Whether you’ve spent just one day in Copenhagen or you’re a week into your exploration of the city, I highly recommend taking a day trip to see two of the area’s most famous sights: Kronborg Slot and the Louisiana Museum of Modern Art.
Say “good morning” to Hamlet at Kronborg Slot
Purchase a 24-hour All Zone transit ticket and hop on a train headed north, disembarking 40 minutes later at Helsingør. If the name of this town is vaguely familiar, thank your high school English teacher for teaching you about Shakespeare; Kronborg Slot is famous for being the inspiration for the setting of King Hamlet’s castle in Elsinore.
On the 30 minute guided intro tour of the castle you can learn about Shakespeare’s relationship with this place. While the Bard himself never visited Kronborg Slot, he was able to include very specific details about it because he had friends who knew the Danish king. For instance, the famously ostentatious royal toast–the king raises his glass, compelling trumpeteers to play, which triggers the bastions and cannons to sound so that everyone in town knows a special party is going on–is mentioned in Act I, Scene II of the play.
Even if you’re not a huge Shakespeare fan, the castle is interesting to wander through, including the tower where you can get incredible views over Helsingør and across the water to Malmö, Sweden as well as the underground casemates passages that served as protection during times of war (and served as natural air conditioning on the hot day I visited).
As my tour guide said, the Renaissance was all about seeing and being seen, and there’s plenty of things to see during your morning at Kronborg Castle.
(A silly aside: the castle is so close to Sweden that T-Mobile sent me a text welcoming me to the country. Mostly it just gave me a good laugh, but I suppose it’s something to be aware of if you had a Denmark-only SIM card that charges you for international use.)
Wander through your afternoon at Louisiana Museum of Modern Art
Return to the station and board the next train north to Humlebæk, a beautiful 25 minute ride along the coastline. Once disembarked, it’s a 15 minute (but totally flat!) walk to the Louisiana Museum.
As any good modern art will, the exhibits by Tal R and William Kentridge–both incredible multimedia artists–made me slow down and ponder life. It doesn’t help that recent grads are generally more emotional than others, but images accompanying phrases like “the refusal of time” and “her absence filled the world” hit me hard.
Luckily I was able to take breaks to enjoy the sun and the stunning museum grounds. At least half of the property is outdoor space where you can explore or play, sit on the grass, and enjoy views of the water lapping up on the shore. Total bliss.
You’re going to want to allow at least two hours to peruse the exhibits and an hour to wander the grounds, relax, get something to nibble on at the cafe, or get crafty in the kids area where you can make art based on the featured artists’ styles.
At the end of the afternoon, get back on the hourlong train to the center of Copenhagen, relishing in the day’s mix of natural and manmade, modern and historical, reality and escapism.
Spending a day in the city of Copenhagen? Check out my guide for the perfect day of nature, history, art, and food.