Copenhagen may well be a small city, but its trendy, bicycle-laden streets are a rabbit-warren of unusual finds and unique attractions. Bypass the Little Mermaid and the colourful jut of Nyhavn and head straight for these under-the-radar options.
1. Assistens Kirkegard
While Assistens (Kapelvej 4) is, from the outset, a cemetery filled with famous historic Danes, it’s by no means as morbid as it sounds. In fact, it’s a popular haunt for locals to hang out at come the weekend, with a selection of secluded spots perfect for an intimate BBQ or a lover’s tryst. Set in the heart of the trendy Norrebro district, it’s the definition of an urban hideaway.
For an alternative glimpse into Copenhagen’s flourishing art scene, check out Bolsjefabrikken (Ragnhildgade 1), a volunteer-run cultural institution housed in a rustic old warehouse. Together with performances, café nights, underground concerts and weekend workshops, it celebrates and showcases the work of young, emerging artists.
3. Kent Kaffe Laboratorium
Coffee and science unite at this quirky café-cum-laboratory (Nørre Farimagsgade 70). Behind the counter, you can experience several ways to make coffee that should have a “don’t try this at home” banner slapped across them. We’re talking flasks heated over Bunsen burners and a range of other experimental, advanced brewing methods. Quick tip: don’t ask for milk, as it “masks over the fullness of the flavour”.
Want to follow in the footsteps of well-loved Danish rockstars and writers? Pull up a stool and grab a drink at Floss (Larsbjørnsstræde 10), a small, sweaty pub right in the city centre. Though its grubby walls and eclectic mix of clientele might have you second-guessing your choice of drinking hole, it’s actually a great place to enjoy a local pint with local punters.
5. Amagerstrand Beach Park
It might sound strange to suggest a beach trip in consistently frigid Copenhagen, but Amagerstrand Beach Park (Amager Strandvej) might just be the perfect bolt hole when the weather starts to change. Avoid it in summer, as the crowds are heaving, but Spring and Autumn lend themselves to serene views.
Christiania (Bådsmandsstræde 43) is kind of like a city within a city. It’s Copenhagen’s autonomous neighbourhood with lashings of graffiti, colourful characters, and ramshackle huts to wander amongst. Dating back to 1971, when it was built by hippies on a former military base, it now boasts its own laws, as well as a cool collection of workshops, organic cafes, and galleries.
7. Royal Library Garden
The impressive domed silhouette of the Christiansborg Palace doesn’t go under the radar of a lot of tourists, but its Royal Library Gardens (Søren Kierkegaards Pl. 1) do. Tucked behind one of the city’s best-loved buildings, the peaceful green space offers a slice of Eden away from the crowds.
In a similar vein, Nokken (Islands Brygge) reveals a serene world that seems a million miles from fast-paced city life. The charming oasis boasts a labyrinth of manicured gardens and hobbit-style huts. Here, you can kick back and relax in a natural hideaway devoid of honking horns, bike bells, and raucous street performers.
9. Vester Vov Vov
Inside this charming, independent cinema (Absalonsgade 5) that’s a far cry from your generic, blockbuster multiplexes, you’ll find a kitsch display of antique French furniture and a high-end selection of worldly beers, teas, and coffees. As the oldest cinema in Denmark, it’s dedicated to showing artsy documentaries and independent films from local and international creatives.
Set on the outskirts of Copenhagen’s up-and-coming meatpacking district, Warehouse9 (Halmtorvet 11C) rocks a schedule of performances, exhibitions, poetic workshops, and musical shows that focus on the international queer community. Offering edgy cultural experiences in the form of curious events and parties, it presents a full range of fascinating perspectives from the LGBT community.
You probably already know that Copenhagen goes crazy for smorrebrod, the local speciality of rye bread topped with everything from fish to meats, cheeses, and vegetables. Smushi (Amagertorv 6) has gone one step further and combined the popular Danish dish with a sushi style experience, serving a range of bite-sized, layered smorrebrod.
12. Frederiksberg Park
Emanating a quintessentially English vibe, this romantic green space (Frederiksberg Runddel 1A) is actually one of the largest parks in the country. Smattered with picturesque lakes, winding canals, and crisscrossing nature trails, it’s the ideal place for a sunny afternoon stroll. Don’t miss the on-site Palace, built in a breath-taking Italian Baroque style.
13. Copenhagen Street Food
This indoor market (Trangravsvej 14) takes hot dogs served at the side of the street to a whole new level. Set inside a warehouse on Paper Island, it combines a collection of healthy snack stalls serving dishes from all over the world. Everything from Cuban pastries to thick pizzas and well-stuffed paninis are available at very affordable prices – a treat for your tastebuds and your wallet.
At almost 160 years old, the Folketeatret (Nørregade 39) takes the title of Denmark’s oldest public theatre. You can catch a wide range of performances here for both a local and international audience – think original Danish plays to classic operas and performances.
15. A.C. Perchs
Tea lovers will find themselves in heaven at this cuppa mecca (Kronprinsensgade 5). Opened way back in 1835, it remains one of the city’s oldest remaining shops, serving a sophisticated selection of tea flavours from all over the world. The best part? The interior remains pretty much untouched since its early days (though the electricity and technology have been upgraded, of course).
Become a scientist for the day and try your hand at experimenting like the best of them. At this interactive institution (Trangravsvej 10-12), visitors can conduct more than 300 experiments, spanning vision tests, puzzle problems, musical quandaries, and everything in between. Definitely a must-visit for the younger members of the family (or those who are just young at heart).
17. Dark Waiter
Fancy dinner with a difference? How does dining in the pitch black sound? Copenhagen may well be famous for foodie-royalty Noma, but Dark Waiter (Midgårdsgade 5) offers a completely new experience. Guests tuck into dinner in the dark, feeling around for their food and hazarding a guess at what exactly it is they’re putting in their mouth.
18. The Laundromat Café
Laundry is always a chore and never fun, but at the Laundromat Café (Elmegade 15) it’s made more enjoyable. Instead of watching your washing whirl round and round, you can grab a beer, dive into a book, or recline in one of the comfortable lounge chairs. For a more sociable experience, there are board games to challenge other visitors to, and free WiFi to indulge in.
19. Leif Sonne’s Bottled Beer Collection
Beer lovers will want to marvel at the magnificent collection of bottles collected by Leif Sonne (100 Ny Carlsberg Vej). In existence since 1968, there are more than 22,000 bottles spanning every style, brand, and country imaginable. Located inside the Carlsberg Brewery, it has been dubbed the largest collection of bottled beer in the world by the Guinness World Records.
20. Nasothek Nose Collection
Though Copenhagen is choc-full of exhibitions in all shapes and sizes, none are more mind-boggling than the Nasothek Nose Collection (7 Dantes Plads). Found inside the Glyptotek Art Museum, this collection goes relatively unnoticed in a tucked-away cabinet. Here, you can gaze (in awe or confusion) at more than 100 plaster noses arranged so meticulously they might well be a work of art all on their own. In fact, the Nasothek acts as a commentary on the history of art preservation shown, strangely, in the form of the nose.