Before I start blogging a lot about where to stay, what to do, etc., you need a little orientation to the neighborhoods of Copenhagen. There are a lot of travel guides out there which explain different aspects of the various areas of the city, but I like to have a clear map of where things are. I just generally love maps actually. There are a fair number of official districts (bydele) in the city, like many cities, but postal codes are grouped into a smaller list of areas for addresses. I’ll start with these areas since that is a simpler breakdown and when you look at an address for a place, you’ll at least have a rough idea of where it is located.
These are the most common codes you’ll see on addresses as a visitor, along with the common English reference, and the Danish names for the area name or areas within it which are commonly referred to (Frederiksberg is just Frederiksberg all around). You can click on the map to see a larger version.
- København K [Center] (Indre By, Slotsholmen, Christianshavn)
- København S [South] (Amager)
- København V [West] (Vesterbro)
- København N [North] (Nørrebro)
- København Ø [East] (Østerbro)
København K (the Center)
This is the center of the city and is still pretty much delineated by the old city fortifications. You can see the border along the string of lakes (Søerne) to the northwest and follow it around the bastions on the outside of Christianshavn. There are a few areas in there, but I’ll stick to these three:
Indre By (Inner City)
This is where a lot of touristy things are, including Tivoli, Amalienborg Palace (where the Queen lives), Nyhavn, the Botanical Gardens, etc.
Slotsholmen (Castle Islet)
This is actually a tiny island, surrounded by canals and the harbor. It is home to lots of governmenty things like Parliament, the Supreme Court and such. It is dominated by Christiansborg Palace, which houses said governmenty things.
Christianshavn (Christian’s Harbor)
Christianshavn is an island that lies between Indre By and Amager, the big island to the south. It is probably most well known for Freetown Christiania, which is an autonomous neighborhood on one side of the island. Christiania has quite the history and I’ll be writing more about that in future posts. Aside from that, the island is also sometimes called Little Amsterdam because of the canals and cute buildings. It definitely has its own flavor separate from the rest of København K. I’m also partial to the island because it’s where I live.
København S (Amager)
South of the city center lies an island called Amager. I suppose that maybe there is technically something like a Sydbro, but everyone here refers to this area of Copenhagen as Amager. It has beaches along Øresund (the Sound, between Denmark and Sweden) and the airport is on the southeast side of the island at Kastrup. This is also where the Bella Center is located (the conference center where the 2009 climate talks were held).
København V (Vesterbro)
Vesterbro runs along Vesterbrogade (Vesterbro Street) west out from the central train station. It is probably the most “happening” area of the city. It has tons of restaurants and bars, and is pretty much the place to be most of the time, especially in the nightlife department. (For those who are Drupalistas, Morten.dk lives here. ;-)) But there are also some other things like the Planetarium and the City Museum. It is also the home of the city’s red light district.
København N (Nørrebro)
Nørrebro is across the Lakes from the city center. This is another area with a lot going on and plenty of food and bars. It is home to the Assistens Cemetery, which is used as a park and houses the graves of many famous people, including Hans Christian Andersen and Søren Kierkegaard. This area is also known for antique and vintage shopping.
København Ø (Østerbro)
Østerbro is a large area north of the city center, which is generally considered a quiet, residential area. There are beaches along the coast here as well. It is home to the national stadium, Parken, and a hands-on kids science museum called the Experimentarium.
Frederiksberg is its own municipality and is actually not part of Copenhagen, but surrounded by it. It is located between Vesterbro and Nørrebro. It’s probably most well known for Frederiksberg Palace and the huge public park surrounding it that houses the Zoo, one of the largest in Europe.
I’ll dive into more details of these areas as I address various things about Copenhagen. Each area has its own flavor and where to stay is a decision that needs to be based on a number of factors. I’ll get into that discussion in my next post.