Filled with green spaces, utterly walkable and true to the infamous Nordic spirit, Copenhagen is one of the most colorful and creative cities to visit in Scandinavia where the natural harmonically coexists with the urban.
Curious if a 24-hour stopover visit is enough to explore Copenhagen?
We can assure you that the answer is yes. Even if you have only one day to spend in the capital of Denmark, the land of the Vikings. There’s enough time to sample a lot of Copenhagen’s charm— on foot, by bike or other means of transport or even via a canal tour (especially if it’s rainy) – and experience the quality of life it offers its citizens along with the feeling of hygge (=a state of comfort, relaxation, and peace).
#1 Climb to the top of a Tower
A neo-Baroque building, Christianborg Palace, also known as Borgen, houses the Danish parliament and has the tallest tower in the city (106 m). Make sure to climb to its top and absorb the panoramic rooftop views of Copenhagen. Plus, admission is free for visitors. Feeling royal? Go inside the palace and explore the Royal Reception Rooms with the Great Hall and the Queen’s tapestries, the Royal Stables, or the Ruins under the palace itself.
Address: Prins Jørgens Gård 1, 1218 København
Or climb the 400 steps to the top of the Baroque Church of Our Savior (built in 1752) which attracts 60,000 visitors a year. Get to the top for awesome panoramic views over Copenhagen but remember: the last 150 steps are situated outside. Do you dare?
Address: Skt. Annæ Gade 29, 1416 København K
#2 Chill out at the Islands Brygge
The waterfront of Islands Brygge used to be Copenhagen’s industrial harbor which has now transformed into an iconic hanging-out spot: stroll around, copy a local and have a solo, family or romantic picnic on the lawn, sunbathe or swim in the popular harbor bath. The quality of the water is checked daily and approved by the authorities and there are even 2 pools (out of a total 5) specifically for children. Relax and let your little swimmers enjoy themselves safely since lifeguards overview the facilities, too.
Address: Islands Brygge 18, 2300 København S
Open: 15 May–15 September
#3 Watch the Changing of the Royal Guards at Amalienborg Palace
Amalienborg Palace, with its 4 different palaces (2 are open to the public), is the home of the Danish royal family and is a must-see for all, you, royal-history fans!
Every day at 12 PM, you can watch the changing of the guards while they march through the streets of Copenhagen and perform an elaborate choreography, often to the sound of music; a true spectacle. But even if you can’t make it to Amalienborg Palace by noon, no worries: you can observe the guard change at Rosenborg Palace at 11:30 AM, too.
PS: If you want to feel extra fancy, visit the Amalienborg Museum (a part of Christian VIII’s Palace) and admire the Fabergé Chamber or get dazzled by the Gala Hall which is still used by the royal family on special occasions.
Address: Amalienborg Slotsplads 5, 1257 København K
#4 Shop at Strøget
Feeling your shopaholic side kicking in during your one day in Copenhagen? One of Europe’s longest pedestrian streets and a very picturesque shopping hotspot, Strøget, is located in the heart of Copenhagen. There, you can easily shop not only local design pieces but also international brands, taste delicious Danish pastries or a smørrebrød and get some memorabilia to bring back home. Strøget, also, hosts some of the city’s street performers, such as musicians, acrobats and magicians, usually at Amagertorv Square. Enjoy!
Address: Frederiksberggade, 1459 København K
#5 Choose a Danish Museum
Are you traveling with little explorers? Is your one day in Copenhagen rainy? Or are you simply a museum buff?
Immerse yourself in culture at the Nationalmuseet (National Museum of Denmark). And most importantly, you’ll find the Children’s Museum, there. Is is an indoor playground where kids of any age have fun while discovering the past and are allowed to touch everything. Travel in a Viking ship, prepare a snack in the medieval kitchen or defend your castle. You can do anything, here, even push the Boredom Button (no spoilers here about what it does) which is hidden somewhere in the building.
Address: Prince’s Mansion, Ny Vestergade 10, 1471 København K
Or visit the SMK (Statens Museum for Kunst/National Gallery of Denmark), the largest art museum in the country.
Address: Sølvgade 48-50, 1307 København K
Alternatively, explore the Designmuseum Danmark which is full of furniture, ceramics, textiles and is a must-visit if you’re a design/décor lover.
Address: Bredgade 68, 1260 København
#6 Stroll down Nyhavn
Once the city’s red-light district, Nyhavn, is now famously shown in Copenhagen’s postcards with its colorful facades, local restaurants and cafes by the water. Also, the famous Danish writer Hans Christian Andersen used to live here while finding inspiration to create his popular fairytales, like “The Little Mermaid” and “The Ugly Duckling”. Don’t miss a stroll there – it is for sure one of the top things to do when you have one day in Copenhagen!
Address: Nyhavn 1-71, 1051 København K
#7 Meet the Little Mermaid
Walk along the beautiful pier and soon you’ll find yourself in front of the statue of the Little Mermaid made by Edvard Eriksen. Obviously inspired by Andersen’s fairytale, it’s now considered one of the most photographed statues in the whole of Europe. Before you leave Copenhagen, make sure to greet the Little Mermaid, she’s waiting on a rock ready to say hi.
Address: Langeliniekaj 2, 2100 København Ø
#8 Embrace Your Alternative Side in Freetown Christiania
Founded in 1971, when a group of people cut a hole in the fence to the military barracks in Bådmandsgade: welcome to the famous freetown, Christiania, which simultaneously is and isn’t part of Copenhagen. When you go, remember the fun-fact that you’ll enter a space which is self-government, so, technically you’ll exit the EU while there. Art, street food, hippies, trade of cannabis and a no-photos policy are all part of Christiania’s alternative aura and charm.
Address: Prinsessegade, 1422 København K
#9 Live Your Fairytale in Tivoli Gardens
The second-oldest amusement park in the world still in operation, Tivoli Gardens opened in 1843 and—rumor has it—was the inspiration behind Walt Disney’s Disneyland. There’s something for everyone here: unique architecture, historical buildings, blooming gardens, nostalgic feeling and spooky rides. Whether you’re traveling with your partner, with friends, solo or with family (especially when you’re traveling with your little loved ones), find time to stop by Tivoli. It’s fun, it’s magical and has late opening hours.
Address: Vesterbrogade 3, 1630 København V