Copenhagen is such a fun and lovely city – with lots of attractions and beautiful places to visit. If you are wondering about how to spend 3 days in Copenhagen, keep reading as this post is about how to create an itinerary that allows you to see the best of the city in a short amount of time.
I am still surprised that I was surprised that I liked Copenhagen as much as I did. After all, Stockholm is one of my favorite cities in Europe and so I knew I liked the laid-back and charming Nordic cities – so I have no idea what took me so long and why I only visited Copenhagen now.
But waiting for that long – was worth it. Copenhagen is a great city getaway.
Yes, it is expensive, but I think that with a Copenhagen Card, I – at least – kept my expenses quite low.
You will find out about the best places to visit and top things to do along with other travel tips, like where to stay, how to get around, and more. And of course, this itinerary also is about how to spend your days in the city, so that you don’t waste too much time getting around.
Without a question Denmark is the top place to visit in Denmark and here is what to know for your trip.
TRAVEL TIPS FOR YOUR COPENHAGEN ITINERARY
Copenhagen is well connected to other parts of Europe – either by train or airport.
The train station is right in the city center and you can catch a bus if you need to get to your accommodation.
There are also buses and metros that drop you off at Copenhagen train station for a reasonable price.
In Copenhagen, you can walk to many sights – but if you are too tired or don’t want to walk much, you can rely on good public transportation.
I absolutely see no need to rent a car. Instead, rent a bike as Copenhagen is extremely bike-friendly.
For day, you will need to take trains. If you have a 3-day Copenhagen Card Pass, you can use the train (even though the places are not directly in the city of Copenhagen).
Copenhagen claims to be extremely environmentally friendly – and it is true to some extent. The bike lanes are great and so are the options for renting a bike.
But the shops love their coffee-to-go – and often even use paper cups if you have your drink inside the cafe (thus, don’t be surprised to see a lot of cups trashed all over the city center).
Bring your own water and coffee bottle if you don’t want to be part of it – and the water from the tap is absolutely fine to drink.
For more tips on what to pack for Europe, check out my packing list.
Copenhagen Card – I used the card for my trip to Copenhagen and loved it. It gave me access to many museums and attractions – basically all the places mentioned here can be visited with your Copenhagen Card.
When I first bought the card, I was reluctant since the price was quite high – but since you can also use it for public transportation (including the entire Copenhagen area), it was well worth the money and I did not have to spend any more money on attractions or public transportation.
Copenhagen is probably always a good idea – especially in December but also in the warmer months it is probably the best time to visit though.
Check out my Europe travel tips if you are visiting Europe for the first time.
BEST THINGS TO DO IN 3 DAYS IN COPENHAGEN
DAY 1 IN COPENHAGEN
Keep in mind, that on Mondays most museums are closed, so you need to adjust the itinerary and – ideally – not visit on a Monday.
Visit Christiansborg Palace
Start your day 1 at one of the most interesting sights in the city.
One place to visit, whether you visit in summer or winter, is Christiansborg Palace and it should not be missed on any Copenhagen itinerary. It is close to other main attractions in the city center yet located on the mini island of Slotsholmen.
Christiansborg Palace was once the home of Danish kings and queens, but after one of several great fires, the royal family moved to Amalienborg Palace in the late 1800’s and never returned.
Parts of the palace are still used by the Royal Family for events – and it is the best place to get a glimpse into the impressive lives of the Danish royals.
The Royal Reception Rooms include The Tower Room and The Oval Throne Room, where foreign ambassadors to Denmark are received by the Queen. The Prime Minister of Denmark also uses The Royal Reception Rooms for greeting foreign state leaders.
You can visit several rooms and places, but the most outstanding is probably the Great Hall where you will find the Queen’s tapestries. Christianborg Palace was probably one of the highlights when visiting Copenhagen in December, and my favorite royal place to visit and thus, I highly recommend visiting.
Enjoy Views From The Tower
Once you have finished visiting the Palace, just head to the Tower, which is located right at the palace. The Tower at Christiansborg Palace does not have an entrance fee (though there are long lines).
Standing at 106 meters, the Tower at Christiansborg Palace is the highest tower in Copenhagen – but only 40 centimeters higher than the city hall tower.
On clear days, you probably have amazing views over the city. However, winter months can be gray and dark, so I skipped on this as the cloudy sky did not promise a nice view but if you have 3 days, you should try to add it to your itinerary.
No worries, you don’t have to climb stairs – you can take the lift up there. Once you take the lift down, you just have to cross the street – and go to Ved Stranden – to start your next Copenhagen activity.
Do a Canal Cruise
I admit that I am totally into boat tours – but canal cruises are fine, too, and I do recommend doing one.
A canal cruise is included in your Copenhagen Card and takes about 70 minutes. You will also hear from a live guide about Copenhagen’s sights and attractions.
You will pass by The Opera, Amalienborg Palace, The Old Stock Exchange, Christianshavn, Our Saviours Church, The Sixtus Battery, The Black Diamond, ‘BLOX’, the Little Mermaid, and more sights. In the winter months, the boats are covered so it is a great activity for any time of the year.
It might be time for lunch now, so you can start heading to the market square.
Visit the Round Tower
Another attraction you can visit all year round is the Round Tower that was built in the 17th century, and is the oldest functioning observatory in Europe.
To this day, it is used by amateur astronomers and many other visitors. The observatory is encircled by an outdoor platform from which you have a magnificent view of the old part of Copenhagen. Though it is only 36 meters high, you have to walk 209 meters to get to the top and enjoy the views.
There are only a few steps at the end that you have to climb; otherwise, you just walk in circles.
I would not say it is a must-see attraction, but if you have a Copenhagen Card and are in the city center, pay a visit and see Copenhagen from above (and it is not an exhausting activity, which might make your decision – to visit or not – easier).
Explore the City Hall
Head towards City Hall – built from 1892-1905 — which is the headquarters of the municipal council, as well as the Lord mayor of the Copenhagen Municipality, Denmark.
You will find it at the City Hall Square, and can’t oversee it since it is one of the tallest buildings in the city.
With its 105.6 meters to the top of the tower, it offers a great view over the city. For the Tower, you will need a guide and can’t go by yourself.
But even if you don’t want to go up to the top, you can visit the city hall, which is open to visitors (just check their opening hours) and though it was not a highlight, it was nice to visit.
Stroll Tivoli Gardens
Very close to the City Hall is Tivoli Gardens, which is an amusement park and one of the most visited places in the country.
Unlike many other amusement parks, it is located directly in the city center and, thus, is very easy to reach – plus it is perfect for people of all ages.
It is the second oldest amusement park in the world (founded in 1843) – apparently, Walt Disney visited and found the inspiration for his own Disney World here.
Thousands of colored lights create a fairy-tale atmosphere and a perfect winter wonderland. In combination with the many rides and Christmas Markets (including many food stalls), it is a place you could spend hours or days.
You pay an entrance fee and then have to pay extra for rides (and of course, for food and drinks).
Many people would say, it is one of the best things to visit in Copenhagen. Personally, I liked it and enjoyed my time, but be aware that it gets very busy in the evenings and it probably is not the most relaxing activity (however, it is more charming once it gets dark) but I recommend it for your Copenhagen itinerary after all.
Tip: Tivoli Gardens is not open all year round – so, before planning in some time, check here if it will be open during the time of your visit.
DAY 2 IN COPENHAGEN
For day 2, you could start with one of the main sights in the city.
See The Little Mermaid
One of the most famous attractions in Copenhagen is The Little Mermaid, which you will find at Langelinje Pier. She turned 100 years old in 2013 and has had a troubled past ever since.
Inspired by Hans Christian Andersen’s fairy tale about a mermaid who gives up everything to be united with a young, handsome prince on land, this statue has since then been the victim of vandalism.
Which means that she has lost her head twice, once the arm was sawn off, and several times she has had paint poured on her – but she has been restored and you can visit her now at any time of the year.
Honestly, if you like strolls, visit the mermaid, but if you have less than 3 full days in the city, you can skip it as it might be very famous, but was not really spectacular – in my personal opinion.
Explore Amalienborg Palace
Copenhagen is not only perfect in winter for some outdoor activities, but also has some beautiful indoor places that allow you to warm up and learn about Denmark´s and Copenhagen´s histories.
Amalienborg Palace is such a place – a popular sightseeing spot for people interested in royals and history. Here, you can find out more about the royal´s past and present as Denmark’s royal family, who still reside inside the palace.
There is the Amalienborg Museum that displays, among other things, private interiors of the most recent kings and queens.
After visiting the museum, you can also watch the changing of the guards, as they start marching near Rosenborg Castle through the streets of Copenhagen and end up at Amalienborg, where it takes place at 12:00 pm. To see them, you need to time your visit precisely – so, think about that when planning your trip.
Visit Rosenborg Castle
Alternatively, you can start your 2nd day in Copenhagen with a visit to Rosenborg Castle.
It is another place where you can learn about royal history. Located in King´s Garden, it also gives you the option for nice strolls in the warmer months (in the winter, the garden is less inviting).
It was built by one of the most famous Scandinavian kings, Christian IV, in the early 17th century and features 400 years of royal art treasures and Royal Regalia – and the Crown Jewels.
Though the Crown Jewels might not be as impressive as the British Crown Jewels, it is well worth a trip.
The interior is well-preserved and it is interesting to go through. But if you want/can only visit one royal palace, then I suggest visiting Christianborg Palace and skipping this one. But with three days in Copenhagen, you should be able to visit both.
Whether you visit on a cold or warm day, you have to stop at Nyhavn, which is probably one of the most famous places in all of Copenhagen and even Denmark.
Nyhavn used to be a commercial port where ships from all over the world docked – making this area full of sailors, ladies of pleasure, pubs, and alehouses.
Nowadays, it is still a busy place – but with a different atmosphere and charm.
Beautiful and colorful buildings are lined up along the canal, as well as many restaurants and cafes. Though it surely isn’t the most budget-friendly place to eat, it gets quite busy and is perfect to either spend some time at during the day or in the evening.
You will also find the houses of the famous Danish fairytale writer, Hans Christian Andersen, who used to live in number 20 (and number 67 and 18). He wrote some of his fairy-tales, like ’The Tinderbox’ and ‘Little Claus and Big Claus,’ here.
Then, it is time to head to the famous freetown of Copenhagen – Christiana.
Not everyone loves it and it is a bit of a walk from Nyhavn, but I believe it is a great place to see in Copenhagen.
Christiana is a unique area in Copenhagen – it was founded in 1971, when a group of people cut a hole in the fence to the military barracks in Bådmandsgade.
It quickly became a spot where people could buy hash and pot – but no hard drugs. And even nowadays, weed is openly on display and you can buy it from one of the many stalls.
Christiana has about 1,000 inhabitants and 500,000 annual visitors.
Though Christiana is a lot about drugs, it is also colorful and lively with eco-restaurants (including many with vegan-friendly dishes), workshops, galleries, and music venues offering all sorts of cultural experiences.
Weed is not allowed in Denmark and, thus, you have to be careful when you want to take pictures in the area – though it is a picturesque area, you are advised not to.
I, as a solo female traveler, did not find the area scary, but it is kind of dodgy – at the main entrance, you will find a sign listing the rules and, in general, just exercise common sense.
You can also do guided tours with locals.
Visit Our Saviour´s Church
If you are in Christiana and have some extra free time on your hands, I suggest visiting Our Saviour´s Church (check opening hours and maybe visit beforehand) – which is just around the corner and has a unique architecture.
The serpentine spire of the church was inaugurated in 1752 and you can climb the 400 steps to the top (with about 150 of them wrapped around the outside of the tower). Unfortunately, the tower was closed at the time of my visit, but the views are apparently gorgeous.
From Christiana, head towards the City Hall, and from there, walk along Strøget. This popular shopping street lies in the heart of the city and is a great place for (window) shopping, buying snacks, and more.
Strøget is one of Europe’s longest pedestrian streets – 1.1 kilometres long – with many shops for all budgets.
It covers the streets Frederiksberggade, Nygade, Vimmelskaftet, and Østergade, and Nytorv Square, Gammeltorv Square, and Amagertorv Square.
You can walk all the way down to Kongens Nytorv, which makes it a perfect activity for those who enjoy some walking (if you don’t, use public transportation during the day, so you have energy left to stroll this street).
There are a lot of street artists at the markets and it is so much more than shopping. It is also a lovely place to end the second day (or you can head back to Nyhavn to end your day there).
Tip: Be wary of con artists, who ask passersby to guess the whereabouts of a ball under one of three cups and charge for it. You can’t win because it´s a scam.
DAY 3 IN COPENHAGEN
For the third day, go on a day tour and explore one or two castles near Copenhagen.
Explore Kronborg Castle
Kronborg Castle is a must-see in Copenhagen. Its interior surely is not as glamorous as Christiansborg Castle, but is still a wonderful trip if you stay for several days in the city.
It takes about an hour to get there from Copenhagen by train, but the window views are not bad and the train ride + castle ticket are included in the Copenhagen Card.
Kronborg Castle in Elsinore, north of Copenhagen, is a Renaissance castle from the 16th century and is probably the most famous Danish castle.
It is also – or mostly – known worldwide from Shakespeare‘s Hamlet.
Hamlet’s spirit is still roaming the hallways of Kronborg. In summer, you can experience Hamlet Scene perform Hamlet on an open-air stage in the courtyard – and you’ll find much more information on Hamlet (and the shop also sells quite a lot of Hamlet souvenirs).
The castle was added to UNESCO’s World Heritage List in 2000, and if you walk within the castle, you will experience some spooky moments (at least they were spooky to me, as a solo female traveler in the dark).
But of course, it was not really scary – just some effects here and there.
Visit Frederiksborg Castle
On your way back to Copenhagen, you can make a stop at Frederiksborg Castle.
It is another Renaissance castle located in the center of the castle lake in Hillerød, north of Copenhagen,
It was built in the 17th century as a royal residence and is now open to the public. It has also been housing The Museum of National History since 1878.
You can visit the museum inside and also visit the chapel, the Great Hall, the Audience Chamber, and the baroque garden.
Even if you decide to spend some time in the garden of Frederiksborg Castle, you can still visit both castles in one day.
It probably will be late when you head back to Copenhagen, but with this itinerary, you will have seen some of the best places.
CONCLUSION: WHAT TO DO IN 3 DAYS IN COPENHAGEN
Copenhagen is actually much bigger than expected, and if you have more than 3 days in Copenhagen, you could see more of the lovely areas and sights. I think this Copenhagen itinerary covers many of the top tourist attractions but of course, you could way more time there and discover more cute places.
Though Copenhagen is expensive it is a great travel destination and totally worth a visit – at any time of the year!
So, whenever you will be in Copenhagen – enjoy!