As we previously mentioned, our scheduled stopover from Reykjavik to Berlin afforded us the option of a quick visit to Copenhagen. Our flight landed at Kastrup at 12:20 and we didn’t fly out again until 19:40. After adding in time for security, check-in, and transit time, we figured we would get just over 4 hours to spend exploring – this ended up being a pretty accurate estimate.
Hopefully this guide will convince you that layover time can be used to get a quick taste of a city, and especially Copenhagen.
The first thing we did once clearing customs (grabbing bags and walking through took all of 20 minutes), was to grab a little cash, get two metro tickets (you can also use the train), and check our bags just inside Parking Lot 4 (this is nice since it is only about a 5 minute walk from public transport links).
We hopped on the metro, and just 15 minutes later we were walking up the stairs into Copenhagen’s most important and beautiful square – Kongens Nytorv. The “King’s Square is a beautiful place to start your walk around Indre By (the “Inner City”), and is also a great place for a cheap bite to eat as many fast food places can be found here, and most restaurants in Indre By will cost you an arm and a leg.
From Kongens Nytorv, we made the short walk to Nyhavn, perhaps Copenhagen’s most beautiful area (a tough call). The canal is lined with beautifully coloured buildings and is a great place to spend a few minutes people watching. After taking a few photos, we walked northeast towards the four identical mansions that make up the Amalienborg Royal Residence. From the lovely central courtyard, you can easily duck down to the Amalien Have (the palace gardens) where you can rest in the shade and look over over the water towards the neighbourhood of Christianshaven.
After a short break, we made our way towards the impressive Marmorkirken (the Marble Church), which is free to enter and features a beautifully painted domed roof. From here, our next stop was Rosenborg Castle and the picturesque park that surrounds it, a ten minute walk northwest from the church. Again, the park is a great place to rest your wear feet in the shade from a large tree. If you have the time, the Botanical Gardens are located directly behind the castle, and the Danish National Gallery is located to the right of the Botanical Gardens (Both Free).
Turning away from the castle, we focused our attention on the wonderful architecture that defines the old town as we made our way towards Tivoli, stopping to grab a couple cold drinks and a danish (the pastry). Magnificent examples of danish architecture are sprinkled along the way including the Rundetarn (“The Round Tower”), the University, and the National Library.
For the young at heart, and those who enjoy a thrill, Tivoli a large amusement park and gardens might just be your favorite stop. However even for those who prefer to keep their feet firmly planted on the ground (like us), there was still lots to see as a number of Copenhagen’s most beautiful buildings line the park. If you have time to spare, the National Museum is located right next to Tivoli Gardens, is completely free, and is regularly rated as one of the best in all of Europe.
After stopping in on Tivoli Gardens, and looking in on all the fun we could be having with only a bit more time, we made our way towards Slotsholmen (the “island” where Christiansborg palace is located). Keep your head up as there are a number of beautiful spires atop the buildings in this area that we couldn’t help but admire as we walked by. Wrapping up our tour, a short five minute walk returned us to Kongens Nytorv, and a short train ride back to the airport had us checking in a perfect 2 hours before our flight.
Logistics and Resources
As you will only have limited time, a map would be extremely beneficial. We used the TripAdvisor City Guide for Copenhagen (as it’s available offline), but if you prefer a map and don’t want to pay there is one below .
To get to Indre By, you can take EITHER the metro or the train. Both cost the same (36 DKK) and take 15 minutes. The metro drops you off at Kongens Nytorv; the train at Copenhagen Central by Tivoli Gardens.
Food is expensive everywhere, but if you search around you can probably find some decent street food that won’t kill your budget. Many of Copenhagen’s top attractions are free on certain days, so checking the wikitravel page for Indre By might be a good idea as there are a ton of cool museums and palaces in the region.