Nyhavn, Copenhagen | Review, Guide, And Things to Do.
So, what’s special about Nyhavn? Well, just google one photo and you’ll quickly see what all the fuss is about.
Nyhavn’s all about the ambiance. And to be brutally honest – apart from the view, there isn’t even a lot of “things to do in Nyhavn.”
It’s a scenic area, bathed in picturesque scenery that slaps unsuspecting travelers across the face…in a good way.
Nyhavn’s the most photographed sight in Copenhagen. It’s a Copenhagen hotspot for tourism and has become known for its live jazz music and Danish cuisine.
There’s nothing like sitting outside a cafe, sipping on a cup of coffee, taking in a relaxed view of the area. I just wish Nyhavn had more cafes!
A Quick History of Nyhavn
For savvy travelers, like myself, the first question you’ll ask yourself is what’s the word Nyhavn meaning?
Nyhavn roughly translates to “New Port”. And that sums up the neighborhood perfectly.
The history of Nyhavn dates back over 400 years. This canal was first established by the beloved King, Christian V in the late 1600s.
The original purpose of this channel was to act as an efficient way to get between the sea and the King’s Square – located in inner Copenhagen.
This waterway sped up cargo transportation and helped fishermen get the daily catch to the market in a timely manner. Here’s a little fun fact about Copenhagen, that same market is still going on today!
Because Nyhavn acted as a gateway to the inner city and sped up trade, it helped Copenhagen grow stronger.
The canal wasn’t acutally made by Danes. But rather was dug by war prisoners from Sweden. (I guess Nyhavn is just one more thing that Sweden is famous for).
We can’t talk about Nyhavn history without mentioning the famous Dane and fairy tale author, Hans Christian Andersen. He called this watery street home for many years.
Here, this famous author started writing his world-renowned fairy tales like The Princess and the Pea. Throughout his life, Anderson lived at both number 20 and number 67.
Today, Nyhavn harbour is the most famous neighborhood to visit in Copenhagen. Colorful buildings flank the side of the canal, while moored tall ships bob up and down with the fallen waves. Travelers come here to soak in the beauty, snap some photos, and appreciate the atmosphere.
Before we really start deep diving into all the things to do in Nyhavn we should fist cover how to pronounce the word. To be honest it’s a tricky word that I still mess up on occasions.
Nyhavn pronunciation: “Knee-houm”
This the proper Danish pronunciation of Nyhavn.
Okay, so now we know how to pronounce it and also have a quick historical background to Nyhavn, it is time to explore what to do when visiting Nyhavn.
Things to do in Nyhavn
As I alluded to earlier, Nyhavn’s all about the vibe. So, when it comes to “things to do in Nyhavn”, let me come clean, and say that the area doesn’t offer a lot.
Nyhavn’s all about wandering around, walking around. Taking pictures of the the vibrant houses. Drinking a coffee and hanging out in a cafe, or trying out some new danish delicacies while soaking in the views.
Copenhagen Canal Tour
Perhaps the most popular activity to do in Nyhavn is a canal tour. There’s nothing like the sense of awe you experience from seeing Nyhavn from the water.
As a bonus you get to some more of Copenhagen’s canals.
These tours – included in the Copenhagen card – zip in and out of some of the most canals in the city.
Seeing this iconic city from the water gives you a fresh perspective and will you introduce you to some of the best things to do in Copenhagen.
Christmas on the Canal
As you’ve probably deduced from the title, “Christmas on the Canal” is time-specific. Pat yourself on the back Sherlock Holmes – sorry my sarcasm knows no bounds!
But during Christmas, Nyhavn lights up, literally. Christmas lights decorated the area where cafes and restaurants serve Danish delicacies. And markets fill the nearby stony streets.
Get Lost in the Nyhavn and the Surrounding Area
What Nyhavn lacks in “attractions” it makes up for in charming beauty and charisma.
One of the best things to do in Nyhavn and the surrounding area is taking a couple of hours to just wander around aimlessly.
Stop and marvel at the multicolored homes, gaze at the tall ships bobbing up and down in the harbor, and wander around. Get lost in the adjacent streets.
Copenhagen’s a relaxed city.
So take a second to stop rushing from site to site. Enjoy a breather and take in all the majestic of Nyhavn.
Houses of Hans Christian Andersen.
While you can’t go into these houses they are still important landmarks in Copenhagen.
One house is now part of a hotel. So if you’re willing to pony up the money, you can actually stay in his house. As a budget traveler my pockets don’t run that deep.
The houses of Hans Christian Andersen are no. 20 and no 67 – on the other side of the canal way.
Whether or not you’re staying in the hotel, or not, these Copenhagen attractions shouldn’t be missed. You should at least stop for a quick photo!
Admire the Buildings
By now you’ve discovered that the biggest draw to Nyhavn are the multi-colored houses and vibrant townhouses.
The oldest of these homes is No. 9. This site has become somewhat of a treasure in Copenhagen. No. 9 dates back to the late 1600s – 1681 to be exact.
The Memorial Anchor
The Memorial Anchor, often referred to as the GREAT memorial anchor, sits in Kongens Nytorv at the end of Nyhavn.
This memorial is a tribute and commemoration of the 1,700 Danish Navy officers and sailors that were filled in WW II.
The Anchor has been there since 1951 and a good place to play tribute to anyone in service to their country.
Places to Eat in Nyhavn
While Nyhavn has a shortage of cafes, it has no shortage of places to eat. And Nyhavn has some popular places to eat in the entire city.
Many people don’t realize that Copenhagen is a foodie’s paradise. Hailed as one of the best cities in the world for food, Copenhagen has over a dozen Michelin Star restaurants, including Noma.
A powerhouse of a restaurant that has consistently won the title the Best Restaurant in the World.
Sadly Noma isn’t in Nyhavn.
If you want dine at Noma there’s two things you need to do. First, invite me, It’s my dream to eat there one day! And then make reservations far in advance.
But we are off-topic. Back to eating in Nyhavn.
There is one downside of eating on Nyhavn…. It’s not cheap. Though savvy travelers can find good prices.
Seafood lovers will want to head to Hummer, where they serve fresh lobster all year.
They have a diverse menu, and good list of sparkling wines. It isn’t the cheapest place to eat.
But Nyhavn isn’t known for its budget prices.
Easily one of the most popular places to eat is Nyhavn 17. What makes Nyhavn 17 so popular?
Maybe it’s the bright red neon signs bringing everyone in. Or the scenic outdoor seating.
Possibly its the diverse menu that features both international favorites, like fish and chips to Danish classics like smørrebrød. (Smørrebrød’s are basically open-faced sandwiches).
Geist isn’t the cheapest restaurant in Copenhagen. To be honest, like I mentioned it’s hard to find a cheap place to eat in Nyhavn.
Sitting just east of the canal, this casual restaurant is one of the best places to eat in Kongens Nytorv.
One thing that sets Geist apart from other fancy restaurants in Copenhagen is that they have ditched the gourmet tasting set menu.
Rather, they have small al carte dishes that you can order.
Bridge Street Kitchen
For those traveling on a budget, you’ll want to head to nearby Bridge Street Kitchen, sitting between Christianshavn and Nyhavn.
Bridge Street Kitchen combines great food, with exceptional views. There is a range of options in this street food market.
It’s one of my favorite places to eat in Copenhagen. Just grab a ferry across the canal.
Cap Horn’s focuses on using seasonal, organic produce. This rustic restaurant looks like something picked up from Denmark’s countryside and placed in Copenhagen.
Cap Horn carries an air of relaxation and charm. They serve traditional Danish cuisine with fresh ingredients.
And other dishes that range from the entrance to croquettes to beef tenderloin.
Dishes here are modestly priced at around $15 to $30.
Møller Snaps & Smørrebrød
This is another decently priced restaurant that gives you a little taste of Danish Cuisine. I recommended the open famed open-faced sandwiches known as smørrebrød.
These sandwiches often feature fish like herring. Here you can find some of the best smørrebrød in the entire city!
Where to Stay
Many travelers fall in love with the beauty of Nyhavn.
So of course, there are a handful of hotels to choose from. And I know what your thinking, “Who could afford to stay here”.
And why the hotels aren’t cheap, it might surprise you just how affordable they are per night.
Best Hostels and Hotels in Nyhavn
Hotel Bethel’s biggest claim to fame is that some rooms are in the building where Hans Christian Andersen lived from 1871 to 1875.
At the top of the canal, this hotel puts you within walking distance from many other sites in Copenhagen. Sites like the National Museum, Rosenberg Palace, and the Church of Our Saviour.
It’s a magnificent spot for exploring the city, then retreating to Nyhavn for a relaxing evening.
71 Nyhavn Hotel
Sitting at cross waterways where the big canal meets Nyhavn harbor puts you in one of the most scenic spots in Copenhagen. Many canal tours leave daily right outside the door.
Attractions nearby include the Danish Playhouse, and across the water the Opera House. Significant sites to add to any 3 Days in Copenhagen Itinerary.
We know the hotel for being clean and comfortable. Imagine having breakfast while gazing out at the watery harbor and canal.
The staff is friendly, and the rooms are spacious. Oh yea, and they have a killer breakfast.
Because Nyhavn is prime real estate there aren’t many hostels around the area. Luckily, you only need one. And this one happens to be one of the best hostels in Copenhagen. Bedwood Hostel focuses on making you feel right at home.
It’s great for meeting new travelers or reading a book. The hostel has a quaint courtyard and a small backyard.
Intrepid travelers, exploring Copenhagen on a budget, but also looking for a place to stay in Nyhavn . Well, this is your only option.
Where to Go After Nyhavn
Okay, so with this Nyhavn guide you’ve seen everything that the area has to offer.
Now it’s time to move on. And you’re ready to explore the rest of Copenhagen.
Or maybe even grab your backpack and venture into the countryside for an epic day trip from Copenhagen.
Here are some great places to check out after you’re done exploring Nyhavn.
My number one suggestion of what to do after Nyhavn (besides heading to Bridge Street Kitchen) is to visit Rosenborg Castle.
Rosenborg Castle the most recognizable building in the city, other than maybe Christianborgh Palace. This ornate castle is oozing style and charm. It’s historic and beautiful. What more do you after leaving Nyhavn.
Within walking distance, Tivoli Garden is the most popular site in the city. Tivoli Garden is actually one of the first theme parks in the world. (Denmark is famous for giving the world theme parks.).
This iconic park inspired Walt Disney when you were coming up with Disneyland.
Today this park still has thrilling rides, amazing architecture, and is one of the best things to do in Copenhagen.
Fans of Shakespeare Hamlet will want to head an hour north by train to see Helsingor Castle. The castle is the setting of the famous play Hamlet.
It’s an easy train ride – around 40 minutes from CPH central. (Copenhagen Central is within walking distance from Nyhavn). The castle is beautiful and gives you a gorgeous view of the sound. You can Sweden on a clear day.
And take some extra time to walk around Helsingor. Or take the ferry across the Osend to my adopted home, Helsingborg.
Little Mermaid Statue
Since we are in Nyhavn and paying tribute to Hans Christian Andersen, why not head keep the momentum going and head to the Little Mermaid statue. The statue, built after the author’s death, depicts a woman sitting on the rock, and looking out to the sea.
To be honest, the Little Mermaid Statue is one of the most popular sites in Copenhagen. And while I think it is worth visiting, I don’t see what all the fuss is about.
Done! Here is your complete Nyhavn, Copenhagen guide.
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But above all, enjoy all the things to do in Nyhavn!