Greetings Internet Stranger and welcome to a day of Unique Things to do in Copenhagen. As I’ve said in my earlier posts on Copenhagen, it is one of the happiest cities in the world. Truly there are times when Copenhagen seems to have stepped directly out of a fairy tale. Well, metaphorically because cities don’t have legs.
And if Copenhagen were a person, it would obviously be the Little Mermaid, so it would have a fin. But even the happiest fairy tale has its dark and seedy side. With 24 hours in Copenhagen’s Vesterbro neighborhood, we can begin to see the more unique things to do in Copenhagen. Take a walk on the wild side, if you will.
If a city that is so safe that parents regularly leave babies unattended out on the street in strollers can be considered to have a wild side.
Unique Things to Do in Copenhagen
How to Get There
Now, I wish I knew where you lived, Internet Stranger, because I could send you a box of the finest Danish butter cookies. But sadly, I do not, and so I can’t tell you exactly how to get from your home to your day of the most unique things to do in Copenhagen.
But I can tell you that you can use an airplane to get to Copenhagen, probably stopping in a bigger city like London or Paris along the way. I recommend Expedia for the best way to find the cheapest flight to Copenhagen.
You can even use Expedia to rent a car so you’ll be all set when you arrive at your destination. (I can’t drive, but if you can, this must be helpful.)
Just click here to start looking for the best possible deals on your flight, so you can head out on your 24 hours of the most unique things to do in Copenhagen.
most unique things to do in Copenhagen
Where to Stay?
There are so many hygge places to stay in Copenhagen that one hardly knows where to start. But Copenhagen, like the rest of Scandinavia, can be extremely expensive. That’s why I was happy to stay at Wakeup Copenhagen Borgergade. It was in a convenient location, it was affordable, and it had a clean private room with a bathroom. Plus breakfast was included! That’s really all I can ask for. It was the perfect base for my day of the most unique things to do in Copenhagen.
most unique things to do in Copenhagen
What to Pack
- The weather won’t always be nice during your day of the most unique things to do in Copenhagen, so you want to be prepared with these Waterproof boots
- A cell charger so that you’ll be able to keep taking photos all during your day.
- The best international travel adapter because if you’re American like I am, or British like I am not, you’ll need one to be able to plug in electronics in Denmark.
- A rain jacket with a hood because there is a 99 percent chance it will rain at some point during your day of the most unique things to do in Copenhagen
- An umbrella that can stand up to a stiff breeze or a sneaky troll during your day of the most unique things to do in Copenhagen.
- My book Get Lost, that I wrote myself with all my best travel tips. This book will show you exactly why travel is better than a man.
- My favorite travel guide to Denmark.
- I always travel with travel insurance from World Nomads. You never know when something might go wrong, especially in this day and age. But with travel insurance, you’re protected even if you’re attacked by an ugly duckling during your day of the best Copenhagen attractions.
Unique Things to Do in Copenhagen
Morning: Self Guided Gourmet Food Tour
Some of you Internet Strangers might be thinking, “Hey! Where’s the seedy Vesterbro neighborhood I was promised? What’s this Gourmet Tour business?” In fact, Vesterbro pretty much means West End in Danish. And while Vesterbro used to be dicey, it’s now gentrified and safe for hipsters and babies alike.
For good and for ill. you’re more likely to find artisanal coffee shops in this neighborhood now than you are to find Shady People and Their Shady Deeds. But you can still find Unique Things to Do in Copenhagen here.
I had come to Vesterbro to find happiness, and nothing makes me happier than a good meal. That’s why I chose this food tour as the perfect way to explore the West End. The tour itself isn’t offered at the moment, but I can show you how to recreate it yourself.
Our guide Rosemary explained that Vesterbro used to be outside the city of Copenhagen. The square where the tour began was a place where they used to make rope…for the hangman. (I don’t actually know the rope was for the hangman. I’m just trying to give this blog post some edge.) Now I will attempt to stick to just the facts with…
approximately top 5: vesterbro food
1) Dream Cake
Because the tour began close to breakfast time, we started with a morning-appropriate dream cake. This is a Danish classic. It’s a simple white cake with a buttery, sugary, coconut topping. The cafe served the dream cake with chile sauce, which I gathered is not typical. But I guess putting chile sauce on a dessert is what counts as edgy in Vesterbro these days. (Also chile + sugar = delicious.)
Copenhagen’s Meatpacking District used to be in Vesterbro, but now those meat warehouses have all been converted into trendy bars and restaurants. (This reminds me of the Meatpacking District in my hometown of New York City, which is now full of models and their old, rich boyfriends, but used to be full of the blood of animals running through the streets.)
Anyway, in Copenhagen, one of those trendy new restaurants, Fleisch, pays homage to Vesterbro and its past by serving succulent meat products. We got to sample basically every kind of animal flesh there is! We started with a warm pork croquette…
Then there was a herring smorrebrod with egg and capers on top. (Smorrebrod is the famous Danish openfaced sandwich.) There was one kid in our group who said she didn’t like fish and refused to try it. I never understand why kids can be such picky eaters. I’m glad I was never a kid.
Of course you need to pair the herring with some of the Danish national spirit, aquavit. That’s just science. The kid didn’t want to drink this either. How ungrateful!
Finally we had chicken salad smorrebrod with crispy chicken skin. (The kid deigned to eat this.) My favorite thing about smorrebrod is how the chefs work so hard to make each one visually stunning. I suspect one reason the Danish people are so happy is because they are surrounded by cute sandwiches all the time.
Organic food is all the rage in Copenhagen. It seemed like every restaurant had its own private garden with its own artisanal carrots. So the Vesterbro food tour got in on the trend by taking us to BOB. For a moment, I thought we were visiting the villain from Twin Peaks but (un)fortunately that was not the case. BOB stands for Biomio Organic Bistro.
As at Fleisch, we got to sample multiple dishes, which I appreciated. We started with some organic veggies and organic hummus. Both the pesto in the hummus and the cute little jar it came in were much appreciated by yours truly.
For carnitarians, there was a board with pork neck and carpaccio, which is Italian for raw meat. Doesn’t get more carnivore than that!
4) Anker Chocolate
Two things that are very popular in Denmark are candy and handmade goods. So it stands to reason that handmade chocolate would be incredibly popular. Anker Chocolate is a small shop in Vesterbro that makes all their phenomenal chocolate in-house. They use seasonal ingredients, so if you go here, and you really should, I can’t guarantee that these chocolates will be available.
We snacked on green apple chocolate and a caramelized ginger chocolate. (You can tell which is which from the picture.) I’ve decided green apple chocolates are edgy. I mean, they’re the same color as The Wicked Witch of the West. There, I brought you to the edgy side of Vesterbro.
OK, finally I have some real Vesterbro edge for you. Are you ready for this most unique of all the Unique Things to Do in Copenhagen? What do you think is in this drink? Go on, have a sip! Are you done? Then I’ll tell you.
It’s cricket juice! This is just one manifestation of the Danish passion for health. The company Femten believes cricket juice is sustainable and healthy and hopes it will catch on. I have zero problems eating insects because I am not some picky, aquavit-hating child. And this just tasted like refreshing fruit juice to me. But I don’t know if the world is ready to drink Jiminy. Perhaps if Femten wishes upon a star…more crickets will die.
All countries are beer countries or wine countries and Denmark is definitely a beer country. (All Stella Janes are both beer and wine drinkers, FYI.) That’s why our last stop was at a famous Danish brewery called Mikkeler. This is a “phantom” brewery. I was really hoping that it was a brewery run by ghosts because that would be very edgy. But a phantom brewery just means that the label doesn’t have a brewery of its own.
It floats around and uses other people’s equipment and collaborates with them and haunts them through their television set. Whatever poltergeist were involved with making this beer, I found my sour to be most satisfying on a Copenhagen summer day.
Unique Things to Do in Copenhagen
Afternoon: Vesterbro Cultural Tour
So now we’re coming to the more off-beat side of things, and a super fun tour of a fascinating area that many tourist never get to see. Join me on Mie and Friends’ creative cultural tour of this once shady area, and we’ll learn all about its history, beer, art, and the social services that help support the neighborhood.
You can book this tour easily yourself by clicking here. The dancing vices on that mural taught me more than…
approximately top 5: Unique Things to Do in Copenhagen in Vesterbro
1) Church for the Homeless
Though Vesterbro has gentrified in recent years, there are still inhabitants in the neighborhood who require social services. This church has padded floors so that homeless people can sleep comfortably there.
My guide Mie also said that Vesterbro has a safe shooting gallery that is run by the government where people can do drugs in relative safety. Drugs aren’t provided, only clean needles and nurses. The shooting gallery isn’t located in the church. I wouldn’t take a photo of a shooting gallery, for privacy reasons, even of one that is run by the government.
2) Noble Hunting Ground
As I mentioned during the food tour, Vesterbro used to be outside of the city. In fact, it used to attract a much more upscale audience than it does even today. That’s because the area served as the hunting ground for the royal family of Denmark. (Those holes you see on the wall are bullet holes left by the Royal Hunters. Edgy!)
3) Street Art
Like many gentrified neighborhoods, Vesterbro is famous now for its fancy street art. But it used to be famous for wild graffiti like the stuff pictured above. This heart was made from a graffiti-covered wall from the old Vesterbro. It stands as a reminder of what the neighborhood used to be like. I think all gentrifying neighborhoods should do something like this graffiti heart. Except instead of graffiti, they can preserve affordable housing.
4) Hotel Central
Now that Vesterbro is so trendy, of course it is attracting tourists. And those tourists are going to need a place to stay. But not many of them can stay in Hotel Central because it is the smallest hotel in Copenhagen. It only has one room! Part of me is tempted to stay here just for the experience. But what if I break something in the front hall? I wouldn’t be able to blame another guest because I’d be the only guest! Maybe the owner has a cat, and I could blame it on the cat.
Freddy’s is a great bar for a tourist because it’s full of locals and no one in there was cool. Blend in by ordering a Tuborg Classic.
Mie explained that Carlsberg was the Danish beer her grandfather’s drank, her father’s generation drank Tuborg, and her generation drank Tuborg Classic. It’s a pleasant beer to drink when you are sitting with your friends after work and want to complain about how Kevin in Accounting won’t stop microwaving his fish in the break room.
Unique Things to Do in Copenhagen
Evening: Dinner at Frk. Barners Kaelder
After the tour, head to the mystifyingly named Frk. Barners Kaelder. This restaurant specializes in Danish comfort food. Since the Danes are so good at making things cozy and hygge, I imagine their comfort food is tops!
I started with the skagen toast, which is shrimp with creme fraiche, lumpfish roe, the omnipresent Scandinavian dill, and something the menu calls Toast Bread. It was very good, so I wonder if I can get this Toast Bread at home. Also, though it is a simple dish, look at how beautifully it is composed. It’s even served on a dish that looks like it’s made of fish scales.
24 Hour Treat: Miss Barner’s Stew
So I don’t know exactly who Miss Barner is, but she definitely knew how to chow down. This stew is made with pork, cocktail sausages, bacon, and paprika, and it’s served with mashed potatoes. I believe this scrumptious brew could have gotten be through several consecutive Danish winters.
However, I regret not taking a photo of the entire stewpot, so you could see how massive my portion was. I apologized to the waitress for not finishing, but she said I ate more than most people. I’ll take that as a compliment. USA, USA, USA!
Internet Stranger, when you are dining out and you are full, I presume you don’t order dessert. But I don’t have that luxury. I need to be able to review a city’s dessert for you. See how I suffer to bring you happiness! I admit I did not suffer at all while eating this apple “cake”.
Now, I use the term cake loosely, as it is more of an apple stew topped with crumbled macaroons and then the largest whipped cream hat the world has ever known. If this is Danish comfort food, give me some butter cookies and call me Freja.
Those Are the Most Unique Things to Do in Copenhagen
What are your favorite unique things to do in Copenhagen? Are you ready to start booking your hotel in Copenhagen? Are you a good child who drinks their aquavit and crickets? And would all those cool Danes have laughed me out of the bar if I’d taken some selfies? Please leave your thoughts below.
Note: If you want to know how I put my travel itineraries together, just click here. Keep in mind that while each article is about how to spend 24 hours in a place, that doesn’t mean you should ONLY spend 24 hours with the Unique Things to Do in Copenhagen.
If you want a 24 hour itinerary with Rosenborg Castle, try here. If you’re looking for 24 hours with Freetown Christiania, go here. If you’re interested in Nyhavn, there’s this itinerary. If you like hygge and happiness, click here. And finally we have an itinerary with the adorable Tivoli Gardens.