One of the greatest things about travelling is its element of surprise. If you plan on heading to Copenhagen, skip The Little Mermaid and Strøget (the tourist-infested shopping strip), and be surprised by the countless alternative attractions this delightful city has to offer. Our clued-up Copenhagen locals have shared 10 of their favourite alternative spots for you to check out when you’re in town.
1. Kick back at Assistens Kirkegård
Despite being a cemetery full of great Danes, Assistens is not the reverent and sombre place you might expect it to be. Located in Copenhagen’s vibrant and noisy Nørrebro district, this little slice of heaven is filled with secluded spots where you can chill out with a book, steal a romantic kiss or grill on a grave over a few beers with friends.
Photo credit: Mark Jensen
2. Play board games at Bolsjefabrikken
Housed in an abandoned warehouse and run by volunteers, this alternative cultural institution aims to foster the work of young artists, musicians and performers. Bolsjefabrikken’s events include Ludomanic Monday (café nights where you can play board games and table tennis), underground concerts on Saturdays and various workshops. Check their website for upcoming events.
Photo credit: Marc Kjerland
3. Have a few drinks at Floss
This dirty, smoky, small and sweaty pub in the heart of Copenhagen has been the #1 hangout for local rock and punk bands, artists and writers since the early 90s. There’s something inspiring about its grubby walls, smoky innards and curious clientele. It’s a great place to enjoy an authentic local experience as well as relatively cheap beer. Special tip: happy hour 10–11 pm daily.
Photo credit: discosour
4. Discover the legendary Christiania
Christiania, Copenhagen’s autonomous green neighbourhood, is one of the most popular and definitely one of the most interesting attractions in the city. It was founded in 1971 on a former military base by a group of hippies. Today it’s home to higgledy-piggledy workshops, organic cafés and restaurants, as well as around 1000 freethinking inhabitants. Locals offer guided tours daily in summer and on weekends throughout the rest of the year, starting from the main entrance at 3 pm.
Photo credit: News Oresund
5. Get back to nature at Nokken
Not far from the city centre, nestled between the harbour and the wild green expanse of Amager Fælled, you’ll find Nokken – a charming hidden oasis dotted with allotment gardens and hobbit-style huts and houses. If you’re looking for respite from the crowded streets, pan pipers, jugglers and human statues of the city centre, Nokken’s relaxed vibe will gently nourish your senses and bring you closer to nature.
Photo credit: Stig Nygaard
6. Mingle with locals at Nemoland
Nemoland (and Christiania in general) is a unique experience that shouldn’t be missed. This weird and wacky outdoor hangout is dotted with picnic tables, pot plants and potheads. You’ll find an eclectic and international mix of alternative types here, so order yourself a cold Christiania beer from the outdoor bar and enjoy the human zoo. It gets very lively and atmospheric during the summer months, and is therefore a great place to while away a sunny afternoon, especially on Sundays from 6 pm when they host free live concerts on their open-air stage.
Photo credit: mararie
7. Watch niche films at Vester Vov Vov
Recently restored and with a charm that’s hard to find in this age of mind-numbingly generic multiplexes, this tiny cinema is the oldest café-cinema in the country and one of a dwindling number of independent operators still showing niche films with limited distribution. The foyer café is filled with antique French furniture and is well-stocked with a variety of coffees, teas, beers and wines. If you’re looking to see high quality art films and documentaries, come along and help keep this struggling little gem alive. The café offers free coffee refills and outside tables that capture the last rays of the setting sun.
Photo credit: Vester Vov Vov
8. Embrace local culture at Huset-KBH
Set in a sprawling building containing seven stages, bars, cafés and a cinema, Huset organises over a thousand events a year, offering a diverse range of artistic activities from live music and film screenings to theatre, stand-up comedy and poetry. If variety is the spice of life, then this place will burn the taste buds off your tongue. The eclectic mix of events also means you’ll find an equally varied crowd, so let the brow-sweating spiciness commence.
Photo credit: Huset-KBH
9. Experience underground art at Warehouse9
This tiny performance space and art gallery on the fringes (literally and artistically) of Copenhagen’s meatpacking district focuses on contemporary art, music and poetry with direct links to the international queer community. With portable toilets, a makeshift bar and some stunningly bizarre parties and events, Warehouse9 is far from mainstream. Their aim is to challenge established boundaries, so if you’re looking for artistic expressions and perspectives from the LGBT community, or for edgy cultural experiences from the local underground art scene, then this is definitely the place to be.
Photo credit: Kimmi Amilla Næve
10. Treat your taste buds at Copenhagen Street Food
Both your stomach and your wallet will thank you for visiting this newly opened street food market. Located in a warehouse on “Paper Island” (Papirøen), its mission is to offer fresh, healthy and tasty meals and snacks from around the globe at affordable prices (all stalls sell at least one meal for 50 kr). From Cuban street food to pizza and panini, this budget alternative to eating out in Copenhagen is a welcome respite from the city’s exorbitantly priced restaurants and cafés. Its location on the harbour is a major bonus, making it the perfect spot for an outdoor lunch in the sun.
Photo credit: Copenhagen Street Food
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Opening photo credit: News Oresund