Surely, you could spend a week in Copenhagen and feel as though you did not get enough. In fact, any time spent in Copenhagen leaves visitors wanting to return. The Danish capital ranks among Europe’s most vibrant cities.
From charming outdoor cafes along the beautiful harbor Nyhavn (below is a picture I took of Nyhavn this past winter) to Europe’s longest pedestrian street, Stroget, Copenhagen offers visitors much to see and do.
And don’t forget the perfect, fairy-tale ending: a visit to Tivoli, an amusement park and gardens dating back to 1843.
You can cover a lot of Copenhagen’s central tourist attractions on foot or by bike (the city even makes 2,500 free city bikes available that anyone can use).
From the main cruise pier, Langelinie, the city center is only about a 30- to 45-minute walk, and by walking, you’ll pass Copenhagen’s best-known attractions: the Little Mermaid, the symbol of Copenhagen in the form of a bronze statue of a character from a Hans Christian Andersen fairy tale( she really is quite small); Amalienborg Palace, the royal residence since 1751 where you can see the changing of the guard if you pass at noon; and Nyhavn, with its colorful old wooden schooners lining the canal.
At Nyhavn, you can hop a 50-minute canal cruise to see Copenhagen from the perspective of the water with a 60-minute guided canal tour (tours depart hourly from 10 a.m. until 6 p.m.). From Nyhavn walk across Kongens Nytorv square at the end of the harbor to join Europe’s longest pedestrian street, Stroget. The locals refer to Strøget as the “walking street.”
This is the heart of Copenhagen, and along its main thoroughfare, as well as the adjacent alleys, you’ll find great shopping and dining. On the pedestrian street, you’ll find some of the city’s most popular shops: Illums Bolighus, featuring Danish design, and the flagship stores of Royal Copenhagen porcelain and Georg Jensen silver – all purveyors to Her Majesty The Queen of Denmark.
Whether you’re in Copenhagen for the day or several days pre- or post-cruise, be sure pick up a Copenhagen Card, which gives you free entrance or discounts to more than 60 of Copenhagen’s most popular museums and attractions. The card is valid for either 24 or 72 hours. You may purchase cards at Copenhagen airport, at major train stations, and at most hotels.
With the card, you’ll gain free entrance to attractions such as the National Museum (highly recommended) and the Thorvaldsens Museum, featuring sculptures by Bertel Thorvaldsen (1770- 1844), one of Europe’s most renowned artists in his day.
Among the attractions and activities where reduced rates are offered: Canal Tours, Tivoli and Open Top bus tours. Open Top Tours leave from Langelinie Pier approximately every 20 minutes. These are sightseeing buses that you may hop on and off as you please. The tour around the city takes about 80 minutes. Purchase tickets from the bus driver.
Cruise ships also dock at Freeport Terminal. Should your ship call here, it’s about an hour’s walk into the city center. Best to jump on a shuttle into the city center. All of this activity will leave you famished, and even if you’re not hungry, you’ll be tempted by Copenhagen’s wonderful restaurants.
It’s futile to make specific recommendations – there are so many good restaurants in Copenhagen – but you must at least try the Sport Cake or another dessert at Konditori La Glace, near Stroget.
For lunch, be sure to try the Scandinavian specialty, Smorrebrod, an open-faced sandwich of sorts, and for a traditional Danish dinner, go to Peder Oxe, situated on one of the city’s most beautiful squares, Grabrodretorv (Grey Friar’s Square), just off Stroget. Or dine by candlelight at Saint Gertrud’s Kloster, situated in an old monastery that is lighted only by candles – 1,200 of them.
Copenhagen has many hotels in or near the city center. Cruise lines offer pre- and post-cruise packages that include transfers and accommodations. The beauty of these packages is that they offer seamless travel experiences. Next time, come and stay for a few days.