Norrebro is the Shoreditch or Williamsburg of Copenhagen. By day, it’s coffee shops, second hand clothes and furniture stores. By night, it’s students cycling between basement bars and sprawling out of indie cinemas, not to mention being the home of some of the best restaurants in the city’s very foodie food scene.
But as is often the way with off-centre neighbourhoods, finding and navigating its hidden gems isn’t always straight-forward. Here are six pointers on enjoying this part of the city.
1) Try the best coffee in the world
The original Coffee Collective up on Jaegersborggade is renowned for its precise and professional approach to coffee. And as well it should. Set up by two-time World Barista Champion Klaus Thomsen and World Cup Tasting Champion Casper Engel Rasmussen, the claim that this is the planet’s best brew doesn’t sound too outlandish. When we were there, creating a single coffee took one barista several minutes to perfect as he carefully poured a tiny trickle of hot water over ground beans, making sure that every granule got an equal amount of attention. These are people that take their coffee very seriously. And very tasty it was too.
To try for yourself, follow this map.
2) Find Hans Christian Andersen’s grave
The Assisten Cemetery is the Danish story-teller’s final resting place, keeping eternal company with Soren Kierkegaard and Niels Bohr, among a few hundred other somewhat less well known folk. On a sunny day however it’s more of a public park than a cemetery – a place where lovers cuddle up on benches and mothers run after their wayward toddlers. Indeed, the manicured hedgerows surrounding each grave plot makes them feel like mini gardens in their own right. In an area that’s known more concrete charm than natural beauty, it’s a little oasis that’s worth a visit on your way up to Jaegersborggade.
3) Eat salted caramel liquorish
Now there are other streets in Norrebro than Jaegersborggade, and we’ll get to those in a moment, but for now, let’s take a second to talk about caramels. Karamelleriat is Denmark’s first handmade sweet shop, where opposite the till two guys roll long lines of squishy liquorish through some kind of old-looking metal machine after cooking up the concoction in a copper pan over an open fire. The result, they say, is deep, intense flavour lovingly crafted using ancient recipes. We just thought it tasted gorgeous, but to find out for yourself, hop on your bike and follow this map.
4) Bar hop on Blaagaardsgade and Elmegade
Aha, a different street! Blaagaardsgade and Elmegade are closer to the centre of town and, while in the day time they may not look like much, by night the pavements are packed with bicycles as a twenty and thirty-somethings crowd cosy into its lower-ground floor bars. We liked Escobar on Blaagaardsgade – a kind of rock/metal bar where big baked bean cans are used for lampshades and a stuffed seagull is stuck to the ceiling, accompanied by a useful sign in English telling us ‘don’t feed the bird’. For a more classy experience, there’s Malbeck Vinoteria on Elmegade for a candlelit little table vibe, or for every beer you can imagine there’s Olbaren (with a red neon sign saying ‘Ol’). And if you need a survivors brunch the next day, just go to The Landromat Cafe. Where else in the world can you get pancakes, scrambled egg, hummus, pineapple and greek yoghurt on a single plate?
5) Discover the next Noma
Speaking of food, Noma’s reputation as the best restaurant in the world has sparked a dining renaissance in the city. An army of ex-Noma chefs have now set up their own ventures to rival Reni Redzepi’s stalwart, with two of the best back up on Jaegersborggade. On one side of the road you have Relae, set up by ex-Noma sous chef Christian F. Puglisi, and then over the road you have Christian’s other venue, Manfreds & Vin, a small wine bar with around nine tables for two and an open kitchen. We tried Manfreds and the food was, frankly, incredible – we loved the chef’s-choice lunchtime tasting menu, which included small plates of fresh cod, poached eggs, roasted brussel spouts, and cabbage with nuts and sauces that made what seemed like very ordinary ingredients taste pretty extraordinary. It was 250KR (around £25) per person, and well worth every penny.
Find Manfreds here.
6) Visit the cinema
We were in town for Copenhagen’s International Documentary Film Festival, which meant we spent a lot of time traversing the city hunting down its indie cinemas. Two of the best were in Norrebro. First, the Empire Bio on a pretty side street of Guldsbergade has a couple of medium sized screens and a lovely cafe, with a big lobby to house the pre-film buzz. Then on Norrebrogade itself you have the more makeshift Theatre Grob, where the audience shuffle through the small bar and into a blank blank studio to watch movies sat on rows of fold down chairs raised by temporary scaffolding. Way more character than your usual Odeon.
To get to Norrebro, go to Norreport metro and walk over the massive canal (lake? river?) on Norresbrogade. Elmesgade is about a ten minute walk from Norreport, and Jaegersborggade is a further ten mins walk away. Or you could just stay in Norrebro itself – we really liked Kerstin and Mario’s place which we found through AirBnB.