Copenhagen is an ideal destination for a weekend break. It's a city both historic and hip, packed with fantastic things to see, do, and eat. Though it's Denmark's capital, it is surprisingly compact and easily navigated, meaning visitors can experience a lot in a short time. Here are some of the best ways to enjoy a perfect weekend in Copenhagen.

Cyclists are a-blur as they pedal on a blue cycle lane in front of Christiansborg Palace in Copenhagen
Visitors can cover lots of ground in compact Copenhagen on a weekend-long visit © william87 / Getty Images

Friday 

Afternoon

Begin your visit to Copenhagen with a stroll to some of its most beloved sights. Wander charming Nyhavn and take in the magical atmosphere of colourful houses and tall ships lining the canal. Enjoy a harbourside walk and admire the contrast of the historic warehouses and modern additions like the massive Opera House. The promenade will lead you to the Royal Palace of Amalienborg, the Kastellet fortress, the impressive Gefion Fountain, and the iconic Little Mermaid

Admire the city from another perspective on a boat tour with Hey Captain. The one-hour tour in one of their cosy 12-person boats will take you along Copenhagen Harbour and through the canals of the city. With comfortable seating around a table stocked with complimentary refreshments, it's a social experience as well as a touristic one. 

Evening

For dinner, get a taste of the world-renowned New Nordic cuisine at the stylish yet cosy Høst. Go for the set menu accompanied by the wine or gourmet juice pairing. The menu here changes with the seasons, which means you enjoy the freshest local flavours, and the Scandi chic interior design adds to the experience. 

Continue your evening at Ruby, a fantastic cocktail bar set on the shores of a canal in the oldest part of Copenhagen. Choose from a range of creative cocktails and soak up the speakeasy atmosphere, sinking into the leather sofas as you enjoy your tasty tipple.

Stands at Copenhagen's Torvehallerne indoor food market; many products are displayed on racks and tables, and in glass display cabinets.
Torvehallerne food market is the perfect place to pick up a souvenir for the foodie in your life © Caroline Hadamitzky / Lonely Planet

Saturday

Morning

Head to Copenhagen's foodie favourite, the market halls of Torvehallerne to enjoy some breakfast and discover the local culinary choices. Tuck into a bowl of porridge with fresh apples, roasted almonds and homemade caramel sauce at Grød, savour some deliciously flaky pastries from Laura's Bakery, or get your coffee fix at the renowned Coffee Collective. Browse the local products and pick up some foodie souvenirs, like organic chocolates from Summerbird or sea buckthorn marmalade from Bornholmer Butikken.

Stroll along the charming pedestrian streets to the historic Round Tower, where you can choose to climb the ramp that corkscrews 7½ times and take in views of the city. Take in picturesque Amagertorv and pay a visit to some of the surrounding Danish brands, including china maker Royal Copenhagen, silversmith Georg Jensen, design shop HAY House, and department store Illums Bolighus; its fabulous homeware section is an ideal place to pick up mementos of your trip that don't scream 'tacky souvenir'.

Afternoon 

Grab a quick and tasty lunch at DØP, where you can try an organic pølse, a Danish hot dog. DØP offers a range of sausages, including goat, chicken-rosehip, and a vegetarian offering. Set off to explore the island of Slotsholmen, where Copenhagen was founded in 1167. Visit Christiansborg – site of the Danish parliament and the queen's working palace – where you can tour the Royal Reception Rooms including the Great Hall, which features colourful modern tapestries detailing 1100 years of Danish history. Slotsholmen is also home to the Royal Stables and riding ring, where the queen's horses can often been seen grazing or training, and the tranquil Royal Library gardens.

Many boats line the canals at Christianshavn in Copenhagen; the large buildings along the water's edge are painted in pastel colours.
The island of Christianshavn was created in the 1600s © Caroline Hadamitzky / Lonely Planet

Take a break and indulge your sweet tooth with the best cheesecake in Copenhagen at Bertels Salon, which offers a range of flavours that change seasonally. Still have time to spare? Stroll past the historic Stock Exchange and its distinctive spiralling dragon spire, then cross the harbour to the island of Christianshavn which was created in the 1600s. This historic area features a charming canal lined with small boats, creating a nautical atmosphere.

Evening

Discover the lively streets of the Vesterbro neighbourhood as you stroll to your dinner destination, the Meatpacking District (Kødbyen). This series of former slaughterhouses has been transformed into a hot spot of restaurants, coffee shops, bars, and galleries. A stand-out in the district is Kødbyens Fiskebar, a trendy yet relaxed Michelin Bib Gourmand restaurant known for its incredible seafood and innovative cocktails. Dinner here can range from fish and chips to a sleek multi-course tasting menu. Be sure to leave room for one of their creative desserts. 

After dinner, head over to the iconic Tivoli, the second-oldest amusement park in the world. Take in the twinkling lights and scenic lake and soar through the skies on the Star Flyer, or enjoy some after-dinner drinks at upmarket Nimb restaurant. In the warmer months, Tivoli hosts nightly live music, and on Saturdays you can enjoy swing music under the stars followed by fireworks at 11.45pm.

A large crowd of people are gathered at Tivoli in Copenhagen to watch a fireworks display; a brightly coloured firework has exploded in the sky.
Every Saturday there's a fireworks display at historic amusement park Tivoli © Bidstrup / Getty Images

Sunday

Morning

Make your way to the multicultural neighbourhood of Nørrebro and enjoy one of the city's best brunches at Wulff & Konstali. Choose five or seven items from the ever-changing array of tasty choices, such as mushroom-truffle panini with goat's cheese, or poppy-seed waffle with lemon cream.

Take a wander through leafy Assistens Cemetery (the burial place of famous Danes Hans Christian Andersen and philosopher Søren Kirkegaard, among others) to Jægersborggade, a once-seedy street that is now home to some of Copenhagen's best independent shops, vintage boutiques, and artists studios. 

Afternoon 

Experience a modern interpretation of smørrebrød, the traditional Danish open-faced sandwich, at Selma. The seasonally updated menu features dishes like fried plaice with salted lemon and lovage; and confit chicken with rhubarb. Enjoy a local Mikkeller beer on tap, or try a potent akvavit, flavoured in-house.

The interior of Selma restaurant in Copenhagen; it has floral wallpaper and wooden tables with mismatched chairs.
Selma serves up a tasty modern take on traditional smørrebrød © Caroline Hadamitzky / Lonely Planet

Finally, soak up some history with a visit to Rosenborg Castle, built in 1606 as a country residence for King Christian IV. Now a museum, the castle features a fascinating collection of furnishings, paintings and artefacts including a narwhal-tusk coronation throne. Visit the treasury for a look at some of Denmark's most precious treasures, including the stunning crown jewels. Take a stroll through the idyllic gardens surrounding the castle, including the Renaissance-style rose garden which has lovely views of Rosenborg.

As your perfect weekend in Copenhagen comes to a close, take a final wander through the colourful streets of the old town and soak up the historic atmosphere. By now, you'll be making plans to come back.

You might also like:

Bit broke in Copenhagen? We show you how to cope
A guide to Copenhagen's neighbourhoods
What to eat in Copenhagen: a guide to the best food markets
 

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