Cruise from Copenhagen – the essential guide

Three days in Denmark’s capital is a fantastic way to start a cruise vacation from Copenhagen. This lively and friendly Nordic city – with Viking heritage running through its history – is full of things to see and do.

Did you know that cyclists rule the city? That nearly 90% of Danish citizens speak English? And Denmark is renowned for its modern, clean-cut European design and architecture? 

In addition, shorter work days, more paid vacation weeks, free education and healthcare, and an outdoor lifestyle make Denmark famous for their excellent work-life balance. 

Many regions are free of fossil fuels, build energy-efficient houses through sustainable urban development and have highways just for bicycles. Denmark is a significant producer of not only organic but bio-organic foods too.

You will discover that Danes are some of the happiest and most contented people you will ever meet on your travels. We think you’ll like it here -even if the language is tricky and the city is a bit pricey.

Copenhagen – a liveable city

This article has a great 3-day detailed guide to help you make the most of the city before starting your cruise from Copenhagen.

Complete with travel info, tips, and itineraries, you will love your time in this Nordic capital before exploring the rest of Europe on your cruise from Copenhagen.

Transport options to and from Copenhagen Kastrup International Airport

Copenhagen’s International Airport is called Kastrup and is the busiest airport for international travelers to Scandinavia. It is just 8km from the center of the city.

Here are the transport options you have to get from Copenhagen Airport Kastrup to your city center hotel:

Bus 

Many would agree that Denmark is expensive. So if you are traveling on a budget and want to save money, Copenhagen has an excellent bus system that can take you anywhere in the city center. 

The bus takes only 35 minutes, depending on traffic conditions in Copenhagen city center, and leaves from just outside terminal 3. Pay onboard with your credit card.

Taxi

A taxi will cost you about 300 Danish Kroner (DKK). That’s around USD$45/GBP£35/AUD$60/EUR€40. The journey time is approximately 40 minutes from the airport to the city.

This is the most expensive option; however, you don’t have to carry your luggage and get door-to-door service straight to your hotel. If you are four people traveling together, this will be the most convenient option and the best value for money.

Train

Trains depart regularly from Copenhagen Airport to the city center every 10 minutes. They go from Terminal 3 directly to Copenhagen’s central station. The journey time is 13 minutes, and the price of a one-way fare is around 36 Danish Kroner (DKK).

Buy a train ticket from the machines either at baggage claim or inside the terminal after you exit baggage claim. Once you have your ticket proceed down the escalator to the train platform. Signs mark the way and are written in both Danish and English. 

The central station in the city is right opposite the famous Tivoli Gardens, surrounded by many hotels, restaurants, and bars. 

Where to stay in Copenhagen

Here we present our favorite places to stay in Copenhagen! We have included top-rated hotels and those that are more affordable, so there is something for everyone.

We recommend that you stay in a hotel that is at least 4-star standard. This way you will get a good standard of room, convenient amenities and good services such as helping with booking taxis and a concierge that can advise on local transport and provide city maps.

Copenhagen’s cruise terminals are located north of the city center. So we recommend you stay close to the city center for your pre-cruise nights and take a taxi to the cruise terminal on the day of departure. There is more information below about getting to your cruise terminal.

Copenhagen Admiral Hotel

Copenhagen’s Admiral Hotel is right on the quayside and within walking distance of the best shopping streets in Copenhagen. The lobby has a peaceful, friendly ambiance, and the rooms are simple but stylishly decorated.

What we love the most, however, is the ground floor restaurant, Salt. The casual atmosphere, food, and wine are fantastic; we highly recommend them!

Copenhagen Strand Hotel

This historic building was originally a warehouse. It is now beautifully restored into a great hotel on the waterfront.

This hotel is the typical Scandinavian design of bright light, cool tones, and wood floors in the rooms.

Everything is clean and spacious, and many 174 rooms offer a great view. Be sure to request one when you book.

Hotel Sankt Annae

Located right in the city’s heart, close to Amalienborg, Sankt Annae is a 4-star favorite hotel.

We like the unbeatable location. And this modern hotel with a great rooftop terrace. You are within walking distance of all of Copenhagen’s best must-see sights.

Copenhagen St Petri

Hotel St Petri offers a great location and top-class rooms, and the service is super-friendly and professional. 

The concierge is knowledgeable and helps with everything you want to know about staying in Copenhagen. It gets top marks from us for good old-fashioned service-with-a-smile. It’s an absolute pleasure staying here.

How to get around Copenhagen

There is nothing like walking in a new city. It’s the best way to experience the atmosphere and get to know your surroundings and how everything fits together.

We recommend purchasing the Copenhagen Card. This card gives you entrance to the major sights free of charge or at a significantly discounted rate. 

Purchase the Copenhagen Card and choose the time to suit you. You can choose from a 24-hour card for up to 120 hours.

It also gives you free, unlimited use of the city’s public transport system, including transport from and to the airport and canal boat tours. (Note! Hop on/hop off buses are not included in the Copenhagen Card!). 

It’s good value for money. Purchase the card before you leave home or pick up your card at the airport information desk right after you collect your luggage.

3 days in the city before your cruise from Copenhagen

Spend at least three nights in this friendly city. That will give you two full days plus one day to make a day trip outside the capital. 

Day 1: Royal Palaces of Copenhagen 

Copenhagen is full of palaces. Start at the palaces of Amalienborg. You are in the district of Copenhagen known as Fredriksstaden. Built during the 18th century Rococo period, it is also home to the Danish Royal Family. 

Every day at noon, you can witness the Changing of the Guard. There is a fantastic museum here if you want to learn the history of the Danish royals, located inside Christian VIIIs Palace. 

From Amalienborg, walk via Frederik’s Church towards the King’s Garden and Castle Rosenborg from the Renaissance period of the early 17th century.

This is probably our favorite castle in Denmark and well worth a visit. The interiors are spectacular, as are the crown jewels, some of which are displayed in this castle.

Iconic Tivoli Gardens and the famous Danish Smørrebrød

By now, you probably are looking for a place for lunch. There are many great places in Copenhagen where you can enjoy Smørrebrød. And we ask you not to leave this city until you have tried it!

Unlike many other parts of the world, Scandinavia leaves the top off their sandwiches – an “open sandwich.” And the Danes are the experts. Smørrebrød consists of cold meats or fish, spreads and dressings, and lots of fresh garnishes.

There are many other variations, so it is to pick one that appeals to you the most.

Our favorite place is Hallerne Smørrebrød, just opposite Tivoli Gardens in the Tivoli Food Hall, by the central station. Their Smørrebrød is truly delicious. It is about a 30-minute walk from Castle Rosenborg. Walk via King’s New Square (Kongens Nytorv), and you can admire the architecture of the city and window shop as you go.

In the afternoon, we recommend you spend the entire afternoon at Tivoli Gardens. The area contains not only beautiful gardens but also shops, roller coaster rides, restaurants, and musical entertainment. It’s an excellent place for the whole family, right in the middle of the city. During the Christmas holidays, Tivoli hosts the most beautiful Christmas market.

Restaurant Flammen is just a block from Tivoli Gardens and a great place to get dinner in the evening.

Day 2: Local culture and local food

Today you are starting at Ny Carlsberg Glyptotek. It’s a museum in a wonderful setting. Inside is a beautiful Winter Garden, which houses a great little restaurant, ideal for an early lunch or coffee, called Cafe Picnic.

Entrance to Glyptotek is free on Tuesdays, so time your visit well, and the whole family can go inside for free.

From the museum, walk towards Strøget. This is one of the many shopping areas in Copenhagen’s old city. It is one of the longest pedestrian streets in Europe. Enjoy the shopping, experience interior design shops showcasing the modern Danish style, and perhaps take home some unique Royal Copenhagen porcelain. 

When you reach Kongens NyTorv, look for the Amber museum. Beautiful amber is found on Denmark’s coastlines. Baltic amber can be around 50 million years old, and the fine jewelers of this area make the most fantastic jewelry here.

Continue to Nyhavn, the 17th-century waterfront and canal district that offers restaurants, shopping, and bars. 

This area is one of the most photographed scenes in Copenhagen, with its brightly colored townhouses, ships, and boats lining each side of the canal. 

To avoid the crowds, get there early. But if you are a night owl, this area has a fantastic evening atmosphere. 

The children’s author Hans Christian Andersen was Nyhavn’s most famous resident. You can also visit the famous Little Mermaid statue inspired by his fairytale at the Langelinie promenade, further outside the center.

At Nyhavn, boats are readily available here to take you on a guided boat of the canal. See everything from the water and enjoy the coastline. Alternatively, continue walking Nyhavn over the Inner Harbour Bridge to the Bridge Street Kitchen. Here you’ll find many food stalls and, if lucky, some outdoor seating to enjoy the view.

In the evening, we recommend you experience an authentic Nordic dinner. Organic, sustainable, and local are essential to many of the city’s best restaurants. You will find a good restaurant guide here.

Day 3: A perfect day out from Copenhagen

Getting out of the city and into the country is a perfect way to glimpse the Danish scenery and learn more about history and culture. 

There are three days trips which we can particularly recommend!

1. The historical city of Odense and birthplace of Hans Christian Andersen

Walk in the footsteps of this famed author of 200 years ago and see how his vivid imagination was able to bring to life his fairytales.

You’ll need to book a tour – Viator has some excellent ones – and have an early start – the city, named for the Nordic God, Odin, is located 167 km southwest of Copenhagen.

2. Frilandsmuseet in Lyngby (Open-air museum)

Just a 20-minute train journey from Copenhagen is the open-air museum called Frilandsmuseet. Take the train from Nørreport Station in central Copenhagen to Sorgenfri station in Lyngby. Bus number 191 takes you from the station to Frilandsmuseet in about 10 minutes.

Located in the countryside, explore Denmark and how it used to be many centuries ago. Visit the homes and see how houses were furnished and the people lived and took care of their livestock.

Most hosts are dressed in traditional costumes of Denmark or peasant clothing to add to the atmosphere. It’s incredibly authentic and very well done.

It’s an excellent place for families, with a cafe, plenty of outdoor seating, and countryside for kids to enjoy. 

3. Kronborg Castle 

Kronborg Castle is located in Helsingør, just a 45-minute train journey from central Copenhagen. Famous as the setting of Shakespeare’s Hamlet, this UNESCO World Heritage Site is a glorious Renaissance Castle. If you visit during the summer, you may be lucky enough to see one of Shakespeare’s plays performed here during the Shakespeare Festival. 

Book a picnic and experience a performance under the stars in this beautiful outdoor theater.

How to get to Copenhagen Port for your Cruise from Copenhagen

Always check your cruise ticket to find the name of your port in Copenhagen where your particular cruise ship departs. 

The main cruise terminals for the larger cruise ships are:

  • Langelinie
  • Freeport
  • Oceankaj

The ports are located north of the city.

  • Taxi: The most reliable way to get there is by taxi. The journey will be about a 20-30 minute taxi ride to get you there depending upon traffic and road works. 

    Your hotel can help you book a taxi to the port. Book this in advance when you first check in. The cost will be about 300 Danish Kroner (DKK). That’s around USD$45/GBP£35/AUD$60/EUR€40.

    Show your driver the number of the port terminal you need to reach (this information is on your cruise ticket). And the name of your cruise line, so they get you as close as possible to your cruise departure point.
  • Private Transfer: If you are four people or more, you can pre-book a private transfer before leaving home. You can share the cost as this is the most expensive way to get from Athens city center to the port. Inform your driver which port terminal your ship leaves from (this information is on your cruise ticket).

    And give them the name of your cruise line so they get you as close as possible to your cruise departure point.
  • Train: You can take the train from Copenhagen’s central station, but the port is quite a walk from the nearest train station. It would be best to take a taxi from the train station to your cruise terminal instead. 

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Meet the author: Sarah has created and booked hundreds of travel itineraries for thousands of customers during a career in the travel industry that spans 20 years. Having worked hand in hand with cruise lines, hotels, airlines and tour operators worldwide, she offers inspiring & detailed insights in the world of travel and tourism.