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Copenhagen is a gorgeous city, but it’s also fairly small. In fact you can easily explore most of the city by bike in one day! So if you’re planning an extended trip to Copenhagen, you may consider to venture out of the city for a day trip or two. What you will find are beautiful castles, pristine coast lines, villages straight out of a fairytale, and interesting experiences.
With that being said, here are the best day trips from Copenhagen:
You may have heard of Elsinore from William Shakespeare’s Hamlet. Well, Kronborg Castle is THAT Elsinore. Located in the coastal town of Helsingør, Kronborg Castle is one of the most important Renaissance castles in Northern Europe and a UNESCO World Heritage site since 2000.
The castle is located on the narrowest point of the Øresund between present day Denmark and Sweden. Thus Kronborg Castle has played a very important defence role in the past. Kronborg along with Kärnan on the opposite side of the Øresund strait used to control the entrance to the Baltic Sea.
Kronborg Castle used to be a royal residence until 1785 and you can still find the royal apartments on the first floor of the north wing, finished with furniture from the 17th century. There is also a ballroom, which was the largest in Northern Europe at the time of completion in 1582, a Little Hall with tapestries, and a chapel.
Helsingør is a colourful little town with a population of around 60,000. Currently, it is the 13th largest city in Denmark, however at its peak in the 17th century it was the third largest. This was due to the fact that all ships passing to and from the Baltic Sea had to stop here and pay a tax on their cargo, which made Helsingør flourish.
The biggest attractions in Helsingør are the Kronborg Castle, the Culture Yard, a cultural centre and a public library, and the Danish Maritime Museum. The town is quite small and can be easily explored on foot.
The easiest way to reach Helsingør from Copenhagen is to catch a train from Copenhagen Central Station. There are multiple trains per day and the journey only takes 45 minutes. Tickets cost between $10-15 and can be purchased right before departure.
If you’d like to extend your day trip, you can catch a 20 minute ferry from Helsingør to Helsingborg, Sweden. This is one of the oldest cities in modern day Sweden, having been inhabited since 1085. It is also the 9th largest city in Sweden with a population of just over 150,000. However, despite its “large” population, Helsingborg has a small town ambiance.
There are cobblestone-lined streets, colourful buildings, little boutiques, cafés, and a laidback atmosphere. The biggest attraction here is the Kärnan Tower which was used to control entry to the Baltic Sea. This is the only remaining structure of the former fortification. From here you can observe some beautiful views of Helsingør across the strait. Additionally, Fredriksdal is one of the largest open air and botanic garden in Sweden. Here you can see traditional homes, herb and vegetable gardens, as well as farm animals that are no longer bred today.
Helsingborg is small enough to be explored on foot. However, if you wish to go a little further out of town, you can rent an e-bike.
Please note that if you’re going to Sweden from Denmark, you should bring your passport.
Going to Malmö for the day is the most popular day trip (almost) everyone takes from Copenhagen. And despite being the third largest city in Sweden after Stockholm and Gothenburg, Malmö is small enough to explore in one day.
This city was once one of the most industrialized towns in Scandinavia, but it struggled post-industrialism. However, it has been revived since the construction of the Øresund Bridge and is currently one of the fastest growing cities in Sweden. The main industries are biotech and IT. There is also a large student population.
As a result of its recent growth, you can see a nice contrast of traditional and modern architecture. In fact Malmö is home to the Turning Torso, the largest building in Scandinavia.
Some attractions include Malmö Castle, Scandinavia’s oldest Renaissance castle that’s still standing, Kungsparken, the oldest park in town, Folkets Park, the oldest amusement park in Sweden, and the Gothic 14th century Peter’s Church.
Additionally, make sure to stop for fika once mid morning and once mid afternoon. During these breaks, Swedes like to gather together to enjoy some coffee and a baked good. Just like Copenhagen, Malmö has numerous bakeries and coffee shops so finding a spot to take a break won’t be hard.
To get to Malmö, you can catch a train from Copenhagen Central Station. The journey takes under 30 minutes and it takes you across the Øresund Bridge. At nearly 8 km, this is the longest combined road and rail bridge in Europe. There are multiple trains per day (and night) as this is a popular commuter route. Please note that it is common for authorities to ask to check your passport at the halfway point between Denmark and Sweden, so make sure to bring it with you.
Built in the early 17th century as a personal residence for king King Christian IV, Frederiksborg Castle is the largest Renaissance residence in Scandinavia. It was later ravaged by a fire in 1859 and restored in 1878.
What is special about this castle is that it’s located on three small islets on Castle Lake, and it is surrounded by meticulously kept gardens. In addition, the castle is rich with symbolic and decorative elements such as the Neptune Fountain and the Marble Gallery of the King’s Wing.
Today, Frederiksborg Castle is home to the Museum of National History, which showcases paintings, furniture, and artefacts depicting 500 years of Danish history.
On site, you can also find the Frederiksborg Castle Chapel. This chapel features much of the original decorations as it was spared of the 1859 fire that destroyed the castle. The interior is rich in details, with an impressive gold, silver and ebony altar. Between 1660-1848, kings used to be anointed in the Castle Chapel.
Surrounding Frederiksborg Castle you will find the Baroque Garden, the English Garden with the Bath House Castle, as well as the Romantic Garden with small lakes. Additionally, you can also take boat trips on the larger lake.
To reach Frederiksborg Castle, take the train to Hillerød. From there you can walk to the castle (it takes about 20 minutes), take local bus 301, or a taxi. Check the official website before planning your trip for up-to-date opening hours and ticket prices.
Opened in 1958, the original scope of the museum was to showcase Danish modern art, which was absent from traditional museums at that time. However, a few years later, Louisiana’s founder Knud W. Jensen decided to add international artworks along Danish ones. The vision was to create a museum where everyone could enjoy art, not just the elite.
The museum is located along the coast, 40 km north of Copenhagen. It was first just one building, a house from 1855, but later 7 extensions were added. They are all interconnected through tunnels and hallways. Additionally, the grounds are abundant with sculptures, which contrast nicely against the coastal background.
If you’re visiting with children, there is a whole wing dedicated to them. Here there are daily workshops where children 4-16 can paint, draw, or sculpt. The themes for these activities are based on the museum’s current exhibitions.
Before planning your visit, check the website for current opening hours and ticket prices. To reach the museum, take the train from, Copenhagen Central Station to Humlebæk station. From there Louisiana is a short 10 minute walk away. Furthermore, you can purchase the Louisiana Ticket from central station, which gives you return train tickets plus admission to the museum. It is a little cheaper than buying tickets individually.
When planning your trip to Louisiana, I would allocate a whole day so you can fully enjoy both the museum and the surrounds. And if you get hungry you can grab something to eat at the museum’s café.
Short for Dyrehavsbakken, Bakken is the world’s oldest amusement park, having been open since 1583! There are 32 rides for all ages, 78 games and attractions, and plenty of restaurants, pubs and bars with entertainment and live music. This makes Bakken a great place for anyone. And what’s unique compared to other amusement parks, is that entrance is free! You still have to pay for food, rides, and games, but there are a couple of options:
The wristband gives you access to all rides, but it cannot be shared with others. The Fun Card comes with 44 coupons you can use for rides and games, and it can be shared. In addition, you can pay for rides and games with cash, and some even take credit cards.
The oldest ride is the wooden rollercoaster, which is 82 years old!
To reach Bakken, take the 20 minute train ride from Copenhagen to Klampenborg station, then walk for another 10 minutes. It is located in the woods, next to the deer park Dyrehaven. For up-to-date opening hours make sure to visit the Bakken website.
Furthermore, if you have time, make sure to check the deer park too.
Located only 30 minutes away from Copenhagen Central Station, Roskilde is a small city with a population of 52,000 people. It was developed by the Vikings over 1,000 years ago as a hub in the land and sea trade. It was also the capital of Denmark between the 11th and 15th centuries, and it is believed that Roskilde was the most important city in Denmark at that time.
Today, Roskilde’s main industries are IT, energy, and tourism. One of the biggest attractions being the Viking Ship Museum. Here you can see the five 1000-year-old original ships from the Viking Age (the Skuldelev Ships), as well as various artefacts and sailing reconstructions. If you visit during the summer, you can even try rowing on board one of the traditional Nordic boats. You can find more info here.
Other attractions include the Gothic Cathedral of Roskilde, which is a UNESCO World Heritage Site, the Town Hall, the Palace of Roskilde, a former royal Baroque mansion that now houses contemporary art exhibits, and the beautiful harbour.
However, the city is most well-know among young people for the Roskilde Festival. Held annually in late June/ early July, this is the largest music festival in the Nordic countries and one of the largest in Europe. And it has been taking place since 1971!
Moreover, if you are a sporty person, you can take your day trip to Roskilde by bike. You can rent bicycles for the day from bike shops around Copenhagen, and you can cycle with confidence as Denmark offers bike-dedicated lanes between cities. It is quite simple as long as your legs are strong enough. The distance to Roskilde is around 30 km, so you’d be cycling 60 km for the roundtrip journey.
Known for being the birth place of the beloved author Hans Christian Andersen, Odense is under 2 hours away from Copenhagen. Having been inhabited by the Viking since the 11th century, this picturesque, fairytale town is the perfect introduction to Danish culture. Stroll around the cobblestone streets and admire the centuries old colourful buildings.
That being said, Odense has a population of over 200,000 and it is the third largest city in Denmark, after Copenhagen and Aarhus. So it feels like a small town, but there are plenty of things to see and do.
The most popular attraction is the Hans Christian Andersen Museum, which is centrally located right across from the central station. This newly opened indoor-outdoor museum uses the newest technology to provide a unique, immersive experience. Utilizing architecture, light, sound, and streaming images, the exhibits will take you into the world of Hans Christian Andersen. Please note that you should book your tickets in advance. Children have free admission, but you still need to book their tickets when you purchase yours. You can find more info here.
Other things to do in Odense include walking around the colourful old town. visiting the house Hans Christian Andersen was born in, getting some Odense Marcipan to bring home as souvenirs, and of course grabbing some pastries at a traditional bakery.
Just 30 minutes north of Copenhagen, you will find Lyngby Open Air Museum. Dating back to 1897, it is one of the oldest and largest open air museums in the world. The museum is organized like a little village complete with fully-furnished homes, gravel roads, gardens with herbs, and even animals. Here you will get to experience what peasant life was like between 1650 and 1950 in Denmark and surrounding areas.
All buildings at the Lyngby Open Air Museum are originals that have been disassembled at their location and reassembled at the museum. You can also see buildings from southern Sweden and the Faroe Islands.
If you get hungry, there are a couple options. You can bring your own food and have a picnic at the designated picnic areas. Additionally, you can purchase some snacks from the kiosk or dine at the restaurant.
For more information, see the museum website.
Located 40 km southwest of Copenhagen, Køge is a cute coastal town with a population of 38,000. Thanks to its location and harbour, Køge has been recognized as an official market town since 1288. However it remained a small town until late 19th century when its population began to grow as a result of industrial development.
One of the main attractions in Køge is Kjoege Mini-By, a miniature town with miniature traditional buildings. Built on a scale of 1:10, the buildings are exact replicas of those from Køge during 1860s. In fact most of the original, full-scale buildings are still around town today. When you visit the museum you can also stop by the workshops where you can watch skilled volunteers build the miniature replicas in real time. You can find more info here.
Other interesting things to see include Kirkestræde where you can see half-timbered houses from the Middle Ages, the market square which is the largest in Denmark, St. Nikolai Church and the Køge Museum where you can learn more about the town’s history.
Furthermore, 7 km south of Køge is another attraction, the Vallø Castle. This is a 16th century Renaissance castle that today serves as a residence for unmarried, widowed and divorced women of noble descent. You cannot go inside the castle since it is inhabited, but you can walk around the grounds.
Standing at 45 meters tall, Denmark’s Forest Tower stands well above the trees. From the top you can get an uninterrupted birds-eye view of the region. In fact, on a clear day you can see all the way to Copenhagen, some 75 km away.
Although it is an easy walk, it is a long walk. Therefore I do not recommend this experience to those with limited mobility or physical injuries. From the starting point at the old watermill, there is a 3.2 km long wooden footpath that takes you through the forest to the tower. From there you climb up a (gentle) incline for 45 meters. It is not hard for most people, but do wear comfortable walking shoes.
For more information regarding ticket prices and opening hours, see the official website.
To get to the Forest Tower, take the train to Næstved Station. From there, catch the bus towards Faxe Ladeplads and get off at Vester Egede and walk 1.3 km to Camp Adventure entrance. However, the easiest way is to book a tour through a company like Viator. A bus will take you from Copenhagen straight to the forest tower, and your ticket will also include entry to the tower.
Although it’s a bit further away, Egeskov Castle is worth as visit as it is Europe’s best preserved Renaissance water castle. The castle started out as village manor house, which was later fortified to become the castle it is today. What’s interesting is that only parts of the castle are open to the public as it still is a private residence of Ahlefeldt-Laurvig-Bille family, which owns the castle.
When you visit the castle, some of the rooms you will see include the large Banquet Hall, the Yellow Room with Louis XVI furniture, and the Hunting Hall with the trophies. Additionally, there is also a miniature dollhouse castle that was hand-built in Ireland and includes over 3, 000 pieces.
Furthermore, the grounds also feature a couple museums including a collection of restored vintage cars and motorbikes, as well as expansive gardens with a labyrinthine maze.
To get to Egeskov Castle you first need to take the train from Copenhagen to Odense, then take the train to Kværndrup. From here you can either walk to the castle, or take local bus 920. The journey takes about 3 hours each way.
You can find more information about the castle and opening hours here.
To avoid disappointment, always check the museums’ official websites for opening hours before visiting. Museums in Denmark are usually open year-round, but sometimes they (randomly) close for a season.
For more information on train tickets in Denmark visit the DSB website. There are multiple trains per day and you don’t need to buy tickets in advance. You can purchase them from the ticket machines right before the train’s departure. Additionally, you can buy train tickets from the 7-Eleven locations at the train stations.