Though Copenhagen may not be one of Europe’s biggest cities, it packs an impressive amount of landmarks, museums, restaurants, and parks into an easy manageable size. This high concentration of things to do can be overwhelming at times, but not to worry! I’m here with the perfect 48 hour Copenhagen itinerary, in the hopes that it can narrow down some of Copenhagen’s wonderful tourist destinations into two days you’ll never forget.
Congratulations! You’ve made it to Copenhagen, Denmark’s scenic capital. It’s time to start exploring! The first step is to get a feel for the place by climbing one of Copenhagen’s many towers and seeing the city laid out before you. Then, find a lunch spot on one of Europe’s longest pedestrian shopping streets, Strøget, and walk off that delicious meal in a museum. After dinner, unwind by walking along the harbor.
Though Copenhagen is dotted with historic towers that loom above the old cobblestone streets of Indre By, the inner city, one of the best views you can get is actually waiting on the top of Copenhagen’s historic City Hall, just to the west. Climb the 300 flights of stairs up to the City Hall Tower’s open air platform that sits more than 340 feet off the ground and take in the castle and church-dotted streets laid out below you. This is one of the best chances to see Copenhagen all in one place, and a wonderful opportunity to pick out any landmarks that catch your eye for further investigation later.
Once you’ve had your fill of the view, head out of City Hall and onto Strøget, Copenhagen’s famous pedestrian shopping street, which picks up right on the eastern edge of City Hall Square (Rådhuspladsen) and cuts through the city for more than a kilometer until reaching King’s New Square (Kongens Nytorv). Strøget has countless wonderful restaurants and cafés—Strøget itself will be more upscale, there are many more casual options on the surrounding blocks of Indre By—that offer a relaxing lunch indoors or streetside.
With lunch taken care of, it’s time to explore some of Copenhagen’s most iconic geographical features—its canals, which cut through the southern section of central Copenhagen and wrap around the Christianshavn chain of islands. There a couple of ways to do this—you could take one of the canal tours that leave right from Nyhavn, the city’s iconic harbor side neighborhood, or you could get a little more adventurous and rent a kayak to paddle around the canals yourself and explore it at your own pace! Either way, enjoying the city from the water is a treat and allows you to appreciate its varied architecture and neighborhood vibes in a new light.
Dinner and Evening
Now that you’re tuckered out and itching for something good to eat, treat yourself to a dinner and a drink in Vesterbro—Copenhagen’s ultra hip western neighborhood that’s home to plenty of hip eateries and a seemingly never ending supply of mellow, craft-beer and cocktail-type bars. If you’re looking to do some dancing, Vesterbro’s meatpacking district has some of the city’s most low-key and carefree nightclubs.
You’ve made it through a packed day and you’re ready for some more Copenhagen action. For your second day, it’s finally time to check out some castles and admire some of Copenhagen’s famous art museums.
Before it gets too busy, head to Rosenborg Castle—the former “summer” residence of Danish royalty (it wasn’t much of a vacation spot, because it was right outside of the city walls and less than two kilometers from the crown’s normal residence). Rosenborg is a lavish display of wealth and, though you might get more than your fill of gold detailing from wandering its many chambers and halls, it sits on top of a treasury that contains Denmark’s crown jewels. After exploring the castle and its many treasures, step outside and into the King’s Garden—a stately park that’s sure to provide a welcome breath of fresh air.
From the King’s Garden, a variety of wonderful restaurants offering a variety of cuisines are within easy walking distance. Perhaps, since you’re in Denmark, it’s time to try smørrebrød—a traditional dish of buttered rye bread topped with a cold cut of meat or fish. There are many different cafés and restaurants that include smørrebrød on their menu, and a few that more or less exclusively serve it. Give it a try!
After lunch, it’s time to visit one of the city’s most striking museums. Take a bus or bike to Søndermarken, a park in Copenhagen’s upscale mostly residential neighborhood of Frederiksberg, and find the glass pyramid—it’s the entrance to the Cisterns, a contemporary art museum located underground Søndermarken in a massive old reservoir once used as a source of the city’s fresh water. The Cisterns are one of the most unusual museums you’ll ever visit—it’s almost entirely dark down there, and often partially flooded. Though the exhibitions come and go, half of the effect of the museum is the incredible setting in which the art is displayed. In the event of flooding there are rubber boots provided, so don’t worry about getting your feet wet!
Dinner and Evening
For these last few steps in your Copenhagen itinerary, take a bus or bike to Nørrebro, the neighborhood north of the city center. It’s chock full of cool, delicious restaurants and is a hotspot in the city’s growing microbrewery scene. As an added bonus, it’s also got some of the city’s most beautiful parks (I know, more parks) for that perfect evening stroll. Don’t miss Assistens Kirkegård, one of the city’s most famous cemeteries and a tree-lined oasis in the middle of the neighborhood.