Escape to Copenhagen

Culture

From the buzzing Meatpacking District to the free town of Christiana, here’s why you need to take a trip to Denmark’s capital

Words  Emily Thornhill


City Centre and Nyhavn

A trip to Copenhagen isn’t complete without a visit to its cultural and historical city centre. Here you’ll find the city’s main cobbled shopping streets filled with the latest design-savvy Danish products.

Venture down any of the small winding streets and you’re sure to come across buzzing cafés, independent galleries and museums. Climb to the top of the Christiansborg Palace tower – the highest in Copenhagen – to admire the breathtaking  views of the city’s rooftops, or delve into the more overlooked chapters in the history of Danish art at The National Gallery. The Black Diamond – an imposing modern waterfront extension to The Royal Library – will send architecture geeks into overdrive, and plays host to concerts and English language events throughout the year. If you can face the crowds, amble along Strøget – one of Europe’s longest pedestrian shopping streets – or visit the 17th-century Round Tower and its astronomical observatory.

Copenhagen’s port, Nyhavn, is a destination in its own right, lined with lively beer houses and tall, thin riverside buildings painted powder blue and primrose yellow, while clusters of wooden boats bob in the water beyond.

Cocks & Cows

Gammel Strand 34, 1202 Copenhagen K
For food we recommend Cock’s and Cows flagship restaurant on Gammel Strand, which boasts a large restaurant, two dark and cosy cocktail bars, and an outside heated courtyard table area. Juicy burgers and glazed ribs with homemade sauce are a failsafe here, but this year we suggest trying out their new Christmas range inspired by Copenhagen’s traditional ‘Julefrokost’.

Vesterbro

Once known as Copenhagen’s Red Light district and the city’s poorest area, Vesterbro has undergone a huge transformation and is now the site of amusement and pleasure park-turned-Christmas market, Tivoli Gardens. The area is also home to Carlsberg beer, which was brewed in the district from 1847 to 2008; you can still visit the Jacobsen House Brewery, which produces its own special brews.

MEATPACKING DISTRICT

Originally home to Copenhagen’s meat industry, the district is still very much separated into three areas: Grey, White and Brown, named after the colour of the industrial buildings. These days, the butchers and fish market stalls have been replaced with independent restaurants, craft beer pubs, conceptual cocktail bars and mini clubs.

Warpigs

Flæsketorvet 25, 1117 København K
Start your night at brewpub, Warpigs, set up by Danish brewery Mikkeller and American brewery 3 Floyds with the hopes of creating the world’s best brewpub. Serving up 22 craft beers (some of which are permanent and some limited edition guest brews) and nibble on traditional American BBQ sides while you’re at it.

Neighbourhood

Istedgade 27,  1650 København V
Next up is Neighbourhood, an all-organic gourmet pizza and cocktail bar. The venue’s friendly, community feel is underlined by its long wooden sharer tables, encouraging you to sociailise while tucking in. Expect to queue – these light, crisp pizza bases have developed quite the reputation, so get down early to grab a seat.

Jolene’s

Flæsketorvet 81-85, 1711 København V
Finally, finish your night at one of the district’s incredible clubs. Choose from KB3 (until very recently a working meat locker) KB18 (low ceilings and graffiti-strewn walls) Bakken KBH (located in the scarily-named Old Slaughtering Halls, with a distinct festival vibe) and finally, the city’s favourite, boisterous, trashy-chic Jolene’s.

NORREBRO

Assistens Cemetery

Kapelvej 2, 2200 København N
Start your day with a stroll around Assistens Cemetery, a leafy oasis full of eerily tall and spindly trees, lush gardens and intricately planted and pruned arrangements of flowers.

Neighbourhood

Istedgade 27,  1650 København V
Next up is Neighbourhood, an all-organic gourmet pizza and cocktail bar. The venue’s friendly, community feel is underlined by its long wooden sharer tables, encouraging you to sociailise while tucking in. Expect to queue – these light, crisp pizza bases have developed quite the reputation, so get down early to grab a seat.

CHRISTIANA

Round off your tour of Copenhagen with a trip to the hippie free town of Christiana. Established in 1971, the settlement was founded by hippies who occupied the city’s abandoned military barracks, eventually developing their own society exempt from Denmark’s government and laws. After years of conflict, the Foundation Freetown Christiania was founded in 2012, which now owns the area of Christiania.

On entering the area – which is invariably  surrounded by police cars – you are greeted with a set of rules. Photography and running are strictly forbidden once inside. Many of the houses are self-built, covered in mural art or graffiti, and swirled with multi-coloured patterns. Discovering the tiny galleries, live music venues and organic stalls at the heart of this famous community-driven utopia is a wonderful way to while away an afternoon before returning home to reality.

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