Cruising Vintage Nyhavn, Copenhagen’s Flagship Gem

Welcome to the quintessential Copenhagen landmark! Nyhavn opens its streets and waters to tourists from all over the world that are looking for that perfect postcard photo to show everyone.

This image shows the Nyhavn waterfront with its colorful townhouses and mirror-like canal. A boat can be seen anchored near the street.
The colorful Nyhavn in the heart of Copenhagen.

There are many cultural gems for both tourists and locals to appreciate in the heart of Copenhagen. Among those, perhaps the most iconic one is Nyhavn (“new port” in English). Be it for its colorful landscape or rich history, this place has gone from simple seagate to entertainment district. Such has been its impact, that it’s now a symbol of quintessential Copenhagen. That’s why every year, thousands walk its streets and sail its waters to enjoy its modern-yet-classic look.

This image shows a view of Nyhavn and its canal on a sunny day. Dozens of people can be seen either walking or sailing in boats.
In summer, Nyhavn is specially busy with tourists. parrysuwanitch/
This image shows one of the main streets in which dozens of pedestrians walk by or sit in restaurants.
Walking down the streets.

Some history

Copenhagen’s New Port hasn’t always been the glamourous place it is nowadays. King Christian V built it from 1670 to 1673 using Swedish war prisoners to dig the canal, connecting the sea and the old city centre. This allowed the downloading, distributing and selling of commodities for fishermen and other sailors. Over time, this made way for commercial activities aimed towards them, like beer selling, gambling and prostitution. That’s why it quickly gained a bad reputation amongst the people of Copenhagen and the rest of the country.

With technological advancements making ships bigger and bigger, Nyhavn became a space for local freight traffic of small vessels. But after World War II, land transportation developed more and people started transporting small vessels by land. This caused that, for a while, Nyhavn was largely left without ship traffic and commerce. Efforts to revive the area started in mid-1960s, when the Nyhavn Society came to life. Later in the 1970s, mayor Egon Weidekamp inaugurated it as a museum harbour, and in the 1980s, it was pedestrianised. That’s when tourists started coming, provoking a revitalization of commerce and turning the area into the busy square known today.

Getting there

This image shows the Memorial Anchor, a huge anchor that serves as a monument . In the background, Nyahvn can be seen, with lots of visitors walking around.
The Mindeankeret lies right beside the beginning of the canal.

If you want to explore Nyhavn, just get to the nearest metro station and head to Kongens Nytorv. Once there, walk to the Mindeankeret (“The Memorial Anchor”), a monument for the Danish sailors dead during World War II. It marks the beginning of the New Port, where you can find many stores, restaurants and hotels. There you can walk the streets decorated with colorful townhouses, relax and enjoy the view with some company.

This image shows one of the many tour boats that sail throughout the canal. A group of tourists can be seen on board, enjoying the ride.
Guided tour on a small boat around Nyhavn. Paul Konighaus/
This image shows the city landscape of Copenhagen from a tour boat.
An afternoon navigating the Nyhavn canal.

But if you’re looking for adventure, you can purchase a ticket to ride a small boat for a guided tour along the canal and its surroundings. There are several providers, so make sure you find the one that works best for you. The experience of navigating the canal alone is quite breathtaking, but the guided tour gives it another layer, as you get to know the purpose of every place and some history about them.

Most of these guided tours are in different languages, which makes for an inmersive experience for people from all over the world at the same time. The guided tour that Urban Roamers boarded, for example, performed in three different languages: Danish, German and English. For obvious reasons, these tours and most of the touristic activity is closed during winter, as the canal freezes and the merciless weather reaches the lowest temperatures.

Nyhavn, a sparkling gem

This image shows the Nyhavn canal frozen on Winter. There are some boats in it and the colorful townhouses decorate the background.
The frozen Nyhavn canal is a wonder on its own. R.Babakin/

Nyhavn doesn’t stop when the sun goes down, as the night scene in around the canal is very exciting. The guided tours are over, but the commerce venues offer entertainment that makes you see it in a different way. Go visit the restaurants and bars that surround the canal, because they’re the perfect places to meet people. Now, if you prefer a more relaxing experience, sit down alongside the canal and take in the stunning night landscape. As we stated in another article, Nyhavn is totally safe at night, so feel free to enjoy dinner with your friends.

This image shows Nyhavn at night.
Nyhavn night scene is huge among tourists and locals. vichie81/
This image shows a tourist sitting by the canal.
Sitting around and enjoying the view is also a good plan any time of the day

At the end, Nyhavn is a must-visit place that you can’t miss while visiting Denmark. Whatever you decide to do while in there, take a time to enjoy the views and reflect on its history. Because it’s one of those places that make you feel like you didn’t appreciate them enough. It’s a gem that, once you leave, you’ll never forget its sparkle.

Have you sailed throughout this famous waterfront already? Are you excited to go but still have some doubts about it? Share all of your experiences and questions in the comments section below!


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