Are you planning to spend 2 or 3 days in Copenhagen? If so, I have the perfect guide and recommendations just for your visit. In this amount of time, you can cover the main sights of the city, ride bicycles around like the locals and of course eat all the delicious Danish treats!
As much as I hate to zip through a city, sometimes it is a necessity. On our recent jaunt around Europe, we had the opportunity to spend a few days in Copenhagen en route to Sweden. There is an overwhelming amount of things to do in Copenhagen, but a few items popped to the top of our list. If you only have a few days, here are our top recommendations for a visit to Copenhagen in a hurry!
The Ultimate Guide to 3 Days in Copenhagen
How to Get to Copenhagen
Most travelers arrive in Copenhagen by flying into Copenhagen Kastrup Airport (CPH). If you don’t fly into Copenhagen, you probably will arrive by train from neighboring countries. Luckily, either way you arrive, it is very easy to get around using public transit.
At the airport, the metro that will take you into the city is located above Terminal 3. This train will take you directly into the city center. If you plan to explore the city without using a car, check out all the hotel options within walking distance to the station.
In addition to the metro, you can also catch the train from the station near to Terminal 3. The frequency of trains is quite often during the day with many trains every hour. At night, this drops to only a few times an hour at night. Either the train or metro will take around 15 minutes to arrive to Copenhagen Central Station.
Tickets for the train or metro can be purchased at the DSB ticket counter and at the ticket machines. If you plan to use the train often and see a few sights listed below, you might consider getting the Copenhagen Card.
You can also hire a taxi or an Uber, however they are quite expensive so we recommend using public transit during your 3 days in Copenhagen.
How to Get Around During Your 3 Days in Copenhagen
Copenhagen is a very walkable city, and can be easily explored by foot. If you stay near the city center, you can quickly get to all the major sites by walking.
However, you will notice that the locals prefer to move around by bicycle. This is one of the best ways to explore the city if you feel comfortable on a bike. For new riders (i.e kids!) I would not suggest setting them loose on the bike paths as the Danish are quick on their bikes and it can be intimidating. That said, there are a ton of options for family bikes that you can rent or use from hotels if you want to explore this way without having the kids ride on their own.
The city has a ton of exclusive bike lanes and bridges dedicated just for bikers which makes it so much safer to cruise around on 2 wheels than in many other popular cities.
If you bought the Copenhagen Card mentioned above, you can also always hop on any bus or train for free (as well as get free entrance to 86 attractions around the city). The public transit system in Copenhagen is one of the best in the world and can be navigated quite easily.
Traveler Tip: If you do not want to purchase the Copenhagen Card, but plan to use public transportation often, check out the City Pass gives access to unlimited travel on trains, metros, and buses in Copenhagen. It can be purchased for 24, 48, 72 and 120 hours. With an adult City Pass, 2 children under 12 years of age can travel free of charge.
What To Do with 3 Days in Copenhagen
Nyhavn: The MUST Visit Site of Copenhagen
For most visitors the one image they have in mind for Copenhagen is the colorful buildings of Nyhavn. As such, this is where most people go for their first stop in town. It is a lively area that is worth exploring on foot, while seeking out the perfect angles for photos!
Explore the Waterways on a Canal Cruise
As soon as you have seen Nyhavn by land, head over to do the next best thing in Copenhagen, a canal cruise. There are several route options, however almost all take you past the famous Nyhavn strip of colorful buildings to give you the perfect view from the water. The canal cruises also take visitors past the Little Mermaid statue and around the different neighborhoods, palaces and famous buildings of the city. It’s a great way to orient yourself to the city by water, and of course children always enjoy being out on the water.
If you have a full 3 days in Copenhagen, you could easily spend an entire day getting off at each of the stops to explore more. For those of you with only 2 days in Copenhagen, riding the boat around, getting the audio tour for an hour will be a great overview to start your visit. Note, there are several boat operators and cruise options. We opted for one of the most inclusive routes offering opportunities for hopping off and on at various stops up and down the canals.
Changing of the Guard at Amalienborg Palace
If you make it over to the Marble Church, you will be just across the street from the Amalienborg Palace, the Danish Royal Family’s home. Just as done in London, here you can see the changing of the Royal Guard Ceremony every day at 12 noon. It is not free like in London however with tickets costing around 95 DKK for adults (children under 17 are free).
This is definitely worth checking out if you find yourself in the area near noon!
Learn the Country’s History at the National Museum of Denmark
If you have time for only one museum, the National Museum is a fun one for families. On the ground floor there is an entire section set aside just for kids. Here kids (and adults too!) can dress up in period clothing, carry swords and shields while climbing into boats, ‘riding’ horses as well as running shops. My son also loved climbing up the scaffolding at the brick building wall pictured above. There is also a quiet section with books and drawing materials. We spent more than half of our visit here. The perfect way for children to learn – through experience and play.
Once the kids have worn themselves out in the kids section, pick up a Children’s Guide to the museum and catch the highlights of the aurora skeletons and of course mummies on the top floor. This is a great day out if its raining during your 3 days in Copenhagen.
Become Part of a Fairy Tale at Tivoli Gardens
No visit to Copenhagen is complete without a visit (or two!) to Tivoli Gardens. One of the oldest amusement parks in the world still draws the crowds, and for good reason. This fairy tale like setting is sure to amuse adults and children alike. A mix of beautiful gardens, fountains, concert halls, an aquarium and classic amusement park rides is a great way to spend one of your 3 days in Copenhagen. Initially when it opened in 1843, there were only two rides – a carousel and a simple roller coaster. Now there are 28 rides with many available for all ages to enjoy. My son will always remember Tivoli Gardens as the place he fell in love with roller coasters!
It is very easy to get caught up in the action here, so do anything you want to do before you arrive here as it will be tough to pull the kids away! The gardens don’t open until 11 a.m., so we spent the morning riding bikes and visiting the National Museum before our visit. Check out Tivoli Gardens’ website for ticket and ride options. We recommend going with one of the packages including unlimited rides as well as a meal. Ask at the entrance for a schedule of the day’s shows and locations to play your day. Don’t miss the super fun playground near the backside of the lake to let the kids run off some excess energy!
TRAVELER TIP: If you purchased the Copenhagen Card for your 3 days in Copenhagen, you can get two entries to the park. Use the first entry to visit the park at night to see it all lit up!
Enjoy A Free Walking Tour
One of the best ways to get acquainted with any city is to take a free walking tour. We have enjoyed these all over the world. It’s a great opportunity to learn more about the history, culture and get locals tips on where to eat, drink and what sites are really worth the effort!
Visit a Local Market: Torvehallerne
Torvehallerne is a beautiful street food market, with around 80 shops selling fresh fruits and vegetables as well as offering plenty of restaurants to sample. Try the Smørrebrød (traditional Danish open-faced sandwiches) at Hallernes or venture over to Grød, for a traditional porridge.
Visit the Children’s Wing of the Louisiana Museum
The Louisiana Museum of Modern Art in Copenhagen is a special place for families in that it has its own Children’s Wing! The 3 story wing offers workshops where kids can paint, draw, sculpt and explore different methods and expressions of art depending on what the current exhibits are. For art lovers, this is a must visit during your 3 days in Copenhagen.
Do as the Locals Do – Ride Bikes Around the City
Join the masses of Copenhagen on bicycle! There are a variety of types that you can hire for families. We enjoyed the bicycle that has the child’s compartment in front. It also makes it easy to store your belongings while riding! We loved exploring the city by bike, however it was a little nerve wracking as the Danes ride fast!! Once we got the hang of it, we were cruising along with them! Take some time to observe the hand signals they use and the way they navigate the roads. It will help immensely when you get on your own bicycle. For novice riders, avoid the morning and evening commute hours when the bike lanes are busiest.
Get Hands On at the Experimentarium
The Experimentarium is one of our favorite things to do in the city if you have kids with you. It is a wonderfully done interactive science center. This hands on center is perfect for all ages of kids. While pricey and a bit out of the way, it is worth it. If you have the Copenhagen Card, it is free to get in! Another great reason to get the card.
One area we did not have time to visit, but is highly recommend is Freetown Christiana. This is a self proclaimed autonomous zone within the city. It was created as an alternative society from an old military base. It may not be very appropriate for families with young children, but teens and up will enjoy seeing all the graffiti as it has some of the best street art in the city.
Photos are strictly PROHIBITED so don’t even bother bringing your camera or pulling it out while here.
Another way to see this area without so much in your face alternativeness is to take a tour of the canals by renting a boat or kayaks.
There is so much more to explore in Copenhagen but with a quick visit we felt like we got a good view of the beauty and history of this magical city. I guess this means we will have to visit again – even if it’s just for another short weekend break!
Have you been to Copenhagen with kids? What are your favorite things to do?
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