There are so many things to do in Copenhagen. When I say so many, my boyfriend and I visited for three days and we didn’t manage to see nearly enough as we had hoped to. This was partly down to the fact that our hotel was so amazing, we spent way more time there than we had anticipated (click here to read all about it), but also because the city is just full of things to see. If you’re planning a fleeting city break like ours then, I’ve rounded up the top five things to do while you’re there, along with tips to make the most of each:
It’s the place with all the pretty colourful houses you’ll have seen on Instagram, and it’s just as picture perfect in real life. Set on a canal, it’s probably Copenhagen’s biggest tourist attraction, and with good reason.
- Nyhavn means New Harbour in Danish. Tour guides and hotel staff might think they’re helping you out by using the English translation, but it’ll help to know that New Harbour and Nyhavn are the same thing so that you don’t shrug it off when someone tries to give you tips or directions. We almost made that mistake.
- Go as early as you can when it’s a lot quieter. Less people = better photo-taking opportunities, while market traders set up stall with coffees, hot chocolates and cinnamon buns AKA best breakfast ever.
- Avoid canal tours. Granted, we didn’t actually go on one ourselves, but we walked the same route on our way to Paper Island, and once Nyhavn is out of site, there’s not much to see. If you are a canal fan, however, the main tour will only cost you £5 per adult.
- Avoid eating at Nyhavn. I’m a tourist trap’s dream when it comes to settings and convenience but you always end up paying a lot more, and that’s exactly the case with Nyhavn. A 5-minute walk up the ‘Walking street’ (official name: Strøget) will get you the same meal for half the price. No exaggeration.
- Combine your visit to Tivoli with Paper Island. I talk more about Paper Island below, but it’s the Copenhagen street food market everyone talks about, and it’s only five minutes from Nyhavn. Walk north across the bridge and you’re practically there.
Read my guide to Copenhagen hotels here
Visit Tivoli Gardens
If you like fairground rides/Halloween/Christmas, you need to visit Tivoli. It’s Copenhagen’s world-renowned amusement park, and I’d go as far as to say it’s the next best thing to Disneyland.
- Check opening times. Tivoli closes between seasons (Halloween, Christmas, Winter and Summer) for 1-2 week periods, so make sure you check online before going.
- Plan if/how many rides you want to go on. You have to pay £5 per ride on top of entry fee (£12 each), but you can buy wristbands according to how many rides you think you’ll want to go on. The most expensive unlimited rider wristband costs £29 each, but will get you unlimited use of every single ride.
- Dress appropriately. Rides + dresses/skirts = not fun. Be aware of how cold it can get, too- if you’re visiting during the evening, you’ll want to wrap up warm.
- Set aside time for queuing. This mainly applies if you’re going for the rides, but Tivoli can get very busy on the weekends and during school holidays, so make sure you arrive early to make the most of the day. You’ll have to queue upon entry, too.
- Eat at Grøften. If you want traditional Danish food, this is the one. It’s where the Danish royal family eat, and it’s not even that expensive- main courses will cost you around £15 a head.
Eat at Paper Island
Otherwise known as Papireon, Paper Island is the best street food market I’ve ever seen. As mentioned above, it’s a 5-minute walk across the bridge from Nyhavn, set inside a big warehouse. And even I- the fussiest eater in the world- had more than enough choice here- there’s pulled duck stalls, vegan pizzas, homemade salads, cinnamon buns, and a pop-up pub to name a few, and all will cost you less than £10 a head.
- Try to avoid peak times. There are seating areas indoors and outdoors, but being one of Copenhagen’s biggest attractions, they get taken very quickly. Go just before or after main meal times, and be aware that weekends will be worse.
- Make a wish on the Yoko Ono wishing tree. You’ll see it as you walk up to the entrance, and you’ll find pens and paper in the middle. So cute.
- Bring cash. Some stalls will allow for card payments, but not all.
- Take your time. Prices vary, and if you go for the first thing you see, you’ll probably end up paying more for something you don’t even want by the time you’ve seen it all. Trust me, you’ll want the lot.
- Entry is free. I’d wondered before we arrived, but rest assured you’ll only have to pay for your food.
Shop at Torvehallerne
It’s a farmer’s market with both indoor and outdoor stalls- think organic fruit and veg, huge fresh flowers, natural beauty brands and raw chocolate stalls.
- Eat at Grød. It’s Copenhagen’s famous porridge restaurant, offering up everything from sweet to savoury. There isn’t much in the way of tables though, so prepare to stand. If not, Grød has plenty of stand-alone establishments otherwise.
Explore Freetown Christiania and Norrebro
Freetown Christiania is an autonomous district in the city, running an open cannabis trade. It’s a weird experience, but so interesting to see how other people live. Norrebro, meanwhile, is known as the ‘Shoreditch of Copenhagen’, complete with graffiti art on the walls and coffee shops aplenty.
- Don’t take photos. You’re forbidden from taking photos in Freetown Christiania, hence my lack of snaps.
- Hire bikes from central Copenhagen to Norrebro. It’ll take you around 30-40 minutes to walk from central (where Nyhavn is) all the way to Norrebro. Bike hire is huge in the city though, so you’ll come across hire stores on almost every road and if you’re worried about safety, every single road has super wide cycle lanes. Honestly, I’m the world’s worst cyclist, but even I survived. (Instagram tip: find a pink bike. Not every stall has them but I spied a few and wished I’d looked harder before snapping up the first one I came across!)
So there we have my top five things to do in Copenhagen- if there’s anything else you’d like to know, please comment below or email me! I’ll be posting about what I wore and where to eat in Copenhagen later this week 🙂