We have an overnight layover on our return trip this summer. We'll have from 2pm until bedtime in mid July to visit Copenhagen. Any must sees in such a small time window? We have a teen and two younger kids and thought about the national museum, and a walk along the old harbor. From what I've read, things close earlier, so we want to have just enough culture for the time available. Tivoli gardens and the Christiana neighborhood are not on our short list. Thanks!
The national museum is a good visit right downtown. They have quite a bit from the bronze age through middle ages the kids might like. It's a short walk to Tivoli from there, so that could be the other half of your day.
Another option would be Rosenborg Slot (castle) and Nyhavn (harbor). They are both an easy walk from the north end of the Stroget (the walking mall that ends by city hall at the south end). Rosenborg is fairly small and packed with furnishings from the middle ages, in the basement are the Danish Crown Jewels. The castle is surrounded by a nice park. Nyhavn (New Harbor) is relatively small. You can catch a boat tour from there. This area is my favorite part of Copenhagen. It's much cleaner and nicer than the area down around city hall, Tivoli, and the train station.
One really nice thing about the area is it's very convenient to the airport. Catch a metro to Kongens Nytorv (Kings New Square) and you will be there in 15 minutes max - faster than catching a train to the downtown station. Kongens Nytorv is adjacent to Nyhavn and maybe five blocks to Rosenborg.
A nice thing about Tivoli is that it's open until 23:00 Sun-Thurs and midnight Fri-Sat, so you can see your serious sights first, and still fit this in after dinner. It's fun for the atmosphere, people, lights, music, even if you don't care about rides.
Tivoli Tivoli Tivoli Tivoli Tivoli!
Why isn't Tivoli on your short tour list? Especially since you have KIDS?! I get not wanting to take kids to Christiania, but Tivoli? You can eat dinner there! You can see a show! There are great rides!
Nyhavn is lovely - but window shopping and cafes might be a bit boring for children, even allowing that there's great people watching and cool old boats. It would be a super place to start.
The National Museum is a good idea, but.... no Tivoli? Seriously, you should go.
Thanks to All for the ideas! Tomorrow is the day, so we'll see what the time holds. Tivoli wasn't on the short list because my kids aren't big fans of amusement parks - they prefer the outdoors. A bit of urban trekking might be wise, especially with a long flight the next day. Whatever we do, we'll enjoy a fun afternoon in a new place - that's what travel is all about:)
If your kids don't like amusement parks... well, Tivoli ain't like the typical American amusement park. (Also? I admire their taste! Most American amusement parks, IMHO, are for the birds.)