Indre by: City vibes, castles and cold cocktails
If you want to stay next door to basically all the sights Copenhagen has to offer, Indre by – or Central Copenhagen is the place to stay. What makes Copenhagen so unique is the fact that you can easily discover all the highlights just by walking around. It will take you about 7 minutes to walk from Christiansborg to Nyhavn and from there 10 minutes to Rosenborg Castle. Indre By is a buffet of history, urban vibes, food, shopping and culture – and it’s all waiting for you just around the corner.
Before the rampants were taken down in 1857, Indre By was all there was to Copenhagen. Due to several fires and bombings many of the medieval buildings are no longer to be found, however you will find several buildings dating back to the 18thcentury.
You’ll fall in love with Indre By if…
- you want to experience all the highligts and stay central
- historic architecture, castles and cobblestone appeals to you
- you prefer to walk rather than renting or bike or taking public transport
- 5-star hotels or unique, historical Airbnbs are what you’re looking for
Where is Indre By?
Indre By, also referred to as Central Copenhagen, is the oldest part of Copenhagen and the hub that connects all parts of the city. Located by the water Indre By is connected to Christianshavn and Amager by bridges, while The Lakes function as the dividing line between Indre By and Vesterbro, Frederiksberg, Nørrebro and Østerbro.
While Christianshavn, Holmen and Refshaleøen are technically part of Central Copenhagen, most locals consider these areas to be seperate neighborhoods. We will cover Christianshavn, Holmen and Refshaleøen in this neighborhood guide
Points of interest – what to see in Copenhagen
This list could go on and on and on. We have chosen the 10 most touristy highlights that you might want to have a look at. If you want to escape the crowds and hang with the locals, rent a boat and sail around the canals, take the yellow canalbus to Reffen or hangout and feel the beachy vibes at Kayak Bar by Børskaj.
Nyhavn – the icon of Copenhagen
Nyhavn is what most foreigners think Copenhagen looks like. The narrow, colored houses, the cafés and the sailing ships are what most people associate with Copenhagen. This place may be well visited by tourists but that doesn’t change the fact, that this little harbor area is quite adorable and most restaurants serve the Danish specialty, open sandwiches – also known as ‘smørrebrød’. A must see whether you are having lunch or just passing by.
Amalienborg – the royal castle
Amalienborg is a somewhat modest castle consisting of four mansions located between Nyhavn and The Little Mermaid. But most importantly: this is where the queen lives. Feel free to walk around anytime during the day but keep an arm reach distance to the guards. If you stop by at 12 o’clock you can watch the changing of the guards – a ceremony that may vary depending on whether or not the queen is home.
The Little Mermaid – Den Lille Havfrue
On a rock at Langelinie, close to Amalienborg, you will spot a bunch of tourists. And if you look closely you might also get a glimpse of The Little Mermaid, which also goes by the Danish name: Den Lille Havfrue. The little bronze statue, which only measures 1,25 meters from head to tail is based on the fairytale of the same name by Hans Christian Andersen. Since the statue was created in 1913 The Little Mermaid has had her head chopped off twice. A story, that may be more impressive than the actual statue. Tiny or not, The Little Mermaid is a major tourist attraction that you should go get a glimpse of.
Christiansborg – it’s all about politics
Once home to the royal family, this giant castle located on Slotsholmen, a little island in Central Copenhagen, is today home of the Danish parliament. Bishop Absalon built the first castle in 1167. Since then Slotsholmen has been home to five castles. What we see today is the third version of Christiansborg, which was built in 1928. If you want, you can have an elegantly prepared open sandwich in the tower restaurant, Tårnet, or you can enjoy the view from the tower or simply just walk around.
Rosenborg Castle – Copenhagen’s treasure chest
When the famous King Christian IV built Rosenborg Castle, located in Kings Garden, he was on the lookout for a summer residence. Back in 1606-1634 when the castle was built, Copenhagen was much smaller than it is today and Rosenborg was considered a country house. Today you can take a tour of the castle and see the well-preserved interior as well as you can go have a look at the crown jewels that are stored in the basement.
SMK – The National Gallery
Copenhagen is not only about castles and historic architecture. Copenhagen is also about art! SMK, Statens Museum for Kunst – or The National Gallery – is the largest art museum in Denmark featuring collections from the last seven centuries. Here you will find works from contemporary artists as well as Renaissance classics. Enjoy a guided tour, check out the performances, join the talks and workshops or even the concerts if you visit the museum at the right time.
Rundetårn – The Round Tower
King Christian IV could have been more creative when picking a name for this tower built in the 17thcentury, however ‘The Round Tower’ is a pretty precise description for this building. Rundetårn is Europe’s oldest functioning observatory built in order to continue the research of Tycho Brahe. Today it is primarily used by amateur astronomers – and most of all by visitors, who want to enjoy the 360 degree view over Copenhagen. To get to the top you must walk ‘up hill’ in a 268 m spiral. At the top you are rewarded with a view of Copenhagen’s towers and spires.
The Botanical Garden – a lush city oasis
Indre By is home to several green parks where you can find peace and quiet in an otherwise vibrant city. One of these green exiles is the botanical garden, where you can escape into a beautiful green paradise in the old glasshouses from 1874. In the garden you can find more than 13.000 species.
Tivoli Gardens – oldfashioned amusement
This enchanting amusement park from 1843 is still going strong. While new rides, digital amusements and trendy restaurants pop up from time to time, Tivoli still maintains the magical atmosphere. For kids and thrill seekers the rollercoasters and rides might be the main attraction but there is much more to Tivoli than “the rush”. Take a stroll through the park, listen to music, watch an open air play with the iconic Pjerrot and have dinner in one of the many restaurants spread all over the park. Once it gets dark the colorful lights lit up and create yet another magical atmosphere. Tivoli is open from April to October as well as Halloween, Christmas, winter (February) and Easter.
Strøget – an endless shopping street
If you are visiting Copenhagen you will very likely bump into Strøget, which is a 1,1 kilometer stretch from Rådhuspladsen (City Hall) to Kongens Nytorv. While budget shoppers may want to stay in the area towards Rådhuspladsen, big spenders will enjoy the wide range of high-end fashion stores in the opposite end towards Kongens Nytorv.
Where to stay in Indre By
Indre By – or Central Copenhagen – is where you will find the largest selection of accommodation options. With a handful of good hostels the budget traveller will be able to find central accommodation, however the luxury traveller may have a little more to choose from. Want something a bit more personal? Check out private accommodation through Airbnb or similar.
Though Indre By is considered a neighborhood you will quickly notice that there are several micro neighborhoods within Indre By. Here are some of them!
Perhaps the most local neighborhood located around Nansensgade between The Lakes and Nørreport. In Nansensgade you will find several restaurants and bars but in general it’s a pretty quiet area in the city.
This is the most upscale part of Central Copenhagen and also the area where you will find Amalienborg and Marble Church (Marmorkirken). While Bredgade is particularly known for its many galleries, Store Kongensgade and Dronningens Tværgade offer a number of restaurants and bars. A charming little part of Copenhagen that is worth exploring whether you are staying here or not.
Pisserenden – part of the Latin Quarter
Pisserenden means ‘pissing gutter’ and is part of The Latin Quarter. Back in the days, this area was filled with breweries, distilleries and cattle that used the gutter as a toilet. Later on it became of hub for prostitution and cheap bars with no restrooms. Basically: it’s been a smelly experience throughout time! Today it is still a quite lively area with independent boutiques, small restaurants and lots of bars, including several gay bars, primarily in Vestergade and Studiestræde. If you consider checking into an Airbnb in this area, you should expect it to be a bit noisy on the weekends.
5 luxury hotels in Central Copenhagen you need to check out
- With its indoor urban jungle Manon Les Suites may very well be Copenhagen’s most Instagram friendly hotel. Located by the Lakes you will be staying in the city yet close to charming Vesterbro.
- Villa Copenhagen is a brand new luxury hotel in a historical building next to Tivoli Gardens and Central Station. Indulge yourself, eat, have a drink or five – and enjoy life by the rooftop pool.
- If you’re looking for classic luxury, D’Angleterre at Kongens Nytorv is your best bet. Since 1755 this hotel has been among the absolute best hotels in Denmark with an endless guest list of rock stars and royals.
- Shaped as a castle and located in Tivoli, Nimb Hotel may very well be Copenhagen’s most luxurious boutique hotel with 38 individually styled suites. Luxurious enough to end up on the Condé Nast Traveler 2020 Gold List.
- Skt. Petri is laidback luxury and retro glamour with a central location a few minutes from Nørreport and Strøget. Food, drinks and modern comfort in an old department store.
Shopping in Central Copenhagen
If you are looking for a giant buffet of fashion stores, head to Strøget. Copenhagen’s longest shopping street – a 1,1 kilometer stretch from Rådhuspladsen to Kongens Nytorv. Here you will find all the mainstream stores as well as souvenir shops and high end luxury. In Købermagergade, which is the link between Nørreport and Strøget, you will find similar stores.
Are you more curious about independent shops and edgy boutiques you need to go on a little adventure, but you won’t regret it. Check out streets such as Pilestræde, Kronprinsensgade, Christian IX’s Gade, Bremerholm, Store Regnegade and Antonigade.
On the lookout for department stores? You only have two options! While Illum on the corner of Strøget and Købmagergade primarily offers international high end luxury as well as Danish design, Magasin at Kongens Nytorv offers a wide range of fashion as well as cosmetics and interior for different budgets.
Finally, if you’re looking for furniture, interior and Danish design icons, don’t miss out on a visit to Illums Bolighus on Strøget.
Nightlife – cocktails, beers and happy Danes
In Indre By you can have any kind of night out. We’ll have a look at 5 areas that will guarantee you a great night out.
Gothersgade – young, fun and noisy
If you’re older than 30 this street might not be your best bet. Here you will find bars with beachy themes, bodegas, after ski bars and much more. This may not be the most trendy place to go out but if you’re looking for bar hopping and happy people, check it out.
Pisserenden – all of the above in the colors of the rainbow
Pisserenden, primarily Vestergade and Studiestræde, is similar to Gothersgade with lots of small bars with different themes. But with a special twist. Pisserenden is also the place where you will find find most gay bars in Copenhagen.
Gammel Strand – front row cocktails
In the charming streets by the water, Gammel Strand and Nybrogade, you will find several great bars. Have your first drink at legendary Ruby on Nybrogade 10 – an absolutely charming old fashioned cocktail bar in a building from 1740. Continue to the more lively, Chinese inspired Madam Chu’s and from there cross Højbro Plads and join the party at Condesa – or head in the other direction for more budget friendly cocktails at Zefside.
Kongens Nytorv – bubbles and bars
It’s not actually happening in Kongens Nytorv itself but in the streets close by. Check out the exclusive cocktail bar, Brønnum, by The Royal Theater or go to Balthazar champagne bar in Ny Østergade behind D’Angleterre. Looking for more casual bars? Go to Nyhavn or Gothersgade. And finally – if you’re looking for a clubbing experience make your way to At Dolores on Lille Kongensgade.
Kayak Bar – in the summertime…
Done shopping on a hot summer day? You might wanna go for a cold drink. Kayak Bar by Børskaj may very well be your best option for beachy vibes in the city. What started out as a kayak club is today one of the absolute coolest hangouts in the summer.