European travel and lifestyle
It’s easy to fall in love with Copenhagen, a city that’s historic and modern, traditional and innovative all at once. Known for its design scene, top-notch cuisine and hip, laid back atmosphere, this Scandinavian capital is certainly not considered a budget destination. But don’t panic: this Copenhagen city guide features tons of activities to enjoy for little to no cost at all.
From where to stay to exploring a former military base and taking a day trip to Sweden, here are all the tips you’ll need to make the most of your Copenhagen trip!
Except for the hotel sign above the entrance, the old apprentice residence from 1882 pretty much looks the same: The building majestically secluded in the back of the cobblestoned alley, alongside the inner lakes of Copenhagen.
Then you grab the handle of the heavy oak wood door and step inside, you will be met by a lit fireplace, comfy sofas, pillows in the window sill, a stack of books on the shelves and beautiful courtyards adorned with summer flowers, cobbles and a unique peacefulness – away from the city bustle. Here, the atmosphere is cozy and informal.
Hotel Kong Arthur is located in København K, a peaceful neighborhood with view over the Copenhagen lakes. Right behind the hotel, you find the famous Nansensgade area; the trendy home of the urban life Copenhagener. This is also where you find for instance authentic, cosy cafés, the local bakery and unique design shops.
Vesterbro- cool neighbourhood. If you have only one night to spend in Copenhagen, the Today, the Meatpacking District in Vesterbro is one of Copenhagen’s most popular places to go out.
The Meatpacking District used to be home to Copenhagen’s meat industry businesses and still consists of three separate areas, referred to as the White, Grey and Brown “Meat City” for the dominant colour of their buildings. In recent years, it has changed into a new creative cluster with a trendy nightlife and a broad range of high quality restaurants.
Looks rather bleak during the day, but the district comes alive at night and at the weekendWarpigs, which you can see more of in my Copenhagen food recommendations . Noho and Kødbyens Fiskebar.
One of the best places to take a walk is through Assistens Kirkegaard, the yellow-walled cemetery at the center of the Nørrebro neighborhood. Not only can you stroll or have a picnic, you can visit the graves of famous Danes like Hans Christian Andersen and philosopher Søren Kirkegaard.
Another great park to wander through is Folkets (Danish for “People’s park”) is a small park situated between Griffenfeldsgade and Stengade. The park was established by local residents in 1971, who also converted a disused building in the park into a community center, Folkets Hus.
If searching for bargains at vintage shops and eating at cosy cafes and restaurants is your idea of fun, look no further than Nørrebro.
This cool Copenhagen neighbourhood is only a short walk from the city centre but somehow it just feels different – and as soon as you arrive, you’ll get a taste of the local, multicultural and vibrant atmosphere that makes the area so special. Nørrebro is the center of cosmopolitan and multicultural Denmark. Have a drink at Sct Hans square or go shopping in Elmegade. This is what we like to do in our neighborhood.
The culinary scene in Nørrebro has quietly grown for years and now contains some of the best restaurants in the city. Bæst, Chef Christian Puglisi’s latest venture has the best pizza I’ve ever had (and gone into much more detail below).
Puglisi, formerly of noma-fame, also opened Relæ and Manfred & Vin, both on Jægersborggade. Relæ, a Michelin-star restaurant, is incredibly high-end new Nordic cuisine in a beautiful yet casual location. Although it’s pricier than other Nørrebro hotspots, it’s well worth making a reservation to appreciate what all the fuss is about!
To truly see Nørrebro’s ‘hipster side’ just head back towards Jægersborggade where you’ll discover design-conscious cafés and takeaways serving fresh juices and cups of organic coffee to a seriously bohemian crowd.
For the best options, I’d recommend Coffee Collective, Mirabelle’s (next to Bæst, also serving delicious sourdough baked goods -try the croissants!), Kaffe Plantagen, Bevar’s (a quiet spot to get some work done) and Kaffesalonen, charmingly located right on the water.
Its vibrant colours and historic tall ships make Nyhavn Copenhagen’s most famous destination. Stroll down the less famous side for the best views and photographs, and to look at the lighthouse ship Geyser Rev, as well as house number 20, where beloved Danish author Hans Christian Andersen was living in 1835 when he published his first volume of fairy tales.
Found on the island borough of Christianshavn, the Free Town of Christiania is a unique and somewhat controversial part of Copenhagen. It was established in 1971 when, in the midst of a housing shortage, squatters took over an abandoned military base and formed an alternative society.
Best known for its Green Light District, the gritty main district houses marijuana dealers and smokers, but is also home to restaurants, bars, a market, workshops and concert venues. The houses here are works of art in their own right, made up of converted army barracks or unique hand-built homes. It’s a fascinating place to catch a glimpse of a non-traditional way of life!
Amalienborg Palace is a must for anyone with a taste for royal history and the life of Denmark’s royal family.
The palace is famous for its Royal Guard, called Den Kongelige Livgarde. Every day you can experience the changing of the guards, as they march from their barracks in 100 Gothersgade by Rosenborg Castle through the streets of Copenhagen and end up at Amalienborg, where the changing of the guard takes place at 12:00 noon. It’s one of the best things you can do for free in Copenhagen!
That’s right! If you’re up for it, why not visit another country? This “intense” journey will take you all of 15 minutes travelling from Copenhagen airport, passing over the Øresund bridge. You might recognise it from the aptly-named Scandinavian crime television series The Bridge – though your journey should be a little less dramatic.
Since the December 2010 opening of the Citytunneln, trains now travel every 10 minutes directly to Malmö Central. This small, friendly city has a good choice of cultural attractions, including the new Moderna Museet Malmö. Look out for Malmö’s many quality restaurants and bistros and great cafés. And the shopping isn’t bad either, especially if you’re looking for Swedish designs and hip, new Swedish fashion labels.
A Copenhagen city guide wouldn’t be complete without delving into Copenhagen’s food scene. While city prices are above average, these recommendations are a solid investment for both your Danish krones and your wallet.
Offerings vary from well-liked pain au chocolat to delicious quiches and cheese platters. If you’re in the mood for something more filling, check out their croque monsieur.
Whilst normally served with ham and cheese, Voulez-vous’ chef puts a twist on the French classic with the Mr Biarritz (goat cheese, sun-dried tomatoes, mushrooms, fresh spinach and béchamel) and the Croque Mr Clermont (parma ham, apple, walnuts, fresh spinach and béchamel) amongst others.
However, not everyone wakes up in the mood for small portions. If you’re famished, order the ‘Voulez-vous Brunch’ option, which comes with mini pastries, ham, emmental cheese, soft-boiled eggs, almond finger cake, yoghurt, bread, butter, jam and fresh fruits. You also have the French Breakfast, a smaller alternative to the mammoth brunch. Whichever you choose, they’ll both leave well and ready for the day ahead.
Price-wise, Voulez-vous falls into the mid to high category: a croque monsieur and coffee will cost you DKK87 (€11.68), while a full brunch and coffee will bring it up to DKK167 (€22.42). Don’t rack up costs by eating there every day: just try it on one day of your travels to enjoy something special.
Where? Larsbjoernsstraede 20
Tuesday to Friday
From 10AM til 9PM
From 10AM to 6PM
Sunday to Monday
WarPigs was established by Danish brewery Mikkeller and American brewery 3 Floyds in order to spice up the brewpub game. The in-house brewery has an impressive 20 beers on tap, so I’d recommend asking the bar staff for their personal recommendations. In addition, WarPigs’ brewers keep on changing their selections, offering customers something different with every visit.
Although drinks are king at WarPigs, their Texan style BBQ is a close second. Slow-low smoked and dry rub spiced, get there early so you can enjoy their house speciality spare ribs.
You can expect to pay around DKK65 (€8.7) on average for most of the craft beer on tap. It’s best to go to WarPigs with a healthy appetite. Medium-sized spare ribs and pork shoulder come in at DKK85 (€11.4), while 1/2 chicken costs DKK100 (€13.44). Vegetarians may be at a loss here, but you can always tuck into the creamy mac n’cheese for DKK50 (€6.72).
Where? Flæsketorvet 25
Monday to Wednesday
From 11:30AM to 12AM
Thursday to Sunday
From 11AM to 2AM
You can’t get more local than Bæst. Even the flour is made around the corner. Combining Italian staples along with the local produce sourced from Danish organic farmers, the owners pile the best from both countries on enormous meat platters and wood-fired oven pizzas.
Neighbouring Nørrebro is more than enough reason to make the small trek across The Lakes. Over the last two decades, a steady influx of young locals has transformed the area into an eclectic mix of designer boutiques, vintage stores, old dive bars (I recommend the latter for a cheap pint on your way back) and, of course, gastronomical gems such as Bæst.
To start your meal on the right foot, try one or two dishes from the charcuterie menu. These come straight from the Bæst’s salumeria, where the chefs prepare cured meats such as confit-based ciccioli and fennel salami. If you can’t choose, opt for a small or large selection board to get a taste of everything.
Afterwards, follow it up with one of their organic pizzas. Sadly, I couldn’t eat three in one go – that’s a challenge for another day. However, if I had to choose some standouts, I’d go for the burrata, nettles, Nørrebro oyster mushrooms; the Bæst pork sausage, brocolli and pecorino; or the mozzarella, fresh tomatoes and Parma ham (pictured on the left).
When it comes to price, the best approach at Bæst is to share as much as possible. Cost per person for platters and pizza can be significantly lower than for individual dishes. For example, one charcuterie plate costs on average DKK85.00 (€11.40), while a small selection board is DKK125.00 (€16.80). A medium to large-sized pizza will also keep you happy at around DKK130.00 (€17.40).
Where? Guldbergsgade 29
Sunday to Thursday From 5PM to 10:30PM
Friday and Saturday From 5PM to 12:30AM
Not had enough with the Copenhagen city guide? Europe has endless cities to discover. Check out more city guides and get your adventure started!
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