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Despite being the capital and most populous city in Denmark, Copenhagen is fairly small. There are only about 600, 000 people, and the city itself is quite compact and walkable. But that’s not to say there isn’t any diversity. In fact, there are multiple neighborhoods in the city and surroundings, and they all have something that sets them apart from each other.
Regardless if you’re interested in visiting or moving to Copenhagen, here is a short guide to the different neighborhoods:
The City Center (or Inner City) is one of the most bustling neighborhoods in Copenhagen. It is the area that everyone visits on their trip to the city, and many people pass through on their daily commutes. Public transit is abundant in the form of buses, metro, and train lines, which connect to different areas of the city and suburbs. As a result, the neighborhood is always be busy regardless of time.
There are countless restaurants and bars, as well as multiple hostels and hotels. Aditionally, Indre By is home to multiple attractions such as:
Indre By is one of the most expensive area to live. If you’re relocating to Copenhagen, you may be able to find accommodation in a shared apartment for a reasonable price (by Copenhagen standards). As a student I lived in the area, right outside of Østerbro, in a student dorm. I loved it, everything I ever needed was a short walk away. There were probably more than 10 grocery stores within a 5-10 minute walk radius.
Located on the north side of Copenhagen, Nørrebro is one of the busiest and most multicultural areas. The area is quite lively and youthful, with a large variety of dining options. From street shawarma to modern vegan dishes, there is something for everyone. And with an abundance of shops, it is a great neighborhood to go to when you’re looking for vintage and affordable items.
Come night time and Nørrebro always has something going on. I’s say it is one of the most vibrant neighborhoods in Copenhagen at night. There are plenty of options for relaxing nights to clubbing, and of course, lots of alcohol.
Some notable places in Nørrebro include:
Housing is generally more affordable in the area of Nørrebro. That’s because housing options more more dense, with fewer parks and squares compared to other neighborhoods in Copenhagen. However if you’re someone who needs a quiet neighborhood with lots of green spaces for walking, Nørrebro is likely not the place for you.
Further out of Nørrebro is Nordvest, or the North West Block. In the 20th century, the municipality of Copenhagen annexed it to construct social housing for those evicted from the city center. Today, Nordvest is an up and coming with a diverse population and a variety of small businesses.
Almost no tourists visit this district. So if you want an authentic experience, this is the place to go. However, this area is a few kilometers out of the city center, so you will either have to rent a bike, or take a bus. With that in mind, here are some notable things to see in Nordvest:
Renting in Nordvest is cheaper than in the city center, but you will have a longer commute to school/ work. If you choose to live in this area, you will absolutely need to buy a bike or a transit pass. In the city center you can get by with walking, but not here (unless you work from home at all times).
South of Nørrebro and Nordvest is another town. Well, sort of. Frederiksberg is its own municipality, independent of the municipality of Copenhagen, but still part of the city. Surrounded by Copenhagen on all sides, there are no borders separating Frederiksberg from the Copenhagen. However, Frederiksberg has its own mayor and council.
This district is one of the most wealthy and upscale in the city. It also has the most amount of green spaces, thus it being nicknamed the “Green Village of Copenhagen”. Like in most of the city, Frederiksberg has ample places to shop and dine. However, even on the busiest boulevards, Frederiksberg seems more relaxed with less congested traffic and street noise.
Just like Nordvest, a visit to Frederiksberg provides a more authentic experience. From my observations, I would say there are fewer expats/ immigrants who live here. So if you are interested in admiring the style of affluent Danish people, Frederiksberg is the place to be. Here are some other notable things:
Living in Frederiksberg is truly idyllic; if you can afford it. There are plenty of schools for children, you are very close to Copenhagen City Center, and very well connected by public transit.
Neighboring Frederiksberg and the city center is the district of Vesterbro. This is a hip and youthful area with locals and travelers alike, located near the train station.
If you like clubbing, bars, and live music, this is the place to be. There are also countless of affordable and pricey shopping options. And when it comes to dining, Vesterbro is on another level. From fine dining to affordable street food, local and international dishes, meat and vegan options, the choices are endless.
Here you can also find the Carlsberg District, which is in the process of becoming its own neighborhood. It is home to the Carlsberg Brewery
Living in Vesterbro is not for the light sleepers. The area is quite congested with traffic, and noise from bars, clubs, and drunk people. And since you are close to the train station, there are always tourists with suitcases hogging the sidewalk. So bring a healthy dose of patience. That being said, rent can be cheaper compared to other Copenhagen neighborhoods. And thanks to its central location, Vesterbro may be a great district for students and young professionals.
Located in southwest Copenhagen, Sydhavnen is one of the newer neighborhoods. What used to be a heavily industrialized area in the 20th century, today Sydhavnen is a lovely modern neighborhood with contemporary housing options. Mainly young, middle class families live here, with a blend of both Danish and international people.
Although there are a couple of restaurants and a few shops, the district of Sydhavnen is a pretty quiet, residential area. It feels a little like an urban suburb in the sense that you’re still in the city with city conveniences, but you can enjoy the space and quiet you’d find at the outskirts of the city. With that in mind, here are some things to do in Sydhavnen:
If you consider living in Sydhavnen, most residences are modern apartments. Thus they can be quite pricey. You do however, have access to good public transit so you can easily make your way into work in the city center.
A quaint village-like district, Valby borders Frederiksberg to the north, Vesterbro to the east and Sydhavnen to the south. It is one of the most suburb-like of all neighborhoods in Copenhagen, with multiple types of residences including fully detached single-family homes.
But don’t be fooled. This district has a long history, that may have started as early as the Middle Ages! However, Valby became quite important in the 17th century when the new road to Roskilde passed through it. Thereafter many bourgeoisie began to build their summer residences here. Today, you can still see remnants of the past in the northern part of Valby.
The fastest way to get to Valby is by train. However cycling is a better option so you can easily explore around the district once you’re there. And these are some things to see:
It is mostly Danish families of all ages who live in Valby. However as an up-and-coming neighborhood, now housing developments are taking place and people are moving here from other parts of Copenhagen for lower living expenses and quieter spaces.
Located on the northwestern shore of the Amager island, Islands brygge has the largest and most popular harbour baths of all neighborhoods in Copenhagen. The waterfront area was used for military purposes in the 19th century, neglected during the 20th century, and rehabilitated into a beautiful residential district over the last 2 decades. Remnants of the past have been incorporated into this modern and unique district. The old railroad is now public art, while the storage silos became the Gemini Residence apartment building.
Getting to and from Islands brygge is most convenient on bike. However there is also a metro line. For those visiting, there are a couple of hotels in the area, and they’re a little more affordable compared to city center. Although the baths are an immensely popular attraction in the summer season, you will mostly see locals at Islands brygge. These are some attractions:
Living in Islands brygge is quiet and peaceful, with a mix of older and new residences. There are some businesses here, so the area is a little more upbeat than Sydhavnen, but still much quieter than city center.
South of Central Copenhagen is the island of Amager, one of the largest neighborhoods in the city. Officially it consists of Amager West (which includes Islands brygge), Amager East, and Ørestad in the center.
Amager is where the Øresund Bridge connects Denmark and Sweden. Keep in mind if you wish to cross the bridge over to Malmö for a day trip, you will need to bring your passport. Additionally, you cannot cross this bridge on foot or by bike. It is for trains and vehicles only.
Back to Amager, the island is mostly residential, with a couple businesses, several hotels, and plenty of recreational activities. Here are some notable things to see:
If you’re interested in living in Amager, there is a large variety of housing options. You can choose anything award winning 8TALLET in Ørestad to waterfront apartments in Amager West, to traditional detached single family homes in Amager East. Living expenses can vary greatly from expensive new builds to affordable rents in shared accommodation.
Steps away from Nyhan is Christianshavn, one of the oldest and most traditional neighborhoods in Copenhagen. The district is made up of a multitude of well-kept, colorful apartment buildings, and a wide array of businesses. Although it is within walking distance from the city center, Christianshavn is much quieter.
As a historic district, living in Christianshavn is just about as expensive as living in the city center.
A few steps to the northeast is Holmen. Once a navy base, today Holmen is home to the Royal Danish Opera House, a quiet residential district, a few businesses, and some naval activity. Living here is very peaceful, however there are limited residential options due to the small size of Holmen.
A little more to the north is Refshaleøen, one of Copenhagen’s hippest, currently-developing neighborhoods. Once home to one of the largest shipyards, today Refshaleøen is a gastronomical heaven. With a large food market and a couple world class restaurants, there is something for every budget.
These are some things to do in Christianshavn, Holmen, and Refshaleøen:
Østerbro is one of the most upscale yet family oriented neighborhoods in Copenhagen. There are multiple parks and schools, as well as shops and restaurants. It has a relaxed but wealthy ambiance to it. Although it is very close to city center, there is a lower level of traffic and noise pollution in Østerbro.
This is also where the U.S. Embassy is located. From all my years of travelling and living abroad I found that U.S. Embassies are always in the best neighborhoods. So if you’re moving to a new city and don’t know which neighborhoods are safe, look for a place near the U.S. Embassy.
If you have a sweet tooth, there’s no batter place than Østerbro. From amazing baked pastries to outstanding ice creams, there’s something for everyone. Furthermore, there are plenty of restaurants, and they’re not as busy as in the city center. Additionally, as an old neighborhood, Østerbro also has a couple of attractions. Here are some of them:
Living in Østerbro is very expensive, but apartments can be quite spacious and comfortable. The neighborhood is very well connected by buses and trains.
Nordhavn is another one of those neighborhoods in Copenhagen that has been recently converted from industrial to residential. But it’s not all residential. In Nordhavn there is also a healthy blend of small businesses, and industry. And this also includes the UN city, which houses 11 UN organizations.
Nordhavn is an architect’s paradise. These are some things to do and see:
Living in Nordhavn is quite appealing due to its recreational spaces, new residences, lower living expenses, and close proximity to the city center. Getting around Nordhavn is easiest on bike. But there are also some trains and buses.