48 hours in Copenhagen

Copenhagen seafront Nyhavn sunset

Copenhagen is a strong contender for the title of Europe's coolest cosmopolitan city – after all, it's already the capital of one of the happiest countries on Earth. As locals and tourists cycle with ease through cobbled streets, past idyllic canals and beneath the shadows of copper towers, it's easy to see why the people here are feeling fairly content with their lot.

Not every city can boast of inspiring legendary Broadway composer Frank Loesser to write a song that makes liberal use of the word "wonderful" – but Copenhagen can. If you've only got 48 hours to find out why it's so deserving of that epithet, here's your guide to seeing the best of the best.

Canal cruise 

Suitably enough, the best way to see the Little Mermaid is from the water, as she sits welcoming visitors at Copenhagen Harbour. The sculpture was a gift to the city from brewer Carl Jacobsen of Carlsberg fame, inspired by the heart-breaking Hans Christian Andersen fairytale.

Couple on canal cruise in Copenhagen

Perfect pastries

A visit to the capital wouldn’t be complete without sampling some Danish pastries. Conditori La Glace modestly describes itself as "probably the best confectionery in Denmark", a boast that's supported by a mouth-watering window display. Try the træstammer – infinitely more appetising than its namesake, the tree trunk, this rum-soaked cake comes wrapped in green marzipan with the ends dipped in delectable dark chocolate.

Danish pastries

Viva Christiania

Founded as a commune in the early 1970s, today around 1,000 residents live in Freetown, Christiana; a controversial autonomous region with a distinctly bohemian ethos. A gentle stroll will take you past gorgeously painted shops and quirky ramshackle houses, all officially located outside the EU.

Freetown Christiania in Copenhagen

Art and architecture

Copenhagen's contemporary architectural highlights include Henning Larsen’s controversial Opera House, a huge futuristic building with a curved front wall and overhanging flat roof. Just across the water you'll see one of the finest examples of Danish Rococo, the magnificent 18th century Amalienborg Palace. This outstanding structure is made up of for four identical palaces, which together form the winter residence of the Danish royal family.

Opera house of modern Copenhagen

Touring Tivoli

The Tivoli Gardens opened in 1843 and have been charming visitors ever since, with legendary rollercoaster rides, timeless theatre productions and fantastic food pavilions. The gardens are even more magical at night, when fairylights twinkle over flowerbeds. On balmy summer evenings, impressive displays use lights, fire and smoke to illuminate the lake in spectacular style.

Moorish Palace in Tivoli Gardens, Copenhagen

Shopping, Scandinavian style

Copenhagen’s compact city centre makes it a great shopping destination. Head to Strøget, one of Europe's longest pedestrian streets, for brands like Max Mara, Louis Vuitton, and Mulberry, or seek out antiques on Bredgade. For Danish design, there's nowhere better than Illums Bollighus on Amargetorv Square.

Copenhagen cuisine

As the home of René Redzepi’s two-Michelin star restaurant Noma, regularly voted the world’s best restaurant, Copenhagen isn't short of fine dining options. If you're looking for outstanding food and panoramic views, leading gourmet restaurant and Bocuse d’Or silver winner Alberto K is located at the top of our Radisson Royal Blu Hotel, Copenhagen. The menu uses only local, seasonal ingredients to create dishes including cod with ash, dill & oyster cream, and funnel chantarelles with comté, egg yolk and mushrooms à la nage.

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