Where to Stay in Copenhagen First Time: 9 Best Areas

The best areas to stay in Copenhagen for first time tourists are the neighborhoods of Indre By / Old Town, Vesterbro, Nyhavn, Nørrebro, Østerbro, Christianshavn. In this post, I will help you to find where to stay in Copenhagen for nightlife, family, budget, and the best hotels in the city center and near the airport.

The homeland of hygge, the capital city of Denmark, Copenhagen is a cozy city that exudes comfort and charm year-round. Don’t worry if you prefer a livelier vacation, there is plenty of world-class shopping and partying to be found here too. 

Copenhagen may be small, but it is jam-packed with things to see and do. The city is divided into ten major districts with numerous sub-neighborhoods, each with its own distinct atmosphere and appeal. 

Copenhagen is known as being the happiest city in the world, because of its shorter workdays, free university tuition, more holiday days. It is also one of the most expensive cities in the world, so you will want to budget accordingly.

First-time visitors and those on shorter breaks will benefit from staying in Indre By. Right in the heart of the city center, you will find most of the major sights, as well as main shopping streets and hospitality. 

For a more laid-back atmosphere, or to experience life more like the local residents, Frederiksberg and Osterbro are excellent choices. Meanwhile, if you are a couple planning a romantic getaway or honeymoon, the winding canals of Christianshavn would be a great choice. 

If you’re looking for the best place to stay in Copenhagen for nightlife, then the old red-light district of Vesterbro is perfect. Also known as the meatpacking district, this is where you will find all the best nightclubs and bars in Copenhagen. 

One important point to remember is that, despite being the largest city in Denmark, Copenhagen is still pretty small compared to other capital cities you may be familiar with. No matter where you wind up staying, you will be able to comfortably explore the whole city with ease.

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9 Best Areas to stay in Copenhagen

1. Indre By (Inner city), where to stay in Copenhagen for first time visitors

First-time visitors generally flock to the Danish capital, Indre By, and for good reason. Indre By is also known as “inner city”, Copenhagen center, or Copenhagen Old Town. This is the heart of the city where you will find most of the best attractions in the city. 

Copenhagen Indre By (Copenhagen Old Town) is the city center and the oldest part of Copenhagen, dating back to the city’s founding in the 12th century. As such, the area is steeped in history and culture going back through the ages.

As the medieval Heart of Copenhagen, Indre By has a wonderfully quaint and romantic atmosphere, despite being one of the busiest areas of the city. Narrow cobblestone streets lined with historic buildings, squares, and museums make for a wonderful place to just enjoy a walk and take in the city’s charm. 

As Copenhagen’s oldest area, there are tons of historic castles and palaces to be found in Indre By. Amalienborg Castle, Christiansborg Palace, and Rosenborg Castle are all within walking distance of one another. 

Christiansborg Palace is now a government building but visitors are welcome to tour certain rooms and the grounds. Meanwhile, Amalienborg Palace is still the residence of the royal family of Denmark. The royal guards perform regular displays that are well worth the visit.

The 400-year-old Renaissance castle built by Christian IV, Rosenborg Castle, is where the Crown Jewels of Denmark are housed. Guests can enjoy guided tours of the castle and grounds. The King’s Garden is a beautiful place to enjoy a walk in the fresh air. 

Speaking of Gardens, Rosenborg Castle is right next to the largest botanical garden in Denmark. With Østre Anlæg Park stretching to the north, this is the best area to stay if you want plenty of open space without leaving the inner city. 

Indre By encompasses the lovely Nyhavn Port. The colorful houses that line the waterfront are an iconic view, making Nyhavn a must-visit for anyone passing through Copenhagen. From here you can also enjoy stunning views of Copenhagen Opera House across the water on Christianshavn island.

In the west of Copenhagen Indre By you can find Copenhagen City Hall overlooking City Hall Square. The square is a popular venue for public events and open-air concerts and festivals. 

Just across the road from City Hall is one of the city’s most popular attractions, Tivoli Gardens, built in 1843. Boasting an amusement park, as well as a restaurant aboard a pirate ship on the lake, this is a fantastic, family-friendly attraction. 

In the evening, Tivoli Gardens are lit up by stunning illuminations. Even if you have visited during the day, it is definitely worth returning after dark, especially around Christmas with more than 1000 Christmas trees and a bustling market.

Tivoli Gardens are right next to Copenhagen Central Station. Serviced by both local metro and national rail lines, this is one of the best places to stay if you are traveling to Copenhagen by train. 

If you love art, the National Gallery of Denmark (Statens Museum for Kunst) is a must-see place where you can find Danish and international art from the past seven centuries.

If you find yourself tiring of all the sightseeing, you can relax with some retail therapy at Copenhagen’s main shopping street, Købmagergade and Strøget. The bustling pedestrian street is lined with familiar brands, as well as popular stores you might only find in Denmark. 

Copenhagen is a wonderland for foodies, with numerous Michelin-starred restaurants throughout the city. Indre By is no exception, with tons of world-class bars and restaurants to be enjoyed in the neighborhood. 

Meanwhile, if you like to spend your time hitting the nightclubs once the sun goes down, you will want to look at the area near Copenhagen University. Particularly around Gammeltorv, you will find tons of clubs to keep you busy. 

Alternatively, head towards Ørstedsparken if you are looking for LGBT-friendly nightlife. There are loads of gay bars and clubs in this area. 

Indre By is lovely but very touristy. If you are looking to experience typical Danish life and live like a local, this is not the best area for that. 

However, as the most popular tourist area in Copenhagen city, you have a great choice of some of the best hotels in Copenhagen in Indre By. There is a wide variety available too. There are lots of luxury hotels but also plenty of more budget-friendly options as well. 

Stay In Indre By (Inner City) If you are visiting Copenhagen for the first time or a shorter trip and want to stay right in Copenhagen city center with Sightseeing; You love history and want to stay in the oldest part of Copenhagen; You are traveling through Denmark by train and want to stay close to the main train station.

Best places to stay in Indre By:

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2. Vesterbro, where to stay in Copenhagen for nightlife

On the other side of the train tracks from Indre By we have super lively Vesterbro. This former red-light district is the heart of Copenhagen’s nightlife scene and the absolute best place to stay if you prioritize having plenty to do after dark. 

Historically, Vesterbro was one of Copenhagen’s poorest and most industrial neighborhoods. Home to the city’s Red-Light District, the area has an edgy history that influences the colorful community today.

Vesterbro is where you will find many of Copenhagen’s coolest bars and trendiest nightlife hotspots. For a little more cultured drinking session, head to the Carlsberg Brewery, where you can enjoy tours and tastings of the well-known beer. 

Once full of factories and warehouses, Vesterbro is also home to the Meatpacking District. Like many areas of Vesterbro, the Meatpacking District has been elevated from its utilitarian roots and is now one of the best places in Copenhagen for foodies to explore.

From Michelin-starred restaurants to bustling street food markets, Vesterbro is the place to go to tantalize your tastebuds. Whether you are looking to sample the best of traditional Danish cuisine or are looking to enjoy the Danish take on dishes from around the world, the meatpacking district has something to satisfy every palate. 

Like many once dodgy neighborhoods, Vesterbro is now popular with the city’s hipster crowd. You can find plenty of trendy restaurants and cafes, hip music venues, and vintage shops along the busy streets. 

It is also a popular area for Copenhagen’s artist community. There are lots of small artist’s studios and galleries dotted throughout the neighborhood.

If you stay in the east of Vesterbro, you will be within walking distance of many top attractions, including Tivoli Gardens. With how lovely Tivoli Gardens are at night, they make a perfect accompaniment to the evening entertainments found in Vesterbro.

As Copenhagen Central Station is located at the east end of Vesterbro, this is one of the best areas to stay if you are traveling into the city by train. Staying close to the central station means less time wasted traveling between the train and your hotel, and more time exploring the city.

Whilst the area has risen from its rough reputation of decades past, the fact that sex work is legal in Denmark means you may still stumble across the thriving remnants of the red-light district. Whilst it is perfectly safe, you might want to reconsider staying here with kids.

It is, however, ideal for budget travelers looking for cheap hotels in a bustling inner-city neighborhood. Full of budget-friendly hotels, apartments, and hostels, this is one of the best places to look for affordable accommodation in the city center. 

Stay In Vesterbro If Vibrant nightlife is a priority; You want to stay right in Copenhagen city center; You want to stay close to the Central Train Station; You want to stay right at the heart of the city center; You are looking for the best areas to stay in Copenhagen on a budget.

Best places to stay in Vesterbro:

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3. Christianshavn, beautiful and romantic area in Copenhagen

Christianshavn is a beautiful neighborhood just across the river from Indre By. Located on an archipelago of man-made islands built in the 17th-century, this is an incredibly unique location to spend your trip. 

Quieter and more laid back than nearby Indre By, Christianshavn has more of a local, residential atmosphere. With the city center, a short walk away across Knippels Bridge, you can enjoy the benefits of a more relaxed neighborhood whilst still being right at the heart of the city.

If you are planning a romantic vacation, or even a honeymoon, in Copenhagen, then this is the best place to stay. Full of winding canals lined with colorful houses, this is the Danish answer to Venice. Enjoy a romantic boat ride around the canals and take in the beautiful views across the water.

A lot of the area is car-free, so there is plenty of opportunity for romantic walks along the cobbled streets. Meanwhile, the area is known for its numerous cozy cafes and intimate restaurants. 

Across the main river, you can take in stunning views of Nyhavn. The unobstructed distance allows you to take in the vibrant Nyhavn waterfront even better than if you were in Nyhavn itself.

Speaking of views, if you want to enjoy some of the most exceptional views of the city, you should definitely visit the Church of Our Saviour. The stunning 17th-century church is identifiable by its towering maroon and gold spire.

The spire is constructed in a spiral with an external walkway leading all the way to the top. Each year, more than 60,000 people climb to the top of the church. As long as you do not have a fear of heights, you can climb the spire for exquisite panoramic views across the whole city. 

The east side of Christianshavn is known as Freetown Christiania (Christiania). Previously an abandoned military base, the area was taken over by the local hippy population in the seventies and has been something of an autonomous commune ever since. 

Markets and small shops within Freetown Christiania are the perfect place to pick up some unique and quirky souvenirs. Pusher Street, once renowned for its open cannabis trade, is now the best place to find stalls selling local hippy merchandise, craft goods, and jewelry. 

Alternatively, head to one of the small art galleries scattered around the area. You are sure to find some colorful pieces to brighten up your home. 

Any vegans and vegetarians visiting Copenhagen will want to stop by Christiania to enjoy the plethora of meat-free restaurants, cafes, and street food stalls in the neighborhood. In the summer it is lovely to sit outside on the street side dining terraces beneath a colorful sunshade. 

Christiania’s other draw is its music scene. There are numerous bars and venues where you can enjoy live music from local bands and artists.

Stay In Christianshavn and Christiania If you want to stay in the coolest area in Copenhagen; you want to stay in a more laid-back neighborhood but still within walking distance of the city center; you want to enjoy some of the best views of colorful Nyhavn; you want to enjoy some of Copenhagen’s best vegetarian and vegan food.

Best places to stay in Christianshavn and Christiania:

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4. Osterbro, where to stay in Copenhagen for families

Osterbro is a large, residential neighborhood to the north of Copenhagen. If you are looking for a laid-back, quieter suburb within walking distance from the city center, this is one of the best places to stay. 

Being less of a tourist neighborhood, the streets here are lined with cozy restaurants and cafes catering to the local population. With lots of small independent stores and weekend flea markets, if you want to experience everyday life like a local Dane, this is your best bet.

Close to the city center, but much less crowded, and with plenty of family-friendly attractions within a short walk, Osterbro is the best area to stay in Copenhagen for families. Kids can run off some energy on the vast lawns of Fælled Park or play in the Vandlegepladsen splash park.

One of Denmark’s best-known authors, and writer of The Little Mermaid, Hans Christian Anderson is honored throughout the city. Along the waterfront, you can find the famous Little Mermaid statue. Posed on a rock out in the water, the bronze statue is one of the sweetest attractions in Copenhagen.

The statue is right next to the Kastellet, a star-shaped citadel surrounded by moats and parkland. Just a five-minute walk from the Nyhavn waterfront, you can enjoy all of these riverside attractions in a relaxed afternoon. 

Most of the hotels here fall into the mid-range price bracket, with a few more high-end options. If you want somewhere with seafront views, Osterbro has some of the best hotels in Copenhagen for you to choose from. 

Stay In Osterbro If you are looking for the best place to stay in Copenhagen with family; you want a quieter, suburban neighborhood within a short walk of the city center; you are planning a family vacation; you want to experience life like a local; you want a room with sea views.

Best places to stay in Copenhagen in Osterbro:

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5. Nørrebro, where to stay in Copenhagen on budget

If you are hoping to stay in Copenhagen on a budget but still have an incredible time, Nørrebro is definitely the place to consider. A lively, multicultural neighborhood, Nørrebro is one of the trendiest areas of Copenhagen. 

Nørrebro is a favorite of Copenhagen’s student population. As such, you can find tons of hip bars and cafes catering to the younger crowd that frequent the area.

As one of the most diverse neighborhoods in Copenhagen, Nørrebro is the best area to stay if you want to be surrounded by incredible restaurants offering cuisines from around the world. Whatever you are craving, you are sure to find a fantastic bar or restaurant serving it in Nørrebro.

Just across the Lakes from Indre By, Nørrebro is a super central location but just far enough outside of the main tourist area to be more affordable. This is the best place to stay if you are looking for budget-friendly accommodation close to the city center.

The city center is just a five-minute walk away from Queen Louise’s Bridge. The Bridge is an attraction in itself, a popular gathering place where you can enjoy the entertainment of street performers and musicians. 

In summer you can hire a swan boat and head out onto the lakes themselves.

For an alternative sightseeing trip, head to Assistens Cemetery. In addition to being the resting place of notable Danes including Hans Christian Andersen, there are also numerous unique grave markers here. It may seem a little morbid, but it is a fascinating and peaceful reprieve from the crowded city. 

Stay In Nørrebro If you’re looking for the best places to stay in Copenhagen on a budget, close to the city center without breaking the bank; You want to stay in one of the trendiest areas of Copenhagen; Staying in a diverse neighborhood with a wide array of dining options is ideal.

Best places to stay in Copenhagen in Nørrebro:

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6. Frederiksberg, upmarket district to stay in Copenhagen

One of the most affluent areas of the city, Frederiksberg has a distinct upmarket village atmosphere. Whilst not too far from the city center, it is just removed enough that the neighborhood is much less crowded, with a more refined, residential vibe. 

Frederiksberg has a charming, historic feel. Its cobbled streets are lined with chic cafes and expensive shopping centers, where the well-to-do relax in style. If you enjoy high-end shopping and have the budget to indulge, then Frederiksberg is the best area to stay.

Just a ten-minute walk from the city center, you can easily explore all the main attractions of Copenhagen from Frederiksberg. However, if you would rather keep closer to home, there is plenty to see in the neighborhood itself. 

For a fantastic day out for the whole family head to Frederiksberg park. Amongst the lovely, English-style gardens you can discover lakes, cafes, numerous monuments, and curious structures.

In the center of the park sits Frederiksberg Palace. Once a royal residence, visitors can take guided tours of the baroque palace and grounds. 

Right next to Frederiksberg Palace is Copenhagen Zoo, one of the oldest zoos in the world, home to more than 4,000 animals. From hippos to polar bears, you can observe numerous exotic species from a wide variety of habitats. 

Being more of a residential neighborhood, there are fewer accommodation options to choose from here. However, as one of the fanciest areas in the city, what you can find are some of the best hotels in Copenhagen.

Stay In Frederiksberg If you want to stay in a quaint, upmarket neighborhood with a community atmosphere; you don’t mind being a little removed from the city center; you prefer somewhere a little quieter than the crowded tourist districts.

Best places to stay in Copenhagen in Frederiksberg:

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7. Islands Brygge (Islands Pier), quiet area close to the city centre

Islands Brygge is a small neighborhood just across the river from Vesterbro. Just a ten-minute walk from the sights and attractions of the city center, Islands Brygge is a quieter alternative to the busy city center tourist hubs.

One of the most popular draws to the area is the sea baths. A section of the river at the north of Islands Brygge has been sectioned off to allow for people to swim safely. 

It’s particularly popular in the summer, but even in the frigid Scandinavian winters, you will still see some brave Danes taking a refreshing dip.

Along the riverside, there are numerous public parks to relax by the water. Meanwhile, the massive Monke-Ringen nature reserve stretches to the south. If you are looking for somewhere with plenty of open space to get out in the fresh air, this is a fantastic place to stay. 

If you are traveling with children, Island’s Brygge is a good option. There’s plenty of space for kids to get out in the fresh air and burn off some energy. Meanwhile, it’s within comfortable walking distance of the major attractions, even for little legs. 

Stay In Islands Brygge (Islands Pier) If you want to stay in a quiet, understated area close to the city center; you want to have easy access to plenty of open-air and green space; you are traveling with children; you would consider taking a plunge into the Baltic Sea.

Best places to stay in Islands Brygge:

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8. Amager East, where to stay in Copenhagen for watersport

Stretching along the coast between Christianshavn and Copenhagen Airport is the residential suburb of Amager East. Removed from the bustling city center, this is a much more residential area, with less of the touristy atmosphere you get from the inner-city districts. 

One of the greatest draws to the area is the access to the sea. The neighborhood is especially lively in the summer, due to its long sandy beaches. As well as relaxing on the sand or going for a swim, you can also indulge in various water sports. Windsurfing is particularly popular here. 

Amager East is also home to Den Blå Planet (The Blue Planet), the largest aquarium in northern Europe. The building itself is unmistakable, a sweeping, ultra-modern structure right on the water’s edge. Within you can find numerous aquatic species and exhibits, including a shark tunnel.

Even though Amager East is further out from the main tourist districts, the metro system provides quick access to the city center. If you do want to go sightseeing whilst you are here, you can hop on the train and be surrounded by the major attractions within minutes. 

The south end of Amager East borders Copenhagen International Airport. This makes it is the best place to stay for those passing through Copenhagen on layovers. With the easy connections to the city center, you will still have the opportunity to explore the city without worrying about missing a flight.

Stay In Amager East If You want to take advantage of the beaches and watersports; You want to stay close to the airport; You don’t mind being a bit removed from the city center; Sightseeing is not your top priority.

Best places to stay in Copenhagen in Amager East:

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9. Around Copenhagen International Airport

If you are passing through Copenhagen on a layover and do not want to stray too far from the airport, then there are plenty of hotels to choose from in the area immediately surrounding Copenhagen International Airport. 

The airport isn’t terribly far from the inner city. A taxi or bus ride will have you in the city center within half an hour. The metro would be even faster. If you have the time, then you can easily head into the city for a bit of sightseeing before jetting off. 

If you don’t want the hassle of getting into the city center and would prefer to stay near the airport, there are things in the immediate area to keep you entertained. The town of Dragør to the south boasts several museums. There is also the waterfront Dragør Fort that is well worth exploring. 

Alternatively, spend your time wandering the lovely seaside parks. There are various waterside cafes and restaurants for you to enjoy dinner with a sea view rather than dining at your hotel.

No matter your price range, you are sure to find something to suit your preferences in the area. Hotels within the airport grounds are typically more expensive, charging for their convenience. There are plenty of budget-friendly hotels within a five-minute taxi or shuttle ride of the terminals though. 

Stay In Copenhagen International Airport If you are only passing through Copenhagen on a layover between flights; you have an early morning flight and don’t want a mad rush to the airport before dawn; you don’t mind being removed from the city centre.

Best places to stay near Copenhagen International Airport:

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🎬 Check out my virtual tour about the best places to stay in Copenhagen in this video or continue reading:

Where to stay in Copenhagen: Best Areas to Stay in Copenhagen

So, now you are familiar with the nine best areas to stay in Copenhagen. I am sure you are much more confident as to which neighborhood best suits you for your vacation.

Even if you have fallen in love with more than one neighborhood, remember Copenhagen is compact enough to explore the whole city with ease. No matter where you stay, you won’t have to miss out on anything. 

Now the hard part of deciding where to stay is out of the way, all that’s left is to get booking your perfect Copenhagen vacation. Flights, travel insurance, and most importantly, your perfect hotel. 

We have plenty of recommendations for accommodation too, so relax and let us help you plan your ideal trip.

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