When you think of Copenhagen you likely think of two things – The Little Mermaid and the beautiful multi-coloured buildings dotted along the side of Nyhavn. Nyhavn, or New Harbour (which I think sounds very American somehow?) is a 17th Century waterfront canal, situated in what is known as the entertainment district of Copenhagen. It is without a doubt the most picturesque, instagram-friendly location in Copenhagen, and is absolutely rammed with tourists at any time of year, soaking up the sunshine and staring mesmerised at the rainbow reflection in the still water below.
With the canal running through the centre of Nyhavn it feels almost like Venice, with the water an ever present part of life in this district of Copenhagen. The colourful buildings reflect in the still water below making this already bright and wonderful place even more so.
Either side of the canal you’ll find little hotels, trinket shops and bars. Make sure you grab yourself a spot on the sunny side of the street promptly if you want to get a bite to eat as they fill up quickly. We enjoyed a plate of food, some cold beers and even came back early one morning to sit in the sunshine with a freshly made waffle and a coffee. It truly is one of the most beautiful places I have ever visited in a city. Like anywhere in Copenhagen, Nyhavn isn’t cheap but there are always ways around it. Go for local beers or wines rather than heavily taxed imports, and see if there is a sharing platter option for your lunch rather than two pricey individual meals. You can always fill up later with cheap snacks from Netto (something we definitely did plenty) and then not worry too much about money.
Nyhavn was originally a busy working port, but these days the once industrial buildings have all been beautified and gentrified to within and inch of their colourful lives. No. 9 Nyhavn is the oldest house in the area, and looks much the same as it always has done so is a great slice of history. You can also visit the home(s) of the legendary Danish writer Hans Christian Andersen who at one point or another in his life lived at No. 20, No. 67 and No. 8. Tucked away underneath one of his former residences is a little Hans Christian Andersen themed shop. There is no shortage of fairy tale merchandise on offer in Copenhagen but picking up a tiny copy of The Little Mermaid in this semi-underground shop seemed like the perfect magical tribute to a man whose stories shaped my early childhood.
- Get there for breakfast! Some of the waterfront restaurants and cafes offer great breakfast and brunch options and in the mornings there are often seats available looking straight onto the river outside.
- Explore every nook and cranny – you never know what you might find.
- Look down as well as up, the reflections in the water are often just as beautiful as the houses themselves
- Try and do a canal tour if you can, then you’ll really experience Nyhavn and the surrounding areas and get a great view
- Spot each house lived in by Hans Christian Andersen and maybe even indulge in a copy of one of his famous fairy tales.