Copenhagen Neighborhoods & Towns
Copenhagen sits on the eastern coast of the Danish islands of Zealand and Amager, located east of the main Danish peninsula. Facing east toward the Øresund -- the strip of water that separates Denmark from Sweden -- the city has gradually expanded westward from its main harbor. The oldest part of the city, Indre By (Inner City), is located within the immediate vicinity of the harbor and according to Travel Channel, all of Denmark's main roads lead directly here.
The heart of Copenhagen is anchored by the Sortedams Sø canal to the west and the Nyhavn canal to the east, as well as the Nørreport Metro Station and Rådhuspladsen (Town Hall Square) in between. The Inner City is Denmark's commercial and cultural hub and home to most of the city's main tourist attractions, including the Strøget, the longest pedestrian street in Europe. The Strøget encompasses five interconnected streets -- Frederiksberggade, Nygade, Vimmelskaftet, Amagertorv and Østergade -- and is lined with numerous boutiques and antique shops. The Vor Frue Kirke (Our Lady's Church) and the Rundetårn (Round Tower), an observatory constructed in the mid 17th century, are other popular Indre By attractions. All of the sights within central Copenhagen are located within walking distance of each other.
Located just outside Indre By's western boundary -- down the street from the Town Hall Square -- are the Tivoli Gardens, which feature a collection of restaurants, theaters and dance halls, as well as a small amusement park.
The small neighborhood of Pisserenden is located in the northwest corner of Indre By near Rådhuspladsen, Frue Plads, a square that surrounds the Our Lady's Church, and Copenhagen University. Formerly labeled as the "inner-city slums," Pisserenden is now Copenhagen's center of men's fashion.
Sitting on a small island just south of Indre By, Slotsholmen is the seat of the Danish Parliament. This area is home to several popular attractions, including the Christiansborg Palace, the Thorvaldsens Museum, the Royal Library, the Royal Stables and the 17th-century Børsen, or stock-exchange. Several bridges connect Slotsholmen with Indre By, making it easy to walk or drive between the two.
Often considered a part of Indre By, the Nyhavn district sits just north of Kongens Nytorv square around the Nyhavn Canal, which stems inland from the harbor. Originally built in the late-17th century as a commercial port and to provide the area's tenants' shelter from storms that blew from the Baltic Sea, Nyhavn now boasts the largest number of restaurants in Copenhagen. Nyhavn is also home to the luxurious D'Angleterre Hotel and the Royal Theater.
Sitting on the marina to the east of Nyhavn -- outside the border of Indre By -- is Frederikstad. Unlike the crooked streets of Indre By, Frederiksstaden is laid out on a grid with Amalienborg Castle sitting at the center. Home to both beer gardens and antique stores, royal palaces and religious sanctuaries, Frederiksstaden represents the diversity of Danish culture.
The northeastern corner of Frederiksstaden is known as Langelinie. The famous statue of Hans Christian Anderson's Little Mermaid (Den Lille Havfrue), looks over this little harbor neighborhood just north of the marina; which has developed over the years into an upscale residential area speckled with high-end restaurants and boutiques.
Located to the northwest of Frederiksstaden, Rosenborg is home to the famous Rosenborg Slot or Rosenborg Castle, a Dutch Renaissance castle constructed in the early 17th century by King Christian IV, who used it as his royal residence. Today, the castle is home to collections of royal objects, including the Crown Jewels. Visitors are invited to explore Rosenborg Castle's many halls and ballrooms and to relax in the Kongens Have (King's Garden).
Built on a small half-moon shaped island which separates the islands of Zealand and Amager, writers refer to Christianshavn as the Amsterdam of Denmark (without the Red Light District). Filled with dozens of small canals speckled with houseboats, Christianshavn is known for its Renaissance-style architecture, as well as several popular attractions such as the Danish Film Museum and the small Vors Frelsers Kirke (Our Savior's Church). Many recommend taking a canal tour to experience this neighborhood as the Danes did back in the 1500s.
Constructed in the 1970s by a group of revolutionists, Christiania -- perched just northeast of Christianshavn -- is a small squatting village that is not wholly held to the same rules and regulations the rest of Denmark follows. The spirit of the '70s lives on in this neighborhood, which is populated by "free spirits" who make a living selling crafts on the street -- among other things: The infamous "Pusher Street" has merchants openly selling cannabis and hash. Christiania is also home to numerous restaurants, which are generally cheaper than those in Indre By since Christiania residents refuse to pay the 25-percent sales tax mandated by the Danish government.
Holmen and Islands Brygge
Resting north of Christianshavn, the district of Holmen -- formerly a naval base -- has been transformed into a small artists' colony and is home to several arts institutions, such as the Danish National School of Theatre, and the Danish Film School, as well as the relatively new Copenhagen Opera House. However, Holmen's maritime history lives on as tourists are invited to explore the area's Torpedo Hall and other naval sites.
Islands Brygge sits just across the Torvegade bridge south of Christianshavn. Like Holmen, this small district has developed into an up-and-coming arts district, home to numerous trendy galleries and several restaurants, most of which are located along Njalsgade.
Sitting southwest of the Indre By, experts compare Copenhagen's Vesterbro district to New York City's East Village or Williamsburg. Once a typical city slum, Vesterbro has become one of the city's trendier districts with dozens of cafés, bars, ethnic restaurants and live music venues, plus it offers a variety of upscale hotels within walking distance of the Inner City.
Frederiksberg is primarily a residential and business district located northwest of Vesterbro, but it's renowned for its numerous restaurants and wineries. The neighborhood also has a large park, Frederiksberg Have, situated at its center. Frederiksberg Have is home to two of the city's most popular attractions: the giant Frederiksberg Castle, and the Zoologisk Have or Copenhagen Zoo, one of the largest zoos in Europe. Located just south of Frederiksberg Have is the world-famous Carlsberg Brewery, which is open to the public.
North of Vesterbro and Frederiksberg, the neighborhood of Nørrebro has absorbed Copenhagen's immigrant population -- particularly Turkish and Pakistani immigrants. As a result, Nørrebro exudes a Middle Eastern feel with plenty of ethnic eateries and exotic antiques stores. Nørrebro is also home to a large student population and a rich nightlife scene. Most of the bars and clubs are located around Sankt Hans Torv and Blågårdsgade, two squares perched just across the Sortedams Sø Canal from Indre By. Visitors to Nørrebro can also pay a visit to Assistens Kirkegård or the Assistens Cemetery, where famous Danes like writer Hans Christian Andersen are buried.
Østerbro is the largest of Copenhagen's neighborhoods; in fact, this district is larger than most Danish cities. It is in this area that most embassies can be found, as well as Parken, Denmark's national stadium, and Fælledparken, the largest park in the city. However, aside from the park and the stadium, there isn't much of a reason to visit this neighborhood; Østerbro is primarily residential.
Frommer's says, "Compared with other European capital cities, Copenhagen is relatively safe. However, since the early 1990s, with the increase of homelessness and unemployment, crime has risen." Make sure to keep an eye out for pickpockets, especially in heavily touristed areas.