Your Guide to Copenhagen—Where to Eat, Stay, and Shop in This Creative Capital

Every year, I plan a fun solo birthday trip to celebrate and explore somewhere new. On my itinerary: eat a lot of delicious food, do some reflective journaling for the year ahead, and immerse myself in wherever I visit. This year for my thirtieth birthday, I took a three-week long sojourn to Copenhagen and Stockholm. To say I am beyond obsessed with both cities is an understatement. Though they’re becoming increasingly popular destinations, I was shocked by all the DMs I was getting on Instagram in response to the sights and eats I was sharing. A lot of you are planning trips to Copenhagen and looking for recommendations. So don’t worry, I compiled my recommendations into the ultimate travel guide packed with all the things to do in Copenhagen.

Things to Do in Copenhagen: Your Go-To Guide

For reference, I spent a full two weeks in Copenhagen. So I was able to space things out and travel and explore the city at a very leisurely pace. I’ve organized my list below based on the type of place and things to do, so I would recommend grouping places together based on neighborhoods and what sounds most interesting to you!

From being a foodie’s dream city, to design inspiration around every corner, Copenhagen has something for everyone. Let’s explore.

What to Know About Visiting Copenhagen

When to Visit

I was in Copenhagen the first two weeks of March, and while I live in Chicago, I was still surprised by how cold the city felt during this time. I was in a full coat and scarf most days, and I even considered picking up a beanie just to make sure I was warm enough. But my local friends all sung the praises of the beautiful summers, which just like Chicago, means light and airy clothing. They also mentioned how the energy of the city is completely different during the summer. Everyone comes to life, so expect an entirely different experience that time of year.

I personally enjoyed going during the off-season where there were very few tourists and crowds. Finding a little quiet in a busy city makes the bundling up worth it.

How to Get Around

I relied mostly on the trains and buses, both of which were incredibly easy to navigate and got me to most places I needed to go. Copenhagen is also very easy to navigate by foot, and I averaged around 15,000 steps every day just going place to place.

You might have also heard that Copenhagen is a very bike-friendly city, which I can say first hand is true. Just note that bike riding through the city means business, and if you’re looking for a leisurely jaunt, be sure to go during off-peak hours or stick to the parks without commuters.

Travel Tips to Keep in Mind

Most places don’t take cash. I’ve grown up always being reminded to take cash when traveling, however most places that I tried to pay with cash didn’t take it.

Use a multi-day train pass. You can use the DOT app to purchase a multi-day ticket or buy tickets at the train station as needed. Just be sure to have the ticket on you. While there isn’t anywhere to check in and out, you might be asked while on the train to show your ticket.

Always pack an umbrella. Despite days that the weather app didn’t have rain in the forecast, there was still the occasional surprise drizzle. It’s always better to be prepared!

- Things to Do in Copenhagen

Where to Stay: Copenhagen Hotels

While I stayed two weeks in the same place, I was attending a class for part of my trip and heard from many friends about the places they were staying as well. Consider this a collective list of recommendations.

I stayed here for the two weeks I was in town. It was perfect for what I needed. Centrally located, spacious rooms, a gym, and a beautiful lobby space for working. I would definitely stay here again.

One of my friends stayed here and spoke very highly of the hotel. A stunning lobby space, sauna, access to Rug (i.e., one of the city’s best bakeries), and a nice central location all give this hotel high marks.

While this is definitely a splurge, the Hotel Sanders is gorgeous. I spent a few afternoons working from the rooftop cafe and was in love. An incredible location in Indre By (the city center) with beautiful rooms, this would be a fun staycation splurge for a weekend trip.

Best Coffee Shops

You’ve heard correctly: Copenhagen is brimming with coffee shops. The one thing to note is that most are on the smaller side with not a lot of space to spread out with laptops and set up office for the day, so expect to stop in and out most places.

The Carlsberg Byen location has a bit more room to work from!

The Central location was always full and I never found a good time to go sit down unless it was later in the afternoon or first thing in the morning, but the Fredericksburg location had plenty of seating when visiting in the afternoons.

  • Democratic Coffee // Krystalgade 15, 1172 Copenhagen K | Instagram
  • HANS Coffee // multiple locations | Instagram

Best Bakeries

Hot take or perhaps popular opinion: waiting in line for an hour is not my vibe. So many of the reviews and thoughts I heard from friends was how they would wait in line for an hour to get the best cardamom buns in the city. That’s just not my style, and after trying the baked goods at each of these places, I don’t know that I think one is better than the other. They’re all really good, and if there was a line somewhere, I just went somewhere else.

Couple this bakery with a visit to the Contemporary Art Museum. Just be prepared for a line.

The cardamom bun is good, but the lemon bun I had was amazing!

Incredible chocolate chip cookie.

Looking for a fun souvenir? Buy a tin of the Danish butter cookies from this patisserie to take home.

Things to Do in Copenhagen

Best Cafes

Copenhagen has some of the best cafe culture, and every place I visited had the most incredible food and vibes. You might recognize a few of the cafes on the list below from recommendations circling on social media, and yes, many of them do have long lines out the door during peak times. I found that going very first thing in the morning on weekdays or off-peak on rainy weekends helped me avoid waiting in lines.

Get the breakfast plate and definitely try the canelé.

The miso caramel croissant changed my life. This cafe also had lines out front before opening on the weekends.

This is the perfect spot to grab a late breakfast or lunch while you’re visiting the Designmuseum.

Another place that you can actually find a table to set up with a laptop if you need.

Lilo Wine Bar
Popl Burger

Best Restaurants

You’re going to have no shortage of amazing restaurants to eat at while in Copenhagen. Choose your neighborhood and take a look around at all the different options you have available. Here are the restaurants I had a chance to visit while in the city, all of which I thoroughly enjoyed.

  • Poppl Burger // Burgers | Strandgade 108 DK-1401 Copenhagen | website | Instagram

The seasonal veggie burger is incredible. Order a side of pickles and don’t skip the soft serve dessert.

During the winter, this daytime cafe turns into a tasting menu restaurant with only 15 seats. This was one of my favorite meals during the entire trip. During the summer, take a dip in the water outside or warm up at the sauna.

  • Bottega Barlie // Bistro | Fredericiagade 78, 1310 Copenhagen | website | Instagram
  • BeitSalma // Lebanese | Fælledvej 13, 2200 Copenhagen | website | Instagram
  • Høst // Nordic Cuisine | Nørre Farimagsgade 41, 1364 Copenhagen | website | Instagram
  • Granola // French Cafe | Værnedamsvej 5, 1819 Copenhagen | website | Instagram
  • Lilo Wine Bar // Wine Bar | Pilestræde 52, 1116 Copenhagen | website | Instagram

A hidden gem with the most incredible vegetable dishes.

  • Delphine // Mediterranean | Vesterbrogade 40, 1620 Copenhagen | website | Instagram
  • Selma // Danish Brewery | Rømersgade 20, 1362 Copenhagen | website | Instagram
Things to Do in Copenhagen

Copenhagen is famed for its vintage and fashion scene, neither of which I am well versed in, so you won’t find any good notes from me on that. However, I’m your girl for home goods, kitchen and ceramic pieces, and book stores.

  • Norte Dame // Home goods | Nørregade 7, 1165 Copenhagen | website | Instagram
  • Frama // Furniture + home goods | Fredericiagade 57, 1310 Copenhagen | website | Instagram
  • Audo Home // Home goods | Århusgade 130, 2150 Copenhagen | website | Instagram
  • Ark Books // Bookstore | Møllegade 10, 2200 Copenhagen | website | Instagram
  • Tybo Ceramics // Pottery store | Sankelmarksgade 2, 1676 Copenhagen | website | Instagram
  • Cinnober Bookshop // Bookstore | Landemærket 9, 1119 Copenhagen | website | Instagram
  • What’s the Story // Stationery + paper goods | Landemærket 9, 1119 Copenhagen | website | Instagram
  • New Mags // Bookstore | Ny Østergade 28, 1101 Copenhagen | website | Instagram
  • Arket // Apparel + home | Møinichen Mansion, Købmagergade 33, 1150 Copenhagen | website | Instagram
  • Bolia // Furniture | multiple locations | website | Instagram
  • Trine Fournais Ceramics // Pottery store | Nyhavn 42B, sal kld, 1051 Copenhagen | website | Instagram
  • Ferm Living // Home goods | Kuglegårdsvej 1, 5, 1434 Copenhagen | website | Instagram
  • Hay Design // Home goods | Østergade 61, 2, 1100 Copenhagen | website | Instagram
Royal Library Copenhagen

Things to Do in Copenhagen

Copenhagen is what you make of it. If you’re into museums there are tons to spend hours in, castles for the history and royal buffs, and so many ways to plan time outdoors simply experiencing the joy of the city. Here are a few things to do in Copenhagen to add to your itinerary.

This was my favorite museum in the city. Every exhibit felt thought-provoking and inspiring, and all the design and fashion exhibits were beautiful to take in. I spent a couple hours going through the whole museum and then doing brunch at Format, but you could also get through the museum in about an hour if you hustled.

What visit is complete without photos with Copenhagens colorful buildings?

While Tivoli gardens was closed for the season while I was there, everyone told me I should add it to my list when visiting over the summer.

  • Rent a bike and explore the different neighborhoods
  • Louisiana Museum of Modern Art // Gl Strandvej 13, 3050 Humlebæk | website | Instagram

Technically this museum is not in the city. You’ll have to take a regional train about an hour north of Copenhagen, but it’s worth the trip. The world-renowned museum has some of the most beautiful and peaceful grounds I’ve experienced, and the exhibits were all interesting enough to spend a few hours exploring.


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