The reason why you’ve probably heard about Freetown Christiania is the open cannabis trade that has been taking place at the famous Green Light District. We give you a run-down of 13 must-know facts when it comes to visiting Copenhagen’s hippie district.
Freetown Christiania is located in the Christianshavn area and you can get there by metro, bus or bike. Get off at Christianshavn St and head southeast towards Dronningensgade; in approximately 15 minutes you’ll be entering the bohemian district. If you don’t want to walk all the way there, take bus 9A from Christianshavn St and get off at the next stop (Bodenhoffs Plads). Another way to reach Christianshavn St from the city center is to take bus 350S from Nørreport St.
What is Freetown Christiania?
Freetown Christiania used to be a military base until the 1970s, when a group of hippies squatted in the place and created the autonomous neighborhood. Nowadays, approximately 900 people live in the area, comprising a community that has its own rules and where decisions are made through meetings. The cannabis trade that was taking place over the past years in the “Green Light District” became the main reason for turmoil, with police officers regularly invading the place and occasionally arresting dealers. However, just as normality was returning to the community, everything changed in August 2016, when a shooting occurred, injuring three people.
The Green Light District
Christiania has been quite popular for many years, because small stands were spread all over the infamous Pusher Street, selling all types of cannabis. Don’t get your hopes up about seeing that street, however. After three people, one of them police officer, were injured from gunshots on August 31 2016, Pusher Street was shut down. Violence has no place in the hippy community that was created 45 years ago with the vision to be an autonomous peaceful district in the middle of Copenhagen. As a result of this incident, inhabitants held a meeting and the decision was made to close Pusher Street down.
Revisit hippiedom in Christiana
The use of drugs is illegal in Denmark, even behind the doors of the hippie neighborhood. Still, although cannabis stalls with space cookies and rolled-up joints no longer exist, Christiania’s guests are able to buy weed. While you’re walking in Pusher Street, you’ll likely hear whispers offering you different types of marijuana. However, Christianites ask people to buy their drugs elsewhere. After Pusher Street was closed, the city was covered in posters, created by the inhabitants, with the words reading, “Help Christiania — buy your hash elsewhere”.
Up until recently, a sign welcomed you the moment you were entering Christiania. It read: “Dear friends, There are three rules in the green light district: have fun; don’t run — it causes panic; no photos — buying and selling hash is still illegal.” Taking photos at the Green Light District is now allowed but you should always ask people before photographing them, even if they’re just in the frame.
If you want to buy a little something that will always remind you of Christiania, an area with approximately 10 stands filled with all kinds of things, there are many options. T-shirts with the symbol of Christiania, jewelry, smoking pipes and many more items are sold at relatively low prices. If these stands don’t satisfy your appetite for shopping, roam the pedestrian alleys and rummage through the clothes stores.
Cafés and Restaurants
The bohemian neighborhood offers many options when it comes to food. From breakfast and brunch to hamburgers and vegetarian restaurants, there is a place to suit all tastes. If you’re in the mood for pastries, head to Sunshine Bakery and taste a typical Danish kage (cake) or a pizza slice. Prices are quite low and all of the products are super tasty. Café Nemoland is famous for its juicy burgers and sandwiches, while you can also find coffee and desserts. Vegans should definitely taste the dishes at Morgenstedet and at Grønsagen. Taste their delicious recipes, all made with fresh vegetables, while you relax in the super cozy atmosphere.
Cafe Nemoland, Fabriksområdet 52, Freetown Christiania, Denmark, +45 32 95 89 31
Grønsagen, Fabriksområdet 54, Freetown Christiania, Denmark, +45 24 20 72 47
After exploring the surroundings of Christiania, take a break and enjoy a warm coffee or a chai latte at Månefiskeren. The spacious café with quirky paintings on the walls is open from Tuesday to Sunday, offering delicious breakfast and brunch. For the warm sunny days, the café has an outdoor area with large wooden tables you can share with locals. Smoking is allowed and there is even a pool table for those who want to brush up on their skills.
Café Månefiskeren, Bådsmandsstræde 43, Freetown Christiania, Denmark, +45 32 57 14 56
Café Loppen serves vegetarian dishes inspired mainly from Thai cuisine. All the dishes and drinks are organic, as the vision behind the restaurant is to offer healthy food without frills. Here you can also enjoy a homemade Danish cake, or as the locals call it, kage, or a warm dark hot chocolate made with organic milk.
Café Loppen, Sydområdet 4E, Freetown Christiania, Denmark, +45 41 18 41 16
In Freetown Christiania there are plenty places that offer music nights and each one of them has its special atmosphere. Jazz lovers should definitely check out Jazzklubben. The small smoky bar hosts professional and amateur musicians, while on the Sunday jam sessions, everyone is welcome to go on stage and play their favorite instrument. From Thursday to Sunday, the district is filled with music which spills out from Operaen café. DJs, acoustic concerts and jam sessions take place in the colorful café until after midnight. For concerts and performances, keep an eye on Music Loppen’s official website. Finally, if you want to enjoy a drink at the oldest bar in Christiania, look for Woodstock at the end of Pusher Street.
Christiania Jazz Club, k, Psyak 61C, Freetown Christiania, Denmark, +45 26 22 51 78
Loppen, Sydområdet 4B, 1, Freetown Christiania, Denmark, +45 32 57 84 22
Science & Cocktails
Every second Tuesday evening, Christiania cinema (Byens Lys) gets packed with people who want to enjoy a chilled cocktail, while listening to scientific presentations. Science & Cocktails has been running since 2010 and still holds a place in the locals’ heart. Experienced mixologists create unique cocktails, while researchers and scientists go on stage presenting intriguing topics. As it’s a non-profit organization, all the people who are involved in these special Tuesday evenings work on a voluntary basis and the result is awesome. The presentations are held in English and they often evolve into conversations between the guests and the audience.
What to see
Once you pass the area where the cafés and the restaurants are, there is an entirely different world to discover. A big lake is surrounded by trees and small colorful houses with bizarre sizes and shapes. In a moment you will feel like you’re not in the middle of the city. Walk or bike in the small alleys and discover every corner of the autonomous neighborhood or relax on the wooden platform on the waterfront.
In December, Christiania hosts its own Christmas market and is one of the best in town. Luckily for us, it takes place indoors. The smell of baked almonds and mulled wine from the stands welcomes you once you step into the place. There you’ll find numerous stalls with clothes, jewelry, and handicraft décor items, while a band fills the place with tunes. When you’re done shopping, taste the local cuisine at one of the food stands.