Every little girl grew up on The Little Mermaid and revered the Hans Christian Andersen classics – so naturally, Copenhagen was very high on my list when I finally moved across the pond to London. One of the increasingly trendy Nordic cities today, the Danish capital makes for a lovely getaway regardless of the time of year. Go over the summer and you can truly enjoy the outdoor picnics at Papiroen’s Street Food market, or make this your quick winter getaway for wonderland at one of Europe’s greatest Christmas markets in Tivoli Gardens (be warned, it’s freezing!).
Copenhagen is one of the more unique European cities, I’ve found, particularly because you’ve got the neoclassical architecture set amidst a fairly modernist culture of food and history. My favourite way to break the city down is by tackling its many neighbourhoods, because each is so stylistically individual that it’s almost impossible to categorize them together.
There’s enough to do in this city for a quick weekend or even a relaxed week away – it has so much to offer and such culturally colourful neighbourhoods that you can’t help but be in awe. Before I get you started though, be warned that it is expensive (as are all the Nordic countries) so be prepared to shell out more than you’re used to for a regular ol’ weekend away!
Of course, I can’t help but start with a tried and true favourite! Boats on the harbour, Christmas decorations galore in the winter with mulled wine pouring out of every stand, and the picture postcard Instagram you have got to get to prove you went to Copenhagen. A 17th century waterfront, this beautiful stretch is lined with the signature brightly coloured boats, making Copenhagen’s entertainment district particularly eye-catching. Back in the day the port was split into it’s ‘naughty’ and ‘nice’ side, so go try and figure out if you can tell which was which!
This massively up-and-coming neighbourhood has got it all – a newly gentrified ‘meatpacking’ district (Kødbyen), emulative of its New York namesake as one of Copenhagen’s best nightlife hotspots, and a list of unspeakably cool restaurants and bars for almost every cuisine on your hit list. It’s got art galleries, tattoo studios, underground bars, and every other ultra-modernist feature of the other side of Copenhagen – a hip center if you will.
One of my favourite neighbourhoods in this beautiful city, and an epitome of true European bohemia. The Assistens Cemetery is unmissable, with names like Hans Christien Andersen buried here, and gardens lining the entire cemetery, making it almost maze-like. Hit up Grød’s original porridge shop in Jægersborggade, the neighbourhood’s most stylist street filled with organic cafes and vintage stores filled with one-of-a-kind antiques. As stylish as this neighbourhood is however, the increasing multicultural gentrification has put parts of it on a tantalizing edge of class and economics, so watch your pockets, especially if you’re on the bus, and as far as possible, spend your time walking around the ‘hood – trust me, I speak only from experience.
This could never be missing from your Kobenhavn list! An exceedingly original neighbourhood if there ever was one, welcome to the city’s pseudo red-light district – developed in the 70s as an ‘everything-goes’ kind of neighbourhood, this place has an aura of adventure and freedom that makes it such a stark contrast as you compare the city across the bridge. It was once a former military base and a number of the structures still remain – hit this up one evening for their underground bars, or enjoy a drink in their side streets at one of the many smoky jazz bars as garbage cans are lit on fire to warm you in the freezing winter time.
A classic city center, this neighbourhood is home to the Tivoli Gardens and home to the royal family at the Amelionborg Palace. Visit in the winter time and hit up the Christmas market in Tivoli, which completely transforms into a winter wonderland Disney would applaud. In the inner streets by the Nørreport Station you’ll find local markets in full swing during the Christmas time.
#protip – for the BEST cheesecake you’ve had at Bertels, a true institution in the city – hit up their cozy little store on Falconer Alle and have the perfect break from the cold wintry days in this salon with more cheesecake than you could choose from and cushions by the window for ideal people watching.
A posh little residential neighbourhood en route from the city to Freetown Christiania, Christianshavn is perfect for a stroll through the streets, admiring the beautiful homes, and maybe hitting up the Michelin-starred Noma for dinner. A go-to Instagram spot on my list in the city, this is your picture paradise.
Papirøen (Paper Island)
A neighbourhood of its own, situated on a little island connected to Christianshavn, this is your summertime hit list in Copenhagen – Copenhagen Street Food is a legacy, an institution, and a true favourite. On the same island you’ve got designer coffee shop Den Plettede Gris for a quick pitstop before heading to the market for some grub with the city’s best views. Seating available inside or out, it is perfect for all seasons, and you can literally get the most delicious meal for all of DKK 50 (all of £6!).