Things to Do in Copenhagen, Denmark When You Are Short on Time

Updated on April 23, 2020
Karen Hellier profile image

Karen Hellier is a freelance writer and eBay entrepreneur. She lives happily in the mountains of North Georgia with her husband and her dog.


If you are planning a visit to Copenhagen, Denmark, but are short on time, here’s a cheat sheet so you can pick and choose the places you are most interested in going to visit. My husband and I have been to Copenhagen four times now—some visits were on a quick stopover on a cruise ship, and others were before we left for someplace else. Either way, we often didn’t have much time. This guide is for those of you who also only have a short time in Copenhagen.

Our first day in Copenhagen we took the Hop On Hop Off bus to learn all about the city. That's how we learned about all of these places because the Red Line (Mermaid Route) does go to all of them. The tour itself stays in the main city of Copenhagen and takes 90 minutes to go around once. There are two other tours as part of the Hop On Hop Off bus system, but if you are short on time, the red line will give you the best overview in the shortest amount of time. The automated guide, available in many languages, gives a nice overview of the history of Copenhagen and also gives updated information on what it is like to live there. I found the narrated information very educational.

Nyhavn Harbor in Copenhagen, Denmark
Nyhavn Harbor in Copenhagen, Denmark | Source


Nyhavn...this is an amazing and beautiful port with different colored houses along both sides of the canal at the port. From Nyhavn, you can take a canal ride, which we also highly recommend, but bring a jacket because for part of that time you are on the open water. Before or after the canal cruise, make sure to have lunch or at least a beer/glass of wine at one of the outside restaurants along the canal. Sometimes musicians come by there and play music (hoping for a tip), and it's just a really neat atmosphere. On the canal boat ride from Nyhavn, the tour guide will tell you where Hans Christian Andersen lived at one time (there are actually three houses he lived right in that area).

There is a cute little gift shop devoted to Hans Christian Andersen, and there's a dummy dressed like him, and you can use your own camera to take a picture with him. If you go to Nyhavn, there's a very quaint little public bathroom (women's) that is brass and wood, and I loved it. It's located at the place you get on the canal boats, and even if you don't take a canal boat cruise, you can still use the bathroom.

More Photos in Nyhavn

As you can see I am enjoying being read to by Hans Christian Andersen in the gift shop in Nyhavn!
As you can see I am enjoying being read to by Hans Christian Andersen in the gift shop in Nyhavn! | Source
Diners at outside cafes being entertained by a guitarist in Nyhavn Harbor in Copenhagen.
Diners at outside cafes being entertained by a guitarist in Nyhavn Harbor in Copenhagen. | Source

Tivoli Gardens

If you are in Copenhagen on a weekend, and if you like music, you probably won't want to miss Tivoli Gardens. Originally opened in 1843, it's one of the oldest amusement parks in the world, and Walt Disney went there and used it as a model for some parts of Disneyland. It is an old-fashioned amusement park though, so don't be expecting wild rides and roller coasters. There are a few fun rides, but it is more geared toward rides for younger folk. It has games, food, restaurants, a playground, and beautiful gardens all around the property. It is only open seasonally, usually from April until the end of September, and then reopening for holidays like Halloween and Christmas for limited hours.

But the cool thing, and what it is well known for, is that there are different stages throughout the park, and there are classical music concerts at different times. There are also outdoor shows like puppet shows for kids periodically throughout the day. I am not sure if this happens on weekdays so maybe you can go online before you go to see if there are concerts scheduled for when you might go. We liked it, but it's expensive.

Oh, and if you go, and you like black licorice, get some there because it is supposed to be some of the best in the world.

Rides at Tivoli Gardens in Copenhagen
Rides at Tivoli Gardens in Copenhagen | Source
Beautiful flowers grow across the ground on Tivoli Gardens.
Beautiful flowers grow across the ground on Tivoli Gardens. | Source

The National Museum

This place is amazing, and it could take you a good 3 - 4 hours to see it. Admission to this fascinating museum is free, and you can learn all about Denmark from before the time of the Vikings, up until the present. We found the relics from the time of the Vikings amazing. They have found a lot of items in bogs including mummies and gold and bronze items, all of which is on display. They have a couple of different room exhibits that show what life was like during certain times in Denmark.

The National Museum which at one point was a palace in Copenhagen
The National Museum which at one point was a palace in Copenhagen | Source
Relics from the Viking period at the Denmark National Museum
Relics from the Viking period at the Denmark National Museum | Source

Amalienborg Palace

This is four palace buildings around a circle where the queen of Denmark and her grown children actually live when they are in town. The coolest thing is that every day at noon you can see the changing of the guard. (Check schedules because they may have changed since we were there). There's a building behind the palace with a big green dome that I thought was part of the palace. It isn't, but it makes great pictures! There is a tour of one of the palaces which costs money. But, if you just want to see the palace and watch the changing of the guard, it is free.

The Amalienborg Palace in Copenhagen.
The Amalienborg Palace in Copenhagen. | Source

Rosenborg Castle

We really enjoyed this castle because it is in the middle of the city, and you have to pay a little extra to go into the rooms downstairs (or maybe it's just to take pictures of the rooms downstairs) which have the crown jewels, and all kinds of beautiful jewels, etc. that Denmark Royalty has worn. There are also some gardens and benches to walk around in on the castle grounds. If you have seen a lot of castles and you are short on time, you may not want to go there. But if you are a castle fan it's a must-see.

Rosenborg Castle in Copenhagen
Rosenborg Castle in Copenhagen | Source
Crown jewels at Rosenborg Castle
Crown jewels at Rosenborg Castle | Source


If your feet are up to walking, and you feel like doing some shopping, Stroget is supposed to be the longest pedestrian shopping street in Europe. I loved walking on it, and there are some sweet little alleys and another street parallel to it that has some very quaint views. These are great for taking pictures. About halfway down Stroget is an area that's actually at the top of Nyhavn, and there is a fountain some outdoor cafes there also. And along Stroget are some wonderful bakeries with authentic Danish, from Denmark so you won't want to pass up a chance to try one.

Two Art Museums: The National Gallery of Denmark and the Carlsberg Glyptotek

If you like art and would rather go to an art museum, there are two I would recommend. One is the NY Carlsberg Glyptotek, an art and sculpture museum of the works of art collected by the man that owned the Carlsberg Beer Brewery. There is a really pretty solarium in the middle, and it also has a small outside sculpture garden. It also has paintings by well-known artists.

The other art museum is The National Gallery of Denmark which to me is just another art museum, but if you like paintings and modern art, you will like it.

If you only have time for one art museum, I would choose the Glyptotek if I were you because of the solarium (the winter garden) and because it's just different than your average art museum.

The indoor garden at the Carlsberg Glyptotek
The indoor garden at the Carlsberg Glyptotek | Source

Copenhagen Poll

If You Only Had a Short Time To Spend in Copenhagen, Where Would You Go?

See results

Whether you have one day or one week in Copenhagen, Denmark, it's an amazing city that is definitely worth your time. You may wonder why I haven't included the statue of The Little Mermaid in this article. Honestly, it is just a small statue of the mermaid that sits at the edge of the harbor—I found it to be very disappointing. If you go on the Hop On Hop Off bus, it stops there for ten minutes, and that will be enough for you to see it and snap a quick picture.

I hope you have a great time in Copenhagen, and I am including a link to the TripAdvisor site below so you can find out a little more about these places before you go.

The Little Mermaid Statue
The Little Mermaid Statue | Source

Changing of the Guard at Amalienborg Palace, Copenhagen, Denmark

© 2017 Karen Hellier


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    • profile image

      Claire Attwood 

      2 years ago

      Very useful tips Karen . We are going on a Baltic Cruise in May and we will be spending 6 hours in Copenhagen!! not long to take in what looks like a super city.Inthe pst we have found trips organised by the cruise operators very expensive so we will take one of your recommended bus tours round the city. Thanks. we will then have time for a beer and a "people watch" Cheers Claire.

    • Karen Hellier profile imageAUTHOR

      Karen Hellier 

      2 years ago from Georgia

      You are welcome Bill Holland. I can't imagine just staying home, but my Dad liked to travel and I guess I was written by the travel bug as a child!

      Dianna, oh yes, if he loves licorice he will love the licorice at Tivoli. It's not my thing but I did try some and brought some home for my mom.

      Linda, thanks and I am glad you liked reading the article.

      FlourishAnyway, Although it's expensive in Copenhagen, it truly is an amazing place. I hope you get there someday!

    • FlourishAnyway profile image


      2 years ago from USA

      I hadn’t thought of visiting Denmark, but your description makes me want to go. Adding to my bucket list!

    • AliciaC profile image

      Linda Crampton 

      2 years ago from British Columbia, Canada

      I enjoyed reading this article very much. I love exploring new places on my computer, especially when I know that I'm unlikely to visit a place in real life.

    • teaches12345 profile image

      Dianna Mendez 

      2 years ago

      What a beautiful place to visit. Maybe one day I will see all these wonderful spots in Copenhagen. I know my hubby would love a taste of that black licorice!

    • billybuc profile image

      Bill Holland 

      2 years ago from Olympia, WA

      I'm glad you are able to live your dream and see all of these places. It's nice because I don't have to go anywhere and yet I get to see them too, so thank you! :)


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