I’m a big fan of the city break. Whilst I’m partial to a bit of sun, glorious white sandy beaches and cocktails in a tropical paradise, European cities make for a lovely (and affordable!) short stay. I’m not sure whether it’s experiencing the differences in culture, language, entertainment or food separated by just a couple of hundred miles across the continent, but I’ve had fabulous stays in cities such as Budapest, Berlin and Barcelona. All of them have been pleasantly memorable and beautifully eccentric in their own ways after peeling back the touristy-veneer.
I was thoroughly looking forward to Copenhagen, not just because of the company and its closeness to my birthday, but because I’ve wanted to visit a Scandinavian country for some time. I’m a relaxed and laid-back kind of fellow (believe it or not) and the Scandinavian way of life, concept of ‘hygge’ (roughly translatable to ‘cosy’), approach to wellbeing, food and beautiful design really appeals to me. Fortunately, Copenhagen did not disappoint in the mere twenty four hours that I found myself in the Danish capital and I concluded on my departure that the city’s charm, food and drink, history, culture, friendly people and endless amount of things to do make it an ideal place for a mini-getaway.
So, I hear you ask.. “I’ve got twenty four hours to see Copenhagen, I’ve heard it’s a little bit pricey but I want to make the most of it. What can I do?”. Well *friendly chuckle*, I’ve put together my top things to do in Copenhagen, just for you! Buckle up.
Top Things to do in Copenhagen
Copenhagen Free Walking Tour
As mentioned in my Berlin post, I love the free walking tours you find in most major European cities and Copenhagen’s option was no different (see Free Walking Tours Copenhagen). Full of top anecdotes and good banter, our guide Jarod spent 2.5 hours showing us the main sights and sounds of Copenhagen, starting at City Hall and finishing up by Copenhagen’s docks. The main city tour takes in:
- Copenhagen City Hall
- Christiansborg Palace
- The old City Centre
- Nyhavn Harbour
- Royal Palace
This tour was probably the best European walking tour I’ve done to date, hugely informative, good fun and a great way to see the city – knowledge which came in great use later as we decided what else to do with our time remaining and navigated about on our own. They also offer a city pub crawl and a tour of the ‘alternative’ Copenhagen. For the price of a healthy tip for your guide, this is an absolute no brainier.
Copenhagen Street Food on Papirøen (Paper Island)
Copenhagen is EXPENSIVE; a bottle of Coke is £3 and meals will set you back some serious wonga. No worries though because Copenhagen has an absolute gem of an indoor street food market catering for just about every taste imaginable; tacos, burgers,Chinese, sushi, Moroccan, Indian, Danish and a pleathora of dessert options such as sweet pancakes, churros, chocolates and icecream. Oh and plenty of beer. I enjoyed pulled duck in a sweet brioche bun, sweet potato fries and a blood orange Mojito, all of which were simply devine. With plenty of seating and good music, this huge indoor facility (+ with outdoor seating for when the sun is shining) is a must-visit when in Copenhagen and won’t break the bank either.
Copenhagen’s Tivoli Gardens
The world’s second oldest amusement park, Tivoli Gardens, is another must-do when in Copenhagen. Full of charm, old amusements and beautiful gardens to enjoy in the sunshine, it’s a lovely way to kill a few hours whilst being slap bang in the middle of the city.
General admission isn’t extortionate and rides/amusements are entirely optional, allowing you to simply soak up the chilled atmosphere over a drink whilst catching a performance or two, or enjoying the manicured gardens if that takes your fancy. A cool place to hang out with family and friends for sure.
Take a stroll down Copenhagen’s main shopping street, Strøget
Copenhagen’s main and longest pedestrianised street in the world, Strøget is a great way to kill some time or enjoy a bit of retail therapy. Sadly like most cities there is a host of globalised shops you’d find anywhere else like Michael Korrs and Zara, but there are some lovely independents down here too (plus bakeries!). The architecture is pretty neat and there are a number of outdoor cafes to sit and enjoy a drink from, people watching.
You may also see the changing of the guard as I did, which was an awesome experience.
Strøget is also home to Denmark’s most famous export (and I’m not talking about 90’s band Aqua or Carlsberg); I’m talking about Lego. With wall-to-wall collections, Lego’s flagship store is a world of marvel, even for the less inclined to pick up a brick or two.
When in Denmark, grab a Danish pastry!
You really can’t come all the way to Denmark and not have one of its finest contributions to the culinary world; the Danish Pastry. You’ll find a couple of good bakeries dotted about Copenhagen’s Strøget that sell fresh pastries; bag yourself a pastry (or in my case, two) and enjoy.
Grabbing a hot-dog from a street vendor
And on a similar food theme…
Clearly the Danes have taken a leaf out of the German’s book when it comes to the street-served Bratwurst; most major intersections have a hot dog vendor, offering a whole host of options and toppings. The hot dogs were so delicious I had two! A quick and cheap lunch to enjoy before getting back to exploring the sights and sounds of Copenhagen.
Climbing The Tower, Christiansborg Copenhagen Palace
Copenhagen’s Christiansborg Palace is home of Danish Parliament and Supreme Court, with parts of it used by the Royal Family – but remains open for tourists to visit. The best part is the tower, which is entirely free to visit and after a short queue gives amazing views of downtown Copenhagen.
So, visiting and finding things to do in Copenhagen, Denmark..
I wish I’d had more than twenty four hours to enjoy Copenhagen, it’s such a beautiful, relaxed and interesting break. Still, the above recommendations meant that I was able to enjoy the Danish capital without breaking the bank and I left having really enjoyed my short trip. Based on several European trips, this probably ranks as my favourite destination thus far. Keep an eye out for my upcoming review of Hotel Absalon where I stayed.
I shall be back soon Copenhagen 🙂