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<a href ="https://unsplash.com/@punttim?photo=ScWvHUtQca4"> Painted Ladies, San Francisco | © Tim Gouw/unsplash
<a href ="https://unsplash.com/@punttim?photo=ScWvHUtQca4"> Painted Ladies, San Francisco | © Tim Gouw/unsplash

An Alternative Guide to Copenhagen

Picture of Aliki Seferou
Updated: 13 May 2017

For those who want to go off the beaten track and visiting Tivoli or strolling around Strøget just isn’t enough, this article will come in handy. Keep scrolling down the page, and you’ll find all kind of activities that will help you experience Copenhagen like a local. 

A cultural tour that doesn’t include castles or the Danish Golden Age

What was once an underground reservoir supplying drinking water to Copenhagen residents has now been transformed into an exhibition space. The stalactites and stalagmites that were created over the years add a mystical element to the already-eccentric atmosphere of Cisterns in Søndermarkenistern that offers a unique experience to its visitors.

A different cultural space providing intriguing exhibitions and performances is the Warehouse9. Over the past 10 years, the alternative theatre has presented a mix of films, performance art, burlesque, dance, literature, visual arts, activism, and music of international fame to a wide audience. Located in Meatpacking District, grab the chance and enjoy a delicious meal or indulge in a frozen cocktail in the hip district. 

At Huset-KBH, visitors can attend a concert in one of the five diverse stages, watch a film at the cinema room, or just mingle with locals and expats in the board-game café. Founded in 1970, it is Denmark’s first and largest culture house. With approximately 1,500 events taking place every year, it’s more than likely that no matter what time of the year, visitors will find something of their interest.

Cisterns, Søndermarken, Copenhagen, +45 30 73 80 32

Warehouse9, Halmtorvet 11, Copenhagen, +45 33 22 28 47

Huset-KBH, Rådhusstræde, Copenhagen, +45 21 51 21 51

Where locals hangout

While Christiania is on many tourists’ to-go lists, here are some hidden gems to make a visit to the hippie district even more special and give you a taste of how locals experience it.

One of locals’ favorite habits involves taking a break from the cold winter while sweating toxins out of their bodies in Christiania’s sauna. Open Tuesday through Sunday from 12am until 9pm, take a break from the long walks and relax in the heated room like a proper Copenhagener.

Drink a beer at the Woodstock Café, Christiania’s oldest bar. There, people of all ages and nationalities always eager to strike up a conversation and share some stories of their (usually eventful) lives congregate. Plus, the beer costs only 20DKK. A super-smoky atmosphere, wearing the new sweater from that second-hand shop in Nørrebro may not a good idea.

Finally, if visiting the hippie neighborhood on a Tuesday, don’t miss out to make a stop at Byens Lys, Christiania’s cinema. There, visitors will have the chance to listen to some interesting presentations of political, social, and environmental issues while tasting an ice-chilled cocktail at the Science and Cocktails nights.

Science and Cocktails | © Aliki Seferou

For those exploring Nørrebro, make a stop at Folkets Hus (The People’s House) and meet locals and foreigners while having a warm coffee. The communal house, which was squatted back in the 70s, houses political and social movements and hosts a variety of activities such as political meetings and soup kitchen as well as sport classes including yoga, dances, and hula hoop.

Finally, those visiting the capital of Denmark in spring or during the summertime, pass by the Meatpacking District during the weekend. Mad og Marked takes place from 10am until 6pm, and they serve all kinds of delicacies from all over the world for affordable prices. The long-wooden tables and the comfy-summer chairs are usually filled with locals soaking up some sunlight, so head in early.

Sauna Christiania (Badehuset), Ulrik, Fabriksområdet, 1440 København, Freetown Christiania

Woodstock Café, Badmandsstraede 43Freetown Christiania, +45 32 54 55 86

The Science and Cocktails Foundations, Fabriksområdet 99, Freetown Christiania,

Folkets Hus, Stengade 50, Copenhagen, +45 23 26 27 91

Kødbyens Mad & Marked, Flæsketorvet 1, Copenhagen, +45 61 30 42 47

Kødbyens Mad & Marked | © Aliki Seferou

A night-out in the city’s most untouristic places

Brimming with cozy cafes and stylish bars, Copenhagen also has underground spots that are less expensive than the city’s squats. Bolsjefabrikken’s parties are known among Copenhagen’s young and alternative crowd not only for their cheap beers but also for the uplifting vibes that DJs of international fame produce once they enter the stage.

For one—or more—live concerts from up-and-coming bands from all over Europe, check out Ungdomshuset. Located to the northwest of the city, the two buildings consist of several diverse spaces specially designed for concerts, film screenings, and other activities. The place is run by volunteers always willing to help introduce patrons to the philosophy of the place.

For those in the mood for a relaxing drink but still want to avoid the touristic bars in the city center, try visiting a bodega. These old, smoky bars—like Vesterbro’s Mc. Kluud—come complete with a Juke-box and slot machines, can be found all over Copenhagen, and definitely have their own special atmosphere.

Bolsjefabrikken, Ragnhildgade 1, Copenhagen

Ungdomshuset 61, Dortheavej, Copenhagen

Mc. Kluud, Istedgade 126, Copenhagen, +45 33 31 63 83

Ungdomshuset | © Aliki Seferou