less than 24 hours in copenhagen

How to Spend a Day in Copenhagen

I had 14 days to squeeze it all in. Here I was, trying to finalize a two-week Eurotrip that would have me trouncing around western Europe. I was flying into Paris and leaving from Stockholm, the site of a conference I was attending, and I had to figure out my itinerary for the 14 days between my arrival and departure. In the final stages of planning, I realized that for essentially the same price I could either go straight from Amsterdam to Stockholm, or I could leave Amsterdam and fly to Copenhagen a day early, then over to Stockholm. I had to figure out how to spend a day in Copenhagen… well, less than a day in Copenhagen… but I decided to do it. This was supposed to be an adventure, right? So why not?

And I am so glad that I did.

The Logistics

Pulling this off would mean that I would be squeezing in a fifth country into an already tight schedule, and that I would have less than 24 hours in Copenhagen. Well, really, I would only have about three hours to see the city. Allow me to explain.

My flight from Amsterdam to Copenhagen landed at 10:30 pm. And, because I can’t manage a carryon for two weeks in Europe, I had a checked bag. My flight out was 7 p.m., the next day, meaning I needed to be on the 3:30 shuttle back to the airport.

BarrisTourista-Hotel AC Bella Sky Lobby

By the time I got to the hotel, I legitimately ordered some food, took a shower, and went to bed. You see, I was still a bit tired by this point in the journey. I was on country four of five, had less than a day, and then had to head to a tour sponsored by a conference the day after I got into Stockholm. I had slowed down a bit in Amsterdam but it was still a whirlwind trip. And I added in an extra country, making it even whirl-windier (new word alert). So here’s how I did less than a day in Copenhagen, and why it was just enough to make me want to return.


The Sleep

BarrisTourista-AC Hotel Bella Sky Exterior

I chose AC Hotel Bella Sky Copenhagen for my brief stay in the country, and it was perfect. The hotel offers a free shuttle (until 11 p.m.) from the airport to the hotel and it costs only a few Danish krone to get back to the airport, which is great because cheap airport transportation can be hard to come by. Since I arrived late at night, I wasn’t particularly interested in exploring the hotel that evening. But before I crashed, I did note that the hotel lobby was really nice.

BarrisTourista-AC Hotel Bella Sky View from room small

The next day, I checked out the hotel. The view from my room was amazing. The room was modern and sleek and the bed was super comfortable. The lobby was super nice, and was adorned with vines to contrast the modern feel. Even the structure of the building was super cool, with twin spirally towers shooting into the sky. It made for excellent views. And this was especially the case from the Sky Bar. In this amazing space you, can see all of the surrounding Copenhagen in a chic space over cocktails. The 360 degree views are breathtaking.

BarrisTourista-AC Hotel Bella Sky Sky Bar

But perhaps one of the best features of the AC Hotel Bella Sky is the fact that it has its own train stop and is just a few stops from Nyhavn, the main area of Copenhagen’s city center. It is the perfect location easy access to the airport and the city.


3 Hours in Copenhagen

BarrisTourista-Copenhagen Nyhavn small

Even if you only have a few hours, it is still possible to get feel for Copenhagen. By the time I up and packed for my flight that evening, I only had a few hours to check out the city. I hopped the train to the city center.

The main touristy area—the area you see in the amazing pictures—is only a five-minute walk from the train station. But is super crowded. Once I arrived I walked the waterside area, taking pictures and taking in the scene. One side is peppered with popular restaurants with outdoor patios and the canal is lined with boats.

BarrisTourista-Copenhagen Canal and Boats Close Up small

The colorful buildings really are picturesque, and one of the most colorful areas I have visited. I enjoyed strolling in the area and taking in the scene.

But the best part of my short time in Copenhagen is how they really do make the whole city accessible if you are there for a short period of time. When you get the Nyhavn, you have the ability to take a one-hour boat ride that takes you by all of the major sites in Copenhagen, allowing you to get a feel for the city in a very short timeframe. Insider tip: There is a boat that leaves directly from the front of the canal for 80 krone, but if you walk just a few hundred feet along the right side of the canal, there is another company offering the exact same tour for only 40 or 50 krone ($6 or $7 USD). You’re welcome.

Barristourista-Copenhagen by Boat 4 small

So with only a few hours till I had to head back to the hotel to get ready to depart, I opted to take the boat tour. And it was awesome. Seeing Copenhagen by boat is a great way to see various areas of the city. The architecture is absolutely lovely in Copenhagen. We sailed through canals, and by the Opera House, the Palace, and other sites in the city.

BarrisTourista-Copenhagen by Boat Little Mermaid

And, of course, we saw the Little Mermaid, the statue inspired by Hans Christian Andersen’s fairy tale. On the boat tour you can only see the back of the mermaid but given my time crunch that was sufficient.

By the time I got back to the dock, I knew I wanted to see more of Copenhagen. It’s such a picturesque city that I definitely wouldn’t mind exploring more in depth. And this tour is a perfect way to see Copenhagen in a very short amount of time, and all for $7 total.


Less Than a Day in Copenhagen

BarrisTourista-Tyra in Nyhavn Copenhagen small

All in all, my short stint in Copenhagen was a success. Even if you have a short layover, I recommend taking the time to check out the city, as it is picturesque and absolutely beautiful. Denmark is largely English speaking, getting in and out of the city was super easy, and the people are friendly and helpful. This quick gamble ended up being a score, and I will definitely be back.


I am a lawyer. I am a journalist. I am a writer. I am a photographer. And I love to travel.

21 comments on “How to Spend a Day in Copenhagen”

  1. There is a lot to see in Copenhagen and it is definitely worth a return visit.
    You have reminded me of my visit last year when I enjoyed the water tour and the walks through the parks.
    For our #blogboost vistors who do not travel, maps.google is a great starting point for viewing some of the sites in many cities.
    Thanks for the tips and pictures.
    Blog on!

  2. OMG, this pictures are beautiful. It seems as if you had an awesome experience is a short amount of time. I would say that is definitely a score. I would love to one day share in this experience. Thanks for sharing!

  3. The hotel looks so nice you are right the structure is really cool. As soon as I saw it I was like wow. You really picked a nice one. Even though you only got to see the back of the Little Mermaid, you still saw it so that is cool. Love the colorful buildings.

  4. I’d never even thought of visiting Copenhagen, but your post makes me want to go! I can’t believe you got to see so much of the city in such a little time frame (and for so little money!).

  5. I’m seriously considering heading back to Europe for Winter Break and saw that I would have the opportunity to check out Copenhagen. I think it’s super dope that the hotel has a train station. I love efficient public transportation in a new city because I get to know it better. Bonus points!

  6. Im glad you got to see much of Copenhagen on your day layover! Copenhagen looks a lot like Curacaco with the colorful building. Thanks for the tip on the 1 boat ride tour and I loved the hotel was connected to the train!

    1. Keisha,

      You can leave during a layover you just have to make sure the layover is long enough and spare yourself enough time for security and all of that coming back. You don’t want to cut it too close, that’s for sure!

  7. Copenhagen is really an easy city to move around as well as “small” enough to see the basics in a few hours, however, you need a bit of extra time to get something extra. Of course ideally, to get to know the place calmly you’d need like 3-4 days. Glad you had a great time

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