One Perfect Day In Port: Copenhagen
You could spend a week in Copenhagen and feel as though you did not get enough. In fact, any time spent here leaves visitors wanting to return.
The wonderful Danish capital ranks among Europe's most vibrant cities. From charming outdoor cafes along the beautiful harbor Nyhavn to Europe's longest pedestrian street, Strget, and on to Tivoli, an amusement park and gardens dating back to 1843, Copenhagen offers visitors much to see and do even if you only have one day.
Walk, Or Pedal
You can cover a lot of Copenhagen's central tourist attractions on foot or by bike (Copenhagen makes free City Bikes available that anyone can use on the nearly 200 miles of dedicated bike paths).
From the main cruise pier, Langelinie, the city center is only a 30- to 45-minute walk. Ask directions from the pierside Cruise Information Center. Cruise ships also arrive at Freeport Terminal. Should your ship call there, it's about an hour's walk into the city center. Best to jump on a shuttle into the city center.
At the Cruise Information Center its a good idea to pick up a Copenhagen Card, which gives you free entrance or discounts to 60 of Copenhagen's most popular museums and attractions. The Copenhagen Card also gives you free transport by train, bus and Metro. The card is valid for either 24 or 72 hours. You may also purchase cards at the Copenhagen airport and at most hotels.
By walking or biking, youll 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; Amalienborg Palace, the royal residence since 1751 where you can see the changing of the guard if you pass at noon; and Nyhavn (pronounced New Hound without the d at the end), with its colorful old wooden schooners lining the canal.
If you stopped for the changing of the guard and arrived at Nyhavn after noon, pop into Told & Snaps for the Scandinavian specialty, Smrrebrd, an open-faced sandwich of sorts, that tradition requires be chased with the restaurants home-made schnapps.
Thus fortified, continue your walk to the other end of Nyhavn to hop a 50-minute canal cruise to see Copenhagen from the perspective of the water on a 60-minute guided canal tour.
Once you return to Nyhavn, disembark and walk across Kongens Nytorv (Kings New Square) square to join Europe's longest pedestrian street, Strget (swallow the g when pronouncing.)
The locals refer to Strget 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.
Free of cars, Strget stretches about one mile from Town Hall Square to Kongen's Nytorv. The city's most popular shops are on Strget: 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.
If you failed to snack earlier at Told & Snaps, stop in the Royal Caf to try Smushi, a combination of the traditional Smorgas (the open-faced sandwich) and sushi.
There are a couple of other options for dining nearby. For a traditional Danish lunch or dinner, my favorite restaurant is Peder Oxe, situated on one of the city's most beautiful squares, Grabrodretorv (Grey Friar's Square), just off Strget.
Or, midway along Strget, stop in for a huge slice of Sport Cake at Konditori La Glace. Hans Christian Andersen used to be a regular here.
For those who prefer fine fining, Copenhagen boasts 13 Michelin-starred restaurants and a total of 14 stars, more than Rome, Madrid and Berlin. The two-star Restaurant Noma ranks as the world's third best restaurant, according to the English magazine, Restaurant.
After lunch or a snack, continue to the end of Strget, to City Hall Square (Rdhuspladsen). Cross the square to Tivoli and step inside after flashing your Copenhagen Card to admire the lovely gardens, open-air amusements, more than 20 restaurants, cafes, theaters and concert hall.
Spend an hour or two in Tivoli, then exit via the Southeast Entrance. Step across the street to the Glyptotek, an art museum. The Copenhagen Card also works here as well as at the National Museum (also highly recommended).
To get back to Langelinie, you could walk, of course. Better to hop an Open Top bus tour, departing every 20 minutes in front of the Hotel Scandic Palace, across from City Hall Square. Your Copenhagen Card gets you a reduced rate. Purchase tickets from the driver. The tour takes about 80 minutes and drops you back at Langelinie.
Youve just had one perfect day in Copenhagen. Ready for more? Next time, stay a few days before or after your cruise. But before doing so, read our column, Two Perfect Days.