Wondering how to make the most of two days in Copenhagen? Enjoy every one of those 48 hours with this Copenhagen itinerary written by locals.
Related: how to find hygge (and what it means) in Copenhagen.
Two Days in Copenhagen: Your Copenhagen Itinerary
Copenhagen -- the cool capital of the Nordic countries, or at the very least, the most obvious one. København, as it’s called in Danish, is full of cool waterfront spots, hip secrets and a hygge world for you to explore. Here are some tips by Copenhagen locals to really fill out your 48 hours in the city.
We assume you’ll be moving around by bicycle, the cheapest, easiest and by far most popular way of getting around, so distances shouldn’t be a problem. Borrow or rent a bike and let’s start our first day of exploration.
Day One in Copenhagen
First things first. Coffee. The cafe scene here is vast and changes fast, but Cafe Pixie is one of the spots that has been bringing “love and coziness since 2006”. Pernille recommends it for its simple, tasty brunch, so keep that in mind. You can also return later in the day as it’s a popular evening hangout.
All fueled up? Good! Time to get active. Copenhagen is at its very soul a city by the sea and there are tons of different ways to enjoy being close, next to or practically in the water.
Miljøkajakken, or “The Environment Kayak” offers kayaking with a twist - it is what local Pernille reckons is the best initiative in Copenhagen in a long time. You can rent a canoe for free and paddle around the harbour for about 2 hours. In return, you have to collect and return all the rubbish you find along the way. It’s a win-win idea if we ever saw one and helps keep the sea of Copenhagen consistently clean enough to swim in.
Yes, that’s right! You can actually swim in the water. Everybody does it! Here are several prime spots to choose from. The first one is Nordhavn Basin, one of the newer locations specifically created for this purpose. There are plenty of spots to sunbathe and it has less motorboat traffic, a big plus for local Sigrid. As a plus, it's close to design room Paustian, another of Sigrid’s favorites.
Kastrup Søbad is another prime swimming spot at a beautiful, round wooden construction. Local William likes coming here with friends and some cool beer. “I really feel as if life just gets a tiny bit better listening to the calm water while being at Kastrup Søbad”, he says. Amager Strand is also right next to this spot for a nice long walk on the beach.
On the other end of the spectrum: if you’re not ready to take the plunge but are up for something truly luxurious, you can rent an actual hot tub and sail along the harbour in a shared floating spa-boat with CopenHot! You get your own skipper and a speaker with music for the price - what’s surely going to be an unforgettable experience.
Last water themed spot (for today). Promise. Sjællandsgade Bade in Nørrebro hails back to the times before showers or even running water in every home were a thing in Denmark. Here you’ll find actual bath tubs (with golden feet!), today a luxurious artifact fewer and fewer people get to enjoy. Come here after a dip in the sea at one of the locals’ recommendations above and enjoy the full experience. On Wednesdays, Thursdays and Sundays, you can even have a sauna evening complete with scented oils -- “this… is… amazing”, comments Pernille.
The White Tube Playground
While around Sjællandsgade, you can also check out the White Tube, an art installation/sculpture/playground/jungle gym that will bring out your inner child. Not only that -- the LED lights like twinkling stars make climbing into this odd creature’s belly all the more otherworldly. Local Cindy has never made it down the spiraling slide nearby - will you?
The Black Market
Since you’re in Nørrebro, you can’t miss The Black Market, an outdoor space designated for all sorts of activities and a real neighbourhood meeting point. It is a representative eclectic mix of the many different influences that make up this area-- prepare to find palm trees next to a giant Japanese octopus and a beautiful Moroccan fountain with blue tiles and of course “the wavy white lines that sort of unanimously make all the elements float together”, as local Sigrid describes it.
The Culture Tower
Next stop: the “Culture Tower”, or Kulturtårnet. This iconic copper landmark in the city still acts as a marine traffic controller, raising and lowering the bridge it’s built on, Knippelsbro, a few times every day. But now you can also visit it and enjoy 360-degree bird’s-eye views of the harbour as well as a gastronomic experience and the concerts, talks and radio productions of one of the city’s youngest cultural institutions.
Time for Beer
As the day is winding down, you can visit Ørsted Ølbar in central Copenhagen, one of the beer bars with the most rounded selection of brews around. Here you’ll find everything from Danish microbrews to Italian sour ales and everything in between. Despite the high quality, it doesn’t have the pretentious atmosphere some other bars tend to have in the city. “A great local bar, with good people, great staff, football on TV and a lot of great beer. What’s not to like?”, writes local beer aficionado David.
Where to Eat in Copenhagen
For dinner, local William recommends Madglad in Vesterbro, a colourful, cozy restaurant “like a living room from a home in 1970s Denmark”. It’s well known for its vegetable and salad buffet and tasty daily menus.
“I feel like I’m visiting my grandparents”, concludes William, “although I doubt they would serve hummus”.
Fancy another beer? Here’s local Cindy’s recommendation: Haabet Bodega Bar (note that the word bodega in Danish refers to a dark, smoky, low-ceilinged bar). It has all of the atmosphere and character with a lot of open-hearted energy.
“Way back when, this would have been an old-man-pub but now a younger audience has made its appearance; the result is a mixed clientele coexisting joyfully”.
Just make sure not to bang your head on the hanging diving-bell lampshades!
Last for the day -- like live music? Loppen is one of the best venues to listen to concerts and is one of Cindy’s favourites, who is also a big music fan. You’ll find it in Christiania -- yes, that Christiania.
They have a really broad music profile and “have been going out of business since 1973”.
Few things have probably changed since then, not including the stage that’s just 25cm above the rest of the place, or the lighting -- it’s still just candles that illuminate most of it.
Day Two in Copenhagen - Your copenhagen Itinerary
Day two will involve more relaxed exploration in“merchants’ harbour” (the meaning of the word Copenhagen) and a flexible part of your Copenhagen itinerary.
Our day will begin in a former church that’s now a communal space and one of the city’s success stories -- Absalon. “The ‘congregation’ are a delightful mix of locals, creative dudes discussing design briefs, mothers nurturing their young ones and wandering tourists taking in the welcoming and calm atmosphere”, writes local Phillip, who is a fan. Absalon employs more than 40 people and here you can find everything from social working to early morning yoga to a communal kitchen that attracts people from all over. A must-visit!
More outdoors activities - Valbyparken is one of the city’s largest parks, just 15 minutes by bike from the center. Usually hosting festivals, concerts and big events, it comes with a few interesting surprises, apart from the usual people chilling and barbecuing. For one, they have the rose garden with over 12,000 roses, but you should come for the disco golf course, an odd combination of golf & frisbee. A great way to spend a weekend morning or afternoon. Just remember to bring your own frisbee!
Time to visit Copenhagen’s Old Cisterns, the city’s fresh water reservoir until 1933. Nowadays it’s used as a unique art exhibition space, where the dark environment itself makes the art hosted all the more poignant. Let’s just say that for going into one of their recent popular exhibitions you have to change into rubber boots. Can you guess the title? “It’s not the end of the world”...
All About the Bikes: Copenhagen's Best Friend
Before moving on, let’s swing by Recycles, a shop originally founded by bike mechanics. They reuse parts and frames from quality retro bikes from all over Europe to build new to-order custom creations. If you like bikes at all - even if you don’t - you have to experience this unique and stylish take on every Copenhagener’s best friend.
Where to Eat in Copenhagen
Hungry yet? Local Stefan knows just the place - in Sydhavn, to be exact. Restaurant Tutten harks back to 1966 and offers typical Danish dishes, like crispy pork with thick parsley sauce and potatoes paired with some Carlsberg and followed by homemade apple cake. “It’s as Danish as it gets!”, claims Stefan, and while it’s not exactly hard to find traditional fare in Copenhagen, where else will you find “home-cooked meals, old sailors hanging out, nice and quiet times and with a view over the water”?
Since you’re already in Sydhavn, why not pay Kaffe og Kahyt a visit? This particular area used to be mostly houseboats and trailer parks among mostly vacant space. Most of it is now developed, gentrified or well on its way there, but this little Swedish boat-café is a cool spot which happily hasn’t kept up with the times. Get a nice sandwich, a beer, some tea or follow a Swedish fika ceremony.
Alternatively, you can visit nearby Cafe Slusen, what local Phillip reckons is “the coolest cafe in town”.
And Where to Drink
Bo-bi Bar is said to be the oldest “brown bar” in Copenhagen. It still has its original interior and dusty (and yes, smoky) atmosphere and is a favourite hangout for writers and artists. It feels authentic yet has a kind of contemporary coolness about it. They also serve hard-boiled eggs together with mustard, salt and pepper here -- an old tradition that’s still kept alive. If you’re doing a bar crawl, you can visit bohemian Moose next. Stefan vouches for both.
One last spot: The Bird & The Churchkey, a Shoreditch-inspired, living-room-like bar. With its 83 kinds of gin and 5 types of tonic - you do the math - it’s got the biggest selection of gin & tonics in Scandinavia. Even if you’re not particularly partial to G&Ts, they also have 57 beer labels. You’ll notice the cucumber ice cubes and rose petals when you’re brought your drink -- “they’re not trying to be extravagant, they’re just really nerdy about each serving!”, writes Sigrid.
Sip as many glasses as you’re comfortable with and take the opportunity to look back on this couple of days spent in Copenhagen like a local!
- For more local favorites in 80 cities in Europe, the Middle East and North America, check out Spotted by Locals
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