Madeline studied abroad at DIS Copenhagen before returning to Scandinavia to work with DIS as an intern. Hear Madeline’s advice for living like a local during your time abroad:
Budget Friendly Tips to Explore Like a Local
If you’ve heard anything about Frederiksberg, it has likely been that this neighborhood is considered the café and shopping capital of the Copenhagen area. But what you might not know is that beyond its coffee spots and shops, it has an incredible amount of green space, unique museums, and hidden bookstores that make Frederiksberg a must-explore neighborhood.
What to see, do, and eat in Frederiksberg:
Situated in the center of Frederiksberg, Frederiksberg Gardens is an expansive green space containing hidden pathways and something to discover at every turn (elephants, for example, whose zoo exhibit can be viewed along one of the garden’s trails). More importantly, the gardens have a year-round purpose: in the summer, the gardens are bursting with Copenhageners picnicking, biking, and walking around the lake, and in the winter time it offers an outdoor ice-skating rink. One of my favorite memories as a DIS student was ice skating with my two host sisters, who were both just learning how to skate! During the day, you can rent a pair of skates for 50 DKK. The rink is usually open from the end of November to the end of February.
Interested in something even more magical than a walk in a park? Look no further than Frederiksberg Palace, situated at the south end of the park. The palace grounds offer a massive lawn with perfectly trimmed foliage that looks up at the towering yellow palace. Built in the early 1700s, King Frederik 4 used the palace as a summer getaway. Guided tours are offered in English on the last Saturday of each month at 11 AM and 1 PM (except in July and December). I recommend packing a picnic of rugbrød, cheese, and butter, and plan to spend your afternoon relaxing on the lawn of Danish royalty.
See if you can spot one of the most unique landmarks in the garden, the ‘pacifier tree’ Covered in colorful pacifiers, toddlers are taken to this tree to offer up their pacifiers when they turn three, marking a transition from toddler to kid. Once the pacifier is hung on the tree with a small note, the ‘Pacifier Fairy’ comes and gives the child a small gift of gratitude (think: Danish tooth fairy).
My last hidden secret involving Frederiksberg Gardens has to do with elephants. Frederiksberg Gardens backs right up onto the Frederiksberg Zoo. If you keep walking past Frederiksberg Castle along the outer pathway, eventually you will run into the back end of the zoo, where you can watch the elephants eating and playing in the water. It’s the perfect way to enjoy a free trip to the zoo!
Cisterns in Søndermarken
Buried deep beneath the gardens near Frederiksberg Castle, you will find the Cisterns – an old water reservoir that used to hold 16 million liters of drinking water for the Copenhagen area! Hidden from sunlight and emptied of water, this underground world has been turned into a space for rotating art exhibitions. Every year, the Cisterns invite an internationally renowned artist or architect to create an exhibition that plays off of, and with, the natural conditions and layout of the cisterns. Learn more about their exhibitions on their website. Entrance is 125 DKK.
KU.BE is a culture house focused on ‘exploring the boundaries between culture, health and movement’ and offers a variety of activities, from yoga, pilates, and dance classes to lectures. One of my favorite events is their Communal Dinner on Wednesdays. For 84 DKK, you can enjoy sitting and eating sustainably sourced food at long communal tables with locals. You can order a dinner ticket online here.
KU.BE also offers a fun array of dance, yoga, and pilates classes, as well as lectures. Check out their website for more information on upcoming events.
Lovingly referred to as ’little Paris,’ Værnedamsvej has all the makings for a fun and delicious afternoon. While Værnedamsvej is a very short and small street, it packs a punch. With cafes overflowing onto the sidewalks, specialty shops, delis and wine bars, there is lots to see and eat.
Rist Kaffebar is a small café in the middle of Værnedamsvej. This spot’s Parisian aesthetic – with its small wooden tables, tiled walls, and outdoor benches – makes it the perfect place to grab something to eat with a new friend, finish a paper, or enjoy a good book. Coffees range from 26-38 DKK and you can get an accompanying snack for around 35 DKK.
During warmer months, Værnedamsvej hosts fairs and festivals that bring the street to life! Keep a lookout on Facebook for upcoming events along Copenhagen’s cutest little French-inspired street!
Just off Værnedamsvej is an equally adorable street named Tullingsgade. On this street you will find the most hyggeligt little bookstore: Thiemers Magasin. While many of their Sunday events are in Danish, they have a selection of books in English and friendly staff to help you navigate the shop. And in true Danish fashion, not only is Thiemers Magasin a book store, but also a café. You can buy an espresso, americano, or latte for 30 DKK. With a coffee, a new book purchase, and an afternoon exploring this neighborhood, what is there not to love about living like a local?
Madeline is the Shared Housing Assistant at DIS and former Fall 2017 DIS student. She is a lover of all things water, and consistently has a swimsuit in her work bag throughout the summer – just in case! With a major sweet tooth and a knack for finding all things free and affordable, she can often be found wandering around new areas of Copenhagen with a bag of candy in hand.