Known from fairy tales of H. C. Andersen, the Danish capital is a magical place. Centuries-old traditions reappear with a modern twist; old-fashioned buildings with colourful facades house sleek design studios, palaces and churches are transformed into contemporary art institutions, and restaurants introduce the “Bornholm version” of Spanish Tapas, serving highest quality of Danish “spegepølse” instead of Ibérico.
Unforgettable culinary experiences, a vibrant cultural life and loads of opportunities for shopping – you will find it all in Copenhagen! Approach the Copenhagen with an open mind, and it will amaze you. If you only have 48 hours there… prepare yourself to leave yearning for more and planning your prompt return.
This guide is perfect for those who only have 48 Hours in Copenhagen – A 2 Day Itinerary. We will show you what to do in Copenhagen, where to stay, what to eat and how to get around, whether its a weekend in Copenhagen Denmark or just a quick trip.
This post contains some affiliate links for your convenience. Click here to read my full disclosure policy.
The best time to visit Copenhagen
If you aren’t a Danish Viking who doesn’t believe in “bad weather, rather inappropriate clothing”, the best time for your visit in Denmark will be determined by the weather. When the sun is out, Copenhagen will steal your heart (and might never give it back!), but bad weather can affect your experience of the city. From May through August the temperature is at its highest, there is less rain, and if showers occur, they can even feel like quite a charming part of the Danish summer.
If you are willing to risk spring rains and cheeky, changing winds, visit the city in early spring! Not as impressive as the Sakura in Japan, Copenhagen has its own cherry blossom season that starts in mid-April. Not only tourists but also locals pilgrim to parks with their photo-ready phones out. Romance is definitely in the air too!
Denmark is the place of hygge – Danish word for “cosiness”. And you will for sure experience that if you choose to visit Copenhagen around Christmas time. Højbro Plads with its bustling Christmas market in the centre of Copenhagen (with goods, crafts and street food from all over the world) is the place to be. Great chance to fill your belly with warm mulled wine, fill your lungs with the smell of fresh baked cookies and fill your shopping bags with beautiful presents for your loved ones.
Christmas shopping is a great excuse, but Copenhagen (just like London) is a retail Mecca all year round. If you ever long for a shopping getaway in continental Europe, do not think twice about the weather and book your flight to Copenhagen right away. Shopping in Copenhagen is not only fun but also extremely easy and customer-friendly! Even the metro train from the airport conveniently stops right in front of one of the biggest department stores of the city – Magasin on Kongens Nytorv!
How to get around Copenhagen
Getting around Copenhagen is fairly easy for local bikers, but it can be more challenging for tourists. First of all, be mindful of the fact that bikes are the main tool of transportation in the city. The bike lanes are planned carefully and function as yet another traffic lane, so do not confuse them with sidewalks! The Danish bikers tend to go fast, and cannot always manage to stop in time if a person out of the sudden appears on the bike lane, and we’re sure you wouldn’t want to spend your 48 hours in Copenhagen in a hospital!
If you feel confident, do rent a bike, otherwise (especially for the city centre area) we suggest walking. Main attractions like the Tivoli Gardens amusement park, Thorvaldsen Museum and Strøget (main Copenhagen street for shopping) are in close proximity to each other.
For tourists, especially if you aren’t planning to stay in the city for long, the buses from Hop on Hop off Copenhagen are a great solution. The buses follow a fixed route and can take you to the main attractions in the city. If you want to be a fully independent traveller, public transportation (however not cheap) is well-functioning and easy to use.
All announcements are in Danish and English, and one can choose English as the language option when buying single journey tickets or “Rejsekort” – Copenhagen card for public transportation. Note that if you are only spending 48 hours in Copenhagen, the best option for you would be buying Copenhagen City Pass for 150 DKK (adults) or 75 DKK (children)! The pass allows you limitless travel on buses, local s-trains and metro for 48 hours, and you can purchase the pass in the airport or online, prior to your arrival.
Things to do in Copenhagen
A must-do during your visit to the Danish capital is the Canal Tours Copenhagen. It’s a very affordable, quick sail, but it gives you the opportunity to catch a glimpse of great attractions located at the harbour front. You will see the Danish Opera House designed by the famous architect Henning Larsen as well as “The Black Diamond” which is the common name for Danish Royal Library (another highlight for architecture enthusiasts). The cheerful travel guides will provide you with all sorts of information and insights (and they do expect to get tipped by the end of your journey!).
Another recommendation for your short visit to Copenhagen would be a trip to Freetown Christiania. Its a cosy hippie village located a short walk away from Christianshavn metro and bus station. You can enjoy a lazy stroll in the nearby park, mingle with locals or grab a bite in one of the cafés. Do watch your wallet though! Christiania has some very skilled pickpockets!
If you aren’t in the mood for café food, you should definitely make your way further north from Christiania, up to Refshaleøen and “Reffen” – the relatively new Copenhagen Street Food Centre (reopened after the old Street Food mecca at Papirøen – The Paper Island – closed). Popular among locals as well as a great attraction for tourists, make sure to include it in your Copenhagen 48 hours itinerary!
Places to visit in Copenhagen
Don’t spend too much time wondering where to go and what to do in Copenhagen, just make your way to the city centre and explore – enjoy the quiet alleyways with carefully designed building facades, visit one of the many cosy bookcafés and mingle with the (almost always English-speaking) locals! “Indre by”, as the Danes call the central area of the capital, is a place of beautiful architecture, amazing cultural life, great shopping opportunities, and of course, home to some of the most prominent Copenhagen restaurants!
Also, you will be surprised how many (well-preserved) castles and palaces there are in central Copenhagen! Charlottenborg Castle is now housing a contemporary art institution as well as the Royal Danish Art Academy, and you can also plan an easy walking tour starting at the house of the Danish parliament – Christiansborg Palace, up to the Queen’s residence – Amalienborg Palace and continue walking towards Kastellet (the citadel) and Langelinje (the harbour path) to see the famous statue of the little mermaid!
Where to stay in Copenhagen
Copenhagen is not a cheap city to live or stay in, but to be able to experience the best of Copenhagen in 2 days, we recommend you to stay in one of the central areas of the city. We have also written an extensive guide on Where to Stay in Copenhagen.
The neighbourhoods in Copenhagen are called “broer” (“bridges”) further named after their geographical location. For an authentic experience, we recommend you find an Airbnb (Get a $40 in travel credit when you sign up, using this link (Only for new Airbnb guests) in Vesterbro – the Western Bridge. It is close to the main train station and within walking distance from the Tivoli Gardens too! The area itself is also home to the famous Meatpacking District – area of former butcheries, now transformed into restaurants, bars and… art galleries!
Friday evenings in the Meatpacking District are dedicated to exhibition openings and mingling with the artsy crowds, and Saturday and Sunday mornings are usually celebrated with a brunch in one of the cafés on Søndre Boulevard – the main street of the Vesterbro neighbourhood.
Tours to do in Copenhagen
Denmark is not only famous from fairy tales of H. C. Andersen, but also from Shakespeare’s story of Hamlet – the Danish prince. Shakespeare’s tale takes place in Kronborg Castle which is located north from Copenhagen, still fairly easy to get to. For an enjoyable as well as fully informative experience, we recommend joining a tour instead of going on your own. Not only will you save time on transportation, but you can also be sure to get a knowledgeable, English-speaking guide!
In Copenhagen, you can join fun tours within the city too! It’s a great idea to get a guide when exploring the vibrant neighbourhoods of Copenhagen – how else would you learn about all the hidden gems? We recommend booking a guided tour to the Nørrebro (“the Northern bridge”) area, which is home to over 55 nationalities, and hence a place of amazing food culture as well as unique shops and boutiques. The tour begins on Dronning Louises Bro (Queen Louise’s Bridge), which is a trendy spot for meetings and hangouts among young Copenhageners.
How to spend 2 days in Copenhagen
With all the places and attractions mentioned above, it can be difficult to navigate and compose the perfect itinerary for 48 hours in Copenhagen. Let us help you and suggest how you can plan your 2 days in the Danish capital in the most efficient (and fun) way.
If you choose to stay in the Vesterbro area, we recommend you to put on your walking shoes and on your first day, explore the city on foot! From Vesterbro, go towards the Copenhagen Town Hall and make your way up to Strøget – the main shopping street. You can choose to walk up Frederiksborggade (the main boulevard) or find your way in “Stræderne” – the small alleyways filled with unique design shops, boutiques and cafés. Further up on Strøget, you will see the famous Stork Fountain, which is located close to Højbro Plads, from where you can start your canal tour!
After the canal tour, you can either walk or take the bus across the “Knippelsbro” bridge to Christianshavn and Freetown Christiania. Have your lunch there or at “Reffen”! If you want to dedicate some time to a cultural experience, after lunch visit “Copenhagen Contemporary” – a contemporary art institution of scale similar to TATE Modern in London.
Take the metro back to “Kongens Nytorv” and shop ‘till you drop in Magasin department store! You should be done in time for a drink in “Nyhavn” (the new harbour area) known for its colourful building facades, as beautiful as on postcards! “Nyhavn” might be pricey for dinner, so for an authentic Danish dining experience we recommend trying one of the restaurants from the “Madklubben” family.
After dinner, or rather, after sunset would be the perfect time to visit The Tivoli Gardens. Whether or not you are ready to jump on the roller coasters, the gardens are a must-see! In the Summer season, Tivoli welcomes “Fredagsrock” performances, which means that every Friday in the there is a music concert on the main stage. The program includes both Danish and international artists and attracts crowds to the amusement park.
Kick off your second day in Copenhagen with a breakfast or brunch in one of the local cafés, and make sure you taste “rugbrød” – the Danish rye bread often served with cheese and jam. Then either book one of the longer tours (eg. to the Kronborg Castle) or make use of your Copenhagen Card or onboard the Hop on Hop off bus and let it take you to the statue of Little Mermaid. From there you can either walk towards the Queen’s Palace or walk in the opposite direction to the Danish National Gallery and “Torvehallerne” – a sleek marketplace with cafés and small restaurants as well as gourmet food shops – great place for a light bite or an edible souvenir for yourself or your friends.
On your way back to Vesterbro, go through “Strøget” walking street one more time, and this time make sure to stop by one of the famous design houses of HAY or Illum’s Bolighus. Design and architecture are a big part of the Danish culture, and Copenhagen is the perfect place for trend-spotting, picking up some inspiration and updating your design knowledge!
Want to learn how to travel on a Budget? Check out our dedicated “Budget Conscious Travel Guide”
Recommend budget tours in Copenhagen
- Copenhagen Card
- Exclusive Castle Tour of Hamlet and Frederiksborg
- Aarhus 3-hour Private Bike Tour
- Copenhagen Private Walking Tour
- Grand Day Trip around Copenhagen
- Grand Inner City Tour of Copenhagen
- 2.5-Hour Guided Walking Food Tour in Copenhagen
- City Sightseeing Copenhagen Hop-On Hop-Off Tour
- Copenhagen Canal Tour with Skip-the-Line Entry to Tivoli Gardens
- Tivoli Gardens 1-Day Unlimited Rides Ticket
- In the Footsteps of the Vikings – daytrip from Copenhagen to Roskilde
- 2 Hour Copenhagen Segway Tour
- Private Half-Day Frederiksborg Castle Tour
- Copenhagen 3-hour City Highlights Bike Tour
- Private 3-Hour Copenhagen Walking Tour
- Local Copenhagen Canal Tour (60 Minutes)
Get your guide is a Great company, that often offers heavily discounted tours! Check out a few options below: