Denmark’s capital is a gorgeous old canal city with just under a million people living within its limits. Copenhagen’s history is long; it began as nothing more than a Viking village in the 10th century. Since then, it has blossomed into the major metropolitan area it is today. Though the city has gone through a lot of changes, old buildings remain throughout, making this a gorgeous city to visit for history and architecture buffs. Truly, though, anyone who wants delicious food, gorgeous harbor views, and entertaining attractions will love a visit to Copenhagen.

Early Morning: Break Your Fast

Møller Kaffe and Køkken has a reputation as one of the best breakfast spots in the city. This kitchen and coffee shop has a list of 25 breakfast items, and you pick the ones you want off a list. Whatever you get, make sure you order something with produce. The restaurant serves only the finest. Get something as simple as a fruit plate or scrambled eggs with herbs, catsup, bacon, and more. Tourists and locals alike love this spot.

Wulff and Konstali is another breakfast place with fantastic reviews and a delicious menu. This bakery is known for its fresh bread, cakes, and other treats, so make sure to save room for some carbs after you dine. You can also get brunch food like eggs, waffles, and more. The restaurant opens early, so you can start your day off with a delicious meal and still be ready to sightsee by 8 a.m. Don’t forget to get a cup of coffee here, because they serve delicious Kontra coffee.

National museum denmark
The National Museum of Denmark in Copenhagen.

Late Morning: Visit Copenhagen’s Best Museums

The National Museum of Denmark, or Nationalmuseet, is the biggest historical museum in Denmark. It holds collections of both national and international history spanning centuries. The museum itself was built in 1819, so it’s almost 200 years old and worth visiting just for that reason. But more than 14,000 years of history within its walls make this a must-see attraction while you’re in Copenhagen. You’ll see lots of Bronze Age artifacts. The museum does a lovely job portraying what life has been like for Danish people in the last 500 years through stories.

How often do you visit a single-artist museum? Probably not often, but while you’re in Copenhagen, you should put this one on your list. The Thorvaldsen Museum celebrates the work of a Danish sculptor called Bertel Thorvaldsen, who lived from the late 16th century to the mid-17th century. The building was inspired by both Egyptian and Greek architecture, which makes it very interesting to look at. Once you get inside, enjoy the gorgeous sculptures that Thorvaldsen did and the paintings that he collected during his lifetime.

Midday: Stop and Dine

Get a traditional Danish lunch at Schønnemann’s, where the specialty is open-faced sandwiches called smørrebrød. You have to come here for lunch because that’s the only time the restaurant is open. Drink beer or schnapps with your sandwich. You’ll probably meet more tourists here than locals, but who cares? It’s touristy for a reason, because everyone visiting Copenhagen wants at least one traditional meal. This spot has been around since the 19th century, so you know what it serves is crazy good.

Feeling more brunchy than lunchy? Then your midday dining choice should be the Laundromat Cafe. This Copenhagen spot has several locations, so you can find the one that’s closest to your morning activities. You’ll find lots of favorite egg dishes and a bunch of delicious sandwiches, too. Try the Dirty Brunch, which has scrambled eggs, sausages, bacon, and fried potatoes all in a single sandwich. This cafe has board games, wine, and coffee. Oh, and you can actually do your laundry here, too.

nyhavn
Nyhavn in Copenhagen.

Afternoon: Walk the City

Visit Nyhavn to see Copenhagen’s gorgeous historic waterfront. The homes and buildings built along this waterway are mostly from the 1600s; they’re painted gorgeous colors, and you’ll get beautiful photos when you walk Nyhavn. The north side of Nyhavn has bars and restaurants where you can stop for a drink and a snack after an hour or two of walking.

Strøget is in downtown Copenhagen, and it’s the city’s quintessential shopping street. This long pedestrian street (one of Europe’s longest) is a major shopping area with high-end retailers, boutiques, cafes, and eateries. Many of the intersecting streets are also worth walking down. Overall, whether you intend to buy something or simply want to look, this is a lovely spot to take a stroll in the afternoon sun.

tivoli gardens
The Tivoli Gardens in Copenhagen.

Late Afternoon: Hop on Rides at Tivoli Gardens

Head to central Copenhagen and visit Tivoli Gardens, the second-oldest amusement park in the world. At Tivoli, you can ride roller coasters, swings, Ferris wheels, and more. The park has a pantomime theater, arcades filled with games, an aquarium, and an open-air stage. Catch musical acts, ballets, and other grand performances at Tivoli. Schedule your visit to coincide with a show happening at the amusement park. It doesn’t close until 12 a.m., so you could spend your entire evening and night here if you wish.

Evening: Dine in Style

Nimb Brasserie is close to Tivoli and is an upscale treat if you’re looking to splurge on dinner. You’ll find it in the Nimb Hotel. The views from the restaurant are unbeatable, and you’ll get lots of gorgeous night-time shots of Copenhagen. The Nimb Hotel itself is very cool, too. If you want to eat something extra European, the Croque Madame is a fantastic choice. The Steak Tartare is also top-notch, but really, this menu doesn’t have a bad thing on it. Dressing up before you come here is extra fun.

Head to the Copenhagen Street Food market for a unique dining experience. This market is full of stalls serving different kinds of food. At Chick Ko, the name of the game is a Korean-American fried chicken mashup, while at All About Ostrich you can get an actual ostrich burger (plus sweet potato fries!). Other options include French, Turkish, Brazilian, and more. This is the spot to hit if your family cannot agree on a type of food for dinner. It’s also just a lot of fun, even if you all end up at the same food stall.

Admiral hotel
The Admiral Hotel in Copenhagen.

Where to Stay

Hotels

Some of Copenhagen’s best hotels are in gorgeous old buildings that are a treat to look at from outside and inside. The Copenhagen Admiral Hotel has gorgeous waterfront views, while the Ibsens Hotel is just a block from the water. Avenue Hotel Copenhagen is chic, a little less expensive than the other upscale offerings, and still conveniently located in the city center. For an inexpensive option, try Wakeup Copenhagen Carsten Niebuhrs Gade.

Hostels

Like many major European cities, Copenhagen is full of hostels at varying price points. Staying in a hostel in Europe is a fun experience for many travelers, especially solo travelers and youth, because of the people you meet from all over the world. Prices in Copenhagen hostels range from just over $20 to well over $100, so you have your pick of amenities and room arrangements.

Inexpensive options include Copenhagen Backpackers and Copenhagen Downtown Hostel, both of which offer dorm beds for under $30 a night and have great reviews from travelers. Annex Copenhagen is slightly more upscale, with private rooms painted in bright colors and nightly rates that still beat most hotels.

Vacation Rentals

In Copenhagen you’ll find lots of vacation rental options, from trendy downtown apartments to lovely homes big enough to fit families of six or more. If you’ll be staying in Copenhagen for more than a week, a vacation rental allows you to save money because you can buy and prepare groceries and get your laundry done. You also get to enjoy a home environment and experience the way a native from Copenhagen lives day to day.

dome of frederiks
The Dome of Frederiks in Copenhagen.

Airport Guide

Copenhagen Airport

Copenhagen Airport (CPH) is Denmark’s major airport; it also serves a large portion of Sweden and is the biggest airport in the Nordic countries. It is also Scandinavia’s busiest airport. CPH recommends you arrive two hours before any European flight and three hours before any flight taking you outside of Europe.

Airline and Flight Information

Most of the world’s major airlines fly into and out of Copenhagen Airport. You’ll find familiar names like Icelandair, British Airways, Air France, and Delta Airlines providing service to Copenhagen, but the full list has scores of airlines on it. Ten charter companies also fly into and out of Copenhagen Airport.

Terminals

You’ll find two terminals in CPH: Terminal 2 and Terminal 3. Gates A-F all connect through one of these two terminals. A free terminal bus service runs between the terminals for your convenience. In the terminals are plenty of dining and shopping opportunities. Popular shops like Victoria’s Secret, Sunglass Hut, and Marc Jacobs have retail space in Copenhagen Airport. You’ll find high-end labels like Gucci and Burberry in the airport, too.

Searching for something to eat or drink? The airport is full of restaurants, bars, cafes, and to-go food options. Grab and Fly is a popular spot for picking up food on your way to your gate. Starbucks is available if you need coffee, and it can be fun to try the international variations on this popular American coffee chain. Try Le Sommelier Bar and Bistro if you’ve got time to sit down and eat before your flight.

Lounges and Workspaces

One cool thing about Copenhagen Airport: it’s littered with workspaces and lounge areas in the terminals. Business travelers, tired families, and people who’ve been on planes and trains for days will love these little rest areas. The lounges require an extra charge in most instances, but if you’re doing business or truly need some alone time, the money is worth it. Plus, many of the lounges, like the SAS Lounge and the Aviator Lounge, have free high-speed Wi-Fi and food and drink options.

Transportation

Getting to and from Copenhagen Airport is simple if you want to use public transportation. A metro station is in Terminal 3; you can catch it every four to six minutes during the day and every 15 to 20 minutes at night. Take the metro all the way to central Copenhagen, or to whichever metro stop is nearest your hotel.

When traveling with a lot of luggage, the metro isn’t the most convenient option. In that case, try hopping on one of Copenhagen’s buses, which will take you to different bus lines in Copenhagen. Map out your bus route before you leave the airport so you don’t get lost or confused after a long day of traveling.

If you’re traveling to Sweden, you’ll catch your train there straight from the airport. You’ll find the ticket office and the train station in Terminal 3.

You can take a taxi or rent a car at the airport, too. Get a taxi to take you to your Copenhagen hotel or rent a car to reach your final Denmark destination. Car rentals are available at any time of the day or the night. Six major car rental companies are available through the airport: Avis, Sixt, Europcar, Hertz, Budget, and Enterprise.

Not sure how to get around? The airport has an online calculator that figures out the cheapest way for you to get back to the airport from your Copenhagen hotel or hostel. The calculator offers bicycle as one of the options, which is a lot of fun as long as you don’t have a lot of luggage to deal with.

amagertorv square stork fountain
The Amagertorv Square Stork Fountain in Copenhagen.

Copenhagen Is Waiting for You

Are you ready for an unforgettable trip? If you have to see one spot in Scandinavia, Copenhagen is a marvelous choice. The harbor, buildings, and atmosphere are unforgettable. This city has been a central Danish spot for centuries, and the city’s neighborhoods and buildings are a testament to each of those distinct periods. Walk through this city for a true taste of history. With stunning architecture, beautiful gardens, and award-winning restaurants, Copenhagen is a stupendous spot waiting for your visit.