I had been dreaming of coming to visit its canals for a long time, immersing myself in its hygge atmosphere, admiring its buildings, culture, wonderful museums and art galleries. Copenhagen, the lively Danish capital, is a real open-air museum that we decided to visit with a road tour, of which Copenhagen was the first stop, which lasted three days.
Last summer we took a beautiful 10-day trip to Denmark, which started from this wonderful city. I therefore thought I would share with you our itinerary in the city day by day and some tips for organizing the view.
In fact, we flew from Italy directly to Copenhagen and then took the car to continue our tour.
I will guide you through the places that made our trip unforgettable, from the ancient port, with its picturesque colored houses, to the splendid gardens of Tivoli, not to be missed if you are traveling with children; from modern museums to historic buildings.
Let’s see together what to see in Copenhagen in 3 days. Get ready to immerse yourself in the enchanting atmosphere of one of the most beautiful cities in Northern Europe
Indice dei contenuti
One of the places to see in Copenhagen is Rosenborg Castle. We started visiting the city from this majestic royal residence, in Renaissance style.
The structure was built between 1606 and 1633, as the summer residence of King Christian IV, and has undergone various transformations over the centuries.
The building is characterized by pinnacle towers, bastions and wonderful well-kept gardens. However, above all, its luxurious rooms, which house an extraordinary collection of royal treasures, attract visitors. It is here, in fact, that you can admire the Danish Crown Jewels (see photo below).
If you are interested in visiting it, here you will find all the information relating to prices and opening hours
If you love nature, you can’t miss the Copenhagen Botanical Gardens (Botanissk Have), a green oasis located right in the heart of the city.
Founded in 1600, as a medicinal herb garden, thanks to a concession from Christian IV, it is today one of the most important in Europe.
The Copenhagen Botanical Garden extends over a vast area and hosts an extraordinary variety of plants from all over the world, organized into thematic sections.
One of the most distinctive elements of the Botanical Garden is its main building, known as the Palm House, which houses a tropical greenhouse with exotic plants from warm climates. Not to be missed, in particular, is the Butterfly House.
Please note that there is a fee to access The Palm House. Find all the information here.
After the Botanical Garden, as it’s close, we visited the Torvehallerne, the city’s food market. Here you can find a wide variety of fresh, locally produced foods.
If for you too food is one of the keys to understanding a culture different from ours, I recommend you spend some time among the structures of this covered market. Here, you will have the opportunity to taste many Danish products and specialties.
We appreciate here the renowned smørrebrød (open faced sandwich).
Located in the historic center, the “Round Tower” or Rundetårn is a seventeenth-century tower, 35 m high. Built at the behest of Christian IV, it was the city’s ancient astronomical observatory.
The building is known for its helical ramp, a 7.5-turn corridor that provides the only access to the observatory, library and bell wing.
From its top you can enjoy one of the best panoramic views of Copenhagen.
Kongens Nytorv (The King’s New Square)
Kongens Nytorv – or ‘The King’s New Square’ is the biggest square of the city and it’s in the heart of Copenhagen’s old town, home to prominent institutions such as the Royal Theatre, Hotel D’Angleterre and Kunsthal Charlottenborg.
It’s close to from Nyhavn and from Strøget, the city’s main shopping area, and has a metro station. It’s a great place to start a walking tour of the city, and a good location if you like architecture and statues.
Strøget is Copenhagen’s main pedestrian street and is known as one of the longest and liveliest shopping streets in Europe. It runs through the historic city center, connecting Rådhuspladsen to Kongens Nytorv square.
Walking along it, you will come across shops, cafes, restaurants and clubs. Visiting it is a way to immerse yourself in the culture and atmosphere of the city.
Ancient port of Copenhagen, the Nyhavn Canal is one of the most evocative corners of the city, with its characteristic colorful houses. The Nyhavn canal is one of the first images that come to mind when you think of Copenhagen. Its construction dates back to the mid-17th century. It was built to connect the port to the city center.
Here you will find numerous restaurants and terraces. This is also the starting point for numerous boat tours along Copenhagen’s canals.
On our second day in the city we followed a walking itinerary, starting from Nyhavn.
From here, we reached Copenhagen’s largest square, Kongens Nytorv, at the southern end of which are the Magasin department store, dating back to 1894. Continuing south, along Laksegade and turning into Nikolajgade, we arrived at the Nicolaj Kunsthal, a gallery contemporary art, located in the third oldest church in the city.
We then continued towards Hojbro Plads and then crossed the canal at Holmens Pro to reach Christiansborg Slot, seat of the Danish parliament.
We then visited the Royal Library and its garden and then reached the main courtyard of Christiansborg, once used as the Royal Riding Track.
After crossing the Marble Bridge, we then walked along Magstraedet, the oldest street in Copenhagen, and headed towards Nytorv, the square overlooked by the Domhuset. Finally, we headed towards the Ràdhus, the town hall.
From here, we headed, to the delight of the children, towards the wonderful Tivoli Gardens and ended the day with a visit to the National Museum.
Here is the map of the route we followed during our day in Copenhagen:
One of the things to see in Copenhagen is Kongens Nytorv, known as the largest square in the city. In addition to being home to the Royal Theatre, the D’Angleterre Hotel and the Charlottenborg Academy, it is one of the starting points for exploring the city because it allows you to reach, with a short walk, Nyhavn and Strøget.
Among the main attractions of the square there is also the equestrian statue of Christian V, created in 1688, by the French sculptor Abraham-César Lamoureux.
Magasin is the largest and oldest department store in Denmark. Imagine that it occupies an entire block in Kongens Nytorv. It may be interesting to take a look, given that, in addition to international brands, there are several local brands.
Also worth a stop is Nicolaj Kunsthal, a 13th century church which is now home to the Copenhagen Contemporary Arts Centre. Here, exhibitions, concerts, conferences and shows are hosted every year.
Hojbro Plads is a public square located in central Copenhagen. It takes its name from the Højbro Bridge, which connects it to the island of Slotsholmen.
The main feature of the square is an equestrian statue of Absalon, the warrior bishop who, according to tradition, was the founder of Copenhagen.
The square was built following the Great Fire of 1795.
Christiansborg Palace is now the seat of the Danish parliament and also houses the offices of the prime minister and the supreme court of Denmark. It is the only building in the world to accommodate the three powers of the State. Today, some sections of the palace are still used by the royal family for official receptions.
It is possible to see the Royal Reception Rooms, the Royal Kitchen, the Palace Ruins, the Royal Stables and the Chapel, the underground ruins.
Absolutely worth seeing! You can find all the information on the official website.
Royal Library and gardens
From Christiansborg Palace, crossing the Gardens of the Royal Library, you can reach the ancient library. And what a surprise it was!
One of the gems of the day!
Why am I including it in this list of things to see in Copenhagen? The Royal Library, founded in 1653 by King Frederick III, is one of the largest in Scandinavia and contains almost 5 million one-of-a-kind books and 6 thousand manuscripts.
The seat of the Royal Library is the Black Diamond, created by architects Schimdt, Hammer and Lassen with black granite from Zinbawe and smoked glass.
If you visit Copenhagen with children I would like to point out that near the Royal Library there is a playground, perfect for taking a break
Domhuset – Copenhagen Court House
Located in Nytorv, the Copenhagen Palace of Justice is a historic building originally built as a combined town hall and courthouse. Inaugurated in 1815, it was built, designed by Christian Frederik Hansen, in neoclassical style.
Today, it serves as the seat of the Copenhagen District Court.
Copenhagen City Hall (Rådhus) stands in the heart of the city and is surmounted by the splendid Clock Tower. The building, in red bricks, is one of the symbols of the city and is the seat of the Municipality.
You can also visit it inside. In this regard, I would like to point out that in the entrance hall, on the right, you can admire a majestic world astronomical clock with 12 dials.
On the left of the building, the Clock Tower stands out, one of the tallest buildings in Copenhagen. The tower is equipped with a carillon. And it’s included in the Copenhagen card.
We also included Tivoli Gardens, the second oldest amusement park in the world, even though we would later go to Legoland on our trip, because we were curious to see what they were like (having heard so much about it).
Tivoli Gardens has more than forty attractions, including some historic rides such as the famous wooden roller coaster, dating back to 1914,
The entrance is not exactly cheap (but included in the Copenhagen card) and we didn’t do the attractions, with great difficulty because the children wanted to go up…
If you don’t plan to see Legoland in Billund, then it’s worth saving time, here you can buy passes for Tivoli Gardens with unlimited rides.
But they still had fun inside the playground called “Petzi’s World”. It is a play area of approximately 1300 square metres
Not far from Strøget, there is The Danish National Museum, certainly one of the attractions to visit during a trip to Copenhagen. It is, in fact, the largest museum on the cultural history of Denmark.
The museum includes sections dedicated to Danish culture and that of the rest of the world, from Greenland to South America.
This is also included in the Copenhagen card.
Copenaghen Day 3. From the Royal Palace to the Marmaid
We started our third day in the city with a visit to the unmissable Design Museum. We then headed towards the Royal Palace, where we witnessed the particular changing of the guard, and, in the afternoon, we took a walk to the statue of the Little Mermaid and Kastellet.
Here is the map of our itinerary:
Design Museum in Copenhagen
We decided to visit The Design Museum museum because it was right behind our hotel and close to the Royal Palace, and it was a great discovery!
Here, you can admire the objects that have marked the Scandinavian style over the last 400 years. You will find works by famous Danish designers, internationally renowned stylists, but also rich collections of European and Oriental porcelain.
Amalienborg Palace has been the headquarters of the Danish royal family since 1794. Built by architect Nicolai Eigtved, the complex consists of four main buildings arranged around an octagonal courtyard. At the center of the latter, stands an equestrian statue of Frederick V.
It can be visited with the Copenhagen Card but only in part (if you don’t have the card the entrance is around 15 euros).
As we had visited already some palaces and as the weather was finally sunny, we decided to skip it inside, watch the change of the guards and then go to the Mermaid.
We didn’t visit it inside, also because we had already seen a museum and it was a beautiful day (finally) and we wanted to enjoy a walk in the open air.
However, I recommend not to miss the changing of the guard.
The palace is, in fact, guarded day and night by the Royal Guard. Every morning, at 11:30, the guards walk from Rosenborg Castle through the streets of Copenhagen to Amalienborg, where the changing of the guard takes place at 12:00.
What to see in Copenhagen if not the famous statue of the Little Mermaid, by Edvard Eriksen?
The sculpture is positioned on a rock on the Langelinie riverfront, at the entrance to the port. Inspired by the protagonist of the fairy tale of the same name by the Danish writer Hans Christian Andersen, the statue, 1 m 25 cm tall, is today the icon of Copenhagen.
Here’s my advice: avoid going there during busy hours if you want to avoid queuing for a ritual photo.
Get into the mood now by clicking the video recap of Copenhagen
With its characteristic pentagonal shape, with five bastions, Kastellet is one of the best preserved fortresses in Northern Europe.
Entrance is free, and we got lost walking among rows of little houses with red roofs. Furthermore, from the Bastions you can admire a beautiful panorama of the city.
In the park there is also a wonderful windmill, one of the few still existing in Copenhagen.
Among the main attractions to visit are the commander’s house, the ancient residence of the commander of the citadel, the powder magazine of the Queen’s Bastion, used for storing gunpowder, the prison complex and the windmill.
A unique place to visit in Copenhagen is Christiania, an abandoned military zone in the Christianshavn neighborhood, proclaimed a free city in 1971. With around 1000 people living there permanently, Christiania is still today an alternative center in the middle of the Danish capital. Here, tourists can browse through warehouses, shacks, houses, colorful murals and outdoor sculptures or stop at the bars and restaurants in the area.
We left Copenhagen headed to the second stop of our road trip in Denmark, Odense, but making the first stop in Roskilde
From Copenhagen you could take a day trip to the characteristic Roskilde, which is only 30 kilometers from the city.
Rich in cultural, musical and historical events, such as the Roskilde festival, one of the largest rock events in Europe, the city was, in the Viking era, the capital of Denmark.
Where to eat in Copenaghen
In Copenhagen we ate well, which surprised me, because I expected to find unrefined Nordic cuisine.
If you want to taste authentic Danish cuisine and love the lively atmosphere of the markets, I recommend you visit Torvehallerne, a covered market that boasts a wide variety of local and international products.
Don’t leave the city without tasting Smørrebrød, a sort of open sandwich, the base of which, a slice of rye bread, is buttered and garnished with a great variety of ingredients.
To discover more about Danish cuisine, you could also join a food tour.
I also recommend Charm, a Thai restaurant where we ate really well. It is located in the Nyhavn area.
Per scoprire qualcosa in più sulla cucina danese, potreste anche partecipare ad un tour gastronomico.
Tra i posti in cui abbiamo cenato vi consiglio:
- Charm, un ristorante thailandese dove abbiamo mangiato, davvero, benissimo. Si trova nella zona di Nyhavn.
Dove dormire a Copenaghen
If you are looking for a hotel to sleep in Copenhagen, I can only recommend the one we chose, the Scandic Front.
The hotel is located in the Nyhavn port district of Copenhagen, near the Opera House and a few steps from the colorful houses, now a symbol of the city.
I recommend it in particular because it is in a perfect position to explore Copenhagen and admire its attractions even if you don’t have many days available.
If you intend to access several attractions, to visit the city while saving a little, you could purchase the Copenhagen Card.
This is Copenhagen’s official tourist card and allows, among other things, free entry to over 80 attractions and museums and free travel on public transport.
You might also be interested in: Guided tours in Copenhagen
Se intendete accedere a diverse attrazioni, per visitare la città risparmiando un po’, potreste acquistare la Copenaghen Card.
Si tratta della carta turistica ufficiale di Copenaghen e consente, tra le altre cose, di entrare gratuitamente in oltre 80 attrazioni e musei e viaggiare gratis sui mezzi pubblici.
Ti potrebbe interessare anche: Tour guidati a Copenhagen
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