Long weekends are the best, and not just because you get to stay home from work an extra day. It’s because without much of a fuss – you can easily book cheap flights to various European destinations (that is, if you live in Europe. For all non-Europeans, flights will cost you more, but they’re so worth it!).
One of these lovely destinations is Copenhagen, the capital of Denmark and one of the most beautiful Scandinavian cities (not to mention one of the happiest, as the Danes proudly hold the title as some of the most content people in the world).
I had the pleasure to experience the beauty and spirit of the Danish capital twice, once in February (when I lost all my fingers to frostbite) and once in May, and have formed a solid plan of what you should do there.
So let’s break down
How to spend long weekend in Copenhagen:
• THURSDAY evening
– Experience Hygge:
The first thing you will notice when arriving in Copenhagen is
how pricey everything is how kind everyone is. Literally some of the kindest and friendliest people I have ever met were in Copenhagen. And now to the painful bit. Yes, what you ‘ve heard is true: Prepare to spend loads of cash, coz Copenhagen is really pricey… Especially when it comes to accommodation.
What I would recommend is to skip the hostel / hotel option and search for a room in AirBnB. Why? Because this way you will be able to experience the magic and homely feeling of hygge, the concept (more like art) of Danish cosiness and living.
Alternatively, try the Generator Hostel for a fairly economical – and super central – option, the CPH Studio Hotel for a bit more pricey one, and if you really want to spend cash on accommodation, then the Manon les Suites might be the place for you.
And since Friday is going to be packed with sightseeing, I suggest you go to bed early (can you tell I’m approaching 30?)
• FRIDAY morning
– Brunch & Nyhavn:
One thing NOT to miss in Copenhagen is their truly exceptional brunch served in some of the most Instagrammable cafés of all time. The options are endless: Go to Wullf & Konstali for “make your own brunch” kind of brunch, to Far’s Dreng for a beautiful interior decor, and to Kalaset for a vintage atmosphere.
Now that you are all fuelled up, head to the city centre and prepare to be amazed by the most colourful display of houses and boats in Nyhavn, Copenhagens’s most photographed spot. This canal / waterfront has been there since the 17th-century, serving as a port for fishermen and cargo ships. Now the place has transformed to an entertainment district with cafés, restaurants, and plenty of tourists taking it all in. So grab a coffee or an ice cream, have a stroll and enjoy a first taste of Copenhagen’s beauty.
Tip: Keep an eye out for a small handcraft market which, if you are lucky, might be in the square next to Nyhavn for you to have a browse at.
• FRIDAY lunchtime & afternoon
– Palace | Church | Library
5′ walking from Nyhavn is The Union Kitchen, where you should stop for a deliciousburger with truffle fries or a plate of beed meatballs. Another 5′ walk from there is the historic Amelianborg Palace, home to one of the world’s oldest monarchies. The Palace, which is actually made up from 4 identical buildings, is situated in a square, which also hosts the statue of King Frederik V. Right across from the Palace Square you will spot the beautiful Marble Church with its characteristic green copper dome, which has no admission fee and definitely deserves a visit. If you are lucky you might catch a church organe performance or a wedding ceremony!
Tip: Climbing to the top of the Dome will reward you with magnificent views, but can only be done at 1pm (every day during summer months, only weekends during the rest of the year).
Adhering to the Danish Palace theme, you should then walk to the Christianborg Palace, which contains the Danish Parliament and the Supreme Court, and is definitely worth a few pictures (palace opening hours are 9/10 am – 5pm, depending on the time of the year).
Friday’s sightseeing is concluded with something a lot more modern than the centuries-old churches and palaces: The Black Diamond. A waterfront building and marvellous gem of Danish Architecture that hosts The Royal Danish Library. Well, to be exact it’s an extension of the 1793 library; you can even make your way from within the Black Diamond to the foyer of the old library through a super cool walkaway, which makes you feel like you are literally stepping into the past.
• FRIDAY night
– Cocktails in Copenhagen
Following your dinner at Paludan, a Café with a beautiful library interior decor and nice simple tasty dishes (get the Pasta Chicken & Pesto), you *must* head out for a drink! Copenhagen has undoubtedly one of the coolest bar scenes in Europe, combining experienced mixologists, tasty cocktails and interesting decors – from minimalist Scandinavian to warmer vintage ones. Don’t miss Brønnum, Curfew (voted Copenhagen’s best cocktail bar for 2017) or Salon 39 (which also serves dinner if you want something a bit fancier than Paludan’s menu). Skål! (=“Cheers” in Danish, and it’s pronounced Skuol – you are welcome)!
• SATURDAY morning
– Boat trip & Rosenborg Castle
You can’t visit Copenhagen and pass from Nyhavn only once. And that’s because not only is it incredibly pretty to look at, but Nyhavn is also the starting point for most of the city’s boat tours. In case you didn’t know, Copenhagen is kinda built on water, has many canals, and even more bridges! So one of the best ways to enjoy the capital is to jump in a boat tour (just turn up at Nyhavn and buy a ticket from the office, there are frequent tours throughout the day). The tours are always performed in multiple languages and pass from many important landmarks, as well as underneath some of the lowest bridges I have even seen! An experience worth having.
Tip 1: Ok, this might be a controversial one, but I actually found the statue of Little Mermaid (one of Danish writer Hans Christian Andersen’s most famous fairytale characters) very underwhelming. So pay attention and snap a quick pic when passing by it during the boat ride, and don’t bother going there again. Sorry, Ariel! Speaking of Hans Christian Andersen, do look out for Nyhavn 20 (also known as Boel House) when visiting Nyhavn, as the author lived there when he had his first fairytale published.
Boat tour over, you can continue your morning walk to the romantic King’s Garden (just 10′ walking distance from Nyhavn) to admire Rosenborg Castle, which was built in the early 17th century by king Christian IV. And if the Garden isn’t enough nature for you, within 5′ you can find yourself in the historical Botanical Gardens, which date since 1847 and are known for their many glasshouses.
• SATURDAY lunchtime & afternoon
– Food Market & Lakes
I love a good food market. And in Copenhagen, Torvehallerne is one of the best. Serving all sorts of fresh goodies, from traditional Danish sweet and savoury treats to more international options, the market is the perfect lunch spot if you ask me. And since you cant visit Denmark and not eat a Smørrebrød (open sandwich consisting of buttered rye bread topped with cold cuts of meat, fish etc), I suggest you go for that.
A 10′ walk west of Torvehallerne will lead you to The Lakes, a row of three rectangular lakes whose surrounding paths are buzzing with strollers, runners and bikers. Do none of these activities sound appealing to you? No problem! There are tons of benches and patches of grass on the waterfront (which get filled with people as soon as the sun comes out) as well as plenty of cafés. Lake time over, walk back to your accommodation through Strøget, a central shopping street, one of Europe’s longest pedestrian streets, and the perfect spot to buy your Copenhagen souvenirs (yes, I am that girl who collects fridge magnets and keyrings – go ahead, judge me).
• SATURDAY evening
– Pizza & Tivoli
Don’t know about you, but for me Saturday night is pizza night. And when in Copenhagen, pizza night means Gorm’s. A super high-quality pizzeria which was founded in 2008 and has since expanded to more than 10 restaurants all over Denmark, 8 of which are in the capital.
Continue your evening at Tivoli Gardens amusement park (whose food hall also hosts Gorm’s pizza), for the perfect night of entertainment. Open since August 1843, Tivoli is the second oldest operating amusement park in the world (and the second most popular seasonal amusement park in the world), and has 25 rides, 4 roller coasters, 2 water rides and loads of fun music, theatre and dance events. The park stays open until 11pm from Sunday-Thursday, and until midnight on Fridays and Saturdays.
• SUNDAY morning
– Danish pastries & City Views
Time for some of that world famous Danish pastry. Find some of the best at Lagkagehuset, one of Copenhagen’s best bakeries located next to Christianshavn Metro station. Whilst you are enjoying your pastry, make your way over to the Church of Our Saviour, which is literally steps away. Not only is this baroque church one of the most famous in Copenhagen, but has also one of the best views of the whole capital. Approximately 60,000 people climb the church’s serpentine staircase annually, which is nearly 100m tall. If you want to be one of them, purchase a ticket and get ready to climb 400 steps to the top, 150 of which are located on the outside spiral staircase.
Tip: If you have a fear of heights then it’s best you just snap a picture of the church from the ground, and instead enjoy a stroll around the many beautiful canals of the Christianshavn neighbourhood, which the church belong to. On a sunny day these canals are buzzing with life, and one of the best things to do is just sit and watch all the boats and people passing by.
• SUNDAY lunchtime & afternoon
– Food Market & Christiania
Reffen is one of Copenhagen’s newest Street Food Markets, and where you should have your final Copenhagen meal. Created in an old industrial area right by the water (which offers perfect views across Copenhagen’s harbour), the market hosts 50 start-ups in the form of food stalls with flavours from literally all over the world, I’m talking Greece to Mexico! And since this ain’t just like any other food market, you might stumble upon a music performance, creative workshop or any other innovative project and event that often take place there.
Fun Fact: Reffen’s vision is to become the first self-sufficient food market. His founder cultivates his own organic vegetables, which he delivers to the market every week, and all food stalls must follow a “Reduce and Reuse” dogma, utilising compostable food service, reducing food waste, as well as using organic, free-range and local ingredients as much as possible. Pretty cool, huh?
During your last few hours in the Danish capital, you simply must experience Freetown Christiania, an intentional commune of around 1000 residents famous for its open cannabis trade. However, Christiania is also so much more than that! It’s a colourful mix of workshops, art galleries, handcraft stands (in which you can find amazing handmade jewellery and other goodies!), organic (& cheap!) eateries and beautiful nature surroundings.
A long weekend is certainly not enough time to truly enjoy all of Copenhagen, but it’s certainly a great intro to the vibe of this cool, cosy and kind city.
Can’t wait to be back.
[A special thank you to my boo and fellow girl squad member Constantia Aristeidou, for being the most perfect host, tour guide and photographer, and for showing me the beauty of Copenhagen ♥]
| More “How to spend a Weekend in…” posts here (Ibiza-Spain), here (Kraków-Poland), here (Dublin-Ireland), and here (Oban-Scotland).