A Guide to Copenhagen Neighbourhoods: Østerbro
Copenhagen is not just the capital city of Denmark. The patch of land that makes up this magical city has earned itself a reputation for being the happiest place in the world.
Well, put all of those beers, the excellent food, and the amazing people in there together and we don’t see how that claim could be farther from the truth.
This city of fairy tales did not just make itself, though. It took the combination of amazing places like Østerbro to make it happen. Today, we take a deep dive into this friendly neighborhood to see what makes it so special.
Beyond that, we also look at the top things to do if you ever find yourself in the area. We can assure you that missing out on just one of these activities will make your Copenhagen Østerbro visit feel incomplete.
What makes Østerbro special?
In the family of streets, Østerbro is that old money relative that has always had class, affluence, and the pick of the cream of the society.
Loosely translating to ‘Eastern Bridge,’ the region got its name from being near the old Eastern gates of the city.
It is somewhat surprising that the region was mainly dominated by grazing cows. The level of development that the area has enjoyed would have been expected of its sister districts (Vesterbro and Norrebro) but this patch of land has come out on top of the street food chain.
The best part of Østerbro is how it takes a minimalist approach to things even with all the wealth that it carries.
From the simple cobblestone streets consisting of stylish buildings and apartment houses to the Copenhagen residents who like to get places by walking or biking, life is as simple as it comes here. That, and the combination of Danish stores and establishments which just blend into the landscape like they were out of an oil painting.
How to Get Around in Østerbro
Østerbro makes a series of options available for getting in and exploring the inner city.
From the basic bus station to seaports, you can even choose different modes of transport at different times so you can see a new part of the district and its city.
Here is a straightforward guide to entering and seeing the Copenhagen street.
Depending on where you are going in Østerbro, the neighborhood has six different train stations for you to get in or get off from:
- Trianglen and
- Poul Hennings Plads
All of these train stops are served either by the S-Train or the circle Metro line.
The S-Train picks and drops commutes along Nordhavn, Østerport, Svanemollen, and Ryparken.
Only the Metro circle has stops on the last two lines if those are areas you are willing to explore. When unsure, ask any of the friendly Copenhagen people and they will be willing to help. If you do not have a travel/ tour guide that you could speak to, that is.
Like most other developed cities of the world, there is a network of buses handling commuter traffic in the heart of Østerbro. The Movia buses operate on longer lines and come along every few minutes so you never have to wait too long to hop on another bus if you missed the last one.
The best thing about these buses is how their stops are designed to be close to popular restaurants, landmarks and other sights you would have liked to see anyway. That makes it easier for a newbie into town to get from where they are to the interesting sights that they want to see much faster.
You haven’t seen the whole of this neighborhood if you were never on a boat.
The boats are usually taken from outside the street and stop at different landmarks and cultural attractions too. Some of them even offer Canal tours to get the best value for money. Why go on a boring boat ride when you can seize the opportunity to learn about this beautiful neighborhood at the heart of Denmark’s capital?
Some of the attractions on the way during a boat ride include The Little Mermaid – which is not something you want to miss when you are in Østerbro anyway. More on that later.
Now that you are in the street, navigating the inner paths is just as important.
For the people of Østerbro, that means three things. We have ranked them in the order of preference:
- Walking – for a high-rise Denmark neighborhood, the people here sure love to walk. That should speak more to the simplicity of life here among the relative safety of the environment also. That said, most of the areas of interest are within walking distance anyway.
- Biking – not everyone fancies walking, which is where biking comes into play. Biking is almost another way of life in Østerbro and gives the location a romantic European appeal. If you can, rent a bike to get places too.
- Bus – not only can you come in on buses, but commute the city in them too. Recall that we said they stop close to fine restaurants and historic landmarks, so all the better.
- Cars – the fact that parking spaces in all of Østerbro are way lesser than the cars in the area might explain why they are not a favorite mode of transportation.
What to see in Copenhagen Østerbro
Now that you know how to get from your apartment to any part of town, where are you feeding your eyes first?
If you were planning a schedule of things to see, it would be a gross injustice to this harbour district to not get to the following:
Fælledparken National Stadium
Football is the most popular sport in the whole of Denmark. The country has also produced several stars in the game all playing at the top levels in Europe. Some of such names that could easily ring a bell are those of Martin Braithwaite, Christian Eriksen, and Thomas Delaney, among others.
For a country that a collection of impressive football accolades under its belt, it would be nice to see the national team’s home – the Fælledparken National Stadium.
The national stadium is also home to big-name concerts, broadcasts, and other important sporting events. Make sure to check with local guides to know if there is an event slated to hold there. Otherwise, you can just visit on a free day to see how beautiful the home of the national footballing team is.
For a simple area, Østerbro does have its pick of museums. The large selection means that you can choose what you want to see – from classical art from another century to contemporary art that hits closer to home.
Who is to say that you cannot enjoy a little bit of both, though?
If you would ever go to a museum located in Østerbro, it should be anyone of these:
- Brumleby Museum – the good folks over at the Brumleby are always open to share their knowledge of the art collection with you. They will even do you one better and tell you all about the history of Brumleby too.
- The Hirschsprung Collection – if you were looking for an impressive Danish collection from the 19th century, this building is the place to be. The main classic art here used to be in the personal collection of Heinrich Hirschsprung and was moved here after his death.
- Zoologisk Museum – the Zoological Museum brings you an experience of the Danish ecosystem. For example, you see the changes in fauna as you move from the south to the north pole or otherwise, depending on where you start from. You also get a peek into the Danish fauna and its progress since the time of the ice age.
- Enigma – don’t start your day at the Enigma. The telecommunications museum is still under deployment and they only have an old rusty Enigma machine for show. The good news is that they allow you to see the machine for free.
- Statens Museum for Kunst – if we were looking for one of the most comprehensive museums with a collection of both classical and contemporary art, it would be under this roof. The National Gallery of Denmark holds art and collections spanning more than 700 years of western art and culture. It is an array of immersive experiences consisting of old icons, sculptures, and paintings.
The Little Mermaid
No, not the animated movie.
Known locally as the Den lille Havfrue, the statue of the little mermaid overlooking the waterside has been in the same location for a little over a century now.
Being out in the open for that long means that maintenance work will be done on it. Thus, the original statue has been restored and remade so many times that what you see out there now is not the real work of the artist Edvard Eriksen anymore. Still, this amazing piece of art pulls many tourists to the Denmark capital city for its style, history, and beautiful design also.
You should not travel to Østerbro if you would not be seeing the evolution of a beautiful mermaid into a human as imagined by the artist behind such stunning work.
Somewhere above when discussing how to into this beautiful city, we did mention that you could go by boat.
That should tell you that there should be some nice water bodies to see. Of course, Østerbro does not disappoint. Enter the Copenhagen lakes.
Tourists are allowed to rent rowing boats to explore the three lakes that make up this amazing landmark. When you don’t feel like going on the lakes, you can just as easily sit in the open and soak in the views too.
The energy around these lakes makes them worth seeing and visiting. Almost anytime you get there, you see bikers and runners pumping up the energy with their never-ending pursuit of fun.
Brumleby is known for its museum but that is hardly what makes the cozy conservation area popular.
Developed by the Danish Medical Association in the 19th century, this terraced district is highly lauded and have been awarded by the Europa Nostra body for its conservative style. The residential area shows the flat and minimalistic Danish approach to affordable housing.
A nice family spot to check out, you can move on to the small museum when you are done soaking in the neoclassic design.
Østerbro is blessed with different park picks both north and south. It would be unfair to just mention one of these parks and be done with it.
In our order of preferences, make sure you include one of these parks on your list when in the area.
- Faelledparken – not only the largest park in the city but also one of the most beautiful, if not the most beautiful. If you are staying close to this park, especially with family, it is a nice place to spend an evening before retiring to your room. Otherwise, you can also come to see the multiple walking paths, skate tracks, Café Pavilion, and extensive areas of grass, among other things, during the day.
- The Children’s Traffic Playground – for those traveling with family, you have to bring your kids here. The playground is designed to teach kids about the various traffic rules while also getting them ready to go on the road with their bikes. Kids who don't know how to ride a bicycle can get started with the training wheels. The best thing about this park is that cars are not allowed on any of the roads, making it a safer place for your children to learn about the road.
- Østre Anlæg Park – what to see here is not the park itself but the Nyboder: a small district built by the king to house the Danish Navy. The area is a privileged part of Østerbro to live in and it remains so till this day. You would think so too if you consider the fact that they used to have their hospitals, schools, and police station, among other things. The men living here had to provide services for the military. That has not changed much since most of the residential allotments are to those connected with the armed forces.
The Citadel (Kastellet)
The Citadel – or Kastellet as the locals would call it instead – is one of the oldest landmarks built in Denmark right within your grasp.
The citadel was built to be a military station for the old Copenhagen and it has not transformed into the home of the Danish Intelligence corps.
While you will be allowed to see this pentagram-shaped fort-like piece of architecture, the citadel is not fully open to members of the public. Be sure not to overstep when you in the Kastellet.
The best thing about the citadel is that it also has a park where the locals come for picnics and an amazing time out. Make sure to see the moat and windmill, all pointing to an old age of Danish military design and strength, before you leave the area.
Where to Eat in Østerbro
Experiencing a culture is not complete if you haven’t tasted the food.
Whether you prefer dining in the streets or you are looking for a fine café to escape into, Østerbro has something for everyone.
A fine dining area built around some history.
The name of the café was obtained from BOurgeouis PArtisans which was a group of anti-Nazi occupants during WW II.
Today, the tree-lined spot is still famous for its menu which includes a selection of breakfast, lunch, and dinner.
A small playground for kids makes it a fun family location. Who knows, your kids might even make new friends before or after their meals.
What makes the menu here any different from any other restaurant?
Well, for one, the restaurant is run by Rasmus Kofoed – the best chef in the world (2011).
If that is enough convincing, delve into the amazing options of meals that they have on display. When looking to have an evening of fine dining, you cannot go wrong here.
Located in the quiet, cozy, and equally friendly side of Østerbro, Pixie gets its main appeal in the calm and slow that it brings to otherwise bustling city life.
You have never had a great meal in the Østerbro district if you haven’t ordered anything from there. Perfect for an evening of quiet companionship with or without a glass of fine wine, the Pixie café brings a certain romantic appeal to the table.
VeVe – Best for vegetarians
We almost forgot about VeVe.
Founded, run, and operated by the genius Kiin Kiin, this place smells, feels, and looks like home for vegetarians.
There is a fine lounge area for those who don’t want to seat out in any of the normal spaces. No matter what you opt for, though, the comfortable appeal of VeVe is always welcoming.
Whether you want a fine breakfast, something great for lunch, or an amazing vegetarian dinner, the folks at VeVe got you covered.
When you are done with your meal, which is affordable at VeVe by the way, you can find your way to the Little Mermaid statue not too far away from here.
Copenhagen being a happy city is not out of place, after all.
From the residential quietness in some places, to the popular nightlife in others, sandwiched between a calm inner-city life and friendly people to match, every tourist and dweller are treated to a daily dose of magic.
Retaining the Danish design philosophy, culture and standing out as an affordable luxury location, Østerbro is as amazing a place to visit as it is to stay also.