With its handsome canals, pastel coloured buildings and cobble stoned laneways, you’ll feel like you have escaped to a foreign fairytale in Christianshavn, one of Copenhagen’s prettiest quarters. But there’s a lot more to this area than meets the eye. Delve deep beneath the surface and reveal a thriving food and arts scene which you could spend a small lifetime exploring.
What to do
Hire a bicycle and go for a ride down Christianshavn canal, marveling at its pretty pastel buildings and charismatic laneways. Or if a boat trip is more your cup of tea, sail around the harbour in your own solar-powered ‘Go Boat’. Bring your friends along and pack a picnic lunch and some wine for your own private boat party. Boats can be hired from the Islands Brygge 10.
For the ultimate bird’s eye view over Copenhagen, climb to the top of Vor Frelsers Kirke for sweeping views over the city. The large baroque church is one of Denmark’s national treasures. It’s certainly worth the 400 step thigh burning workout to get to the top.
Make sure you make time to explore Christiania, the famous hippy commune in Christianshavn. Beyond the archway marked ‘Beware here be dragons’ you’ll discover an eclectic collection of DIY homes, unique architecture and street art. Take a walk down the pot scented Pusher Street full of shady stall-holders selling hash, pipes and other knick knacks. There are a number of cool bars and cosy gardens to explore in Christiana. Don’t miss Dyssen, Christiana’s best kept secret.
An insider’s tip – leave your camera at home to avoid the glares and occasional yells of the locals. Taking photos is generally ok in some areas but should be strictly avoided in the no photography zones around Pusher Street.
Where to eat
Christianshavn is a foodie’s paradise, home to some of Copenhagen’s best restaurants. Leading the pack, of course, is Rene Redzepi’s critically acclaimed Noma which has been voted the world’s best restaurant year after year.
Bookings need to be made months ahead, so book early to avoid disappointment.
Canal side Kanalen is another crowd favourite, serving up contemporary Danish fare. The alfresco courtyard beside the pink hued building is a hugely popular spot in the summer months.
For lunch, Café Wilder on the picturesque Wildersgate is a good option, serving up a selection of fresh salads and smorrebrod (open sandwiches). There are plenty of outdoor tables to soak up some Vitamin D. This corner café is so famous it has made several appearances in the TV drama series Borgen.
If you’re looking for more of a casual affair – venture over the bridge to Paperion (Paper Island). Here you can eat the best of Copenhagen Street Food with the locals by the banks of the river. From coffee stands to artisan food trucks, you definitely won’t go hungry here.
Where to get a sweet treat
Copenhagen’s famous bakery, Lagkagehuset, captured my heart at the first whiff of their kanelsnegle (cinnamon snails). Located just opposite the metro station, the bustling bakery is a favourite for locals and tourists alike. Grab a number at the counter and join the queue of hungry locals vying for a few of their freshly baked goodies. There’s also a few seats at the counter where you can enjoy a coffee and pastry and watch the action of Christianshavn canal. WiFi is also free.
Where to grab a cuppa
Venture a little north of Christianshavn station, opposite Slotsholmen and you’ll find my favourite coffee shop in the area Kaffi. Inside there are plenty of seats available to rest your weary legs. The best seats in the house are at the front on a sunny summer’s morning. The coffee may not be up to Melbourne’s standards but it is as good as it gets in Copenhagen. There is also free WiFi available.
Where to get a drink
Just opposite Lagkagehuset is another local hangout – Christianshavn Badudlejning og Café – a wood decked café right on Christianshavn Canal. There’s also plenty of row boats for hire if you feel like a row down the river.