighbourhoods visiting Instagram-worthy cafes and restaurants and stores. If you are staying for another night I’d highly recommend coming to the Meatpacking District in Vesterbro in the evening for dinner and drinks.
If you have time or are staying in Copenhagen for more than 3 days or a weekend I would also recommend checking out Grundvigs Church (Kirke) in Nordvest. This church has some spectacular modernist-gothic architecture that’s super impressive for a photographer or architecture buff. Other sights to see if you have more time include the Botanical Gardens and Rosenborg Castle.
↠ This city can be expensive, even if for just a 3-day itinerary of Copenhagen. If you’re on a budget try to stay in a hostel or at an Airbnb where you can prepare your own meals. I’d also recommend walking and or cycling around the city. The city is compact and walking is a great way to see the centre.
↠ If you’re planning on going to a few attractions and museums and using public transportation, I’d highly recommend looking into the Copenhagen Card. Through the purchase of the card, public transportation is free during the specified time and it included entrance to 87 museums and attractions.
↠ Tour the canals. The canals make Copenhagen unique and going on a canal boat tour is one of the best ways to see the city from the water. You can buy tickets and hop on from just opposite Christiansborg Palace.
I’d love to hear your thoughts and questions about the 3 day itinerary for Copenhagen. Leave them below.
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