Copenhagen is an old harbor and maritime city and definitely one of the most beautiful and fun way to see it is from a boat sailing down its charming canals. Touristy as it may be… on a sunny day, we took a traditional canal boat tour that started near the colorful New Port or Nyhavn, along the Charming Canals of Copenhagen.
Nyhavn’s colorful, picturesque houses are some of the oldest parts of the city’s harbor dating back to 1673. This was the gateway from the sea to the old inner city and a hub for trading and shipping activities. These days the vibrant area is bustling with restaurants, cafes and street vendors overlooking the canal – there are even some love locks on the bridges!
Once we got our tickets, we boarded the gleaming wooden boat with blue seats. We were warned that some of Copenhagen’s charming canals and bridges were definitely low and we have to be sitting down when we passed through them.
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Boat ride through the Canals of Copenhagen
Right after we crossed the brightly colored houses and store fronts of Nyhavn we saw Copenhagen Street Food on Papirøen (Paper Island). It is the city’s first and only genuine street food market. In the small food trucks you can get delicious sustainable street food from all corners of the world – and enjoy it indoors in the halls or in the sun overlooking the city’s waterfront.
One of the most impressive modern buildings we saw as we sailed out into the harbor was the Copenhagen Opera House. The 14-story building of which five are underground and its main stage can seat up to 1,400 people.
Next, we saw the Little Mermaid (from a distance, so sharing a pic from Wikipedia) – Unveiled on 23 August 1913, The Little Mermaid was a gift from Danish brewer Carl Jacobsen to the City of Copenhagen. The sculpture is made of bronze and granite and was inspired by Hans Christian Andersen’s fairy tale about a mermaid who gives up everything to be united with a young, handsome prince on land. Every morning and evening she swims to the surface from the bottom of the sea and, perched on her rock in the water, stares longingly towards the shore hoping to catch a glimpse of her beloved prince.
We passed by the Holmen area which served as Copenhagen’s naval base for more than 300 years. We saw the Queen’s big Yacht in the water- The Royal Yacht Dannebrog serves as the official and private residence for the Royal Couple and other members of the Royal Family when they are on official visits overseas or on summer cruises in home waters. We learned that it makes frequent trips to Greenland.
Next up we cruised along the canals Christianshavn – for much of the 20th century a working-class neighborhood, Christianshavn developed a bohemian reputation in the 1970s and it is now a fashionable, diverse and lively part of the city with its own distinctive personality, with residents tending to see themselves first as Christianshavners and then as Copenhageners. The building and the canal brought back memories of Amsterdam.
We saw the Church of Our Saviour (Danish: Vor Frelsers Kirke) which is a baroque church in Copenhagen, Denmark, most famous for its helix spire with an external winding staircase that can be climbed to the top, offering extensive views over central Copenhagen. The black and golden spire reaches a height of 90 meters and the external staircase turns four times anticlockwise around it.
We then passed the Old Stock Exchange, one of the oldest buildings in the city and has survived the ravages of fire, weather and time. Its interior is now largely used for banquet and conference facilities. The high spire consists of four dragons whose tails are intertwined to the top capped off with three crowns representing the close ties between Denmark, Norway and Sweden – the countries of Scandinavia! Did you know – all Scandinavia flags have the Scandinavian cross, also called the Nordic Cross or Crusader’s cross.
A few photos of the canals of Slotsholm Canal and the Holmen Canal, Scandinavian design apartments and the Standard – another fun place to eat with views of the canals before we made it back to Nyhavn.
After we made it back to Nyhann, we had to stop for some Smørrebrød – the Danish open sandwiches, which usually consists of a piece of buttered rye bread, a dense, dark brown bread. The topping among others can be cold cuts, pieces of meat or fish, cheese or spreads. Many huge wooden ships and small boats lined the canals with so many activities going on – musicians playing on the street, street vendors selling hotdogs, fresh juices – the area was so lively. After walking around some more, we had some Waffles and Icecream too!
Popular Copenhagen Tours
I hope you enjoyed the virtual tour along the Canals of Copenhagen! And if you get to visit Copenhagen, don’t discount the canal tour as a touristy thing to do, sometimes its fun to be a tourist! Here are a few other tours and activities you might like.
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