Moon Copenhagen & Beyond

Day Trips, Local Spots, Strategies to Avoid Crowds


By Michael Barrett

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Whether you’re sipping coffee by a canal, exploring lavish palaces, or discovering the real meaning of hygge, get to know the Danish capital with Moon Copenhagen & Beyond.
  • Explore In and Around the City: Meander through Copenhagen’s most interesting neighborhoods, like the Inner City, Vesterbro, Nørrebro, and Christianshavn, and nearby areas, including Kronborg, Kongens Lyngby, Malmö, and more
  • Go at Your Own Pace: Choose from tons of itinerary options designed for foodies, history buffs, art lovers, and more
  • See the Sights: Stroll cobbled streets and bike along picture-perfect canals, watch the changing of the guard at Amalienborg, picnic on the grounds of the Frederiksberg Palace, and spend an afternoon at the iconic old-school amusement park Tivoli Gardens
  • Get Outside the City: Visit the renowned art collection on the shores of the Øresund, unwind in the Swedish coastal city of Malmö, or stroll the old-fashioned fairground in Kongens Lyngby
  • Savor the Flavors: Snack on open-faced rugbrød (rye bread) sandwiches or delicious Danish pastries, sample Middle Eastern mezze or shawarma, or dine at Michelin-starred restaurants
  • Experience the Nightlife: From wine bars and craft cocktail lounges to thrifty bodegas and pop-up “Friday bars,” dig into Copenhagen’s vibrant nightlife
  • Get to Know the Real Copenhagen: Denmark local Michael Barrett shares his favorite spots in the city
  • Full-Color Photos and Detailed Maps throughout, plus a fold-out map
  • Handy Tools: Background information on the city’s history and culture, plus tips on sustainable travel, what to pack, where to stay, and how to get around
Day trip itineraries, favorite local spots, and strategies to skip the crowds: Take your time with Moon Copenhagen & Beyond.

Want to experience more of Scandinavia? Try Moon Norway. Exploring more of Europe? Check out Moon Rome, Florence & Venice or Moon Barcelona & Madrid.



















Denmark has always held a favorable reputation on the world stage, repeatedly topping “world’s happiest country” lists, yet it has often remained off the beaten path, or at least down a side street, for many visitors to Europe. Copenhagen has no Big Ben, Eiffel Tower, or Colosseum to conjure up iconic images in travelers’ minds, but the Danish capital has serious claims to be considered in the same tier as the famous cities these landmarks call home.

Copenhagen’s accessibility, culture, nightlife, food, bicycle bridges, calming lakes, microbreweries, diversity, and healthy work-life balance are all part of its appeal. They are also part of the city’s way of life and show that its “happiness” is more than just a vague idea. Don’t rush your visit. Take your time to scratch under the surface and uncover what makes this city so special.

I once heard someone say, “There’s Copenhagen, and then there’s the rest of Denmark.” It was meant to praise the capital, but I prefer to see it as a compliment to both. There are many treasures just beyond Copenhagen. To the north, in the suburbs, you’ll find a giant deer park right next to Bakken, an ancient amusement park that brings out the child in everyone. And just across the Øresund—a strait that forms the Danish-Swedish border—is Malmö, where you can easily get a taste of Swedish life.

The southern island of Møn is only a couple of hours from Copenhagen, yet it feels like it’s another world, with undulating countryside, dramatic cliffs, and a welcoming friendliness that’s hard to find in any city. Helsingør and Roskilde are approachable small towns with spectacular historical edifices. The atmospheric harbor village of Dragør has a charm that cannot be denied. And, of course, there’s the Louisiana Museum of Modern Art, a museum that ranks among the best in the world, located in a sleepy fishing village in north Zealand. If you’re visiting Copenhagen, much of Denmark is truly within your reach.


1 Spending the afternoon at Tivoli Gardens—a 19th-century amusement park—riding the “Demon,” strolling through a Chinese bamboo forest, and dancing to a live swing band as the sun goes down.

2 Bicycling on the specially designed twisting bridges across the harbor, and feeling the wind on your face on a two-wheeled trip around town. It’s Copenhagen—you’ll feel you’ve missed something if you don’t.

3 Climbing to the top of the Church of Our Saviour and admiring the panoramic views of Copenhagen from its gilded spire.

4 Drinking a beer on Queen Louise’s Bridge and watching joggers and lovers pass by at the Lakes—the best place to get a taste of everyday life in the Danish capital.

5 Sampling the best of Copenhagen’s nightlife at a hip club in Vesterbro’s Meatpacking District or a microbrew pub in Nørrebro.

6 Walking along the peaceful pebble beach and through the beech forest at Møns Klint, where white chalk cliffs glisten over the turquoise sea.

7 Stargazing on a secluded beach in the dark-sky preserves of Møn and Nyord.

8 Finding your inner bard at Kronborg Castle, the magnificent Renaissance palace overlooking the crossing to Sweden.

9 Taking a quick train ride across the dramatic Øresund Bridge to Malmö and going for fika, a Swedish coffee-and-cake break, after a stroll in one of the city’s many parks.

10 Going for a run in Amager Nature Park, a tranquil nature reserve where the evening sun glows orange through the reeds, birds sing, and the only sign of civilization is an aircraft on the distant horizon.

11 Visiting Louisiana, a sprawling modern art museum and sculpture park, and soaking in creative and ever-evolving exhibitions that will put you in dreamland.



To see the best of Copenhagen and its environs in five days, spend around three and a half days in the city and the rest exploring the surroundings. This itinerary is easy to follow using only public transportation.

DAY 1:

Spend your first day in Copenhagen getting oriented with the city’s center, style, and café culture, and mix in a museum or two.

 Start the day with a coffee and wienerbrød—a Danish pastry—at a city center café.

 Stroll around the Inner City’s shopping streets, taking in classic Danish designs and brands at places like Hay, Royal Copenhagen, and Magasin du Nord.

shopping the Inner City streets, Amagertorv central square

 Head to the Round Tower (Rundetårn), steer up the cobblestone-spiraled walkway, and see the city from above.

 Grab lunch at a nearby restaurant or café such as Schønemann or Democratic Coffee.

 Walk off lunch in the King’s Garden (Kongens Have).

 Head into Rosenborg Castle to inspect the Crown Jewels or visit the David Collection, where a breathtaking collection of Islamic art awaits.


One day: Pick a main attraction like Tivoli and focus on that, then spend the evening in the Meatpacking District (Kødbyen) to get a feel for the city’s exceptional food and nightlife scene.

summer evening in the Meatpacking District, Vesterbro

A weekend: Add two or three attractions in the Inner City with a thorough exploration of one or two neighborhoods away from the Inner City, such as Nørrebro, Vesterbro, or Christianshavn.

Five days: Add a climb to the top of the Church of Our Saviour and visit Christiania and Refshaleøen. Don’t miss Louisiana, and spend another day taking a side trip to Malmö, Roskilde, or Helsingør.

One week or more: With more than a week, spend a couple nights on Møn, where you can explore natural Denmark on two wheels or in a pair of hiking boots.

 In the evening, go for cocktails and nibbles at a local bar.

 Alternatively, if you have the funds and are able to prebook months in advance, spend your first night at one of Copenhagen’s 15 Michelin-starred restaurants.

DAY 2:

Combine art and history on your second day in the city.

 After eating breakfast at your hotel, make your way to either the National Museum of Denmark for national history or walk across H. C. Andersens Boulevard to view classic art at Ny Carlsberg Glyptotek.

 These are both extensive museums, so you’ll probably be ready for lunch afterward. Head to Nyhavn and get a bite.

 Walk around Nyhavn and be ready to photograph the harbor, then cross the Inderhavnsbro bridge to Christianshavn.

 Head to the Church of Our Saviour, the prettiest of all of Copenhagen’s spires. If you have it in you, climb the 400 steps to the top—the view is worth it.

 Enter nearby anarchist Christiania, and cross the lake for a pleasant walk alongside the reedy bank and improvised houses on the Dyssen pathway.

 Returning to Christianshavn, grab something traditionally Danish to eat at Christianshavns Færgecafe or get a homemade curry at Curry Club.

 If you’re here in the summer, head instead to the Reffen street food market at Refshaleøen, with its atlas of different world cuisines. Stay for a craft beer at Mikkeler Baghaven and watch the sunset over the harbor.

DAY 3:

Head north to Helsingør and visit Louisiana Museum of Modern Art on the way back.

 Grab a to-go coffee and an almond croissant and take an early train to Helsingør.

 Spend the morning exploring Kronborg, the imposing, powerful 16th-century castle with royal chambers, a lookout tower, and (sometimes) Shakespearian actors. Be sure to seek out the mythical Danish hero solemnly waiting in the castle’s darkest depths.

 Grab some lunch at Elsinore Street Food, where fish and chips, Brazilian tapioca, Indian butter chicken, and Syrian tapas are among the offerings.

 Take a bus or train the short distance back down the coast to Humlebæk and spend the rest of the afternoon and early evening at Louisiana, one of the world’s leading modern art museums.

 Stay in the village for a traditional Danish dinner at Gl. Humlebæk Kro, housed in a building that resembles a charming, old hunting lodge.

DAY 4:

See some of Copenhagen’s outer neighborhoods, and spend the afternoon at the city’s iconic Tivoli amusement park.

 Start by bicycling or taking a bus to Nørrebro, where you can get Arabic-style breakfast at Ali Bageri.

 Walk or bicycle down multicultural Nørrebrogade and soak up the atmosphere.

 Walk around Assistens Cemetery (Assistens Kirkegård), a historic cemetery that doubles as a park and is the resting place of many of Denmark’s most famous daughters and sons.

 Make your way back to the Inner City, crossing the lakes at Dronning Louises Bro. Buy a coffee from a street wagon and pause at a bench to watch the city move around you.

 Stop for lunch at Torvehallerne, the artisan food market next to Nørreport station, before you take a bus or S-train from here to Copenhagen Central Station.

various spices inside glass jars and in bulk inside the market of Torvehallerne

 Leave the station and enter Tivoli Gardens—a legendary 19th-century amusement park—and enjoy rollercoasters, gardens, and entertainment. Stay until evening.

 From here, it’s a short walk to the ultra-cool Meatpacking District (Kødbyen) in Vesterbro. Find a spot for food and drink such as Kødbyens Fiskebar, Magasasa Dim Sum & Cocktails, Hija de Sanchez, or Warpigs, or hop from one to the other.

 Weekend? End your night at Jolene and keep dancing until it’s light.

DAY 5:

Spend a day breathing in the fresh air of the suburbs before finishing your stay at a famous sight back in town.

 Once you’re up and ready (hopefully not too late), take the S-train to Klampenborg and go for a peaceful walk through Jægersborg Dyrehave. See how many deer you can spot.

 Have lunch at the tranquil Raadvad Kro.

 Go to Bellevue Beach where in the summer you might be able to swim in the sea. Alternatively, take a walk along the Strandvejen coast and see the many buildings designed by famous Danish architect Arne Jacobsen.

 Back in Copenhagen, head out to Langelinie and walk along the promenade until you reach the famous Little Mermaid statue. If your timing is right, you might get the perfect photo opportunity.

 Go to Nyhavn and finish with wine and tapas near the waterfront, maybe at Den Vandrette or Nebbiolo.


If you want to explore the areas outside Copenhagen, this itinerary will take you away from the city. A car is not essential for the trip but would be a useful asset, particularly if you are going to Møn and are not planning to bicycle or hike around the island.

DAY 1:

See some serious Danish history and a picturesque fishing village.

 Take an early train from Copenhagen to Roskilde and walk through the town and its park until you reach the Viking Ship Museum on the shores of Roskilde Fjord.

 After lunch at the museum’s café or in town, head toward the towering Roskilde Cathedral—you can’t miss it—and get lost in the legends of Danish monarchs from centuries past.

 Get a coffee or snack and take the train back to Copenhagen, where you can change to a bus for Dragør, a small village on the south coast of the island of Amager.


If You Want... Destination Why Go? Distance and Travel Time from Copenhagen How Long to Stay
A quick trip outside Copenhagen North of Copenhagen Get a dose of nostalgia at a centuries-old amusement park or open-air museum in the suburbs Klampenborg: 8 mi/13km; 25 mins by S-train Frilandsmuseet: 9.3 mi/15 km; 35 mins by S-train ½-1 day
World-class art Louisiana MoMA Explore one of the best collections of modern art in the world in a rustic coastal setting 21.7 mi/35 km 35 mins by train 1 day
History and culture Roskilde See how the Vikings lived (and died) in the former capital 21.7 mi/35 km 25 mins by train 1 day
Helsingør Immerse yourself in Shakespeare’s Hamlet at the iconic Kronborg castle 31 mi/50km 50 mins by train 1 day
A mix of history and nature Dragør Wander through the narrow alleys of the old town and the wide expanses of the Amager Nature Park 9.3 mi/15km about 50 minutes by metro and bus; 25 mins by car 1 day
To see more of Scandinavia Malmö Get a taste of Swedish culture and enjoy an afternoon fika, just a short train ride away 26 mi/42km 25 mins by train 1-2 days
Outdoor adventure Møn Spend a few days hiking, cycling, and stargazing in the wilds of Denmark, with dramatic white cliffs as a backdrop 80 mi/128km 90 mins by car 2 days

 Walk through the timeless alleyways of Dragør’s cobblestoned old town and stop for dinner.

 Stroll the harbor with an ice cream in hand. From here you can see the Øresund Bridge and aircraft coming in to land at Copenhagen Airport. Consider staying the night in Dragør, although Copenhagen is close at hand, if there is no accommodation available.

DAY 2:

Cross the Øresund and discover Malmö, a Swedish little brother to Copenhagen.

 Take the train from Copenhagen to Malmö. Don’t forget your passport.

 Spend the morning wandering the streets of Gamla Staden (the old town).

Malmö Town Hall in Gamla Staden

 Stop at a café for lunch before going to Malmöhus Castle, a 16th-century citadel with plenty of history about past fights with the Danes.

 From there, the Science and Maritime Museum is just down the road. It looks a little worn from the outside but has some great collections of nostalgic pieces of engineering and a look back at the Øresund crossing in the days before the bridge was built.

 Get dinner and something to eat at food market Malmö Saluhall near the docks. It closes earlier on weekends, so if it’s a Saturday or Sunday, head directly into town.

 Go for a drink at one of the old town’s hotspots. Lilla Torg is where most of the action is.



The Danish Architecture Center showcases all that is good about new architecture and urban design. For some all-time classics, find the legacy of Arne Jacobsen around Bellevue Beach north of the city.


For fine dining, Noma and Geranium are the most famous of Copenhagen’s restaurants and require advance planning. Alternatively, the Meatpacking District (Kødbyen) has some outstanding concept restaurants. Or head to a food market, such as Reffen or Torvehallerne in Copenhagen and Elsinore Street Food in Helsingør, to sample a bit of everything.


Slotsholmen, the island separated from the Inner City by canals, exudes history, with Christiansborg Palace, an impressive palace that is the seat of Danish Parliament.


The island of Møn is an idyllic getaway for outdoor recreation, with activities such as sailing, stargazing, and bicycling, as well as easy access to the increasingly popular Camøno hiking trail. A little closer to Copenhagen, visit the massive Amager Nature Park for a peaceful getaway.


The classic Roman and Greek statues and French Impressionism at Ny Carlsberg Glyptotek, the outstanding David Collection of Islamic art, and the contemporary art at Nikolaj Kunsthal are all in Copenhagen. The crowning glory is Louisiana Museum of Modern Art, set in beautiful, modernist buildings and among spectacular rural coastline scenery.


Amalienborg, the royal residence where a changing of the guard takes place daily, and Rosenborg, the home of the Crown Jewels, are essential viewing. Head north to Kronborg Castle in Helsingør for some Shakespearean-style palace intrigue.

DAY 3:

Enjoy Malmö’s many green spaces and proximity to the sea, while getting up close to Scandinavia’s tallest building.

 After breakfast at your hotel or a café in town, head a little way out of the city center by bicycle or on foot and take a walk around Pildammsparken, where you’ll find lakes, pavilions, a café, and an amphitheater.

 Head down to the harbor for lunch at Saltimporten and then walk off the meal by continuing toward Västra Hamnen.

 Spend a couple of hours walking along the promenade at Västra Hamnen, the rejuvenated former port, passing by the soaring, twisting


On Sale
Aug 6, 2019
Page Count
336 pages
Moon Travel

Michael Barrett

About the Author

Michael Barrett grew up in Sudbury, a market town in rural southeast England, though his roots are in working-class London. He uprooted to Denmark in the mid-2000s, initially to second city Aarhus, where he studied journalism and the Middle East before later relocating to Copenhagen. The move to Denmark came about through serendipity, but the influence of the Scandinavian country is now as much a part of Michael’s character as his London accent – which sounds a bit odd in Danish – and his affection for Suffolk cider. He wrote sports articles for his student newspaper in the United Kingdom, but his first real journalism gig was in Lebanon in 2012, where he contributed as a freelance staff writer with the Beirut franchise of Time Out Magazine. Back in Denmark, Michael began reporting in 2015 with The Local Denmark, an English-language news media aimed at international residents and others interested in Danish goings-on. He went on to become editor for both The Local Denmark and its sister site The Local Norway. Michael is a fully-fledged rye bread aficionado, provided there is no remoulade or curry dressing involved; and he has been known to grumble for entire mornings over the cold Danish winters. He has not once complained about the glorious light, late summer evenings.

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