A family-friendly 3-day Copenhagen itinerary – with a Swedish surprise!
A fun-filled, family friendly Copenhagen itinerary to help you make the most of this wonderful city. I've filled it with hints and tips to help fill your time here, depending on the weather. There's also a surprise day trip to another country!
Day 1 of your family-friendly Copenhagen itinerary
I hope you booked an early flight, because there’s so much to squeeze into your 3 day Copenhagen itinerary. I’ll share my recommendation for airport transfer in the details sections below, but let’s get started with the fun stuff.
My top tip for exploring the Danish capital is to head straight to Nyhavn for a canal boat tour. I didn’t take my own advice and went on our last day, and found myself wishing I’d had time to go and look at some of the sights in more detail. We also received a voucher book with our ticket which had discounts on places we had already visited (mildly annoying).
If you picture Copenhagen in your mind, you’re most likely picturing a row of brightly coloured houses sitting along a canal, perhaps with a boat in the foreground. This is Nyhavn (New Harbour in Danish) and is the perfect place to start your canal tour.
We used the company Stromma and just booked a ticket at the Nyhavn kiosk though you can also book online. It was around £16pp for an hour’s boat trip which is the ideal length of time for kids really. Under 5's travel free, and that goes for public transport too.
Our trip was in October and the weather was bright but chilly. The boats were heated, though you could open the windows to get a clearer look at the sights. The tour guide was engaging and interesting and spoke in both English and Danish.
We travelled along the open water in order to see Denmark’s most famous landmark - The Little Mermaid. You won’t get a good view for a photo here as you can only really see her from behind, and you’ll have the hordes of tourists in your picture. Don’t fret though as you can see her later.
The boat tour then went on a winding tour through the city canals, under some extremely low bridges, getting some great views of the landmarks. Our 2-year old daughter was kept interested throughout as there was lots to look at.
My next tip is to use the public toilets back at the tourist info kiosk before you head off on a walk. They were free to use, manned by friendly staff and so clean.
If you want to get that closer look at the Little Mermaid, it is just a 20-minute walk from Nyhavn. Copenhagen is also a cyclist’s paradise so you could hire bikes too. There are plenty of eateries along the harbour though I expect you’re paying a premium (and Denmark is expensive for food and drink as it is). I preferred to keep an eye out for one of the many street vendors to grab a hotdog and coffee.
On the way to The Little Mermaid statue we passed Amelienborg and we learned on the canal tour that this is the home of the Crown Prince. You might be lucky to catch the Changing of the Guard. When you get to the statue it is busy, but most people are taking a quick photo or two and then moving on. You can climb down onto the rocks nearby for a good shot with the port in the background.
To walk back into the city we went via the Kastellet - a star-shaped 17th century fortress. The grassy walls are pushchair friendly though bikes are banned. Head back in to the centre towards Strøget and just take in all of the incredible Danish architecture. Copenhagen is actually 2023’s World Capital of Architecture and it’s easy to see why.
A good value activity for the afternoon (ideally around sunset) is to visit the Round Tower, or Rundetaarn. It's quite unique in that the spiral route to the top is actually a wide slope and therefore you could wheel your pushchair up if you wanted to. Tickets are around £5pp and under 5's are once again free of charge. From the top of the tower you can enjoy panoramic views of the city.
Now all that's left to do is find somewhere for dinner. The Danish eat much earlier than those in Southern Europe so don't expect to go for dinner at 9/10pm. It's great for families actually as we are usually hunting around for places open for dinner at 6pm and we didn't struggle here.
Day 2 in Copenhagen - all the fun of Tivoli
When I was asking people for recommendations of things to do in Copenhagen, 90% of them said 'Tivoli Gardens'. If you haven't already booked your trip then I recommend visiting around mid October or Christmas time because Tivoli really comes alive with festive spirit.
Tivoli Gardens is an amusement park in the centre of Copenhagen which has been open since 1843. It's full of traditional rides like old carousels with tall giraffes and classic ponies. There are also more modern rides for the older thrill-seekers.
This will most likely be your most expensive day as entry to the park and gardens is around £19pp. This time under 8s go free. I'd recommend getting there for when it opens to have a look around, though many of the rides didn't open until 11am. You can leave and re-enter throughout the day if you get a wrist stamp. We took advantage of this as our hotel was a 10 minute walk away and so we popped back for our daughter's nap time and returned in the evening to see it all lit up.
Here's where the price can add up… the entrance fee doesn't cover any rides. Individually these rides cost between £5-10 per person (even the children) and so the cost can quickly add up. We bought a 'Mini ride pass' which included 10 of the smaller rides like the carousels, vintage car and train ride. There was a couple of the mini rides she couldn't go on but children over 90cm could ride them all.
The pass comes as a wristband which even the little ones need to wear. It has a contactless patch and you simply hold it up to the contactless point on entry to the ride to gain access. I kept track of all the rides we went on during our visit and it would have come to well over £200! We paid just under £60 for the 3 wristbands.
During Halloween they fill the park with over 20,000 pumpkins and the decorations really are fantastic. We also saw all the pumpkins from Denmark's biggest pumpkin competition. There were some free shows on throughout the day like Danish childhood favourite Rasmus Klump and his Trick or Treat show. On Rasmus' Pancake House roof there's a brilliant children's playground too, and we also found some great family toilet facilities there.
There are food and drink places in abundance at Tivoli Gardens though you are paying a premium there. There's a great food court attached with lots of choice, and the Tivoli app is very helpful in giving you a £-££££ price guide for the eateries. We filled up on our hotel breakfast and just bought ourselves a mulled wine (£15 for 2).
We had a magical time here and thought it was worth the money. There was so much to look at and though the park was busy, queues were minimal so we could really maximise the ride passes.
If you didn't want to spend all day here, or if you experience a lot of rain during your Copenhagen itinerary, then you're very close to The National Museum. I wouldn't say it's a 'must do' if you don't have children but there is a children's museum inside and we spent a fair bit of time here.
The children's museum is almost like an indoor playground. There was a huge horse to sit on, towers to climb and a wooden Viking boat with dressing up clothes. There were wooden swords and shields to hone your battle skills, an Indian market stall with grocers to play with, and two friendly gentlemen dressed in full suits of armour ready to teach you. It's an eclectic mix but we spent a rainy afternoon there playing with the dolls houses and castle.
We had a wander around the rest of the museum, particularly enjoying the Viking exhibitions. The colonial sections felt a little odd. There were a few 'boredom buttons' places around so children (or adults) could press them for some additional light shows or voiceovers. Admission was around £14 per adult and it's worth noting that they close on Mondays.
For dinner there are hundreds of options in and around Tivoli and the Central Station. I recommend using something like the Trip Advisor app to hone in on the cuisine you fancy, and go from there.
Day 3 of your Copenhagen itinerary - the Swedish surprise!
We're always looking at ways to tick off additional countries on our trips, for example popping over to Slovakia when we stayed in Vienna, Austria. From Copenhagen you can easily visit Malmö in Sweden - just take the train from the Central station and you're there in under 40 minutes. The two countries are connected by the Øresund bridge and it's fun to look out of the window and be surrounded by water.
Border patrol might board the train at Hyllie but our passports were never checked either direction. Quite disappointing actually as I wanted the stamp! The trains are regular, clean and easy to use. If you're travelling with a pushchair then look out for the symbols above the carriages which make it easier to find an accessible door. Just be warned that bikes seemed to take precedence over humans so find a seat in a non-bike carriage.
Malmö is a walkable city and you can start by heading to some beautiful parks. There's Kungsparken and Slottsparken where you can see a traditional windmill, feed the ducks at the pond or just wander through the gardens. There are a couple of excellent children's play areas, with nearby coffee shops and public toilets. Such a treat! children’s play areas too and we loved the one with the green hills like the teletubbies. They even have nearby coffee shops and public toilets - bonus!
It’s a short walk into the main centre of Malmö and you could aim for Lilla Torg for an old-town vibe. There are eateries and bars surrounding this square; Mello Yellow had outside heaters, blankets and some local Swedish lagers on tap. 4 hours was enough for us to get a good feel of the city, tick off another country and then get the train back to Copenhagen.
Once back you can do a tour of some of the Copenhagen parks, starting with Orstedparken. The children’s play area here has road markings and several tricycles and ride-on cars to play with. There is also a sandpit with lots of free toys to use and public toilet and baby changing facilities.
Next you can walk up the road to the botanic garden and then the King’s garden. You’ll see Rosenborg Castle, the pretty rose gardens and another children’s play area. The parks in Copenhagen are beautiful to explore, especially in the autumn.
I will make one specific dinner recommendation and that’s for Flammen. It’s a buffet style restaurant, but done to a high quality and it’s perfect for families. Our daughter ate for free, but under-12s eat for a discount and the variety of dishes means everyone will be happy. There are over 20 meats to try and I would recommend the Danish pork and wild boar. Then there are hot sides like mini baked potatoes and dauphinoise, and an abundance of cold sides and salads. If you have any room there’s also a dessert buffet. A Sunday evening meal for the 3 of us, plus 2 (very) large beers cost £71 and the staff were friendly. You should book a table in advance on the website.
More family-friendly things to do in Copenhagen
I’ve filled up a 3 day Copenhagen itinerary but there were a couple of other recommendations I received of family-friendly things to do. One was for the Experimentarium which is a pretty cool name for the Science Museum. We chose not to go as it was a little way out from the centre and would have cost £65 for the 3 of us to visit. However, a friend of mine attests that it is worth the entry fee and her family spent hours there on a rainy day.
Another recommendation was for the postal museum where children can dress up as postal workers and pretend to deliver letters.
If you’re going to visit a lot of museums and attractions then you should check out the Copenhagen Card website. There’s a great calculator on there which allows you to work out whether it’s worth buying one. It didn’t work out to be worth it for what we wanted to do, but if the weather had been worse then we might have visited more museums and used public transport.
My final ‘must do’ for your Copenhagen itinerary
Eat as many Danish pastries as possible! I have regrets over not bringing a box of them home with me. My absolute favourite was the Rabarberhorn - an indulgent rhubarb filling encased in flaky pastry - delicious. There are bakeries on every corner but we visited a couple of Lagkagehuset shops and found the prices to be reasonable and the pastries to be fantastic.
Accommodation - Profilshotel Richmond
We bagged a bargain with this one; finding it for half the price on booking.com for some reason. It was a family suite which meant we had a separate bedroom (where we also set up the travel cot they provided) and could put our daughter to bed and still have the living room to relax in. Breakfast was included and was a great variety of hot and continental dishes with several Danish options. It was located 10 minutes walk from the Central station and I would stay there again.
Getting from Copenhagen airport to the city centre is simple. You can buy train and/or Metro tickets at the airport terminal and hop straight on. The trains are regular and go direct so that's the better option if you’re staying in walking distance from a train station. Under 5s travel free, an adult single was around £3.50 and there are plenty of luggage racks.