As soon as I knew we were going to Copenhagen, I started looking at apartment rentals on airbnb. I knew I didn’t want to spend much time in the touristy centre of the city. Prague, Amsterdam, Vienna, etc. are all beautiful European cities, but their commercialized, over-touristed centres do nothing for me. So for CPH it was down to deciding between Nørrebro, to the north west, and Vesterbro (the former meat packing district) to the south of the centre. There were plenty of nice looking, inexpensive places to rent in both areas, but I leaned more towards Nørrebro and upon arrival was very happy with my choice!
My husband and I found ourselves in the middle of one of the hippest neighbourhoods on the planet. And keep in mind, Copenhagen is like an entire city with the East Vancouver/Main Street vibe, so even the unhip areas are really cool. But Nørrebro goes above and beyond hip (probably putting Brooklyn to shame), and in my opinion is genuinely cool without really trying to be anything. The area has been inhabited traditionally by arab immigrants, and the main thoroughfare Nørrebrogade, has been the site of many riots over the years (most recently in 2007). But don’t let that deter you, it’s completely safe and full of friendly people, young families and an interesting multicultural mix.
Nørrebro is a quick 5 minute ride on the 5A bus from the Nørreport station, which is a convenient transfer point from anywhere in the city. It’s 25 min. by bus from the central station, or a 45 min. walk (along the lakes which is very pleasant). But remember the best way to get around in CPH is on your bike! Don’t miss Torvehallerne, just around the corner from Nørreport station. It’s a permanent market and a cool place to hang out with about 60 food stalls and nice places to sit and have a drink.
As you make your way into the hood, head down Frederiksborggade and across the Dronning Louises Bro (bridge), which is a popular hang out/drinking/dance party spot from about 5pm onwards any day of the week, and go across the lakes into Nørrebro proper. Start heading up Nørrebrogade and you’ll be transported to hipster paradise. You’ll find vintage boutiques, cool cafes and bars and hundreds of one off coffee shops (there’s no Starbucks here), interspersed with kebab and cheap pizza places.
The vast majority of people here are young, blonde, riding bikes, smiling profusely and drop dead gorgeous. I was so pleased with our decision to stay in Nørrebro that we really didn’t venture out of the hood for meals or entertainment much, other than to see the major city sights of course. There is so much to explore right at your fingertips, and I much prefer really getting to know one area vs. spreading myself too thin.
Here are the restaurants in Nørrebro that I explored.
- The Bronx: Great cafe on Nørrebrogade with patio seating. Popular with the student crowd, but perfect for a nice meal. Shared a goat cheese salad and the veggie burger, which they make with sliced roasted celery root (amazing!) and a side of fries. That with a couple of beers was around $60, which we thought was totally reasonable for the quality, given the high price of food in CPH. So good, my husband wanted to go a second time!
- GRØD: Heaven for porridge lovers and consumers of comfort food on the very cool Jaegersbroggade. It’s small and they serve great chai instead of alcohol. A nice spot for a quick, cheap, informal dinner and I imagine they do a pretty good breakfast. It must be popular because when we showed up for dinner at 8:30pm they were sold out of a lot of stuff. Had the asparagus risotto and it totally hit the spot after a busy day of sightseeing.
- The Laundromat Cafe: Located on Elmegade with a great corner patio, you can do your laundry (yes, there are laundry machines in the back) while having a nice meal, coffee or a beer outside or in. The inside is full of colourful old books and fun nicknacks. We had a great dinner here and noticed they were also packed for brunch. And if you’re feeling really adventurous, check out their location in Reykjavik (they also have 2 others in Copenhagen).
- Cafe 22: Wander through Sankt Hans Torv (Pussy Galore’s wasn’t really for me) and down towards the lakes and you’ll come upon Cafe 22. We found it packed with locals enjoying a sunny Saturday brunch. They have a buffet that looked good, but we opted for cappuccinos, a fruit plate and the veggie sandwich. Food was fine, coffee was good, and the view and people watching were amazing. Skip it on a rainy day.
So if you’re heading to Copenhagen anytime soon, or deciding where to head for your next European vacation, make sure to check this hood out. Definitely wander down Stroget and have a drink on the water at Nyhaven, but remember with touristy areas that you want to get in, and get out, and have somewhere you feel like a local to go back to at the end of the day.