Copenhagen is a city defined by light and water. It’s low-rise construction and harbor-side position means that wherever you are in the city you always feel close to water, connected to the sea that surrounds you.
In this article we’ll take a look at how to really experience the waterways of Copenhagen.
Take a boat trip
There are a number of tour-boat operators who will take you on a scenic cruise along Copenhagen’s canals, waterways, and through the harbor. This is worth doing, it’s a great way to see the Danish capital from a different perspective and learn about its history and connection with the water.
Dive into the harbor
For such a busy shipping and transport hub, the harbor of Copenhagen is surprisingly clear and unpolluted. At the first sign of warm weather, the locals love to go swimming in the cool waters of the harbor. There are several designated swimming points on the harbor, where special swimming pontoons have been constructed. They’re manned by lifeguards and even have diving towers from which you can leap down into the waters of the harbor. The most popular of these designated swimming pontoons can be found at Islands Brygge – it’s easily accessible by public transport, and there’s a grassy bank where you can work on your tan while taking a break from swimming.
Explore the history of Nyhavn
The Danish word of Nyhavn translates to English as New Harbor. This picture postcard precinct in central Copenhagen is high on the list of must-see places in the city. The history of this area goes back to the 17th century, when it emerged as the main waterfront, canal, and entertainment district for the busy port city.
Construction of the Nyhavn harbor was begun in 1670, creating a gateway from the sea to the center of the old city at Kongens Nytorv. As ocean-going ships became larger over the years, Nyhavn became the preserve of the smaller freight traffic. However the emergence of land transport from the mid-twentieth century left Nyhavn without a functional shipping purpose.
Entertainment during the 17th and 18th centuries primarily consisted of prostitution and bawdy bars, but today Nyhavn is much more family-friendly.
One of the interesting historical points about Nyhavn is that for many years it was the home of famous Danish author Hans Christian Andersen.
The precinct of Nyhavn is visually striking due to the brightly colored townhouses that line the waterfront. It’s here in Nyhavn that you will find the Veteran Ship and Museum Harbor, showcasing historical ships owned by the Danish National Museum. You will also find the great Memorial Anchor – the anchor commemorates the officers and sailors of the Danish navy who lost their lives during World War II.
Where to stay
There’s a huge range of holiday accommodation in Copenhagen – whether you are looking for family-style apartments, budget hotels, high-end luxury, or private home-stay rentals. There’s also several hotels which are effectively boats moored in the harbor, so you can totally immerse yourself in the waterways of Copenhagen.