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An ultimate guide to 48 hours in Copenhagen

An ultimate guide to 48 hours in Copenhagen

I enjoyed Copenhagen way more than I thought I would.

It’s not that I thought I’d dislike the city – it’s just that I hadn’t originally planned to go there. It only grabbed a spot on our Nordics trip itinerary because the flights from Reykjavik were cheap.

Copenhagen turned out to be one of my favourite stops on the trip. I thought that Sweden would be the Nordic destination to claim all the Scandinavian charm, but I ended up awarding Copenhagen the title of most Scandinavian city.

If you’re looking to immerse yourself in Nordic architecture, build on your European history knowledge, and consume way too many pastries, then I can guarantee you’ll go crazy for this vibrant and trendy city.

Here’s an ultimate guide to 48 hours in Copenhagen!


Day 1

Rosenborg, Copenhagen

Rosenborg Castle

Explore the palaces and castles

If there’s one thing Copenhagen has no shortage of, it’s royal residences. The city itself has three major palaces and castles all within walking distance of the city center.

First, pay a visit to Christiansborg Palace. This building, built in Neo-baroque style, is currently used as the seat of the Danish Parliament, the Danish Prime Minister’s Office, and the Supreme Court of Denmark. It’s not the most attractive of the three, but you should find it interesting if you’re into politics.

Next up is Amalienborg Palace, where the Danish royalty currently reside. This was an intriguing place for me to visit, as Denmark’s Crown Princess Mary came from my hometown of Hobart, Australia, and the story of how she became a Danish royal is like a real-life Disney movie. Aside from dreaming about meeting a Danish prince to sweep you off your feet, you can also watch members of the Royal Guard in the area surrounding the Equestrian Statue, or head into the Amalienborg Museum.

Last is Rosenborg Castle. This is possibly the most impressive of the three as Rosenborg is the oldest and has the most historical significance. The castle was first built as a summer house in 1606 and evolved into the current castle in 1624, where it was used as the royal residences until 1710. Here is where you’ll find the Danish Crown Jewels, and the Throne Chair of Denmark. The gardens here are also very impressive – take a walk around to admire the perfectly trimmed hedges and rose garden surrounding the castle moat.

Nyhavn, Copenhagen

Nyhavn harbour

Walk along Nyhavn

Nyhavn is one spot that you absolutely can’t miss in Copenhagen, as this pretty harbour is the one you’ll probably see on most postcard images of the city. The rows of colourful 17th century buildings are undeniably gorgeous from every angle.

The harbour is a tourist hotspot with a large selection of restaurants and bars. It can get fairly busy during the summer months, so head over early in the day to avoid the crowds.

Before you leave, stop in at Emmerys on Strandstræde for a Danish pastry. It’s a lovely place to eat traditional cinnamon rolls and sip on coffee while you people-watch through the window facing the street.

Little Mermaid, Copenhagen

The Little Mermaid statue

See the Little Mermaid and Kastellet

There are many stories about the Little Mermaid of Copenhagen. I was particularly interested to see it as I came across the Mermaid of Warsaw a few years ago, and legend tells that the Little Mermaid in Copenhagen was its sister who parted ways with the other in the Baltic Sea.

The real story of the Little Mermaid statue is that it’s a product of the famous fairy tale by Danish author Hans Christian Andersen. It was installed in 1913, and has since become an essential sight for every tourist in Copenhagen. The small-ish statue might seem a little underwhelming at first as there are an alarming number of visitors pointing their cameras towards her rock by the river, but I think it’s still worth spending 2 minutes of your time getting your own photo of the Little Mermaid.

Once you’ve got your photo, turn around and take a walk around Kastellet – one of the best preserved star fortresses in Northern Europe, which is positioned directly behind the Little Mermaid. When you cross the moat into the fortress, you’ll be free to wander around the old military buildings and historic site.


Day 2

Christianshavn, Copenhagen

Views from the Church of our Saviour

Wander around Christianshavn

Head to Christianshavn station, then walk towards the Church of our Saviour – a Baroque style church featuring a gold-rimmed tower standing proudly above the city rooftops. The narrow staircase to the top of the spire has 400 steps, the last 150 of which are on the outside of the tower. For those who can suppress their fear of heights, you’ll be treated to some awesome views of the city.

Another great spot in Christianshavn is Overgaden Oven Vandet, a pretty little street that parallels one of Copenhagen’s many canals. The architecture here is second only to Nyhavn, but this quiet canal street has much more of a residential atmosphere.

Freetown Christiania, Copenhagen

Freetown Christiania

Seek out Freetown Christiania

After Overgaden Oven Vandet, turn right towards Freetown Christiania. If you’re using Google Maps to find it, just search for ‘Christiania’ – We spent at least half an hour thinking that Freetown Christiania was just a boring old suburb before stumbling upon the real deal on my way back to Christianshavn station.

Freetown Christiania is truly one of the most interesting places in Copenhagen. The former abandoned army barracks was taken over by squatters in 1971, resulting in a large hippie commune of about 850 residents. The area now caters for anyone who’d like to drink a beer in the sun and sample some vegetarian grub while immersing themselves in this quirky and artistic suburb.

Tivoli Gardens, Copenhagen

Tivoli Gardens amusement park

Have fun at the world’s second oldest amusement park

Tivoli Gardens opened it’s doors in 1843, and is the world’s second oldest operating amusement park (after Dyrehavsbakken, also located in Denmark). We waited until the late afternoon to head over for more of an adults-only experience, as the opening hours are until 10PM or 11PM depending on the day of the week.

The park is open from April to September and entry is fairly inexpensive at 110 DKK (rides extra), or 220 DKK for an unlimited rides ticket. Inside the park, you can take your pick of of rollercoasters, thrill rides, restaurants, snack stands, and gelato stalls.


Kastellet, Copenhagen

Where we stayed

We stayed at an AirBnB in Christianshavn. This area is a quiet and relaxed neighbourhood which is easily accessible from downtown via the Yellow or Green metro lines.

Are you planning a trip to Copenhagen sometime soon? What are you most excited about seeing? Share your thoughts with us in the comments!


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Ashlea Wheeler

This post was written by Ashlea, a colourfully clothed and excitable vegetarian who loves photography and exploring the world. Find out more about me.

12 Responses to “An ultimate guide to 48 hours in Copenhagen”

  1. Iga Berry

    Copenhagen is wonderful. I had a chance to spend a New Year’s Eve there. We had a fantastic time together! Fireworks were amazing and I could not ask for a better evening. Have a lovely day, Iga Berry x

    Reply
    • Ashlea Wheeler

      Oh, wow – NYE in Copenhagen would be amazing! It’s great that you enjoyed the city as much as I did, Iga 🙂 You have a great day, too!

      Reply
  2. Marlies

    In 2017 I want to travel more in Europe so I would love to go to Copenhagen. I will definitely look back at your blog when I do. Thanks for the tips!

    Reply
    • Ashlea Wheeler

      Copenhagen should definitely be included in your Europe trip! I feel like this city often gets left out of itineraries, but it’s absolutely worth visiting. Thanks, Marlies!

      Reply
  3. Jordan Burkitt

    I have several dear friends who live in Kobenhavn, and I finally had to chance to stay with them for two weeks last summer. The city is beautiful and so relaxed for such a heavily populated area. I realy recommend a trip. If you’re willing to go outside the city, Kronsborg slot, aka the Hamlet castle, is also an awesome place to visit. There are actors inside doing scenes from the play in the actual rooms they were set in. Great for Shakespeare nerds such as myself:)

    Reply
    • Ashlea Wheeler

      Thanks for your tips, Jordan, Kronsborg slot sounds like it would be a great addition for any visit to Copenhagen. I’m glad you’ve had the opportunity to experience everything the city has to offer!

      Reply
  4. Alex Drossart

    I’m heading to the Nordics for 2 weeks in March! Traveling on a bit of a budget, did you find it was cheaper to stay in Airbnbs than hostels and hotels? Reading your blog got me even more excited!

    Reply
    • Ashlea Wheeler

      That’s so exciting, Alex! The price really depended on the city. I found that hotels in Copenhagen and Reykjavik were pretty expensive so we ended up getting apartments on AirBnB, but in Stockholm there were plenty of budget accommodation options so we went with hotels there. Usually when I’m researching accommodation, I check out private rooms in hostels too as they can be about the same price as budget hotels. Best of luck planning your upcoming trip 😀

      Reply
  5. Kell

    Any advice. My son leaves Thursday to study there for 5 months. Rather nervous about it all. Tips? Safety issues etc. we will visit in May and are planning on a Baltic cruise with 2 days in St Petersburg. Thoughts on Amsterdam. Safety? Social scene safe. Sound like the worried mom I am!

    Reply
    • Ashlea Wheeler

      Hi Kell, you definitely sound like a worried mom! Don’t panic, Denmark is a safe and wonderful country. Your son will get some valuable life experiences from living abroad, and I’m sure you will have a wonderful time visiting him and exploring the Baltics 🙂

      Reply

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