City Breaks: 24 hours in Copenhagen

City Breaks: 24 hours in Copenhagen

Copenhagen is a stunningly beautiful city, sitting on the sea, and packed full of sights.

It’s not cheap, but with the current exchange rate, neither are many traditionally budget-friendly European destinations. There’s no better time to splurge a little and enjoy what Denmark has to offer.


9am: Lunch

Start the day with a hearty brunch in one of Copenhagen’s bustling cafes. Yogurt, fruit and granola will appear alongside eggs, Danish meats and a selection of breads.


10am: Botanical gardens and Rosenborg Slot

Head for the northeast corner of the city centre. Wander around the leafy botanical gardens and visit the red-brick Rosenborg Slot. This 17th century castle looks like something out of a fairytale, surrounded by a moat and rising to a collection of spires and towers. It was the summer home of Christian IV, and is packed full of royal artefacts.


11.30am: Amalienborg palaces and Kunstindustrimuseet

Buy a joint ticket at the Rosenborg Slot and head off to the 18th century Amalienborg palaces, the current home of the Danish royal family. Four identical palaces face each other across a courtyard where every day at noon there’s a changing of the guard ceremony.

Those who love Danish design should take the opportunity to visit the Kunstindustrimuseet, which traces its history from the Middle Ages right through to the 20th century, when talents such as Arne Jakobsen, Hans Wegner and Poul Henningsen made Denmark famous for exquisitely simple furniture.

Shopaholics can invest their time on Stroget, the world’s longest pedestrianised shopping street.


1pm: Smorrebrod to go

If the weather is good, grab a traditional smorrebrod and find a bench in a park or by one of the pretty canals.

These open sandwiches start with a base of dark Danish rye bread and are layered with selections of fish, meats, salads and pickles. Twin it with a cold ‘hoker’ beer – a generic term for any beer bought in a shop and drunk outside.


2pm: ‘Little Amsterdam’

Cross over the Knippelsbro bridge to the island of Christianshavn. The quaint cobbled streets, criss-crossing canals and Dutch-style houses have led to the nickname Little Amsterdam.

The sights are low key and it’s a great place to wander, but there are one or two ‘must-see’ sights: the ornate spire – and the tremendous view from it – of the Vor Frelsers Kirke and the free city of Christiania.

This 85-acre alternative community was set up in the 1970s in a network of disused barracks and has a policy of collective use, where no one owns their own home and everyone works together.

Visitors can take guided tours among the gardens and graffiti-etched buildings, and it’s fascinating to see a social experiment in full working order.


3.30pm: The heart of the city

Cross back over the bridge to the small island of Slotsholmen, the geographical heart of the city and home to grand government buildings and museums. It takes days to visit all the museums and galleries, but taking a turn around the streets gives a real feel of the old city.


4.30pm: Harbour tour

Take a ferry ride around the harbour. Cross from Slotsholmen back on to the mainland by the Holmensbro bridge to reach the jetty by Holmens Kirke. Netto-Badene boats leave from here, and are much cheaper than the competition, DFDS canal tours.

As the boat skims across the water it offers great views of many of Copenhagen’s stunning sights, especially the angular, Henning Larsen-designed Opera House with its floating roof.

The trip also hops up to where the infamous Little Mermaid sits on her rock, saving tired legs and disappointment – the mermaid is very small indeed, and (whisper it), not really worth the walk.


6pm: Nyhavn canal

The afternoon sun will be soaking the north bank of the central Nyhavn canal, so stop for a refreshing beer and watch the world go by. This buzzing street is lined with brightly coloured houses with gabled roofs and has plenty of bars to choose from.


7.30pm: Tivoli gardens

Make for the famous Tivoli gardens. First opened in 1843, there are now 25 retro fairground rides in these pleasure gardens, with a ferris wheel, the world’s tallest carousel, stomach-churning roller coasters and a boating lake.

There’s live music in venues around the park, firework displays on Wednesdays and Saturdays in summer and plenty of cafes and restaurants. Check when Tivoli is open – the summer season runs from mid-April to half-way through September, and there are Halloween and Christmas openings.


10pm: Nightlife in Indre By

Finish off the evening with a pub crawl in the lively and central Indre By area, or in trendy, upmarket Norrebro. Copenhagen is famed for its jazz, and many of the clubs stay open until the small hours.


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