Are you planning to only spend 1 day in Copenhagen?
Whether you’re taking a day trip from Malmö, have a layover from a flight or simply only have 1 day in Copenhagen, you might be wondering how much of the city you can actually see in just 24 hours or less.
There is so much on offer in the city, and while it seems like there is way too much for one day, you can definitely get a good taste of what Copenhagen is all about.
As a Copenhagen expert, and having spent a ton of time in the city, I have created the best way to spend a day in Copenhagen and a complete guide on how to turn it from an itinerary into a reality.
So without further ado, let’s start planning your jam-packed day in the Danish capital.
Table of contents: ()
- Is It Possible To See Copenhagen In 1 Day?
- 1 Day In Copenhagen Itinerary
- How To Get Around Copenhagen
- Where To Stay For 1 Day In Copenhagen
- Copenhagen 1 Day: FAQ
- 1 Day In Copenhagen: Conclusion
Is It Possible To See Copenhagen In 1 Day?
While it’s not possible to see everything in Copenhagen, it’s definitely possible to get a decent overview of Copenhagen.
Many of the best things to do in Copenhagen involve sightseeing, which doesn’t take too long, especially if you make use of hop-on hop-off buses and canal tours.
But don’t worry, you still have time to squeeze in one or two attractions on top of simply seeing the sights.
That being said, to get the best experience in Copenhagen, it’s a case of “less is more”, which goes in line with the Danish attitude of hygge.
So this is how I would recommend spending 1 day in Copenhagen.
1 Day In Copenhagen Itinerary
There are three main options to choose from when planning how to spend one day in Copenhagen. The options are:
- Hop-on hop-off bus tour
- Canal tour
- DIY sightseeing
If you choose to take one of the first two options, it will leave you more time to do more of the attractions rather than just seeing the sights, but if you choose to do it DIY, you save money and have more flexibility and time to spend at each sight.
Personally, I would recommend a combination of the last two options. Taking a canal tour of Copenhagen is something I consider a “must-do” as it offers a unique but beautiful perspective on the city, but it doesn’t show you every sight, so you still need to do some sightseeing for yourself.
If you choose to do it yourself, this is the route I would recommend following:
Stop 1: Nyhavn
Begin your day in the most famous canal in Copenhagen, Nyhavn. Nyhavn is usually used as the “poster image” of Copenhagen. It’s what you see on websites, Instagram, leaflets, flight deals, magazines, and pretty much every postcard.
If you aren’t familiar, Nyhavn is the canal with the colored houses running along each side of the canal. Seeing it in real life doesn’t disappoint- it’s truly stunning, and the atmosphere in the area is really relaxed too – it’s a cozy part of Copenhagen.
For those who opt to do a canal tour, you can begin and end your canal tour in Nyhavn, so it’s the best place to head to start your day, regardless of your plans.
Most people will spend about 30 minutes at Nyhavn, taking some pictures and simply watching the world go by. Depending on what time of the day your itinerary begins, you could choose to enjoy a meal in one of the many bars and restaurants lining the street. Note that it will be very expensive as it’s a tourist hotspot, and bear in mind that Copenhagen is expensive even at the best of times.
Stop 2: Little Mermaid Statue
After spending some time at Nyhavn, make your way to the Little Mermaid Statue, another of the city’s famous sights. It’s just over a 20-minute walk between the two.
To be honest, the statue doesn’t live up to the expectations of most people who see it. It’s pretty small and underwhelming, so if you’re short on time, maybe skip this sight. But if you do have time, you can’t visit Copenhagen without seeing the Little Mermaid Statue.
The area surrounding the Little Mermaid is also really nice. If you have some spare time, it’s worth walking around the park. The classical windmill is one of the highlights, along with a small church.
Stop 3: Rosenborg Castle
Next up is one of Denmark’s many castles and palaces, and it’s one of the most popular. Rosenborg Castle is just under a 30-minute walk from the Little Mermaid, so this is the one time I recommend using a form of transport.
There is no Uber in Copenhagen, but there are taxis. It will take just over 5 minutes to drive between the two, so it’s worth the money for the time you save.
Rosenborg Castle is beautiful, the red bricks and green roof go perfectly together. While it’s really nice to admire from the outside, it’s just as impressive on the inside.
The castle is home to the Danish crown jewels, so you are able to see all of the crowns and other treasures. It’s also included in the Copenhagen Card, which is worth getting if you only have one day in Copenhagen as it includes entry into all of the attractions for free, plus free public transport, so you can save time on getting between the stops on this itinerary.
Most people will spend between 45 minutes and an hour at Rosenborg Castle.
Stop 4: TorvehallerneKBH
By this point in the day, you’ll have done a lot of walking and since it’s such a jam-packed day, it can get tiring. So after enjoying your time at Rosenborg, take the short ten-minute walk to TorvehallerneKBH, a food market where you’re guaranteed to find something tasty.
I recommend trying Smørrebrød, which is a traditional Danish open-faced sandwich. If you don’t have too much time in the city, you can get a taste of the culture in Copenhagen, in the literal sense, through its cuisine.
Make sure you don’t spend too much time sitting down and enjoying your food though…time is short!
Stop 5: Round Tower
With a full stomach, you’ll probably want to walk at a leisurely pace for this one, but thankfully it’s only 7 minutes of walking away.
The Round Tower offers the best view over Copenhagen. You get a stunning panoramic view in every direction all over the city. Even on cloudy days, the view is still impressive.
Copenhagen is nicknamed the City of Spires, and when you’re at the top of the Round Tower, you’ll see why. There are so many pretty spires standing high above the other buildings in Copenhagen.
Also, if you don’t like spiral staircases, don’t worry. The Round Tower doesn’t have a staircase, it’s just a continuous rising walkway that goes round and round the tower until you reach the top.
Stop 6: Christiansborg Palace
From the Round Tower, you’re able to see the next stop on this Copenhagen one-day itinerary, and that is the Danish Parliament, Christiansborg Palace.
Make sure you go into the courtyard of Christiansborg, as it offers an even nicer view than from the main street. There are usually horses which make for a nice foreground in a photograph with the palace behind.
Depending on what time of the day it is, you can choose to go inside the palace too. Like Rosenborg Castle, the inside is arguably even more breathtaking than the outside. Note that there are airport-like security checks since it is the parliament.
Also, if you have even more spare time, you can also go up to the top of the tower of the palace for another panoramic view, but personally, I think the one from the Round Tower is better.
Stop 7: Tivoli Gardens
The final place you will visit with only one day in Copenhagen is Tivoli Gardens, which is the reason many people choose to visit Copenhagen in the first place.
Tivoli Gardens is spectacular. Few words can describe the atmosphere in and around the park.
It’s one of the oldest theme parks in the world, and if you ask me, it’s even more magical than Disney, especially at Christmas time when it transforms into a winter wonderland.
Most people will spend a good few hours in the park, so make sure to allocate it a good amount of time. There are also places to eat and drink in the park, so if you are looking for a second meal for the day, it’s easy to find one in Tivoli.
Unfortunately, Tivoli Gardens does close at some points throughout the year, so if it is closed when you are visiting Copenhagen, simply exchange it for one of the bonus stops below.
Bonus Stops: Freetown Christiania, Copenhagen Zoo, Botanical Gardens or National Museum of Denmark
If you have a longer day in Copenhagen, or you took a hop-on hop-off bus tour and saw all the sights quickly, or you rushed through all of them than the average person, or if Tivoli Gardens is closed, you might be looking for something else to do.
Well, thankfully, Copenhagen has a lot of attractions that you can check out.
Freetown Christiania is a neighborhood in Copenhagen where, long story short, laws don’t apply and they make their own rules. It’s pretty cool to check out, one of the most unique things you can do in Copenhagen for sure.
Copenhagen Zoo is one of the best zoos in the world. It’s home to several rare animals such as pandas, polar bears, and more which aren’t in other zoos. Plus, it’s very animal-friendly with large enclosures and you can tell the animals are really well looked after.
The Botanical Gardens in Copenhagen are extraordinary, and the Palm House in particular is well worth a visit. The spiral staircase in the Palm House is one of the most photographable spots in the city.
Lastly, the National Museum of Denmark is the most popular museum in Copenhagen. It’s pretty much got a full history of Denmark from well before the Vikings right up until recent history. If you’re into history, it’s a must-visit.
All of these attractions are definitely worth checking out, and you won’t be disappointed no matter which one you choose to visit.
How To Get Around Copenhagen
There are a few options for how to get around the city, but when you only have one day in Copenhagen, you can’t afford to take a taxi between everything as it will quickly add up.
Throughout this post, I’ve given the walking times, as it’s my best recommendation. It’s free, and it allows you to see the streets of Copenhagen and get a feel of the atmosphere and the vibe of the city as you walk between the sights and attractions. Spoiler alert: the atmosphere is amazing; it’s one of the safest cities in the world, and you can feel it.
If you want to really live like a local for a day, then cycle. Copenhagen is one of the most cycle-friendly cities in the world, even above Amsterdam, and it allows you to get between things quicker than by walking.
A third option is to take public transport, which is very prompt and reliable in Copenhagen. And if you do buy the Copenhagen Card as mentioned earlier, you get it for free for 24 hours, including to and from the airport.
Where To Stay For 1 Day In Copenhagen
When you only have one 1 day in Copenhagen, the best area to stay in is near the central station, København H. It’s where you get the train from and to the airport.
This is because you don’t want to spend too much time getting to and from your accommodation and the sights, and getting to and from your accommodation to the central station.
When I designed this itinerary, it was made with the assumption you stay in this area, as if you plot the stops out on a map, it makes a circular route between the sights, ending at Tivoli Gardens which is pretty near the station.
It’s the most time-efficient way of visiting the city, and when you only have one day, every minute counts. There are lots of nice hotels in the area, so you aren’t short of choices for finding somewhere to stay.
|NH Collection Copenhagen
|71 Nyhavn Hotel
|Radisson Collection Royal Hotel, Copenhagen
|citizenM Copenhagen Radhuspladsen
|Hotel Kong Arthur
|Next House Copenhagen
|Steel House Copenhagen
Copenhagen 1 Day: FAQ
Below are some questions related to one day in Copenhagen along with answers to each question.
What you can’t miss in Copenhagen?
You can’t visit Copenhagen without seeing Nyhavn. It’s the famous canal in Copenhagen with colored houses lining the canal. It’s beautiful, and it’s impossible to visit Copenhagen without seeing it.
How much time do you need to see Copenhagen?
Most people will spend 2-3 days in Copenhagen to see all of the sights and visit the main attractions at a leisurely pace. That being said, it is possible to visit Copenhagen and see most of the sights in one day.
Is 1 day enough for Copenhagen?
1 day is not enough to see and do everything in Copenhagen, but it is enough time to get a good glimpse into life in Copenhagen. You can see most of the sights and check out one or two of the attractions, so you get a small overview of the city.
1 Day In Copenhagen: Conclusion
And there you have it, a complete guide to spending one day in Copenhagen.
Remember, if you are clever with your time, you can get a good taste of Copenhagen and what it has to offer.
But at the same time, if you can, definitely dedicate more than a day to Copenhagen. It deserves it- and the way of life in the city is so laid-back, so it’s best to visit Copenhagen without rushing.
That being said, one day is better than no days. So enjoy your time in the city- it’s incredible!