Copenhagen is a city like no other. Home to lush green parks, picturesque streets, fantastic concerts and great shopping, this Scandinavian city offers something for everyone. The world turns to Copenhagen for the best in design, architecture, fashion and New Nordic cuisine. But despite its appearance as an immaculately put together city, Copenhageners love nothing more than a pastry and coffee in one of the many small cafes, or a picnic in the park with organic food and some Danish beer. Copenhagen offers laid back living at its best.
But what if you’re only visiting for a day? Where do you start if you only have 24 hours in such an incredible city? Here are our 10 steps to the perfect day in Copenhagen.
With a big day of exploring ahead, the first thing you should do is make like a Copenhagen hipster and find a good coffee shop. Thankfully there are many, so you won’t need to look too hard. Personally we love Parterre, a small basement cafe and coffee shop in the charming, maritime Christianshavn district in Copenhagen. Located in an old building facing Christianshavns Canal, it’s so cute it’s one of the most Instagrammed cafe’s in the city.
There’s no better way to see Copenhagen than from the picturesque canals. Climb aboard one of the many canal sightseeing boats and sail the winding waterways of this majestic city, past icons such as The Little Mermaid, the Opera House and the stunning Amalienborg Palace. Enjoy colourful townhouses, cobbled lanes and houseboats, and hear interesting tales about the history of Copenhagen.
At 106 metres tall, the Christiansborg Palace Tower is the highest tower in Copenhagen and offers unrivaled views over the city. It’s free to access, however there may be a queue as space is limited at the top of the tower. We recommend grabbing a bite to eat in the Tower’s restaurant, where Chef Rasmus Bo Bojesen sources the best produce from all over Denmark, and brings traditional Danish dishes to life by adding a modern twist. The restaurant overlooks the royal riding yard and the observation tower is just above the restaurant, which means you can walk up the stairs before or after your meal.
Following lunch, take in a breath of fresh air from the King’s Gardens of Rosenborg Castle. Built as the Royal summerhouse in the 1600s, it’s now a museum full of fascinating possessions of Christian IV and his heirs. It’s the garden, however, where the magic really lies, with impressive herbaceous borders, numerous historical sculptures, and a restored pavilion set within a magnificent rose garden.
Copenhagen is built for cyclists and you’ll see more bikes than cars in the city centre. Covered by 350 km of cycle paths and lanes, it’s a safe and enjoyable experience and a fabulous way to see the city as the locals do. More than a third of Copenhageners commute to work by bike.
Copenhagen is littered with bike rental shops, so grab yourself a bike once out of the gardens and head for Nyhavn, one of Copenhagen’s most photographed towns. Only a six minute ride away, you can afford to take your time and have a little explore on two wheels while taking some photos of the 17th century-waterfront district and its colourful homes.
Denmark has one of the most dynamic and exciting beer cultures in Europe, and the Danish are famous for their pale lager known as Pilsner. To enjoy one, head for Nyhavn 17, a historic icon situated right on the river that functions as a classic lunch and evening restaurant. The original interiors have been well maintained and cared for to offer an authentic experience, but if the sun is shining, be sure to sit alfresco.
If you plan enough in advance you can book a table at Noma, voted World’s Best Restaurant four times (2010 - 2014). Hidden in an 18th century harbour warehouse, Noma boasts two Michelin stars and serves Scandinavian delicacies such as Icelandic seaweed, Faroese deep-sea fish and Greenlandic musk ox and sorrel. Rene Redzepi heads the kitchen, where the team cure, smoke and pickle everything onsite. Noma is a New Nordic kitchen that’s like no other restaurant in the world.
Cocktail bars are all the rage in Copenhagen, and it’s easy to see why with establishments like Ruby. Oozing class and sophistication, passionate mixologists serve some of the world’s best cocktails with the ‘Burnt Fig’ a popular highlight (caramelised fig syrup with cognac and cream). As the clubs don’t start in Copenhagen until after midnight, there’s plenty of time to enjoy a couple of these.
Copenhagen nightlife offers something for everyone; from mainstream clubs, through chic venues, hip bars and a thriving underground club scene. If you’re after a true clubbing experience, Culture Box, one of Denmark’s most prominent night clubs, regularly plays host to a number of local and international artists. For something a little different, visit the historic Bremen Theatre during the week for live entertainment ranging from comedy and plays to music events.
Following a couple of hours rest, make time for one more coffee before boarding your ExecuJet flight home. This time, head to Cafe Norden, an upmarket coffeehouse consisting of two floors and an outside area that overlooks Amagertorv Square. Boasting a Parisian Art Deco vibe it’s the perfect place to nurse your head, grab something sweet and take in the passerby’s before saying goodbye to the gorgeous city of Copenhagen.