24 Hours in Copenhagen: The Ultimate Quick Guide

Photo of colourful houses along Nyhavn

So, you’ve decided to come and spend 24 hours in Copenhagen? 

Bad idea.

You should have stayed for longer. 

Don’t worry, though. We can still make sure you get the most out of your limited time in this beautiful city so that by the time you’re on the way home, you’re already saving to return. 

If you’ve been wondering: “What can I do in 24 hours in Copenhagen?”, this guide is for you. We’ll talk about where you should stay, the sights you can’t miss, and more. 

First of All… Grab a Bike

Using a bicycle is the most convenient way to get around Copenhagen, hence why the majority of us who live here commute on two wheels each day. While cycling in the Danish capital is intimidating to newcomers, fear not – it’s actually pretty easy. 

Donkey Republic is one of the most popular rental services. You’ll find their bright orange bikes all over the city; all you need to do is download the mobile app and enter your payment details to unlock one and start exploring. 

Another option is Bycyklen, which are the official city bikes. Again, you’ll find these scattered throughout various points in Copenhagen. 

Alternatively, your hotel or hostel might let you rent one for the day. It’s a good idea to check with these first since you might find that these cost less than the other services. 

If you choose to explore Copenhagen on two wheels, read up on what you shouldn’t do when cycling in the city

Where to Stay? 

Since you’re short on time, staying as close as you can to the city centre is a good idea. But here’s the catch-22: accommodation prices are also at their highest.

If you’ve got money to spend, consider SAS Radisson Blu. This unmistakable skyscraper is just a stone’s throw away from Copenhagen Central Station. For mid-range budgets, consider Wakeup Bernstorffsgade or Cabinn City. 

While finding a place to stay in Copenhagen on a budget is difficult, it’s not impossible. Arguably, the best value for money is the Copenhagen Downtown Hostel, while Generator Copenhagen is also popular. 

Of course, you don’t need to pick a hotel or hostel if you’d rather not. You could, as an alternative, try living like a local for the night by renting an Airbnb apartment. If you do, finding an apartment in Indre By or Vesterbro will ensure that you’re near all the main sights. 

What to See? 

Oh boy, where to start? 

Well, we know exactly where to begin: the same place everyone else does. Begin your Danish adventure at Nyhavn, taking in the cute coloured houses you’ve seen on all the postcards. 

Then, after swerving the selfie sticks and doing your best not to get hit by a cyclist, cross the bridge to Amsterdam-inspired Christianshavn. Here, you’ll find Vor Frelsers Kirke; if you’re coming outside of its tower’s closed winter months, buy a ticket to the top and take in this dynamic capital from above. 

When you’re at the top of the church, you’ll notice how diverse Copenhagen’s architecture is. And yet, it seems to all blend together perfectly. Now you’ve got your older building fix, grab your bike and cross the water again – then go a little down the waterfront to Den Sorte Diamant. Impressive from the outside, the library indoors is also an ode to Denmark’s unrivalled eye for design. 

Speaking of the water, it feels like Copenhagen is shaped by H2O. So, it makes sense to get a different viewpoint and enjoy the city from here as well. Nettobådene, which you can catch from Nyhavn, is an affordable way to sail through Copenhagen’s waterways and get a taste of how important the sea is to this city. 

Another place to take in the Danish capital’s unique layout is The Lakes. These rectangular bodies of water stretch from Østerbro all the way down to the border of Vesterbro and Frederiksberg and are well worth a stroll or run around. 

And, of course, we couldn’t leave Tivoli out of the must-see things in Copenhagen. The world’s second-oldest theme park is a hit with tourists and locals alike, whether they’re young or old. Here, you can satisfy your thrill-seeking cravings or simply enjoy a leisurely walk around if you’d prefer.  

Where to Eat? 

Like the rest of their Nordic neighbours, many Danes start their day with coffee. To be truthful, I think that coffee is pretty overpriced in Copenhagen – but the cafe experience is pleasant nonetheless. 

Since you’re going to be on the move, you’re well within your rights to enjoy some of the incredible pastries Denmark has to offer. You can find some of the best cinnamon buns in town at Meyers, a chain of bakeries with a handful of locations in the city. 

For a quick lunch, no first time in Denmark is complete without smørrebrød. It’s pretty impressive how this is a global phenomenon, really, because it’s literally just rye bread with some kind of topping. You’ll find plenty of places to have this Danish delicacy, so hop into whichever store or restaurant takes your fancy. 

If you’re hungry for dinner, consider getting a taste of Copenhagen’s internationalism. Mahalle is worth thinking about; you can get falafels, hummus, halloumi, and much more at this well-priced Lebanese chain. 

24 Hours in Copenhagen: Enough to Get a Quick Taste of Danish Life

While it’s advisable to visit Copenhagen for at least three days, you can still see and do a lot in 24 hours – if you’re willing to be on your feet. In addition, the city is compact, making exploration a breeze. 

Should you have such little time in Denmark’s liveable and loveable capital, make sure you stay close to the centre. That way, distances between the main sights will be smaller, and you can get more done. 

Once you’ve got a small taste of what makes Copenhagen and its locals tick, you can bet your bottom dollar that you’ll want to come back for more. 

Published by Danny Maiorca

Danny is a freelance writer living in Copenhagen, Denmark.

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