Only have 48 hours in what’s frequently named the world’s happiest city? It was built around waterways and has a compact downtown area. As such, it’s very walkable, with many points of interest within easy reach of Central Station. It’s also easy and inexpensive to get around on two wheels, with the Bycyklen rented bike scheme. No matter how you decide to get around, plan to fit in these sights and attractions for an unforgettable two days in Copenhagen.
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Take a Canal Tour
The ideal way to start your exploits of this Danish city is by taking a boat tour through the canals. Get a Copenhagen Card and you can enjoy a one-hour excursion for free, departing from Nyhavn. You’ll be taken past many of the city’s main attractions, like Amalienborg Palace, home of Denmark’s royal family, the National Bank of Denmark, the Opera and, Our Saviour’s Church. You’ll also get to admire the famous Little Mermaid statue from a better perspective, without the big crowds that tend to congregate around it on land. As you glide back into the small port of Nyhavn, capture a picture of the colorful houses and then enjoy a bite to eat or a drink on the quay. All the historic houses have been transformed into eateries with outdoor seating.
Explore the National Gallery of Denmark (Hotel Prices & Photos)
There are many great museums in Copenhagen, but if you only have time for one, make it the National Gallery of Denmark. The largest art museum in Denmark, it features an impressive selection of art from Denmark and the rest of Europe from the past seven centuries, including French works like Picasso and Matisse, though it’s most famous for its beautiful collection of Danish Golden Age art. It also showcases an excellent collection of artifacts that display the country’s history from the ice age through modern times.
Wander Through the Historic City Centre (Prices & Photos)
Thanks to the compact size of Copenhagen, you can discover many of its attractions right in the historic city centre on foot. Start at Nørreport station and then walk down Frederiksborggade, and in only minutes you’ll be marveling at the magnificent historic buildings and picturesque canals. By stopping at the 17th-century Round Tower, you can get a good bird’s-eye view of the city from 114 feet up in the observatory, the oldest in all of Europe. Continue down the shopping street and you’ll reach Slotsholmen canal and the Borsen, Thorvadsens Museum and Christiansborg Palace, where you can explore Danish history. The palace is the seat of Danish parliament and the tallest building in Copenhagen at nearly 348-feet-high.
Head to the Hippie District of Freetown Christiana (Prices & Photos)
Freetown Christiana is the autonomous anarchist district of Copenhagen, often called the “hippie district,” a community that has its own rules and regulations completely independent of the Danish government. It’s a mix of DIY houses, workshops, art galleries, music venues, cheap organic eateries and nature. While the smell of weed is likely to be in the air as you stroll this car-free neighborhood, it is illegal, and you may see posters asking you to “Help Christiania and buy your hash somewhere else.” What you should do is just wander the streets and enjoy the laid-back vibe, stopping into one of the cozy cafes like Cafe Loppen to sample the local delicacies, or grab a cold beer at Christiana’s oldest bar, Woodstock.
Shop Strøget Street (Prices & Photos)
If you want to pick up any souvenirs of your time in Copenhagen, head to Strøget Street, one of the longest pedestrian shopping streets in all of Europe with a wealth of shops, from budget-friendly chains to some of the world’s most expensive brands. Near City Hall Square you’ll find cheaper options like Zara, H&M and Vero Moda. At the end of the street facing Kongens Nytorv are stores like Mulberry, Gucci and Prada. In between, you’ll find Danish flagship stores such as Hay House, Georg Jensen, Royal Copenhagen and Lego as well as the Danish design emporium Illums Bolighus. There are usually plenty of street performers in the area for enjoying entertainment along the way.
Tivoli Gardens (Prices & Photos)
Tivoli Gardens is easily reached from Strøget via City Hall Square. This national treasure that opened in 1843 is one of the world’s oldest amusement parks. It was beloved by Hans Christian Andersen and even inspired Walt Disney. You’ll find everything here, from historic buildings to lush gardens, thrill rides, an assortment of restaurants, theaters and dance halls, all blanketed in thousands of dazzling colored lights, creating a fairytale-like atmosphere. Stroll through the Chinese-inspired bamboo forest, admire marine life in the aquarium and be sure to take a ride on the restored wooden roller coaster, originally built back in 1914.
Visit the World famous Carlsberg Brewery (Prices & Photos)
Beer enthusiasts won’t want to miss visiting Carlsberg, the world’s fifth largest brewing company. Its founder, J. C. Jacobsen, was one of Denmark’s most famous citizens whose vast wealth funded the restoration of several museums and castles in the city. The huge massive brick archway flanked by lion statues that you’ll see when entering provides a hint at his influence here. A guided tour will bring you through the brewery where you’ll learn all about how they’ve been making beer since 1847. Check out the interactive exhibits, take a peek at the original machines and the showcase of the largest collection of beer bottles in the world. A complimentary beer is included.
Dine at the World's Best Restaurant: Noma (Prices & Photos)
Finally, end your time in Copenhagen with a special treat: dining at Noma, which is regularly voted the No. 1 restaurant in the world. To manage this, you’ll need to make a reservation well in advance as tables are hard to come by. Or, you might get lucky and squeeze in on a shared sitting for lunch. Noma gets its name from the word “Nordisk,” meaning “Nordic,” and “mad,” the Danish word for food. Dishes are focused on foraged ingredients nearby – it’s a true gastronomic mecca, though some of its most famous meals have included things like mold, ants and potted plants.