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24 hours in Copenhagen

Copenhagen, the capital of Denmark, is a Scandinavian hub for all things design, as well as playing host to a thriving restaurant and coffee scene. It has a rich maritime history with many waterways and grand palaces to explore. Although it may have a reputation for being a little pricey, our guide will show you how to spend 24 hours in the city without breaking the bank. 

8AM // The Harbour

Start your day with a morning stroll around the Inner Harbour area. Here you will find most of Copenhagen's most iconic sights, such as the historic Nyhavn harbour, which was home to Hans Christian Andersen during his prime fairytale-writing years. Nowadays you can take breakfast in an array of dockside restaurants, or grab a hot dog, the traditional Danish snack food. 


Walk north along the waterside to meet the iconic Little Mermaid statue, making sure to beat the crowds. Then take a boat tour to discover everything else that the maritime city has to offer on the water, from modern buildings like the Opera House and Black Diamond Library to historic palaces like Christiansborg.


11:30 AM // Alternative Walking Tour

These days every city has a free walking tour to guide you around the city centre highlights. In Copenhagen, you just need to follow the Royal Guard on their daily changing of the guard march. Starting at 11:30 at Rosenborg Castle, the soldiers march right through the centre, along the Strøget shopping street, Kongens Nytorv square and past Nyhavn, before concluding with a midday ceremony at Amalienborg Palace.


Afterwards, it's time for lunch and an obligatory taster of Danish smørrebrød, open-faced sandwiches. Try Aamanns for the city's alleged best, or the Torvehallerne food hall for a cheaper option and a wider selection of Danish cuisine. Add a hot beverage and take your time, in order to practise the Danish art of hygge (cosiness and warmth).



2 PM // Danish Design

The Danes are well known for their design, whether it's architecture, chairs or plastic building blocks. As the capital of the Danes, Copenhagen is naturally a design hub. You can learn about Danish design at the Designmuseum Danmark, or visit the free Danish Architecture Center, which also leads tours of the city's latest urban regeneration projects.


If you don't just want to look at designs, but also to experience them, then check out the Rundetaarn (Round Tower), an aesthetically pleasing 17th-century observatory, which you can ascend by spiral ramp, rather than a spiral staircase. Or head to the Strøget Lego Store to view, play with and buy the iconic Danish toy.


4PM // Big Thrills

Hopefully you still have some energy left because Copenhagen has lots more thrills to offer. The Tivoli Gardens amusement park is the place to be in the early evening. Opened in 1843, it has everything from historic fairground fare, including a century-old rollercoaster, to modern thrill rides, like a VR coaster experience. Visit in winter for Christmas stalls, gløgg (mulled wine) and an ice rink!


Alternatively, you can combine thrills with Danish Design at CopenHill. Opened in 2019, CopenHill is a dry ski slope built on top of a waste management centre. Rent some equipment and try some downhill - there's even an afterski bar for when you've finished!


7PM // A World of Food

For dinner, you can take your pick from one of Copenhagen's 17 Michelin-starred restaurants. Many of these are "New Nordic'' kitchens, serving fresh takes on Nordic recipes, using local, in-season produce. One of these, Noma, is said to be one of the world's best restaurants - and it has a waiting list and prices to match! Luckily, you can get a discounted menu if you are a student.


For something more accessible, check out Reffen streetfood market, serving a wide choice of world cuisine out of repurposed shipping containers. The harbourside location is perfect for a long Scandinavian summer's evening. 


Explore all of Denmark

Let Denmark's small cities, like Aarhus, Aalborg and Odense, enchant you, then be amazed by its coastline.

Take the train in Denmark

Hop on board Danish trains with these Passes:

Interrail Denmark Pass

Best for exploring Denmark in-depth


Interrail Global Pass

Combine your Danish trip with up to 32 other countries, including Sweden, Norway and Germany.