The best neighborhoods in Copenhagen to find your hygge

Over the past few years, Copenhagen has become a wildly popular destination. Some come to visit the Little Mermaid and walk in the footsteps of Hans Christian Andersen, others to have a bite of the famous food scene, but all are impressed by Denmark’s capital.

As Copenhagen is a small city with just 600,000 inhabitants in the central city area, you can cover a lot of ground in just one trip, if you plan it well. Despite the city’s compact size, its neighborhoods all offer something different and unique, from colorful, hip districts to more upscale areas sprinkled with medieval history.

Grab a bike and get ready to explore Copenhagen’s best neighborhoods in just a few days. 


Best for a first-time trip to Copenhagen

This neighborhood has to be first on the list for new arrivals, as it was deemed the world’s coolest neighborhood in 2021, a fact that the Danes (particularly residents of Nørrebro) are particularly proud of. There are plenty of reasons for this nomination. Nørrebro is the most ethnically diverse and densely populated neighborhood of Copenhagen, full of sidewalk breweries, parks full of people and great food from around the world served by local restaurants and street food trucks.

Nørrebro is where you go to grasp the local vibe of Copenhagen. Start your day by heading to one of the must-visit bakeries – Benji, Rondo, Mirabelle, Andersen & Maillard, or Collective Bakery – as they are all to die for, many of them created by Noma alumni bakers. Have breakfast the Danish way: order coffee and sourdough buns with butter and cheese, and add a sweet pastry for a breakfast dessert.

Spend the rest of the day exploring the neighborhood. Head to Jægersborggade to find clothes from local designers at Damernes Magasin, hand-selected interior items at Craft Sisters and artisan eats at Ro Chokolade and Grød, which serves upscale versions of porridge with delicious toppings, along with congee and risotto.

Check out the historic Assistens Cemetery and have a look at Hans Christian Andersen’s grave, and then grab an inexpensive lunch at hummus and manakish spot Ali Bageri. In the afternoon, head to the Dronning Louises Bro bridge overlooking the lakes of Copenhagen to chill in the sunshine with friendly locals, bottled beverage in hand.

People relaxing in the grounds of the Rosenberg Slot, Copenhagen
Being in the center doesn’t mean you can’t find space to relax – just head to the grounds of the Rosenberg Slot © Jonathan Smith / Lonely Planet

Indre By (Central Copenhagen)

Best for sightseeing and shopping

If you think of Copenhagen, chances are a picture of the famous colored houses by the harbor – known locally as Nyhavn – pops into your head. Nyhavn is one of the city’s main attractions and a highlight of the Indre By neighborhood.

Indre By translates to “Inner City,” and this is Copenhagen’s historic center. It’s a great place to stay if you’re visiting Copenhagen for the first time and crave convenience. In Indre By, you’ll be within walking distance of most must-see tourist sights and the city’s medieval heart. Top attractions such as Nyhavn, the Christiansborg Slot parliament building, Rosenborg Slot castle, the Queen’s residence at Amalienborg Slot and the Round Tower are all here.

If you’re into art, check out Statens Museum for Kunst for its impressive collection with works dating back to the 1300s. Make sure you grab coffee at Apollo, set in a gorgeous courtyard overlooking Nyhavn. If shopping is your workout, browse along Strøget, one of Europe’s longest pedestrian shopping streets, where you’ll find the iconic department stores Illum and Magasin. 

A woman pushing a bicycle along Vesterbrogade in Copenhagen
Vesterbro is a neighborhood for locals, loved for its easy pace of life © carstenbrandt / Getty Images


Best for a hip weekend stay

If you want to understand more about the history of Vesterbro and how it has developed, the neighborhood plays a central role in Tove Ditlevsen’s famous books about her upbringing (start with her Copenhagen Trilogy, made up of Barndom, Ungdom and Gift).

But today, this formerly gritty red-light district and working-class neighborhood has been gentrified into the hippest area in Copenhagen. This popular district for visitors and locals brims with restaurants, fun bars and clubs, particularly concentrated around the Meatpacking District. Close to the city center, Vesterbro is a great area to stay if you’re looking to party and explore Copenhagen in a more local way. 

Grab breakfast at Mad & Kaffe, where you can build your own brunch out of a variety of tasty dishes. Stroll tree-lined Sønderboulevarden to understand why this area is so celebrated. In the Meatpacking district, have the best coffee in town at Prolog, and grab lunch from one of the area’s restaurants – tacos at Hija de Sanchez, sourdough pizza at Mother, dim sum at Magasasa or fine dining at Gorilla.

Throughout the day, visit Absalon, a former church turned community hub for food, drinks, coffee and games. Every night at 6pm, this non-profit institution offers communal dining, and it’s an unforgettable experience, as you get to eat delicious, healthy food at an almost-too-good-to-be-true price in the company of local Copenhageners, from senior citizens to students looking for a budget-friendly meal and a good time. Make sure you book ahead on their website.

Young people with bikes stand in front of a graffiti wall in Christiania, Copenhagen
Bohemian rules apply in the “Freetown” of Christiania © Pierre Aden / Getty Images

Christianshavn and Christiania

Best for water views and hippy vibes

Technically a part of Indre By, the man-made island of Christianshavn was created by King Christian IV in the 1600s. With its picturesque canals, water views and little, colored townhouses, it’s one of the most desirable areas to live in and well worth a visit, even if you’re passing through.

Besides the canals and the iconic, twisting tower of the Church of Our Saviour, Christianshavn is known as the home of Copenhagen’s self-styled “Freetown” – the commune of Christiania. An interesting contrast to the more upscale vibe elsewhere in Christianshavn, Christiania is a former military base taken over by squatters and artists. Today, weed is sold seemingly freely (although it’s technically illegal in Denmark), families live in sometimes-gorgeous, sometimes-funny-looking houses by the lake and hippie culture thrives.

Have coffee or lunch at Månefiskeren or Morgenstedet before leaving Christiania, then head to the Refshaleøen area for street food, baked goods at Lille Bakery and maybe a rest-stop beverage and a dip in the ocean at La Banchina. 

A woman walking alone in Frederiksberg Have garden, Copenhagen, Denmark
The calm expanse of Frederiksberg Have is one of Copenhagen’s favorite green spaces © Asmus Koefoed / Shutterstock


Best for cafe culture, fanciness and fashion

Copenhagen’s answer to Paris’ famous boulevards, Frederiksberg is a neighborhood of gorgeous, tree-lined streets with sidewalk cafes featuring elegant, coffee-sipping residents. You’re likely to find yourself dreaming of living here.

If you’re in a shopping mood, don’t miss browsing along Værnedamsvej and Gammel Kongevej, which specialize in Scandinavian interior shops full of fun knick-knacks, such as Dora and Wood Wood, and fashion and jewelry shops such as Ganni, Julie Nielsdotter and I Blame Lulu. Visit Central Cafe and Hotel, the tiniest hotel in the world, for a cup of coffee, and have a fancy but budget-friendly dinner at Polly or Les Trois Cochons.

In need of an afternoon hangout? Visit the gorgeous park, Frederiksberg Have, featuring a lake with canals and an impressive castle, Frederiksberg Slot.

Keep planning your trip to Copenhagen:

Hit all the highlights with these top things to do
Design your foodie itinerary at these locally loved spots
Plan ahead with these things to know
Save some cash with the best free experiences

This article was first published May 25, 2022 and updated Apr 30, 2024.

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