Red boat moored alongside colourful buildings in in Nyhaven in Copenhagen

Copenhagen and Malmö

A tale of two cities in one weekend

by Ros Woodham

One of the great joys of travelling in Europe is the ability to explore several destinations in even the shortest time span. Copenhagen and Malmö might be in two different countries, but they’re only 45 km apart and can easily be visited over a weekend.


Copenhagen, Denmark’s capital, began as a humble Viking fishing village in the 10th century, but rapid growth and prosperity during the time of the Kalmar Union (1397–1523) helped it to become the vibrant, modern city it is today. Renowned for its historic landmarks and stunning contemporary buildings, it has been awarded the title of World Capital of Architecture for 2023.

Here are some of my top places to visit:


Although the name translates to ‘New Harbour’, this area of the city is over 350 years old. It was created as a gateway between Kongens Nytorv (King’s New Square) and the sea, and was once a red-light district and lawless hub for sailors. Hans Christian Andersen made it his home for almost two decades in the 19th century. Now, it’s an iconic waterfront street lined with colourful townhouses and historic wooden boats.

The Marble Bridge crossing the canal in Copenhagen
The Marble Bridge crosses the canal, leading to the Christiansborg Palace grounds
Bronze statue of the Little Mermaid on a rock in Copenhagen
The unimposing bronze statue of the Little Mermaid was a gift from Danish brewer Carl Jacobsen to the City of Copenhagen in 1913.
The Renaissance-era Rosenborg Castle facade, Denmark.
The Renaissance-era Rosenborg Castle houses Denmark’s Crown Jewels.

Copenhagen’s castles

Denmark is one of the oldest monarchies in the world and boasts a selection of majestic castles. Here are just a few:

Rosenborg was originally used as a country summerhouse for Danish royalty. Built in the Dutch Renaissance style and surrounded by Kongens Have (the King’s Gardens), it houses the Danish Crown Jewels. 

Amalienborg is the official residence of the modern-day Danish Royal Family and is made up of four near-identical palaces around a central octagonal courtyard. Most of the palace buildings are for private use, but the Amalienborg Museum is open to the public and offers a look into the personal lives of these progressive royals.

Christiansborg, completed in 1928, houses the Danish parliament and the Supreme Court of Denmark, but parts of it are also used for state banquets. Visitors can view several reception rooms, the kitchen and the stables, as well as the ruins of the original 12th-century castle with its infamous Blue Tower. In the 17th century, Christian IV imprisoned his favourite daughter there for twenty-two years. 

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