Copenhagen has always been on my bucket list and it’s because I’ve been drawn by its reputation for excellent pastries & coffees. That’s all it took for me to book a quick solo trip to the Danish capital and my agenda was really to eat pastries every day! I spent a total of 3 days there and my Copenhagen itinerary was very much organised around pastries. But excellent pastries & coffees aside, there are also some excellent museums to visit and it is, overall, a lovely city to stroll around just to soak up the atmosphere. In this Copenhagen itinerary travel guide, I will be sharing all the useful tips and information about visiting the Danish capital and, of course, all the fun stuff on pastries & sights!
How Many Days Should I Stay in Copenhagen?
In my opinion, around 3 days would be sufficient to get around seeing the main attractions in Copenhagen. It is certainly more of a weekend city break rather than a week-long holiday if only visiting Copenhagen alone. My 3-day Copenhagen itinerary is quite chilled out and I do feel I’ve seen what I needed to see & feel of the city. Though you could totally stay longer and spend time going on a couple of day trips outside of the city as well which is very convenient to do so with its efficient train system.
Day Trips from Copenhagen
If you have more time in Copenhagen, it’s totally worth adding a day trip to your itinerary to see more of Denmark! Here are some typical day trip ideas you can travel directly from Copenhagen Central Station:
- Helsingør and Kronborg Castle (about 1-hour train ride)
– historic seaside town and the castle in Shakespeare’s Hamlet story
- Frederiksborg Castle (55-minute train ride)
– lavish castle dubbed as the Nordic Versailles
- Roskilde (35-minute train ride)
– UNESCO World Heritage Site, known for its Viking history and nature
- Hans Christian Andersen Hus Museum (1-hour train ride)
– the birthplace of Hans Christian Andersen, i.e. the author of world-renowned fairytales such as The Little Mermaid and The Ugly Duckling
- Louisiana Museum of Modern Art (45-minute train ride)
– famous for modern & contemporary art, architecture, and sculptured landscape
Getting Around in Copenhagen
Metro & Trains
You might not need to use it often but, when you do, Copenhagen’s train and metro systems are super reliable, efficient, and easy to navigate. Service runs regularly and it only took me 20 minutes to travel from Copenhagen Airport to the doorsteps of my hotel in the city centre. Ticketing machines are available at the airport and at every station, with English translation available and accept contactless payments.
The metro system is divided into zones. If you are travelling from the airport to the city centre, you will need a zone 1-3 ticket. Travelling within the city centre would only require a zone 1-2 ticket. Alternatively, if you are planning to travel around quite a bit, you can also opt for a City Pass for unlimited rides within the appointed hours. The small one will cover zones 1-4 and there are options between 24 to 120-hour tickets (valid from the time of purchase).
However, most would agree that you probably don’t need to use the metro much once you are in the city centre of Copenhagen. You can pretty much explore the whole city on foot as all the main attractions are only around a 10-15 minute walk away from one another. Simply take your time to enjoy the long strolls as it’s a very pleasant city to do so. As long as you’ve got comfy shoes on, you’re good to go!
Rent a bike
Copenhagen is one of the most cycle-friendly cities in the world. It’s certainly the most popular form of transportation in the city. In fact, there are roughly five times more bicycles than cars in the city! Most hotels/hostels have bike renting service and you can rent a bike to travel around. Cycle lanes are clearly marked on every road (even highways!) and are easy to follow.
Cash or Card?
The currency used in Denmark is Danish Krone. All establishments take cards in Copenhagen and accept contactless payment / Apple Pay. I didn’t need to take out any cash during this trip.
- Tip: get a Revolut Card where you can exchange money into different currencies (Danish Krone included) to spend when travelling. You can also use the card to take cash out from local ATMs (though charges may apply).
Where to Stay in Copenhagen
As mentioned, the best way to explore Copenhagen is by foot so staying in the city centre would be most ideal. I have put together a list of the best hotels to stay in Copenhagen here to help you find the perfect spot (including a very Instagram-famous hotel). If you don’t mind doing more walking, the slightly outer areas such as Frederiksberg (where I stayed) could be a little bit cheaper depending on availability. Alternatively, you can use the booking.com search box below to find & book your ideal accommodation!
What to See & Do in Copenhagen (my itinerary)
First Pastry Stop at Hart Bageri
After catching a morning flight from London, I landed in Copenhagen at 1 pm local time. From there, it was super simple to take the metro to get to the city centre and checked into the hotel I was staying. Instead of trying to find lunch, I decided to hit up a bakery and kick-start my Copenhagen itinerary with what I came here for – the pastries.
I was staying near the Frederiksberg area and made a short walk to Hart Bageri. That would be the best decision ever because, oh my, was I blown away by how good the pastry was! I ordered a cardamom croissant bun and it has completely stolen the show and set the bar high for the remainder of the trip. It was honestly so good that I would even fly back just for it. Everything from the lamination, the glaze, the crispiness on the outside, to the multilayered fluffy texture…all was perfect down to a tee. The coffee was great too and has set such a positive start for the trip.
Planetarium, Theatres, City Hall Square
From Hart Bageri, I then took a leisure stroll into the city centre. I was aiming to get to Nyhavn and the route took me past many other spots & landmarks along the way. This includes the Planetarium, Det Ny Teater, Wallmans Circus Building, the entrance of the Tivoli Gardens (more on that later when I made a proper visit there), and the Copenhagen City Hall Square. From there, I walked through Strøget, i.e. the main shopping street, before reaching Kongen Nytorv and Nyhavn.
Kongen Nytorv & Royal Theatre
The name Kongen Nytorv translates as the “King’s New Square”. It is the largest public square in the city surrounded by prominent buildings such as the Royal Theatre and Kunsthal Charlottenborg. Without a doubt, it’s a very charming spot that also oozed history. During the time of my visit, they were also doing an exhibition celebrating the achievements of historic women as part of Queen Margrethe II’s 50th Jubilee. There were 50 installations encircling the main royal equestrian statue at the centre and the square was even temporarily renamed the Queen’s Square for the occasion. A QR code is available on each installation to showcase the untold stories of these female figures in Danish history.
Just a few more steps from King’s Square and you’ll find the iconic 17th-century waterfront of Nyhavn. The row of vibrant and colourful townhouses makes it the most photographed spot in Copenhagen and is a must-visit sight of the city. Back in the day, it was a bustling commercial port and an area for sailors to hang about. All these colourful houses are now restaurants, pubs and cafes where plenty of locals, not just tourists, like to gather for a bite and drink. It’s a little bit smaller than I expected but certainly a charming spot to visit.
Waffle Stop at Vaffelbageren
By the edge of a small bridge in Nyhavn is a historic Belgian waffle spot named Vaffelbageren. They have been serving homemade waffles & ice cream at the very same spot since 1953 and are well-established in town. I treated myself to a Belgian waffle with soft serve, which cost a total of DKK 55. The waffle was freshly made out of the griddle, drenched in a generous pool of warm chocolate sauce and topped with a gigantic swirl of soft serve. Personally, I find the chocolate sauce a tad bit too rich for my own liking but it was still nice overall. It was just more decadent than I expected.
After the waffle treat, I continued down the waterfront and ended up around the Amalienborg Palace, which is the current home of the Danish Royal Family. I didn’t get to witness it but there is a change of guards every day at 12 pm where they march from their barracks by Rosenborg Castle through the streets of Copenhagen to Amalienborg. There are four main buildings surrounding Amalienborg and one of them is a museum that’s open to the public to have a glimpse of the history & life of the Danish monarch. Entry to the museum will cost DKK125 per adult.
Kastellet & Little Mermaid
Now, I didn’t plan to visit the Little Mermaid on that same day but my legs naturally took me there as I continued to walk. I walked through the Langelinie Park and found the famous statue perched on top of a rock on the waterside. Despite the windy weather, there’s a queue of tourists trying to get a picture with the Little Mermaid. I knew this before visiting but the statue is still smaller than expected. It is Copenhagen’s smallest attraction after all. Though it’s not as small and underwhelming as Brussel’s Manneken Pis, in my opinion. The statue was built in reference to the Little Mermaid story. However, as opposed to Disney’s happy ending version, the original story has a sad one, hence the melancholic expression on the statue.
If you walk further inside the park, you’d find the Kastellet, which is a citadel for military barracks and offices. It is free to enjoy the park and greenery in the area where you’d find a lot of joggers around.
I originally had this Indonesian restaurant saved on my list to visit. However, with a change of weather and tired legs after all the walking, I decided to take it easy and returned to near the Frederiksberg area for dinner. I ended up checking out Louis Burger, which is a halal burger spot in Copenhagen. Unfortunately, the burger didn’t impress and was rather mediocre. The meat was well-seasoned but the quality was just average. The burger costs DKK 59 (excluding fries and drinks).
After quickly munching down the burger, I braced the wind & rain to hurry back to my hotel and called it a day.
Breakfast Pastries at Andersen Maillard
On the next day, I took a walk first thing to Nørrebro to check out another popular bakery for breakfast – Andersen Maillard. The selection of pastries was incredibly alluring and I had a really hard time deciding what to get! Pastries that particularly stood out to me were the Espresso Croissant, Pistachio Cube, and the Chocolate Croissant Bun. In the end, I opted for the latter two plus a cup of latte.
Though I must say, the pastries didn’t wow me. Perhaps the bar was set high, so these pastries didn’t stand out. The filling and flavours were great, without a doubt. But it was the pastry itself that was relatively lacklustre compared to what I had around the city. It’s not bad but it was just regular pastries that were missing the same touch of refinement and sophistication that other bakeries have mastered.
Breakfast/Brunch at Stefanos MAD & KAFFE
Instead of making my way back into the inner city centre of Copenhagen, I walked a bit further out to hit up this halal brunch spot I came across called Stefanos Mad & Kaffe. The cafe was smaller than I expected, tucked away on a quiet street near Nørrebros Runddel St. station, and very much with a local family-run restaurant vibe. No English menu is available but the staff very kindly translated it for me. I ordered the beef sausage scrambled eggs dish, which was decent but didn’t necessarily impress. The bottom line is that the food was alright if you’re in the area but not worth the effort to venture out.
Long Walk Back into the City and Kongen Have
Now that I’m all fuelled up with eggs and pastries, I started a long walk back into the inner city centre. After crossing the bridge and past the Botanical Garden (free to visit if just strolling around the garden), I reached the Kongen Have, a.k.a The King’s Garden or Rosenborg Castle Gardens. It is one of the oldest and most visited parks in central Copenhagen and is home to a few important buildings including Rosenborg Castle, the Royal Guard barracks, and plenty of statues. It’s a very pleasant park to walk around, reminding me a bit of London’s Kensington Park Gardens. Once reaching the other end of the park, there is The David Collection museum which is the next stop on my Copenhagen itinerary.
The David Collection
The David Collection Museum is a gem in the city, especially if you like Islamic Art. Davids Samling was a lawyer and businessman, who also happen to be a keen art collector. After he passed, his home is converted into a museum and we all get to admire the impressive Islamic art collection he has got. In fact, it is one of the largest Islamic art collections in the whole of Northern Europe!
Visiting the museum is completely free and they also provide you with lockers and English translation (all for free). I originally thought I’d only be spending about an hour or so there but I ended up staying for three hours! There’s a lot to see in the Islamic art section and it’s quite an impressive collection, especially for a private collector. It’s quite Persian-focused but the museum is well-organised and takes you through a journey from the start of Prophet Mohammed’s story in Mecca to the spread of the Islamic Empire into India and afar. It is certainly well worth a visit. Apart from the Islamic Art collection, there are also smaller collections of Danish and European art.
Coffee at Coffee Collective
After all the walking at The David Collection, I popped over to Coffee Collective on Strøget for a coffee break and ordered an affogato. Not only was the coffee exquisite to taste, but the soft serve ice cream was a luscious treat as well. The ice cream was rich and velvety to taste, topped with these crunchy bits of coffee granules to give it a lovely texture. It was simple but beautifully refined and delicate. The affogato costs DKK 45.
The Coffee Collective is an award-winning coffee brand and has several branches around Copenhagen. Coffee is roasted daily and handled by champions of national and international coffee competitions to ensure the highest quality. It also has a huge emphasis on sustainability from seed to cup and prides itself in transparency in the work they do.
Homeware Window-Shopping on Strøget
One thing I’m absolutely obsessed with in Copenhagen, other than pastries, is their homeware shops! After refreshing with coffee, I spent a bit of time browsing around the shops at Strøget. You’d find all the typical high street shops and international luxury brands there. But it was the Scandinavian homeware shops that caught my attention most and put quite a test on my spending discipline! Simply put, every homeware shop is just Pinterest-perfect, featuring beautiful glassware and tableware that I could ever dream of. That urge to buy everything to add to my food photography studio was real. I was very good though and didn’t end up spending. But still, you get my point.
The sun came out and the weather was gorgeous compared to the wind and rain from the evening before. It was the perfect sort of weather to spend the afternoon at Copenhagen’s famous Tivoli Gardens. Entry to the gardens before 6 pm costs DKK 145 and it is more expensive after 6 pm. This doesn’t include any rides for the amusement park. There is a bundle ticket available starting from DKK 165 that includes the rides. You can purchase the tickets at the entrance of the park. I only got the entry ticket as I mainly just wanted to stroll around the gardens. The rides look pretty cool though and it’s got everything for everyone. Queues are quite short too which is a much better experience than the likes of Disneyland.
There are many flower displays at every corner of the park thanks to their summer theme. I was told that they go all out with decorations for upcoming seasons like Halloween and Christmas, and it’s quite a spectacle. The scenery is beautiful there and has an unmatched vibrant atmosphere. I particularly loved the architecture, whether it’s the Chinese & Japanese gardens, the Moorish-inspired Nimb Hotel, and many more. Other than rides, the Tivoli is known to host musicals, concerts, and ballets as well.
Some fun facts here:
- Tivoli Gardens first opened in 1843 and is the second-oldest amusement park in the world.
- The oldest and most popular ride is the wooden Rollercoaster. It dates back to 1914 and is one of the only 7 rollercoasters worldwide that has a brakeman onboard every train!
- Villa Vendetta is Denmark’s largest and award-winning haunted house attraction.
Dinner at Tivoli Food Hall
Just right next to the gardens is the Tivoli Food Hall. There is a direct entrance from the park and you’d be given a stamp on the arm for re-entry if you go through there. The other entrance would be opposite the Copenhagen Central Station, which doesn’t require entry to the Tivoli Gardens and can enter & exit freely.
The Tivoli Food Hall is basically a food court and it’s got plenty of options to choose from. There’s everything from pasta, sushi, pizza, Danish smørrebrød, tacos, Thai food, etc. I eventually settled with a Lobster Roll from Lobster Shack, which had been absolutely delightful. I ordered the Asian Lobster Roll (DKK 130), which includes lobster with nam jim-marinated cabbage, green pea puree, pickled lime mayo, Thai basil and coriander. They gave me a free side of prawn tempura because of the long wait for the food. It’s a small but contentful size of a sandwich. The lobster was bursting with freshness and I thoroughly enjoyed the Asian twist of flavours.
Breakfast Pastry & Coffee at Enghave Kaffe
On this final day of the trip, I checked out of my hotel first thing in the morning and headed to Enghave Kaffe for breakfast. For coffee drinkers, we can all universally agree that there’s no better start to the day than a good cup of coffee. Well, in this case, I think I just had the best start of the day ever because the coffee served at Enghave Kaffe was divine, to say the least.
Using Fuglen coffee, a speciality roast from Oslo & Tokyo, the latte I had was one of the smoothest coffees I ever tasted. It was rich and full-bodied in flavour, with the utmost impressive velvety mouthfeel. I also grabbed a croissant there and it was an amazing one too. The crispy flakiness was absolutely spot on and I was tempted to get another one! Stellar coffees and great pastries aside, I must mention the super cosy ambience of the shop. It genuinely just makes you just want to snuggle up and chill. The coffee shop runs a no laptop/tablet policy so it’s truly a place to get some peace and quiet.
Cinnamon Roll at Bageriet Brød
As I stepped outside Enghave Kaffe, I noticed a queue forming outside this bakery next door called Bageriet Brød. So naturally, I decided to join the queue! I had the cinnamon roll (DKK 25) and it has put every cinnamon roll in London to shame. The level of multilayered textures, flakiness and fluffiness were simply dreamy and the aromatic & sweet flavours were addictive, to say the least. I’ve also heard that their Almond Croissant is one of the best in town and I can’t wait to try it next time!
Famous Swedish Cardamom Bun at Juno The Bakery
Juno The Bakery is one that I probably hear and see the most about Copenhagen so I made sure to make a stop there. Unsurprisingly, their signature Swedish cardamom bun has totally lived up to expectations and it’s no wonder why people purchase them in boxes! There are a couple of seatings outside the shop but, as you can imagine, it was packed when I visited around noon. Perhaps next time I would make an earlier visit as I would love to be able to sit down to enjoy their pastries and try out their Prolog Coffee & Koppi Roasters!
More Pastries at Andersen Bakery
I did say this Copenhagen itinerary would be around pastries, right?! Instead of grabbing lunch, I made another pastry stop at Andersen Bakery and it totally did not disappoint. Andersen Bakery is a Japanese-Danish pastry spot, founded by a Japanese tourist who fell in love with Danish pastries when visiting Copenhagen. Feeling inspired, he returned to Japan and opened up his own bakery, which became a huge success. In full circle, he then came back to Copenhagen and opened up a branch in the Islands Brygge area.
It’s a cute little spot and there are plenty of options to choose from. I ended up getting a mini chocolate pastry and it was exquisite. I also got a matcha latte and it was nice & mellow. The matcha strength was a little light but it was still a nicely made drink.
Coming out of Andersen Bakery, it’s a short walk to reach the Christianhavn Canal. The canal ought to be one of the best spots for a leisure walk. It sort of reminds me of Amsterdam, but much less chaotic. There are a few cafes dotted around and they are filled with locals enjoying their afternoons. I even spotted a few people jumping into the canal for a swim too (the waters are much much clearer than the Thames). Naturally, I’m also particularly drawn to some of the colourful houses as shown in the photograph above. It’s a very peaceful place to stroll around and sit by one of the benches.
Vor Frelsers Kirke
As I kept strolling, I stumbled across Vor Frelsers Kirke. The name translates as the “Church of Our Saviour” and the church dates back to the 17th century. You won’t be able to miss this large baroque church thanks to its distinctive 95m-high corkscrew-like spiral tower. The spiral is a staircase that allows you to climb to the top for a panoramic view of the city. It’s not for one that has a scare of heights because the final 150 steps run along the outside rim of the tower. Even looking up from down on the ground gave me a little shiver seeing people ascending the top stairs.
Entering the church itself is free of charge. To visit the tower (and the spiral), the ticket costs DKK 65 per adult. Tickets are available online and you can pre-book a visiting slot. I would’ve liked to visit but they didn’t have any available slots till later in the day so I gave it a pass.
One thing that’s immediately noticeable when I entered deeper into the Christianhavn area is the hippie-ness. Not necessarily in a good way though. Everywhere in Copenhagen, I had been very comfortable but this area had my guard up a little bit. Some of the streets are also more noticeably run-down and even rough, which is a stark contrast to the rest of the city. As I walked a little further down from the Church of Our Saviour, I reached the abandoned park-like & graffiti-filled entrance to Freetown Christiania.
The interesting background about Freetown Christiania is that it’s a self-proclaimed autonomous anarchist district. In particular, it is notorious for its open cannabis trade despite it being illegal in Denmark. The little area has its own rules and regulations completely independent of the government. You can learn more about the background and story of Freetown Christiania in my other article here. I had a quick walk around, including seeing the Green George of Thomas Dambo and left shortly.
To the Airport & Back to London
After Christiania, I headed to the Christianhavn metro station to take the direct M2 train to the airport. In hindsight, I actually had time to make another quick stop at Amager to check out the Alice Bakery. But I didn’t, so we will have to save it for next time.
I grabbed a vegetarian ramen at Ramen To Biiru before boarding and it marks the end of my short getaway. Even though it’s a short trip, I felt that my Copenhagen itinerary has been sufficient. In 3 days, I do feel I have managed to see and experience everything I need to in the city. The itinerary isn’t rushed either and leaves plenty of time to get a feel of Copenhagen. The only thing that feels not enough is time for pastries! I still have a few bakeries and coffee spots on my list that I haven’t managed to visit. It’s safe to say I would be keen to visit again to get them ticked off my list.
Is Copenhagen Safe for Solo Female Travellers
The answer is YES. Copenhagen is a very popular destination for solo travelling and known to be one of the safest. In fact, it is also one of the safest cities in the world with low crime rates and a renowned first-class police force. I felt completely safe walking around the city as a solo female traveller. Although that’s not to say it’s not immune to odd petty crimes here and there. Always exercise common sense as you would anywhere.
The only exception is at Christiania where I felt I needed my guard up a little bit more. But still, it’s honestly not that bad overall there. People are generally very friendly there too so there’s nothing much to worry about.