Copenhagen is a great city for first-timers, and provides a soft landing into more challenging regions of Scandinavia. It is compact, green, relaxed and welcoming, with plenty to see and do all in easy reach of your downtown hotel.
1. Enjoy a morning coffee
Start your first day in Copenhagen with your favorite style of coffee, complete with what the rest of the world may call a 'Danish' - but what Danes called a wienerbrød or Vienna bread, and an absolute delight for those with a sweet tooth. Copenhagen has some great morning cafes, and during summertime most of them offer outside seating.
A canal tour adds a whole new perspective to Copenhagen sightseeing. — Photo courtesy of Cees van Roeden / Copenhagen Media Center
2. Take a canal tour
A canal tour is a great way to get a perspective of the city, as well as a way to pack in lots of sights into a short space of time. Canal Tours Copenhagen offer a Hop on, Hop off tour that departs from both Gammel Strand and Nyhavn, meaning you set your own pace and climb on and off the boat as many times as you want.
3. Shopping in the side streets
Copenhagen's walking street Strøget is the longest pedestrian shopping area in Europe and boasts a lot of fancy stores, but for interesting and unique boutiques, you'll need to step onto the sidestreets north and south of it. The area around the Round Tower is known quaintly as 'Pisserenden' but the streets Larsbjørnsstræde, Studiestræde and Vestergade are great for alternative shopping, from vintage clothing to cool coffee shops.
4. Enjoy your lunch on rye
When in Copenhagen, don't pass up the opportunity to sample an authentic open sandwich or smørrebrød. Whatever you think about ryebread before coming here, forget it: Danish rye is moist, malty and quite unique, and the toppings are so varied and colorful you'll be lost for choice: For the biggest selection, try Ida Davidsen on Store Kongensgade or Aamanns in Østerbro.
Shopping on Copenhagen's side streets is much more exciting. — Photo courtesy of Morten Jerichau / Copenhagen Media Center
5. Museums and parks
Copenhagen's top museums have now teamed up with the parks department to make seamless attractions that can be combined. Enjoy Østre Anlæg, behind the National Gallery Statens Museum for Kunst, while you await the museum's new garden scheduled to open in 2014: The Kings Gardens of Rosenborg Slot, meanwhile is one of the most popular green spaces in the city, complete with moat and adventure playground.
6. Walk along the harborfront
Copenhagen's once industrial waterfront has been opened up and is now a fresh and rejuvenated part of the city. With a number of foot and cycle bridges, walking or cycling from the hotels in Dybbølsbro (including the Marriot, Copenhagen Island and Tivoli Hotel) as far as Islands Brygge is now possible and pleasant, and the views are tremendous.
7. Lose yourself in Tivoli
Enjoy a few hours of magic with your loved one(s) in Tivoli Gardens, Copenhagen's more than 150 year-old amusement park. Situated in the heart of the city just across the road from the Central Train Station, Tivoli Gardens is both fun-packed and tasteful, exuberant and traditional, and for a few hours at least, you can forget you're in a capital city.
8. Round off the day with a concert
Copenhagen has something going on every night, particularly later into the week, so finding a concert to suit your tastes shouldn't be hard. Fans of classical music will find the venues of the Royal Theatre and the opera informal and non-exclusive: those who prefer their music amplified will eclectic programs at venues such as Vesterbro's Vega, downtown Huset, Christiania's Loppen and the recently revived Pumpehuset. Singer songwriter and open mic nights also take place at a variety of bars across the city.