Greetings Internet Stranger and welcome to a Perfect Copenhagen Itinerary Travelers who seek happiness could do a lot worse than to follow this Copenhagen itinerary. Denmark is regularly ranked one of the happiest countries in the world. And Copenhagen, Denmark’s capital, is one of the happiest cities I have ever seen. The tourism bureau for Copenhagen is named after a song from a musical about Hans Christian Andersen, for crying out loud!
Our 24 hours in Copenhagen Itinerary will feature some of the most adorable neighborhoods, delicious foods, and lovely parks in one of the happiest cities in the world. Plus, we’ll tour Rosenborg Castle, which is straight out of a fairy tale. If you don’t feel happy at the end of the day, you might not know how to be happy, Internet Stranger!
Where to Stay?
There are so many hygge places to stay in Copenhagen that one hardly knows where to start. But Copenhagen, like the rest of Scandinavia, can be extremely expensive. That’s why I was happy to stay at Wakeup Copenhagen Borgergade. It was in a convenient location, it was affordable, and it had a clean private room with a bathroom. Plus breakfast was included! That’s really all I can ask for. It was the perfect base for my Copenhagen itinerary.
What to Pack
Denmark can be on the rainy side. So the two most important things you’ll need to bring are an umbrella and some rain boots. My favorite travel umbrella is the Repel Teflon Waterproof Umbrella. It is strong enough to stand up to the sometimes-quite-strong winds of Sweden.
For rain boots, I recommend the Asgard Rain Boots. They are comfy/cozy and keep my feet dry all day. Plus they’re cute enough that I can wear them out and about without feeling like some gauche American with gross feet.
Finally, if you’re not from Europe, you need a universal adapter if you’re going to plug in electronics. European electrical outlets don’t work with either American or British plugs. I suggest the NEWVANGA travel adapter. It’s usable with any electrical outlet in the world, so you won’t need to keep buying new adapters. I always carry two with me, just in case something happens to one.
Morning: Adorable Copenhagen Walking Tour
We’re off on a walking tour in search of hygge. It’s possible you won’t know the word hygge because it is Danish. You pronounce it “hoog-uh” and it sort of translates to coziness. (I’m sure somebody will send me an angry email explaining that hygge is more complicated than just being cozy. But we’re learning all about happiness today, and angry emails do not make anybody happy.) So without further ado, I present…
approximately top 5: hygge time
1) Cinnamon Snails
This one bite has so much of what makes people happy: an adorable name, sugar, butter, carbs. The Danes call cinnamon rolls cinnamon snails, which is mad hygge. Thinking about the calories in this cinnamon snail will not make you happy. But savoring each bite and thinking about how delicious it is and how lucky you are to be eating it absolutely will.
Apparently thinking about the environment also makes Danes happy because organic food is extremely popular in Denmark. (The Danish word for organic is okologisk.) We got our cinnamon snails at an organic bakery called Det Rene Brot, but you can find other organic bakeries all over the city. I suppose trying to take care of the earth so the planet doesn’t spontaneously combust in a few years can make everybody happy, especially if you get this cinnamon snail as a reward.
Copenhagen’s adorable houses make everyone who passes through them happy. This neighborhood, Nyboder, is famous for its charming and historic wooden houses. Nyboder was actually started as a military barracks back in the 1600s. It’s amazing that some of the buildings have survived so long. Frankly, it’s also amazing that Denmark designed such insanely cute military barracks. Even the soldiers getting ready to go off to battle must have been a little happy to be in such a charming setting.
This street pictured above, Krusemyntgade, was the most Instagrammed street in Copenhagen. I don’t know how you would measure that unless you looked through everyone in the whole wide world’s Instagram and that seems like the worst job in human history! But at the very least, we know it’s a popular street to photograph. Some people don’t like things just because they are popular, but I say a cute house is a cute house, no matter how many times someone posts it on social media.
3) Peter Beier Chocolate
Everyone knows that chocolate is the coziest substance in the world. That’s just science! So no hygge tour can be complete without stopping at Peter Beier Chocolate. This chocolate was special because it is completely handmade. The cocoa beans come from the company’s own field in the Dominican Republic. (I don’t think you can grow cocoa beans in Denmark, but then I am not a chocolate scientist.)
Just eating this mouthwatering chocolate without knowing any of the backstory would be enough to render happy the world’s saddest child. But on top that, I left with a cozy feeling hearing about how the family run business operates and how each chocolate is made with love and organic beans. It seems like people enjoy running their business more if they feel proud of their work and aren’t just thinking about the profit. Though of course, it helps to be selling something like chocolate or cinnamon snails that make the whole world smile.
4) Kongens Have
Kongens Have translates to “The King’s Garden”, but this is not the king pictured above. This green gentleman is Hans Christian Andersen, a man who brought happiness to many children by writing the saddest fairy tales ever. (Seriously, read “The Little Match Girl” or “The Little Mermaid” and then come back to the blog, if you haven’t been swept away on an ocean of tears.) Despite his sad stories, Andersen did find some happiness in Copenhagen. He claimed that the tale “The Ugly Duckling”, about a weirdo who learns to find people who appreciate him, was his autobiography, after all.
Parks and gardens are all over Copenhagen. Danes consider being in nature, biking, and being disgustingly healthy in general to be an important part of their well being. I think nature, biking, and health beat concrete, obsessively posting on Twitter, and liver disease any day of the week. But you probably didn’t need me to tell you that, Internet Stranger.
We obviously haven’t had enough cuteness for one day, so let’s hit up Magstræde. This is another one of the most Instagrammed streets in Copenhagen. Just looking at it puts a smile on your face! This area used to be called Pee Street because it was so shady and intoxicated folk would relieve themselves in the alley. I kind of suspect none of these tourists know the unsavory origins of this cobblestoned charmer.
And because the only thing Copenhagen has more of than parks and cute streets is artisanal food, I stopped at a little cafe for some small batch soda. (I chose rhubarb because I always pick the weirdest flavor.) This was rhubarb lemonade, and I’m not sure it’s the wisest decision to drink lemonade on Pee Street, but I tried not to think too much about that.
24 Hours: Copenhagen Itinerary
Afternoon: Rosenborg Castle
One of the reasons Copenhagen is such a happy city is its beautiful architecture. We’ve already seen some adorably winding, formerly urine-soaked streets and itty-bitty wooden houses. Now it’s time to get grand with Rosenborg Castle. This beauty dates back to the 17th century. Like pretty much everything in Copenhagen, it was built by a King named Christian. (They’ve had X of them.)
As gorgeous as Rosenborg Castle is, it can be a little intimidating. There are always crowds of people trying to get the best picture of the Rosenborg Castle Crown Jewels for their Instagram. (I always assume one of the tourists is Carmen Sandiego in disguise and she’s trying to steal the Crown Jewels.) So allow me to help your Copenhagen itinerary along with…
three tips for visiting rosenborg castle
1) Be Prepared
Some people get super stressed about crowds, and that’s no way to live! You’re going to find crowds when you travel unless you avoid everything popular, and people who refuse to do anything popular just on principle miss out on a lot. The best thing to do to avoid getting cranky about long lines at Rosenborg Castle is to buy your timed ticket in advance online. If you plan on visiting Amalienborg Palace the next day, get the combination ticket and save 40 DKK.
Speaking of Danish currency, you’ll need to check your bag in a locker before entering Rosenborg Palace. I suggest bringing 20 krone with you because it will make getting your Rosenborg Castle locker that much faster.
2) Enjoy the Adventure
Just think of how cool it is that you get basically free reign of a castle that is hundreds of years old. And you are but a common peasant! Take the time to explore and find all the weird, wacky treasures Rosenborg Castle has to offer. For example, here we have an elaborately tiled Rosenborg Castle privy!
Get up close so you can see every detail on that Rosenborg Castle bathroom tile. Don’t worry about those people behind you judging you for taking multiple photos of a potty. They just don’t know how to live!
As I was chortling in delight over this stunning collection of Rosenborg Castle porcelain, two ladies came up behind me. One of them asked the other, “Do you want a photo of some dishes?” The other said, “Nah…” This is exactly the wrong attitude for a traveler to have! Photograph all the dishes! That’s my motto!
3) Slow Down When You Need To
At times the opposite approach is needed. Instead of aimlessly wandering, you should focus on one special item and get all you can out of it. The brochure for Rosenborg Castle says this crown symbolizes the King’s virtues. So I tried to read the little figures in the crown and I assume that the King’s virtues include: being like an eagle, being shiny, being like a tiny figure in a traffic light, being round, being red, and being pointy. See what you can learn when you pay careful attention!
24 Hour treasure: Botanical Gardens
If the weather is nice, when you’re done in Rosenborg Castle, just pop on over to the Botanical Gardens nearby. Even if it’s raining, the main attraction is the Palm House, which is an indoor collection of fascinating and rare plants. I warned you that Copenhagen had a lot of nature! You’re getting healthier by the second just being here!
If the fresh cherry vendor in the Botanical Gardens is out and about, be sure to pick up a snack. I’m sorry for how bizarre this photo of the cherries looks, but I was too busy eating them to compose the shot properly.
24 Hours: Copenhagen Itinerary
Late Afternoon: Assistens Cemetery
It might seem strange for me to suggest you visit a cemetery on a day dedicated to happiness. But part of being happy is being grateful, and I wanted to express my gratitude to one of my favorite writers: Hans Christian Andersen.
That’s why I went to the cemetery where he is buried in the Norrebro neighborhood. (The cemetery is conveniently located near where we are going to have dinner.) I left 5 krone on his grave as a thank you, even though I’m pretty sure Danish ghosts don’t use money.
Danish philosopher Soren Kierkegaard is also buried in this cemetery. I personally think it would have been hilarious if these signs for his grave never actually led you anywhere. “What does it all mean?” I would wonder for eternity. But unfortunately Kierkegaard actually is buried in this cemetery.
24 Hours: Copenhagen Itinerary
Evening: Dinner at Relae
Ever since Rene Redzepi started the legendary restaurant Noma in Copenhagen, the city has been a center for gastronomic innovation. One of the best tasting menu restaurants in the city is Relae, which has a Michelin star and was ranked one of the 100 best restaurants in the world by the World’s 50 Best. I would guess that the world has thousands of restaurants in it, some of which scientists don’t even have a name for yet. So being in the top 100 is pretty impressive.
Tasting menu restaurants like Relae aren’t for everyone. You don’t get to choose your food, which bothers the picky. Also they are definitely on the pricey side. But I’d rather spend the money on food than fashion or internet gambling.
The reason I love tasting menus is that the small dishes allow you to really appreciate the high quality of the ingredients and the creative techniques used to prepare them. Also you get more food and more is better! An evening at a restaurant like Relae is theater and dining all wrapped up into one. So without delay, I present…
approximately top 10: Relae
This upside down photo shows a goat cheese tart with green strawberries. What made me happy about this dish was the sour flavors of the goat cheese combined with the green strawberries. Usually I like dishes that contain contrasting tastes. But there’s something to be said for a dish that showcases one intense taste.
The next dish was celery with almonds and almond milk. It was perfect following the first course because the flavors of this dish were so soft and mild. Also it kind of looks like the almonds are going sledding on that piece of celery, which is very hygge.
The produce at Relae comes from their own private farm just outside Copenhagen. They play and experiment with their produce like a painter does with her oils. My waiter told me this course featured an experimental turnip from their farm. I definitely think someone should name a band Experimental Turnip.
Under the experimental turnip was an oyster emulsion. I’m not joking; the oyster emulsion might be the single most popular ingredient on tasting menus in Scandinavia. Pretty soon it’s going to become mainstream and you’ll be able to buy oyster emulsions at 7-11.
This is a little salad made with tomatoes fresh from their farm including a Japanese black tomato. First off, nothing makes me happier than a new kind of heirloom tomato. A good heirloom tomato is like summer trapped in a squishy red prison. A prison you get to eat. I need to point out that this actually wasn’t a full course. At a tasting menu restaurant, you get tons of snacks like this thrown in just for funsies.
The fish course hath arrived! It is a trout with crispy skin and butter sauce. Again, this dish was doubling down on one theme with the butter and the crispy skin, and that theme was fat. Fat makes everything taste better! If you don’t eat fat, you’ll never feel full and your hair will turn to dust. So eating fat is high on my list of things you need to do if you want to be happy.
Once again, the menu revealed itself to be perfectly paced by following the fatty fish in butter with a green and (probably) healthy fava beans in fennel sauce. (Liver and Chianti were not included.) I think people who don’t like vegetables just haven’t tried the good stuff. You can really tell the difference when the ingredients are coming straight from the farm.
Speaking of fresh off the farm, here are some carrots plucked straight from the earth. You get to dip these in fresh lemony mascarpone. I was so tickled to be able to use my hands in One of the World’s Best Restaurants. This dish is about as hygge as a tasting menu is going to get.
Another way chefs showcase their ingredients is by serving them more than one way. Here we have an upside down lamb tartare…
It was pursued by the same lamb cooked and served with local greens. By local, I wondered if they meant they’d plucked them from the park around the corner. It actually wouldn’t surprise me at all, but probably they meant the farm. I had never eaten lamb tartare before, but I love raw meat because it makes me feel like a Wolf Girl and I always wanted to be a Wolf Girl.
A little amuse bouche for the cheese course! This is a fresh upside down cheese on a light buckwheat cracker. The cheese was so fresh I almost felt like I could hear it mooing. But this was a tricky dish to eat in more than one bite because the cheese kept trying to get on my face and fingers. If I make a mess in a fancy restaurant, I never feel embarrassed. Getting cheese on your fingers just means you’re properly enjoying the delicious food!
I was so excited when the waiter placed this dish in front of me. “I’m getting a pile of grass for dessert! How trendy and experimental,” I thought. But actually it is buttermilk sorbet with herbs on top. The sorbet was both sweet and sour, and the herbs added a slight bitterness, which made this more like a fun palette cleanser for the actual dessert to come.
Relae was saving all its sugar for this dessert: a cream-filled shell with dehydrated strawberries. I suspect the dehydration intensified the flavor because these strawberries were just as sweet as the smile of the first boy I ever danced with at summer camp down in Tupelo, Mississippi. (Very sweet.) Also, I just noticed that the meal started with green strawberries and ended with red strawberries. I am so smart! That should get me a free cheese course, I think! Or maybe just a free Experimental Turnip.
That’s 24 Hours: Copenhagen Itinerary
What would you do during a Copenhagen itinerary? Are you ready to start booking your hotel in Copenhagen? Did any snails die in the making of the cinnamon snails? Should I name my new band Experimental Turnip? Please leave your thoughts below!
Note: If you want to know how I put my travel itineraries together, just click here. Keep in mind that while each article is about how to spend 24 hours in a place, that doesn’t mean you should ONLY have a 24 hours in Copenhagen Itinerary. If you want a 24 hour Copenhagen Itinerary with the Vesterbro neighborhood, try here.
If you’re looking for a Copenhagen Itinerary with Freetown Christiania, go here. If you’re interested in a Copenhagen Itinerary with Nyhavn, there’s this itinerary. If you want an itinerary with Vesterbro, click here. And finally we have an itinerary with the adorable Tivoli Gardens.