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Denmark is one of 3 Scandinavian countries, the other two being Norway and Sweden. These 3 countries along with Finland and Iceland and their adjoining areas are collectively termed as Nordic.
A trip to one of the happiest countries in the world is incomplete without visiting its capital. Copenhagen is probably the most laid-back capital among the Scandinavian countries and ranks among the happiest cities in the world too.
Spending three days in Copenhagen is enough to explore the city and its top spots. The best way to get around is cycling but if you have the Copenhagen Travel Card then your transportation and most of the attractions will be covered under it.
Copenhagen is also an amazing place to wander as a solo traveller and if you’re an architecture student you’ll love the geometric buildings that Copenhagen offers.
You can use this 3 day Copenhagen itinerary to plan out your day and see the things that interest you. I’ve tried to cover a broad spectrum of interests so you can pick and choose what you would enjoy and plan your day accordingly.
After arriving at Copenhagen Airport, you can take a train from the Koebenhavns Lufthavn station to Copenhagen Central station, which is in the city. Even if you’re arriving by rail from another European country the destination station is the same.
A train leaves every 12 mins and the journey will last about 15 mins so you’ll be in the city within no time.
To make the most of your 3 days in Copenhagen I highly recommend taking the Copenhagen City Travel Card. It includes unlimited travel on trains, buses, metro and harbour busses throughout the entire capital region, including to and from the airport.
Apart from unlimited public transport, you can also visit world-class museums, take a cruise along the charming Danish canals and explore the beautiful castles in and outside of Copenhagen using this card where one visit per attraction is free.
Among the famous landmarks that is included in this card is Tivoli gardens, Rosenborg castle, Kronborg castle, Christiansborg palace and The Danish Design Museum.
Spending 3 days in Copenhagen is so common among travellers that it is the most popular and recommended duration of the Copenhagen card as well. A 3 days or 72 hours card will cost 99 EUR or $110 for adults and 49 EUR or $55 for children.
Since it includes transport and so many attractions, the city travel card will save you some money.
Carlsberg Brewery/Brand Store
Once you have the card in hand, you can start your Copenhagen exploration. If you’re a beer lover you can head to Carlberg Brewery. A tour here will teach you about the history of beer, includes a lunch and you can end the tour with a horse and carriage ride.
Alternatively, if beer isn’t your jam and you’re hungry, you can head to the Torvehallern Food Market and enjoy some local Danish cuisine at the food stalls here.
You’ll find everything right from local food, fruits, seasonal produce, gourmet meals, coffee and even vegan dishes.
Post a fulfilling lunch, you can explore the city on foot to work up an appetite for dinner. Take a stroll on the cobbled streets of Strøget which is a pedestrian zone and the shopping area of Indre By. This central district is also known as Inner City or Copenhagen Center or Downtown Copenhagen.
It is one of the main tourist spots and the longest pedestrian-only street for shopping in Europe. So, you can shop for souvenirs to take back home. Along this street, you’ll also find a 13th century church, Church of the Holy Spirit, Helligåndskirken, and a stork fountain, Storkespringvandet
H. C. Andersens Boulevard and Copenhagen City Hall
At the intersection on the other end of this street is one of Copenhagen’s widest and busiest boulevards named after the prolific author, Hans Christian Andersen or H. C. Andersen.
He was a Danish author of plays, novels, poems, travelogues and fairy tales. Some of most popular fairy tales were The Little Mermaid, The Ugly Duckling, Thumbelina and The Princess and the Pea.
The boulevard is eponymously called H. C. Andersens Boulevard. On this boulevard, you’ll stumble upon the first architectural wonder of the city, the majestic Copenhagen City Hall. It is built in a unique Nordic architectural style called the National Romantic style and gathered inspiration from the city hall of Siena, Italy.
The city hall is an open building where you can walk around on your own or take the 45 mins guided tour. You can visit it from Monday to Friday from 9 am to 4 pm and on Saturdays from 9 am to 1 pm. The city hall is closed on Sundays.
The adjacent City Hall Tower is accessible only with a travel guide and the guided tour lasts 30 mins. From Monday to Friday at 11 am and 2 pm and on Saturday at 12 noon.
Jens Olsen’s World Clock
If you’re visiting Copenhagen post May 2020, then you might have the opportunity to witness the world’s most accurate analog clock, Jens Olsen’s World Clock. Currently, it is undergoing renovation and repair work.
Walking further, you’ll reach Istedgate which is a kilometre-long shopping street that also has street art showcased on buildings.
From here you can visit Vesterbro which was a former meat packing district turned cultural hotspot. So, you’ll find hip and cool bars, vintage shops, cafés. Pick a spot and relax for the rest of the day.
Alternatively, you can drop into one of the many coffee shops that line the streets of Copenhagen.
Start your 2nd day with a canal tour. Head to Nyhavn which is Copenhagen’s famous 17th century waterfront and canal district apart from also being an entertainment hub.
You might recognise the area once you get there because of the brightly coloured 17th and 18th century townhouses and buildings that are popular landmarks of photography.
The canal tour will take you past the Copenhagen Opera House, which is quite a sight with its unique building has an overhanging roof and rounded walls, the Queen’s yacht, Amalienborg Palace, among others and the farthest sight was the famous Little Mermaid statue.
The Little Mermaid
The Little Mermaid statue is one of Copenhagen’s most iconic landmarks depicting a mermaid becoming human drawing inspiration from H. C. Andersen’s children’s fairy tale of the same name. Unveiled in 1913, this statue is more than 100 years old and sits atop a rock by the waterside at the Langelinie promenade in Copenhagen.
If you want a better look at the statue then you can walk along the promenade to reach her and see her from the front because you’ll only be able to see her back on the canal tour.
Did you know? Denmark burns their garbage to convert it to fuel and since it doesn’t have enough of its own it has to import garbage form neighbouring countries?
The street alongside Nyhavn is also lined with restaurants, cafés and bars where you can grab a bite to eat and have a drink post the canal tour.
Post a scrumptious meal, you can take a walk to Amalienborg Castle. This is the home of the Danish royal family. It consists of four identical classical palace façades with rococo style interiors around an octagonal courtyard. There’s also an equestrian statue of King Frederick V in the centre of the square.
Each of the four façades were originally built for four noble families and over the years, various monarchs and their families have resided in each of them.
Tickets cost 95 DKK or $14. Students get a discounted rate of 65 DKK or $10.
Tip: You get a joint ticket to visit the Amalienborg & Rosenborg (which is included in Day 3) Museum for 160 DKK or $24 which is valid for 36 hours.
The Marble Church
Across the street from here will get you to Frederik’s Church popularly called The Marble Church. It is also built in rococo architectural style. It has the largest church dome in Scandinavia.
The Church is open on all days from 10 am to 5 pm and on Fridays and Sundays from 12 am to 5 pm. Entry is prohibited for sightseeing if a service is underway.
The Danish Design Museum
You can also check out the Danish Design Museum. The Museum has on display a number of art pieces by renowned Danish artists and industrial designs. It is closed on Mondays and public holidays. From Tuesday to Sunday it is open from 10 am to 6 pm except on Wednesday when it is open till 9 pm.
It also houses a café, Klint Café where you can grab a bite to eat.
The Museum garden is also open to explore. During the summer, the garden and outdoor restaurant close by 5 pm. Entrance fee costs 115 DKK or $17. Entry is free for students and if you’re below 26 years of age.
You’ll also pass by Kastellet (or Citadel) which is Europe’s best-preserved star shaped fortress with bastions at its corners. The grounds of Kastellet also include the Kastelskirken (“Citadel Church”) as well as a windmill and a public park.
Start Day 3 with a short 25-30 minutes train ride from the Copenhagen Central Station to Roskilde Cathedral. This UNESCO World Heritage site was built somewhere between the 12th and 13th century and was Scandinavia’s first Gothic cathedral built with brick.
It has been the mausoleum of the Danish royal family since the 15th century thus there have been many royal burials commemorated here.
By the end of the 19th century, side chapels and porches were added to this basilica in different European architectural styles thus the Cathedral is the best example of the evolution of styles in a single structure.
If you have the Copenhagen Travel Card entry is free otherwise entry costs 60 DKK or $9 and includes a 48-page illustrated guide book to the Cathedral. Groups get a special discount.
You can then head back to the city center to visit the Rosenborg Castle which is a Dutch Renaissance palace and gardens and includes a museum as well originally built as a country summerhouse.
Entrance fee (without the Copenhagen Card) costs 115 DKK or $17 for adults and 75 DKK or $11 for students with valid ID. Entry is free if you’re below 17 years of age.
The Round Tower
Your next stop is to The Round Tower or the Rundetaarn which is a 10 mins walk from the Palace. This is a 17th century Dutch Baroque astronomical observatory converted into an observation deck that has no stairs!
The ascent is a Spiral Ramp with an incline starting from the entrance all the way to the top of the tower. Climb to the top to get an amazing view of the city. The observatory at the top is Europe’s oldest functioning one.
One visit to this attraction is also included free of cost in the Travel Card. Entry otherwise costs 25 DKK or $3. There’s no discounts for students, groups or senior citizens.
You might pass by the Tivoli Gardens to get to the next place on this 3-day itinerary but we’ll save the Gardens for last as I have a feeling, you’ll will love being here to see the transition of pre sunset to post sunset.
So, a 10 mins walk from The Round Tower will get you to the Christianborg Palace which is a palace and the seat of the Danish parliament. It houses the Danish Prime Minister’s Office and the Supreme Court of Denmark, and is located on the islet of Slotsholmen.
The premises includes the Royal Representation Hall, the Knights Hall, the Royal Stables, the Royal Party Kitchen, Christiansborg Castle Church and the ruins under the castle.
You can pick from a variety of tour tickets – individual ones or a combined one. The combined one costs 160 DKK or $24.
The Black Diamond
Post the palace tour, you can head to The Black Diamond. Don’t be fooled by its name, the black diamond is actually the Royal Library, called so because of its unusual cubic shaped, mirror-like walls and black colour.
Designed by Danish architects Schmidt Hammer Lassen, the Black Diamond is located on Slotsholmen, just by the waterfront. It is so big that it includes a café, restaurant, bookshop and an exhibition room. All this apart from the 6 reading rooms.
Get off the islet and a 10 mins walk later you’ll reach the Tivoli Gardens which is a 19th century amusement park that has the world’s oldest wooden roller coaster, many other rides and live entertainment. It is the world’s 2nd oldest amusement park.
Entry for anyone above 8 years of age costs 130 DKK or $19-20. Post sunset, this place is lit up and looks just as charming as in the day.
Denmark is linked to Sweden via the Öresund bridge and a 30-40 minutes train ride will take you from Copenhagen to Malmö, Sweden. Isn’t that cool? Half an hour to go from one country to another!