Street Wise: a Stop-by-Stop Guide to Istedgade, Copenhagen
Coco Hotel offers a Parisian-inspired stay in Copenhagen | Courtesy of Coco Hotel / Expedia
The Danish capital’s Vesterbro neighbourhood is known as the city’s coolest, and nowhere sums up its scenester status more than this strip of beer shops and boutiques.
This kilometre-long stretch of road in Copenhagen was once among the sketchiest, known for attracting and servicing the seedier elements in the city. Drawn by cheap rents, waves of students, artists and creatives soon set the Vesterbro neighbourhood on a hipper and more happening path. While it has not completely shaken off its saucier side, Istedgade has firmly established itself as one of the coolest streets in the Danish capital, dotted with vintage clothing stores, quirky cafes and art galleries. Starting at Central Station, join us as we check out the best bits.
Hats, Boots & Bourbon
There are no prizes for guessing what this store sells. It was founded by a former bartender who finally fulfilled his ambition to combine a bar with a boutique – and what a fabulous boutique it is. Interiors draw heavily from 1930s New York, creating the perfect vibe for leisurely browsing the carefully curated collection of gentleman-leaning accoutrements. A shot or two from the long list of bourbons, and you’ll soon feel confident enough to pull off that trilby.
Pizzeria, Restaurant, Italian, $$$
Courtesy of Neighbourhood, Copenhagen
Far from your run-of-the-mill pizzeria, Neighbourhood has become the place where in-the-know locals choose to chow down on pizza. Everything you consume here is certified organic – from the dough to the drinks – sustainable and locally sourced. The base is thinner and lighter, while toppings tend towards raw or pickled. You dine elbow-to-elbow on communal tables – it can get busy – giving the place a meet-your-neighbour vibe. A great vinyl collection and top cocktails seal the deal.
Courtesy of Coco Hotel / Expedia
With candy-cane awnings, a Parisian-style street-facing cafe and a healthy splash of Gallic chic, this charming boutique hotel could have been transplanted from a Left Bank arrondissement. However, the guest rooms go a little more mid-century Scandi in style, with a swish yet cosy retro feel. Impeccable eco credentials include sustainable energy, water-efficient systems and organic fabrics. There’s even table tennis on the fifth floor if you’re up for a game or two.
The Social Beer Shop
Courtesy of The Social Beer Shop
Few things signal the hipsterism of a neighbourhood more clearly than craft beer, and this shop sells dozens of them. The Social Beer Shop offers shelves upon shelves crammed with brews from all over Denmark and beyond. If you feel lost among the cornucopia of colourful cans, friendly in-store cicerones (beer experts) are on hand to guide you through. There’s takeaway draft beer, too, and some specialist spirits if that’s more your thing.
Courtesy of Woodah Boutique Hostel / Expedia
In a notoriously non-budget-friendly city like Copenhagen, this family-run boutique hostel bucks the trend for spendy stays. But a shoestring certainly doesn’t mean scrimping here, with beautifully styled interiors that manage to balance Danish hygge (a sense of cosiness and comfort) with Asian minimalism. Japanese-inspired sleeping pods provide silence, comfort and privacy, and after a good night’s sleep, you’ll wake up to a complimentary organic breakfast in the in-house cafe. It also has a great line in sushi bowls – with vegan and veggie options – plus a selection of Japanese beers and sake.
© Inside Weather / Unsplash
No self-respecting hipster neighbourhood is complete without a kitschy and cool vintage shop, and they don’t come much better than Funky Junky. This Vesterbro second-hand store offers the best selection in the city of one-off pieces from the 1950s, ’60s and ’70s – mainly Danish and mostly over the top. Whether it’s retro threads or tongue-in-cheek homeware you’re after, this is just the place for a rummage.
© Dennis B Johansen / Courtesy of Kyoto
On Istedgade for more than 20 years, this fashion boutique opened as a simple men’s jeans outlet but has grown with the zone to establish itself as the go-to for the latest fashion lines. Hip Scandinavian brands make up most of the collections, mixed with high-end French labels. The shop has that serene and eye-pleasing layout that makes browsing a pleasure. Sneaker freaks will also find a huge trainer selection, with collabs and limited releases.
Bar, Danish, $$$
Cider bars are few and far between, and that makes this lovely spot all the more special. It has perhaps one of the most extensive cider collections in Europe, and once you take a look, you’d be inclined to agree. Passionate and knowledgeable staff are on hand to steer you towards your tastes, or there are regular tastings where you can sample a bunch. It’s a cosy, quiet and homely place where you can nibble on fennel sausage and organic burrata while you explore the many types of fermented juice.
Bang & Jensen
Cafe, Cocktails, $$$
With its junk-shop aesthetic, quirky wall art and strong brunch game, there’s more than a little of the hipster vibe at this popular Vesterbro cafe. It serves a decent all-day menu, too, together with quality coffee, an impressive cocktail list and an extensive choice of organic juices and sodas. The evening sees it morph into a cool bar with chilled DJ sessions and a buzzy atmosphere until late.