Copenhagen Itinerary: A Guide to a Perfect Weekend Break

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Colorful Nyhavn canal with historic houses and ships in Copenhagen

Greetings, fellow adventurers! Get ready to immerse yourself in the rich history and lively culture of Copenhagen, the capital of Denmark. With this itinerary as your trusty companion, you’ll uncover the charm of colorful neighborhoods, indulge in delectable cuisine, and marvel at timeless attractions over an unforgettable weekend. So, sit back, relax, and prepare for a splendid 3 days in Copenhagen!

I was excited to book a trip to Copenhagen from Amsterdam and finally spent three days or weekends in this beautiful city. I booked the trip because I had extra fine hotels and resorts credit from the American Express platinum card. 

I booked a stay at Villa Copenhagen for two nights at $200 per night, with a $200 credit for a total of a $200 stay at a five-star hotel located directly next to Tivoli Gardens. The location couldn’t be any better for my weekend in Copenhagen.

The hotel is next to Copenhagen Central Station and within walking distance to key attractions like Christiansborg Palace and City Hall Square. Read my full review of the Villa Copenhagen to get a glimpse into the experience.

Planning Your Visit

Copenhagen waterfront architecture at dusk with lit windows and spire
Kyle Kroeger / ViaTravelers

Before you set out on your Copenhagen journey, knowing when to visit, how to navigate the city, and what to carry for the trip can turn a good trip into a great one. Copenhagen’s efficient transport system and comprehensive Copenhagen Card will ensure you experience the city fully.

What to Pack for Copenhagen

I visited Copenhagen in the winter. It was January, and the temperatures were 30° to 40°F with a little snow and frost in the mornings. I ended up flying Norwegian Air because the flight prices were great. 

They only allow one bag on board, so I went with the one-bag travel option of just a backpack, my Lowepro camera backpack, to make room for my camera equipment. Here’s what I packed:

  • Multiple long sleeves and double-layer long sleeves are important during European winters. I love these Smart Wool long sleeves.
  • Wool sweaters
  • A hoodie
  • A couple of pairs of jeans
  • My Olympus Mark II digital camera
  • Selected parka in navy
  • A beanie

Best Time to Visit

Scenic Copenhagen boat tour along historical waterfront
Kyle Kroeger / ViaTravelers

Winter in Copenhagen holds a charm markedly different from the warm months—from cozy European holiday markets to the twinkling lights around the city.

If you’re willing to embrace the cold, December through February offers a festive atmosphere, though you’ll want to dress warmly. Spring and early autumn are excellent choices for an ideal balance of pleasant weather and fewer crowds.

Getting to Copenhagen

Bustling Copenhagen Airport Terminal - Modern architecture, travelers, sRGB color photography, Journeys advertisement
Kyle Kroeger / ViaTravelers

My best flight option was leaving Amsterdam at 5 pm and arriving in Copenhagen at 6:20 pm. I took the train from the airport to Copenhagen, which cost 30 Danish krone (approximately $4-$5).

The train from the airport to Copenhagen Central Station is only three stops and a 13-minute ride. From the central station to my hotel was an easy 5-minute walk. You have to love cities with airports so close to the city center.

How to Get Around Copenhagen

Alt-Text: Red ticket vending machines at Copenhagen Airport offering train and bus tickets
Kyle Kroeger / ViaTravelers

Copenhagen’s transport options are robust and can be tailored to the length of your stay. For a 3-day or 4-day visit, consider renting a bike to explore like a local. Alternatively, use the S-train, buses, and harbor boats for convenient transit. Here’s a quick guide:

  • Biking: Ideal for seeing the city with freedom.
  • S-train: Connects central Copenhagen with outlying areas.
  • Buses & Harbour Buses: Offers expansive coverage, including scenic canal routes.

Copenhagen Card and City Maps

Eco-friendly Dantaxi outside Copenhagen Central Station, showcasing sustainable urban transportation and Copenhagen landmarks.
Kyle Kroeger / ViaTravelers

Invest in a Copenhagen Card to gain free entry to 80+ attractions and free public transport. Pair it with a Copenhagen map—readily available at tourist centers—to plan your daily route efficiently. This card is particularly valuable for a fully-packed itinerary, whether you spend 3 or 4 days in the city.

Famous Neighborhoods

Nighttime view of Copenhagen's Historic Meatpacking District, a vibrant urban hotspot (source: [Duo Collective](https://duocollective.com/blog/what-you-need-to-know-about-alt-text-and-seo/))
Kyle Kroeger / ViaTravelers

Explore Copenhagen’s charming districts to soak in its culture. These neighborhoods have distinct appeal in winter, often less crowded and more serene. Regardless of the season, the city offers a blend of historic landmarks and modern Scandinavian culture that shouldn’t be missed. Key neighborhoods to visit:

  • Nyhavn: Iconic canal district with colorful facades and boats lining the quay.
  • Meatpacking District: Once a gritty area, it is now a hub for nightlife and dining.
  • Christianshavn: Known for its canals and the free town of Christiania.
  • Vesterbro: A trendy neighborhood with creative shops and cafes.

Other Tips for Visiting Copenhagen

Row of Bikes Parked Outside Copenhagen Central Station
Kyle Kroeger / ViaTravelers
  • Biking: Copenhagen is very bike-friendly. You can rent a bike and easily navigate between these locations.
  • Photography: Bring your camera for the stunning architecture and lively street life. Early mornings in Nyhavn or the King’s Garden offer great lighting and fewer crowds.
  • Cultural Etiquette: When visiting places like Christiania, be mindful of local norms, especially regarding photography

Day One: Arriving in Copenhagen

Upon your arrival in Copenhagen, you are greeted by the cool embrace of the Nordic air, indicating the quintessential winter vibe of this city. Despite the late hour, the city is very much awake and ready to offer many experiences.

Nighttime view of Villa Copenhagen's historic, lit facade
Kyle Kroeger / ViaTravelers

I arrived at my hotel around 7 pm. However, if I had arrived in the morning, I would have immediately started with Tivoli Gardens and a museum. Instead, I opted to get my main nightlife and dining scene filled since it was a Friday night, and I arrived late.

Dinner at T37 Sharing Bar at Villa Copenhagen

Luxury dining at Villa Copenhagen with gourmet dish and craft beer
Kyle Kroeger / ViaTravelers

Since I did this trip solo and arrived in the evening, I planned to take a moment to enjoy the hotel for dinner. The Fine Hotels & Resorts booking includes a $100 experience credit and breakfast, so I used that for dinner. 

Explore Meatpacking District

Warpigs Brewpub in Copenhagen's Meatpacking District at Night
Kyle Kroeger / ViaTravelers

The Meatpacking District is a trendy neighborhood in Copenhagen located next to the train station with several amazing eateries, bars, and shops.

I love craft beer, so I wanted to check out a few nearby the hotel, most notably Warpigs Brewpub and Mikkeller. 

Inside Warpigs Brewpub, Copenhagen - Cozy corner with craft brews and spirits.
Kyle Kroeger / ViaTravelers

Once the city’s meat industry hotspot, it’s transformed into a modern nightlife and gastronomy center filled with trendy bars and restaurants.

  • Cozy Bars: For a leisurely evening, settle into one of the cozy bars where the warmth from indoor fireplaces contrasts with the brisk outdoors. The ambiance is perfect for relaxing after your flight.
  • Culinary Options: If hunger strikes, indulge in various dining options, from street food to gourmet delights. Food markets in the area are typically open until 10 PM, offering a variety of tastes from local and international cuisines.
  • Live Music and DJs: Dance your jet lag away at one of the clubs featuring local DJs or live music, embodying the spirited Danish nightlife.

Remember, Danes are known for their hygge—a sense of comfort and contentment. So, wrap up warm and allow yourself to soak in the late-night vibrancy of Copenhagen as your first impression.

Day Two: Walking Tour of the City Center

Embark on a journey through Copenhagen’s rich history and incredible culture, beginning with a local breakfast and ending with a serene palace visit under the city lights. Your day is dotted with iconic sights and picturesque views, ensuring a memorable experience.

Morning Breakfast at the Hotel

Charming street view of Rug Bakery at Villa Copenhagen with iconic red postboxes.
Kyle Kroeger / ViaTravelers

Start your day with a hearty breakfast at your hotel. Indulge in Danish delights such as Smørrebrød or fresh pastries alongside a robust coffee to fuel your morning adventures.

Walk through Strøget

Bustling Strøget Street Scene in Copenhagen, Denmark
Kyle Kroeger / ViaTravelers

After breakfast, stroll down Strøget, one of Europe’s longest pedestrian streets. This bustling thoroughfare is a shopper’s haven and home to several iconic landmarks, such as the Round Tower, and historical buildings that mirror Copenhagen’s architectural heritage.

  • Experience: Shopping, architecture
  • Notable Sights: Round Tower, historical buildings
  • Tips: Wear comfortable shoes, explore side streets

Spend the afternoon in Nyhavn

Nyhavn Harbor Copenhagen with colorful buildings and boats
Kyle Kroeger / ViaTravelers

By afternoon, make your way to the picturesque Nyhavn. The colorful facades and historic ships create an idyllic backdrop for lunch at a waterside eatery. Post-lunch, consider a canal boat tour for unique views of the city.

  • Sights to See: Harbor-front, heritage ships
  • Activity: Canal boat tour (recommended)
  • Dining Tip: Opt for seafood at the waterfront

Venture to Little Mermaid Statue

A short walk from Nyhavn brings you to the iconic Little Mermaid Statue, a tribute to Hans Christian Andersen’s fairy tale. Though modest in size, its significance and the serene park setting make it a must-visit.

  • Location: Langelinie Promenade
  • Views: Seaside and park
  • History: Inspired by Andersen’s fairy tale

Tour Christiania

Colorful Graffiti-Decorated Entrance of Freetown Christiania, Copenhagen, Denmark
Kyle Kroeger / ViaTravelers

After visiting the mermaid, delve into Copenhagen’s alternative side at Christiania. This unique community thrives with art, a distinct culture, and a spirit of independence.

Iconic Christiania Entrance Sign and Sculpture Against Blue Sky in Copenhagen, Denmark
Kyle Kroeger / ViaTravelers

Remember that photos are discouraged in certain areas out of respect for the local lifestyle. You must experience the bohemian culture and incredible street art here, but remember to respect privacy and the photography policy.

See Christiansborg Palace at Night

Enchanting evening view of Christiansborg Palace in Copenhagen, showcasing baroque architecture and twilight city photography (source: [Keys&Copy](https://keysandcopy.com/how-to-write-alt-text-for-images-and-improve-seo)).
Kyle Kroeger / ViaTravelers

Conclude your day at Christiansborg Palace, beautifully illuminated at night. The palace, housing the Danish Parliament, provides political significance and marvelous nighttime photography opportunities.

  • Sights to See: Illuminated facade, historical site
  • Time to Visit: Evening for lighting views
  • Tip: Enjoy the change from day to night atmosphere

Day Three: Visit the City Hall Square, Ny Carlsberg Glyptotek and Amalienborg Palace

People walking in front of Copenhagen City Hall on a cloudy day, showcasing red brick architecture, Danish flag, and vivid cultural activity.
Kyle Kroeger / ViaTravelers

My flight back to Amsterdam was in the afternoon, so I spent the morning exploring nearby City Hall Square after having breakfast at the hotel. Begin your final day by immersing yourself in art and history at the Ny Carlsberg Glyptotek.

Night-time view of Ny Carlsberg Glyptotek museum, Copenhagen, with lion statue and glowing facade
Kyle Kroeger / ViaTravelers

This museum, founded by the Carlsberg magnate Carl Jacobsen, offers an outstanding collection of Danish and French art and Greek and Roman sculptures. Before exploring the exhibitions, stroll through the Winter Garden, an indoor oasis.

  • Winter Garden: A light-filled atrium with tropical plants.
  • Danish Golden Age: Masterpieces from the 19th century.
  • French Impressionism: Works by Monet, Renoir, and more.

In the afternoon, make your way to Amalienborg Palace, the winter home of the Danish royal family. The palace consists of four identical classical palace façades around an octagonal courtyard. Here, the Changing of the Guard occurs daily at noon, a spectacle you don’t want to miss.

After witnessing the tradition, explore the Amalienborg Museum to gain an insight into royal history and the life of Denmark’s royals. As the chill sets in, experience the warmth of a nearby café or restaurant and reflect on the rich cultural experiences of your three days in Copenhagen.

See Related: Most Popular Tourist Destinations

Alternate Copenhagen Itinerary

Copenhagen Central Station and Tivoli Gardens at twilight
Kyle Kroeger / ViaTravelers

When you venture to Copenhagen, the goal is to immerse yourself in its understated charm and rich history without feeling rushed. With a well-planned itinerary, three days are adequate to experience a generous sampling of Copenhagen’s highlights.

Day 1: Hit the ground running and explore the city center. Begin at the historic City Hall Square, then weave through Strøget, one of Europe’s longest pedestrian streets. Highlights here include the Round Tower and Amalienborg Palace. Don’t miss the iconic Nyhavn Harbour with its picturesque canal and brightly colored townhouses.

Day 2: Reserve your energy for landmarks like The Little Mermaid statue, Kastellet, and Rosenborg Castle. You can explore these outdoor sights briskly due to the typically cool winter air.

Day 3: Your final day could involve more cultural pursuits, such as Christianshavn, Freetown Christiania, and the Botanical Gardens. Each offers unique insights into Copenhagen’s varied fabric.

Here is another perspective of the itinerary and duration for each activity.

Day Activity Location/Address Opening Hours Approximate Duration
1 The Little Mermaid Statue Langelinie, 2100 København Ø, Denmark Open 24 hours 1 hour
1 Nyhavn Nyhavn, 1051 København K, Denmark Open 24 hours 2-3 hours
2 Tivoli Gardens Vesterbrogade 3, 1630 København V, Denmark 11:00 – 23:00 3-4 hours
2 National Museum of Denmark Prinsens Palæ, Ny Vestergade 10, 1471 København K, Denmark 10:00 – 17:00 2-3 hours
3 Christiansborg Palace Prins Jørgens Gård 1, 1218 København, Denmark 10:00 – 17:00 3 hours

While three days in Copenhagen affords you a snapshot of this captivating city, extending your stay to five could deepen your understanding of Danish culture.

Leisurely mornings in cozy cafés and further exploration of the city’s eclectic neighborhoods provide a more nuanced perspective. But if time is of the essence, this compact three-day agenda ensures you capture the essence of Copenhagen.

Top Attractions and Sightseeing

Copenhagen, a city steeped in history and bursting with modern charm, offers attractions and sightseeing opportunities that cater to every interest. Plan your escape to these unmissable sites, from regal palaces to lush gardens. Read our full guide to the top things to do in Copenhagen.

Historic Sites and Museums

Night view of Ny Carlsberg Glyptotek Museum, Copenhagen, showcasing neoclassical architecture and historical sculptures.
Kyle Kroeger / ViaTravelers

Embark on a journey through time as you explore the Christiansborg Palace, a prime ministerial seat and the focal point of Danish power. Here, you’ll witness a blend of supreme architecture and political history. Nearby, the Rosenborg Castle showcases opulent halls filled with royal artifacts. It’s an absolute must-visit for history buffs.

The National Museum of Denmark provides a comprehensive look at Danish culture and history from the Viking Age until today.

Insider Tip: On weekends, prioritize visiting museums early in the morning as they can be quieter and more enjoyable.

Parks and Gardens

Copenhagen’s green spaces are a testament to the city’s love for the outdoors, even in winter. The iconic Tivoli Gardens, one of the world’s oldest operating amusement parks, offers enchanting lights and seasonal activities that can’t be missed.

  • Tivoli Gardens: With its nostalgic rides and mesmerizing scenery, it’s a place where fairy tales come alive.

The King’s Garden surrounding Rosenborg Castle is another serene spot to enjoy a winter walk, with trimmed hedges and statues dotting the landscape.

Remember, Copenhagen is a destination that rewards those who embrace its blend of historical significance and contemporary lifestyle. Each step through this city tells a story, and every sight leaves a lasting impression.

Experiencing Local Culture

Discover Original Art at the Christiania Art Gallery in Copenhagen (source: [Quattr Inc](https://www.quattr.com/enhance-experience/alt-text-for-image-seo))
Kyle Kroeger / ViaTravelers

Copenhagen is not just a feast for the eyes but also a celebration for the senses, where experiencing local culture means indulging in Danish cuisine, exploring historic streets for shopping, enjoying the nightlife, and soaking in the architectural beauty.

Food and Cuisine

Indulge in the Danish culinary scene by starting your day with a traditional breakfast at one of the cozy cafes; a smørrebrød, an open-faced sandwich, is a must-try.

Visit the bustling Torvehallerne market, where the specialties span from fresh local produce to gourmet chocolates. For dinner, treat yourself to a meal at one of Copenhagen’s renowned restaurants that showcase New Nordic culinary artistry.

Shopping in Copenhagen

Alt text: Vibrant city life on Strøget Street, Copenhagen
Kyle Kroeger / ViaTravelers

Stroll down Strøget, one of Europe’s longest pedestrian streets, where you’ll find a mix of high-end brands and local Danish design stores. Head to the smaller side streets and boutiques for unique souvenirs and a glimpse at local crafts. Your shopping experience here reflects the Danes’ minimalist yet stylish aesthetic.

Nightlife and Entertainment

Enchanting Nighttime View of Copenhagen City Hall Square (Rådhuspladsen)
Kyle Kroeger / ViaTravelers

As evening falls, the city comes alive with an energetic nightlife scene. There’s a venue for every mood, from the classy jazz clubs to the spirited bars. If you’re visiting in winter, the entertainment moves indoors, allowing you to enjoy the warmth of Copenhagen’s festive atmosphere despite the chill outside. Consider visiting Tivoli Gardens, which often hosts concerts and events in the evening.

  • Nightlife Venues:
    • Jazz clubs featuring local and international artists
    • Bars with unique Danish brews and craft cocktails
    • Seasonal events at Tivoli Gardens

Cultural Tours and Architecture

19th Century Renaissance Revival style architecture in Copenhagen with ornate decorations and arched windows
Kyle Kroeger / ViaTravelers

Copenhagen’s architecture tells the story of a city that has preserved its historical charm while embracing modern design. Arrange a guided walking tour to learn about the city’s architectural evolution or explore independently.

Don’t miss the opportunity to see the classic Rosenborg Castle juxtaposed against the backdrop of contemporary structures.

Tours and Excursions

Copenhagen’s tour and excursion possibilities are tailored to envelop you in the city’s culture, history, and scenic beauty. These thoughtfully curated activities leave no stone unturned, whether you prefer to navigate the cobblestone streets by bike or glide through the canals on a boat.

Cycling and Walking Tours

Your journey through Copenhagen should undoubtedly include a cycling tour. The city’s bike-friendly streets make it an exemplary model for cycling enthusiasts. Opt for a guide-led tour that typically requires 2 hours, allowing you to traverse key sights and hidden gems.

For a more intimate experience, a walking tour capped at 10 participants offers thorough insights into Copenhagen’s rich history and contemporary charm, taking you through bustling streets and quaint alleyways for over 3 hours.

Canal and Boat Tours

Scenic Nyhavn canal tour boat in Copenhagen
Kyle Kroeger / ViaTravelers

Explore the serene waters that snake through Copenhagen on a canal tour. It’s an absolute must that showcases the city from a different perspective.

The classic canal tour features a live guide giving you an animated commentary on the sights that line the banks, from historic buildings to modern developments. The fresh winter air will invigorate you while the cozy boat shelters you from the elements.

Day Trips and Excursions

If you crave a broader scope of exploration, consider a day trip. With Copenhagen as your base, you can embark on excursions far beyond the ancient city of limits. The famed Hamlet and Sweden tour will transport you from Danish grounds to Swedish soil, offering a two-nation experience in a single day.

Or immerse yourself in a grand day trip around Copenhagen, ensuring you engage with top views and attractions without the hassle of organizing transportation and tickets.

Read Also: Amsterdam vs Copenhagen for Vacation

Practical Information

When planning your trip to Copenhagen, understanding local customs, etiquette, currency, and payment options will enhance your travel experience in this European capital.

Local Customs and Etiquette

Copenhagen is known for its open-minded people and progressive culture. When interacting with locals, a polite ‘hello’ and ‘thank you’ in Danish, “hej” and “tak,” respectively, are always appreciated.

Be prompt for any appointments or dining reservations, as punctuality is valued. Tipping is not mandatory, as service charges are usually included in bills. Still, it is customary to round up to the nearest whole amount as a goodwill gesture.

When using public transport like buses, trains, and the metro, you must maintain a quiet demeanor and give up your seat to the elderly or those in need. Walking and cycling are not only popular but also embody the environmentally conscious spirit of the city.

Currency and Payment Options

The currency used in Copenhagen is the Danish Krone (DKK). Credit and debit cards are widely accepted in most restaurants and shops, even for small purchases. However, you are advised to carry some cash for local markets or smaller establishments that may not accept cards.

It is easy to find ATMs throughout the city. Foreign currencies can be exchanged in banks and currency exchange offices in central areas.

For transport, consider purchasing the Copenhagen Card, which grants unlimited travel by bus, train, and metro in the region and free entry to many attractions, making it a cost-effective and convenient way to explore the city.

Copenhagen can be quite expensive compared to other cities, so budgeting for your travel expenses will provide a stress-free visit. It was a quick weekend in Copenhagen, but still so worth it. I’ll definitely be back.

Kyle Kroeger
WRITTEN BY

Kyle Kroeger

Kyle Kroeger is the Founder and Owner of ViaTravelers.com. He is a full-time traveler and entrepreneur. Kyle started ViaTravelers.com to help travelers experience a fully immersive cultural experience as he did initially living in Italy. He's a converted finance nerd and Excel jockey turned world wanderer (and may try to get lost on purpose). After visiting 12 countries and 13 national parks in a year, he was devoted to creating and telling stories like he'd heard.

Plus, after spending more time on airplanes and packing, he's learned some incredible travel hacks over time as he earned over 1 million Chase Ultimate Rewards points in under a year, helping him maximize experiences as much as possible to discover the true meaning of travel.

He loves listening to local stories from around the world and sharing his experiences traveling the globe. He loves travel so much that he moved from his hometown of Minneapolis to Amsterdam with his small family to travel Europe full-time. Read more about his portfolio of work.

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