How to see Copenhagen in four hours

By Guest Contributor
September 28, 2011

By Tom Merkli

It’s early morning and you just realised that your travel department booked you on a flight with a four-hour stopover in Copenhagen in contrast to the direct flight you normally get. You may think this is another one of those ridiculous cost saving tasks recently implemented by your company.

We disagree and think someone really liked you and gave you a well-deserved mini-break for free. We think so, because Copenhagen is one of the cities so accessible, you can see a good part of it in a very short time.

Not convinced? I tried it myself; here’s a minute by minute report:

4 pm
My flight lands at Copenhagen Airport

4.15 pm
I approach one of the two currency exchange booths in the arrival hall and get a few krone

4.30 pm
I take the metro line M2 to Kongens Nytorv at a cost of DKK 36 (three zones for two hours)

4.45 pm
The metro arrives in the station, I exit it and briefly consult my previously downloaded iPhone map to check directions.

5 pm
I reach the city’s most photographed sight: The historic Nyhavn canal lined with many colourful Dutch-style townhouses.

5.10 pm
After taking a few pictures and having had a good look at the canal and the townhouses, I continue my walk and get to a bakery, Emmerys, and buy a small Danish snack to keep me going.

5.15 pm
I arrive at Amalienborg Palace. It’s the home of the Danish royal family and I’ve always wanted to see it. Even though it’s probably not the most picturesque palace in Europe, knowing you can get very close to the front doors and therefore the slightest chance to see one of the royals up close makes it worthwhile. Unfortunately for me, they are a no-show this time but I do enjoy photographing the colourful (and friendly) guards with the backdrop of the palace buildings.

5.30 pm
I continue on and get to another famous Copenhagen sight: The little mermaid. Inspired by one of Hans Christian Andersen’s most famous characters, the mermaid is one of the first things that springs to mind when people think about the Danish capital. I find her smaller than imagined but like the setting beside the harbour. I patiently await my turn to be photographed with her.

6 pm
I walk to my final spot before heading back to the airport. After all, you can’t visit Denmark without having had a proper open sandwich which they call smørrebrød. I approach the oft-named queen of smørrebrød, a place called ‘Ida Davidsen’ (Store Kongensgade 70). According to their website it offers more than 177 varieties of the Danish snack. Unfortunately the restaurant is currently closed due to water damage and won’t open again until November 1. I’m disappointed but choose to try the place next door called ‘Amadeus’.

6.30 pm
I pay DKK 284 for three different smørrebrød and two beers. I am even a little proud of myself for having tried the very Danish combination of curry herring (and enjoyed it!).

6.40 pm
Back at Kongens Nytorv metro station I take the M2 back to the airport.

7 pm
I arrive back at the airport with a big smile on my face. After all, who gets to see a good part of a city in only a few short hours? My flight will be boarding in 30 minutes which leaves me enough time for a quick browse through the shops. After all, there’s plenty to do at the Copenhagen airport too.

So, why not try this yourself next time you have some time in this beautiful city? Just remember that you need to focus on just a few things and not try to do everything. Copenhagen offers quite a bit more than the above (e.g. Tivoli, Rundetårn, Christiania, Nørrebro, etc.), so simply tailor your stay to your own preferences.

(Tom Merkli runs, one of Reuters Business Traveller’s syndicated blogs)

(Main caption on blog landing page: Boats are seen anchored at the 17th century Nyhavn district, home to many shops and restaurants in Copenhagen December 5, 2009. REUTERS/Bob Strong)

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