In a perfect world, we’d all be able to take week-long vacations to each of the desired cities on our bucket lists, spending endless days discovering the ins and outs of every last one of them. But let’s be real: We don’t have enough vacation time for that, nor do most of us have the money. A great way to maximize any vacation is to discover an additional city by purposefully booking a flight with an extended layover (eight to 24 hours) on your next trip. Not only will you end up in the original destination of your choice, but you’ll have an additional city checked off your bucket list before your planned vacation even starts. Day-long layovers are both an affordable and efficient way to see the world, especially for those of us with a relentless sense of wanderlust. So pack your carry-ons lightly — we’re headed to Copenhagen for 24 hours!
Many airlines, such as Norwegian, offer multiple flights per day with extended layovers in Copenhagen. The great thing about Copenhagen is that it’s one of the most easily accessible city centers via airport transfer in the world. Simply hop on the Metro 2, (which only goes in one direction from the airport) and you’ll arrive at Nørreport station, one of the city’s transportation hubs, in just under 15 minutes. Trains run approximately every five minutes during the day and every 15 to 20 minutes at night. The metro is located above Terminal 3.
Satisfy that post-flight hunger by hitting up the indoor market at Torvehallerne, just steps away from the Nørreport metro station. With over 60 stalls selling artisanal cheeses, breads, and sweet treats, there’s something available for every type of palate. Look to GRØD for an example of authentic Danish porridge, or Bornholmer Butikken for chocolates and cheeses. Whatever your lunch preference may be, we recommend getting a traditional cinnamon bun, swirling with spicy goodness and packed with globs of gooey white filling.
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Rosenborg Castle & Garden
Take your market snacks to go and head to the Rosenborg Castle, a 10-minute walk from the Nørreport metro station. Simply head north on Øster Voldgade and, within eight minutes, you’ll have reached your destination. Rosenborg Castle is a Renaissance castle constructed as an extravagant country summer house in 1606 for Christian IV. The castle is surrounded by an immense garden, with open fields of green grass and little bridges crossing over streams. Grab a bench and take your lunch in the serenity of this peaceful garden.
If there’s one sight not to miss in Copenhagen, it’s Nyhavn. Exit the gardens at Rosenborg Castle on the southeast corner and take a 10-minute walk straight down Gothersgade to arrive at this beautiful waterfront district. The canal is dotted with rainbow-colored homes in shades of pastel blues and yellows. Docked wooden sailboats bob up and down along the gentle waves. These brightly colored homes are a stunning backdrop to the many bars, restaurants, and playhouses in Nyhavn. For an efficient and gorgeous way to see the city, hop on a canal tour straight out of Nyhavn. They generally take an hour and the tour guides speak both Danish and English. This is also an easy way to see The Little Mermaid statue, one of Copenhagen’s most famous attractions, without having to walk 30 minutes out of your way. And really, who doesn’t love a boat ride? Bundle up, though. The winds can be chilly.
Warm up after the boat ride with a piping-hot cup of coffee — you’ll certainly need the caffeine jolt by now. Coffee is one of the trademark products of Copenhagen and a definite must-drink while there. From Nyhavn, take Gothersgade back a few minutes until you reach Grønnegade on your left. Grønnegade is one of the most charming streets in Copenhagen, dotted with timber red houses. Danish culture places strong value on hygge, a concept of coziness and comfort, generally involving candles, company, and coffee. No wonder the Danish are so happy. We recommend checking out Amokka; its selection of strong and delectable coffees is to die for.
While the charming side streets and many shops may be tempting, hold off just a second longer and take the five-minute detour to Rundetaarn. The Round Tower was constructed in the 17th century as an astronomical observatory; nowadays, tourists may climb the spiraling staircase to the top to get a panoramic view of the city. Yes, we said climb — there are no elevators that go to the top. Now you understand why shopping beforehand would have been poor planning — carrying souvenir- filled bags up a winding staircase does not sound like our cup of tea (or coffee, for that matter.)
After the ascent and descent of the helical staircase of the Rundetaarn, you’ve certainly earned some shopping time. Head back toward the coffee shop and enjoy Strøget, Europe’s largest pedestrian shopping street. Strøget’s bustling commercial area is comprised of large, main streets as well as tiny tucked-away corridors, with shops of all shapes and sizes. The cobblestone streets and absence of cars will make this the most charming shopping experience of your life — even the most jaded of shoppers will find the encounter delightful.
Copenhagen Street Food
After an evening full of stair-climbing and shopping, your appetite is certain to have returned. Head to Copenhagen Street Food at Papirøen, accessible by the metro lines 1 and 2 from Kongens Nytorv in Strøget to Christianshavn St., followed by a scenic, 14-minute walk along the water. You’ll arrive at a warehouse full of decorated food trucks and old-school campers, adorned in twinkle lights and handwritten chalkboard menus. The entire Copenhagen Street Food project is focused on sustainability; all materials can be recycled or easily moved, and many of the dishes emphasize organic and locally-sourced ingredients. Dishes from various cultures are readily available, though when in Copenhagen, we stick to Danish. Order a smørrebrød. This Danish speciality is an open- faced sandwich, generally consisting of meat and/or fish, spreads and cheese, all on a piece of thick, buttered rye. Pair that with a Carlsberg and you might just be mistaken for a local. Take the 14- minute walk back to the Christianshavn St. metro stop and take the metro line 2 direct to the airport. Your next adventure awaits!