Guide to The Alternative Copenhagen

Discussion in 'Europe' started by SirRagnar, Feb 12, 2011.  |  Print Topic

  1. SirRagnar
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    SirRagnar Silver Member

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    If you come to Copenhagen you will likely visit the standard tourist sights such as The Little Mermaid and Tivoli and you can find all the information you want about that on any Copenhagen tourist homepage, so I will not bother writing about the classics. I want to present to you the alternative tourist sights in Copenhagen and the parts that I personally think sets Copenhagen apart from other major cities.

    The first thing I will present is Christiania, the freetown in Copenhagen. Christiania was founded in 1971 when a group of hippies took over an area of abandoned military barracks and developed their own set of rules, completely independent of the Danish government.
    It is debated with regular intervals whether they should be allowed to occupy the buildings still, but somehow they have managed to keep their 'independence' and stay as a free town inside Copenhagen.

    It is located in the neighborhood called Christianshavn and my experience with the place comes from several visits to the place and also to a one-year period where I was working at Christianshavn Pharmacy, which serves all citizens of Christiania. (They all share the same public address despite roughly 1000 people permanently live there).

    The freetown in the heart of Copenhagen has always been known for its human diversity, but also that the independent community was a place where hash was sold openly on Pusher Street; but in 2004 the Danish government closed the permanent stands down in a big raid.
    [​IMG]
    Picture of a hash selling stand in Christiania

    For the next couple of years hash was still sold in big scales, but it was more hidden in movable stands, but in recent years the permanent stands have returned and it is now almost as it was prior to the major bust.
    Hash is illegal in Denmark, but it is widely accepted that it is sold in Christiania and the police will only occasionally do raids there just to show the flag or if the political debate flares up again.
    Following the major raid in 2004 the hash market moved to the street which caused a war on hash between immigrants and Hells Angels over control of the market (no worries, we are not talking LA-style gang wars).

    There are roughly 20 such stands on what is called Pusher Street on Christiania and this is what Christiania is most famous for. However, Christiania has so much more to offer, so please don't cheat yourself for the rest of the hippie-spirit of Christiania;

    Christiania has been described as a life surrounded by art. There is art everywhere, mostly in the form of graffiti as depicted below:

    [​IMG]





    [​IMG]

    Heck, Christiania have their own garbage truck, because they are independent and thus not serviced by the rest of the city's sanitation trucks. That also has graffiti:

    [​IMG]

    For more pictures of the graffiti at Christiania visit: http://www.christianiaradio.com/?page_id=54

    Christiania is an alternative society within society, which also means that the darker sides of modern life are represented. Some tour guides will advise you not to go there after dark. Don't believe them. Christiania knows that they are living on the mercy of the government and if there is any crime (other than the sale of hash) they are signing their own death sentence. Of course incidents happens, but they are no more frequent that anywhere else in the city. Definitely don't be scared away. They actively self-govern for any illegalities and they have a zero-tolerance for hard drugs (don't ask for that).

    This is also depicted in Christiania's Common Law:

    [​IMG]

    However, DO NOT TAKE PICTURES on pusher street. They are selling weed there and for obvious reason do not like that on tourist pictures (or any other pictures for that matter). There will be signs out there telling you that also. Other than that you will be fine.

    [Continues below....]
     
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  2. SirRagnar
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    SirRagnar Silver Member

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    [Continued]

    As mentioned, you should not stop after seeing the hash shops on Pusher Street. Christiania is much more. Take a look at this map:

    [​IMG]
    Pusherstreet is marked and if you are short on time and don't have time to go around the entire area, where people live (you are most welcome to), at least make a visit to one of the cafe's there; Nemoland or Månefiskeren. It is ok to smoke weed there, but only outdoors. This is not because they don't want weed inside, it is because it is illegal to smoke tobacco in cafes or bars of less than 40 sqm in Denmark. They don't want to be shut down for that.

    If you have the time, take half a day out there and walk around and enjoy all the different people and buildings out there. It is unlike anything you will see anywhere else these days. It is like stepping back to 1968 again and flower-power is your friend:

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    The buildings are extra-ordinary and mostly home-built. They range from low budget houses like this:

    [​IMG]

    To more modern buildings like this:

    [​IMG]

    As you will see there is also water all around in form of old moats, which makes the nature surroundings very beautiful as well and like nothing you will find elsewhere inside of Copenhagen.

    By night Christiania truly comes alive. The many venues out there features artist from under-ground bands to larger names (I can re-collect for instance Prodigy have played in 'Den Grå hal').

    'Den Grå Hal' and 'Loppen' are the places you want to visit if you want to experience live music out there and there is something almost every night.
    Check http://www.loppen.dk/ for events at Loppen (called Loppebygningen on the map above).

    Get out there, you will not regret it!

    Please don't hesitate to ask if you have any questions about Christiania or Copenhagen. I will update this thread with additional alternative hot spots to visit if you come to Copenhagen, when I have some time.

    Enjoy!
     
  3. SirRagnar
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    SirRagnar Silver Member

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    Can I visit Christiania during a lay-over in CPH?

    Yes, it's not very far from the airport and below I have described the transportation options there. It will take you roughly half an hour max each way, so if you have more than 2 hours to kill in the airport it can be done. However, be aware that you may want to spend more time on Christiania once you get there!


    Transportation:

    Transportation to Christiania is easy from the largest airport in the Nordic countries, CPH (if you have any questions to CPH please do not hesitate to shoot).

    Being a flying junkie as you probably are since you are in here reading this forum, I can recommend taking the Metro (aka subway) from the Airport. It's a modern, computerizerd metro without any driver, so you can get the front seat if you are lucky and enjoy the ride!
    [​IMG]
    Kids love the view, but so do adults - they just rarely admit it. I am not afraid to though :)
    [​IMG]
    View from the Wing (erh, no, from the Metro)

    The route from CPH to Christiania is easy. Right when you exit from the terminal in the airport (there is just this one exit) continue straight out past the hordes of families waiting for their loves ones with flags and continue up the stairs at the end of the building (roughly 300 meters and there are signs all the way). From there take the Metro to Christianshavn. As you can see below the airport (Lufthavnen) is the end of the line so you can't take the wrong train. Then get off after 7 stops. See below:
    [​IMG]

    From Christianshavn's metro station there is a 5 minute walk to Christinia and if you follow the route I have setup in Google Maps here you are passing another sight worth a short see, "Vor Frelser Kirke" (Our Savior Church), with it's spectacular tower:
    [​IMG]

    Shortly after, you will be at Christiania.

    Of course you can also take a taxi from the airport, but the metro trip is worth it not only for the experience, but also to get a feeling of how Copenhagenians (or whatever we are called) transport ourselves underground. It is also faster with the metro than a taxi.

    If you have additional time to spend and have had enough with the hippies, you can visit Christianshavn itself, which is highly inspired from the Amsterdam channels and is a nice mix of upscale cafe's and dark bars:

    [​IMG]

    Definitely one of my favorite neighborhoods in Copenhagen (I will later describe my favorite, which is where I live, Nørrebro).
     
  4. SirRagnar
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    SirRagnar Silver Member

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    I found this nice aerial picture of Christianshavn and Christiania I thought I would also share:

    [​IMG]

    In the upper right corner where you see a small island is where Christiania is. This is the old moat of Copenhagen defending us from the Swedes. I think many will agree that this is indeed a nice area of Copenhagen?

    Here is a closer picture of Christiania itself seen from the sky:

    [​IMG]
     
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  5. remo80222
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    Thank you for posting this. I visited Christiania many times in the 1990's while living in Copenhagen and it was an incredible experience for a young person from the U.S. I highly recommend it for anyone visiting Copenhagen to make it part of their itinerary.
     
  6. SirRagnar
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    SirRagnar Silver Member

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    Thanks for the feedback. Have you been there since? Nothing much have changed actually, but you can now ride the metro there, which is an experience in itself - especially on the way back from Christiania [​IMG]
     
  7. Gnopps
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    Gnopps Silver Member

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    Excellent guide, thank you! This definitely something out of the ordinary that is doable on a CPH layover.
     
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  8. remo80222
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    I have not been back since but have it on my list.
     
  9. SirRagnar
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    Maybe time for a CPH DO where Christiania could be one of the highlights :)
     
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  10. Bastholm
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    It's actually possible to have a tour guide on Christiania I tried it som e ten years ago as a part of a company "summer party".
     
  11. SirRagnar
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    SirRagnar Silver Member

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    It is, yes. I have seen them walk around our there. Generally in groups of 10-15 people. I have never tried it myself though, but they could be very good. The guides are not your standard out-of-high-school guides, but are actual inhabitants of the Christiania community. They speak, like everyone else in Denmark, a decent English and I have even overheard a French speaking guide one time.
     
  12. TuxTraveller
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    TuxTraveller Silver Member

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    We should definitely do a CPH DO at some point... Plenty of good underground spots to host the DO at as well :)

    Looking forward to your guide of Norrebro (haven't got my danish keyboard installed).. I used to go there a lot for haircut and sharwarma / durum :D

    The only thing I lament about CPH these days is the increase in the prices for public transport.. I usually drive when I'm there as I find the public transport so expensive I'd rather just drive directly and pay a bit extra for the freedom that brings. If it was much cheaper like in the old days I'd definitely take the train/bus.. I like that the S-Train has got free wifi now though [​IMG]
     
  13. TheMadBrewer
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    TheMadBrewer Silver Member

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    With Delta's fare mistake yesterday, there will be a lot of folks headed to CPH (and ARN). I'll be there the first time in April -- $320 r/t all in from LAX. Gotta love it.
     
  14. SirRagnar
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    SirRagnar Silver Member

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    Sounds good. Yes, I noticed that mistake fare and I'm glad many of you will have a chance to visit CPH for cheap.

    If you need any tips for other things to do or places to stay don't hesitate to contact me. April is a good time to visit as we'll finally start getting decent weather again. And no offense to the Swedish people, but with a name like TheMadBrewer you chose right in picking CPH and not ARN :)
     
  15. SirRagnar
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    A gentleman asked me if there was any fee to visit Christiania. I am sorry for not covering that expect in the guide, but here is the good news: It is completely free to visit Christiania!
     
  16. FlyingFree
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    FlyingFree Gold Member

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    Thanks...I will be heading to CPH from DEN (USA) on 15 March for a few days of business...looking forward to seeing some of these sights while I am there!
     
  17. FlyingVizzer
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    I will read this when I get a chance but I'm just gonna thank everyone in advance for what seems to be an epic thread for those of us heading out to CPH.
     
  18. FlyingVizzer
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    FlyingVizzer Silver Member

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    So where is a great drinking place? I hear the people in Denmark are beautiful... and admittedly, I have a proclivity for blondes. Where should I hang out? I was gonna check out the NASA nightclub and maybe Vega? Any other suggestions? Basically, I want to do artsy/touristy during the day and party at night.
     
  19. SirRagnar
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    SirRagnar Silver Member

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    Lots of great drinking places in CPH. Sounds like your into the bit more up-scale so NASA might be something. Be warned though, it is highly expensive and selective in it's guests. Being a celeb would do you good to get in :)

    Vega is great also, depending on the day there might be a concert there. Check that out here: http://vega.dk/events/

    What kind of artsy/touristy things are you looking for? The classics or something a bit more different, like tour of Christiania?
     
  20. FlyingVizzer
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    Crap - if I pretended to be Kobayashi, the hotdog eating champion, would they even know who that is?? That might only fly in the US. LOL

    I figured Artsy/touristy could be taken care of by going through Christiania like you described but other than that, just checking out castles and doing the whole mainstream Tivoli thing. But to be honest, I was just throwing that out there so I don't look like a total lush. I just want to go party and meet new people.
     
  21. SirRagnar
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    SirRagnar Silver Member

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    When are you coming? If I'm available I'll be happy to hook up for a beer or two and show you some of the local spots.
     
  22. FlyingVizzer
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    I'm sitting in JFK awaiting my flight to CPH right now. I will arrive Thurs morning at 8am and am staying pretty much in the city center. Would love it if you are available as I am there Thurs-Sun.
     
  23. SirRagnar
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    Cool. I'm in town right now, heading to Rio on Sunday.

    I got plans with my girlfriend Friday, but Thursday or Saturday is good for me. You coming on your own or with a crew?
     
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  24. FlyingVizzer
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    Flying solo!

    I am obviously completely free for any of the nights so let me know what works and it would be great to grab a beer or two with you!
     
  25. SirRagnar
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    SirRagnar Silver Member

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    That's a deal. We can grab a beer at Christiania - now that we are discussing this in this thread anyways, it would be convenient :)

    Send me a message tomorrow when you land and we can coordinate from there. I see the flight is delayed a bit - I hope it will not be too bad. Lucky for you we haven't changed to summer time yet so there is also a 5 hour difference from JFK so jet lag shouldn't be too bad :)
     

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