If you’ve read any of my recent blog posts, or you’ve been following along on Instagram, you’ll know that I recently took on a challenge to spend a weekend in Copenhagen for under £200.
Because I had a limited amount of time (the equivalent of two full days) and a limited budget with which to see and experience as much of the city as possible, I had to plan my itinerary wisely.
Copenhagen is split into eight distinct neighbourhoods, and it’s wise to figure out exactly what you want to see and do in each neighbourhood, so that you’re not covering more ground than necessary and constantly retracing your steps.
So I’ve put together a list of recommended sights and activities in each neighbourhood. Stick to exploring two or three neighbourhoods per day and you should be able to get a pretty good feel for the city in just a few days.
Copenhagen’s former red light district is now the epicentre of Copenhagen cool. Don’t come here expecting monuments or museums; Vesterbro is where you’ll find vintage emporiums, art galleries, and design studios, as well as hip cafes, bars, music, and ethnic restaurants.
- The smallest hotel in the world. It has just one room and an overnight stay here will cost you 2100 DKK ($298). There’s also a cute little cafe downstairs.
- Some awesome street art. One of Copenhagen’s most famous (and largest) pieces of street art is located in a Føtex parking lot on Tullinsgade, just down the road from the smallest hotel (aka Central Hotel and Cafe)
- Smørrebrod at Dyrehaven. Come early in order to snag a seat at this popular cafe on Soender Boulevard.
- Lidkoeb and Dia’legd. The former is an inventive cocktail bar on the ground floor and a cosy log cabin-style whisky bar upstairs; the latter is the place to try some local craft beers from the Danish island Funen.
The heart of Copenhagen is where you’ll find the city’s Central Station, the Copenhagen Visitor’s Centre, Nationalmuseet (National Museum) and the infamous Tivoli Amusement Park and Gardens – the world’s second oldest amusement park, opened in 1843.
Technically consisting of five streets in a largely pedestrianised area that’s lined with shops, Strøget is home to the city’s Latin Quarter, the 34.8-metre round tower, Rundetarn (which you can climb for a small fee), the Church of the Holy Spirit and a couple of notable cafes (check out Palæo for food and the Royal Smushi for coffee and cake).
One of the smallest neighbourhoods in Copenhagen, Slotsholmen is actually an island that’s probably the most important part of the city historically.
It was from a fortress that was founded here in 1167 that the city initially developed. It’s also here that you’ll find the national parliament building, Christiansborg Slot (climb the tower here completely free of charge), and a string of other cultural attractions.
Set on the opposite side of Copenhagen’s harbour from the rest of the city, the “new town” of Christianhavn was initially created in the early 1500s to house workers in the shipbuilding industry. It’s still largely a residential neighborhood full of picturesque canals, and verdant city ramparts.
- Freetown Christiania. Copenhagen’s autonomous, alternative community was founded in 1971 on an abandoned military base. It’s a fascinating part of the city where you’ll find an abundance of art and music events, organic and vegetarian cafes, and vibrant, colourful street art.
- Papirøen (Paper Island). Connected to Christianshavn by bridge, and formerly a newspaper storage facility (hence the name), Paper Island is now home to hanger-style food market packed with artisan food trucks and hipster bars, as well as a contemporary art gallery.
Nyhavn and the Royal Quarter
This is the area you’ll see represented on all the postcards of the city, whether it’s photos of the Little Mermaid Statue or the colourful dutch-style townhouses that line the canal.
- A stroll along Nyhavn (the name of the canal, built in the 17th century to link the harbour to the city)
- The Little Mermaid Statue. It’s a lot smaller than you imagine it to be but it’s an iconic landmark in the city.
- Kastellet. Close to the Little Mermaid Statue, Kasteelet is one of the best preserved star-shaped fortresses in Europe.
- Changing of the Guards at Amalienborg. This ceremony is supposed to start at 12pm every day. Apart from the day I visited, when it started at 1pm.
An area that’s filled with beautiful architecture, picturesque gardens, market stalls, restaurants and bars, Nørreport is home to Rosenborg Slot (Copenhagen’s castle), Statens Museum for Kunst (Art Museum), Torvehallerne food market, and Botansk Have (Botanical Garden).
Photo by Pedro Plassen Lopes via Flickr
It’s here that you’ll also find two of Copenhagen’s best places to sample the famous smørrebrød (open sandwich) – Aamanns Takeaway and Rita’s Smørrebrod.
Although I never actually made it here, it’s one of the areas I was most looking forward to visiting. It’s one of the city’s most vibrant, multicultural neighbourhoods that’s alive with an array of design studios and boutiques, indie cafes, and cult-status restaurants and late night bars.
Don’t miss a wander around the atmospheric Assistens Kirkegård (a cemetery where some of Denmark’s most celebrated citizens are buried) and some drinks and a spot of food with friends at the quirky Laundromat Cafe.
Nørrebro us also where you’ll find a lot of the city’s Airbnb accommodation options.
Have you visited Copenhagen? What’s your favourite neighbourhood?