Copenhagen is the capitol of Denmark and home of the infamous Nyhavn Canal as well as the iconic “The Little Mermaid” sculpture that draws tourists from around the world. This Copenhagen itinerary is full of a few unusual things to do in addition to the traditional tours around the city. Your visit to this beautiful place is sure to be unique and leave you wanting more.
Because I was flying to Copenhagen from London, I was able to take advantage of low cost carriers such as RyanAir. Booking in advance made my flight price even better at just $15. From Copenhagen I flew to Amsterdam, which was pricier at $111.
In my opinion, Copenhagen is very pricey. Because of this, I opted for a hostel. It was one of the first hostels I’d stayed at and the size of the room and perfect location made it one of my favorites to date. Two nights at the Copenhagen Downtown Hostel was $93, although airbnb is another great option.
My visit to Copenhagen was a part of a two week journey around Europe that included London, Amsterdam, and Iceland. I randomly added Copenhagen to my list despite not knowing a single soul who had visited. I planned to spend 3 days in Copenhagen solely because I’m a big believer in astrology, and Copenhagen is considered to be a great city for Libras like me. So without further ado, here is my Copenhagen itinerary.
Roam Your Neighborhood
After checking into your lodging I highly recommend taking a walk around the neighborhood you’ll be staying in and getting to know your surroundings. This is also a great time to head over to the canals, Nyhavn Canal to be specific, and getting your obligatory canal shots so that you don’t have to stress about it during your time there.
Take a Canal Tour
This Canal tour is a perfect way to see a lot around the city, at least as much as you can see from a canal, without overexerting yourself because you just arrived in a new place. It’s also a great way to see major landmarks without having to squeeze through crowds. On my cruise I learned that Copenhagen resembles Amsterdam so much on purpose. It was actually modeled after Amsterdam. Go figure.
Go On a Walking Tour
If you’d rather see things on foot, here’s a great walking tour of the city. While the canal tour has its perks, the walking tour may be just a tad better. You get to explore not-so-random neighborhoods and see what’s down alleyways, if need be. TIP: Keep a list of any neighborhoods of interest to you in your notepad on your phone. That way you know which areas you may want to revisit, and it’s as simple as plugging them into your map.
If you’re anything like me and prefer to roam around solo, you may want to look for self guided walking tours. Many bloggers explore areas on their own and document points of interest and share them with their audience. This gives a different perspective to what may feel like a generic tour.
Enjoy a Food Tour
I always recommend a food tour at the beginning of a trip. This 2.5 hour food tour of Copenhagen takes you to five different venues where you can taste local food and beer. It’s always interesting to learn what and why citizens of a country eat the way that they do. It’s also yet another way to see certain neighborhoods or landmarks that you wouldn’t have come across on your own.
I promise that I don’t always recommend food tours simply because I’m gluttonous. Take my food tour in Lisbon, for example. Everyone knows that the Portuguese are known for indulging in cod. They just may consume more cod than anyone else. But did you know that the cod fish isn’t native to Portuguese waters? It’s all imported. It’s salted and dried for transport and then they soak it and cook it. I wouldn’t have known that random fact if not for my knowledgeable food tour guide.
Because you now have an idea of the city, you should be comfortable going a little bit off the beaten path. I found out about Christiania, similar to Amsterdam’s Red Light District, from two women I met on my plane from London. After settling into our respective places, we met up here on the first day.
Photos at this place are explicitly banned although I spotted a couple people sneaking them. It was the cruise guide who alerted me to the fact that Christiania is a Freetown and that they don’t pay taxes and are self governing.
What I saw had to have been the equivalent of being on acid. There were colorful sheds and warehouses covered in graffiti, makeshift skateparks, and stand after stand selling weed, hash, space cakes, brownies, and anything else you can think of. It was a sort of paradise. The paradise that only accepts cash, by the way. There was a huge bar that sold mainly beer, but liquor as well, and plenty of stands that sold food too. I opted for a shawarma sandwich before getting into the hash we bought. We just sat atop a hill and smoked the evening away.
Have Lunch at the Torvehallerne Food Market
The Torvehallerne Food Market is an uncovered market with dozens and dozens of food stalls offering everything from produce, to gourmet food, to beverages. I love visiting food markets even when I still take food tours. This guarantees you will be eating what the locals are even if there are specialty food stalls as well. It is an affordable way to sample a variety of dishes rather than going to a restaurant and ordering one entree.
Enjoy the Tivoli Gardens Amusement Park
Imagine my surprise when I was roaming around Central Copenhagen and spotted an actual amusement park. Tivoli Gardens originally opened in 1843 and is the second-oldest operating amusement park in the world. The first is named Dyrehavsbakken, and that’s also in Denmark. This 1 day ticket to Tivoli Gardens gets you unlimited rides. If you are unsure of how much time you have to spend, or if it’s busy, this fast track ticket may be worth it. It allows you to skip the lines and is less than twenty bucks.
Visit the Carslberg Brewery
When I inquired about things to do in Copenhagen, the last thing I thought someone would recommend was a brewery tour. They had no way of knowing about my deep love for beer, and they couldn’t have possibly known I’d think a brewery tour would be the coolest thing ever.
After grabbing an IPA (my favorite style of beer) at the first stop, I roamed the halls and read up on the history of the brewery. I never thought I’d enjoy a lesson whilst drinking, but hey, that happened. Before leaving the “Old Brewhouse” the bartender was sure to direct me upstairs to see their bottle collection. It happens to be the largest in the world and was actually amazing.
Checking out rows and rows of old beer bottles from around the world, stacked ever so neatly, was kind of therapeutic. That could’ve been the delicious Carlsberg IPA giving me the feels though. Sidenote: I like to think of myself as an IPA connoisseur, and this was by far the tastiest I’ve ever had. If the strong taste is off-putting to you, I highly recommend trying an IPA by Carlsberg before writing them off.
I absolutely loved the fact that I got to do a self guided tour of the brewery because it gave me time to go at my own pace. It was like I was exploring, which it often times felt like I was. I have to admit that trekking through the dark basement with the videos and sound effects blaring was super creepy. However, I felt super badass once I made it to the other side and rushed up the stairs. I’m not saying it’s haunted, but if it was, no ghosts were getting me.
Take a Royal Castle Tour
I never think about how many European cities have royal families but the Queen of England wasn’t the only one to sit on the throne. You can experience Roskilde, Frederiksborg, and Kronborg all on one convenient royal castle day tour. If you only have time for one castle, then Frederiksborg is your best bet as it’s only a little over 30 minutes from Copenhagen.
Frederiksborg Castle was built during the 17th century for King Christian IV. Roskilde Palace, built in 1733, was used by the Royal family whenever they passed through the area or were attending a royal funeral. Kronborg Castle is now a UNESCO World Heritage Site and dates all the way back to the 1420s. This makes it the oldest of the three. Because Kronborg is considered to be the stronghold of Denmark, it has some pretty interesting history that adds to its infamy.
Indulge in a Pub Crawl
A great way to get to know Copenhagen’s nightlife scene is by going on a pub crawl. On this particular pub crawl you get to enjoy nightclubs AND bars versus just one or the other. Pub crawls are great for solo travelers. You get to go out at night and already have your built in crew to hang with. It’s also a great way to go out with whomever you are traveling with without having to spend hours googling the best bars. And because Copenhagen is also known for its beer, a pub crawl should be on any Copenhagen Itinerary.