Copenhagen is often said to be the ‘happiest city in the world’ and it’s not difficult to see why. The city manages to strike a perfect balance between the laid-back Scandinavian way of life and the vibrant buzz of a European capital city. With castles, gardens, canals and colourful rooftops, you won’t run out of beautiful things to see and do in Copenhagen. This 3 days in Copenhagen itinerary will take you through the highlights of the city as well as a few lesser-known locations and hidden gems, so you can really make the most of your time in Copenhagen. Let’s get started, shall we?
This article is written by Faraway Lucy writer, Catherine Taylor.
Day 1 of your 3 days in Copenhagen itinerary
Breakfast: Pastries at Sankt Peders Bageri
Address: Sankt Peders Stræde 29, 1453 København K, Denmark
Phone number: +45 33 11 11 29
What better way to start your 3 days in Copenhagen itinerary than by sampling some of Denmark’s finest pastries? It’s no secret that the bread and pastry scene in Copenhagen is second to none. With artisanal bakeries and cafés lining the streets of almost every neighbourhood, there’s an impossible selection to choose from.
For your first (but by no means last) taste of baked goods, head to Sankt Peders Bageri, the oldest bakery in Copenhagen. Renowned for its sticky cinnamon rolls or ‘Onsdagsnegle’, of which they sell more than 4000 every Wednesday at a discounted price, the bakery is well worth a visit. They also offer a variety of pastries, bread-based goods and sandwiches. You might be tempted to buy one of everything.
Early morning: Visit Rosenborg Castle (Rosenborg Slot) & The King’s Garden (Kongens Have)
Address: Øster Voldgade 4A, 1350 København, Denmark
Phone number: +45 33 15 32 86
From the bakery, take a short fifteen-minute walk to Rosenborg Castle & The King’s Gardens. The walking route will lead you around the edge of the Garden and straight to the seventeenth-century castle. It looks like something straight out of a fairy-tale! With pointed turrets, a moat and stone lions standing guard at the entrance, the castle is a charming sight.
The inside of the castle is fairly small, with 24 rooms spread over three floors. The most popular rooms include Christian IV’s Winter Room, the Long Hall and the Treasury in the basement, which is home to the famous crown jewels. Don’t leave without taking a stroll through the King’s Garden. This beautiful park has lush greenery, sculptures, fountains and tree-lined paths woven throughout. You’re in luck if you catch this park on a sunny day. Tourists and locals alike flock to the park benches to relax and enjoy the scenery.
It’s easy to spend a couple of hours floating through these grounds. But if you’re looking to squeeze as many activities into your Copenhagen 3 day itinerary as possible, you’re also right next to the city Botanical Garden (Botanisk Have) and the National Gallery of Denmark.
Late morning: Visit Amalienborg Palace (Amalienborg Slot)
Address: Amalienborg Slotsplads 5, 1257 København K, Denmark
Phone number: +45 33 12 21 86
Now you might think it’s a strange idea to visit two Royal buildings one after the other, but I promise you this move is worth it. Every day, the Danish Royal Guard march from Rosenborg Castle at 11.30 to arrive at Amalienborg Palace at 12.00. Here they perform the Changing the Guard ceremony. When the Queen is in residence at Amalienborg Palace, the Royal Guards music band accompanies the Guard for the ceremony. It’s great to watch the ceremony in full at the beginning of the trip, as you’ll no doubt stumble across the guards again over the next few days as they march through the city!
The Palace complex is made up of four identical buildings and a large courtyard with an equestrian statue in the centre (which supposedly cost as much as the rest of the complex!). For a more in-depth look at Danish royal life, you can take a self-guided tour around the Amalienborg Museum. Located in Christian VIII’s Palace, walk through magnificent rooms with royal displays, artefacts and precious heirlooms.
Once you’ve finished exploring, exit through the West side of the complex. From here, you’ll see the impressive Frederik’s Church (Frederiks Kirke). Also known as The Marble Church for its opulent marbled walls and green-domed roof, this building is not one to miss on your way past.
Lunch: Smørrebrød at Restaurant M
Address: Store Kongensgade 56, 1264 København, Denmark
Phone number: +45 22 79 36 38
Just a stone’s throw away from The Marble Church is Restaurant M. This is one of the best places to try Danish delicacy Smørrebrød. Put simply, Smørrebrød is an open sandwich, usually consisting of buttered rye bread topped with cold cuts of meat or fish. Traditional toppings include pickled herring, roast beef or smoked salmon. But Restaurant M has a wide menu of other combinations to suit everyone from the fussy eaters to the adventurous.
The restaurant has a very relaxed, authentic atmosphere with wide windows that let you look out over the streets below. The staff are friendly and the passion they have for each dish is delightfully apparent. Each one looks like a little masterpiece. You won’t be disappointed!
Early afternoon: Wander around Nyhavn
A Copenhagen 3 day itinerary would be incomplete without a visit to the picture-perfect postcard scene of Nyhavn (which translates to “New Harbour” or “New Port”). The vibrant little canal district is packed to the brim with brightly-coloured townhouses now turned into bars, restaurants and cafes, and beautiful little sailboats line the edge of the water.
Understandably, this area can get a little touristy at times. But that only seems to add to the buzz of the place. If anything, it means more opportunity to ask someone to take *that* Instagram picture of you in front of the iconic buildings! There’s plenty of history to Nyhavn, including the fact that famous Danish author Hans Christian Andersen lived in three of the Nyhavn houses during his life. No. 20, 67 and 18 to be precise.
Late afternoon: Take a canal tour
By far the best way to learn the history of Nyhavn, along with plenty of other spots around the city, is by taking a canal tour. Canal tours run at regular intervals from the port at Nyhavn, taking you on a cruise around the main harbour and idyllic little canals of the city. Knowledgeable, multilingual tour guides will take you on a journey through the long history of the churches, castles and other landmarks of the city. And they’ll even point out some lesser-known buildings and houseboats, tucked away in smaller canals.
Arriving back at the port in Nyhavn, take your pick of one out of dozens of bars and cafes to sit with a coffee, beer or glass of wine (or all three). Spend some time people watching to round off the busy afternoon.
Dinner: Organic food and drink at Cap Horn
Address: Nyhavn 21, 1051 København, Denmark
Phone number: +45 33 12 85 04
No matter what dish you’re in the mood for, you’re guaranteed to find a restaurant serving it on the main strip at Nyhavn. But if you’re looking for a specific recommendation, look out for the multi-coloured lights adorning the rustic restaurant Cap Horn.
Well known for their organic, seasonal Danish produce, the menu isn’t huge but it is varied. You can find anything from fish to risotto to steak, all well-prepared and presented. Choose to sit inside the rustic, country-inspired restaurant or at one of the tables outside instead. Even after the sun has set and the temperature has dropped, you’ll be kept cosy by large blankets and outdoor heaters by every table. Very hygge!
Day 2 of your 3 days in Copenhagen itinerary
Breakfast: Porridge at GRØD
You’ll need to fuel up for the second day of your 3 days in Copenhagen as, like the others, it’s packed with activities. And there’s no better place to grab breakfast than the local’s favourite, GRØD. GRØD describe their food as “gourmet porridge for the people” – and they’re not wrong.
Their seasonal menu boasts all kinds of porridge from sweet oatmeal with caramel sauce, apple and almonds, to savoury dishes like mushroom and truffle risotto. Or, if none of the creative combinations take your fancy, you can come up with your own. Both reasonably priced and generously portioned, GRØD knows how to do breakfast right.
Early morning: Visit The Little Mermaid (Den Lille Havfrue)
Address: Langelinie, 2100 København Ø, Denmark
Head out of the city centre towards the Langelinie promenade. Here you’ll find one of Copenhagen’s most popular tourist attractions, The Little Mermaid. The bronze sculpture, created in 1913 and inspired by Hans Christian Andersen’s fairytale of the same name, shows a mermaid perched on a rock in the water as she watches ships pass by in the harbour.
Often criticised for being a ‘disappointment’ or ‘much smaller’ than people expect, you might want to bear this in mind before setting off to The Little Mermaid. However, visiting the statue is a must-do on your first visit to Copenhagen regardless.
The Little Mermaid also sits next to the Kastellet. This star-shaped military fortress has good pathways for walking and exploring around the perimeter or in the fortress itself. There are a number of buildings within the grounds including a windmill, church and military barracks. Plus, it’s a lovely green space to explore and flesh out your time spent this side of the city.
Late morning: Design Museum Denmark
Address: Bredgade 68, 1260 København, Denmark
Phone number: +45 33 18 56 56
Next up is The Design Museum Denmark, which you’ll pass on your way back to the inner city. Scandinavian design is recognisable throughout the world and this museum showcases some of Denmark’s most impressive and eclectic pieces of architectural design, furniture, products and fashion.
One of the many exhibition highlights is The Danish Chair, which is exactly how it sounds. It’s an in-depth look at the history and design of chairs. There’s an entire room filled with chairs. No, really. It might sound a little strange, but it’s interesting to study the development and cultural roots of furniture design over the years. There’s also a brilliant souvenir shop where you can pick up some Danish-designed trinkets, books and other memorabilia before you go.
Lunch: Street food at Boltens Food Court (Boltens Gård)
Address: Gothersgade 8, 1123 København, Denmark
A newcomer to the Copenhagen street food scene is Boltens Gård, a charming food court – the city’s largest, in fact – with three floors of nineteen stalls serving food from all over the world. Here you’ll find anything from pad thai to fried chicken, to pasta, to kebabs, all of which you can eat indoors or outside in the beautiful courtyard. Decorated with water fountains, greenery and colourful floral murals, it’s a really special space.
Early afternoon: Climb The Round Tower (Rundetaarn)
Address: Købmagergade 52A, 1150 København, Denmark
Phone number: +45 33 73 03 73
Let’s get back to sightseeing and head to The Round Tower, located in the Latin Quarter. A 17th-century astronomical observatory turned observation deck, the Tower is one of the best places to view the city of Copenhagen from above its colourful rooftops.
The 209-metre long cobbled interior walkway spirals upwards. Winding a total of seven and a half times to the top, there are stops on each level for exhibitions and even a café. It’s a beautiful architectural piece of work. When the sun hits the Tower you can see light shine in from the large, paned windows and bounce off the white archways and cobbled stones. Once you reach the observatory at the top, you’re blissfully rewarded with panoramic views of the entire city. Your thighs might burn at the time, but it’s worth the effort!
Late afternoon: Strøget
Now for a more leisurely stroll down Strøget, Copenhagen’s main and fully pedestrianised shopping street. At 1.1 kilometres long, this stretch of land has a divine mix of some of the world’s most expensive brands, budget high-street chains and independent sellers. So there’s plenty to choose from no matter what your style or budget might be.
It’s a popular place for street performers, such as acrobats, musicians and magicians, to keep you entertained between shops. Situated in the middle of the shopping district is the Stork Fountain, an elegant sculpture that stands out from the crowds of people and lines of stores. This area is a great place to stop for coffee. Just follow your nose and you’ll find a nearby coffee shop where you can relax and observe some of the impeccable Danish fashion walk by.
Dinner: Seafood at Skagen Fiskerestaurant
Address: Fiskehuskajen 13, 9990 Skagen, Denmark
Phone number: +45 98 44 35 44
This one can be a little tricky to find, but if you take a turn off Strøget and into the elevator of Illum Department Store, on the fourth floor you’ll find a rooftop location with restaurants, bars and food markets with both indoor and outdoor seating.
The standout choice is seafood experts Skagen Fiskerestaurant who offer fresh fish dishes all year round, with produce caught in the local Danish waters around Skagen. The atmosphere on this rooftop is casual and upbeat, and the wide-open views from the outdoor seating provide the perfect location to watch the sun go down after another busy day in the city.
Evening: Visit Tivoli Gardens
Address: Vesterbrogade 3, 1630 København V, Denmark
Phone number: +45 33 15 10 01
After dinner, it’s finally time to visit the magical Tivoli Gardens, an attraction you absolutely have to include in your 3 days in Copenhagen itinerary. First opening in 1843, Tivoli Gardens is the world’s second-oldest amusement park. The park is undoubtedly at its most charming in the evening, with every attraction and stall lit up with multicolours. And there’s even a firework and light show on the approach to midnight.
Once inside the park, tokens will grant you entry to a whole variety of amusement rides (including the world’s oldest wooden rollercoaster) and carnival games. Whether you’re an adrenaline junkie or a scaredy-cat, there’s a good mix of high-adrenaline rides and rides that are a bit tamer. You might not be hungry after dinner, but Tivoli does have a food hall. Here you can find a whole range of snacks including a stick of candy floss the size of your head!
Tivoli really does feel like stepping into a fairy-tale world and it’s a place that can mesmerise children and adults alike. In fact, it’s said to be the place where Walt Disney found the inspiration for his own Disney World! The park is a completely unique and unforgettable experience that you’re bound to talk about for years to come.
Day 3 of your 3 days in Copenhagen itinerary
Breakfast: Breakfast Plate at Parterre
Address: 90, K, Overgaden Oven Vandet, 1415 København, Denmark
To start the third and final day of your 3 days in Copenhagen, head out to the Christianshavn district and grab a table at hidden gem Parterre. This independent basement café and coffee shop is a tranquil little place with a simple menu, but one that packs a punch with flavours.
Fill up on yoghurt, overnight oats, avocado on rye or, if you’re particularly peckish, their renowned ‘breakfast plate’ of pastries, dairy products, yoghurt and fresh fruit. Everything needed to give you energy for the day! Parterre also has some of the best coffee in the area, provided by Swedish roaster Koppi, so be sure to grab one in a takeaway cup on your way out.
Early morning: Visit Church of Our Saviour
Address: Sankt Annæ Gade 29, 1416 København, Denmark
Just a five minute walk away is the architectural beauty of the Church of Our Saviour, a must-visit spot to add to your Copenhagen 3 day itinerary. You’ll have already spotted the impressive 90-metre high golden spire from the canal tour. But the church looks even more impressive from the pavements below.
The interior is a Baroque masterpiece, with an impressive three-storey organ carved of wood and marble as a centrepiece. You can climb all 400 steps of the tower to the viewpoint at the top. But note that the last 150 steps are on the outside of the spire and so maybe not a feat for those afraid of heights!
Late morning: Explore Freetown Christiania
A bit of a change from the Copenhagen you’ve visited so far, Freetown Christiania is a self-proclaimed autonomous community started by squatters in the 70s. Now home to around 1000 people, it’s a fascinating place to visit for many reasons. Their alternative society rejects the boundaries of usual norms and instead, residents live by their own rules and regulations.
When visiting Christiania, you must also abide by the residents’ rules. The main one of which is that photographs can only be taken in certain areas. Photography is completely prohibited on Pusher Street where Cannabis is commonly sold, despite being illegal in Denmark. Some people would describe Christiania as a little run-down or almost post-apocalyptic because of the old buildings and graffiti. But it’s a whimsical place unlike anywhere else in Copenhagen.
Lunch: Makeshift Picnic at Torvehallerne Market Hall
Address: Frederiksborggade 21, 1362 København, Denmark
Phone number: +45 70 10 60 70
Back to the inner city, it’s time to get creative with food and make your own picnic lunch at Torvehallerne Market Hall. This is Copenhagen’s largest covered market with two glass market halls, each offering its own delicious local produce. You can find anything from fresh bread, cheese, olives and fruit, to pre-made smørrebrød, sandwiches and burgers.
Right between the two market halls, you’ll find a designated communal area with tables and benches. This is the ideal spot to lay out your spread and enjoy a little picnic. And the best part is, you’re close enough to the market halls in case you need to go back for seconds (or thirds!).
Afternoon: Visit Ny Carlsberg Glyptotek
Address: Dantes Plads 7, 1556 København, Denmark
Phone number: +45 33 41 81 41
Last but by no means least on the museum agenda of Copenhagen is Ny Carlsberk Glyptotek. The museum is home to an incredible collection of art from all over the world. Exhibitions include ‘Greek and Roman Sculpture’, ‘The Ancient Mediterranean’, ‘Egypt’ and ‘French Art’. The rooms are packed with paintings (including some by Van Gogh, Monet and Cezanne), sculptures, vases and ancient artefacts. Enough to keep you occupied for the entire afternoon!
One of the most impressive rooms in the Glyptotek is the ‘Winter Garden’. This true oasis sees lush greenery and palm trees reach up under a huge glass dome. Scattered with benches and sculptures – the most notable of which being the ‘Water Mother’ sculpture right in the centre – this tropical garden feels like a serene little sanctuary in the middle of the city.
You can explore the Glyptotek entirely at your own pace and see as little or as much as you like. I can guarantee you’ll spend longer there than you expect, though.
Dinner: Pizza at Mother
Address: Høkerboderne 9-15, 1712 København, Denmark
Phone number: +45 22 27 58 98
Before you leave Copenhagen, you really have to visit the ultra-hip Meatpacking District and enjoy some of the city’s best dining options. I know, the term ‘Meatpacking’ doesn’t sound the most appealing. But the name comes from the neighbourhood’s history as an industrial space with meatpacking plants and (sorry) slaughterhouses. Nowadays, the area is home to some of the city’s trendiest restaurants, bars and nightlife.
Mother Pizza was one of the very first restaurants to open its doors in the Meatpacking District and has been popular with tourists and locals for years. In a cosy, rustic atmosphere you can grab one of their trademark sourdough pizzas made from organic Danish produce and ingredients imported from Italy. Pair your pizza with a beer or a glass of wine and get ready for your last night in Copenhagen.
Evening: Drinks in the Meatpacking District (Kødbyen)
After 3 days in Copenhagen, you’re basically a local now, so it’s time to drink where the locals drink! Popular choices in the Meatpacking District include Jolene Bar, NOHO and WarPigs. But honestly, just take a stroll around the lively streets and impulse-pick a place you like the look of. There are trendy wine bars with painted murals on the wall, cosy beer gardens lit up with fairy lights and heaters, and fancy cocktail spots serving all kinds of concoctions.
Flitting from bar to bar and bumping shoulders with locals is one of the best ways to spend your last night in Copenhagen. Just make sure you’re not too hungover for the journey home!
So I think we can agree you can pack quite a lot into a 3 days in Copenhagen itinerary. It’s a beautifully quaint city packed with history, culture and design and some of the best pastries you’ll ever have, guaranteed. Which activities are you putting at the top of your 3 days in Copenhagen itinerary? Please let me know in the comments below!
READY TO SAVE MONEY FOR TRAVEL?
Get access to my free eBook filled with tips and tricks to help YOU save money to travel the world.