This guide by Sondre Sommerfelt is a gift to all his fellow sailors onboard Christian Radich for the xVoyage, however it should guide any lost sole in Scandinavias most continental city.
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The Guide is splitt into the inner city København K and 4 (5) main boroughs that surround it:
- Vesterbro and Nørrebro, working-class districts that has gentrified increasingly into a rich kids playground (but they’re still charming. )
- Nørreport , which is not its own borough, but feels like one.
- Amager, CPH own New Jersey.
- and Frederiksberg, aka Manhattan, which is actually its own city, inside the other city. Frederiksberg is not exactly a city-state either, as you’re still in Denmark, but even so, it’s just as strange as the Danes are comfortable about having it.
Østerbro: The slightly more refurbished district north (or is it east?) of the city and Søerne lake(s).
The Seminal restaurant Noma has opened again, so Copenhagen’s reputation as a culinary excellence endures without them and their foraged moss. Danish design is world renowned and its city development — kicking out the cars, redesigning its city for bikers and pedestrians, and thinking ahead, always asking, ‘what does our citizens need(?), before they know it themselves — is a trailblazer in modern urban planning.
Equally noteworthy is the city’s vibrant and varied nightlife: lax drinking laws (plus lax cannabis laws) combined with an emphasis on good design and epicurean innovation make for an embarrassment of great bars and lounges. If you know where to go, you can easily stay out until the sun comes up — which in the dead of winter is very late indeed.
Always have in the back of your mind the very traditional Danish bodega, or dive. At these establishments there’s no craft beers, only [cheap] Danish beers like Carlsberg and Tuborg, or the oldest ecological industrial beer in the world, Thy. But as with any good dive, you don’t go to these bodagas for the drinks. Drink Thy, smoke cigarettes, play dice, and generally unwind.
Very important Info:
Whatever you do, the party often ends at Kødbyen — the meat district — at Vesterbro or at some of the late night bodegas mentioned in this guide.
WHATEVER you do, the only thing you need to do visit in the city of Copenhagen is the dive bar Bobibar.
Tips for the summer:
Pumpehuse — Cultural hub and live venue in an old industrial area. Great garden, Byhaven, with free concerts all through the summer.
The kiosk ‘Khioskh’ has an insane amount of different types of beers. (Check out the basement). Pick out some fine samples, and sit on the lawn in front. For some reason, you’re not allowed to drink your purchased fancy-brew at their benches in-front of the kiosk, so you’re shown to the grass next to the benches like a dog, a brew dog.
On warm summer nights, sit under the trees at one of the bars by Søerne lake. Or rent a Swan-boat, bring loads of rosé and pedal around the lake like a boss.
Islands brygge: buy the cheapest red wine and a bottle of Spirte at the local grocery store, go to the pier, jump in the sea, get up, mix yourself a big glass of ‘Tino de Verano’. When the sun sets, everybody is here. You’ll make friends. We promise.
Plenty windy beaches, we choose Amager beach park
Buy an ice-cream cone with ‘det hele’, which means — literally — with everything.
WHATEVER you do, the only thing you need to do visit in the city of Copenhagen is the dive bar Bobibar.
The area around Larsbjørnsstrædet, Studiestræde and Sankt Peders stræde (also called Pisserenden (The Urinal) or The Latin Quarter) is filled with people & bicycles. As Latin quarters should, it has a relaxed atmosphere perfect for knocking back some beers in the sun (well, that’s a description that fits all of CPH — perfect for knocking back beers in the sun). You can always just sit on a doorstep or a trashed bike and drink your brew, instead of at the cafes. Or it used to be like this, but things are changing: the area has become increasingly touristy lately, and ‘nobody’ (read: the cool cats) ever goes here besides its ‘hood-rats’ and people that are lost. If you go further down the street you step into a sunny beach looking area with random youth clubs (Vestergade).
Anyway, there’s indeed a relaxed atmosphere and good salads and sandwiches on the Icelandic Kaffesalonen, (Sankt Peders stræde), or at Livingroom, located right at the intersection of Larsbjørnsstrædet and Studiestræde. Also worth checking out is the cafe and bar Din nye ven (Your New Friend) which is a sweet hangout. And the restaurant Brother has great New Nordic food.
When it comes to shopping, there’s a lot of 2nd Hand & Vintage joints in the streets mentioned above, and in Kompagnistræde / Læderstræde.
The King’s Garden is perfect for knocking back beers, on the lawn, in the sun. Although this spot is very popular for both students, people from the provinces and drunken Swedes (or Norwegians), it’s indeed classy as King’s gardens should be.
Bo-Bi Bar, our favourite bar in CPH, it’s vintage in its exterior, interior and clientele. It’s probably one of the best dive bars in the world (that’s a fact), and has been like this since back when making dive bars was a popular pursuit, under the times of prohibition, although Denmark never had any prohibition. Dangerously tempting, even on school nights. During the day they play classical music, serve hardboiled eggs and have a ’no cellphone policy.’ Smoking is encouraged.
Just down the street from Bobibar is another slightly more refurbished den with slightly more refurbished people. Byens kro (‘The City’s Bodega’, its name none the less) is open and hour or two longer than Bobi, which is convenient if you’re still thirsty and sleepless late after midnight.
Cultural hub and live venue in an old industrial area. Great garden, Byhaven, with free concerts all through the summer.
La Fontaine aka Laffa
Jazz club with special beer offers on Fridays — 3 for 1 (or is it 3 for 2. We can’t remember). Popular hang out for both musicians and intellectuals, and probably also intellectual musicians, and musical intellectuals.
Best venue in CPH and they serve some mean cocktails. The music is more than ‘just’ jazz, if you like the music at Blå in Oslo or Cafe Oto in London, you’ll love it here.
Named one of the best burgers in the world recently. It is located in an old gas station at Landegreven (close to Kongens Have). Be there early, they only make around 50 burgers a day and close when they are sold out…
Vine & food.
Arty space by the harbour — installations, concerts, theatre, panthomime, contourtionism, who knows what arty people do? Go into the playhouse next door and get a glass of wine, bring it outside and chill.
Botanical garden. Go for a stroll. Bring wine. And a harp.
Café Dyrehaven (‘The Animal park’, named after a deer park North of Copenhagen) on Sønder Boulevard, perfect for both brunch and evening drinks (Closes at 1am). And as the Baudelairen name implies — probably the best place in town for people spotting. Try ‘kartoffelmad’, potato sandwich, or other contemporary interpretations of traditional (open) Danish sandwiches. (Yes, our American friends, its only one piece of bread and topping, no extra bread on top. Crazy!) Or just go for the brunch platter, always a treat. They also have decent and reasonably priced dinners.
Blomsten (The Flower) on Istedgade: beer, smokes, hipsters, dicey locals & jukebox in a healthy mix. This is an authentic Danish bodega: as real as it gets, and a must see. Closes at around 02:00.
To make a cultural walk out of it, why not go on a binge? When in Rome, set out on a Danish binge crawl of Vesterbro: From Skipper’s Bodega in Istedgade, walk up the street to McKluud, before ending at Blomsten. It’s three fine dens where they play Danish folk and sea shanties, populated with a bouquet of gentle Danes of all ages and sizes, new teeth or toothless. Classic and hypermodern at the same time, if that’s even possible? Yes it is. Denmark in a nut(s)shell.
Bang & Jensen: Food, bar, beer, cool elderly clientele, and, or first dates.
A Tiki bar & a cocktail hangout with a Twin Peaks-ish atmosphere.
Riesen bar in Ohlenschlægersgade
If you manage to spell the name of this street you’re probably too sober to go here, or you have a PHD in Danish linguistics. If you don’t, like most human beings, and you’re bold enough to dare to go down the primordial path, this is the most decadent bar in town: intimate, packed with pity or petty nihilists, charming and cute narcissists — and their nemeses. Or to translate from latin, this is where everybody goes to pick up someone or somebody. So, it’s a perfect spot for drinks after you’ve been through all the other bodegas mentioned above. It usually starts out as a tranquil place, but it can change its rating from Calvinist retreat to good old Roman debauchery in seconds. So beware! Closes at about 4am.
A morning tavern and would be your last resort. At Guldregn aka The Golden Shower (Yes, that’s the name of this den.) Be aware, it’s been suffering from its own success (if you can call it that?) and therefore they’ve employed bouncers and mandatory wardrobe. However, worth a visit if you still hang out and about at Vesterbro in the morning mist. Free your mind and your body will follow.
A motorcycle garage themed coffee shop, with a no lap top rule, which means you talk with your fellow coffee drinkers. A regular morning stop.
The next-door neighbour of the above. Same theme, but instead of coffee its beer and smørrebrød (Danish open sandwiches). A great lunch spot.
Jagger Fast Food
Michelin chefs who made a burger bar to make better burgers than Burger King but in the same price range.
A small outdoor wine bar only open in the summertime. Owned by the people who also do a stressfully trendy festival on a beach North of CPH, ‘Musik i Lejet.’ located on the square, Litauns Plads, hence the name.
A big record shop /coffee shop
Bevi Bevi/Osteria 16/Mercato
The italian trio on vesterbro. Bevi Bevi is a nice ‘enoteca’, that is ‘pub for wine’ at good prices. They also have nice apertivo dishes to share. Located on the same street as Riesen bar (yes, on the street with the long impossible name). Osteria 16 is a small and cosy anti pasti place with a cheap fixed menu decided on the day. Located on Haderslevgade 16. Mercato is an italian grocery shop on Enghave Plads with fresh organic produce and italian specialities flown in from the famous Ortomercato market in Milan.
Spagettherria (owned by the same guys as Osteria and mercato)
Cantina with a fixed menu and open until 2. Turns into quite the party at night. Be careful not to trip over all the woodwood jackets and Soulland hoodies.
‘OMG!’, said the guy from Napoli! Owned by the guys from Bevi Bevi -best new Italian place in town. Also turns into a party until 2 — be there on a Friday. Don’t drink Aperol Spritz. Its not 2015. Go for the negroni and pretend all is ‘bene!’
Is not its name, but something the locals call it. The name is Westmarket, and is a cheap and not-as-good copy of Torve Hallerne. It got its name ‘Tove hallerne’ by the locals because the location used to be a bankrupt mall called Toves Galleri named after a famous Vesterbro author, Tove Ditlevsen.
An old church that has been altered into a culture house by the people behind the Flying Tiger shops. Here you drink cheap coffee, sodas, beers, play Ping-Pong or board games, do yoga. In the evenings they have a folkekøkken-styled restaurant where you sit together with 200 people and share whatever food the chef decided to make. It’s very very cheap and the food is very good. Come early, because the neighbourhood fills it up fast.
Kiin Kiin Bao Bao
The Nørrebro michelin restaurant Kiin Kiins little brother who focus on steamed bao buns.
Best chinese takeaway in CPH, they focus on street food and not deep fried shit. Located on Enghave Vej
An awesome bakery located on Enghave Plads from the people behind Kihosk.
A shop on Enghave Vej that sells cool biker(ish) clothes and spare parts for your motorcycle.
Istedgade and its side streets are always a treat if you’re out shopping: coffee shops, small boutiques and record stores. The hippest store in the northern hemisphere, Kyoto, is a must to check out. Pick out your finest sailor outfit.
The street of Værnedamsvej is also worth snooping into. On weekends it’s the place to go for brunch and people-spotting. Check out the French-style cafe Granola or wine bar Falernum.
The kiosk ‘Khioskh’ is an attraction. It has an insane amount of different types of beers. (Check out the basement). Pick out some fine samples, and sit on the lawn in front. For some reason, you’re not allowed to drink your purchased brew at their benches in-front of the kiosk, so you’re shown to the grass next to the benches like a dog, a brew dog. (Which is okay in the summer, more of a hassle in the winter.) If it’s windy, or, when it’s windy, which it always is, Danes are totally fine with you seeking shelter on their doorstep with your beer, so you can always find a spot in the sun away from the wind.
The Meat District has numerous places for the modern mammal; gourmands, flaneurs and mixology. If you get there early, check out the galleries and have Copenhagen’s best pizza at Mother.
Warpigs bbq and brewery. The flagship of the Mikkeller micro brewery empire
Hija De Sanches, the former sous chef at Noma who now
makes awesome tacos.
Mesteren og Lærlingen (Master and Apprentice) is the designated place to try out your latest dance moves.
Partying until 5–6: Jolene’s and Bakken ( just becareful of pickpockets at the last place! But always some Italian exchange students to pick up, so you win some and lose some.)
The only park in Vesterbro, similar to English private inner city garden squares, but open for everybody.
Torvehallerne — The food court. Two buildings, stroll through the first one with coffee from Coffee Collective and collect tasters from Denmark’s finest marzipan and chocolate brands, Anthon Berg and Summerbird. Eat healthy salads and amazing cakes. Head over to the second building for some sushi or tapas, or get fresh meat, fish, seafood, lobsters and vegetables to cook at home. Also, make sure to get some fine Danish cherry wine.
But of course Copenhagen has its own superb Ramen joint, startet by a former sou(p)-chef at restaurant Noma. (Every food entrepreneur in this city has started their career at this holy shrine.) Now in his early 20’s we wonder at what age they start child labouring at this celebrated restaurant. Slurp means slurp, and that’s what’s what you supposedly do while eating ramen, according to Ramen-connoisseurs, which this little joint has plenty of. And they’ll tell you. Yes it’s a small place, and has no toilet. If you have to, they’ll direct you two blocks up the street to Torvhallerne Food Court’s underground public toilet.
Wood Wood Museum — outlet for the überhip Danish clothing brand Wood Wood. Sometimes you’ll get good deals here.
Kalaset — Swedish cafe & bistro at the corner of Vendersgade and Nansensgade. A place for brunch.
Mikropolis, good cocktails and local beer on tap.
Funch Vinstue — (in)famous bodega. Closes late, or early, depending on your circadian rhythm.
Møllegade is Copenhagen’s ‘book street’. Do some intellectual window-shopping at Møllegade Boghandel or at Ark books, they’ve great selections and the staff gives excellent advice. Support these non-profit volunteer-run bookstores by investing in a book or two. LiteraturHaus, the city’s own literature house of culture offers exhibitions, debates, art talks, film screenings, workshops, seminars, reads, concerts and performances. Bring your new books to the café [superkaffeforsyningen] (with brackets) for coffee. They also serve breakfast and lunch all day, and have outdoor seating.
Danes loves potatoes, so it can’t come as a big surprise they’ve named a neighbourhood built on a former potato field, the Potato Rows, which in the prosaic English language doesn’t give justice to its amazing, impenetrable, portmanteau name, k.a.r.t.o.f.f.e.l.r.æ.k.k.e.r.n.e. Just like when tasting grandma’s potato pie, these sweet lakeside houses, surrounded by scenic parks and lakes, and only a short walk from the city centre, makes a quick and mindful shift from hip urban tension to lazy rustic life. Yummy!
Modern take on the Danish open sandwich, smørrebrød, the eatery and deli is situated between Søerne Lake and the Botaincal Garden. Perfect for quick lunch and a stroll.
Plenty of cosy bars to hide out in the street of Blågardsgade. Most of this street is pedestrian, so in the summer the café tables are all over. Very continental indeed. Kate’s Joint has good and reasonable dinners, their menu depends on the chef; Indian, Arabic, Malaysian, African. They also have a wide selection of vegetarian and vegan options. Cafe N in Blågårdsgade has cheap but decent vegan and vegetarian food. Kimia, same street, go there on Fridays, it turns into quite the 90’s hiphop-hooray party. No drugs, only joints.
More coffee and booze in the nearby streets of Nørrebrogade and Ravnsborggade. Bevars in Ravnsborggade is a delightful café to sit and work, drink wine, eat antipasto, drink more wine, listen to live jazz, drink more wine. At the corner of Elmegade and Guldbergsgade there’s an eco-soup kitchen and cocktail bar (the cocktails are probably eco too).
On warm summer nights, sit under the trees at one of the bars by Søerne lake. Or rent a Swan-boat, bring loads of rosé and pedal around the lake like a boss. It’s good lunch offers at the cafees by the lake, too.
When at Nørrebro, one has to pop by the Props bar at Blågårdsgade 5, the local den of iniquity and one of the finest establishments in town. Across the street lies Harbo, also a nice bar and café. And on the corner to the square Blågårds Plads you’ll find Blågårds Apotek. Worth checking out is the square St. Hans Torv. Don’t know if any of the cafes at this piazza are any good, but you can always sit on the benches with an ice cream from Paradis is.
A small user operated venue showcasing music of experimental and noisy kind. Located in the outer rim of Nørrebro on the boarder to Østerbro and an semi abandoned lot formerly used by the local government to house the street maintenance machines (we think). The vibe is very similar to the old Ungdomshuset, which was pretty (in)famous at least localy. It’s the venue that gave birth to the new punk wave that spawned Iceage and that gang. Bring cash, because it’s punk.
A good mix of local drunkards and arty people on their way home from vernissages. They served potatochips straight from the bag. Authentic as fuck.
This area is a good shopping district. Specifically Elmegade, where there also is an Acne Outlet. (Every Scandinavian city with ambitions has an Acne Outlet). A little further into the barrio of Nørrebro, in the old Hell Angles quarter at Jagerborggade, you’ll find cute small shops to buy clothes, cactus, caramel, shoes, organic hair cuts (whatever that is?) and the restaurants Relæ and Manfred (New Nordic Michelin-sprinkled restaurants). Jægersborggade is also lovely at Christmas, where the shops and stalls sell Eblegløgg (Apple Glühwein) with calvados. Around the corner in Stefansgade you’ll find Denmark’s most famous micro-hipster-brewery Mikkeller. It’s bar is not super cosy, but the beer is good, just tell the very competent bartenders what your into and they’ll find you the perfect match.
For arty books, tote bags and pamphlets, check out ARK Independent book store in Møllergade 10, and Møllegades Boghandel in Møllegade 8.
AMAGER / CHRISTIANSHAVN
Månefiskeren at Christiania is cordial on Sundays to sit on the benches and chill in the sun. In winter remember to drink Glühwein. At Christmas time there’s a hippie fair next door on weekends.
Same entrance as where the Greenlanders sell their spiced up cigarettes, and under the local opera. Jazz sessions on weekends with everything from old rusty heroes to young and aspiring students from the Copenhagen Music academy. It’s a David Lynch’ atmosphere: Hip music fans, elderly couples in their best clothes out on a dance, local Christiania hippies.
Eiffel Bar, local corner bar by the canal. Ask for the Tour Effel. Or don’t.
Copenhagen street food on Papriøen. Obviously best in summer, but a nice walk along the canal and harbour on a good autumn & winter day as well. As the Danes are clever city planners, there’s a new walking bridge connecting the inner city at Nyhavn and Papirøen. Very practical, indeed.
If you’re going to Amager beach park, stop by Ingolfs coffee bar on the way, the only really good place for coffee at Amager. They have really nice brunch and dinner and it’s a very cute little place, like everything else in Copehagen.
Go for a dip, or jump in the sea (or harbour) followed up with plenty of beers at the pier on a good spring or summers evening. When the sun sets, everybody is here. You’ll make friends. I promise.
Cafe Intime. Yup.
Check Kopenhagen.dk for openings and exhibits. We’d really recommend their ‘3 picks’ for the week’s best openings. And, there’s always (almost) free beers and wine! Start your Friday night with a few openings, and end up at a bodega for some cheap beers and strange Danish pool. Yes, they have their own form of pool game. W don’t understand the game, but it’s the efficient way to make friends with Danes.
Always check out what’s on at Nikolaj Kunsthall — a former church, now a contemporary art gallery, in the city centre nikolajkunsthal.dk
One of the world’s most prominent modern art museums. And a great site by the sea in a cute seaside village 30 min train ride north of Copenhagen. The train ride is cute too. (In the kiosk at the Nørreport or Østerport train station one can purchase combo train ticket to Humlebæk village and entrance to the museum).
SMK — National gallery of Denmark. Their permanent exhibition of classical Nordic and European art is always free, and the contemporary exhibitions are often good, though a little pricey. Check out their monthly SMK Fridays for free entrance, performances, dj’s, food trucks and a lot more.
Kunsthal Charlottenborg — One of the biggest and most beautiful exhibition spaces for contemporary art. It’s located in an old Dutch baroque palace, that earlier was a part of the historic Charlottenborg castle. This has been a gallery for contemporary art since 1883. They also have a great bookstore, many events, talks etc. And great parties. Remember to put on your best wig!