Like most people, I do my research before planning trips and for my latest trip to Copenhagen all my research said visiting in the winter is not for the faint of heart… aka be prepared to freeze your butt off. But when a flight deal too good to pass up came across my laptop screen, I decided it was mind over matter and found myself in Copenhagen in the middle of winter. Now, I don’t have much to compare it to, but there is something to be said for an iced over colorful canal and a snow covered Little Mermaid! So if visiting the happiest city in the world is on your to do list, here’s my itinerary for spending 2 days in Copenhagen to help you plan your adventure, whether in the snow or sunshine!
2 Days in Copenhagen – Getting There:
Assuming you are arriving by plane, Copenhagen has one major airport. I was so impressed by the connectedness of this city and found myself jealous of their public transit system compared to what we have in the US! There are trains that run every 5 minutes from the airport that go directly to the city center (Nørreport Station) in about 15 minutes. From here you can obviously stay put or you can connect to many of the other neighborhoods via metro, train, or bus… I’m telling you the public transit is no joke!
2 Days in Copenhagen – Where to Stay:
Copenhagen has so many cute neighborhoods that I had a hard time choosing where to stay myself. I ultimately decided on a cute Airbnb in the central neighborhood of Nørreport due to its prime central location. Although Copenhagen is known as the biking capital of the world, due to the cold and snow, I chose to walk everywhere and this area was literally walking distance to everywhere I wanted to go! As you may recall from above, Nørreport Station is the central train station with fast and direct access to the airport too. With only 2 days in Copenhagen, I wanted to be right in the action and not waste precious time getting places.
2 Days in Copenhagen – What to Eat:
This bakery is to die for! There are many locations throughout the city and even one in the airport! I was lucky to have one right next door to my Airbnb in Nørreport, so I started each morning off with a delectable Danish pastry. Pro-tip get the cinnamon roll.
This open faced sandwich is a traditional Danish favorite. It consists of a slice of buttered rye bread topped with whatever you’d like, and you can order one at almost every restaurant in the city.
Although not necessarily Danish, shawarma is one Denmark’s most popular dishes and makes for a great meal on the go while you’re too busy to sit down and eat but need a bite!
A classic. You can kill two birds with one stone and do as the locals do by ordering your meatballs on top of your smørrebrød.
Now I personally didn’t try this, but it was on every single menu as a Danish favorite so if you’re all about the local cuisine then this should be on your plate.
Copenhagen Food Markets
Sprinkled throughout the city, food halls are the new trend. I finally decided on a smørrebrød for lunch at Torvelhallern, a popular food hall in Nørreport, after browsing 60+ stands selling everything from fresh fish to gourmet chocolate with lots in between. Even if you’re not necessary hungry, these food halls are worth a visit as it’s a big part of the Copenhagen food scene today.
2 Days in Copenhagen – The Copenhagen Card:
If you have done any research at all on Copenhagen, then you’ve probably already heard of the Copenhagen Card and wondered if it’s worth it. To me, that answer was yes! This card is a free pass to all that Copenhagen has to offer including access to public transportation, entrance fees to the top sights, and discounts around the city. You can see the full list of attractions and benefits included on the Copenhagen Card website. I only had 2 days in Copenhagen so I chose to get the 2 day card and made my money back after the 1st day. This isn’t a sales pitch but I wanted to throw in my two cents in case you’re wondering if it’s worth it for you.
2 Days in Copenhagen – What to Do:
Now for the fun stuff, planning what to do during your 2 days in Copenhagen! Obviously two days in any city isn’t enough time to see everything and truly experience it. Heck, I’ve been living in New York for two years and haven’t seen everything there is to see in the city. But from my experience, 2 days in Copenhagen was enough time for me to see the majority of the places on my list and leave me wanting to come back for more. Note- the hours for each of the attractions I list below differ between the winter and summer months so be sure to look them up ahead of time and plan your schedule accordingly.
After your mouth watering cinnamon roll for breakfast at Lagkagehuset, make your way to Nyhaven; the infamous postcard perfect canal lined by colorful houses. In the summer, the canal street is packed with café tables, live music, and more. In the winter however, the street is packed with brave people bundled up like eskimos. None the less, canal boat tours run year round and are the perfect way to start your trip and get a feel for the city! I did the one hour Grand Tour of Copenhagen and cruised through the harbor and canals, breaking down all the ice chunks in the way, and saw many of the sites that I decided I had to return to later, like the Little Mermaid statue!
Following the boat cruise, it’s a short walk to the Amalienborg Palace where you can watch the changing of the guards daily at noon. We arrived a bit early and were able to get a front row seat to this impressive show. The guards start at Rosenberg Castle (also on the list) at 11:30am and march through the city to the Amalienborg Palace. The Royal Family, including the Queen, currently reside in this Palace and on days when she is home, the Royal Marching band accompanies the Guards and play in the square. The routine lasts about a half hour and afterwards I recommend touring the Amalienborg Museum where you can experience royal history.
Amalienborg Palace is where the Queen lives and Christianborg Palace is where she welcomes guests and hosts royal affairs. You can tour the Royal Reception Rooms, the Royal Stables, the Royal Kitchen, and even walk through the Ruins underneath the Palace itself. I don’t think I’ve ever seen so many beautiful chandeliers in one place! You need an admission ticket or the Copenhagen Card to visit the above mentioned, but this Palace also has a free tower 106m above ground that you can reach via elevator for some nice city views. Speaking of views, both the Rundetaarn Tower and the Church of our Savoir offer breathtaking views as well.
Translated as “The Round Tower”, this 17th century observatory is the oldest functioning in all of Europe. The tower itself is 35m tall but to get to the top you will walk up a spiral walkway 209m long. About 3/4 of the way up, 25m off the ground, there is a floating glass floor that you can choose to stand on and look below if you are brave enough.
Church of Our Savior
My favorite of the three views is situated 90m above ground at the top of the Church of our Savior, and with no surprise it was also voted the best view in the city by the Copenhagen Committee. If you’re claustrophobic at all, you may struggle with the climb as there are 400 narrow steps to get to the top, with the last 150 steps being outside curving around the tower. I was surprised to find that the steps do not lead anywhere though and instead just end, but you can still take endless pictures while on the staircase before trekking back down.
Christianhaven is a trendy canal neighborhood with fun shops and cafes that’s worth walking around near the Church of Our Savior. Behind the church, you’ll find the entrance to the borough of Christiania, which is known as the “Free Town” for its autonomous way of life. This is a judgement free zone where you’ll find many unique shops, green stands, a skate park, and tons of art.
If you manage to fit in all of these attractions in one day like I did, then you’re my kind of traveler! Be sure to grab a nice dinner, explore the nightlife scene, and rest up for an unequally packed Day 2!
The Little Mermaid
If you took a canal tour you most likely saw the Little Mermaid statue from afar. If you’d like to get up close and personal and have a photo shoot with Ariel, you’ll want to take the stroll along the waterfront and visit her in person. Pro-tip, expect crowds unless you go early like I did and had her all to myself!
This impressive castle is most known for housing Denmark’s very own crown jewels! I recommend visiting early as we went right when it opened and still waited in a line. In addition to the jewels, you’ll also see the King and Queen’s coronation thrones guarded by three life size silver lions which was quite impressive!
A short train ride from the center of Copenhagen will bring you to Carlsberg where you can tour the favorite European Brewery and of course taste too! In addition to beer, the Carlsberg Brewery is also home to the world record holding largest beer bottle collection and the Carlsberg stable where you can take both beer and horse selfies!
Copenhagen Zoo or National Aquarium
If you didn’t get enough animal time with the horses at the stables, the Copenhagen Zoo is a short walk from the Carlsberg Brewery and is home to over 4000 animals of 230 different species. A bus ride away is Northern Europe’s largest aquarium home to over 400 different species. I only had time for one, and chose the zoo because I have a soft spot for polar bears which is what the zoo is known for, but if you have more time consider visiting both!
Unfortunately Tivoli is closed in the winter months so I didn’t get a chance to visit, but from what I’ve read about the city I would be remiss if I didn’t include Tivoli in my itinerary. This amusement park was made in 1843 and is full of rides, lights, dining and magic. If you have the opportunity to even walk through the park I’d recommend it!
Hans Christian Anderson Fairy Tale House
Across the street from Tivoli is the Hans Christian Anderson statue and museum. This Danish author is most known for his fairy tales like the Little Mermaid, the Ugly Duckling, the Little Match Girl, the Emperor’s New Clothes, the Princess and the Pea, Thumbelina, the Nightingale, and the Steadfast Solider. In the fairy tale house, you can experience these stories come to life through different exhibits. The museum also holds original manuscripts of HC Anderson and show cases other pieces of his life.
This is the famous shopping street in Copenhagen, full of both high end shops and souvenir shops. This street is very close to the Nyhavan canals, so if you have a free evening I’d recommend coming back to canals to see them lit up at night and strolling down Stroget Street as well.
What do you think? Is 2 days in Copenhagen enough time? Do you have a favorite Copenhagen spot that I need to add to my list for next time? Let me know!