Heading to Denmark? Marjut from The Smooth Escape offered to share a Denmark Itinerary – perfect for a week in Copenhagen and beyond.
Denmark, the smallest of the Scandinavian countries and one of the happiest nations in the world will charm you with its medieval towns, beautiful castles, and scenic countryside.
Based on my experience with living in Denmark for almost a decade, I’ve put together a 7-day itinerary that includes both must-see attractions as well as lesser-known treasures in this amazing country. One week is just enough to explore the main sights of Denmark’s vibrant capital city Copenhagen and take a few day trips to smaller towns such as Helsingør and Dragør which are packed with culture and history; this is how we recommend you spend time in Copenhagen.
In order to ensure that you’ll have enough time to thoroughly enjoy your trip without having to rush from one place to another, this itinerary is limited to the eastern part of Denmark (Zealand) only, which in my opinion is the most enchanting region in the whole country.
Without further ado, let’s have a look at some of the most beautiful places to explore during a weeklong stay in Denmark!
7 days in Denmark
Day 1: Copenhagen
Start your trip by visiting some of Copenhagen’s most iconic sights and landmarks.
First, head to the gloriously photogenic Nyhavn which is a port lined with colorful quaint houses and old sailing boats. Whether you choose to just snap photos of the buildings, grab a bite in one of the many quayside restaurants, or stroll along the port, Nyhavn is an absolute must when you’re in Copenhagen.
Next, visit Amalienborg Palace, the residence of the Danish royal family. The palace consists of four identical buildings with a large courtyard in the middle. To experience the changing of The Royal Guard, make sure to be at the central courtyard at noon. If you’d like to see the rococo-style interior of the palace, visit the Amalienborg Museum.
After that, head to Frederik’s Church, also known as the Marble Church sitting right next to Amalienborg Palace. With its massive green dome, this beautiful church stands out from the Copenhagen skyline and can be spotted in many parts of the city. As it’s free to enter the church, I recommend taking a quick look to admire its interior.
From there, walk to the Gefion Fountain, a large and impressive monument built in 1908. Topped by a statue of the Norse goddess Gefion, the fountain depicts a mythical story about the creation of the island of Zealand on which Copenhagen lies.
Just a short stroll from the fountain sits The Little Mermaid – a bronze statue created based on the world-famous fairy tale by the Danish author Hans Christian Andersen. Once you see the iconic statue, you might actually find it a tad underwhelming since it’s smaller than what most tourists expect. Nevertheless, you should pay a visit to The Little Mermaid as it’s one of Copenhagen’s most famous attractions and is often seen as the symbol of the country. Plus, the waterfront promenade leading to the statue is a lovely place to walk and offers some great views over the canal.
P.S. In case you’ve already been to Copenhagen and visited all the top attractions, you might find it useful to read about Copenhagen’s hidden gems and unusual things to do.
Day 2: Copenhagen
Kick off the second day with a walk in Copenhagen’s oldest park, the King’s Garden. The park contains vast lawns, flower beds, and a rose garden, making it an attractive place to visit during the spring or summer months. King’s Garden is also home to Rosenborg Castle where you can see the crown jewels of the Danish royalty.
Next, head to Torvehallerne, which is a buzzing food market consisting of two modern glass halls with countless stands serving high-quality fresh produce, pastries, chocolates, liquor, fish, nuts, cheeses, and lots of other delicacies. Besides the market stands, there are also many restaurants and cafeterias serving everything from tapas to porridge, from sushi to pizza, and the typical Danish open sandwiches called smørrebrød. If you’re a foodie, this place is your paradise.
Once you’ve eaten your way through Torvehallerne, take a walk on the bustling pedestrian streets in the heart of Copenhagen. The longest and most well-known of them is Strøget but you should also check out Købmagergade and Fiolstræde. These streets are lined with an abundance of cafeterias, bars, and shops selling both international and local brands. Make sure to stop at Amagertorv square which is an excellent place to people-watch and enjoy the performances of street musicians.
Finish your day with a trip to the world’s second-oldest amusement park and one of the most fascinating attractions in Copenhagen – the Tivoli Gardens. Even if riding roller coasters is not your cup of tea, you should still experience this magical place as it has so much more to offer. Full of stunning architecture, Tivoli Gardens become especially impressive at night when the buildings and rides are illuminated with thousands of colorful lights. Its idyllic lake, romantic pathways, and enchanting decorations create a surreal fairytale ambiance, which you just shouldn’t miss! The park is also home to quaint souvenir shops, concert venues, and a variety of restaurants with options ranging from fine dining to budget-friendly street food.
Day 3: Copenhagen
On Day 3, go to Ved Stranden (a waterfront street in the heart of the city) to join a guided canal tour and experience Copenhagen from a completely different angle. Sit back and relax as you cruise past some of the most famous buildings in the city while your tour guide tells you all about the history of these spots. As the boats are partially covered by a glass roof, you can still enjoy the tour even if it rains.
Next, head to the Christianshavn neighborhood to visit the Church of Our Saviour. The beautifully twisted spire of this church can be spotted from far away and the best part is that you can go all the way up to the tip of the spire! There are 400 steps to climb but once you make your way to the top, you’ll be rewarded with incredible 360-degree views of Copenhagen. As the spire might be closed in case of bad weather, call the church ahead of your visit.
After that, wander the streets of the adjacent Freetown Christiania. Located on the site of an abandoned military base, Christiania is a self-governing hippie neighborhood with its own laws, car-free streets, and quirky cafeterias. Full of vibrant street art, eccentric architecture, and interesting characters, it’s a really unique place that will make you want to reach for your camera. However, please note that photography is not allowed on the main street of Christiania known as Pusher Street.
Round off your day with a visit to Reffen, the largest street food market in the Nordics. With 41 food stalls serving cuisine from every corner of the world, you can be sure to find a meal to your liking. Since sustainability is of high importance at Reffen, the stalls sort their waste, use compostable plates and cutlery, make efforts to reduce food waste, and use organic ingredients as much as possible. While Reffen’s main focus is on serving food, there’s also a handful of shops selling artisan products and vintage clothing. Bear in mind that Reffen is closed during the winter months.
Day 4: Louisiana Museum & Helsingør
As you’ve now seen a fair bit of Copenhagen, I recommend taking a trip outside of the city and heading north.
Spend the first half of the day exploring the Louisiana Museum of Modern Art which is located in Humlebæk, 35 kilometers from Copenhagen, and can easily be reached by train. As its name suggests, the museum houses a collection of contemporary art, including works by Andy Warhol and Pablo Picasso. Sitting right on the coast, Louisiana and its intriguing sculpture garden offer beautiful vistas of the Øresund strait. On top of that, the museum has a really interesting layout as it’s built around an old villa with glass corridors connecting the different wings of the building.
Then take the train further north to the coastal town of Helsingør, also known as Elsinore. The center of the town has a notable medieval character, and its small cobblestone streets and colorful houses make it a truly picturesque place to walk around. Explore the bustling shopping streets, sit down with a beer in one of the cozy restaurants or roam around the modern harbor area. If you liked the Little Mermaid statue in Copenhagen, try to locate the glistening steel sculpture called Han in the harbor of Helsingør. Han translates into ‘He’ and is the male version of the Little Mermaid.
The main attraction in Helsingør though is the Kronborg Castle, a UNESCO World Heritage Site and the setting of Shakespeare’s Hamlet. Wandering around outside of the castle is free of charge. However, if you choose to pay the entrance, you’ll get to admire the palace’s Renaissance interior and exquisite tapestries, walk through the maze of underground dungeon passages and enjoy the views from the castle tower.
After exploring Kronborg, I’d recommend spending the night in Helsingør. If your budget allows it, stay at the Marienlyst Beach Hotel which features an amazing spa with outdoor jacuzzis.
If you’d rather return to Copenhagen for the night, you can easily do that as it’s just a 40-minute train ride.
Day 5: Frederiksborg Castle
After checking out of the hotel, head to the train station and get ready to say goodbye to Helsingør. From there, catch a train to Hillerød, a small town 30 minutes away.
Note: If you chose to return to Copenhagen the night before, you can still get to Hillerød by taking an S-train (train network serving the metropolitan area of Copenhagen) from one of the stations in the centre of the city.
Hillerød is home to Frederiksborg Castle, one of the most spectacular cultural treasures of Denmark. Located on three islands in Castle Lake, Frederiksborg is the largest Renaissance complex in Scandinavia and is often referred to as the “Versailles of Denmark”.
Built-in the 17th century, the castle used to be a royal residence but was later converted into a Museum of Danish National History. Nowadays, the museum displays a large collection of portraits, furniture and art encompassing 500 years of Denmark’s history.
You can enjoy Frederiksborg’s terraced garden with perfectly trimmed hedges, fountains and water canals free of charge. Seeing the interior of the castle, however, requires purchasing a ticket, which I highly recommend that you do. The extravagant Renaissance decorations and the grandeur of the halls will blow your mind! In order to properly explore the castle and its gardens, expect to spend a minimum of two hours.
When you’re done wandering around Frederiksborg, take the train back to Copenhagen and spend the night there.
Day 6: The island of Hven
It’s time for another trip outside of Copenhagen! Head to Havnegade street near the harbor of Nyhavn to catch a ferry to the tiny island of Hven. It would be a good idea to book tickets online to be sure that you get a spot on the ferry.
This idyllic island lies in the Øresund strait between Denmark and Sweden, just one and a half hours from Copenhagen. Being only 7 square kilometers in size, the island is the perfect destination for a day trip. Hven actually belongs to Sweden, not Denmark, but as there’s no border checkpoint you won’t even notice that you’ve crossed from one country to another. Bring your passport though to be on the safe side.
As soon as you reach the island, you’ll be charmed by the scenic countryside and the laid-back vibes of this place. The best way to explore Hven is to rent a bike and cycle along its picturesque coastal trails. This is the most common method for visitors to get around the island and there’s a massive bike rental point near the harbour which is impossible to miss.
As you cycle through the island, you’ll come across adorable cottages, secluded beaches, rustic cafeterias, and artisanal shops. If you’re lucky, you might even see some alpacas pasturing on the fields on the eastern coast. Also, make sure to stop at Kyrkbacken harbor to buy some unbelievably delicious freshly smoked fish from the small smokehouses. If you happen to visit Hven in May, you’re likely to see the island covered with a gorgeous yellow carpet of flowers since that’s when the canola fields are in bloom.
Besides the beautiful nature, one of the main attractions of Hven is the Tycho Brahe Museum named after a Danish astronomer who lived on the island and made many groundbreaking discoveries in science. Another point of interest at Hven is the island’s very own whiskey distillery Spirit of Hven. Here you can get a tour to learn about the different stages of the production process and of course, sample their gins and whiskies.
After touring the island, return your bike and head back to the harbor. As there’s only one ferry sailing back to Copenhagen each day, make sure you don’t miss it! All the information about tickets and departure times can be found at Visithven.dk.
Note: Hven is a destination that I only recommend visiting from May to the end of September due to the weather. If you’re traveling to Denmark outside of this period, you might want to consider heading to Roskilde or Odense instead. Both of these are charming medieval towns that can be visited in a day.
Day 7: Dragør
Start the last day of your holiday in Denmark with a trip to Dragør. Located 12 kilometers south of Copenhagen, Dragør can be reached either by bus from Copenhagen Central Station or if you’re feeling active, by bicycle.
This sleepy fishing village is the perfect place to escape the stress of the city and spend a few relaxed hours by the sea. Dragør’s tiny quaint cottages, charming gardens, and a maze of cobblestone alleys will make you feel like you’ve stepped into a different century. Take a stroll along the picturesque marina and sit down in one of the waterfront restaurants. Or buy some Danish pastries, find a bench with a sea view and simply enjoy the peace and quiet. Dragør is also home to the Pilot Museum of Denmark and the Amager museum, where you can learn about the special history of the village.
Next, if you still have any energy left and if the weather allows it, stop at Amager Beach on your way back from Dragør. This beach is located on a narrow artificial island right next to the coast, where on one side you’ll find a lagoon great for kite surfing, and on the other side a long sandy beach with dunes. On sunny summer days, this place is bustling with both locals and tourists sunbathing, having picnics or doing sports. Despite the chilly waters, Amager Beach is a popular place for swimming, and you can even see winter bathers here during the colder months.
In case you’re visiting Denmark outside of the summer season, Amager Beach is still a nice place to stroll and enjoy the views of the sea, the Øresund Bridge, and the Middelgrunden wind farm.
Best time to visit Denmark
June, July, and August offer the weakest weather in Denmark, with longer daylight hours meaning plenty of time to explore. However, August is a very busy month for tourism so visiting in May and the start of September will give you an opportunity to explore, stay warm and avoid the crowds.
December brings the holiday magic to Copenhagen; with streets full of lights and cute Christmas markets to explore. Just make sure to wrap up warm during this time as it can get chilly!
Typical prices in Denmark
Budget: Hostels can be found in Copenhagen for around $45 with private rooms starting at $65.
Midrange: Budget hotel prices range from $100 – $220 with rental apartments costing $200 a night.
Luxury: High-end, luxury hotels can be found from $180 a night.
Transport: Prices vary depending on how many zones you are crossing on public transport but travel across zones is under $4 and 10 trip tickets are available for around $23.
The average cost of food:
You can pick up affordable breakfast items from a cafe for $5 whilst hostels often have breakfast included for free. A street food or takeaway lunch will cost around $7 to $10 whilst sit-down dinners start at $15.
Save money in Denmark
- Stay in a hostel – As with most places in the world, staying in a hostel is the cheapest accommodation option for you. Hotels in Copenhagen are pricey, so stay in hostels or budget hotel rooms and book in advance.
- Avoid Airbnb – Airbnb is available at Cop
- Off Season – Visiting in October, November, January, and February can get you the best hotel and flight prices, as this is a quieter time in the city before the slide during Christmas.
- Free things to do – Head to Nyhavn, a canal district lined with colorful buildings and one of the most picturesque places in Copenhagen. The King’s Garden and Stroget Street are both free attractions to visit as is the Torvehallerne Market.
- Visit Christiania – This neighborhood is known as the green light district because you can legally buy cannabis here. However, there are also plenty of affordable cafes, cheap souvenir shops, and plenty of street art to explore.
- Avoid drinking – Alcohol prices are high so avoid drinking too much when visiting Denmark on a budget.
- Cheap meals – If you are looking for a cheap meal out, try a local cafe or an Asian restaurant such as Chinese and Thai restaurants.