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The Danish capital of Copenhagen is a bustling city that offers something for everyone. First-time visitors to the city might head straight for the Little Mermaid or the Tivoli Gardens (remember to book in advance!) and other often top sights in Copenhagen, but there are plenty of other places and Copenhagen hidden gems to discover.
For architecture aficionados, there are medieval churches that date back to the 15th century as well as modern constructions that push the boundaries of design. For food lovers, the Danish capital has everything from Michelin star-studded restaurants to tiny bakeries. And for culture vultures, there are numerous little galleries as well as bigger museums to visit.
So if you’re heading to Copenhagen for the first time, or returning and want to see it in a new light, here are some hidden gems that you might want to seek out.
Kongens Have – The King’s Garden
The Rosenborg Castle and the gardens that surround it are no strangers to tourists. In fact, people gather there daily to watch the changing of the guards.
But, take a moment to wander around the outskirts of the garden and you’ll discover several tiny rooms dotted along Kronprinsessegade. Each of these rooms, nestled into the exterior of the fenced border, houses an art gallery, shop, restaurant or cafe, one of my favorite Copenhagen hidden gems.
If you keep walking along Kronprinsessegade towards the Little Mermaid, you’ll stumble upon rows and rows of yellow, terraced houses.
These are known as Nyboder houses and were originally built to serve as navy barracks.
Today, however, they’ve become a quaint and unusual architectural site. People still live in these homes and you can even stay in one if you look on Airbnb.
Papirøen – Paper Island
Paper Island, formerly a newspaper storage facility, has become a hip hangout thanks to the Copenhagen Street Food site.
There are around 40 stalls selling everything from sushi and vegan fare to burgers and pizza. You can go early in the day to enjoy a spot of coffee, as it opens from 12 pm, or stay on into the night for cocktails. If you are into food, Copenhagen is a great city to go on a Food Tour, so you are sure you don’t miss the best foodie spots in the city!
And if you have some time to kill during the day, Copenhagen Contemporary, the art gallery next door, is the perfect spot for soaking up some culture.
Assistens Kirkegård – Assistens Cemetery
The Little Mermaid sculpture may be the best-known tribute to the book’s author, Hans Christian Andersen, but it’s in Assistens Cemetery that you will find his grave.
The children’s author is not alone of course as there are many other notable Danes buried there.
Famous graves aside, it’s worth strolling through the peaceful grounds for the atmosphere alone.
Though if the mood takes you, there’s also a theater where you can enjoy plays.
Freetown Christiania isn’t exactly new – or unknown for that matter.
However, while it has a reputation for hippies and hash, it’s also a place where you can find some unusual architecture.
Many of the homes in the neighborhood are built by the people who live in them and as a result, there’s a certain amount of artistic license. It’s certainly worth a walk around to see which ones you spot, if nothing else.
Where to Stay in Copenhagen
Hostels don’t exactly have a reputation for being cool hangouts after your 20s but in Copenhagen, many actually have a strong design focus.
Generator Hostel is one of these. But you don’t have to be staying there to experience it for yourself – there’s a petanque room that’s open to the public, for example. And most recently, they have opened an ice bar so you can enjoy cocktails in sub-zero conditions.
If hostels aren’t your cup of tea, check out our recommendations on the best hotels in each neighborhood in Copenhagen.
Copenhagen Hidden Gems – written and photographed by Qin Xie