So you have just 24 hours in Copenhagen? You’ve picked a good spot—the Danish capital is cosmopolitan and cozy at the same time, full of historic gems mixed with modern conveniences. Here’s a sample itinerary to follow to hit some of Copenhagen’s best stops with just one day in the city.

How to spend 24 hours in Copenhagen:

Get breakfast at Grød

Start the day off right with a local favorite: porridge. Grød is one of the most popular breakfast spots in the city; you’ll often find a line to get into the tiny storefront on trendy Jægersborggade in the Nørrebro neighborhood. Choose from oat porridge or a mixture of barley and spelt. The owner has already put together some suggested topping combos (like caramel sauce, apples, and roasted almonds) but you’ll be able to choose your own from a list of 12.

Stroll through Assistens Cemetery

Assistens KirkegŒrd cemetery in Copenhagen

Assistens KirkegŒrd photo via copenhagenmediacenter.com. Photographer Ty Stange

Assistens is more than just a cemetery—locals treat it as a park as well. It’s not uncommon to find joggers and bikers making their way through the grounds, or couples and friends picnicking among the gravestones. A couple notable people are buried here as well. The two most well known are Hans Christian Andersen and Søren Kierkegaard. Signs directing the way to their graves are placed throughout the cemetery, but it might be easier to find it on GPS first; the trails can be a little confusing.

Visit Nyhavn

Nyhavn in Copenhagen

Nyhavn

From the cemetery, head southeast to the picturesque port neighborhood Nyhavn. It was once an international commercial port and has retained that feel with boats all along the canal. The homes lining either side of the water sit above restaurants with varied cuisine—if you like waffles, there’s a great waffle shop that serves them on a stick, covered in chocolate, and dipped in nuts. The oldest house in the area, #9, dates back to 1681 and has not been altered. Prominent artists and authors used to live on this street as well; Hans Christian Andersen lived in numbers 20 (where he wrote The Princess and the Pea), 67, and 18.

See the Little Mermaid

Little Mermaid statue in Copenhagen

The Little Mermaid statue

OK, so it’s kind of touristy and smaller than you’d expect, but you can’t come to Copenhagen and not see the Little Mermaid statue. Walk north along the water from Nyhavn and you’ll find it on the other end of a park full of cherry blossom trees. After the requisite two or three minutes it takes to snap a selfie with Ariel, walk around the Kastellet, an old fort next to the statue that’s still used by the military.

Have lunch at Torvehallerne

market in Copenhagen

From the Kastellet, head back to the city center for lunch. Torvehallerne is Copenhagen’s market hall, similar to Boston’s Faneuil Hall or any market halls in other Nordic countries. There are two main buildings full of restaurants, bakeries, and shops, and an outdoor area between the two with a flower market and a couple more restaurants. You have your pick of everything from French pastries to Nordic smorrebrod. Grab something to go and sit outside. I recommend Stedsans for local plant-based cuisine and a sinfully rich chocolate cake.

Take a city center walking tour

Rosenborg Castle in Copenhagen

Rosenborg Castle

Walk off your lunch with a tour of Copenhagen’s historic city center. From Torvehallerne, go north along the park to Rosenborg Castle. It was built in the early 17th century and now holds the crown jewels (the current ones and the crowns of past kings and queens), royal regalia, and some of the royal art collection.

The King’s Garden surrounds the castle: a huge lawn in front and a quiet garden to the side. Spend some time enjoying nature here before walking east to Amalienborg Palace. Four identical buildings comprise this palace, and you can see the changing of the guard at noon every day. After Amalienborg, walk south to Christiansborg Palace. This complex is still used by the royal family for functions and events.

Christiansborg Palace how to spend 24 hours in Copenhagen

Christiansborg Palace

You can tour several locations on the grounds, but visit the archaeological site under the palace first; it’s easily the most interesting part of the stop. Buy the ticket for the Royal Reception Rooms—it includes all the other attractions in the price. Next, head back towards Torvehallerne and end your walk at the Round Tower. It was built in the 17th century and is currently Europe’s oldest functioning observatory. Walk up to the top following the interior spiral path to get a commanding view of old Copenhagen.

Eat dinner at Llama

Llama restaurant in Copenhagen

Photo courtesy of restaurant Llama, via copenhagenmediacenter.com

Finish up a long day of walking with dinner at nearby Llama, a colorful Mexican-style restaurant with dishes inspired by South America. Try the tasting menu if you like seafood—you’ll get tons of fish. Check out the drink menu as well; they’re all uniquely named and completely delicious, and the bartender makes them with a great flair for showmanship. Don’t forget to walk around and explore the intricately designed interior before finishing out the final moments of your 24 hours in Copenhagen. 

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Jennifer Billock Young

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