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Local students have shared their favourite spots in Copenhagen with the University Post, neighbourhood-by-neighbourhood
[This guide has been continually updated since it was first published in 2014]
Copenhagen, like many other cities, is divided into neighborhoods or city areas, each with its own characteristics and attractions. The University Post has interviewed locals from all around the city, and got them to talk about their own neighborhoods and share some of their favorite places.
The centre of Copenhagen is called ‘Indre By’ or inner city and is the place where you will find most tourists. It is famous for the shopping street, Strøget, filled with designer shops, boutiques, cafes and tourist traps.
See an in-depth guide to the Inner City district here.
Then there is the royal residency Amalienborg. Besides watching how the Queen’s palace looks from the outside, you can see the Danish Royal Lifeguards with their big bearskin hats standing at their red sentry boxes guarding the palace. In the inner city, you can also find the Danish Parliament, the Prime Minister’s office and the parliament buildings at Christiansborg.
Furthermore, Indre By has the Rosenborg Gardens. Here at Rosenborg Castle is a beautiful park, which at the first ray of sunlight in the spring is filled with locals picnicking, tanning and playing football. Close by also lies the Botanical Garden, with with huge glass houses filled with rare flowers. It is great place to relax, take a stroll and sit by a lake enjoying the big old trees.
When the sun goes down, the inner city is still filled with life. Bars, restaurants and night clubs can be found in the area. The inner city is filled with, shops, offices and other businesses.
Housing prices are expensive, so besides the Queen, most Copenhageners live in other neighbourhoods.
Technically, it is still a part of the inner city, but because it is surrounded by water, this part has gained its own personality. Christianshavn is probably most known for the so-called free town of Christiania. The former military grounds were overtaken by hippies in the 1970’s and turned into a town in the city with its own laws and regulations. Christiania is filled with self-made houses, creative workshops, concert halls, and bars.
The University Post spoke with one of the locals, 22-year old Rasmus Kidde, who studies sociology at the University of Copenhagen, and got him to share his thoughts on the neighborhood.
Besides Christiania, there is the Church of Our Savior (Vor Frelser Kirke), famous for its tall and winding corkscrew spire. The external staircase can be climbed to the top, and offers one of the best overviews of the city.
Continuing south, and you will get to the Island of Amager. Unless, you are Danish, you will not understand why it is pronounced Ah-mah. In the seventies it was where the all the trash from the city was dumped, and the island got the derogatory name shit island. However, it has never lived up to this name, and it never will.
In Amager, the University Post found a native A-ma-caner, 26 year old Danish student Trine Rasmussen, to get some local knowledge.
See her guide to the Amager district here.
Along the metro line are apartment buildings designed by world famous architects. The DR Byen, which means the DR City, is the headquarters for the Danish national broadcasting corporation, DR, and then there is Amager Fælled, a big green area, mostly used for recreational runners, and people taking a walk and enjoying the nature.
In the old part of Amager, along Amagerbrogade, are shops, cafes and restaurants. It is here you will find the “real” locals also called “A-ma-caners”. If you continue east you will get to Amager Beach Park. When the sun is out, and the water is warm (over 19 degrees celsius, which is warm in Denmark!) this is the place to be.
UCPH actually has its largest campus in, or ‘on’, Amager, right by the Islands Brygge area. It is called South Campus, and houses the entire Faculty of Humanities. Right beside campus is the fancy dormitory Tietgen, which is one of the many dorms on Amager that have been reviewed by the University Post multiple times.
Island’s Brygge is another small neighborhood on Amager. It is on the island, but slightly separate from the rest of Amager. This neighborhood is at the moment mostly known from the Danish reality show Familien på Bryggen (The Family from Bryggen), which shows the daily life of the buxom blonde Linse Kessler and her family. If you walk around the neighborhood, you will likely meet her in real life!
Islands Brygge, also simply called Bryggen, is right beside the harbour. In the summer, locals will meet up by the water to tan, relax, read a book, or party. Some will even jump in the water to get cooled down. The University Post met up with 23 year old sociology student, Jasmin to get inside details on Bryggen:
»Islands Brygge is probably mostly known for Linse Kessler, and then all the people tanning at the harbor. There are all kinds of people here. In the summer, I just love to go down to the water with a blanket and a good book, and just relax. Close by also lies my favorite ice cream shop Bryggen 11. They make the most delicious ice cream.«
Walking or biking over the small white bridge at Islands Brygge will get you to Vesterbro. This was once the red light district of Copenhagen, filled with prostitutes and drug dealers, but after a gentrification process, Vesterbro has become a popular place to live. The most famous street, Istedgade, is still a very mixed place. At one end you will still find drug dealers, sex shops and prostitutes, but at the other end lies Enghave Park, which is cozy little park filled with couples, and families with young children.
See the students’ report about the Vesterbro district here.
Vesterbro is also the place for the hipsters. It is filled with second hand stores, small cafés and bars selling special beers and old school cocktails. It is a place which seems to have an abundance of creative personalities in lumberjack shirts and big beards. Christian Kronow, a 26 year old Danish student at the University of Copenhagen, shared his experience of Vesterbro with the University Post.
»Vesterbro is filled with fancy, latté drinking mothers at Enghave Plads. In the other end you have the hardened types at the Maria Church and the men’s home. Before the metro construction, Enghave Plads was one of my favorite sites. Also the area around Carlsberg is nice. There is the Carlsberg Museum in heart of it all. Here you can pat a horse, and drink a cheap beer, and at the same time get a shot of culture.«
Going north from Vesterbro, you will technically leave Copenhagen. Frederiksberg is a city in the city. It has its own municipality, and is the most densely populated city in Denmark, and also the most expensive to live in. The inhabitants are generally therefore also very wealthy, and the shops here are mostly small boutiques with designer clothes and specialty goods.
See what local students had to say about Frederiksberg here.
Here they have the Copenhagen Zoo, which is by now probably most famous because of its giraffe killings. However, there are still many living exotic animals, and it is always a popular place for tourists. It lies just beside the Frederiskberg Palace, which houses the Danish Army Officer Academy.
Both the palace and the Zoo are surrounded by Frederikberg park, another nice park to take a stroll in. Nanna, a 23 year old English student at UCPH, says:
»My favorite place is definitely Frederiksberg Park. In the summer, it is a great place to go on a picnic. They have a Japanese tea house in the summer, and if you go over to the Zoo, you can see the elephants. Outside the park, you will mostly meet young mothers and their carrier cycles, and CBS [Copenhagen Business School] students. They are everywhere but, of course, you can find all kinds of people.«
»Frederiksberg also has the oldest gay bar in Copenhagen, Cafe Intime. Event though it is a gay bar, it is for everyone, and they have a piano and an open mike, so you can drop by and sing a song, if you feel like it. It is great fun,« says Nanna.
The University of Copenhagen has a campus in this area, called Frederiksberg Campus, which holds parts of the Faculty of Science and the Faculties of Heath Science and Medical Science, with studies ranging from food research, veterinary and life sciences, natural resources to landscape architecture and planning.
North of Frederiksberg lies Nørrebro. This is one of the most multicultural parts of Copenhagen, known for Shawarma joints, halal butchers, and middle eastern grocery shops. It is also one of the younger areas, and inhabited by many students. The neighborhood lies around Nørrebrogade, a street famous for its broad biking lanes and a green wave for cycles, which means that biking with a speed of 20 km/h will make you see only green lights.
See the student perspective on the Nørrebro district here.
Before the recent gentrification, the neighborhood was known as one of the more rough hoods. Especially because of ghettos as Blågården, Mjølnerparken and Aldersrogade; however, recent development has made Nørrebro a popular place for new hip shops and businesses to open. Local 24 year old English student, Anni, explains that areas like Sankt Hans Torv and Jægerborggade are becoming increasingly popular.
»Nørrebro is worn and covered in graffiti, but it is also very beautiful, for example the Assistens Cemetery. The street scene, shopwise, pretty much reflects the types who live here. Besides that, some of the most famous restaurants in Nørrebro are Kiin Kiin and Relæ, which both have a Michelin star. Personally, it is difficult to pick my favorite place, but it is probably Rubæks Bøger, a small book store on Jægersborggade that also serves beer and coffee.«
This neighborhood has another UCPH campus, known as North Campus, which houses areas of the Health and Medical Sciences and of the Science Faculty.
Finally in the east, you will find Østerbro. It is out to the sea. Here you find the little mermaid, a statue inspired by the tale of H.C. Andersen, and it is … little … indeed. Do not expect something in size of the Statue of Liberty. Well don’t actually expect anything.
See the students’ take on the Østerbro district here.
Østerbro also holds Parken, the Danish national football stadium, and home of FC Copenhagen. Around the stadium lies Fælledparken, a huge park which is used for recreational sports, barbecues and parties. Every 1st of May it is filled with red flags celebrating the worker’s international day, and Copenhageners gather from all over to listen to political speeches, drink beer, and enjoy the spring weather.
Østerbro, compared to the rest of the Copenhagen neighborhoods, is generally a very calm and peaceful neighborhood, filled with green areas, nice well-preserved buildings, and very popular for families and elders, but there are also some young life.
Marie, a 33 year old Film- and Media student, explains to the University Post:
»There are some nice green areas. Østre Anlæg and Kastellet are nice places to go for a run, and it’s close to the water. At Svanemøllen, they have also made a new beach area. There is a very cool winter bathing club. Besides that, my favorite place is the café, Femmeren. They play jazz, and have quiz nights.«
At the eastern edge of Østerbro, close to the the North Campus, you can also find Rigshospitalet and the Niels Bohr Institute, home of the physics department at UCPH.
All of the city’s neighborhoods are easily accessible by bicycle, as the streets are full of well-marked bicycle lanes. Just make sure to follow all traffic rules, and signal when turning and changing lanes!
If you are new, or just visiting, you are now well informed for a trip around Copenhagen, so grab a bike and a helmet, and go explore!
Are you a local and want to promote your favourite neighborhood spots? What makes your neighborhood the best in the city? Send an email or comment below, and you could be featured in our upcoming neighborhood guides.
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