There is more to Copenhagen than first meets the eye.
When traveling I am always trying to discover what a city is really all about; call it a search for the hidden essence. Copenhagen is the perfect place for such a exploration.
Forget about the tourist trips that will bring you to obvious places like the Little Mermaid, Nyhavn and Tivoli. The city has a hidden perspective that will keep on surprising you. Let’s do something crazy and look at Copenhagen as a layer cake… A cake of which each layer is totally different but as a whole it’s perfectly in balance.
Weekend in Copenhagen
So we booked ourselves a weekend in Copenhagen where we discovered the multiple layers that this city has to offer: (1) Historical, (2) Alternative, (3) Design. Each layer is enhancing the previous one and all seem to exist in perfect harmony. Let me take you through some examples of each of them.
I start with the most obvious one: the Historical layer. It’s history all around you when you walk the city center. The first settlement of Copenhagen goes back more than 1000 years. Around 1600 the famous Rosenborg castle and the Round Tower (Rundetårn) were built. The Royal Danish Theatre (at Kongens Nytorv) and Amalienborg Royal Palace were established in 1748. Enough beautiful places to keep history lovers busy!
All these places can be visited on foot. Walk from Amalienborg and the Frederik’s Church to Nyhavn, close to the Kongens Nytorv square. If you have time don’t forget to make a short detour to see the yellow houses of Nyboder (dating back to the 1600s)!
Amalienborg and St Frederik’s or Marble Church
Yellow houses of Nyboder
Walk the Strøget shopping street and make sure to visit the Round Tower and the nearby cosy Grey Friars square. This area is particular nice with small alternative shops and lovely houses. Don’t forget to look up!
Round Tower or Rundetårn
Højbro Plads near Strøget
Grey Friars square
After the first day we could tick the first box on our layer checklist. Done and dusted. We were ready to dive a bit deeper into the urban spirit of Copenhagen. We searched and quickly found the Alternative layer: a way of living were people want to move away from what is common and traditional.
Good example is the trendy Meatpacking district. A place for hipsters with restaurants and a vibrant nightlife alongside the city’s slaughterhouses. Yes, you are reading that correctly. Old slaugtherhouses have been renovated to house bars and restaurants with names like WarPig, Jolene, Bakken and Butcher’s Lab. The buildings from the 1930s still look gloomy and industrial, but in the evening (especially weekends) it’s packed with (young) people!
Another cultural melting pot is Christiania, a freetown in Christianshavn inhabited by artists, hippies and alike. People who want to live differently, who do not want to confirm to government rules.
Pusher street is the main road in this community and is known as the biggest hash/drug market around! Around 900 people live in Christiania, some third generation. Due to the drug selling it is not really appreciated when you take pictures. Probably people don’t want to be a tourist attraction, although I think they passed that stage long time ago already.
Here ends part 1 of this post. In part 2 let’s continue with this Alternative layer, showing you the urban art project Superkilen (see below) and the famous Street Food at Papirøen. And of course part 2 will be mainly about the 3rd layer: Design! Looking forward to sharing some more great pictures and convince you to book a weekend in Copenhagen!