Copenhagen's Nyhavn canal

How to see Copenhagen in 4 hours

It’s early morning and you just realized that your travel department booked you on a flight with a four hour stop-over 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 that are so accessible, you can see a good part of it in a very short time.

You don’t believe us? Well, we tried it ourselves and produced a minute by minute report:

4 pm
My flight lands at Copenhagen Airport (IATA: CPH; LD hub page)

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 for DKK 36 (3 zones for 2 hours)

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

5 pm
I get to 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 ‘Emmerys’, a bakery and buy a small Danish snack to keep me going.

5.15 pm
I arrive at the second feature stop of my short visit: 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 might get 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 little mermaid is one of the first things that springs to mind when people think about the Danish capital. I find it smaller than imagined but like her 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 say you haven’t been to Denmark without having had a proper Danish open sandwich which they call ‘smørrebrød’. I approach the often quoted 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 1st November. I’m disappointed but choose to try the place next door called ‘Amadeus’.

6.30 pm
I fix my bill and pay DKK 284 for the 3 different smørrebrød and 2 beers. I enjoyed that and am even a little proud of myself for having tried the very Danish combination of curry herring (and liked 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 (see the LateDeparture reviews).

So, why not try this yourself next time you have some time in this beautiful city? Just remember that you need to focus on 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.

[Picture from LateDeparture.com – all rights reserved]

  • LaRaeRae

    Ah this is wonderful! I have a 4hr stopover in Copenhagen in October and this is really helpful:)

  • Alexandra B

    Thanks for the post! I have a stopover in Copenhagen in September and I am so looking forward to it 🙂