BEST THINGS TO DO IN COPENHAGEN IN 3 DAYS – ITINERARY
Copenhagen is such a fun and lovely city – with lots of attractions and beautiful places to visit. So if you are wondering how to spend 3 days in Copenhagen, keep reading as this post is about creating an itinerary that allows you to see the best of the city in a short amount of time.
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, Copenhagen is expensive! But I think with a Copenhagen Card, I – at least – kept my expenses quite low.
In this 3-day Copenhagen itinerary, 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 question, Copenhagen is the top place to visit in Denmark, and here is what to know for your trip.
TRAVEL TIPS FOR YOUR 3-DAY COPENHAGEN ITINERARY
Let´s start with some quick tips for your 3-day trip.
How To Get to Copenhagen
Copenhagen is well connected to other parts of Europe – either by train or airport.
- It is very easy to get from the Copenhagen Airport to the city center by train or metro and takes 15 minutes.
- Luckily, you will not need one of the expensive shuttle buses – the train ticket is only around 5€ one way. You can just buy them once at the airport, and there is no need to book/pay in advance.
- If you have a Copenhagen Card – and bought them in advance – you can use the train/buses from the airport for free.
- The train station is right in the city center, and you can catch a bus if you need to get to your accommodation.
How to Get Around Copenhagen in 3 Days
- In Copenhagen, you can walk to many sights – bring comfortable shoes. Even though I had a Copenhagen Card (which allows the use of public transportation without any extra costs), I mostly walked. This is because many attractions are close by and it often is more hassle to wait for the bus, get the right bus connection than to walk an extra mile. However, walking that much can be tiring – I admit that.
- So, if you are too tired or don’t want to walk much, you can rely on good public transportation. While I hate to wait for buses and trains, they run quite frequently, and it can save you some swollen feet at the end of your trip.
- With your Copenhagen Card, you would not even have to pay extra and can just hop on the buses/trains. Without a Copenhagen Card, you can buy the bus/train tickets at a ticket vending machine.
- For day 3, you will need to take trains. So, there is no way to walk to the attractions because they are located outside Copenhagen. However, if you have a Copenhagen Card, you can use the train without any extra costs (even though the places are not directly in the city of Copenhagen).
CAR / TAXI
- I absolutely see no need to rent a car. The city center is busy, and public transportation is good – so even if you visit places outside Copenhagen, you can get there by bus/train.
- Instead, rent a bike as Copenhagen is extremely bike-friendly. Actually, it is named as one of the most bike-friendly cities in the world. A bike is perfect for exploring the city center.
- You can rent bikes for 30 minutes or for many days/weeks. There are several bike rental companies – if you plan to rent a bike, I recommend researching prices in advance, as it can get pricy.
- I read about free bikes provided by the city, but I could not find any up-to-date info that bikes are still free after doing further research.
More Tips for Your 3-Day Copenhagen Itinerary
- 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). So 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. As a result, 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.
- Many museums are closed on Mondays – and some attractions are not open all year-round. If you have a specific place/attraction on your bucket list, please double-check opening hours, etc. Depending on the days of your stay, you also might/want to tweak your itinerary and can not copy it.
- Check out my Europe travel tips if you are visiting Europe for the first time.
3-DAY COPENHAGEN ITINERARY
Okay, let’s talk about all the beautiful places in Copenhagen you can visit in 3 days.
DAY 1 OF 3 DAYS IN COPENHAGEN
The prices listed here are for adults. Often, there are discounts available and also the tickets for kids/teenagers are cheaper.
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 that lady 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.
This means that she has lost her head twice, once the arm was sawn off, and several times she has had paint poured on her. I mean, seriously, do people have nothing else to do other than torturing her? Anyway, 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 Copenhagen, you can skip it as it might be very famous, but it was not really spectacular – in my personal opinion.
Also, it is located a bit away from other main locations/sights, which means walking an extra mile (literally!) Also, if you do a canal cruise, you will see her from the boat.
Explore Amalienborg Palace
Copenhagen also has some beautiful indoor places that allow you to learn about Denmark´s and Copenhagen´s histories. Amalienborg Palace is quite close to The Little Mermaid, so head here now.
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.
The Amalienborg Museum displays, among other things, private interiors of the most recent kings and queens. Also, you can see one of the world’s most important collections of Russian jewelry in the so-called Fabergé chamber.
After visiting the museum, you can also watch the changing of the guards (free to watch) 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.
- OPENING HOURS/ CHANGING OF THE GUARDS: The museum is only open on Saturday and Sunday from 11 am – 4 pm (Ticket sales end 30 minutes before closing time).
- PRICES: The Amalienborg Palace Museum costs 95DKK – free with your Copenhagen Card
Then, it is time to head to the famous Freetown of Copenhagen – Christiana. Of course, 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. Christiana now has about 1,000 inhabitants and 500,000 annual visitors.
It quickly became a spot where people could buy hash and pot. And even nowadays, weed is openly on display, and you can buy it from one of the many stalls.
Though Christiana is a lot about drugs, it is also colorful and lively with eco-restaurants (including many 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.
- As a solo female traveler, I 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, 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). It is just around the corner (of Christiana) 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 (end of December), but the views are apparently gorgeous.
- OPENING HOURS / TICKET: From June to mid-December, open every day from 09:00 am to 8:00 pm
- PRICE: 65 DKK – free with your Copenhagen Card
Do a Canal Cruise
Then it is time to relax and do some passive sightseeing. I admit that I am totally into boat tours. Canal cruises are fine, too, and I recommend doing one. Not far from Christiana is the boat stop for a canal cruise.A canal cruise takes about 70 minutes and 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.
- PRICES: Starting from 99DKK, free with your Copenhagen Card. There are several boat stops, but Copenhagen Cardholders must depart from Nyhavn.
- Check out the timetable for canal cruises here.
Get out of the boat and enjoy Nyhavn.
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 for spending some time 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 numbers 67 and 18). He wrote some of his fairy-tales, like ’The Tinderbox’ and ‘Little Claus and Big Claus,’ here.
This is also a lovely place to end your first day in Copenhagen.
DAY 2 OF 3 DAYS IN COPENHAGEN
For day 2 in Copenhagen, you could start with one of the main sights in the city.
Visit Rosenborg Castle
Let´s start with a trip 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).
Rosenborg Castle 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, I suggest visiting Christianborg Palace and skipping this one. But with three days in Copenhagen, you should be able to visit both, and they are located all in the city center of Copenhagen.
- OPENING HOURS MUSEUM: From Tuesday to Sunday from 11 am to 4 pm (Ticket sales ends 30 minutes before closing time), closed: Mondays and 24th, 25th, 31st December and1st January
- PRICES: 120 DKK for the Rosenborg Castle, free with your Copenhagen Card.
- Entry to the Park Museum is free.
Visit the Round Tower
Then head towards the Round Tower close by. It is another attraction you can visit all year round is the Round Tower 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 nice 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 walk in circles.
I would not say it is a must-see attraction, but the views of Copenhagen are nice (and it is not an exhausting activity, which might make your decision – to visit or not – easier).
- OPENING HOURS: Open every day from 10 am to 8 pm
- TICKET PRICES: Adults 40 DKK, free with a Copenhagen Card
From the Round Tower, head towards Strøget. Strøget is one of Europe’s longest pedestrian shopping streets – 1.1 kilometers 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).
- 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.
Visit Christiansborg Palace
Then slowly walk towards this famous sight which is close by – Christiansborg Palace. Whether you visit in summer or winter, one place to visit 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 1800s and never returned. However, the Royal Family still uses parts of the palace for events. 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 the Queen receives foreign ambassadors to Denmark. 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. It was my favorite royal place to visit, and thus, I highly recommend visiting.
- OPENING HOURS ROYAL RECEPTION ROOMS: July – August: Daily 10:00 – 17:00. The ticket desk closes at 16:30 and September – June: Tuesday – Sunday 10:00 – 16:00 (closed Mondays). The ticket desk closes at 15:30. It is also closed on the 8th of June 2021
- TICKET PRICES FOR ROYAL RECEPTION ROOMS: Adult: DKK 95, free with the Copenhagen Card.
Enjoy Views From The Tower at Christiansborg Palace
Once you have finished visiting the Palace, head to the Tower, located right at the palace. The Tower at Christiansborg Palace does not have an entrance fee – and thus, 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, the winter months can be gray and dark, so I skipped on this as the cloudy sky did not promise a nice view. Also, the lines were very long, 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. However, once you take the lift down, you have to cross the street – and go to Ved Stranden – to do the next activity on your itinerary.
- There are two lines – one for the restaurant at the tower and one for the view. I
- f you want to eat at the restaurant, prior booking is recommended.
Explore the City Hall
Head towards City Hall which was built between 1892-1905. It is the headquarters of the municipal council and 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 (and 300 steps), it offers a great view of Tivoli Gardens and the inner 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. It was not one of my Copenhagen highlights, but it was still nice to visit.
Since there are fixed times for the City Hall Tower, you might need to adjust your itinerary accordingly.
- TOUR TIMES / OPENING HOURS / TICKET PRICES: Tours of the City Hall Tower run from Monday to Friday at 11:00 am and 2:00 pm and on Saturdays at 12:00. 40 DKK or free with Copenhagen Card.
- The City Hall can also be visited without a tour. It is open from Monday to Friday from 8.30 am to 4.30 pm, and Saturday from 10 am to 1 pm. It is free to visit without a tour.
- Guided City Hall tours are also available: Monday to Friday at 1 pm, and Saturday at 10 am. Price: 60 DKK
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, it 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.
Many people would say it is one of the best things to visit in Copenhagen. I liked it and enjoyed my time, but be aware that it gets jam-packed in the evenings. It probably is not the most relaxing activity. It is more charming once it gets dark, but I recommend ending your second day in Copenhagen here if possible.
- OPENING HOURS: Tivoli Gardens is not open all year round.
- 23rd April to 26th September, 14th October to 7th November, and from 19th November to 2nd January, please double-check here if it is open during the time of your visit.
- Friday to Saturday: 11.00 am to 11.00 pm
Sunday-Thursday: 11.00 am to 10.00 pm
- PRICES: 135 DKK from Monday to Friday – one-time entry for free with your Copenhagen Card
- 145 DKK from Saturday to Sunday – one-time entry for free with your Copenhagen Card
- You pay extra for rides (and, of course, for food and drinks).
DAY 3 OF 3 DAYS IN COPENHAGEN
For the third day, it is time to leave Copenhagen. Go on a day tour and explore one or two castles near Copenhagen.
Tip: If you leave early on day 3, swap day 3 with day 2 so you do not have to worry about missing your plane/train back home in case your train runs late, etc.
Visit Frederiksborg Castle
On your way to Kronborg Castle, you can make a stop at Frederiksborg Castle. This castle is about 1 hour from Copenhagen by train.
It is a 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 that you can visit. You can also visit the chapel, the Great Hall, the Audience Chamber, and the baroque garden.
- OPENING HOURS / TICKETS: Open daily from November – March: 11.00 am to 3.00 pm and from April to October from 10.00 am to 5:00 pm
- Tickets: DKK 75, free with your Copenhagen Card
You can also use your Copenhagen Card to use the train to get to the castle without any extra cost.
Explore Kronborg Castle
Kronborg Castle is a must-see in Copenhagen. From Frederiksborg Castle it takes about 1 hour by public transportation.
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. 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.
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.
- OPENING HOURS / PRICE: Open daily from 21st April – 24th October from 10:00 am to 5 pm, from 26th October to 30th December open from Tuesday to Sunday 11:00 am – 4:00 pm. There might be days the castle is closed. Please double-check.
- DKK 95 (there can be changes in ticket prices during school holidays). It is free with your Copenhagen Card.
- You can also use your Copenhagen Card to use the train to get to the castle without any extra cost and to get back to Copenhagen. It takes about one hour to get back to Copenhagen.
Even if you decide to spend some time in the garden of Frederiksborg Castle, you can still visit both castles – Kronborg Castle and Frederiksborg Castle – 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: ITINERARY FOR 3 DAYS IN COPENHAGEN
Copenhagen is actually much bigger than I 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 are in Copenhagen – enjoy!