First 24 hours: Copen­hagen, Den­mark

Known for its Lit­tle Mer­maid statue and hygge charms, the Dan­ish cap­i­tal’s lat­est lure for cu­ri­ous trav­ellers is its gen­tri­fied red light district, dis­cov­ers Phoebe Smith

Wanderlust Travel Magazine (UK) - - Contents -

Best known for fairy­tales and hygge, there’s more to the Dan­ish cap­i­tal than mer­maids and cosy jumpers, as the new go-to hang­out – and for­mer red light district – of Vester­bro proves

Be­fore you ar­rive

“They say that in that bar there is a cer­tain drink you can or­der where staff will do some­thing rather ‘spe­cial’ with the beer bot­tle,” said my guide, leav­ing the com­ment to hang in the air as we drifted fur­ther down the wide streets of Vester­bro.

For­merly a seedy area of the city famed for its pros­ti­tu­tion, drugs and porn shops, this district – sat to the south-west side of the cen­tral train sta­tion and main shop­ping area – is now one of Copen­hagen’s most up-and-com­ing ar­eas. It’s all the more sur­pris­ing given that when most peo­ple think of the Dan­ish cap­i­tal, they re­call the in­no­cent tales of Hans Chris­tian An­der­sen, cel­e­brated here in the Fairy­tale House (a mu­seum ded­i­cated to the au­thor’s life and sto­ries) and Lit­tle Mer­maid statue, so of­ten swarm­ing with selfie-seek­ers. But for those in the know, there’s more to this city.

Mix­ing de­signer shops along­side old dive bars now fre­quented by beard-sport­ing hip­sters as well as lo­cals, Vester­bro oozes Scandi-cool in a way that only the coun­try that bought us the con­cept of hygge (that feel­ing of con­tent­ment) could man­age to pull off. In the af­ter­noon I spent wan­der­ing the area’s tourist-free cob­bles and al­ley­ways, I saw out­door art­work, tried a beer in the re­vamped meat-pack­ing district, learned the story behind the city’s most suc­cess­ful mi­cro­brew­ery (born of a sib­ling ri­valry that would make the per­fect Hol­ly­wood movie) and min­gled with na­tive city dwellers in beau­ti­fully serene court­yard gar­dens.

And while I couldn’t pos­si­bly de­scribe just what the staff do with beer bot­tles in that one bar, I will say this: when it comes to Vester­bro, the for­mer so­bri­quet of ‘no-go area’ truly no longer fits…

At the air­port

Kas­trup Copen­hagen Air­port sits roughly 8km south-east of the city cen­tre. A whole host of air­lines run mul­ti­ple daily flights di­rect from most UK air­ports, in­clud­ing bud­get car­ri­ers such as Ryanair ( and easyjet (; re­turn flights from around £40; Flight time is around two hours. Once there, you’ll find ATMS, tourist in­for­ma­tion and lock­ers.

Get­ting into town

The cheap­est, most ef­fi­cient way is to take either the Metro (to main hub Nor­re­port Sta­tion) or train (to Cen­tral Sta­tion) from Ter­mi­nal 3. Both take less than 15 min­utes and cost from DKK36 (£4.25) for a sin­gle ticket. But a bet­ter in­vest­ment is the Copen­hagen Card, which cov­ers ac­cess to a range of trans­port and at­trac­tions (see ‘Top Tip’).

Ship shape The colour­ful canal­side of 17th-cen­tury Ny­havn is now awash with cof­fee shops and great eater­ies

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