Districts of Copenhagen

Districts of Copenhagen: Get to know Copenhagen’s neighborhoods

If you don’t venture beyond the city center, it’s easy to think that the districts of Copenhagen are identical. Look a little closer, however, and you’ll quickly realize that’s not true. 

Denmark’s capital has evolved into a dynamic metropolis that can hold its own when pitted against Europe’s other iconic cities. Each neighborhood has a unique charm, and when you’ve lived here for a while, it’s pretty easy to tell who’s from where by how they dress alone. 

Before you come to Copenhagen, it’s worth understanding the lay of the (very flat) land a little. Whether you’re looking for future trip inspiration or considering a move here, this guide will help you get to know the Danish capital’s neighborhoods better.

A quick note on the districts of Copenhagen

If you talk about where you live to someone, you most likely say that you live “in” a place rather than “on” it. But with Copenhagen, it’s a little complicated in that respect. 

In Denmark, the word “bro” means bridge. And as you’re about to find out, many of the city’s neighborhoods have that at the end. In Danish, you would say that you live “på” (on) Nørrebro, Vesterbro, and so on. In essence, you’re living on that bridge. 

You would also say that you live on Frederiksberg, as “berg” means mountain in Danish. 

In other instances, you’ll say “in” — for example, “I live in Valby”. 

And to help you gather your bearings before we continue, we’ve included a map of Copenhagen for you to refer to below:

Now we’ve got that out of the way, let’s dive deeper into discovering the varied and vibrant districts of Copenhagen. 

Copenhagen K — Indre By

In Danish, “København K” stands for “København København”. Meanwhile, “Indre By” is Danish for “inner city”. Both are quite practical since this area is the core part of Copenhagen that you’re likely most familiar with. 

Indre By is somewhat compact. Its boundaries cover the closest shore of three lakes to the city center, and the district borders Nørrebro, Østerbro, and Frederiksberg. The cut-off point with Vesterbro is somewhere around Gammel Kongevej, at the bottom end of the lakes — where the planetarium stands today. 

The borders of Indre By are a little disputed. Some believe that it goes up and includes the Kastellet fortress, but others believe that part of the city is Østerbro. Either way, the inner city’s area comes back down along the waterfront until somewhere around Slotsholmen. 

Indre By is where Copenhagen’s journey to one of the world’s most prosperous cities began. Originally, Denmark’s capital was nothing more than a fishing town; the name “Købehavn” means “Merchant’s Harbor”. 

Bishop Absalon of Roskilde built a castle to protect the city on the island of Slotsholmen in the 1160s, but Copenhagen existed long before that.  

These days, Indre By is—as you can imagine—one of the most expensive parts of the city. The Danish Royal Family lives in Amalienborg Palace, while the other Indre By residents are also largely well-off financially. 

If you’re interested in history, architecture, and good food, read our full guide to Indre By

Districts of Copenhagen

Christianshavn

If you cross the bridges from either Nyhavn, BLOX, or Slotsholmen, you’ll end up in Christianshavn. Although this is one of Copenhagen’s smallest neighborhoods, it’s also one of the best to live in. 

Christianshavn spans across part of Amager Boulevard and up along a peculiar-shaped waterway. Coming back around, the area goes past the Copenhagen Opera House and along the waterfront.  

The neighborhood has a noticeable Dutch feel to it, and that’s partially intentional. Johan Semp was invited to Denmark by King Christian IV and decided to model this Copenhagen district on the layout of cities in the Netherlands. 

Vor Freslers Kirke, the main church in the neighborhood, looks pretty similar to Westerkerk in Amsterdam. 

As you can probably tell, Christianhavn’s name partially derives from King Christian IV; its full English translation is “Christian’s Harbor”. 

Christianshavn’s history is long and varied. Initially, it was designed to help protect Slotsholmen from attacks coming in from the east. The town itself was initially independent from Copenhagen and has shifted between being upscale and working-class — both of which have contributed to its modern-day rebellious feel. 

Nowhere is that bohemian vibe more evident than in Freetown Christiania. After a squatted military area was turned into a district of its own in the 1970s, it became synonymous with free living — which also included the sale of marijuana (which was and still is illegal in Denmark). 

In more modern times, Christianshavn has evolved a little. Although much of its architecture remains historic, Krøyers Plads—a set of modern apartments opposite Nyhavn—were completed in 2016. 

If you’re a sucker for maritime atmospheres, check out our full Christianshavn guide.

Districts of Copenhagen

Copenhagen V — Vesterbro

Vesterbro is one of the primary districts in Copenhagen and is situated just outside of the city center. In English, its name literally means “Western Bridge”. 

If you went for an aimless walk around the city, you probably wouldn’t notice that you strayed from Indre By to Vesterbro for a couple of streets. The neighborhood, which has turned into one of the most hipster areas in Copenhagen, starts on the borders of the main train station and Tivoli Amusement Park. 

After that, it goes a little along the waterfront and comes back inland. If you had kept going along the water, you would have ended up in Sydhavnen — a newly-built district that consists mainly of modern apartments. 

Going up, the westernmost side of Vesterbro borders Valby and includes Vestre Kirkegård. The neighborhood then comes back around and sits adjacent to Frederiksberg before coming along the bottom part of the lakes and completing its jagged loop. 

Also included in Vesterbro is Carlsberg Byen, a new Copenhagen district under construction by the Carlsberg brewery. This part of the city is expected to be completed in 2024, though some offices and apartments have already opened. 

Historically, Vesterbro didn’t have much going for it until the 19th century — when the fortifications surrounding Copenhagen were taken down. After that, housing developed pretty fast. The neighborhood used to be primarily working-class and was notorious for being a prostitution and drugs hotspot. 

Throughout the 20th century, urban planners sought to “clean up” Vesterbro’s act a little. Housing conditions improved, and the seedy implications slowly reduced — though you’ll see sex shops and whatnot if you walk around the neighborhood today. 

Today, Vesterbro has become one of Copenhagen’s most popular neighborhoods — leading to house prices increasing significantly. Former industrial areas have been converted into eateries and bars, and the district maintains its hipster vibe. 

If you’re into hipster vibes and down-to-earth vibes, take a look at our Vesterbro guide

Districts of Copenhagen

Copenhagen N — Nørrebro

Nørrebro is one of the core Copenhagen districts and is northwest of the city center. To get here from the main part of Denmark’s capital, you’ll most likely cross over Dronning Louises Bro — which today is the busiest cycling street in the world. 

Nørrebro consists of two parts — Indre Nørrebro, which is the inner part, and Ydre (outer) Nørrebro. The inner part is known locally as Københvn N, whereas the outer part is København NV (and colloquially referred to as Nordvest; it forms a large part of Bispebjerg). 

Nørrebro didn’t really get going until the 19th century; before, Copenhagen’s fortifications prevented the neighborhood from developing into something significant. In the space of fewer than 50 years between 1857 and 1901, its population skyrocketed from 10,000 to over 100,000. 

It’s hard to tell today, but Nørrebro had been a more upscale part of the city before its major late-19th century boom. After that, it became a place for the working class. Until recently, it was one of Copenhagen’s most undesirable areas and synonymous with unrest. 

In the latter half of the 20th century and early 2000s, several riots took place. One of the biggest happened in 1993, and it followed a second referendum in which Denmark agreed to the Maastricht Treaty (the one that took place one year earlier had seen the country vote against it). 

During the 1993 riots, angry protestors took to the streets of Nørrebro; police had to shoot 11 of these to “stop a colleague from getting stoned to death”. 

Nørrebro also erupted in 2006 and 2007, both of which related to Ungdomshuset (the Youth House) and its subsequent demolition. Since then, a new one has opened not far away. 

These days, Nørrebro has become one of Copenhagen’s trendiest neighborhoods – and it’s nowhere near as cheap to buy or rent in this part of the city. The district is known for its multiculturalism, with Danes living alongside dozens of other nationalities. 

If great food and an international crowd is your things, take a look at our guide to Nørrebro

Copenhagen Ø – Østerbro

Østerbro borders Nørrebro and is one of the most upscale districts in Copenhagen. The neighborhood is to the northeast of Indre By and roughly 15 minutes from the city center by bike. 

Whereas some of the other Copenhagen districts we’ve mentioned so far started as places for people with lower incomes to live, Østerbro has always been wealthier. 

However, like Vesterbro and Nørrebro, Østerbro only began to grow significantly after the removal of the fortifications surrounding the Danish capital. From 1850 to 1900, its population grew from 1,500 to over 60,000

In recent years, Østerbro has expanded. The “København Ø” area also includes the waterfront neighborhood Nordhavn, which has seen a former industrial site turned into swanky modern apartments — while the United Nations also has an office here. 

Most of the people that live in Østerbro today are families, and the district is less multicultural than Nørrebro. It has a wide selection of green spaces, including Fælledparken — which is the biggest park in Copenhagen.

Østerbro is also where you’ll find Parken, which is Denmark’s primary soccer stadium. The Danish national team plays its games here, as does FC Copenhagen — which is arguably the biggest club in the country. 

If you love peace and quiet and green areas, our Østerbro guide is for you

Districts of Copenhagen

Frederiksberg

Frederiksberg is west of Copenhagen’s city center and borders Nørrebro, Vesterbro, Valby, and Vanløse. The neighborhood is a bit of an anomaly; even though Copenhagen surrounds it, it’s not part of the same municipality. 

Frederiksberg is roughly 10 minutes away from Copenhagen’s main square by bike. Although it has its own council and mayor, it’s still considered part of Denmark’s capital region. On the flip side, the Copenhagen metro runs extensively through Frederiksberg — and you can get a direct train to the airport. 

Frederiksberg is one of the city’s older neighborhoods, and today, it has a population of just over 100,000. Again, though, much of its growth didn’t come until developers could build beyond the city’s fortifications. 

Despite the Copenhagen municipality growing in 1901, it was decided that the district would not become part of the city. Even in 2007, when Denmark reformed its municipal structures, Frederiksberg remained independent from the capital city. 

It’s unlikely that will change anytime soon, either; residents are happy to be independent, and there isn’t a real need to merge the two.

Frederiksberg is one of the region’s most affluent areas and—as you might expect—is also one of the most expensive places to buy a place to live in Denmark. It often tops polls for the most desirable part of Copenhagen to live, tussling with Østerbro. 

If you live in Frederiksberg, you’ll pay slightly lower income tax than you would in Copenhagen. The municipality also tends to vote for more right-leaning parties, whereas Copenhagen is largely left-wing. 

Frederiksberg is home to a lot of green space, and Copenhagen Business School is also located within the municipality. Much of the area is residential, but the district has a significant number of restaurants and independent stores. 

Valby

For many locals, Valby is often seen as the final point of Copenhagen’s city limits. And for many foreigners that come to live in Copenhagen, Valby is often their first port of call. SIRI, which is the agency that looks after granting residence permits in Denmark, has one of its offices located here. 

But Valby is more than a pit stop for handing over your documents. The neighborhood lies southwest of Indre By and borders Vesterbro, Frederiksberg, and Vanløse. On its outskirts, you’ll find Hvidovre and Rødovre — both of which aren’t officially areas of Copenhagen, but count as suburbs and aren’t far from the city center. 

Although Valby is part of the Copenhagen Municipality, it feels more like a town of its own. Part of that might have to do with the fact that it only became an official part of the capital in 1901. 

The neighborhood has a wide variety of housing types, ranging from larger houses to the more typical Copenhagen-style apartments you’d expect to see elsewhere. In recent years, modern properties have popped up — resulting in a diverse mix of architecture. 

Many Copenhageners and expats move to Valby because you can often find more affordable places to live without needing to exile yourself from the city center. It’s easy to get to the other neighborhoods by bike, but you can also reach the central train station via the S train in just 10 minutes. 

Despite not being as expensive or sought-after as Frederiksberg and Vesterbro, Valby still has its share of upscale properties. Thanks to its ability to cater to everyone, the neighborhood has a broad mixture of residents — both in terms of backgrounds and income levels. 

Districts of Copenhagen

Copenhagen S — Amager

If you look on a map, you’ll notice that Amager is huge. If you fly into Copenhagen Airport, you’ll land on this island. 

Although Amager looks detached from the rest of the Danish capital, it’s surprisingly easy to get into town. For example, from the airport to Copenhagen Central Station, you only need to travel for around 12 minutes. 

If we talk about the Copenhagen municipality, you can include Amager Øst (including Amagerbro), Islands Brygge, and Ørestad. Amagerbro offers lower housing prices than most of the other neighborhoods mentioned in this article, while Islands Brygge is just a short bike ride across the bridge from the city center. 

Ørestad is a little further out but reachable from the city center in roughly 20 minutes. You can also get to Malmö, Sweden’s third-largest city, in about half an hour. 

Tårnby is also part of Amager but has its own municipality. The same goes for Dragør, which is a pleasant fishing town not far from the airport. 

Despite having a population of 210,000—which is more than any Danish city other than Copenhagen and Aarhus—much of Amager is covered by a vast nature reserve called Amager Fælled. Thanks in part to this, it has more of a rural feel than the rest of the city. 

Believe it or not, Amager Fælled used to be a spot for people to get executed. The last one was in 1845, though, and things are much more peaceful today. 

Amager has undergone significant development in the 21st century. Islands Brygge is a shining example; this Copenhagen district almost entirely consists of modern apartments, most of which are pretty expensive to rent and buy. 

Ørestad is another example of Copenhagen’s blossoming urban development and consists of large apartments and shopping malls. It’s also home to the Bella Center, which holds the crown of being the largest exhibition and congress center in Scandinavia. 

In recent years, continued urban development on the island has raised concerns about the future of Amager Fælled. A planned quarter called Fælledby has received particular backlash, with campaigners worrying about how this area of Copenhagen would impact the wildlife living in this area. 

Others are worried that developers will continue building over the common until nothing is left. 

Strandvejen

Three of Copenhagen’s most desirable and exclusive neighborhoods—Hellerup, Charlottenlund, and Klampenborg—lie north of Østerbro and Nordhavn. The three of them form part of the Gentofte municipality, which is the richest in Denmark. 

Hellerup is the birthplace of Tuborg, one of the most famous Danish beer brands. Although Tuborg has since become part of the Carlsberg Group and no longer brews in the area, several major companies—such as PwC and Saxo Bank—have offices in the district. 

Hellerup is a mixture of more typical Danish-style apartments and larger homes along the waterfront in terms of houses. It could, by all accounts, still feel like Østerbro to some. 

Hellerup is around 30 minutes away from central Copenhagen by bike, and you can also get into town via the S train — which takes 12 minutes. 

Klampenborg is a little further north than Hellerup and is where you’ll find Dyrehaven — a huge deer park that Copenhageners frequent on the weekend. It’s also where you’ll discover Bakken, which is the world’s oldest functioning theme park. 

Charlottenlund is in between Klampenborg and Hellerup and—like the other two—is connected to the city center by rail. 

All three neighborhoods have some of Denmark’s highest housing prices and consist almost entirely of residents earning a higher income than pretty much every other part of the country.

In English, Strandvejen translates to “the beach road”. It stretches up to Helsingør, which is a popular day trip from Copenhagen and just four kilometers from the Swedish mainland. 

Districts of Copenhagen

The districts of Copenhagen are varied and intriguing

Copenhagen is much smaller than the likes of London and New York City, but it’s a mistake to think that it offers little outside of its center. The districts of Copenhagen all have their own unique charms and vary hugely in terms of the people living there, along with their architecture and atmospheres. 

The Danish capital has grown significantly since its humble beginnings all those centuries ago and has become one of the world’s most prosperous and innovative cities. All of its neighborhoods offer a high quality of life, and regardless of your personal preferences, you’ll almost certainly find a place that will feel like home. 

Copenhagen’s population growth is expected to continue over the next couple of decades and will undoubtedly continue to top those liveability lists. So, if you fancy joining the party, you can use this guide as a helpful reference point. 

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