The compact city of Copenhagen is perfect for a 2-day city trip. 48 hours in Copenhagen is enough time to explore the city centre with all its famous sights and visit several of Copenhagen’s best attractions.

Time saving travel options

Let’s start by making sure you have the easiest time getting around the city. We recommend the RED Sightseeing Hop on Hop off Bus. They have stops at all the city’s top sights and attractions, so you can save your walking for exploring instead of finding your way from one stop to the next.

RED Sightseeing offer 48 hour tickets which will make sure that you can make your way around the city with ease while listening to fun facts in their audio guide. There are also combination tickets available with some of the city’s top attraction with a 24 hour bus ticket.

Danish history

Copenhagen is rich is history, culture and has great food. Discovering it all in 48 hours is a challenge but there is plenty you can see and do in that time. The city dates back to the 12th century when Bishop Absalon built the first fortifications on Slotsholmen. Today, the Christiansborg Palace sits on top of those fortifications, which can be visited along with the medieval fortress that was found when the current palace was under construction.

Other sights to see and attractions to visit on Slotsholmen include Børsen, the old stock exchange with its striking spiral spire; the Thorvaldsens Museum, which is entirely dedicated to the work of the Danish neoclassicistic sculptor; and the Lapidarium of Kings, a former brewhouse which now houses a royal collection of sculptures.

On the waterfront

Slotsholmen is also the departure point for a lovely canal cruise through the city. The Netto-Bådene cruise take you for an hour long cruise to see Copenhagen from the water. On the way you’ll pass by sights such as Nyhavn, the Copenhagen Opera House, the Little Mermaid statue, Christianshavn and the Danish Architecture Centre.

The most famous part of Copenhagen is not the oldest part of town but what was once the most notorious. Nyhavn was constructed in the 17th century and quickly became infamous for beer, sailors and prostitution. Today, the harbour’s 17th and 18th townhouses are brightly coloured icons of the city, housing popular bars, cafes and restaurants.

Get the best out of a 48 hour city trip to Copenhagen

Green heart of the city

Copenhagen is one of the greenest and most sustainable cities in the world. The city centre has several amazing green spaces to enjoy, including the Kastellet, Ørstedsparken and the nearly connected Rosenhaven, King’s Garden and Botanical Garden. These last are home to some not to miss attractions and sights.

The SMK – Statens Museum for Kunst, sits on the corner of Rosenhaven park, across the road from both the Botanical Gardens and the King’s Garden. The SMK is Denmark's largest art gallery with approximately 260,000 works of art. The permanent exhibitions include European Art 1300-1800, with works by Rubens, Rembrandt, Mantegna, Cranach and Titian; and Danish and Nordic Art 1750-1900, which charts Scandinavian art from the beginning through the Danish Golden Age to the birth of Modernism.

The Copenhagen Botanical Garden is part of the Natural History Museum of Denmark. The garden has more than 13,000 species of plants and is arranged into different themes, such as Danish plants, perennial plants, annual plants, rock gardens with plants from mountainous locations such as Central and Southern Europe, and Conifer Hill which has coniferous trees as far as you can see.

The King’s Garden surrounds Rosenborg Castle, which exhibits the Danish crown jewels and regalia, the coronation thrones, life-size silver lions and beautiful tapestries. The Garden itself offers lovely tree-lined paths, rose-bound arches, pavilions and beautiful statues, including one of Hans Christian Andersen.

Fairy tales and wonderous oddities

Copenhagen is known as the city of fairy tales, unsurprising considering Hans Christian Andersen lived in the city and wrote many of his famous fairy tales there. He drew his inspiration from the city, including the Tivoli Gardens, which is both amusement park and a pleasure garden which engages all your senses.

The Pergola Gardens draw you in with the fragrance and flavours of edible plants, while the Nimb Water Fountains offers beautiful flowers and scenery in the company of the occasional peacock. The pleasure gardens of Tivoli are a not to miss attraction in Copenhagen and also take you on a trip around the world. From the traditionally Danish Parterre Gardens to the Asian inspired Bamboo forest.

There is a statue of the author just outside Tivoli Gardens, on the corner of Rådhuspladsen, from where he continues to observer the theme park. On the opposite side of the square, you can visit Ripley’s Believe It or Not! Copenhagen. A wonderous place filled with optical illusions, crazy works of art, incredible curiosities, and the Hans Christian Andersen Experience.

Here you can go on a journey through the past and discover more about the writers life and many fairy tales. You can walk along the streets of 19th century Copenhagen, following along in the author’s footsteps. You’ll experience his stories in a completely new way as the worlds of Thumbelina, The Little Mermaid and others are brought to life through lights, sounds and even scents.

If you want to step inside your own fairy tale then head to The Tube Copenhagen, inside the Central Station. At this unique immersive experience inside Copenhagen Central Station, your balance, your sense of depth and direction, your sense of space and time, none of them will feel quite the same afterwards. As you travel through a world of fairy tales, space and instant fame, you can take a multitude of photos with either your own phone or the TUBE photo system.

The final not to miss sight on this whirlwind 48 hour tour of Copenhagen is the Little Mermaid statue, which is arguably the most famous and iconic sight in all of Copenhagen. The statue was unveiled in 1913, less than 80 years after the fairy tale was first published, and has been a popular sight ever since.