Your Guide to 3 Perfect Days in Copenhagen
The beautiful land of Copenhagen is lined with colorful houses, sprinkled with bicycling locals, bursting with phenomenal food, and home to the best ice cream on the planet. It’s a metropolis designed for meandering on foot, bike, or boat. Every street offers a view of impeccably streamlined design, smiling faces, and dozens upon dozens of beautifully curated shops, cutting-edge museums, and delicious gastropubs.
As you know, we have a great affinity for everything “Dansk.” From home and office design to work-life balance, the Danes have achieved a quality and vibrancy of life that is often missing in America.
We really can’t convey in words the magic of this laid-back city of heavenly design, but we can share how we’d spend three days in one of our favorite European cities. Read on for a full-proof Danish itinerary you’re going to want to book!
The Copenhagen Admiral Hotel is all about location. Situated right on the Nyhavn canal, at the center of the city, the Admiral Hotel is an ideal place to stay for a three-day adventure. Book a room on the top floor overlooking the canal for a stunning view of the gorgeous Royal Opera House, the Royal Playhouse, and the boat-filled harbor. Make sure to order the breakfast package when you make your reservation. For a modest price, you are welcome to a generous buffet every morning of your stay, filled with Danish delicacies, fresh fruit, coffee, and even some American favorites to ease you into the foreign city.
Copenhagen was built for cyclists as much as drivers. Every street has a separate bike lane with its own set of traffic lights. Bicycle shops appear on every block, and you can rent the two-wheel favorite on a daily basis. Make sure to bike to nearby Amelienborg, the home of Danish royalty that resembles a miniature Place Vendome, the famous Little Mermaid Sculpture, and the epic Gefion Fountain.
Once you’ve visited all of the quintessential Copenhagen landmarks near the Admiral Hotel, bike across town to Christiania, aka Freetown Christiania. This self-proclaimed autonomous neighborhood is recognized as a large commune by Danish law. Copenhagen law enforcement does not police the area, which exists under the Christiania Law of 1989. Photography is strictly forbidden, so keep your camera out of sight as you stroll through the green gardens, cannabis shops, and graffiti-covered structures and enjoy the warm sounds of musicians strumming their guitars throughout the space.
By now, if you’re like us, you’ll be more than ready for a delicious lunch (and a cold beer). Make your way back toward the Admiral Hotel for a bite at the Papirøen Copenhagen Street Food. Filled with dozens of stalls, each offering a delicious speciality, the Papirøen is a great place to chill, eat, drink, and watch the boats pass the canal. After lunch, check out Experimentarium City next door. The hands-on science and technology museum is the perfect way to walk off our favorite pulled pork and spare rib sandwiches.
Located in Copenhagen’s newly trendy Meatpacking District, Kul is the creation of celebrated Danish chefs Christian Mortensen and Henrik Yurk. The two Michelin-star chefs created Kul as a hybrid of Danish and Californian fare, and we can’t get over how delicious their menu is—does rib on the bone with mac and cheese sound good to you? We love the striking blackness of the restaurant. The noir setting of this minimalist gem is inspired by a charcoal cave, hence the restaurant’s name (kul means charcoal in Danish).
Danes take their coffee very seriously. If you’re looking for the coolest coffee bar in the whole of Copenhagen, look no further than The Coffee Collective. We love its Jægersborggade location. Ask for an iced espresso (you won’t be allowed milk), and enjoy as you wander the hipster-chic street. We love sifting through the records at Beer & Vinyl and tasting artisan sweets at Ro Chokolade.
Next, make use of Copenhagen’s flawless metro system and head over to The Design Museum. The Instagram-worthy location is the world’s leading museum devoted to contemporary design in every form, from architecture and fashion to graphics and typography. Bring a notebook on you tour as it's hard not to be inspired by the innovations on display at this futuristic complex.
One of the most noticeable characteristics of Danes is their love for life and play. Working after 5:30 p.m. is not normal, and putting in weekend hours is utterly unthinkable. Copenhagen’s tremendous sense of play is embodied in the Tivoli Gardens, a whimsical toy land filled with roller coasters, performances, candy shops, and delicious restaurants. We recommend having lunch at the Brasserie. You might spot a peacock roaming the courtyard or see teenagers doing impressive skateboard tricks on a makeshift half pike.
After enjoying the summer carnival grounds, cross the street and visit the Glyptotek Museum. Founded by an heir to the Carlsberg brewing fortune, the Glyptotek is home to a collection of Danish art and traveling exhibitions. But the real treasure of this museum is its café. Surrounded by palm trees in the building’s lush winter garden, Café Glyptoteket always has a minimum of seven homemade cakes on offer. Art and cake… You can see why we love this spot!
The Meatpacking District is too much of an It spot to only visit once. Head back to the foodie neighborhood for a delicious meal, and dangerously good gin and tonics at Fiskebar, one of the hottest restaurants in Copenhagen. Surprisingly, the sensational fish menu is not excruciatingly pricey, and the food will blow your mind. Its fresh rhubarb dessert is an absolute must—it outdoes any rhubarb we’ve tried stateside.
For an après dinner drink, walk next door to local favorite Warpigs, where you can order one of its 30-plus home-brewed beers or, if you’re really ambitious, a platter of Danish meat for your second dinner.
After a jam-packed two days of sightseeing, eating, and biking, we like to take a more relaxed approach to our third day in Copenhagen. Sleep in and then make your way to Royal Smushi Café. This Danish delight has an eclectic, feminine décor with a splash of humor and whimsy. It is the perfect place for an extra-strong coffee and a smushi (a Danish open-faced sandwich prepared in sushi size).
Take the train to the Louisiana Museum of Art. Located about 25 minutes north of the city, this breathtaking modern and contemporary art museum is well worth the trip. The 3000-plus works that compose the permanent collection, such as the Calder sculpture on the front lawn, are incredibly impressive, and the dozen or so annual special exhibitions are always a contemporary art world favorite. We love how the minimalist architecture of this space plays with the rustic country landscape surrounding it.
Calder and Abstraction: From Avant-Garde to Iconic by Stephanie Barron ($42)
Just a two-minute walk from the Admiral Hotel, the exquisitely designed Standard Hotel and Jazz Club is a wonderful place to catch a bit of live music and sip a glass of wine before your final dinner in Copenhagen. During the summer, you can listen to an intimate jazz performance at 6 or 8:30 p.m. on Thursday, Friday, and Saturday.
As the grand finale to your three-day Copenhagen emersion, dine at the best restaurant in the world, Noma. You’ll want to make a reservation months in advance as this is the hottest culinary ticket in all of Europe. Run by executive chef René Redzepi, the kitchen serves each guest a collection of 20-some plates throughout the decadent evening. Each serving highlights local ingredients and showcases a reinvented version of Nordic cuisine. At $296 per head, the tasting menu is quite the splurge but, in our view, 100% worth it!