Copenhagen was originally our stopover on the way to Thailand, but as we’ve always wanted to go there, we jumped at the opportunity to make it into a cheeky little city break. Are we glad we did? Hell yeah! Despite being an influential and global city, Copenhagen’s original fishing village charm still remains. For me, this was my favourite part. Full of colour and quaint harbours, stunning waterfronts, parks, lakes and promenades, Copenhagen is very much my ideal type of city.
With no research done beforehand, we rocked up early morning in Copenhagen and had 48 hours on the clock. Originally we thought we wouldn’t have time to do everything, but looking back, a weekend is the perfect amount of time to explore the city. We experienced the beautiful Capital of Denmark at our own pace and even had time to relax.
Copenhagen in 48 Hours: My Itinerary
Arriving at the airport we were debating whether to buy a 72 hour travel pass. While this saved us a lot of money in London and Madrid, we decided against it for Copenhagen. Long story short, it was definitely the right decision as everything was within walking distance!
Click Image to see the full breakdown of my Copenhagen City Break Itinerary
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Things to See on your City Break in Copenhagen
Although one of the most touristy places in Copenhagen, the coastal town of Nyhavn was what I wanted to see the most. Yes, it was completely to do with all the pretty colors and cute old houses! That was reason enough for me to go and I’m so glad I did because it was one of the most beautiful harbors that I’ve seen. Originally a gateway from the sea to the old inner city, the harbor would be full of fishermen and ships handling cargo while the streets were notorious for beer, sailors and prostitution. It was even said that the port was split into two sides, one naughty and one nice, for the sailors coming in. Although a lot has changed since then, it’s 17th-century charm still remains.
Today, the northern side of Nayhavn is dominated by the old, multi-coloured townhouses lining the canal with old sailing ships bobbing in the current. Here, you can take your own famed picture of the stunningly picturesque harbour and spend some time in the outdoor bars or restaurants. We opted for a take away beer as we sat on the canal edge to bask in the sun. It was surprisingly intimate with a perfect level of bustling background noise and an uninterrupted view of the waterfront. If you love cobbled streets, colourful houses and being sociable with locals, head to the north. It is here canal tour excursions start too. The Southern side of Nyhavn is where you’ll find extravagant mansions lining the canal such as Charlottenborg Palace.
Even if you only have one day in Copenhagen, it’s worth making it here!
Also close by: House number 20 in Nyhavn is where the famous Danish fairytale writer, Hans Christian Andersen, lived and wrote fairy-tales such as ‘The Princess and the Pea.’ He also lived in number 67 and 18. Kongens Nytorv, Strøget, and Amalienborg Palace are also sights to see. Alternatively, if the weather is warm enough, you can go for a dip in one of the many public swimming spots in the harbours.
While creating our own walking tour, we headed in the direction of the Rosenborg Castle Gardens as they seemed like a big deal and had a lot of things to see there on the map. Turns out, it’s the oldest and most visited park in Copenhagen! Developed as King Christian IV’s private gardens in the early 17th century, the Renaissance style park is still immaculate today. With huge colourful flower beds during summer, a pristine rose-garden and famous sculptures such as the Hercules Pavillon and Hans Christian Anderson, you could spend a good few hours here soaking up culture in the refreshingly cool shade.
We did more cool things here like visiting the grounds of the Rosenborg Castle and watching the changing of the guards, but my absolute favourite was watching the puppet show! Yes we were the only adults there without kids and the sun was beating down on us, but it was very amusing and a completely different way to spend an hour.
Important things to note: The puppet show is only on in the midsummer and the Copenhagen Jazz Festival will be close by in the first week of July. The changing of the guards is at 12pm daily.
Again we just stumbled upon this attraction whilst walking around but it was actually really interesting. The Rundetaarn, or ‘Round Tower,’ was originally built as an astronomical observatory for scholars adjoining the Copenhagen University Library and Chapel. Today it has become a major site to see for two reasons: the wide, spiralling equestrian ramp to the top and the panoramic views of Copenhagen that you’re rewarded with when you reach it. Strangely, although you’re only 40 metres above street level, you can see a lot of the city and the views were stunning. So much colour and the typical Scandinavian sloped rooves, was a pretty cool sight to see. Definitely try and see the tower, it’s ridiculously cheap and quick to do, and you get to use it as what it was intended for so long ago: an observation tower!
Cost: 25 DKK ($4 USD) adult / 5 DKK ($1 USD) child (5-15)
Copenhagen’s number one attraction stands at 4 feet tall on the Mermaid Banks in Øresund, conveniently placed by waters that (according to legend) were full of Mermaids back in the day. The bronzed Little Mermaid sculpture represents the tragic fairy tale of the youngest daughter of a sea king, who wants her soul to have an eternal life like humans have (so a very different version to the beloved tale we know today!). The sculpture is pretty cool to see once you know the history behind it and the surrounding area is beautiful with lots to see.
Also close by: Kastellet is a citadel that you can walk around. A really charming place with typically Dutch buildings and a picturesque windmill, you can see the barracks, St Albans Church and the surrounding moat. The impressive Gefion Fountain is also not far away.
Other Activities/Things to do in Copenhagen
There are so many things to do in Copenhagen, you’ll never be bored. Here are some other places to check out to make the most of your trip.
- Tivoli Gardens – We didn’t actually go here but it was very close to our hotel, containing an amusement park, theaters, cafés, bars, and gourmet restaurants all within the original beautiful gardens. In December, it transforms into a winter wonderland! Due to different events being held there every day, the price varies depending on what you want to do/see.
- Freetown, Christiania – A famous free-spirited town in Denmark, founded by a group of hippies in the 70s that took over abandoned military barracks. With their own rules such as no cars, explore this self-governing, commune for free and marvel at their way of life in Denmark.
- Carlsberg Exbeerience – We wanted to do this as we have been to the Heineken Experience in Amsterdam and the Whiskey Experience in Edinburgh, and surprisingly had free time on our hands. It was interesting learning about the history of the Carlsberg Brewery, taking a horse ride around the grounds and getting 2 free beers, but you can definitely give this one a miss if you’re pushed for time. Cost: DKK 95 ($14) Adult (18+) / DKK 70 ($11) Students with ID and Youths (6-17) / Children (0-5) are free and anyone with a Copenhagen card.
- The lakes – 3 massive lakes separated by 6 bridges with a 7km running trail around the edge. Definitely take some time to walk around here, it’s beautiful and you get the whole Copenhagen vibe.
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Where to Stay in Copenhagen
Without even realising, we stayed in the most convenient location in all of Denmark! Well, in our opinion anyway. A 2 minute walk from the Copenhagen Central train station is an incredibly colourful and modern hostel called the Annex Copenhagen. We stayed in the Annex +2 room which was bright and spacious, containing a comfortable double bed, TV, desk and private bathroom. The hostel offers numerous private rooms with up to 4 beds and either private or shared bathrooms. Every room is practically furnished and as colourful as each other.
As the hostel was actually an annex of the Absalon Hotel, we got the benefits of the hotel facilities as well. The breakfast buffet every morning was exceptional! With a variety of meat, cheeses and pastries to choose from, as well as the typical cereals and bread, you could really load up on food to save you money throughout the day. Our favourite thing about this hotel was being able to sit outside or in the lobby to work and have drinks. It was the perfect environment to spend time as the surroundings were warm and welcoming and the WI-FI was great!
What the hotel offers:
- Breakfast Buffet if you choose
- Bar and Bar Room Service: DKK 25 ($4) per order
- Free WI-FI throughout the entire hotel/hostel
- Bike Rental: DKK 130 ($20) per day
- Laundry Facilities
- Ticket service for attractions and events
- A short distance and easy access to all the sights.
Cost per night: As of 2016, Annex room prices start from DKK 400-1000 ($68-150) per night
Important things to note: The train from the airport to the Central station is DKK 36 ($5). When looking for a hotel or hostel in Copenhagen, try to opt for one that includes breakfast. It is worth it and will save you a lot of money!
To see prices, special deals, and read reviews, check:
Other City Break Accommodation Options
Budget: – Hostel Jørgensen from DKK 350/night (Hostels range DKK 350-1,000)
Splurge: – Hotel Skt Petri from DKK 2,500/night (4/5 star hotels range DKK 1,500-5,000)
Where to Eat in Copenhagen – Food to Try!
Food and drinks in Copenhagen were crazy expensive so we didn’t eat out in ‘proper’ restaurants. Our method was, when we were hungry we found the nearest place and it always happened to be amazing!
Det Rene Brød
On our walk to Kastellet, we opted to take the backstreets and spotted a little bakery on the way. It was a lovely little shop full of pastries and breads and the guy who served us was so friendly. We were still pretty full from lunch so came away with a pastry each, but wow I wish I had room for more. I don’t know what these guys use in their ingredients but it can only be magic.
We recommend: The chocolate croissants and cinnamon buns
Where you’ll find it: 62 Kronprinsessegade
Making our way to Nyhavn, we just had to stop when we saw this pulled duck burger van. We were already salivating just reading the menu of pulled duck and chips cooked in duck fat, but actually eating it was a whole different experience. We thought we had hit the jackpot with finding this van. Little did we know that Duck It! is actually a permanent street food stall that provides the locals with superior food!
Where you’ll find it: Mælkevejen – The Milky Road
Restaurant Beijing – ‘The China Box’
Although a part of the Restaurant Beijing, The China Box is a small food stall in front of Sam’s Bar on a main high street. You could make up your own box of Chinese food from DKK 35 ($5), choosing from a variety of food, and taking it away to eat wherever you choose.
Tip: They are very generous with sizes so I’d go for a small!
Where you’ll find it: 28 Frederiksberggade
On our first night, we had a craving for burgers and we wanted them now! Enter Jagger Fastfood! This was the perfect place for us as it was quick, affordable, high-quality food and the restaurant was filled with locals and tourists alike. I also loved that you had a range of sauces and dips to try with each one being better than the last. For a sociable atmosphere and satisfying carbs, head to Jagger.
- Cheeseburger DKK 50 ($7.50)
- Pulled Pork Burger DKK ($8)
- Fries & Soda/Beer ($5)
- Chipotle Mayo and Triple-cheese Mayo Dips ($1.30)
Where you’ll find it: 62 Istedgade
Price Break Down of this City Break Weekend in Copenhagen
The accommodation and food and drink prices are what will drain your budget in Copenhagen, but if you eat smart and book ahead, it is doable to have an affordable weekend away. We had read before we went that DKK 2,200 ($330) per person for a weekend was enough and it was more than enough.
Read: How I Survived Europe on a Budget
- Accommodation – DKK 1,100 for two people for two nights
- Food & Drink – DKK 600 per person
- Transport for weekend – DKK 72 per person (Return train tickets to Airport )
- Attractions – DKK 120 per person (DKK 25 for the round tower and DKK 95 for the Carslberg Exbeerience)
Approximately DKK 1400 ($200) per person for a weekend.
Another City Break Weekend completed in a city that really didn’t feel like one. Copenhagen was really endearing. A place that you could spend hours walking around and somewhere that you will miss as soon as you leave. I hope this city break guide has made you want to visit Copenhagen or helps you, if you are already heading there. It was one of my favorite cities so far and one that should be on everybody’s list!
How do you make the most of your weekends? Check out other City Break Guides and Europe inspiration!
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