Originally founded in the 12th Century, Copenhagen started as a harbor town and has grown considerably since then. Denmark's capital is listed as one of the most expensive and environmentally friendly cities in the world, and is filled with historic palaces, immaculate waterfronts and high-end shopping streets. Beautifully manicured gardens and 17th-century buildings stand next to pieces of innovative modern architecture, and give the city a distinct charm. If you add the Tivoli amusement park and the freetown of Christiania to your itinerary, you'll find that Copenhagen is the perfect destination for light-hearted tourists and business travelers alike.
All Denmark's roads, trains, and bicycle paths lead to the heart of the capital. Indre By (The Inner City) is the unrivaled commercial and cultural center of the entire country. Always buzzing with activity and crammed with people, this district is only completely empty on Sundays, as very few people actually live here. The Inner City is a picturesque area with many buildings dating back to the early 18th Century. The street plan dates back to the Middle Ages, which may explain the many seemingly irrational twists and turns that are characteristic of the area.
Pisserenden & Nørrevold
Cornered by Vor Frue Plads and Rådhuspladsen , Pisserenden is a lovely district. Today, Studiestræde is all about male fashion, with Samsøe Samsøe leading Copenhagen's no-nonsense trademark style. Stretching along Søerne , on the city side, Nørrevold looks like the outer boroughs but is a city in itself. Stroll down Nansensgade, an intellectual hang-out, for great alternative shopping opportunities in an intimate setting. Don't miss the unique decor at Bankeråt . H.C. Ørstedsparken is a great place to take a stroll during the day.
The monstrous Christiansborg , the seat of the Danish Parliament, resides on Slotsholmen, the very core of the Danish state. The semi-artificial island holds the Parliament as well as the offices of everything from the Supreme Court to the royal horses, the offices of the Prime Minister, the Danish Stock Exchange , the Thorvaldsens Museum , the Royal Court Theatre with the adjoining Theatre Museum, the Royal Brewery of Christian IV as well as the Royal Library, including its recent addition, Det Kongelige Bibliotek (Diamanten) , arguably the most astonishing new piece of architecture north of Bilbao.
Looking like a supremely idyllic little piece of Amsterdam, Christianshavn is comprised of a cluster of artificial islands between Copenhagen and Amager. Guided canal tours via Kanalrundfarten will take you floating past the beautiful old houses, and you'll be able to see Copenhageners preparing their vessels for the sea or just taking it easy on the deck of a homemade house-boat. Christiania , a "free town" that was founded by squatters, is unlike anything you have ever seen, and further characterizes the area's unique atmosphere. The three northern islands of Christianshavn constitute Holmen , a former naval base. The area is now a unique colony for the arts.
From the jolly beer-swingers in Nyhavn to the sanctuary of Kongens Have/Rosenborg Slotshave , Frederiksstaden is the royal district, laid out in a regular grid with the royal castle Amalienborg at the center and Marmorkirken towering above the lawyers, antique stores and galleries of Bredgade and Store Kongensgade. Kunstindustrimuseet shows various exhibitions on modern design and design history. Rosenborg Slot is a fancy country house now open to the public.
The largest of the Copenhagen neighborhoods, Østerbro is bigger than most Danish cities and is full of famous attractions. The broad streets cut like canyons through endless uniform tenement buildings in red brick. Exceptions to this are Øster Farimagsgade, Nordre Frihavnsgade and Østerbrogade, all offering shops to the many inhabitants. On the western edge of Østerbro just north of Frederiksstaden, you'll find Kastellet , a historically significant defense fortification that is now open to the public. Langelinie pier, where you can personally greet none other than the Little Mermaid , is located north of the marina. Østerbro is also home to the national stadium, Parken , the largest park in the city, Fælledparken , as well as many embassies.
Nørrebro may not have the best reputation, but it remains one of the most colorful and ethnically diverse areas of Copenhagen (and very safe, generally speaking). A stroll up Nørrebrogade is a sightseeing tour in itself, and the Assistens Kirkegård , one of the city's oldest cemeteries, is the final resting place of people like Hans Christian Andersen and Søren Kierkegaard. The cemetery also functions as a park, with locals often seen having picnics among the gravestones. Sankt Hans Torv features popular cafes like Sebastopol , while clubs like Rust make for a bright night out.
This area is the old queen of the Copenhagen boroughs! Gentrification always had a hard time here, despite the city's ongoing attempts to clean up the area and polish the buildings. Istedgade still has plenty to offer, with big hotels and an ever-increasing number of students and artists. Vega is the center of its nightlife, and cafes Høeg's and Bang & Jensen are where all of Vesterbro meets.
A city in its own right, Frederiksberg Slot is surrounded by Copenhagen on all sides, but still maintains its formal independence. While not exactly Broadway, this area boasts quite a number of small theaters. There is a certain Parisian quirkiness to Frederiksberg which many people find charming. It is mainly residential, belonging to a mostly conservative, well-to-do, over-40 crowd. There are plenty of good restaurants, wineries and tailors in the area. Deeper into the city, you'll find Frederiksberg Have , beautiful park that contains Københavns Zoo .
Going all the way from Østerbro to Elsinore, Strandvejen spells money, tennis courts and long drinks by the marinas. An extraordinary cab ride will lead you past very beautiful and impressive estates and villas. Dyrehaven , with its tame deer, controlled wildlife and exclusive restaurants, is the favorite outing of all Copenhageners at any time of the year.
Over the past decades, Copenhagen has reinvented itself and made its name as a metropolis in Europe. It has undergone an amazing metamorphosis in a wide variety of fields: design, fashion, media, art, film, shopping, music, advertising, and, last but not least, food and drink. With CPH international airport only 20 minutes away from the center, and with the Øresund Bridge to Malmö, Sweden, many Copenhageners now feel closer to capitals such as Stockholm, Berlin and London than to other major cities in Denmark.
As the city has become more international, so has its palate. A few years ago Asian, Middle-Eastern and South American food was off-territory for most Copenhageners but now people of all ages sushi, nasi-goreng, tom yum goong and couscous their way through their dinner appointments. Warehouses have been turned into über-trendy restaurants, old shops have been transformed into elegant bars, and everywhere you turn, new cafes and clubs are opening up.
Brunch at mocha-heavenly Amokka and rediscover the art of coffee brewing. Lunch at Circus and get a haircut on the go in this post-modern kombi-complex. Dine at Guldandens art-deco veranda or reserve your table at Brasseriet for a young and refreshing experience. Your night ends at Park , dancing and sipping drinks with Copenhagen's young things.
Your Nørrebro experience begins at classy Sebastopol . This lively neighborhood is packed with cafes, but amongst them don't miss Floras Coffee Bar, Kaffesalonen and Props, all located around Blågårdsgade. In the evening, try some Japanese futuristic fusion dishes at Propaganda. Rust is the name of your final destination; Nørrebro's number one nightclub gives you every reason to love this upbeat part of town.
Home to art galleries, student bars, a red-light district and ethnic restaurants, it all comes together in Copenhagen's most wanted neighborhood. Bang & Jensen proves that what was once a working-class district is now something much more. Vesterbro is the official "capital of curry," the best Asian restaurants include Indian Taj and Nam Thip . Passagens Spisehus offers the best deer and game roasts in town. Club your night away at Vega , which is open until 5a.
This pleasant, Parisian-style neighborhood is Copenhagen's little “theaterland” and most bars and restaurants here come alive just before or just after show hours. Kellerdirk and Promenaden are all located around Frederiksbergs Alle and known for a good atmosphere with improvising waiter/actors. For a classic, romantic experience take a walk through Frederiksbergs Gardens .
Christianshavn & Christiania
On Holmen , among torpedo halls and old military warehouses, you can find a good selection og bars and clubs. While waiting for tapas enjoy the view of the Copenhagen waterfront , or venture into Christiania 's EU-free zone for modern Scandinavian cuisine at friendly Loppen . Christanshavn is swarming with restaurants, bars and cafes– Era Ora is a superb Italian restaurant, perfect for business and pleasure, Restaurant Kanalen represents France and there is good food and value for money at Bastionen & Løven . Have brunch at Wilder with the local architects in style.
This trendy shopping district is overflowing with cafes, restaurants and bars. Francophiles socialize at L'Education Nationale and Flyvefisken tempts you with tasty Thai treats. Floss 's understated atmosphere draws artists and their friends from all over the city and Sabines Cafeteria is still one of the most authentic and popular cafes in Copenhagen.
A handful of top-rated fine dining restaurants and bars are found on this peaceful side of town. On the Copenhagen waterfront , a few steps away from the Little Mermaid , lies the elegant Langelinie Pavilion, where quality, price and style go hand in hand. Media students and hipsters dine at Kartoteket , who's Polish owner gave up his philosophy in gastronomic pleasures. Copenhagen's first real wine bar Le Sommelier lies on Bredgade and around the corner KGB Restaurant for even more dining options.
Nørrevold is young, hip and happening and the people who live here know it. Among bookshops and fashion stores lies Bankeråt , Nansensgade's most relaxed cafe. Further down the street, minimalist Sticks 'n' Sushi practices the art of slow food, and for suave Spanish food try El Peron. Cafe Bisau plays Zouk-love with a twist of Paris, and around the corner at the Lounge, media types order frozen margaritas. Summer afternoons are spent inside HC Ørstedsparken at Hacienda soaking up the sunshine and sipping Swedish cider. Nights are spent at post-everything Stereo Bar , ordering gin & tonics, CPH networking and kissing cheeks.
Central Copenhagen's parade of world-class restaurants proves that its transformation from local to global player is complete. The excellent Kommandanten has earned two Michelin stars for spectacular French food; superb Restaurationen enjoys a single but big star and so does innovative Pierre Andre on Ny Østergade. If you are looking for less art but more smart, queue up outside stylish Konrad or hotspot Etcetera . Luxurious international cuisine is demonstrated at Kirk and also TyvenKokkenHansKoneOgHendesElsker belongs in the Inner City league of elegance. Cafe Europa on Amagertorv glows with plenty of glass and class. Sommersko is always a success and Zoo Bar, just across the road, is the favorite rendezvous of the city's shopping maniacs. As the sun sets, the restaurants fade away and the bars wake up. Tourists head for Nyhavn , teenagers shout Klaptræet, students go for The Student House , jazz lovers knock on La Fontaine, media types elevate to NASA and VIPs light their cigars at SAS Royal 's cocktail bar.
Before you pack your suitcase, flash your passport or board your cruiser, remember that you cannot leave Copenhagen without having tried a Danish hot dog and the Danish smørrebrød. It is a well-kept secret that the best hot dogs are served at the very far end of the Copenhagen waterfront and for smørrebrød try Amalie behind Amalienborg .