Sometimes you can stop in a city or region for a couple days and see all there is too see. Other times, you feel like you need to live there for a year to satisfy your need to try and do everything. Copenhagen was the latter for me – the feeling I got while walking around the winding streets filled with tucked away cafes and shops reminded me of why I first moved to New York. I felt like there were infinite possibilities and that I wanted to know this city.
Unfortunately I couldn’t stay for a year, but I did manage to explore most of the neighborhoods of Copenhagen during my trip. Three areas stood out as the places I would probably hang out at if I lived in Copenhagen, the first of which was Nørrebro.
Nørrebro is Copenhagen’s most affordable neighborhood, which means immigrants, students, hipsters, and artists/creative types all call it home. You’ll find all types of people here, which is precisely what makes it so interesting. The area is filled with ethnic restaurants and takaway joints, hip cafes, trendy bars and both vintage and designer shops.
Start your day with a hearty bowl of porridge at GRØD, a tiny restaurant on the famous Nørrebro street Jægersborggade that serves primarily oatmeal. You can choose from several different options filled with nuts, fruit, etc. They cater to all types of dietary needs with lactose-free and gluten-free options. I had the gluten-free porridge with apples, nuts, and caramel and it was delicious.
While you’re on Jægersborggade, there’s plenty to see. Make your way through the hundreds of bikes parked all over the street to check out all the little designer shops and boutiques.
One that caught my eye was Keramiker Inge Vincents, a ceramics shop and studio filled with everyday use items that were extremely thin. It might sound odd but it ended up looking really cool – cups, candle holders, bowls, etc. that were very thin and looked like you could blow them away, yet they were porcelain. The brand name was simply called thinware.
You can’t come to Copenhagen without trying the coffee at Coffee Collective, which I mentioned in my last post. Usually I have to put milk in my coffee because it’s terrible but here I had no problem drinking it black. There’s almost no room to sit inside this place, which is also on Jægersborggade. So you tell them your order, they make it in their giant fancy coffee machines and call you when it’s ready so you can take it to go or sit outside and sip on it.
Hungry again? Just across the street is Meyer’s Bageri (Bakery), which has an incredible assortment of Danish pastries to satisfy your sweet tooth.
If it’s a nice day out, Nørrebro locals love to spend a sunny afternoon hanging out in the cemetery, Assistens Kirkegard. You’re probably thinking, who wants to hang out in a cemetery? Well once you see this one, you’ll understand: it’s one of the most beautiful green spaces in Copenhagen and is also the final resting place for some of Denmark’s most famous residents, including Hans Christian Andersen. If you have some free time on a lazy day, bring a picnic and enjoy.
If you want to dig in at one of Nørrebro’s Middle Eastern eateries, there are a TON. But the local recommendation is usually Ahaaa (Blågårdsgade 21). It stands out from the other falafel/shawarma joints with eye-catching signage and decor, but it’s not all about the looks here. Their falafel is quite good and they have a huge variety of sauces and fresh ingredients that you can add to your pita sandwich.
Ahaaa is located on Blågårdsgade, the cool street to hang out on if you are spending your evening in Nørrebro. Just wander for a couple blocks and you’ll see there are plenty of packed bars and restaurants to visit for a fun night out.
A couple blocks walk from Blågårdsgade is The Oak Room (Birkegade 10), a sleek cocktail bar designed by award-winning Danish architect Kasper Rønn. The Oak Room serves some slightly fancier drinks and is a great place to start off your night. Just beware: most cocktails in Copenhagen surpass even NYC prices at around $18-$20 per drink.
Photo: Courtesy of The Oak Room
If you’re hungry after bar hopping, Beyti (Nørrebrogade 13) also serves Middle Eastern food but is open later than Ahaaa so you can get a bite when you’re starving after a night out. When we arrived to Copenhagen late after our flight from Norway, this place was the only restaurant in the neighborhood we could find that was still open and it definitely hit the spot.
The morning after you’ll want to hit The Laundromat Cafe (Elmegade 15) for brunch.You can actually do your laundry here while dining, which i thought was a pretty genius idea. The cafe is retro-inspired, with shelves filled with old books and kitschy decor. They serve a hearty brunch, fresh squeezed juices and an assortment of burgers and sandwiches. My favorite was the Latin Sandwich, of course, since I’m addicted to avocados and if there’s an avocado-inclusive dish on the men you can bet I’m going to order it.
The Laundromat Cafe is located on Elmegade, another popular side street to hang out on in Nørrebro. Elmegade is known for its cool clothing shops. Unfortunately when I was there everything was closed due to the Easter holiday (how jealous I am of all you Europeans and your endless days off), but this blog has written reviews of many of the stores if your are looking to go shopping.
The hostel we stayed at in Nørrebro was called Sleep In Heaven (Struenseegade 7). It had a very laid back vibe and the walls were decorated with murals of sheep, with rooms named after planets. All designed to help you get a “heavenly” night’s rest (get it, counting sheep?). I mostly liked this hostel and it was a great affordable place to stay in Copenhagen, although a bit of a walk from the metro station which wasn’t fun in the rain. There is a bar and cozy (hyggelig!) common area where you can bring takeaway food and hang out. They also offer two Mac computers that you can use in the lobby, which I thought was fantastic after a week of only being able to research things on my phone.
We booked a private double room and were happy to see that it included free use of the safe (a rarity) and WiFi. Two things I didn’t love: in order to get to our room we had to walk down the street and into another building. Also, the bathrooms were extremely dark with no windows. I couldn’t figure out how to turn the light on in the shower, although I’m sure there must be a way (haha). That being said, I researched a lot of different hostels before booking this one and it was a good value and location for those trying to get “off the beaten path.”
I didn’t love it as much as I did Generator Hostel Copenhagen, but I’m really glad we switched home bases and stayed here so we had time to explore Nørrebro a little more. It really is a unique area of the city, and even though it’s out of the way from most of the tourist attractions it’s worth the trip. Not that the trip is that long – Copenhagen is actually quite a small city!
So let me know what you think – would you spend some of your time in Copenhagen in Nørrebro? Stay tuned for my next Copenhagen neighborhood tour!