While the city of Copenhagen has plenty of tours of its own and enough entertainment, restaurants, and bars to keep you busy day and night for weeks, there are also a number of great destinations nearby that are perfect for day trips. Explore Copenhagen's (and Denmark's) interesting history with castle and museum visits, relax in the sun away from the big city at an island or beach destination, or tour the sights at some neighboring cities. No matter what you choose to do, you're sure to find a nearby adventure.
Take a royal-themed day trip to North Zealand including a tour of Frederiksborg Castle, which is also home to Denmark's Museum of National History. You can learn about the flamboyant King Christian IV who once lived here, walk through rooms like the Coronation Chapel, and then stroll through the castle’s French Baroque gardens with a guide. Be sure to stop and take some photos of Fredensborg Castle, the annual summer residence of the Danish royal family. If you want to learn more about what you're seeing, the museum offers guided tours for visitors.
Getting There: You can reach the castle by car (a 40-minute drive) by taking highway 16 toward Hillerød. Or by public transportation, take the S-train line E to Hillerød, and walk 15 to 20 minutes from the station to the castle, either through town or along the lake.
Travel Tip: If you'd like to take a guided day trip to see all this, you can book a reservation online. It departs from City Hall Square in Copenhagen at 10:30 a.m. from May to September and takes about 6.5 hours. The tour is informative and interesting.
One of the most beloved day trips from Copenhagen goes to the city of Aarhus, a historic city on the east coast of Jutland (Denmark's western peninsula). It offers a great selection of nightlife entertainment and also annual events, such as The Viking Festival in July, in which people gather to recreate the early days of the city with markets, sword-fighting, and more. The city is also home to the contemporary art museum, ARoS Aarhus Kunstmuseum, botanical gardens, and a palace.
Getting There: The quickest option is to fly to Aarhus from Copenhagen, which takes about 45 minutes. Or if you prefer to take a train, the journey is about three hours and trains leave the city every 30 to 45 minutes. Driving takes about three hours. Take the E20 west until you hit the E45, and go north on the E45 to Aarhus.
Travel Tip: If you're not in town during the festival, you should visit the Viking Museum for a glimpse into this significant aspect of the city's past.
Also known as Denmark's Garden Island, the wildly romantic island of Fyn (Funen) is the home to many fairy tales, and it's also the birthplace of writer Hans Christian Andersen. Fyn is also home to a number of beautiful castles (known as slots in Danish), like Nyborg Slot, Egeskov Slot, Broholm Gods, Holckenhavn Slot, and Harridslevgaard Slot.
You can spend all day wandering through the rolling hills checking out acres of orchards and a variety of old farmhouses or head over to the open-air museum Den Fynske Landsby (Fyn Village) and Odense Zoo.
Getting There: Accessing the island is relatively easy. If you drive, it's about an hour and a half, and there is a toll bridge. There's also a direct train between Copenhagen and Funen that is typically a little quicker than driving.
Travel Tip: The island of Fyn has a strong culinary scene—it hosts several food events and festivals, and it's home to several great restaurants. Don't skip the chance to indulge while you're here!
One of the best day trips from Copenhagen has to be a visit to the islands of Lolland and Falster. These islands offer things to do no matter which town you are visiting, but Maribo has several attractions to see.
If you're in Maribo, consider visiting the Museumsbanen (Museum Train), Nakskov's Green World Zoo, and the submarine U-359, but you can also visit a 12th-century royal residence, Ålholm Castle, in the town of Nysted, and don't forget Knuthenborg Manor with its Safari Park (open April-October).
Getting There: Lolland is connected to Denmark's Zealand by a bridge. A day trip from Copenhagen to Lolland is an 80-mile drive along the E47 road south.
Travel Tip: This destination is home to beautiful nature and plenty of adventure activities. While here, try a few, such as biking, kayaking, fishing, golfing, and more.
Local whiskey, pristine beaches, and the remains of Tycho Brahe's 16th-century observatory are the top attractions on the island, but the 360 inhabitants of the island also offer a number of local cuisines, crafts, and shops to browse.
If you're looking to escape all the noise of the cities to a peaceful, secluded location, this tiny island is like a little piece of heaven on earth.
Getting There: Located between Denmark and Sweden, the ferry from Copenhagen takes about 90 minutes to get to Hven Island. If you prefer to drive, it takes about two hours along the E20.
Travel Tip: If you're a whiskey drinker, head to the Spirit of Hven Distillery for a tasting.
If you're in the mood for sandy beaches and a day of relaxation, plan your day trip from Copenhagen to the sunny island of Bornholm. This is the place to lean back, stroll through the sand, or maybe rent a bicycle for an afternoon.
A popular summer travel destination, Bornholm's nickname is the Pearl of the Baltic.
Getting There: The biggest town on the island is Rønne, which is also the point of arrival for travelers to Bornholm, and there are direct 35-minute flights from Copenhagen that fly into Rønne-Bornholm Airport. That's by far the quickest and easiest way to get there. If you go by car, bus, or train, the trip can take up to three or four hours as you'll have to go into Sweden to take a bridge.
Travel Tip: Check out Baltic Sea Glass, a glass studio and shop on the island that has beautiful and unique works of glass art.
For an even more intimate day trip, perhaps for a honeymoon or a romantic weekend getaway, the small village of Dragør offers a bit of Danish history with all the amenities of the modern day.
Located just southeast of Copenhagen, this preserved village was founded in the 12th century as a fishing port for Denmark. For a closer look at early life in Dragør, spend the day at the Amager Museum, an open-air recreation of life in the old days, or the Dragør Museum in the harbor.
Getting There: Dragør is about a 15- to 20-minute drive southeast of Copenhagen. You can also take a train or bus, both taking about 30 minutes.
Travel Tip: The Amager Museum is closed on Mondays, so plan accordingly.
Located near city of Borre on the island of Møn, the Møns Klint is a three-mile stretch of chalk cliffs considered to be one of Denmark's natural wonders.
You can spend the night at a campsite just above the cliffs or down by the beach, or if you're interested in geology and science, visit the GeoCenter Møns Klint, Northern Europe's most modern science center.
Getting There: The island of Møn is about an hour drive to the south along the E20 to the E47. That's typically the quickest and cheapest way, but there's also a direct train between the two places that takes about 1.5 to two hours.
Travel Tip: Besides just taking in the beauty of the cliffs, there are also a few hiking trails around them you can take. And it's also possible to find fossils in the area, so be on the lookout!
Not far from Helsingør in Humlebæk, the Lousiana Museum of Modern Art houses one of the region's largest collections of Danish art. When opened in 1952, the museum was originally intended for exclusively Danish art pieces but expanded soon after to include famous works from all around the world.
This museum served an important role in developing Denmark's cultural history and has been credited with teaching the Danish citizenry to look at and appreciate art.
Getting There: Driving or taking the direct train are your best bets, as Humlebæk is only a 30-minute journey with either option.
Travel Tip: The city of Humlebæk is also a great destination for some traditional Danish restaurants, but you'll have to travel up to Helsingør if you hope to stay the night nearby.
Located just southeast of Copenhagen in Kastrup, Denmark—near the Danish end of the Øresund Bridge and the Københavns Lufthavn airport—Den Blå Planet is easily accessible by train from the city.
Den Blå Planet is Northeastern Europe's largest aquarium and allows guests to get up close with sharks, sea otters, and all manner of ocean life.
Getting There: Kastrup is only a 20-minute drive south from Copenhagen, and there's also a direct train that takes only about 15 minutes, so choose whichever option best fits your plans for your trip.
Travel Tip: While there, you can also take a behind-the-scenes tour of the aquarium or even get a chance to dive with sharks!
One of the most popular ways to really experience the history, culture, and architecture of Denmark's capital region is to take the Grand Day Trip, a small group guided tour of three major castles including the UNESCO heritage site Kronberg Castle.
On the tour, you'll get to visit Roskilde Cathedral, the burial place to more Kings and Queens than anywhere on earth, before heading to Frederiksborg Castle, the biggest Scandinavian Renaissance-era castle still standing.
Getting There: The tour leaves from the area across from City Hall in Copenhagen.
Travel Tip: Bring your camera to photograph the beautiful nature of the Danish Riviera.
You could spend an entire day at the Maritime Museum of Denmark, which tells the story of Denmark's seafaring history through permanent and rotating exhibitions like "In the Shadow of War" and "Ships of all Times."
Almost invisible from the street, this underground museum is worth the trip to see the architecture alone, but you can also learn more about how Denmark became known as one of the world's leading maritime nations.
Getting There: You can get to Helsingør by a 30- to 40-minute drive, or you can also take a train from Copenhagen Central Station that takes about an hour.
Travel Tip: When you're done exploring the museum, head to Kronborg, a 16th century castle that was also the setting of Shakespeare's "Hamlet."
A little off the beaten path but worth the trip if you're a fan of elegant architecture and Denmark's rich cultural heritage. The town of Kalunborg is home to the Church of Our Lady, a five-towered church built in the late 1100s.
This historic church has experienced many renovations, updates, and additions over the centuries, but spending the day in Medieval Old Town Kalundborg combined with a tour of this stunning chapel make for a great day trip back in time.
Getting There: The cheapest and quickest way to get there is to drive, which will take you about an hour and a half along routes 21 or 23. The train ride there is about two hours and includes some transfers.
Travel Tip: If you're in the area during summer, you can also see the gorgeous gardens at Birkegårdens Haver from May to mid-September.
If you'd rather take a break from Copenhagen entirely or just have a few extra days to add to your itinerary, you should consider taking a day trip to Sweden.
Visiting the Swedish cities of Helsingborg, Lund, and Malmö is a great way to catch a glimpse of the nearby but entirely different Swedish culture.
Getting There: You have several options to get to these destinations depending on what you plan to do and how flexible you want to be. All options will take you over the Oresund Bridge, and it takes about 40 minutes to an hour to get from Copenhagen to Malmö.
Travel Tip: There are several guided tours that you can take from Copenhagen to one of these cities in just one day, so you don't have to worry about transportation. Look here for tour options.