March 08, 2022
The Danish capital is known for its links to fairy tales, its canals, and is said to be the happiest city in the world. 24 hours in Copenhagen is not enough but if it’s all you have, this itinerary will help you to get a taste of the city and all it has to offer.
To start we highly recommend buying a ticket for the Hop-on Hop-off bus. With your ticket in hand you won’t have to worry about public transportation or how to get from one place to the next as the bus stops at all the best sights in Copenhagen and you can get on and off as many times as you want while your ticket is valid.
Beat the crowds to an iconic sight
Start your day at the iconic statue of the Little Mermaid, Den Lille Havfrue. The statue, which is just off the shoreline, was created by Edvard Eriksen and is based on the fairy tale by Hans Christian Andersen, who once lived in Copenhagen. The Little Mermaid statue is as iconic for Copenhagen as The Statue of Liberty is for New York and Manneken Pis is for Brussels.
Your visit to Copenhagen isn’t complete without seeing the city’s number one tourist attraction. But this does mean it can get a bit crowded on the shore. So best to come here first, before the masses decent.
From the statue, it is only a 5 minute walk to the Citadel, Kastellet, a star-shaped fortress which was once an integral part of the city’s defences. Keep your eye out for the Dutch-style windmill which is also located on the fortress grounds.
Relax on the water
Hop on board the bus from the Citadel and enjoy the audio guide and sights out the window as you make your way to the Christiansborg Palace stop. Christiansborg Palace houses the Danish Parliament, Supreme Court and Ministry of State. Parts of the Christiansborg Palace are still used by the royal family for various functions and event, such as gala banquets and public audiences. This means that you can only visit when the royals aren’t using it.
Luckily, a mere 10 minute walk from the palace you can step on board of canal cruise to discover Copenhagen from the water. The one-hour cruise starts in Nyhavn, from there you will get a preview of Nyhavn before continuing on to see sights such as the Copenhagen Opera House, Christianshavn and Fredriksholm’s canal. Sit back, relax and let the guide tell you about your surroundings.
Article continues below
Discover colourful Nyhavn and watch the changing of the guard
Once back on land you’ll have time to enjoy vibrant Nyhavn. The 17th century waterfront, canal and entertainment district Nyhavn has made quite a change from once being in disrepute to now being one of the most photographed parts of the city centre. Once this charming harbour was known for beer, sailors and prostitution, today it offers visitors brightly coloured gabled houses and lots of restaurants and cafés.
Less than 10 minutes from Nyhavn, you’ll find the official winter residence of the Danish royal family, Amalienborg Palace. Here you can watching the changing of the royal guards, Den Kongelige Livgarde, every day at noon.
You can find a hint to who is currently residing in the palace from the accompaniment of the royal guards. When the Queen is in residence the guards are accompanied by the Royal Guards music band. If, instead, one of the royal princes is residing at the palace in the capacity of regent, the guards are accompanied by drums and flutes.
Visit Denmark’s largest art gallery
If you are ready for lunch, you might want to head back to Nyhavn or enjoy a meal at Kafeteria, the unique eatery at the next stop on our itinerary, which is easiest reached by hopping back on the bus. The National Gallery of Denmark, Statens Museum for Kunst (SMK for short), is Denmark's largest art gallery with approximately 260,000 works of art. The original collection was the private property of the Danish royal family up untill the mid-19th century when the collection was given to the people.
The museum has both permanent and temporary exhibitions on display. The permanent exhibitions include European Art 1300-1800, with works by Rubens, Rembrandt, Mantegna, Cranach and Titian, and Danish and Noric Art 1750-1900, which charts Scandinavian art from the beginning through the Danish Golden Age to the birth of Modernism.
Enjoy the gardens and rides at Tivoli
We end our day back amongst Copenhagen’s fairy tale heritage, Tivoli Gardens. This amusement park and pleasure garden is the second oldest amusement park in the world. It was one of the places that served as inspiration to Walt Disney before he build Disney World. Tivoli is open well into the night and offers fun for all ages.
Feel the rush in the roller coaster - one of Tivoli's most popular rides, enjoy the view from the classic Ferris Wheel or enjoy the spectacle at Petzi’s World. Stroll through the Gardens' prettiest spots, and you'll be enthralled by the atmosphere. There are also plenty of places to enjoy a meal within Tivoli Gardens, with restaurants, cafés and a food hall spread throughout the park.
Article continues below
Spare time before leaving Copenhagen
Do you have some extra time before you have to leave the city? Go to Copenhagen Central Station to visit The Tube. This attraction is one unlike any other in the city and is the perfect way to spend that last bit of time in Copenhagen. Here you can challenge your senses, find your inner child and get lost in unending rooms.
Our top tips
- Sep 22, 2023 Great things to do in Amsterdam in autumn
- Sep 19, 2023 Beautiful Light Art festivals throughout Europe
- Sep 11, 2023 Autumn in Rotterdam: time to go exploring
- Sep 8, 2023 Visiting Stockholm in autumn
- Sep 7, 2023 What is the best canal cruise Amsterdam has to offer?
- Sep 5, 2023 Great things to do in Berlin in autumn
- Sep 1, 2023 Discover things to do in Copenhagen in autumn
- Aug 29, 2023 Explore the port of Rotterdam during the World Port Days
- Aug 18, 2023 The best ways to see Amsterdam by bike
- Aug 11, 2023 10 fun facts about Rotterdam