Charlotte BULKELEY CREDLE
Copenhagen, Denmark: 3-Day Itinerary
To start off les vacances de la Toussaint (late October to early November), we spent four days in Copenhagen. This Danish capital might have been my favorite out of the three cities we visited (Copenhagen, Oslo, Svalbard). The people were so friendly, the food was amazing, the atmosphere even in some of the outer parts of the city felt very safe, clean, with plenty to explore. Even though there were definitely things we weren't able to fit in, it was so much fun and we did quite a bit. If you're currently planning a trip to this beautiful city, the must-see itinerary points are bolded.
We stayed at Next House Copenhagen in a 8-person, all female dorm. I wasn't quite sure what to expect from the hostel experience, and with so many differing opinions out there, if you're going the hostel route, I'd recommend doing your research and keeping your expectations a little extra caged. With that being said, Next House Copenhagen was amazing. The good reviews are true, and the poor reviews, as far as I can tell (and I read a ton of reviews before booking) came from people who weren't aware of the dorm-room set up and necessities you have to either a) bring with you or b) be prepared to just make do without (like full privacy or others' lack of).
The check-in process was incredible smooth. You check in via a kiosk to the right of the entrance once you're in the lobby, and then you take your kiosk ticket to the front desk just a few feet away and they give you more info on the hostel and its amenities more traditional to a check-in experience. The staff were very friendly, professional, an helpful throughout our whole stay.
One surprising part of Next House was how many families were there. If you're not accustomed to staying in hostels, you might imagine that it's all 16-25 year olds bumming it through Europe with all the potential "security concerns" that come with the unknown in such close quarters. However, there were so many families and even older couples that the atmosphere was so pleasant, relaxing, and really high value. Final note on the hostel, the pictures on the various booking websites are accurate, so be sure to book your spot as early as you can to make sure you get the best rooms available during your trip.
The weather in late October (2022) was great. Coming from South Texas just a few weeks earlier, my body was still adjusting to the colder temperatures. But with a couple layers, a puffer and scarf, socks and sneakers or boots, I was really comfortable. In general, that's a pretty reliable packing list formula for this part of Europe in the Fall.
(Bolded are the must-sees if you're planning your own trip :))
Day 1: travel day!
Flight from CDG to CPH
Bus from CPH to Next House Copenhagen
Check-in (see above for check-in experience :))
Dinner at the hostel eatery (well priced :))
Day 2: Day trip to Malmö, Sweden
Stroll by Tivoli Gardens
Dinner: Max Burgers (because everything was closed)
Breakfast at the hostel
Museum of Copenhagen
Walk through Rådhuspladsen
Little Mermaid statue (must take metro to Kastels district)
Snack stop #1
Kastellet (military base/historic fortress)
Coffee/Snack stop #2: Lagkagehuset for cardamom buns
Walk through Christiania
Church of Our Savior
Dinner: Tivoli Food Hall for Danish hotdogs and smørrebrød
Dessert: "pancakes" from the garden pancake stand
Breakfast at the hostel: Toasties! (Danish version of a croque monsieur, or toasted ham and cheese sandwich)
Copenhagen Central Station to Roskilde
Viking Ship Museum
Skjoldungernes Land National Park (Viking Ship museum is practically on site)
Roskilde back to Copenhagen Central
The King's Garden - Rosenborg Castle*
Magasin du Nord
Dinner: Tivoli Food Hall (yes, we went twice bc it was that good and the vibes *chefs kiss*)
*We didn't get to go into the castle before it closed, but this particular castle houses the Crown Jewels and would definitely be a #1 must-see if I were to go back.
Day 5: Travel Day to Oslo
Airport timings (Disclaimer: not necessarily part of things to do in Copenhagen but because I think they're helpful and maybe you will, too :))
Get up at 6:30am
Bus stop by 7:15am (actual transport time was about 25-30, but we budgeted more)
Airport arrival by 8:15
Bag drop off (most Norwegian air flights include a free checked bag with the first level upgrade - opt for it!)
Breakfast in airport and head to gate for boarding (for us, this was 9:20am)
Ok, now for the ✨ details ✨
Maybe the biggest take-away from the information below is that nearly everything we did was included in the Copenhagen City Pass, which is about 80-90 euros, but very worth it. Not sponsored here, I just really loved being able to use the Pass. There is so much helpful information on the app and pretty much everything included (museums, sights, public transportation!) is actually worth doing and having availble to you! Save yourself time, money, and headache by getting the pass, which you can purchase simply on your phone with the app which is downloadable in the App Store. Big big fan.
Day 1: Travel day from Paris to Copenhagen (scroll on down to Day 3 the in-Copenhagen activities). I live in a small town about an hour west of Paris, so for me to make my 1pm flight from CDG (which is also about an hour north of the city center) and because I wasn't sure of the travel time between point A to B, I wanted as much buffer time as possible.
So, here's what I did (which I'd say you could legitimately copy-paste this timeline for yourself if you live approximately two hours away from your departure airport :)): Wake up at 6:15am, leave house by 6:30am, arrive to train station by 6:45am (it takes about 10 minutes with luggage to walk from my house to the train station, so my general rule of thumb for travel days is always give yourself more time than you need), train departed at 6:54am. Arrived to the train station in Paris at 8:24am, took the RER B to CDG and got there just before 10am. Checked into the Norwegian Air kiosk, got my gate number and baggage drop time. So, did I need to be there three hours early? No, but since CDG is one of the most strangely organised airport and I hadn't flown with Norwegian before AND I had a conference I was preparing for at the time, the buffer time was just fine. In the three hours, I got breakfast, I worked on my conference paper and called me dad.
Quick pause: There's a 6-hour time difference between me and my parents, sister, and brother-in-law, and a 7-hour difference between me and my husband. It took several weeks to get used to the difference and on this particular morning it just wasn't on my radar so when I called my dad (who is an up-at-5am dad), thinking it was around 10am for him as well, we had a good laugh that he was up early anyways at three am. Throwback to crying 7 tears in the random airport bakery because homesickness.
Okay, reviens à nos moutons.
Got to the airport, found a quiche and some caffeine, got some work done, and then dropped off my checked bag before heading to the gate around 12:35pm. Security and transmitting through the duty-free area before the gates to EU-destinations took about 40 minutes. During the flight, there was a short layover in Stockholm where we transferred planes to depart again for Copenhagen (which if you look at a map took us way more north than we should have had to go go, but I was happy to see what the Stockholm landscape looked like).
Once landed in Copenhagen, I stopped by the public transport kiosk to grab bus ticket and took the bus (about 25 min) to Next House Copenhagen, where I checked in, grabbed some dinner, and FaceTimed Austin while I waited for my travel friends, Chloe and Kaitlin, to arrive a few hours later. Once Chloe and Kaitlin arrived, we checked in with each other about what we wanted to see and do based on what we had put on our google doc. It was also the first time we met in person and normally we all three try to schedule trip transportation so that we can make the most of the full days, but it was honestly really nice to all convene in the evening before the first full day to. kind of gel a little bit before going to bed.
Day 2: Day trip to Malmö, Sweden :)
Our true first full day in Copenhagen city proper! Such a full day but it was so much fun. Copenhagen might be my favorite city I've been to so far. There wasn't anything stereotypically "magical" about it compared to a much more talked about (?) city like Paris, for example, but it felt so fresh, bright, colorful, and charming.
One of our favorite parts of the hostel we stayed in was the great options for food both at and around the hostel. The breakfast was 49DKR (Danish Kroner, or 5 EUR) was super convenient). The reputation of the Scandinavian countries for being a higher cost travel destination is definitely true (but they're so worth it!) so this breakfast option was a huge plus. The Eatery was also a great common area for two reasons: there are lots of outlets if you need to use the spot during the evening for any last minute planning AND it's pretty busy during breakfast and it was really easy to meet fellow travellers, like we did on Day 4.
After a quick breakfast, we headed out to the Museum of Copenhagen. SO cool. Put it on your list and don't skip it. Not knowing a lot about Denmark or really any of the Nordic countries before this trip, it was so fun to visit this museum on the first city day to get a good idea of the history of the city and what makes it so special beyond the tourist-star-eye spots, like the Little Mermaid statue that can be eye-catching for visitors of all ages. The museum was easily accessible (but be prepared for stairs), well laid-out, the actual interior of the building was beautiful, and the century-event organization made it so simple to breeze through the parts that weren't as personally interesting and take our time in other rooms. It also isn't a massive building, so if you go with a group and you all get separated, everyone always ended up in the same place because of the layout of the museum.
Our next stop was the Little Mermaid statue via the Rådhuspladsen square. We walked from the museum, through Rådhuspladsen, took a train, and the walked for about 15 minutes to the Little Mermaid statue. The statue was smaller than we thought it was going to be, but that only reinforced the charm. And, if the Little Mermaid isn't super high on your list, the scenery and the blue skies make the trek worth the TikTok hype - highly highly recommend. There's also a little waffle and ice cream stand in you find yourself in a little snacky mood.
From the Little Mermaid statue, we walked to Kastellet, which is the ancient military fortress for the city. It's still a functioning base but with much less security like many other military bases you can tour. We strolled around the fortress walls before going in search of a coffee pick-me-up and a Copenhagen-famous cardamom buns. Lagkagehuset is the Danish word for The Layer Cake House and is a chain bakery in Denmark, London, and NYC. Cardamom buns are a Nordic classic, and they definitely live up to the hype, don't let the "chain bakeries" scare you away.
The phone, in fact, did not eat first.
Next stop: Christiania. This mini drug-ville is something to definitely see during the day. It's essentially a CHAZ of Copenhagen that has been there for several years and provides shelter and drugs to the homeless and druggies (and tourists) of the area. For "security reasons" it's forbidden to take photos once you're through the gates of the area. The graffiti walls and "goods" shacks are interspersed and if you do go, try to go with a group as you may be followed like we were until you get a couple blocks from the tiny non-city. We spent a total of about 15 minutes here and that was enough - cool to see, but not cool to stay.
Just a few blocks from Christiania is the Church of Our Savior, the iconic church with its spiral stair-case steeple overlooking the entire city. Plan to a lot about 2 hours for this stop as you'll want to take your time with the climb and also watch the short film about the church on the way up. Definitely one for the highlights of Copenhagen, if only for the views. If you're afraid of heights, I'd recommend not planning to go all the way to the top.
Following the church steeple climb, we hopped on the bus for Tivoli Gardens which was also just a few blocks from the hostel. We spend the entire evening here and was quite possibly one of our absolute favorite spots of the whole trip. Throughout the year, Tivoli is a garden and fair-like ride park, but if you visit in the Fall and Christmas, you will be able to experience the magical pumpkin land and eventually the Christmas land it becomes. We visited in late October, so the fall vibes were absolutely lovely. The ride pass, while it sounded a little pricey up front, was definitely worth it. Attached to the Garden is the Tivoli Food Hall, where we found both traditional Danish cuisine and other more international options. The Danish hot dogs and smørrebrød lived up to their hype.
Finally, we popped back into the park (which you can do with the pass!) for dessert: Danish pancakes, which are actually just crepes. They are most certainly not American-stlye pancakes. With such a sweet end to the day, we headed back to the hostel.
Another day, another hostel breakfast. One of the common breakfast foods in Nordic countries is a "toasty," which is really just a ham and cheese panini. While in the toasty, we made a friend with another international student who was actually studying in Reims, France (the capital of champagne!) and the four of us ended up spending the day together and it was maybe one of the most fun (and funniest) days of the trip.
We took the train to Roskilde, about 45 minutes from Copenhagen to the Viking Ship Museum to see some real like viking artefacts. The sheer size of the boats was maybe the most impressive and also all the fun, interactive ways the museum presented the history and civilizations of the vikings. IT was so fun to goof around and try on the "Viking clothes" and explore the recreated boats inside the museum. Just outside the museum is Skjoldungernes Land National Park which is essentially a little port with some docked remodels you can explore.
Back in Copenhagen, we stopped by Gasoline Grill - BEST burger I've had since leaving the states. The pictures are the only words needed - the 20 minute wait was worth it.
Just around the corned from Gasoline Grill is Rosenborg Castle, which holds the King's Garden and the Crown Jewels. We only made it through the gardens as the inside closed just after we got there, but if I were to go back, I would have seeing the Crown Jewels at the top of my to-do list. The gardens were beautiful and many people were either lounging on a blanket or spending time with a few friends. If you're travelling with kids, this would be a great place to stop for a little run-around or even nap break.
From there, we headed in the direction of our canal cruise (HIGHLY recommend!), there are multiple canal cruise companies and they're pretty much all the same thing so don't worry about picking the "best one." We took the train and ended up cutting through the Magasin du Nord (which also has free bathrooms which can be hard to find in Europe). Time your cruise either for the beginning of your day to get the lay of the land for the rest of your time there or at the end of the day to enjoy the scenery at sunset.
After the canal cruise, we ended up back at Tivoli for dinner where we hit up the Indian food stands and found the first spicy food we'd all had since leaving the states (funny, the things you miss).
Our travel day to Oslo started with an early bus ride to the train station where we took the train to the airport, got through security really smoothly, and boarded our flight for our next stop.
Overall, Copenhagen is beautiful and everything you'd think a "beautiful European city should be." Quite possibly my favourite city I've visited so far since moving to Europe. If you can, definitely put it on your own itinerary. 10/10, *chefs kiss*, all of that and more.