Vesterbro: Wine, dine and hang out
Where to stay in Copenhagen if you’re looking for a place to stay that’s central, local and cool? Vesterbro Copenhagen is a happening, trendy neighborhood close to the city center. Once a low-income neighborhood and a hub for prostitution, strip clubs and drugs – now primarily home to students, young couples and families as well as a bunch of coffee shops, restaurants and bars.
The somewhat rough past does however still live on around Istedgade towards Central Station. But nothing like it used to be – and no need to worry! It may be ‘lively’ at times but it’s not dangerous.
You will love Vesterbro if…
- food, wine and cocktails are a top priority
- you want the neighborhood feel close to the city
- you are looking for budget accommodation
- shared dining or picnics sound like fun
Where is Vesterbro?
Technically Vesterbro is located between Indre By by City Hall (Rådhuspladsen), Sydhavnen and Carlsberg Byen and stretches to Fisketorvet and Havneholmen by the water and all the way to The Lakes and Gl. Kongevej in Frederiksberg in the opposite direction.
However, most Copenhageners consider the area from Central Station towards Enghave Plads and Carlsberg to be the ”real” Vesterbro. Tivoli and City Hall are from a natives point of view considered Central Copenhagen even though their postal code belongs to Vesterbro.
Streets and areas to explore
Vesterbro is in general a cool area if you just want to hang out, drink coffee, eat and drink. But naturally there are certain places you need to know about.
Enghave Plads and Enghave Park
If you need to jump on the metro, Enghave Plads is the place to go. Also a great option if you’re just looking for a bit of open air in the midst of otherwise narrow streets. Looking for a place for picnic? Go to Enghave Park – a little green oasis across from Enghave Plads.
If you’re looking to take a stroll, eat pizza on the grass or just hang out, go to Sønder Boulevard. In the summer you will find a lot of people gathering around Kihoskh from early till late – eating, drinking, smoking or simply just hanging out.
Istedgade is the spine of Vesterbro consisting of two parts divided by an invisible line called Gasværksvej. The strip from Central Station to Gasværksvej is where you’ll find a bunch of hotels, primarily budget hotels and this is also where you will find what’s left of the socalled red light district. The stretch from Gasvæksvej towards Enghave Plads is a bit quieter with a variety of restaurants, boutiques, bars and coffee shops.
Technically this street is only part Vesterbro. While even numbers belong to Vesterbro, uneven numbers belong to Frederiksberg. Technicalities aside this cute little street is worth a visit. In Værnedamsvej you’ll find good food, good wine, interior design, fashion, cheese and much more. It’s a very compact experience so you won’t have to look too hard.
Someone once suggested that Carlsberg was probably the best beer in the world. Well, guess what! This is where it used to be brewed. The remains of the old factory are still here surrounded by new apartment buildings, which make up the new residential area called Carlsberg Byen (Carlsberg Town).
A must see in Vesterbro. As the name suggests, Meatpacking District used to be the butchers’ paradise. Today it’s a little haven for people who enjoy good food, cocktails, nightlife and art. Here you’ll find a variety of restaurants – from chinese food and pizza to experimental gourmet and great cocktails. In the weekend Meatpacking District is a great place to enjoy a beer in the sun or to visit the bars, which are open until the early hours.
Nightlife – where to go
In Vesterbro you will find nightlife for all budgets and personalities. Throughout history Vesterbro has been the place to go to get a drink – or many drinks in most cases. Back in the days when Vesterbro was a hub for cattle trade the farmers would celebrate a good deal by going to a bar and get wasted. Later on the hardworking working class men would spend half their salaries in a brown, dusty bar and throughout the 70’s people from near and far would pay the strip clubs a visit.
Though Vesterbro has become a hip and trendy area the brown, smoky bars are still very popular among all age and income groups and are to be found around basically every corner; McKluud, Riesen, Blomsten and Jernbanecaféen just to mention a few. For those who love beer but not the smoke, Vesterbro also offers high end microbreweries such as Mikkeller and Warpigs. Prefer the finer liquids? Start out at a wine bar like Malbeck or Vesterbro Vinstue and continue to some of Copenhagen’s coolest cocktail bars like Lidkøb, Duck & Cover and 1656. Looking for a party? Head to Meatpacking District and explore the funky bars all night.
Vesterbro with kids
Vesterbro is a great option if you’re traveling with kids. You can easily catch the metro from Enghave Plads or the S-train from Copenhagen Central Station – or you can choose to walk around. Besides the giant “playground” Tivoli, Vesterbro is where you will find Skydebanehaven – directly translated: Shooting Range Garden. In late 19th century the park functioned as a shooting range for the wealthy Copenhageners but as the Vesterbro working class area grew and surrounded the park, the rich guys packed their guns and left the area. Today Skydebanehaven is a popular combined park and playground squeezed in between Vesterbrogade and Istedgade.
If you decide to stay in an Airbnb in Vesterbro beware that most buildings are dating back to the late 19th. century, which means there are usually no elevators and the bathrooms are usually relatively small with no bathtub. If facilities such as an elevator, a rooftop terrace or a giant bathroom is a priority, check out Carlsberg Byen.
Hotels – where to stay in the area?
Vesterbro is a great place to stay if you want to be within walking distance to most things, yet also experience a more local atmosphere.
Vesterbro offers a lot of hotels for different budgets. Most of the hotels are centered around Central Station in Vesterbrogade and in Istedgade. Here you will also find several hostels offering private as well as shared rooms for budget travellers.
Where to go shopping in Vesterbro
Though Central Copenhagen with the endless shopping street Strøget is not far away, there are plenty of reasons to spend your money in the boutiques in Vesterbro. Take a stroll down Istedgade, especially between Absalonsgade and Enghave Plads, and have a look inside the little independent stores that are booming with handpicked fashion and interior design.
Looking for a mall? Cross Dybbølsbro and head to Fisketorvet. The one and only mall located in the city.
Vintage boutiques? They’re here and there. You’ll find a few on Istedgade but you should also have a look around the smaller streets such as Haderslevgade, Tullinsgade and Ny Carlsbergvej, just to mention a few.
In Vesterbro you have most of the city within walking distance and by bike you can be anywhere in no time. However, here are a few things you’ll find in Vesterbro.
Tivoli – rollercoasters and rock
Tivoli opened in 1943, which makes the amusement part the second oldest in the world (the oldest is Bakken, located north of Copenhagen). Fairytale writer Hans Christian Andersen found inspiration in the exotic park, Walt Disney himself went to visit and since mid 1800’s it has brought joy to numerous Copenhageners and tourists. Today Tivoli offers rollercoasters and other amusements, great dining experiences, lush gardens, indoor and outdoor theatre experiences and open air concerts. A true oasis in the middle of the city, right next to Central Station.
Meatpacking District – a haven for foodies and art lovers
Meatpacking District located by Halmtorvet is primarily known as a place to eat, drink and party but it’s not all party and promiscuity. Visit some of the art galleries or take a walk around the streets behind the ‘White Meatpacking District’ and discover hidden treasures in an industrial setting.
Carlsberg Byen – from beer to neighborhood
Carlsberg Byen (Carlsberg Town) is located between Vesterbro, Frederiksberg and Valby. Until 2008 this was headquarter of Carlsberg Beer but today Carlsberg has transformed into a residential area where modern architecture is integrated in the historical environment. The iconic elephant gate as well as several old buildings and other remains are still to be found here among modern apartment buildings. Also it should be possible to enjoy a cold Carlsberg in one of the cafés in the area.
Tycho Brahe Planetarium – stars on the big screen
Since 1989 it’s been possible to explore outer space from a comfy chair in the Tycho Brahe Planetarium in Vesterbro, located by St. Jørgens Lake. The Planetarium features a 1000 m2 giant dome shaped screen that will take you on a journey to a galaxy far, far away – or back in time to the era of the dinosaurs. The unique dome combined with 3D-glasses makes you feel like you’re part of the movie so prepare yourself for an unforgettable journey.
Cykelslangen – The Bicycle Snake
If you’re taking your bicycle from Vesterbro towards Islands Brygge you will have the chance to ride your bike over the Bicycle Snake – also known as Cykelslangen. Few years ago the cycle bridge was built to prevent pedestrians and bicyclists from bumping into each other but the bridge turned out to be much more than an element in the infrastructure. It became an icon of the Danish bicycling culture and a sculptural connection between two parts of the city.