Summer 2019 was already off to a fantastic start, but in July, I headed off on my first ever solo trip abroad to Copenhagen. It was kind of a spontaneous decision, even though Copenhagen has been on my wishlist for years. I booked my tickets in the middle of Birdies bar when out with my mates over a disaronno for crying out loud.

I'm so glad I did book those tickets, because I had a ball in Denmark, and Copenhagen is definitely one of the nicest cities I've had the pleasure of visiting. A lot of people want to go to Copenhagen, but the city's reputation of being one of the most expensive cities in Europe puts them off. If that's you, see my blog post on how much money to take to Copenhagen, because it might be less than you think. Then, once you're all excited, you can take a few tips for your itinerary based on my Copenhagen travel diary (on a budget).

Copenhagen travel itinerary: smiling travel blogger smiles on bridge at nyhavn, with coloured houses in background

Copenhagen itinerary day 1

I arrived in Copenhagen mid-afternoon, so day 1 wasn't exactly jam packed, with a stroll around the neighbourhood I was staying in and a quick trip to the local supermarket to pick up some snacks. After a trip to Maccies to try Denmark's veggie burger (first, don't judge, I was hungry, and second, it was very nice), I headed back to my room for an early night.

A tip for anybody travelling to Copenhagen city centre by train though, the trains from the airport aren't the easiest to use for non-Danish speakers. I had to ask for help a couple of times, but everybody was very friendly. Turns out I was on the right train anyway, and it took just 15 minutes to arrive, dropping me off right outside Tivoli Gardens. Ideal!

bright yellow building with white window frames in Copenhagen with bunch of pink flowers in centre

day 2 in Copenhagen

My first full day in Copenhagen was a busy one, starting off with a coffee and a croissant from Steel House Hostel, where I was staying. Then, it was off to the first major tourist attraction I could find - city hall square. It's essentially just a big building, but it was a good starting point. As I headed towards Christiansbourg Palace I passed the national museum and some gorgeous buildings, before arriving in the palace grounds. I originally intended on going up the palace tower, as I'd heard it was free, but unfortunately it was closed for restoration. So, instead, I paid 50 dkr to see the palace ruins, which was surprisingly interesting. Who knew Copenhagen had essentially burned down so many times?

Not too far away, I found Magstræde, one of Copenhagen's oldest and prettiest streets. A few Instagram snaps later, I wandered the side streets nearby, just off of Strøget, the main shopping district. I found the BEST independent boutiques and small cafes. I couldn't possibly name them all, and it's best if you find them yourself, but one of the best that I'd love to transport over here is Collage. Here, I found candles, jewellery, decor and bags, and I wanted all. of. them. Another stand out shop was Mads Nørgaard, a name I remember from fashion fangirling a good few years ago. This place didn't disappoint, with Commes des Garcons and Saks Potts and some of the trendiest pieces I've ever seen. I just wish my budget had stretched that far!

shopping in Copenhagen on a budget; hair accessories display in store, rack of clothes against pink decorative wall in mags norgaard

bounces of pastel pink flowers outside shop window of 'Collage' in Copenhagen

Copenhagen travel diary Christiania sign and bikes

Next up on the Copenhagen itinerary, after a shopping trip, it was time for something completely different, a visit to Christiania, Copenhagen's free town. Essentially, Christiania is a neighbourhood in Copenhagen built on the grounds of an old army barracks, and is now ran by local hippies, who live outside of EU law. It's a friendly place, with art galleries, skate parks and places to eat, plus a small market, but it's known for one thing and that my friends, is weed. As you walk down Pusher Street (lol) you have dealers to your left and your right, trying to get you to buy some "Pineapple Express, miss". It's definitely an experience, but no pictures are allowed. Pretty much anything else is though. Christiania is fascinating, and whether you're planning on visiting Copenhagen yet or not, it's definitely worth reading up on. 

Finally, yep, we're not done yet, I made the long journey back into the city centre and found Ny Carlsberg Glyptotek, a gallery that's free to all on Tuesdays. Interestingly, you can't come in with a pram, which meant the entrance was lined with buggies. I couldn't help but laugh, you just wouldn't see people being this trusting in the UK! Once inside, I didn't want to leave. At first, I thought the gallery was pretty small, with rooms up two sets of stairs displaying a set of paintings - some from the greats such as Van Gogh and Cezane - but once I wandered through the glass roofed garden, I was in heaven. I could have spent all day in this place, looking at their thousands of ancient sculptures and admiring locals sketching. Whether you're a big art fan or not, this place is 100% worth a visit - and even better when it's free!

sculptures lining marble room in ny Carlsberg glyptotek gallery in Copenhagen

Copenhagen itinerary free walking tour group through Copenhagen street

the little mermaid statue in Copenhagen on rocks against blue water and sky

day 3 of my Copenhagen itinerary 

Day 3 was proper tourist day, when I joined my first walking tour. I always thought these were a bit cheesy, and you weren't exploring properly if you joined one, but after a few days of just myself for company, I thought it might be a good way to chat to someone new, and it was! I met people from all over the world, and toured the entire city together with our amazing tour guide Chris, who works for Sandemans Europe. These walking tours are totally free, but you're expected to tip your guide at the end, and so you should. I did see some tipping Chris the equivalent of 50p... but I was more than happy to hand over £10 worth of kroner. I learned so much about Copenhagen's history on that 3 hour tour and thought it was worth every penny.

Once the tour was over, I headed towards the Little Mermaid from the royal residence. A pleasant walk, with lovely gardens and even some public loos along the way (get in). On my way to the statue, I came across Kastellet, an old - and very pretty - fortress. A day full of history, then.

scandinavian church next to picturesque lake and sunny blue sky on visit to Copenhagen

poster and chair displays from art and design museum in Copenhagen

boat on river against colourful houses in typical Copenhagen scene at nyhavn

On my way back, I stopped at Copenhagen's Art and Design museum, which was highly recommended, and is free for visitors under 26. Honestly, I've been to much better art and design museums, and was a bit disappointed, especially by the building's fashion section, which consisted of 6 mannequins. If you're keen on furniture design, I'd say it's worth a trip, but otherwise, maybe put it further down your list of things to do in Copenhagen.

However, I ended the day on a high, paying a visit to Copenhagen's number one tourist attraction - Nyhavn. The colourful houses were a delight, and the crowds weren't actually the level of busy you'd expect - you know, the ones that make you want to take a quick selfie and get out of there asap. In fact, I sat on the side of the harbour, with my feet dangling over the water for a good hour, listening to all of the conversations happening around me in at least six different languages, and watching the seagulls swoop over tourists waiting to sail away on their boat tours. This hour was up there with one of the happiest of my life. I sat there, peacefully, just enjoying my own company, giving myself a pat on the back for travelling somewhere completely new all on my own.

Jægersborggade in Nørrebro neighbourhood, Copenhagen. Shops with printed clothing hanging outside on the street, danish architecture street

Copenhagen day 4

By day 4 I'd realised I wasn't spending as much as I'd feared, so I decided to treat myself to a nice breakfast at a bit of a hipster place about 10 minutes away from my accommodation. Big Bowl Cafe specialises in porridge, which is amazing, and I had a bowl of blueberry and lemon oats. It was pretty special. It was just as well I'd had a filling breakfast though, as it was a hefty walk to Jægersborggade in the Nørrebro neighbourhood. This is a street filled with cool cafes and small boutiques, one of which was one of the best homeware stores I've ever visited, but most things were a little above my budget. To make myself feel better, I went for an oat latte and pastry in Coffee Collective, which kept coming up as Copenhagen's best coffee shop during my searches, and you know what, I think they were right. If you want a nice chilled hour or two, this place is worth the walk. 

To get to Queen Louise Bridge, apparently where all the cool kids hang out, I walked through the cemetery where Hans Christian Andersen is buried. Sounds grim, but it's actually a very pretty park, and at the opposite entrance, there's a vegan pizza place that I made sure to make a note of for my fellow vegetarians and vegans. Around Nørrebrogade, you'll find tonnes of vintage shops and boutiques. The best I visited were Prag, which had major Brooklyn thrift shop vibes, and Rude, a cool boutique with Topshop prices and really friendly staff.

sloped brick floor with white washed walls interior of Copenhagen's round tower

copenhagen itinerary; Copenhagen skyline with sunny blue sky from round tower

After chilling out on the bridge, enjoying the sunshine, I was off to Copenhagen's round tower for a view of the city's skyline. It was surprisingly cheap to get to the top, totalling 25dkr. Of course, it's not as high as the likes of the Empire State, but it's a decent workout to get to the top by traipsing up the sloped floors - without stairs. 

With all that walking, it was time to relax, so I headed back to my amazing Copenhagen hostel for a swim. Once I was chilled out, it was back out again to see Tivoli Gardens. Whenever you search 'things to do in Copenhagen', Tivoli is always near the top of the list. I wondered what the big deal was, it was just an amusement park after all, but for a ticket price of 130dkr, this was worth every penny. Tivoli Gardens are incredibly beautiful, and there's just such a good vibe about the place. Locals and tourists are lying on the grass, listening to live music or watching a short show on the park's many stages. You can hear the laughter from those on the rides and the familiar Disney-style music somehow makes you feel at home. I could have stayed here all day, and I didn't even pay for a ride ticket! I hear the light shows of a night are worth sticking around for, but after such a busy day, I was ready to get some sleep. But not before buying a ridiculously big ice cream, obv.

Chinese section of Tivoli amusement park gardens in Copenhagen with traditional Chinese architecture, lake, boats and rollercoaster in background

Copenhagen's Tivoli gardens main stage against pastel sunset sky and colourful flowers in the foreground

day 5 in Copenhagen

On my final day in Copenhagen, I had a few hours to kill before heading to the airport, so I made my way across the city to the castle gardens, which was the perfect place for a peaceful reading of my book - as were the benches outside my hostel, where I spent almost every night of my Copenhagen trip. I wandered back through the city centre, stopping off to buy souvenirs, before picking up my bags from the hostel and catching the train back to the airport. It all felt so easy and enjoyable, I felt barely any of the usual travel anxiety I get when going away. The perfect way to end my 5 day trip to Copenhagen.

hand holding up jojo moyes' yellow-covered book titled 'still me'

run down shop front in Copenhagen featuring promotional posters and graffiti

Copenhagen travel itinerary complete! As you can see, I managed to do a lot in my 5 day trip, and feel like I ticked off a good 90% of what I wanted to do. There's so much to do and see in Copenhagen, I couldn't recommend it enough for a solo trip or city break with somebody else - it's even a great place to take kids! It can't hurt to look at flights, right? If you want to see more travel content, have a read.

Good vibes guys ✌🏼

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