|All roads, trains, and bicycle paths of
Denmark lead to the heart of the Capital. The Inner City is the unrivalled
commercial and cultural centre of the entire country; and, if Slotsholmen
is included, also the political. Always buzzing with activity and crammed
with people, only Sundays reveal the city completely empty as very few
people actually live here. This is a picturesque area with many buildings
dating back to the early 18th century. The street web dates back to the
Middle Ages, which somehow explains the many seemingly irrational twists
Going all the way through the old city centre is the pedestrian high
street Strøget. From the rumble of Rådhuspladsen (Town Hall Square) to
the neatness of Kongens Nytorv, it gradually becomes more sophisticated
(and expensive) as the stores take names like Gucci and Prada and Gianni
Versace. Købmagergade, also a pedestrian street, is fast becoming
main-stream fashion street, with the likes of Esprit, Diesel and Benetton
opening major outlets along several local brands. It also sees several
excellent food stores farther up towards Nørreport. The area around
Kronprinsensgade has the best of local fashion designers, Bruuns Bazaar
and Munthe-plus-Simonsen being among the most distinguished.
Klosterstræde follows up on the position only a tad more 'street'. By
Amagertorv is exclusive design-store Illums Bolighus and the
flagship-stores of famous Royal Copenhagen porcelain and Georg Jensen
silverware. Taking up almost an entire block by the corner of
Købmagergade and Strøget is upscale department store Illum. Magasin du
Nord on Kongens Nytorv is another gargantuan department store with an
excellent food section.
Sights and seats
Amagertorv, geographically at the dead centre of town usually features
singing and dancing by the somewhat bizarre statue in the middle which can
be enjoyed, or booed, from outdoor tables at cafes Europa and Norden.
Strædet is a more quiet and peaceful pedestrian street parallel to
Strøget and features many interesting browsing opportunities and cute
cafes. Fiolstræde has Vor Frue Kirke (Church of Our Lady) with statues by
sculptor Thorvaldsen, and the old Copenhagen University HQ with a small
department of the Royal Library open to the public. Kongens Nytorv
features the Royal Theatre (ballet, opera, and plays), the famous hotel D'Angleterre,
and the exhibition place for modern art Charlottenborg. Behind Kongens
Nytorv is Nikolaj, a church turned exhibition place for international and
Danish contemporary art. Restaurants are everywhere, especially densely
cluttered on and around the idyllic town square of Gråbrødretorv.
Cornered by Vor Frue Plads and Rådhuspladsen, the name translates into 'A
Stream of Piss' - a reference to the area's by-gone status as one of the
last bastions of inner city slum. Today, Studiestræde is all about male
fashion, with In Circus spearheading the more daring and experimental
scene and Samsøe&Samsøe leading the no-nonsense Copenhagen trademark
style. Floss and Sabines are both excellent cafes on Larsbjørnsstræde,
and Baden Baden is probably the best record store in Copenhagen for new
I will leave it to someone else to elaborate on the fact that the
monstrous Christiansborg, the seat of the Danish parliament, is standing
on wooden pillars constantly threatening to rot and break. Slotsholmen is
the very core of a very centralistic Danish state. The semi-artificial
island holds not just the parliament, but also everything from the Supreme
Court to the royal horses, the Offices of the Prime Minister, The Danish
Stock Exchange, Slotskirken, the Museum of Arms, Thorvaldsens museum, the
Royal Court Theatre with the adjoining Theatre Museum, the royal brewery
of Christian IV, as well the Royal Library including its recent addition,
The Black Diamond, arguably the most astonishing new piece of architecture
north of Bilbao.
Looking like a supremely idyllic little piece of Amsterdam, Christianshavn
is actually built on garbage dumped between Copenhagen and Amager. History
aside, a Canal Cruise is recommended to take you sliding by the beautiful
old houses watching Copenhageners prepare for the sea or just living it
easy on the deck of some home-made house-boat.
Emphasizing the Amsterdam-feel of Christianshavn is Christiania, a
squatted free town unlike anything you have ever seen (at least not this
far from Kingston), where all possible sorts of things are sold in the
open and anarchy reins, more or less controlled by self-appointed
Holmen was closed off to the public until a couple of years ago when film
students and architects bordered the then naval base and turned the area
into an unique colony for the arts. Thorsen delivers a spectacular sunset
over the City and has recently been honored as cafe of the year 1999 by
weekly paper Nat&Dag.
Really not the place to go unless, of course, you are looking for a fight.
The brand new hip spot with trendy galleries opening left and right. At
the moment, though, Islands Brygge is still in the making; one wrong turn
and you will be walking for hours on end without setting eyes on a human
being. Instead, look for galleries Nikolaj Wallner, Tommy Lund, Recent
Works, Nils Stærk and Hallo! - all on Njalsgade.
The old whore of the Copenhagen boroughs. Gentrification always had a hard
time here as the erotic shops, prostitutes, and junkies refused to leave
despite the city's on-going attempts to clean the area and shine up the
buildings. Idstedgade still stands as the very idea of human decay
gloriously juxtaposed with big hotels and an ever increasing number of
students and artists. Superclub Vega is the center of night life, cafes
Høegs and Bang&Jensen where tout le Vesterbro-monde meet.
A city in its own right, Frederiksberg is surrounded by Copenhagen on all
sides, still maintaining its formal independence. Indeed, Frederiksberg is
not like Copenhagen at all. Turning from lively and buzzing Vesterbrogade
into Frederiksberg Alle sees the lights go dim, the buildings tall and
gloomy, and even the abundance of theatres on this street does not make it
anything like Broadway, but rather like clearing the Champs Elysée of
people and fingering a block-out. There is a certain Parisian oddness to
Frederiksberg which many people find charming. It is mainly residential
belonging to a mostly conservative, well-to-do, and above 40 crowd. It
does have many quality restaurants, wineries, tailors and so on. Deeper
into the city, Frederiksberg Have reveals itself as a most beautiful park;
with a Zoo in it.
To the rest of the country, Nørrebro equals street riots, but despite the
annual reversals into war-zone, Nørrebro remains one of the most
colourful and ethnically diverse areas of Copenhagen (and entirely safe,
mostly). A stroll up Nørrebrogade is a sight-seeing tour in itself, as is
Assistens Kirkegård, one of the city's oldest cemeteries boasting a
star-studded line-up with Hans Christian Andersen and Søren Kierkegaard
up front. It now also functions as a park with the inhabitants freely
taking their picnic among gravestones of old. Sankt Hans Torv features
cafes Sebastopol, Funke and Pussy Galore. Elmegade has excellent fashion
stores like Storm, and unusual gallery Starving Artistz. Blågårdsgade
hides one bargain gem after another, like Garage. Clubs like Rust,
Stengade 30, and Propaganda, and late-night bars like Barcelona and Props
make for a bright night out.
Stretching along the Lakes on the City-side, Nørrevold looks like the
outer burroughs but is strictly its own. Stroll down intellectual hangout
Nansensgade for great alternative shopping opportunities with an intimate
ambience. Do not miss the bathroom decoration at Bankeråt. Stay out of
Ørstedsparken at night unless you know.
From the jolly beer-swingers in Nyhavn to the sanctuary of Kongens Have,
Frederiksstaden is Stadtviertel Royale, laid out in a regular grid with
the royal castle Amalienborg in the centre and Marmorkirken towering above
the lawyers, antique stores and galleries of Bredgade and Store
Kongensgade. Kunst-Industrimuseet shows various exhibitions of modern
design and design history. Rosenborg Castle is a former kingly country
house now open to the public.
Small yellow row-houses originally laid out by Christian IV in the 17th
Century and until recently inhabited solely by the navy.
Historic defence-guard, still maintaining its army presence. Open to the
Where you can personally greet no less celebrity but the Little Mermaid.
North of the marina a new upscale residential area is being built and
shops and restaurants are opening all over the waterfront.
The largest of the Copenhagen boroughs, Østerbro is bigger than most
Danish cities, still a rather dull experience. The broad streets cut like
canyons through endless uniform tenement buildings of red brick.
Exceptions to this are Øster Farimagsgade, Nordre Frihavnsgade and
Østerbrogade all offering shops and leben to the many inhabitants.
Østerbro is also home to the national stadium, Parken; and the largest
park in the city,Fælledparken; as well as most embassies.
Kartoffelrækkerne (literally 'the potato rows") by Øster
Farimagsgade have given name to a Danish phrase describing a certain
political mentality as these former humble working class houses now are
sold at soaring prices to a mostly very leftish establishment of
professors, artists, public administrators and so on.
Going all the way from Østerbro to ye olde Elsinore, Strandvejen spells
money, tennis courts, and long drinks by the marinas. A cap ride extra
ordinaire will lead you past the estates and villas every Danish
entrepreneur and jewellery-rattling housewife dreams of possessing.
Dyrehaven with its tame deer, controlled wildlife and exclusive
restaurants is the favourite outing of all Copenhageners at any time of