The Danish capital of Copenhagen is known for its exquisite design culture, great shopping arcades and vivid art and music scene. What you may not know is that Copenhagen is also a great hub for day trips and excursions!
This guide gives you recommendations and inspiration for day trips from Copenhagen to discover the rich cultural and historical heritage of Northern Zealand (Denmark’s biggest island, on which Copenhagen is located) and beyond!
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Day trip from Copenhagen to Louisiana Museum of Contemporary Art
With its impressive permanent collection of modern and contemporary art, as well as subversive, dynamically changing temporary art exhibitions, Louisiana Museum in not only the most famous museum of contemporary art in Denmark but one of the most well-known and well-established in the whole Northern Europe. The institution not only attracts the visitors with its artistic program, but architecture enthusiast travel to the village of Humlebæk just to see the museum building, and families enjoy peaceful strolling in the museum gardens, filled with sculptures and interactive art installations.
Whereas it is possible to make a tour to the Louisiana Museum a half-day trip, we recommend dedicating the whole day to exploring not only the art collection but also enjoying modern Danish cuisine in the atmospheric museum cafeteria and saving some time (and money!) for the museum store. Unlike average museum boutique, in the Louisiana store, you will find unique items from local up-and-coming designers, functional art, rare art, design and photography books and edition artworks.
We especially recommend a trip to the Louisiana Museum for families, since the entrance is free of charge for children below 18 years of age. In the museum, you will also find “Children’s Wing”, where various activities for kids take place – great chance for the adults to enjoy the artworks while the kids are preoccupied with creative activities led by the museum staff. Every day various workshops for children take place, but if you want to know what kind of activities your little ones will be able to join, check the Kids’ Club’s Program online (Louisiana’s website is fully updated in English and in Danish).
The museum is open Tuesday through Sunday, on the weekdays until 10 PM. Tickets for adults are 125 DKK (approx. 19 USD), but at Copenhagen Central Station as well as in 7-Eleven stores, you can buy a combined train-and-museum ticket. It is sold under the name “Louisiana Ticket” and includes the train fare from Copenhagen to Humlebæk and back as well as the entry fee for the museum for 210 DKK (approx. 31,5 USD) in total.
Day Trip from Copenhagen to Malmö, Sweden
One of the more popular Copenhagen excursions outside the city among tourists and locals alike is a trip to Malmö, Sweden. Malmö is an attractive destination because of the cultural wealth of the city. A big number of art galleries and museums attracts art and culture enthusiasts, but when you go to Malmö, make sure you also visit the Natural History Museum beautifully located in Malmö Castle.
If you are interested in architecture, you will appreciate Malmö for sure! Historical buildings like the Sankt Petri Church (the oldest building of the city, dating back to the 14th century) are contrasted by contemporary architectural wonders like the “Turning Torso” tower. With its 190 metres, the tower is the tallest skyscraper in Scandinavia and a very memorable point in the Malmö skyline. However, since it is a residential and office space, it may not be entered by tourists.
In Malmö Centre you will find to main streets: Stortorget and Lila Torg, tempting with shops, exclusive boutiques and cafés. The charming architecture of the city creates the perfect setting for calm walks, and whenever you are ready, you can take a break in one of the atmospheric cafés or cosy restaurants. You will probably find Malmö slightly cheaper than Copenhagen, since the VAT tax in Sweden is much lower, which is also the reason why many visitors on their way from Malmö back to Copenhagen make a stop at Hyllie Station in order to visit the huge Emporia Mall, located right next to the station.
Copenhagen to Sweden day trip is easy and inexpensive to arrange; if you are travelling as a couple or a family, make sure to buy the so-called “family ticket” for the train. It allows up to 5 people (max. 2 adults) travel from Copenhagen to Malmö for only 146 DKK (approx. 22 USD), whereas one-way adult ticket is 91 DKK (13,6 USD).
Half day trip from Copenhagen to Den Blå Planet
Ready to see Northern Europe’s biggest aquarium? This trip is perfect for travellers who don’t have a full day for an out-of-town getaway and it is also a fun thing to do in Copenhagen when the weather is not suitable for outdoor activities. Den Blå Planet (The Blue Planet) is located in Kastrup, very close to the Copenhagen Airport. The easiest way to get there is by Copenhagen Metro; get off at Kastrup Station, from where you will see signs towards Den Blå Planet. Den Blå Planet is open every day, Mondays until 9 PM. Prepare to see incredible ocean wildlife, various kinds of fish and sea flora.
Every day, several different activities and educational workshops take place at Den Blå Planet, so before you pay a visit, make sure to check the program online. The participation fee is included in the ticket price. Whereas most of the day-activities are for children, Den Blå Planet also organizes lectures and events for adults, like concerts (mostly Jazz performances by Danish musicians) or workshops about oceans and worldwide water conservation.
An adult ticket to Den Blå Planet is 170 DKK (approx. 25,5 USD) and children 3 – 11 years come in for 95 DKK (14,3 USD). Whereas this may seem like a lot, one can save money using The Copenhagen Card. The Copenhagen Card is a special offer for tourists; it combines a transportation card and a joined ticket to many of the city’s most popular tourist attractions. The Copenhagen Card should be purchased prior to your arrival in Denmark, and you can buy it for 24, 48, 72 or 120 hours respectively. Different fees apply, and we recommend checking online for the most updated prices of The Copenhagen Card.
Day trip from Copenhagen to Kronborg Castle
One of the most interesting day trips out of Copenhagen is a visit to Kronborg Castle! Located in Elsinore (known as Helsingør in Danish), the castle is situated on a narrow piece of land between Denmark and Sweden, offering stunning views around and from the castle itself. Kronborg is one of the most well-known renaissance castles in Europe, made popular by William Shakespeare’s “Hamlet” (even though Shakespeare never visited the castle himself!), and further highlighted as a UNESCO World Heritage Site. From Copenhagen Central Station, the Kronborg Castle can be reached in less than an hour – it takes 45 minutes by regional train to Helsingør Station, from where you can easily walk to the castle in less than 15 minutes. The museum honours Copenhagen Card and lets cardholders enter free of charge, otherwise, adult ticket fee is 90 DKK (approx. 13,5 USD).
We recommend you dedicate a full day to exploring Kronborg, as it is not just one building, but a complex of buildings, institutions and gardens. One of the biggest highlights of the castle itself is the 60-meters-long ball hall (make sure to snap a picture of the impressive chandeliers)! Another part of the castle complex is the Kronborg Castle Church, which is one of the few parts of the castle complex that was not damaged by the fire in 1629. Hence, elements of the church can today be viewed almost exactly the way they were installed and built back in 1582! Pay attention to the beautifully hand-carved details on the sides of the chapel benches, the abundantly decorated private balcony of King Christian the Fourth as well as the massive Marcussen & Reuter Oracle from 1639.
Kronborg Castle is also home to one of Denmark’s most famous legends and monuments: Holger Danske! Holger Danske is a fictional figure of a knight, a Danish national hero who is believed to wake up from his stone throne and raise up, ready to protect and fight for his fatherland, if Denmark, one day, is threatened by enemies. In 1907 a plaster statue (on which a bronze statue for Marienlyst Hotel in Elsinore was modelled) was placed in the castle’s underground casemates and has since then been a great tourist attraction.
The architecture and the monuments of Kronborg Castle will impress you for sure, but the site offers much more than inanimate relics and antiques! Prepare to see Shakespeare’s “Hamlet”, a tale about the troublesome life and tragic fate of a Danish Prince, reenacted in the castle! The first theatre performance of the play took place in 1816, 200 years after Shakespeare’s death.
Day trip from Copenhagen to The Viking Ship Museum in Roskilde
Ready to explore five original Viking Ships that have witnesses wars, sea voyages and historical trade journeys? The Viking Ship Museum presents the old maritime craftsmanship of the Vikings’, telling stories of the old lifestyles and the Viking culture that dominated huge parts of Northern Europe and made it all the way to Greenland (it is even said that the Vikings reached America before Columbus!).
The Viking Ship Museum is not a museum in a traditional sense of the word, it is rather a complex of sites and places that all tell the stories of the maritime escapades from the Viking Age. One of the most impressive parts of the museum is the indoor “Viking Ship Hall” with shipwrecks impressively installed in the wide, bright museum passage. Located onto Roskilde Fjord, the whole building was originally raised to house the ships and shipwrecks found in the fjord and was then turned into a museum with an interesting, interactive program. We recommend you to have a look at the museum website prior to your arrival, as different workshops and events take place throughout the week.
The program varies seasonally, and includes activities like DIY ship-miniature building sessions and even evening sailing trips on the Roskilde Fjord! A reminder for travelling families to avoid unpleasant surprises: some workshops are not suitable for children younger than 8 years!
You can easily get to the Viking Ship Museum by one of the Inter-City Trains from Copenhagen going towards Jutland. Get off at Roskilde Station from where you can take the Bus 203 directly to the museum or walk for about 20 minutes. The museum is open every day (except major religious holidays like Easter), however, opening hours vary with the season, and so do entrance fees, but children under 17 year of age can always visit free of charge.
On your way back from the museum to Roskilde Station, we recommend you stop by Roskilde Cathedral! Listed as UNESCO World Heritage Site, the cathedral dates back to the 12th and 13th centuries! It was Scandinavia’s first Gothic Basilica built of brick, and whereas it might not impress us much in the 21st century, the erection of Roskilde Cathedral encouraged the spread of the building style across Northern Europe! Since its early days, the cathedral has undergone changes and renovation with one of the most important restorations initiated by King Christian IV in the early 17th century.
Half day trip from Copenhagen to Frederiksborg Castle
Located in Hillerød, about 40 kilometres north-west from the Danish capital, the Frederiksborg Castle is a beautiful place for a half-day trip from Copenhagen. Built in the first decades of the 17th century by King Christian the Fourth, it is the largest Renaissance complex in the Northern region. The whole complex includes not only the castle but also vast, beautifully maintained gardens and an impressive Castle Chapel, of which decorative elements date all the way back to the 17th century.
Similarly to the Kronborg Castle, large parts of Frederiksborg Castle were destroyed by a fire in 1859, and yet the Chapel was left almost untouched by the devastating flames! Now the most prominent piece of the church is its magnificent altarpiece from 1606, made of gold, silver and ebony. From the Castle Chapel, one could also go into the King’s Oratory. Sadly, what we see now is only a reconstruction, as the original Oratory did not survive the big fire.
The Frederiksborg Castle Gardens are also a great attraction for the visitors. The Gardens are divided into the Baroque Garden – known for its straight lines, sharp angles and careful curation and the English-style garden where the beauties of nature are untamed and presented organically, and where the small Bath House Castle is located too. Both gardens are very picturesque, perfect for a slow stroll, away from the urban bustle of the Danish capital.
Frederiksborg Castle itself has housed The Museum of National History since 1878 and now presents a collection of artworks, artefacts, furniture and other historical items – a beautiful testimony of more than 500 years of Danish national history. The entire 3rd floor is dedicated to modern and contemporary art and culture, with a very popular photographic gallery where selected photographic artworks from the museum’s collection are presented in the form of temporary thematic exhibitions.
Frederiksborg Castle is open every day throughout the year with different opening hours in the summer (April – October) and winter (November – March) season. From Copenhagen, you can reach Frederiksborg Castle easily and at low cost by taking the local S-train line A (either from Copenhagen Central Station, Nørreport or Østerport Station) towards Hillerød. After approximately 40 minutes you will arrive at Hillerød Station from where you can walk to the castle (less than 20 minutes) or take the local buses 301 (towards Ullerød) or 302 (towards Sophienlund). If you are planning to visit Frederiksborg Castle with your children, have a look at the museum’s website prior to your arrival. There is a full calendar with activities and classes, which can make the Frederiksborg Castle visit not only more interactive but also much more exciting for the whole family.
Day trip from Copenhagen to Legoland in Billund
This trip will indeed take up the whole day, but a trip from Copenhagen to Legoland in Billund is possible without having to stay in Jutland overnight. Legoland is Denmark’s most popular amusement park that opened its doors to the public in 1968. Back then it looked more like an exhibition of buildings and landscapes made entirely of Lego bricks, but today the amusement park is filled with roller-coasters, carousels and other attractions for children and adults alike.
Legoland is located in Billund in Jutland, but you can take the 6 AM train from Copenhagen Central Station, get off at Vejle Station where you change for the Express Bus 43, and you will arrive in Legoland (the bus stops exactly at the amusement park) before 10 AM when the park opens. You can enjoy a full day of recreations, activities and Lego-themed places to eat and drink. We recommend departing from Legoland before 8 PM in order to make it for the last Inter-City train from Vejle station towards Copenhagen.
You can buy the train and bus tickets online and have them saved on your smartphone – check if your trip qualifies for the so-called “Orange Ticket” (in Danish: “DSB Orange-billet”). During less popular travelling times, you can get the ticket with included seat reservation for a discounted price (normally, the seat reservation is not included and you need to purchase it on top of your ticket for 30 DKK, approx. 4,5 USD). If you travel with kids, you can always take 2 children under 12 with you when purchasing one adult ticket.
Recommend Day trips from Copenhagen
- Castles Tour from Copenhagen: North Zealand and Hamlet Castle
- Grand Day Trip around Copenhagen
- Malmö Independent Day Trip from Copenhagen with Canal Cruise
- In the Footsteps of the Vikings – daytrip from Copenhagen to Roskilde
- Private Tour to Vikings city Roskilde from Copenhagen
- Private Half Day Tour to Sweden
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